Sorry blog

Dear blog,

Please forgive me. I’ve neglected you. I’ve been spending lots of time curating three new topics on; My dream school, eBooks and libraries and Teach meets, in addition to my other topics Pottermore and Are you game.

I’ve been sidetracked by lots of items that came up at the #plnlead day lead by Will Richardson at the State Library of Victoria on 20 July. Some of the notes from the day can be accessed here:

Some of these items include writing part of an article on the #vicpln program and hashtag for the Australian College of Educators and collaborating with other teachers in forming the #plnaction group and writing a response to the DEECD New Directions paper for school leadership and the teaching profession.

And I’ve been busy preparing and presenting my session on Creative literacies and QR codes for the AToM conference held on Saturday 11 August at the State Library of Victoria. I’ve been unfaithful as I used a posterous blog for this material.

Is there any way you’ll forgive me? I know it’s all my fault and I’d hate to break up as we’ve been together for a while now and I think we understand each other. Let me know what you think. I know I ate your chocolates too, but you hadn’t touched them.

Love, me xx

Screencasting and scribing with students

Since I’ve been at my current school, one of my tasks is running professional learning sessions for teachers. I set up a wiki to keep a record of pretty much everything I’d done in this area for teachers to refer to if and when they needed/wanted to.

One of the things I used to help staff learn were screencasts, some made by me, some sourced from YouTube. I made quite a few last year and a few more this year. As the school decided to use OneNote across the college for staff, I created screencasts for how-tos. They’d made a bit of an impact as, upon receiving notification of said screencasts, one of the APs came straight over to tell me what a great way to learn the screencasts were.

Of course, Alan November often speaks about the power of students using screencasting for both learning and teaching.

So it was with great pleasure that one of the teachers approached me today to help her students learn to screencast. The plan is for one student a week to screencast that session’s learning and for one student to record the session’s learning via Google Docs. Great for revision, students who are absent and students who need extra time to learn.

I decided to show Screenr as there was no need to download anything (as there is with Jing) and it was terrific to see the students all creating practice screencasts almost immediately. I’ll report back down the track when we see the impact this type of learning and teaching has had on the students.

So how’s that ‘to do list’ going?

You may (or may not) remember I wrote a post back in early February about what I wanted to achieve at school this year. I wrote that I wanted to:

  • Ereader survey for school website
  • Diigo for subjects, link to wiki
  • Pininterest for new books and topics?
  • Twitter/fb?
  • Book blog using posterous? Add book trailers. Use that URL for QR code new books there too
  • Podcasts for wiki
  • EBooks
  • QR codes for fiction
  • Add list of useful apps to wiki
  • Douchey’s podcasts for wiki biology page
  • Readers Cup. Do at years 7-8 and 9-10
  • Link blogs to Twitter using Twitterfeed
  • Investigate Overdrive with a visit to Jenny Luca’s school
So how did I fare?
  1. Ereader survey for school website. Yes I did get this survey out to students, parents and staff. It was overwhelmingly positive in terms of the availability of eReading devices. Many students and parents wanted to be able to access eBooks. Staff, not so much.
  2. Diigo for subjects, link to wiki. Yes I’ve got the Diigo account up and running for school. It’s been useful so far, but I am putting more items on the school eLibrary wiki than on Diigo at the moment.
  3. Pininterest for new books and topics? I did sign up for a school Pininterest and stating adding some great stuff for art and reading. However, after reading Phil Bradley’s blog post, I deleted the account due to worries about copyright infringement and basically being a poor digital citizenship role model to our students.
  4. Twitter/fb? I set up a Twitter account for school and have some student followers. This has also helped develop relationships with our local public library and other local services. I went to a Facebook PD for schools, but as long as all Facebook comments need post-moderation, I cannot see our school going for Facebook.
  5. Book blog using posterous? Add book trailers. Use that URL for QR code new books there too. I started a book blog using Posterous. I would love students to email in their book reviews to share to others. This should begin happening soon as our year 9s and 10s are receiving their 1:1 tablets today.
  6. Podcasts for wiki. I’ve been adding some podcasts to the wiki, like the ones the ABC Radio does for VCE texts.
  7. EBooks. We’ve looked into eBooks with several presentations from vendors. We’re not suited to a subscription model, so we’ll wait a little longer to see how we can go about this. We want and need eBooks!
  8. QR codes for fiction. I’ve been adding QR codes to fiction books to link to book trailers and again as per point 5, students will begin creating their own book trailers and linked QR codes to be placed on books for peer recommendations.
  9. Add list of useful apps to wiki. There has been a link to apps for Bloom’s, but I need to add more.
  10. Douchey’s podcasts for wiki biology page. Yes, these have been added.
  11. Readers Cup. Do at years 7-8 and 9-10. I haven’t been able to get a full scale competition happening at school (it is hard when you’re 0.4), I do have entrants for the State Finals in November.
  12. Link blogs to Twitter using Twitterfeed. Yes, all blog posts now automatically feed to Twitter.
  13. Investigate Overdrive with a visit to Jenny Luca’s school. See point 7.
I’ve also added lots of videos and links to the wiki to support learning and have had a number of teachers comment about its usefulness. The stats are very encouraging too.
I’ve continued writing the school cybersafety blog with 5 posts per week.
I’ve also been running lots of professional learning sessions on using the tablets to support learning, differentiated learning and OneNote sessions.
So all in all, things are on track and I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made so far. Thanks to my wonderful Principal for supporting all of my forays into social media on behalf of the school!

