Free to mix – guiding the way

My recent visit to New Zealand has left me breathless with some of the yummy opportunities available for students across the country. One of these, the Mix and Mash competition is all about creative use of media. “Are you a crafty storyteller? An app developer? A visualisation ninja? Then this is the kiwi event for you”.

Wow!  Check out the 2010 winners if you want to get an idea of what they have been up to including posters, cartoons, alternate music, poems, and many more supreme mashups.

For the rest of us, as we stand by and watch, why not go and grab a copy of Free to Mix: An educator’s guide to reusing digital content. Use the word document to create your own school version, or just share the PDF. 

This initiative is another from the wonderful National Library Services to Schools, which is unique to New Zealand.

Talking with the Ed Tech Crew


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by hebedesign

These guys are amazing!

Ed Tech Crew 166 – Searching the Web with Judy O’Connell

It was such a blast to chat with Tony Richards and Darrel Branson.  These guys have been filling the ears of anyone interested in technology in education with wonderful podcasts from people around the world. I was lucky to be in podcast 166!

I’m in Sydney, and on one cold evening in July,  Tony (Melbourne) and Darrel (in the cold shed in the back yard in Ballarat) had a lively chat with me.

If you haven’t been following the Ed Tech Crew, then do add them to your must do list.

Leaders can make magic happen too

Often we focus on what it is that students can bring to learning, but we shouldn’t forget the leaders in our schools and their responsibility in helping change the teaching culture to remain strong and resilient in the face of technology and 21st century participative environments. Each step on that journey is different for each teacher and each school. What is important to me is that there IS a journey, and that the champions of innovation and change are at last acknowledged for their passion rather than than being dismissed as geeky. Good teaching these days HAS to be about good use of technology in seamless ways.

We use technology to think and learn.  We don’t use technology because it’s a cool tech tool, and because our syllabus says we need a certain percentage of technology in the curriculum.

We have moved on from teaching teachers how to use technology to nurturing teachers how to think with and because of technology. When technology is finally recognized as the foundation for learning our job as technology educators will be done.

My conversations with staff at Tara Anglican School were about that, and the presentation provided an overview, and was designed to kick off the workshop discussions about new learning needs. The supporting material used in the workshops provided them with the chance to explore in grade and faculty groups, and enjoy the process.  As I said – change IS as good as a holiday!

By starting at the very beginning the presentation allowed all teachers to ‘buy into’ the conversation.  But the champions were there, and later in the day at the roundup session were able to showcase their already rich understanding of flexibility in 1:1 learning environments. Those teachers are ready for everything that 1:1 learning will bring.

The 21st century beckons and thanks to the support of Principal Susan Middlebrook, Tara teachers are championed for being flexible and innovative – just as soon as they dare.

What about cybersecurity?

April 4, 2011, the EastWest Institute hosted the International Youth and Technology Forum in partnership with Columbia University, where the event was held. It brought together everyone from cybersecurity experts and activists to government representatives and Girl Scouts to lay the groundwork for a new alliance aimed to protect – and empower – kids and teenagers in our digital world. Dominique Napolitano, a fifteen year-old Long Island Girl Scout who has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives, describing the new risks kids face online from “sexting” to cyber bullying, took part in the  International Youth and Technology Forum .

In her own words

We need to empower youth to take this problem into our own hands and find solutions that will work for us”. This is of course why we have to be actively involved in Digital Citizenship initiatives in our schools and community organisations. People of all ages have to become better “digital citizens,” capable of applying real-world knowledge, ethics and personal responsibility to cyberspace.

Here’s the trick. While we may well be learning, engaging, and keeping up-to-date with online tools, and working with students to pursue good digital actions, do we remember to also cover off security? James Lyne, Director of Technology Safety at Sophos, warns that cyber criminals fueled by organized crime are “winning the battle for the internet,” deploying about 95,000 bits of malicious code to threaten consumers each day, making it urgent that we ensure best practices and update our awareness as best we can.

