My Social Book

I feel that the time is right for me to join once more sharing on line. 2016 was a bit of a blur with a diagnosis of breast cancer, mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and working full time as a Learning with Digital technologies facilitator supporting schools from the Marlborough Sounds to the bottom of the West Coast. I put my energies into staying alive and getting the job done and there wasn’t a lot of room left over for anything else.

Throughout much of that time I used a daily photo blog cross posting to Facebook to keep my friends up with where I was and how I was. It proved to be really useful in keeping many of the people who care about me in the loop as to what was happening.

At the end of the year I saw an advertisement on Facebook for My Social Book– an old school version of your Facebook postings. I thought it would be a useful record of the year’s journey and as a useful example for schools who have a Facebook page to quickly put together a yearbook of their school’s happenings.

The book arrived yesterday and I was very pleased with it. All of the cross-posted and shared photos and comments were there. Cleverly the videos were captured with a title frame and a QR code to take you to the actual video if you scanned the QR code- a very cool blend of analogue and digital.

I have uploaded some photos of the book to give you an idea of what it looks like.


Influencing Inclusive Practice

I feel a little like an alcoholic at an AA meeting.

“Kia ora, my name is Allanah. I am a blogger and it has been six months since my last blog post.”

Life gets busy and I don’t write unless I have something to say. Sonya van Schaijik posted a link to some blogs that she is linking to which alerted me to my indiscretion so I cross post this from the CORE Education blog.

Inclusive designPhoto: © Copyright wfmillar & licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Introducing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to colleagues and supporting its use in our inclusive practice is a big part of my work at CORE. Recently Allanah King and I had an hour or two in transit together. Allanah is a Learning with Digital Technologies facilitator, classroom teacher and a passionate advocate of the difference technologies can make in learning. We got talking about how UDL is continuing to influence the way she works. Here’s an edited Q and A of our discussion.

Chrissie: So Allanah, how is UDL is influencing the way you think about planning learning?

Allanah: I think it has made me much more aware of things I do that might get in the way of other people’s learning. So for example it makes me think about barriers hidden in the way I teach or facilitate, or barriers in the resources I use or the way I organise the learning environment. At the same time, it is also helps me create much more user-friendly environments. I know now that there are things I can do from the outset to make learning experiences more effective for more people. A key thing is that I can build in support or different ways to access material or instructions at the beginning, rather than add it in later. And I can offer that support to everyone so that can use it if they need it.

Chrissie: That’s cool. I think that’s what I would call a “design to include” mindset. It’s like we know there is always going to be diversity. That’s a given. Someone in the room is always going to have dyslexia or will have forgotten their glasses, or easily loses attention if someone talks for long. Plus everyone will be bringing different experiences and histories. When we don’t have that design to include mindset, we can inadvertently design to exclude. We don’t mean to, we do it unconsciously.

Allanah: Yep, when I was first full-time teaching in a classroom of primary-school-aged children, I had never heard of Universal Design. I was teaching from the perspective of doing what I thought was best for all my students. I taught from a position from where I thought most children would succeed. Once everyone was occupied doing something, I would try and ‘pick off’ the outliers or groups of children who historically had been struggling to give them more support.

As I became a more experienced teacher, I tried to see the lessons from more of a child’s perspective. I started structuring lessons around the individual needs of learners and at the same time wanted to create an environment that worked for everyone.

As I learn more about Universal Design, I design lesson sequences in a way that supports all learners right from the beginning, rather than as an add-on. That’s quite a big difference.

Chrissie: That makes a lot of sense to avoid the retrofitting. Have you got any examples?

Allanah: At one point I had a student called Anna in my class. As Anna had low vision, I made sure that when I wrote instructions for everyone on the whiteboard I read them aloud so Anna could hear them. I also gave Anna her own copy in large print to take to her desk. I made sure when we played sport we used large bright coloured balls so Anna could more easily see the ball. When we worked with text in Google Docs, I increased the default font size of our Google Docs (video tutorial) so we could all see the text more readily as we typed. In my planning across the curriculum, I tried to make things work for Anna and, in doing so, ensured that all learners in the class benefitted. My teaching was enhanced, and all students could participate and were able to access the content independently.