Top 10 Bright Ideas

This is the presentation I gave to the NSWAIS teacher librarians on 3 June 2011. As the former author of the Bright Ideas blog, I was asked what were my top 10 tools for keeping up with technology.

If you cannot see the Prezi on your device, try this link.

Supporting documentation on starting or enhancing your PLN and links available here.

Jackie Chan death hoax a teachable moment

Last night (Australian time), some of the people I follow on Twitter were tweeting and retweeting that actor Jackie Chan had died. Before retweeting, I like to check whether or not news with such gravity is accurate.

There was nothing on news feeds such as Reuters, the ABC or even TMZ, the showbiz webiste that broke the news of Michael Jackson’s death.

What I did find, however, was that Yahoo 7 were reporting his death. Initially, I thought they had heard the rumours and jumped the gun a la Richard Wilkins on the Today Show re Jeff Goldblum in 2009. But on closer inspection, someone had used the Yahoo 7 logos, advertising and page template to make the report look authentic. Further investigation of the page revealed other bogus links and reports. As of 7am Wednesday 30 March Australian EDST, the hoax page is still up. The biggest clue to the site being a hoax is the URL.

The bogus site looks just like a Yahoo 7 news site

The bogus site looks just like a Yahoo 7 news site

MTV reports that Jackie Chan lives

MTV reports that Jackie Chan lives

Jackie Chan's official and verified Twitter account page

Jackie Chan's official and verified Twitter account page says he's alive and well. (Yay!)

As teachers, we can use this example of verifying sources and facts from multiple trusted sites with our students. 12 hours after initial reports of Jackie Chan’s death, “RIP Jackie Chan” is still trending on Twitter. An in-depth look at the hoax site and how it purported to be a Yahoo 7 site is also worth discussing with students.

QR code success using iPad and iPod touch

Following the flurry of posts in the past few days about using QR codes for learning and particularly Steven Anderson‘s excellent post yesterday about using QR codes with students who don’t have access to mobile devices with cameras, I wondered if I could use my iPad to read the QR codes.

The answer is yes. Although the iPad and the older iPod touch doesn’t have a camera, there are two ways that it can read a QR code. A little messy though it can be, I wanted to prove that it can be done.

Code embedded in website

1. Install the  free Unboxed lite QR code reader app from the App Store to your iPad/iPod touch. (I’m sure others work as well, but this is the one I had success with.)

Screen shot 2010-12-23 at 9.40.12 AM

2. Take a screenshot of the website on the iPad or iPod touch (click home and power buttons at the same time.) I used Steven Anderson’s post from yesterday that set me thinking about how I could access QR codes with an iPad.


3. Open Unboxed lite and select the screen button (be aware that you might not like some of the ads on Unboxed lite)


4. Click on “open website” and voila!

Printed Code

If the QR code has been printed out (I used Kaywa for my test printout), here is how you can use your iPad to access the QR code content.

1. Take a photo of the code with any digital camera. (Here is the QR code that I had printed out.)


2. Attach the camera to the iPad with the iPad camera connection kit.

3. Import the photo into the iPad.

4. Open Unboxed lite and select the screen image. That will take you to your photos and select the appropriate one.

5. You then are given the website details and to access click on “open website”.


It is a little messy but it can be done. This may open up the use of QR codes to a wider variety of library patrons and students.

I also highly recommend Gwyneth Jones‘s clever and attractive guide to QR codes for more information.

Photo scandal provides teachable moment

Yesterday’s Australian Football League nude photo scandal provides teachers with a “teachable moment” for their students.

We know that once a photo is taken, it can only take seconds for it to be uploaded and published to the internet and for the world to see. We must teach our students that:

  • If you are not happy to pose for a photo then DON’T.
  • If your photo was taken against your wishes, ask for it to be deleted and ask to check the camera that it has in fact been deleted (check trash as well).
  • Be aware that something done in jest may not seem so funny later on. Having it deleted from multiple sources is not as easy for individuals as it is for organisations like the AFL.
  • Any photo that you wouldn’t like your grandparents to see may be a photo that shouldn’t exist. Think twice before you pose for or take a photo that could be embarrassing to you or to others.
  • Remember that any photo can be published. Even if your Facebook settings are private, or your tweets are protected, your “friends” can pass it on.
  • Once a photo has been published, even if it is deleted later, others may have copied and kept it or republished it themselves.
  • Don’t publish or email photos of your friends without their permission.

The repercussions of a moment of silliness may last a lot longer and have ramifications that it is difficult to foresee.