That’s of course where my knowledge falls a bit thin – and I have to rely on the services of companies to provide me with tools/software/networks for security. I have no ‘hacking’ knowlege. I can’t do anything illegal myself, and have no way of preventing hackers other than by deploying third-party solutions (and these will only work against very mild intrusions anyway!).

Perhaps governments and citizens need to pressure companies to better protect online privacy and safety?  Perhaps there is no solution?  What advice can we give to our students?  This is where I need help from someone more knowledgeable!

On May 31, 2011 in London, EWI’s first International Youth Congress on Digital Safety and Citizenship, which will include many forum participants, will precede EWI’s Second Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit (June 1-2)

This interview with  James Lyne from Sophos left me thinking I really need to learn more about this field!

via Educating and Protecting Young Digital Citizens

Learning online through CSU – looking for solutions

This is the first week of the new session at Charles Sturt Uni – and my first week dipped into a fully online world of learning for current and future educators.  I was lucky to meet some of them in O week at the barbeque, and was ‘rocked’ by their aspirations and passion about work in libraries in schools and in the community and public sectors. The conversations covered many things – and of course Twitter and Facebook came into it pretty soon.  Of those starting the course many had a Facebook presence, though only a few were twitter followers.  Never mind…the queenslanders got together for a ‘twitter training session’ to get connected and stay tuned.  You know who you are :-)

This week I began to ‘meet’ my students in four subjects that I am teaching this session.  It’s a time of reflection and re-organisation for me, as I move into the potentially flat-bed delivery of courses that Uni learning managment systems can be.  I’m looking for solutions.

My students in Digital Citizenship in Schools are the ones that I am keen to see what we can do to improve on the way we deliver online courses. After all, understanding digital citizenship assumes a level of interaction with digital content and digital modes of interaction!  Our content is delivered in ‘modules’ and can be quite static text based products. However, there is functionality that allows for online meetings, forums, and shared spaces through Wimba.  The Sakaii platform (latest one is not rolled out yet) does allow embedding of many files, so videos and more can be incorporated – a real plus!

But it’s still not easy to share online learning together, unless we adopt more visual, interactive approaches with our students – who in many cases are teachers or teacher librarians looking for or implementing interactive learning for their students.

So what am I doing with the Digital Citizenship in Schools ETL523 group?  Setting up things that will benefit them, me, you, and model how what we learn today will continue to be part of the learning collaborative that we create.

I’ve created a Diigo group  Digital Citizenship in Schools which not only informs the course work we are engaging with, but becomes a pool of information for anyone, and can continue chugging along.

I’ve created a Facebook Page Digital Citizenship in Schools – with the same mission.

These two plug directly into a blog I have created for the students, as a way of sharing updates in a more interactive way  (not sharing this link yet, as I won’t go live with this for the students until tomorrow).  The feeds from Diigo and Facebook update automatically within the blog too.  The videos I am going to make will also plug into that same blog and update.  So now we will have a nice colourful, hyperlined, information rich  exchange that can be embedded right into our Sakaii system – and bingo – easy, up-to-date communication from me – leaving the forums for the questions, queries, and discussion of the ‘formal’ learning.   We’ll be using a number of other tools too as part of the learning experience.

So a simple little adaptation has created a nice one stop shop in the LMS – that’s actually a composite of many worthy online tools.   I think next time I’ll add a wikispace, now that they have free Wikispaces for the Higher Education.

I’m enjoying this, and really looking forward to working with my students in INF330, INF505, ETL523 and ETL401.  Not sure what adaptations will happen in my other courses yet.  That’s the challenge for Week 2 :-)

Drop the act, and get Dropbox

Luckily, there are plenty of schools around the globe that are ‘up to speed’ with technology change, with good folk who share their knowledge and experiences.

Hello Dropbox – here I come :-)

What is Dropbox?

