Reflections on Web 2.0 tools and student learning

January 19, 2008

Day in a Sentence

Filed under: collaboration, web 2.0 — Tags: — melindaphillips @ 9:04 am

It feels very different to join in with online conversations – I enjoy leaving comments on blogs (and reading the comments here) and I am getting better at adding my thoughts in other spaces, too.

One fun, easy way to start contributing is with Kevin Hodgson’s day in a sentence conversation on his blog. Cheryl Oakes’ post (on the techlearning blog) in late December highlighted this ongoing conversation, which Kevin adapted and shared as an activity at last year’s K12 online conference. As Cheryl says, it is a simple and powerful way to spend 10 minutes, reflecting on your day/week. Here is the latest batch of sentences contributed from around the world (including mine) – why not add a sentence this week?


December 20, 2007

Our students and digital citizenship

Filed under: teaching — melindaphillips @ 11:17 am


The concepts around digital citizenship are such important ones for educators to learn about, form opinions on, and embed into their teaching practice. Dean Shareski’s recent blog post Digital Citizenship or whatever you want to call it …what to do about it
is a great snapshot of some recent conversations – and it is a terrific way to begin to get a feel for the complexity and scope of this area. Does ‘digital citizenship’ describe it well for you? What would you include? What is less important?

Merry Christmas!

November 16, 2007

Reflections on the 2007 Catholic Education Parramatta Learnscope Project

Filed under: Australian, Learnscope, teaching, web 2.0 — Tags: — melindaphillips @ 9:45 am

What a journey!

From our first meeting with the teachers to discuss Learnscope; through workshops, and individual meetings; to sharing our progress at conferences and sessions with staff in the Diocese – it has been a steep, but enjoyable learning curve facilitating our first Learnscope Project.

IT VET teachers and trainers made up the core of our team, with VET cluster coordinators providing support. Pat Barrett managed the project, and Judy O’Connell also provided valuable guidance to the teachers and myself. We aimed to support projects that were true to the spirit of the Learnscope guidelines – work-based professional learning with a focus on the ‘end-user’, in our case the student learners.

The project has had two main impacts. Firstly, the work of the team (focused on student and teacher learning) and the conversations around our approach have become a part of a wider dialogue in the Diocese and beyond; and secondly the Project has supported other web 2.0 learning initiatives, both current (Focus on Learning – a school-based project initiative in our diocese) and planned (Teen Life and Second Life). This is very encouraging, as it confirms that the Project has not been operating in isolation but has instead created and supported networks that will be vital in the work of the Diocese, as our teachers and schools move toward supporting 21st century learning.

Our outcomes include:

  • students and teachers learning 21st century skills
  • increased student engagement in learning
  • teachers introducing web 2.0 technology to colleagues
  • conversations occurring across schools
  • new ongoing initiatives being created and supported (eg projects in Teen Life and Second Life) because of networks and learning in teams

Our impacts and outcomes are also captured in our team poster, and our thoughts mid-project were documented in this digital story.

Our team members and their students have also been reflecting on the year. Dean Groom has created a slideshare presentation, summarising his learning journey and has also been documenting his developing thinking, and concluding thoughts in his blog.

Some of Bob Cavill and Martin Lennon’s students speak about their learning journey with Web 2.0 tools in this video that Pat Barrett created, and David McMinn discussed his approach to web 2.0 in 2007 with Melinda Phillips on this podcast.

If you would like any more detail about any aspect of the project, please leave a comment below, on our wiki or contact us via our email addresses on our Learnscope wiki page.

November 5, 2007

Are we overwhelmed yet?

Filed under: collaboration, web 2.0 — melindaphillips @ 12:50 pm

I read Jane Nicholls’ blog post recently, talking about overwhelm from multiple sources. She was also discussing how one manages to balance “real life” friends and family with what is going on on-line – an interesting post and comments that follow.

Admittedly, I feel this way sometimes too – and I don’t think I’m alone. For me, it is more about the tools and the posts than the online connections with people – I think I am still too much of a ‘lurker’ to worry about people missing me … but when I fire up bloglines and see unread posts numbering into the hundreds, I know I need to re-organise what I do.