Chrissie: That’s a great example of a UDL approach in action. For example, offering those instructions in different ways aligns with the principle of Representation. Not only did you provide Anna a range of options to support her understanding, you also offered them as a support for everyone. I can imagine in your classroom that students would also be encouraged to take photos using tablets to capture ideas for later or just to bring the information nearer to them. These approaches also support independence and provide students with opportunities to make good choices about what they need to support their learning.

The use of coloured balls was also a great approach. It’s such a small thing, but it can make such a massive difference to a student’s participation – it levels the playing field. The coloured balls could be considered an assistive technology, just like Google Docs – they both increase access. The beauty is that they can be used by everyone. This is really the Action and Expression principle in action. We recognise and minimise barriers to participation and create options and embedded supports for students so they can just get on with creating and learning and sharing.

Chrissie: So what about your work as a facilitator, how is UDL having an impact there?

Allanah: As a Blended eLearning Facilitator I facilitate a number of practical workshop sessions with teachers and endeavour to make sure my approach and resources are designed with Universal Design for Learning principles in mind. I try think of the sessions from the perspective of the participants. Whenever possible I send out a Google Form giving participants a taste of what to expect from the session and asking what they would like me to know about them. Here is anExample Google Form from a workshop from Chisnallwood Intermediate. I give people access to the resources beforehand so they know what’s coming. I make sure they have access to those same resources during and after the session so they can rewind bits if I went too fast, or if they missed part of the session, or were not able to attend at all.

I am also conscious that all participants will be at different stages of their elearning journey: some may be just beginning, others may be eLearning whizzes. So my strategy is to give participants a range of options during a session including an ‘escape lane’ where they can self direct their own learning or explore a line of inquiry that grabs their attention as I am working alongside others who wish to go at a more structured pace.

UDL has also really influenced my thinking when I am preparing resources for participants. Now I try to provide resources keeping in mind that people will have quite different preferences – some may prefer to watch videos, some may prefer to follow written instructions, some may prefer to have the resource on their iPad and some may prefer to be led directly as they walk through the material step by step. Others will use a combination of all the options. I also try to make resources that are rewindable and reviewable.

Chrissie: I can increasingly see how UDL is having a significant impact on how we facilitate and work alongside adults. So often workshops, staff meetings or professional learning sessions are scheduled in the late afternoon when teachers are exhausted and already “full up” with the day. Creating engaging, flexible, rewindable options makes so much sense. Designing to include seems to be an imperative in those contexts.

So that is a snapshot of our conversation. Huge thanks to Allanah for her openness and willingness to share her journey.

if you are interested in finding out more about Universal Design for Learning, visit:

Horizon Report

I was astounded last week to be invited to serve on the 2011 Horizon Report: K12 Edition Advisory Board.

As you may know, the Horizon Project Advisory Boards provide vision and stimulus to the Horizon Project, New Media Consortium’s annual effort to identify and describe the key emerging technologies that will be influential for teaching, learning, and creative expression in tertiary education over the next five years. They consider for the report on adoption timelines, and to rank their potential impacts on the practices of museum education and digitally mediated interpretation. The consortium’s Horizon Reports are regarded worldwide as the most timely and authoritative sources of information on new and emerging technologies available to education anywhere.

Lake Rotoiti

You can read more about the project and read previous reports here.

I am in awe that they would ask me to contribute. I am the only Kiwi on the Board so feel the weight of responsibility for 4 million kiwis on my shoulders. I will do my best to be up to the task and hope that my contributions are valuable.

I wonder if they would like my Lake Rotoiti photo for the front cover 🙂



I have been back a fortnight from the magnificent ULearn10 ICTPD conference in Christchurch and it is time to put my thoughts here for sharing.

A number of people have asked me what I got most out of it and for me the highlight is meeting the people. Once a year I get to meet up with many of the people who I connect with virtually throughout the year. Online or blended learning is a fabulous thing but you can’t beat the real life connections made with real life people. Through virtual learning I have made many friends, some of whom I will probably never get to meet but wouldn’t it be fun if we were able to get together. As an example of the ULearn experience I met Barbara Reid virtually some time ago, we met at ULearn, we became friends, she invited me to Hamilton to speak at her cluster call back day and this year we had a ULearn10 road trip from Nelson to Christchurch photographing and laughing our way down to Christchurch. Some people say that on line friendships aren’t real- they’re wrong!

