Etherpad Collaborative Tool

Over the weekend I came across this great collaborative tool, Etherpad, and invited a few people via Twitter to give it a test run so we did. Unlike a wikispace or Google Doc multiple people can record their thoughts at the same time in real time and it worked a treat. Each person was able to quickly change their username to someone we could relate to and then begin typing away. As we typed we could see in real time what the other people were typing. Each person typed in a different colour so we could see who was writing what.Image When we  had finished you could save the whole thing as a saved revision text file sort of thing that you could copy into another more fixed document. It could be particularly useful for note-taking, where participants could help each other to record pertinent points or for a group to collaborate to build a document in real time.

Unfortunately it has now gone into closed beta testing because demand exceeded the load their servers could bear but worth waiting for I think.

Professor Guy Claxton

Yesterday was our ICTPD Home Group Meeting in Palmerston North where a group of passionate ICT facilitators under the leadership of Marg McLeod come together to talk about their progress and challenges. I was introduced to the ideas expressed by UK’s Professor Guy Claxton. I think I was the only person in the room who had never heard of him- does he blog or Twitter??? He talks so much sense and thanks to @craigsteed I was able to access his interview on Radio New Zealand as he visited NZ recently. It was great to listen to the man talk about Building Learning Power.


To listen to the audio click here.

He talks about building reflective practice, developing emotional habits of mind, strengthening cognitive flexibility and encouraging social- collaborative action.

I totally agree when he discusses ‘brittle learners’- the ‘good’ girls who fall apart at first sign of failure, the ‘clever’ kids who fear making mistakes, who fear trying for fear of failing and letting others know that they are not ‘perfect’. Making mistakes is something to learn from and to grow from and not a sign of failure.

Listening to this audio leads me to want to read ‘Building Learning Power: Helping Young People Become Better Learners‘- me actually read a book- with paper and pages??? Haven’t done that for ages.

Does anyone have a copy I can borrow as part of my holiday reading?

Lessons From Geese

I first saw this inspirational video ages ago and it stuck in my mind so I thought I would try and find it and share it with you- shame about the quality of the actual video but I have fiddled with the code and it still isn’t great.

“This very inspiring videoclip was made by Saatchi & Saatchi. ‘Lessons from the Geese’ has been attributed to a number of authors. The research that I have done, however, seems to indicate that the original text for this piece was penned by Dr. Robert McNeish in 1972. The primary source that brought me to this conclusion was this comprehensive article.”

Below you see the text from the video.

“Leadership Lessons from Geese”

To show the importance of teamwork, we can take examples from the lives of geese.

Fact: As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock gains 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson 1: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.

Fact: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Lesson 2: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

Fact: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

Lesson 3: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skill, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents, and resources.

Fact: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up in front to keep up their speed.

Lesson 4: We need to make sure that our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s core values, and to encourage the core values of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

Fact: When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

Lesson 5: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

It’s taken a year!

This little project has taken a year in the making. In the same way I have a 2009 to do list I had one for 2008 as well. David Kinane’s project ‘Intrepid Journeys’ gave me the inspiration. I had to go over to Motueka on Sunday to help a teacher with her home computer so it gave me the chance to cross another thing off my 2008 to do list. I set the camera up on a tripod on the passenger seat and set it to capture time lapse photos at the fastest refresh rate that the camera allowed which was 30 seconds. As I arrived in Motueka the compressed video lasted all of 4 seconds! When I got home I dropped it in to iMovie and slowed it down as much as I could, exported it and repeated myself. I then dropped a little FreePlay Music over the top to add a little interest. Thanks for the inspiration, David.

An ICT Facilitator’s Day

As posted before “I love my job”. How great is it to get paid to do a job that you love. Here is a little bit of my day today….

