Friday post: The future and other ramblings

Uploaded by Thomas Hawk

Uploaded by Thomas Hawk

It is the end of the week and I have begun a number of posts that are still drafts. The topics include my thoughts on Twitter and also Cloud computing and what they offer, if anything, to the world of education and libraries.

I have been considering the use I make of the different digital and social media in general. I followed a tweet about Twitter and Facebook to a blog post containing a great photo with captions. I liked the humour although one commentator did not.

I also had a 2  meetings today. Both discussed the issues around the idea of where our school is heading, trying to articulate the plans for learning and teaching and looking at where technology fits into the greater scheme. We will be working on this for the next few months, both as part of the PLP program and our internal audit. The idea that technology will simply make it cheaper and easier (eg. we don’t need to buy books anymore because everything is on the internet and everyone can just use that) is slowly changing. People are beginning to realise whilst there are wonderful learning opportunities, there are also many issues that need to be considered if our transition is going to be successful for our students and our teachers.

– And (2 random thoughts)  thinking about the future, there are two quotes I like on this topic:

 John Sladek “The future, according to some scientists, will be exactly like the past, only far more expensive.” 

and William Gibson “”The future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” 

Uploaded by World Bank Photo Collection

Uploaded by World Bank Photo Collection

Uploaded by Nic's events
Uploaded by Nic’s events

 I also wonder what the current the economic state will mean to the parents who send there students to our school. Our fees are more than other schools near to us because we have our notebook/laptop program. I believe our program can offer great opportunities to our students as well as our schools other advantages of the fantastic grounds and the pastoral care set-up.

Anyway it is now the weekend.

What to do this weekend. I don’t sleep in, sleeping isn’t everything! I have set myself some jobs to do this weekend, they will be the first two days I will have had without at least a whole day committed to others.  It is going to involve some exercise (a long walk along some tracks I haven’t used for a while) and then I will be getting my house in order. Tasks include:

  • Complete a cleanup of my email accounts, both my school and my home accounts. Preferably doing it reasonably quickly.
  • Clean up my RSS feeds – both the outlook and Google reader accounts
  • Listen to or delete the podcasts I have loaded onto iTunes.
  • Either watch ar delete any television programs I have taped more than 2 weeks ago but have not watched. 

If I can complete these tasks, I will be very pleased with myself.


Looking for inspiration

 ideas2inspireMy 201st post and it seems along time since my first one.










‘Ideas to Inspire’ is a collection of Google Docs presentations, which offer a large number of ideas for engaging lesson activities in a range of curriculum areas.The presentations are a collaboration between lots of fantastic teachers around the world.

Mark Warner created the site that was inspired by the Google Docs presentations that were created by Tom Barrett. (He had a lot of contributions from the  many teachers who read his blog and are part of his Twitter network) Mark also found that many people responded to his idea and has put them into his site and included some of Tom Barrett’s presentations as well.


Also have a look at what Tom Barrett writes on his blog ICT in the classroom. His blog post 100 Interesting Ways is a fantastic resource if you are looking for ideas that will engage students. There are some great slideshows that inspire you to use the technoloies available to make learning interesting. Ways of using GoogleEarth and GoogleDocs in the classroom as well as “35 ways to use your pocket video camera in the classroom“. The ideas are not too difficult and are easily adapted to all types of subjects and lessons. The ideas have come from teachers and have been shared with Tom, who has collated them into his slide presentations.

The latest of Tom’s posts was about using instant messaging to engage students in reading comprehension.

My target in the lesson was to engage the children with reading comprehension using technology we use in our classroom. I think we did that. It is taking what the children enjoy doing and harnessing that engagement, attempting to merge and utilise the skills they use outside of school to impact on their engagement with their learning.

After a long day or a meeting, where you hear stories about how technology does not work as well as pen and paper when educating young people, it is really good to be able to find these websites. Here you can read about positive stories and be reminded of all the times when lessons have been successful in engaging students, in learning and higher-order thinking, whilst using a variety of digital resources for the activities.

Pool & collaboration and the ABC


The photo is from Antarctic Photo Library on Wikimedia Commons

Another great resource becoming available to us. From a post on the Creative Commons Australia site about the Pool site. 

If you haven’t seen it, ABC Radio National developed the Pool, just under 6 months ago, as a social media project. It is a collaborative space set up to share your creative work with the Pool community and ABC producers. You can upload your own work, be it music, photos, videos, documentaries, interviews, animations to name just a few. You can of course download items to build upon or remix for your own information. So. like all good collaborative spaces, the users/readers can also become the creators. There is a search facility and so choosing the right tags for material is important if you want people to find your work.

The photo above was from a post “Project: Polar attraction from Pool team, 18.12.08” and it was part of what they named “call-outs”, when people are asked to contribute to the Pool. There are all sorts of topics and what a great opprtunity to give students another way for sharing their talents with a larger audience.

les mutants de goré

les mutants de goré Image on Flickr by Frostis,

Getting back to the announcment the other day from the Blog: Gene Pool launch & open archives release from Pool team, 12.02.09

The ABC’s collaborative media site, Pool, has made another Australian first. To celebrate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, Pool has launched its Gene Pool call out by posting a recording from the ABC archives of genetics professor Steve Jones talking about Darwin’s life and work. This is only the first of a series of ABC archival materials, all based loosely around the theme of evolution and mutation, that will be released online as part of the project. What’s exciting about Gene Pool is that the materials are being released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial licence.