Another really powerful take away from the conference was during the first keynote by Steve Wheeler. Amanda Signal was not able to attend to attend this year and I missed her ability to type, link, hyperlink, tweet and listen all at the same time. We needed a another way to archive Steve’s keynote so I created an open Google Doc and tweeted its existence. My network kicked in. It was exciting to see a heap of people viewing and editing the document in real time so I took a screen grab. Through the power of my network I was able to listen intently to what Steve had to say and record and share the notes.


Of course we went to ULearn10 to learn. The learning for me started off with the the regional cluster feedback session on Tuesday afternoon followed by the Pecha Kucha. Ewan McIntosh introduced me to the Pecha Kucha presentation style while he was in Nelson but I was far too stressed with the timing and the slide moving to hear a single word he said! It was fun to hear some talented presenters share their ideas in this fast-paced, entertaining genre.

Then the conference started at full pace. Three days of fast packed learning. I was lucky that I got all of my workshops that I wanted with a mixture of personal interest and cluster goals in mind.

First up was ‘Finding Your Way with Digistore Learning Paths’ with Fiona and Rocky. I was pleased I went to this one as I had been struggling with making Learning Paths- I’m still not proficient but with a bit more practice I will get there. I need to use it a few more times to embed the learning.

Cluster wise I then went to ‘A Journey with MyPortfolio’ with a couple of teachers from Tawa Intermediate. The more practice I get with MyPortfolio the better. People say it’s easy but I haven’t made sense of it yet. I sat next to a woman who bred equestrian horses and she showed me her stunning photos.

I loved Dorothy Burt’s Apple sMACdown. The Smackdown was an opportunity for a pile of Apple types to share some of the cool Apple apps. Geek heaven. I was wracked by iPad envy at that stage- surprised at how many people already had one. And now the 11inch MacBook Air has come out I want one of those as well. Probably more than an iPad! Great for conferences and travelling!

Then there was the conference dinner on Thursday night- what goes on conference stays on conference.

Friday morning I was on the graveyard shift with my presentation- The World is my Classroom. I tried to be all sparkly and fun and only got half way through- if you were there and wondered what happened to the last half of the presentation it is here!

Then came the long drive home!

On my return Cheryl Eden from Richmond started a ULearn wiki where people could open out and share their presentation out from behind the ULearn usernames and passwords. We have asked people if it is OK if we share their presentations in this way. If you read this and would like to add your resources to the wiki it is totally open and I am monitoring it so please share your learning.

Thank you very much to everyone on the CORE team who make these conferences such a great learning experience.

You may like to add your reflections orally here.


For a piece of frivolity I had to share this gem. Play a track in iTunes and go COMMAND + T. This incredible visualisation enthralls you while you listen- the movie doesn’t do it justice in the flesh- it is just stunning.

The track is a Beowulf soundtrack: ‘Hero Comes Home’.

Waimarino Cluster Conference


I feel a little like an international jet setter these days as I presented two workshops at a mini-conference in Tauranga hosted by the Waimarino ICT cluster. Unfortunately I missed all of Michael Pohl’s opening keynote as I struggled with the Bethlehem College protocols of not allowing non technicians to connect any devices without a technician doing it- including plugging in the data projector! I had made a wiki showing some of the ways I embed ICT into my classroom practice and was trying to add the links in tabs in Internet Explorer one by one and the their PC lab computer froze when it got to something it didn’t like. After fighting the good fight a couple of times I gave up and went back to plan A and asked for help from the technician’s to hook my Apple onto their network which he did in a few seconds. I had made a back-up plan C of a Keynote of screen grabs but that would have been a lame imitation when trying to show the interconnectivity of the web

After lunch I moved onto a second group of folks wanting to podcast with a PC. An exercise fraught with complications I hear you say but I had asked them to download Audacity and the Lame Encoder beforehand to save time. I showed the assembled group a smattering of our podcasts and then we got down to business.

Following a similar practice run session with Upper Moutere School last week I managed a work around to record a digital story using PhotoStory3 and export it as a .wmv file which I converted using to a .mov file which can be uploaded to Podomatic which makes these podcasts with graphics ready for iTunes. But these sorts of digital mazes can be a bit bedazzling for novices.

