Share, Share, Share!

On Monday our Link Learning ICTPD cluster had the privilege of having Ewan McIntosh spend the day with us. Ewan came to us directly from Scotland at the start of a whirlwind New Zealand tour. We had a great turnout with people coming from over the hill to Salisbury School in Richmond.

This was the first time I had organised such an event and it went fairly smoothly although we were unable to get internet access for Ewan for the first half of the day. We could either have a beautiful but small room with one ethernet cable or a larger spacious room with no access. For Ewan to be internet-less made it hard for him and hard for us.

The local newspaper turned up at lunchtime and interviewed Ewan. We set up a fake photo and I got my picture in the paper! They cropped me from the digital version of the interview- life’s like that!

I took copious notes from Ewan’s presentation but I thought I would compress them down a few critical points as take aways.

For me it came down to one word-


Ewan encouraged us to share our practice. We have an obligation to those not able to attend a day like this to share our practice- the good and the things that didn’t go so well.

I found that I related a lot to this part of Ewan’s talk. Having just landed this fabulous job as Link Learning ICT Facilitator I would never have been able to do this job effectively if I had not begun sharing my practice only five short years ago. There are lots of incredibly awesome teachers out there that only small groups of children and their parents know about.

If you share your teaching, your classroom, you do open yourself up for a whole new world of collaboration and learning. I have been asked to keynote a strand of the K12 On Line Conference later this year by making a video ‘A Week in My Classroom’. My first impulse was to compress a month’s worth of ICT into a ‘pretend’ week but on reflection I think I will make a more honest video- the trials, the successes, the challenges. We’ll see how it goes as I share it!

What are some of the things that are barriers to our sharing?

  • Time is always a biggie and Ewan suggests we start a 100 hour challenge. Carve out an hour a day for the thing that we set our desires on doing and then do it for one hundred days. At the end of that time you can evaluate how well it went. You can’t say you gave your goals a decent shot at it unless you actually do it. Don’t expect perfection- be happy with ‘pretty good’. I recall an interview with Sir Peter Jackson when he said, “Films are never finished, they are only abandoned.” You can waste a lot of time trying to perfect projects- just do it!
  • Lack of momentum– leverage your project- think of things that you can do to nurture your project- to make it more successful. Pitch it to others with a ‘hook’ of having something in it that they want or would find useful for them- personalise it. Get others to buy into it to make your project sustainable.
  • Fear– fear of people knowing about your practice. I know that some people think the things that I blog share about are irrelevant but I get to moderate the feedback and the comments! In all my days of blogging and sharing I have never had to delete anything but spam in the way of feedback. People are either supportive, lurking or silent. In 2005 when I first started blogging I never really gave thought to the consequences- I just did it cos it seemed like an interesting thing to try. I wasn’t afraid because I didn’t know that anyone else would read or know what I was doing anyway. The benefits of sharing my practice has been HUGE. I now have a wide circle of supportive, helpful peers that I can learn from because we SHARE. These people are scattered around New Zealand and overseas- not necessarily in the classroom next door.
  • Not having the gear–  People who know me know I like the shiny toys as much as any Apple girl would but in my classroom I have a lot less gear than lots of others but I still do OK stuff. I have a data projector that sits on a disused fish aquarium stand and it shines onto an ordinary whiteboard with cords running across the floor to the wall socket. I have my TELA laptop, three netbooks and two old eMacs and a wireless internet connection that is sometimes dodgy in the way of kit. I supplement that an old handi-down digital camera from home and my iPod I got free with my home laptop. No Interactive whiteboard, no ceiling mounted data projector, no iPad, no Flip video, no Apple laptops, no computer suite! Fancy gear can help but is not a deal breaker. Last year we had one data projector to share among the whole school. I remember before we got that data projector we just gathered around the eMac!

So those are some of the things that can put people off sharing but the benefits can be enormous.