Put away your flash drive, and stop emailing yourself files, because once you get Dropbox, the ways you deal with moving, sharing and backing up your files will change forever.  Whether you are sharing things with your family, working on school projects, collaborating with colleagues, or just securing your own work, Dropbox is an amazing tool.

Drop Box it is a service that provides 2GB of free online file storage (with paid upgrades possible for heavy users).

What impresses me the most is the speed at which it backs things up.

Dropbox for Teachers

Jonathan Wylie has put together a Top Tips for Using Dropbox at School, explaining how it works for a busy teacher, expanding on the advantages for teachers. Did you know this includes being able to run a drop box for your students? DROPitTOme is a free service that works with Drop Box to allow people to upload files to your Drop Box account without giving them access to the contents of your Drop Box account.

Essentially though:

  • It’s free
  • It’s convenient
  • It saves you time
  • It synchronises your files across all your computers and devices.

Would you like to quickly access your Dropbox files while you’re browsing or using web apps in Chrome? You’ll need to head over to the DropBox extension page and add Dropbox to your Chrome browser.  You can pick up instructions on how to do this  by reading Access your Dropbox quickly in Google Chrome.

With the ‘Dropbox for Chrome’ extension, you can:

  • Browse all files in your DropBox account
  • Instantly download files from your account
  • View recent events (uploads, downloads, and file modifications)

But essentially, this extension allows you to peek into your dropbox on the fly, without further ado!  Neat!

If you are already using Dropbox, and are wondering what else you could be using it for, here are a few additional reads:

Is Dropbox and Google Docs Integration on the Way? That would be grand – but it seems that we’ll see Dropbox Rewind first. This will let you “hop to your Dropbox at any point in the past.” For its users, this could be the perfect defense against deleting files by accident and never remembering to make backups. Dropbox users can also expect to see file system usage analytics.

If you’re still on holidays and want a challenge – why not take part in the The Inaugural Dropbox Dropquest and win nice things like 50 Gb storage for life!

Finally – a handbook/guide from MakeUseOf:

A guide for newbie social educators

Thanks to the ‘heads up’ from Joyce Valenza over at Neverendingsearch about a useful guide for teachers.

Tools for the 21st Century Teacher, is a wonderful little e-guidebook offering a basic introduction to most things social media and discussion about how they may be effectively integrated into instruction.  Among the many tools covered are Twitter, Diigo, Prezi, Evernote, Wallwisher, Skype.

Better still, Michael Zimmer at Edutechintegration is working on a 2nd edition with more tools. Free to download and share!

Flutter your eyelids at me!

I have no idea what is happening in the 3D industry, other than that I enjoyed watching Avatar in 3D version.  That’s it.

Do 3D glasses really work by opening and shutting at high frequency to allow different input?  I could google this fact, but can’t be bothered :-( but it does remind me of the trick that an opthamologist friend once told me about – she wore contact lenses to correct her vision. One lense was for long distance, and one for short. The brain did the rest of the work.

So I’m guessing that’s what’s going on when Francois flutters his eyelids with frantic speed. Very dystopian ~ with a touch of cyborg.

A Great RSS Reader

This is an accidental post – but what the heck – might as well share this here as well as on Twitter. I’ve accidentally changed my settings on VodPod, so any videos I collect are automatically sent into my draft folder here. Might be handy or might be a total nuisance!  I’ll work that out later.

In the meantime, if you are new(ish) to blogging or online collecting and curation of resources, you might not have realised that you can gather videos that interest you with this tool. I’ve used Vodpod for quite a few years, and you can see that it is included in the sidebar of my blog too.

Another tool that I have used since being introduced to it a few years back (ISTE 2008 in San Antonio) is Feedly.  I love that it synchronises with Google Reader – so that I always use Feedly, except when I need to dip into other tricks that Google Reader offers.  This video is a fair overview. Take a peek if Feedly is new to you.

I find Feedly to be  wonderful.