Dewey Decimal Classification - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The final keynote was by Neil Melhuish, our MoE e-Learning Project Director. I had not heard him speak before and found his message interesting and challenging. I asked him if I record and edit his keynote. I was not disappointed. Unfortunately the sound quality of the recording left something to be desired so I won’t post it. Note to self- don’t chaw your way through crustly chocolate bars while recording with an iPod. They are very sensitive.

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Neil spoke about the way that we record knowledge in the 21st century. The challenging thing (for me) that he talked about that I hadn’t thought of before was the culture-centricity of the way we organise knowledge through the Dewey system. I have always accepted it as being the way that it is and thought of it without challenge. Looking closer though at say the Religion 200’s category. From 200 to 288 all of the subcategories are based on Christianity. All of the rest of the world’s religions lumped together only get 11 subcategories. This is the way Encyclopedia Britannica organises information in its 39 volumes. The way we can co-create knowledge in Wikipedia means that the rest of the world gets a look in- that’s a good thing.

Neil spoke also of the advances in giving children in developing countries access to 21st century learning via the OLPC scheme. I went to order one myself a Give1-Get1 OLPC laptop last Christmas but didn’t realise that the deal finished in 2007. I really do like the idea of giving a laptop and getting a laptop. Neil had a few to pass around. So much for my geekiness- I couldn’t even get the thing open!

I had to hop it smartly to the airport after the keynote and once there had a few moments to spare so opened my laptop to see if there was any chance of open wi-fi. I knew Neil’s nearby presence because I noticed olpc-mesh in my nearby devices. Even closed the clever little things were roaming looking for laptop friends to play with as Neil checked his luggage without shutting down the laptops! LOL

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Lessons Learnt

Today was filled with a myriad of lessons learnt. Mostly ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Namely- don’t assume anything!

  • Just because you have been to a venue to check that you have a wireless connection don’t assume it will be fine when you go to use it.
  • Just because you can access the internet don’t assume that you will be able to access the Movie Making wiki you had laboured over to ensure that everyone had access to the resources you intended to use during the Lead Teacher Day.
  • Don’t assume that because you had jacked up a Skpe Video Call to talk about digital storytelling with Anne Mirtschin in Aussie that you will be able to actually speak!
  • Don’t assume that because you previously accessed Twitter that you will be able to five minutes later to tell Anne that I couldn’t get Skype to go.
  • Don’t assume that Lead Teachers have used movie editing software before.
  • Don’t assume that when you put a nearly full bottle of milk in the boot of the car to bring home that the lid would on tightly enough to keep all the milk in the bottle- I have spent the last two hours cleaning up a litre of spilt milk that had soaked into the boot carpet and down into the spare tyre well. No use crying over spilt milk but some valuable lessons were learnt today.

Motueka South

ImageFriday’s visit was to Motueka South- hidden down a driveway, Motueka South was a great find. They are a well connected school with many classes actively blogging throughout 2007.

They are looking to jolly up their website and seek partners for their blogging classes.

I intend to re-visit Motueka South on Monday to share with them some of the possibilities of using Web2.0 technologies (blogger, blogmeister, wikispaces, podcasting, Voicethread, Skype etc to enhance children’s learning.

When I had a test run I hit my first brick wall as facilitator. Although my Apple can connect wirelessly and I was able to Skype easily I could not connect to the internet through their Smartnet server– a call to their technician and to mine couldn’t solve the problem. Something to do with the proxies or something! I am going back to the school an hour or two before the staff meeting to see if we can connect. I could bookmark the websites I want to share or I could use this wiki as a base but I would love to be able to share the connectivity live as it were. How can I show how easy it is to subscribe to a podcast in iTunes unless I actually do it. It will be a pain to change computers between viewing pre-downloaded podcasts, Twitter, movies etc and going live on the internet in the middle of a presentation. I could do the presentation on a PC but I want to dump it as the anti-virus ran out last June and it weighs a ton. I don’t trust it.

If I used one of their PCs some of the content could take forever to buffer and I wouldn’t be sure that they would work like when I was trying to show what we do to the ERO guy at the ERO offices- they had dial-up, Podomatic was banned and he wasn’t able to update his Flash player for the Voicethread to play. How sad is that?

What do other people do in this sort of situation???