In addition to people’s evolving thinking (that I love reading in their blogs); the sheer amount of innovation and creativity occurring under the web2.0 banner, and the tools/applications/mash-ups that are the output is enormous. How does any one person handle this amount of incoming information? In my case, not always well (and I don’t even twitter!). I still add to my links, but don’t find the time at the moment to check what others are adding, or (eek!) to look back at my own bookmarks. I keep some posts to re-read/refer to in my bloglines reader, but don’t always get back there either.

Will Richardson has blogged recently about something similar in his post “What’s your process?”

“Seriously. I want to know. What do you do when you read a couple of sentences in a post or article that really resonate? How do you capture and organize those snippets? What tools do you use? How often do you recall those sentences, access them? How do you search for them? Is your process working?”

Now this is assuming that (a) I return to these snippets, and (b) I get to the level of analysis and even synthesis of ideas, which certainly doesn’t always happen! But if it does, for me, it’s pen and paper – not very 2.0 at all. Google notebook was suggested by many of the people who commented on Will’s blog, and it may well be a part of the solution for me.

From Google’s website, “Google Notebook lets you clip and collect information as you browse the web.

  • Clip useful information
    You can add clippings of text, images and links from web pages to your Google Notebook without ever leaving your browser window.
  • Organize your notes
    You can create multiple notebooks, divide them into sections, and drag-and-drop your notes to stay organized.
  • Get access from anywhere
    You can access your Google Notebooks from any computer by using your Google Accounts login.
  • Publish your notebook
    You can share your Google Notebook with the world by making it public.”

There is a tour of Google Notebook available, and this is one Google app I am going to spend more time playing with – maybe it will be part of my solution!

What do you do? How do you handle the information and what do you do with it?

November 1, 2007

eLearning 07

Filed under: Australian, second life, teaching — melindaphillips @ 8:46 pm

Four of the team are spending today and tomorrow at elearning 07. This event is showcasing all of the 2007 Australian Flexible Learning Projects, with panel sessions, workshops and opportunities for formal and informal learning in various spaces.

Tomorrow (Friday) is very exciting – there will be a connected keynote panel featuring elearning experts from around the world, and there is an opportunity to participate in Second Life or through Adobe Connect. Check out the program (on protopage) for more details – don’t miss this opportunity to participate!

October 26, 2007

Sustained blogging practice

Filed under: teaching, tools, web 2.0 — Tags: , , — melindaphillips @ 1:39 pm

Earlier in the week, Dean Groom wrote a post about three of his Year 12 students who have been offered IT traineeships within the Diocese. Dean wrote that:

“One comment I had was that the boy’s blogs showed how they had applied themselves to their studies this year … and in fact I think that (as a teacher or an employer) that a blog is a great way for young people to demonstrate their abilities and levels of sustained effort.”

This is a great example of the benefits of maintaining momentum in blogging – well done boys!

It is really easy to start blogging, either on your own or within the classroom but sustaining either practice is where it can get interesting. Sue Waters has written about her experience in the 31 day blogging challenge, and how this expanded and refined her personal approach to blogging. Sue was also instrumental in creating the building a better blog ning which is currently active and open for anyone to join.

Jeff Utecht’s presentation for the K12 Online Conference 2007 focused on the classroom, rather than the individual. “Sustained blogging in the classroom” contains some terrific insights into how to continue evolving with blogs in the classroom, and focus on them as a tool to support conversation. Jeff has also provided supporting links in this wiki.

If you have any tips or links on sustaining blogging practice, please share them in the comments below.


October 19, 2007

Second Life

Filed under: Australian, collaboration, professional learning, second life, web 2.0 — melindaphillips @ 8:18 am

Interest is growing, both within our team and beyond, about virtual worlds and the potential they hold for enhancing student learning. Sean Fitzgerald spoke at our final workshop and introduced many of us to one of the most popular virtual worlds, Second Life.

The latest edition of the Knowledge Tree (an e-journal of learning innovation published by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework) contains a podcast and transcript of an inspriring, informative online panel session called Virtual Life Learning (the descriptions of panel members that follow are from the Knowledge Tree introduction).

Jo Kay assists teachers to get into Second Life and other virtual worlds through presentations, tours and workshops and provides resources and research through the Second Life in Education wiki (which Sean introduced us to.)

