Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Harnessing Your Ecosystems"

I wonder...is my use of social media purely a response to my professional exploits? If I didn't work as a teacher and facilitator would I Tweet?

I created my first wiki in September 2006 and over the following year joined Delicious and Flickr, began blogging and finally at 7:04pm on the 2nd August 2007, posted my first Tweet. There was no looking back. My purpose was to connect and share. At the time I was collaborating with an awesome cluster of five schools with over 80 teachers and email was just not going to cut it.

I quickly realised that Web2.0 was going to provide me with increasingly creative tools to communicate and collaborate and also accelerate my work flow substantially. What I hadn't predicted was the growth of a professional learning network that I rate as one of my most valued assets both professionally and personally. This is where I do some of my best learning and in this rapidly changing world learning for me is at its best when I can connect with like-minded.

I have blogged previously about growing a PLN with links and resources to get started. Investing time utilising social media to not only access resources but also contribute and change practice can be augmented by harnessing the power of a professional learning network.

Described as "the power of pull" by Hagel, Seely Brown and Davison (2010), new technologies are creating platforms that increase our visibility and can help us connect with more people, people that we don't know yet or may even be aware exist.

How are you "harnessing your ecosystems?" How are you scaling up your connectivity and attracting the people and resources you need to find your potential? (Blog Post 10/06/2012

If it's a question of time, this is worth the time. You are not alone out there and believe me every time I think I have a new idea or challenge I find I am not the first or the only one…thank goodness!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"It's learn, create, share, Miss Aireen!"

"How many teachers in class this morning?"
With over 50 students in the room today there was an almost tangible hum of learning and collaboration. Students talking about their learning, problem solving, planning and negotiating. All was right with the world in Miss Aireen's Year 5 class this morning.

As a 1:1 netbook class, the students had invited Miss Swift's Year 3 class to buddy up and create presentations of their learning to share on their class blog.

I valued the opportunity to observe how the Year 5 students have grown this year in their confidence to utilise their netbooks and the web based learning environments including Google Apps for Education (GAFE).

However on reflection I suspect that what was happening in Miss Aireen's class this morning was much more complex. All students were highly motivated and drawing on many of the Key Competencies to interact with each other.  

"26 teachers in the class this morning, Miss Aireen"

"It's learn, create, share, Miss Aireen!" (Taylor, Year 5)

The Year 5 students were challenged to not only manage themselves as learners but also draw on a variety of digital and learning focused strategies to transfer their new learning and share with their Year 3 buddies. The NZC highlights the importance of students being "challenged and supported to develop in contexts that are increasingly wide-ranging and complex".  It was particularly affirming to see the students respond so confidently and harness their digital learning to enrich opportunities for learning in this face-to-face context.

Currently the Year 3 students have GAFE accounts and Miss Swift reports that support for their class blog grows daily. I am confident the increased opportunities for them to buddy with the 1:1 netbook class will continue to build on the sharing and grow interactions with community both in school and beyond. Truly the students must be recognised as the strongest advocates for the investment their families and schools continue to make in their learning.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tweet...Sweet


Click image to zoom
If you are serious about growing your professional learning network (PLN) you need to be serious about managing information flows on Twitter. There are lots of great Web2.0 apps available for Twitter however a good place to start is a Twitter App to manage the information flow. 




After trying a few different apps I set up Hootsuite earlier this year. Because Hootsuite is web based, organising Twitter on my Mac and having the same set up available when I logged in on my phone or iPad was a definite bonus. Also the HootSuite App Directory allows me to add other social networks and tools into my dashboard. I have found the ability to set up tabs and streams particularly valuable for monitoring:
  • different themes or groups
  • #tags for current events and topics
  • Twitter lists I have created or follow
  • conversations that I may have missed
  • Tweets that mention me - it's important to respond when you are included in the conversation whether it be to answer/ask a question, add more information or reTweet for acknowledgement.
While it's not possible to read all Tweets I am following Hootsuite enables me to organise and track what's relevant for me while still enjoying the serendipidous learning that is Twitter.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Multiple Users in Chrome