  • Late night chat via Skype with Barbara Reid on the perils of Milestone Reporting
  • Early morning chat via Skype with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach in Buffalo on future thinking.
  • A little bit of milestone writing in the morning- there’s got to be a downside there somewhere!
  • Image

  • In the afternoon a student/teacher workshop looking at animation at Upper Moutere. Will Richardson at ULearn had showed me Google Docs presenter so had made a presentation on animation to practice with the tool. This is the third in a series of workshops with students and teachers at Upper Moutere as we look at different ways of making animations, today we were looking at I Can Animate My Personal Learning Network (Fiona Grant) and Atomic Movies came in handy here with screen grab tutorials and a paper handout to guide me as I had never actually used the software before.
  • Then a bit of a mad dash (driving dutifully at 49 km/hr) over to Mapua School for ULearn08 feedback. We took more of an unconference style to the reporting back which worked really well. I started off with a couple of links to EdTalks and K12 Online Conference and then ULearn08 participants shared what they had done with people who wanted to know more. It was a pretty good result I thought and people enjoyed the experience and went away good vibes and a few more ideas to take back to their schools.


  • Home safely driving at 99km/hr to check my emails and catch up with my RSS. It seems that this blog is on a reading list for some pre-service teachers in Australia as they seem to be posting and reflecting on some of the things that I have posted lately. I am honoured and flattered by the attention. What about giving a little extra encouragement to Meaghan, Natalie, Renee and Amanda who are studying at UTS in Sydney.
  • A little work on my blog and a little more work on my miletsone and a distraction from Greg Carroll showing me how to convert a PC into an Apple. Not a bad day in the life of a ICT facilitator from NZ!


Collaborative Dance Video

Here it is! After its conception nearly a month ago the collaborative video is ready to rock….

PreviewClick on the graphic to view the video with TeacherTube.

Angela from CORE asked me to do a write up for it for the Time4Celebration theme so I had to make up a scholarly dissertation on why I did it but it was really just a bit of fun. Here is the blurb I wrote for @Ageja

  • Purpose – The project started out as a bit of fun- it ended up that way too. We thought we would make a collaborative video in a similar style to the video that is wildly popular on You Tube. By having a collaborative dance video we were able to transcend cultural and language barriers as everyone loves to move and dance- it is pretty universal.
  • Process –I wanted the video to have an element of New Zealand wide participation but also wanted to include our global audience so I blogged about it on my education blog and on Twitter I also mentioned it when I was moderating the K12OnLine conference These avenues ensured that we got more than just New Zealand videos and added a little cultural diversity.
  • I asked that people email their videos to my little used gmail address so as to keep my main email spam free in case it got picked up by a spammer. I had a bit of trouble converting some of the videos as they came from various operating systems and in a variety of formats so I had to use a couple of online video converters and my clever Adobe Flash Video Encoder . I learnt new stuff cos I had to grab a couple of videos from people’s Blogger or Flickr accounts and turn them into movie files on my Apple. I used Orbit Downloader and it was fortunate that I had Parallels on my Mac so I could change the format using the free PC Format Factory to convert the Flash files into something that I could easily edit.
  • I used iMovie06 to create the final video as I haven’t got the hang of iMovie08 yet. I then exported it as a Quicktime movie file for uploading into ‘the cloud’. Along the way I either stripped away the original soundtrack or lowered the volume so that a universal sound track from FreePlay Music could go over the whole set to tie the thing together. I also added subtitles so people would know where in the world the videos came from.
  • The finished the movie was uploaded to Fileden so that people could download the 24MB file and save it without having to worry about buffering or viewing on possibly blocked YouTube or Flickr sites. I also uploaded it to Teacher Tube that was less likely to be blocked and YouTube so that kids could actually find it for themselves. In this way people could either view it directly with streaming video or download the higher resolution video if they wanted to to play it back for whole class viewing.
  • Product – People were asked to send in up to 20 seconds of video so I could put it together with the final cut off date 7 November- giving people plenty of time to organize themselves. The quality of the resolution of the video varied quite a bit as some teachers did not have access to digital video recorders but all videos were included in the spirit of global collaboration.
  • Reflection – It would be great to do a similar kind of thing again as it was so much fun to see what others had come up with and didn’t take very long to complete. It just needed someone with a bit of time on their hands to act as a hub for everyone to send their videos in to. Kids seem to have got into the spirit of it and look forward to seeing the finished published product.