This is another call-out for everyone to contribute something to the Pool.

You can also create your own work exploring the themes of evolution and mutation in lateral ways, and share them back into the Gene Pool. Just tag any contribution ‘gene pool’.
We’ll be following the evolution in the Gene Pool and featuring your contributions on ABC radio throughout the year.
Later in the year a selection of the Gene Pool pieces will be chosen for a public exhibition at Melbourne’s RMIT on November 24th – the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s book The Origin of Species.

Have a look at the post. They are asking for all sorts of media and contributions about genes/genetics. I love the idea of students having a larger audience than just their teacher, or class. I think that many take a great pride in their work when they are sharing with the wider world, especially the more able or interested students, who really rise to the opportunity.

I am tryng to envisage something that could be done in Book week and the better attempts could be uploaded to Pool, but of course I don’t jave to wait until book week! Has anyone else looked at Pool, and taken advantage of the things it offers?

Digital identity – what are we teaching?

We have been back at school for a few weeks now and all the students have their re-imaged notebook computers back. The year 7 students have had their first “technology immersion days”, where they learnt the basics about their new tool and one of the software tools (photostory) that is available to them. Maybe it is now time to ask about the availability of some of the Web2.0 tools I used last year. This year a number of sites seem to be blocked.I don’t think there has been a reversal in the thinking on these tools. They probably just slipped through the net when the servers were up-graded (or some such- I prefer to belive this)! It is however, really irritating that I cannot get to and use these simple tools. I feel a bit like the students. Many students have been living in the high social, digital world over summer. They have been messaging, sending each other photos, using podcasts and vodcasts, sending each other information about all sorts of things and now they are back at school. At the moment they cannot use their phones, ipods, etc. and so. at the start of the year especially, feel isolated and shut away from a lot of what is important. Many had an interest in the information about the bushfires. As a teacher I had news feeds and twitter to get ready and up-to-date access to information, they did not. After a meeting and some long discussion, some teachers were allowed to experiment with facebook for the year 12 English students. Many of the more strident questions came for those who abviously have not taken the time to look at/experience this tool. Some concerns were valid and worth discussing but there was the impression of fear as well. As teachers, we need to understand atleast the basics of these common digital tools. In our schools, we must acknowledge their existence and help our students understand them. If we are to help them become responsible digital citizens, the ones who have power over the tools, not those that become it’s victims, we need to teach our students how to be safe and how to be responsible. I copied this quote from a longer post  by Chris Lehman about some legislation in the US but the argument holds anywhere.

…the more we ban, prohibit, regulate and legislate, the less we teach. If we want students to learn how to manage their lives, we have to let them live them. Chris Lehman calling for action and using facebook

What do students really understand about the difgital media they immerse themselves in? From classes I have been going into, and some individual conversations, some know quite alot others know a bit and some understand almost nothing. We need to help them make decisions that may have an effect on their lives now and in the future.

Below is an interesting little video on how we all have a digital identity, whether we like it or not. Certainly makes you think.

What are you teaching students about their digital identity?

The Human clock and calendar













I have been trying to think interesting themes that students could be given for their photographs. I had seen a few references to the and the HumanCalendar so I though I would have a look.  The February example of the calendar is above. A little of the Brady Bunch being channelled in this one. Set the week to start on Sunday or Monday and the size, large or small.

This would be a good idea for students to create their own class photo calendar. Each month there could be a theme and then member of the class would take a photograph. Our year 7 students  have webcams in their notebooks/laptops so it would be very easy to do. It would offer a fun way to learn about how to use their webcams and learn a bit more about each other. Each month could be printed, laminated and up on their classroom wall.


The Human Clock shows a photograph for the current time (set by you) and it changes each minute. There are a huge number of photographs that people, from all over the world, have uploaded for use. The photographs can vary immensely in style and perspective.





You can choose analogue or digital clocks, set the time for a 12 or 24 hour time, change the background colour and choose some photo selection criteria.

The inventiveness of the people who have been taking the photographs is phenomenal. It is another way that the web is using communal activity to be creative.

Anyone can submit an idea for a time but read the guidelines on the site carefully. I am sure that many of our students could come up with all sorts of inventive ways to indicate a time.


Useful Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tabbloid- bridging the gap to Web2.0


I have been occassionally emailing teachers FYI messages about important information on various blogs. I don’t do it regularily because I don’t always have the time to put things together and many individual emails can  be overwhelming or too much for the staff.

So I have been looking at the tool called Tabbloid. I am considering it as a way of introducing some of  the teachers to some of the great educational  blogs. I know that blogs are not new and neither are the RSS feeds but there are many who still do not understand too much about them.

Tabbloid is a simple web application that allows you to submit a set of RSS feeds, along with an email.  Tabbloid  will then email your address a “print-ready” .pdf newsletter/magazine on whatever schedule you prefer. The newsletter/magazine aggregates together all the recent postings from the blogs you have chosen.


You could then send the digest to the staff, or students if that was your aim, in a simple format. They could choose to print it out or read it on their computers. This would hopefully whet their appetite for reading blogs and using RSS feeds themselves. Those who have been hesitant about using RSS and reading blogs may see the relevance and feel comfortable enough to begin use them for themselves