Update to this post Friday 15th January 2016

Working across multiple GAFE sites and Google Accounts can be made a lot easier by using the multiple users feature in Chrome. I created this Screenr for our GoogleFest session at #uLearn12 in October demonstrating how I have set this up for 15 school GAFE and Blogger accounts.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Power Searching with Google

Certificate emailed on completion of the course.
@nickmajor81  recommended the Power Searching with Google course at one of our Netbook Teacher meetings last term. I'm  fairly confident searching online however, was interested to learn more and explore possibilities for our CyberSmart category, SmartSurfing

Power Searching with Google is a free online course that includes search techniques and teaches some of the advanced tools in Google search. Short video clips with demonstrations from Google Search guru, Dan Russell, are supported with activities that can be worked through at your own pace. These can be revisited along with short tests to review new learning. 

Links to online resources, search forum, blogs and lesson plans are also included.

I am going to include this as part of our orientation for new netbook teachers and suspect that many teachers would find this course useful for identifying search techniques that can be adapted to support existing programmes of learning. Depending on literacy levels students could also enroll in the course with their GAFE account and complete independently.  

How to be notified about upcoming Power Searching classes via Dan Russell

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is Technology Just a Tool?

This week has been one of those 'perfect storms' for learning. Four days of conference breakouts, five keynotes, the combination of online and face-to-face networks, considering different perspectives that challenged my thinking and making valued new connections to continue the conversations. Also preparing my contributions to conference breakouts can provide some of the most powerful reflection for my own learning even before the conference begins.


This post continues a conversation (with @rachelboyd @annekenn @MtManaia) in response to a tweet I posted after hearing the statement "technology is just a tool", referenced in more than one keynote this week.

I appreciate that this idea may have different meanings in different contexts however, I try to stay tuned to its use in rhetoric. It's very easy to say! What do we mean when we refer to technology as "just a tool" and how might this be interpreted?


If I default to technology as 'just a tool' I don't believe I am recognising the complexities that surround its use to support learning. That is:

  • The professional learning and inquiry educators invest in to improve their ability to integrate new technologies as effective pedagogy. 
  • The increased opportunities for students to learn, create and share new knowledge and thinking when they not only have access to 'the tools' but also the support of teachers who are skilled and confident professionals. 
My analogy to the ukelele was in response to watching a clip of Jake Shimabukuro playing his ukelele in combination with a quote from Jason Ohler when he suggested that technology could be akin to giving bad guitar players bigger amplifiers.

"... although multimedia can act as an assistive technology, it cannot take the place of vision, talent, or skill, whether developed or inherited. We will always need to tell a story with our art and to tell it with honesty, depth, and detail if it is to survive as more than a transient, disconnected thought. For this reason, teachers will become more important as technology increases in power. More than ever, students will need teachers for their wisdom and knowledge to help navigate a purposeful path through the glitz and distraction".  (Jason Ohler)


I originally used the video and quotes as a prompt in a breakout I facilitated at Learning@School in 2006.  I had been wondering what might result if we explored this statement as a question and considered the actions of the teacher or the student, and how these actions might impact on the concept of technology as "just another tool".  


In the hands of Jake Shimabukuro the ukelele is an amazing instrument. What does this say about his approach to learning?


What does your use of technology say about your learning?


"The ukulele itself, and those like Jake who play it so insanely well, represent both the struggle and the inspiration and delight that comes from blowing away other people's low expectations of you through your own hard work, unbridled passion, and dedication to excellence." (Presentation Zen, 2010: Jake Shimabukuro wows TEDxTokyo)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Apple Tools sMACdown #uLearn12

Crowd Sourcing #uLearn12
Crowd Sourcing
Crowd sourcing the uLearn12 conference at the Apple Tools sMACdown

Established at uLearn10 this breakout is hosted by a team of enthusiastic Mac users... but it is also sMACdown and everyone is invited to participate.  

uLearn12 was no exception with a host of top tips, resources and Mac geekiness from a great group of participants.