Thank you so much to all the contributers and their classes from around New Zealand, Canada, Bangkok, the United Kingdom, @fionagrant, @charbeck, @kathycassidy, @lisibo, @efreeman, @nzchrissy, @keamac, @teachernz, @leannehough, @lenva, @jaminlietze, @njt24 and to the hundreds of kids and their teachers who enjoy a sense of fun and adventure who like to participate in a community wider than their classroom walls.

You rock!


Involving Parents in the ICT happening at school

On Thursday I am chipping in my 5c into a conversation and ICT celebration at Mapua School. They have invited parents to come along to school and children are going to show them their blogs, Flickr & Delicious sites and other ICT projects they have been doing recently.


Then I am going to have a bit of a chat with them about how to help their children participate responsibly on the internet. To this end I have made a pdf resource that talks of how to make safe Google searches, cyber-safety using Hector’s World, awareness of your digital footprint and a ‘Think Before You Post’ video.

Apart from the content I am particularly pleased with the clever way I have been able to embed the video into the pdf using Adobe Acrobat Pro. Next year I would like to have a go at using this tool to create digital portfolios to add to children’s Google Apps page linked through our school website. How geeky is that!

K-12 Online Conference

Over this last weekend I have been engaged in the K12Online Conference organised out of America for a global audience.

I had subscribed to the RSS podcast feed and now have an almost full set of videos from the conference to watch, re-watch and share. Look for the podcast channels link above the cluster map.

I feel humbled to personally know couple of the presenters and conveners…

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach who along with Darren Kuropatwa, Wes Fryer and Dean Shareski organised the thing. Thanks people- you did a great job.
– Nelson’s own Elaine Newton ECE ICTPD facilitator did a presentation titled Action Research as Catalyst for Change in Teacher Practice and Outcomes for Children.
– Chris Betcher, a fellow Adobe Educational Leader from Aussie did a presentation title “I Like Delicious Things- an introduction to tagging.

I would encourage you to grab the podcast feed and have a listen to whatever takes your fancy. All presentations are limited to 20 minutes so they won’t take too long to download and learn from. The nice thing about this conference is that all of the media is just sitting there waiting for your attention- all year round- waiting for you to have a moment to learn something new and to reflect on the practice of others.

The final event of the conference was an Elluminate session called “When Night Falls’ where educators from round the world can get together and share what they have learnt and generally discuss issues relating to education. PreviewI had volunteered to help moderate a session for an hour or so and found it to be a great way to really get to know how to use this collaborative tool. I have been part of numerous Elluminate sessions before but now I feel a lot less nervous when using it. Sometimes just jumping in at the deep end is the best way to learn how to do something. In the first hour there were over thirty people in the virtual room all chatting away and adding their names and locations to the whiteboard.

A Passage through the Decades

This is what you get when you have plenty of other stuff to do. Oh it must be milestone time of the year again. My RSS feed from Sue Tapp in Aussie turned up this link to Yearbook Yourself. You upload a photo and scroll through the decades.

Sue asks how do we measure our change as teachers. I look back on the sorts of things I used to do with my class years ago that I thought were good. I reflect on them now and cringe- how teaching ‘fads’ come and go- what was good practice back then is no longer thought to be acceptable practice.

Looking back twenty years from now what will our students think of the sorts of things we are doing at the beginning of the 21st century. Will our education system still reflect the 20th century? Will we spend our days testing in order to improve student learning outcomes as they do in America. I hope not. (I’m pleased I teach in a high decile school if league tables become the norm in NZ).

This quote from the National Party Education Policy has me concerned as to what it really means.

“We will launch a Crusade for Literacy and Numeracy. And because parents want to know how their child is doing, we’ll introduce national education standards to help identify those pupils who are falling behind, and provide targeted funding to help them catch up.”

National Party Education Policy 2008

In saying that I would love to see more support for Te Kotahitanga that Professor Russell Bishop spoke about at ULearn07. Inspirational stuff.


The trouble is that if you were to travel through my family photo albums you would find some photos that look scarily like these.