  • If you share your practice with others, they will share right back at you. As an example some people get on Twitter, follow a few people and immediately start asking for things because they have heard that Twitter can be really useful for finding out stuff, they then wonder why no-one replies and then say Twitter is just stupid. Firstly you need to connect with a circle of people who are interested in the same sorts of things as you. Then share some of your practice- build momentum for your project or idea.
  • If you share you don’t have to do all the work yourself. For example – Delicious– You take a little bit of time to register, put a couple of bookmarklets in your toolbar, add me to your network, network with the teachers that I network with and save some fabulous resources into the cloud for you to access after you have handed back you TELA laptop. This whole task would take about ten minutes but you would then have access to a rich resource base on all things educational- far better than a random Google Search and all there at your fingertips no matter what computer you are using or where you are.
  • Collaboration– if you are sharing with others you automatically open the door to others pitching in to build your project with you. As an example last term I set up a maths basic facts wiki so that parents could access our basic facts worksheets from home and help their children with learning and children could play on line games that supported them at their level. I then asked my Personal Learning Network to contribute more activities that they knew about. The resource is now considerably richer because of that collaboration.

Ewan shared a lot more throughout the day as well but these are the things that I particularly wanted to expand on in this blog post. We have an obligation to share our learning and our practice so that others who weren’t able to take a day from their classrooms can learn too.

There were eighty people at Ewan’s day in Nelson. So people what are you going to share?

My more detailed notes from the day can be found in download form here.

Cheers Ewan


Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Life is not a race to be first finished

Why would a school pay good money for a Learning Management System?


In my new job I have been on a bit of a mission to find out more about Learning Management Systems (LMS)- specifically Moodle, Ultranet and KnowledgeNet which have the MoE big tick as well as other systems that might be out there for schools to chose from.

The first question I suppose would be, ‘Why would a school want a Learning Management System at all?‘ Is it just because everyone else has one?

What a plethora of choice- I bet there are more that I don’t know of.

I want to be able to put a set of questions of any LMS and compare responses so I thought I would pose them here and see what  friends of my blog think.

  • What do you get in an LMS above what is already available on the internet for free?
  • What benefit does an LMS add to a child’s learning?
  • Would parents have access to the LMS and on what level- would the child share their username and password with their parents and thus have access to everything- even the ability to change a child’s work. Or would the parent have separate parental access.
  • Would your LMS be able to be hosted on your own server or would you need to have it some place else like in the cloud or with a provider?
  • Can children develop their content within the LMS or would it more for a snapshot of a ‘finished project’?
  • Is there a visible (non- passworded) option for sharing content with those outside the LMS?
  • How collaborative and creative can an LMS be?
  • How can I share the learning progressions of children in an LMS, with parents, with community or with others.
  • Can I, as a teacher, personalise the LMS with features how I want them to be? Can the children personalise their own pages?
  • Can you embed content from Web2.0 apps. If so, how easy is it to embed content from Web2.0 applications?
  • On leaving the school can a child archive their content for a time when they are no longer able to access the school network?
  • Can the content and assessment created within an LMS be portable to another LMS?
  • Does the LMS synch with a School Management System. Now there’s a whole new can of worms- SMS!
  • If content can be archived what format would it be in?
  • I know it’s not about looks but it is. How appealing and navigable is the format for all levels of the school. We have children from five years old up to twelve. Would the LMS cater for them all?
  • How much bandwidth would a school need to be able to sustain the LMS?
  • How much support would the average teacher need to get to grips with the LMS? Is it something that I could work out for myself or is it that tricky that you need on going user group or expert input to master?
  • How much would it cost to set up and implement the LMS initially and then what on going costs, fees would be incurred?

If you can think of any other questions please post them in the comments and I will add them here for a more comprehensive set of questions. I have found this pdf on TKI that has heaps of more detailed questions you could put to a LMS to help confuse matters even more.

A problem as I see it is that you often only see inside an LMS if your school uses one. You only know what you know. Hopefully someone will read this post and help me with this question.

If you use an LMS and like it or dislike it could you please let me know which one you think and why.

Please don’t feel the need to comment in a logged in way- just add anonymously if you feel your comments may play against your current school practice. I want to know what you really think. If you would rather add your comment via email to me I will add it anonymously.

Here’s what Ewan McIntosh thinks about ePortfolios- obviously not behind the fence of a walled garden. Click here if the video plays hard to get. I have been told that the video will be updated after the weekend and it will actually play properly- I will re-embed it then.

Greg Gebhart talk about Cyber-Safety

Here area my notes from Greg Gebhart’s presentation at the Teacher Only Day at Marlborough Girl’s College. Greg Gebhart is a former teacher who now works as a consultant from Australia on the use and implementation of new and emerging technologies. Greg’s specialist areas include the use of Web 2.0 technologies and internet safety for children. ( My thoughts are in italics ).