I also enjoy browsing the participant contributions on the Google form and the archives from previous years in the sidebar...like finding $$$ in last season's jacket pocket.


 Ka nui te mihi!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

GoogleFest #uLearn12

This post supports my contribution to GoogleFest at uLearn12.


Kiwis... officially Googlised
Kiwis @ Google Teacher Academy Sydney 2011

CyberSmart Curriculum
Exploring how to deliberately teach Digital Citizenship within a context that is relative to students specifically in a 1:1 netbook class. For example all students from year 5-8 with a netbook have a blog. Students learn SmartFoot Print and SmartValues in a context of learning how to write a quality blog comment. These are two of  ten categories we have identified as important to a cybersmart curriculum. 

This Google Doc includes a process we have used to introduce blog commenting to students. Students save a copy of the document in their Google docs. Teachers provide multiple opportunities for students to practise and reflect on their blog commenting. Initially students leave comments on blogs in their school as teachers can monitor these comments through the Teacher Dashboard.


This Google Doc was used to explore the difference between personal information that is safe to share online and what is private. Students write a personal profile for their blog which is initially posted as a blog post with a link from their blog side bar "About Me" widget.


Using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to support learning with primary sources
Using primary sources as a context with the aim of demonstrating how I select and orgainse digital content to support learning using GAFE. It also includes some new thinking that I am exploring around using primary sources to teach Digital Citizenship.

"Getting My Google On" - In this blog post I share my top take-a-ways from GAFEsummit 2012 and my resources from my breakout "Integrating GAFE to support learning with primary sources."

Google Tool: Chrome Multiple Users

Chrome Apps: Hootsuite
Twitter - some of the best free PD. If you are serious about building your PLN you need to get serious about managing your social networking. With Hootsuite you are able to set up multiple tabs, searches and organise your social media dashboard. Set up on your laptop and when you log in to your iPad/iPhone App, Hootsuite will automatically sync. Enables you to easily follow current events using a #tag or Twitter handle.


Click to zoom

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Getting My Google On

I participated in New Zealand's first Goggle Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit yesterday. Masterfully organised by the EdTech Team and our own Dorothy Burt it was a day full of opportunities to learn, valued conversations with my PLN and just the right balance of Google geekiness. My top take-a-ways from the day included:

YouTube in the Classroom: Jim Sill (@mistersill)
YouTube often gets a bad rap but in just 60 minutes Jim was able to skillfully demonstrate how this resource can be a powerful learning and teaching tool. I would recommend exploring Jim's site, especially YouTube for Teachers, which includes some valuable recommendations for finding and organing the best of what YouTube has to offer including TED-Ed Lessons Worth Sharing.

GoogleChrome Breaking the Seal: Tony Richards (@itmadesimple)
I have been skirting around Google Chrome for a while but have found the ability to set up multiple users has made a huge difference to my work flow this year across multiple school sites, GAFE admin accounts and school Blogger accounts. I have created a Screenr to demonstrate and would recommend setting this up even if you are switching between 2-3 accounts during your day.

Tony's Google presentation is a treasure trove of useful tips for managing your setting, apps and extensions and is worth investing the time exploring. It has definitely improved my ability to personalise Chrome for my needs.

Integrating GAFE to support learning with primary sources
In this session we explored integrating GAFE to support learning with primary sources. I used primary sources as a context with the aim of demonstrating how I select and orgainse digital content to support learning using GAFE. This is shared as a Google Presentation which I have also embedded in a GoogleSite as there are links to examples of how content might be organised within an online learning environment. It also includes some new thinking that I am exploring around using primary sources to teach Digital Citizenship.

More presenter resources can be accessed on the GAFEsummit site and also #GAFEsummit on Twitter.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

There are only two types of people in this world...

A few years ago a guest speaker at work tried to persuade us that there were four types of people in the world …powerful, peaceful, precise and party.  No surprises what type I was ;-). A decade ago I guess I did approach decision making with some precision… I had a plan! Not sure whether it is as simple today. Change is fast and there are a lot more unknowns. So maybe there is another type of person…a person with 'pull'.

The power of pull is a concept that resonates with me and has helped me make some sense of navigating this rapidly changing world. From the book The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion ( Hagel, Seely Brown and Davison, 2010) pull is described as:

"… the ability to draw out people and resources as needed to address opportunities and challenges. Pull gives us un-precenteded access to what we need, when we need it, even if you are not quite sure what "it" is. Pull allows us to harness and unleash the forces of attraction, influence and serendipity."

The authors identify three levels of pull - access, attract and achieve.
Access - search engines and aggregators help us find and access people and resources like never before. Access can be limited though, by our ability to search effectively, when we are not quite sure what we are looking for.
Attract - we don't know what (or who) we don't know, however new technologies are creating platforms that increase our visibility and can help us connect with more people, people that we don't know yet or may even be aware exist.

Access and attraction however are limited, if not combined with the third level of 'pull' that is Achieve. How to combine these three levels of 'pull' to reach our potential and help others to do the same. The challenge is to harness these three levels of pull for change?

How are you "harnessing your ecosystems?" How are you scaling up your connectivity and attracting the people and resources you need to find your potential?

One place you might want to start is EduCampNZ. Harnessing the power of connections and conversations, EduCampNZ is an e-learning un-conference where you can harness the power of pull… but that's up to you.

Visit the EduCampNZ wiki to find out how you can participate and harness the power of pull.

By the way, to paraphrase Robert Benchley, there are only two types of people in this world, those who think there are two types and those who know better.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Navigating New Networks

Navigating the Panmure Roundabout - click for a birdseye

It has been an exciting couple of weeks. Joining a new team, visiting new schools, new learning and giving my Google Maps App a daily workout navigating new routes...and the notorious Panmure Roundabout!

I'm thriving on the new learning opportunities as a result of growing my professional learning networks. Lots of learning for us all including 1:1 Netbooks, Google Apps for Education, Teacher Dashboard and some new Mac users too!


Below are some resources I have shared over the past week. Your recommendatiosns appreciated, use the blog comments to share more.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Learners leading learning

I valued the opportunity to collaborate with teachers in 2011 to develop and edit snapshots for the Software for Learning site with a focus on eportfolios and mlearning.

Image Source: Lenva Shearing
The process, especially the learning conversations, facilitated some great opportunities to explore how learners are utilising ICTs for learning.

While each snapshot is unique I believe common messages are evident throughout including the relevance of:


Snapshots of Learning are framed to reflect the Teaching as Inquiry cycle and reference links to other TKI community resources i.e. NZC Online, Assessment Online, Literacy Online, NZMaths. They can also be utilised by school leaders to plan and support professional learning for their staff and school community. 

This Google Doc identifies components of Software for Learning, including the snapshots and describes how they might be used by teachers and schools to build their e-learning capacity through sustaining a professional e-learning community and professional inquiry into e-learning.  

A key motivation for writing this post was to recognise and thank the inspiring teachers and students who shared their learning and their practice. I have linked directly to their individual snapshots below plus all snapshots are can be browsed from the Software for Learning website.

How ePortfolios and student-owned mobile devices have been used to increase student ownership of their learning.
Contributed by Lenva Shearing, Bucklands Beach Intermediate School, Auckland

Developing an ePortfolio approach
Contributed by Erin Sawyer, Fairfield Intermediate School, Hamilton

Learning Journals enable students to become more active partners in the learning process. 
Contributed by Amanda Grimsey, Cornwall Park District School, Greenlane, Auckland

Implementing the use of mobile devices to support learning 
Contributed by Cameron Lockie, Kaipara Flats School, Kaipara Flats

Establishing a learning environment to foster student collaboration and ownership of learning
Contributed by Fiona Burns, Mount Roskill Grammar School

Utilising an ePortfolio approach to increase opportunities to learn
Contributed by Jon Bowen, St Peter’s College, Palmerston North

How student owned mobile devices have been used to enhance the relevance of new learning and enable students to take greater ownership of the learning process.
Contributed by Nathan Kerr, Howick College, Auckland