A profile is being built of how children use the net- for homework, for Google and for games. Primary children generally have at least three email account-  school, home that you get with your internet account, two hotmails which has MSM as well, one as a website email log in, and another to send spam to, personal, private emails, google gmail, yahoo email for chat and (for me Flickr).

It takes time from the send and receive, texts are instant so that is why they are preferred by kids. With email you have compose and wait for a reply- texting is so much more now.

Our task it ensure children understand that when people have a thousand friends on Facebook not everyone is good just because people have a happy photo in their profile. Moshi Monsters which is very popular with the littlies encourages five year olds to go collecting friends- discuss at that age that you need to know who your friends are. Moshi Monsters is a safe game but can teach bad habits about friend collecting for later on.

On line team gaming- RuneScape for younger kids and WOW for the older. Team games last about three hours and there is no pause or save- that’s why kids don’t want to stop ‘cos they let their friends down or leave the game early which leads to other players being mean to the member who has had to leave early to go eat. (Hadn’t thought about that aspect before). Some kids get up early and play at 3am NZ time cos that’s when Europe gamers get up- they go back to sleep and pretend to have slept through the night!

Texting at all hours- interrupted sleep- one kid wakes and texts another, leads to another and leads to MSM as its easier to chat in on line chat than to text repeatedly. It might be an idea to make a rule of keeping the cell phone out of the bedroom but then some kids carry two cell phones- one as a dummy to hand over if called to task, the other is the ‘real one’.

What parents can do to ensure their children are safer on the internet. If the computer has to be in the bedroom tell children they have to have it facing the door and keep the door open. This doesn’t stop risky behaviour but stops high end risky behaviour.

Facebook Terms Of Service says you have to be 13 years old but many younger children have accounts, sometimes set up by older siblings. If parents say no to kids joining up to things like Facebook they are likely to go out and do it anyway so parents may be better to say yes and keep an eye on things in the open.

Mobile phones -younger are getting cellphones as hand-me-downs from older siblings and parents as they trade up. (Still can’t get my iPhone4 here in Nelson). 20% of secondary students own two mobile phones with two carriers- one to hand over to teachers or parents if they’re confiscated. They are selling phones now with two SIM card slots so they can cope with two carriers. (Ask kids in your class what it is that they do with the internet at home and what devices they use- would be interesting for my Appleby kids).

What some young people are doing that can be damaging.

  • Kids take their phones to parties- put up not so good images, someone else takes a photo and puts it on Facebook but not tag it so the victim doesn’t know there are compromising photos of them on the net. They get mean things said about them.
  • Sexting- taking inappropriate photos and sharing them- imagine what happens when friendships turn sour with incriminating photos on the injured party’s phone.
  • People’s email address when applying for a job can exclude them for being followed up eg is unlikely to elicit a job interview.
  • Prospective employers are Google searching + Facebook finding to cull the ones with compromising digital footprint.
  • Formspring is a questions and answers website. The site allows its users to set up a profile page, from which anyone can ask them questions and also post comments. The questions and their given answers are then published on the user’s profile page. It can open the door for harassment and bullying, due to the anonymity of the entries.
  • Chatroulette is a website that pairs random strangers from around the world together for webcam-based conversations. Visitors to the website randomly begin an online chat (video, audio and text) with another visitor. You can imagine some of the inappropriate randoms that connect this way.
  • Moshi monsters for the very young is very popular but you have to feed your animal every day- it is addictive. (A bit like Twitter).
  • Call of Duty has an R18 rating but primary school children are playing it.
  • Facebook- people need to check their Facebook settings to..

Set your site to private
Remove flirty photos
Remove flirty nicknames
Remove surnames
Don’t friend randoms
Remove mobile numbers
Keep the people who can see all your stuff to friends- not friends of friends.

  • Cyber bullying- generally the people being bullied are being bullied in reality as well- bullies are known to them. 10% of kids are bullied- 90% aren’t- so we have a chance to be proactive and stop it rather than be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff before the percentage grows and it becomes the norm. The people being bullied don’t do anything because they think the school can’t stop people being unkind, or they are worried it might escalate, or worried that parents will take away their technology so rather be bullied than take their cellphones (friends) away.

I have a few cyber safety resources and videos to add via Delicious that I hope are worth sharing.

What do you think of the message in this video? I think I need to explore more about the things the children in my class do apart from use our blog and Google Docs!