Also on the panel was another Australian, Glenda McPherson, known as Glenda Arrow in Second Life, of GippsTAFE in Victoria, Australia. Glenda works extensively with vocational learners in Second Life and facilitates the 2007 the Australian Flexible Learning Framework Teaching & Learning in Virtual Worlds Network.

The final panel member was the esteemed Alan Levine (who is currently in Australia). Alan is Vice President of the New Media Consortium Community and Chief Technology Officer of The New Media Consortium, based in Arizona, United States. In Second Life he is a dog known as CDB Barkley.

How can you learn more about Second Life? Read/download this panel session – the current projects discussed are fascinating! Visit the links provided about the work of the people above; watch for conferences such as mobilize this (on Friday, 19 October) where Jo Kay is leading a session in the afternoon, open to interested people exploring Second Life; or look even closer to home – HeyJude is having a terrific time learning about the potential of the medium for education, as is Dean Groom.

Feel free to share any comments and links to other resources about Second Life with the team below.

Until next week!


September 25, 2007

More ideas about professional learning …

Filed under: professional learning, resources, teaching, web 2.0 — melindaphillips @ 11:43 am

Our team members that participated in yesterday’s Learnscope regional workshop Go Virtual 07 – Teaching and Learning in Virtual Worlds for VET learnt and shared in some great experiences around SecondLife – check out Dean and Judy’s blogs for their comments.

Professional learning can certainly occur in traditional contexts, such as workshops (although yesterday’s workshop was operating simultaneously in three environments, one face-to-face and two virtual – very exciting and not at all traditional). On a different note, I also wanted to follow on from Paul Meldrum’s comments at our workshop last week about not waiting for these opportunities, but instead challenging each of us to take charge of our own professional learning.

In the Diocese we have access to a range of short Atomic Learning tutorials through Staffnet. A new series of tutorial videos on Web 2.0 have been created for Atomic Learning by Vicki Davis, of Flat Classroom and Horizon Project fame. These videos may be of use to you, but I think their real value would be as a great ‘just-in-time’ resource to share with colleagues who are new to web 2.0 and want learn more. They do have a US slant but don’t let this deter you – the information they contain is delivered by a classroom teacher, for classroom teachers. To gain access to them, choose Atomic Learning from the resources menu in Staffnet. Let me know what you think!

Paul also mentioned podcasts last week. Three places to investigate to see how podcasts can provide effective professional learning are:

1. The Virtual Staffroom Project, which is a community podcasting project created by Australian Chris Betcher. Chris regularly interviews leading teachers on their views about the impacts new technologies are having in classrooms around the world.

2. Cut to the Core is a series of podcasts from Apple Distinguished Educators around the world, “showcasing current trends, innovative strategies, and replicable ideas that will empower educators to transform classrooms of the 21st century.”

3. TED Talks are the recordings of an amazing conference held annually in the US, that bring together extraordinary people from a diverse array of backgrounds to speak – to a theme, or about their own story. As the TED conferences website states “Hearing experts in your field may deliver incremental improvements to what you do… But if you want the big breakthrough, the giant “Aha,” then you have to emerge from your trench, climb to higher ground and see the big picture.” Terrific, inspirational listening (podcasts are available from itunes or you can watch/download/link to videos of the presentations on the TED website.)

If you know of other sites that provide quality podcasts around education, please share them in the comments below, so others in the team (and beyond) can check them out!

September 21, 2007

In the Parramatta Diocese …

Filed under: Australian, collaboration, teaching — melindaphillips @ 4:01 pm


As more and more of the educators in our community explore what technology tools can do to assist them in helping students learn, blogs remain popular as a simple, effective way to communicate, collaborate and celebrate.

Gary Borg is the principal at Holy Family Primary at Luddenham. His blog, Principalville charts Gary’s journey and is an enlightening read; in a recent post he asks “Can I make such a difference? How do I nurture and keep afresh my passion?”. These questions are shared by us all. Another blog, Holy Family School Conversations is used to support professional learning within the school, and is full of terrific ideas, anecdotes and links to other sites exploring how technology can best support student learning.

John Laffan is approaching his blog slightly differently. Laffan Out Loud is a new online news source for the parents and community of St Michael’s Primary School, in Blacktown South. Using a blog allows the ubiquitous newsletter to become a starting point for conversation – what a great idea!

Sharing the Story is written by Mary Anne Cartwright at Holy Cross Primary School at Glenwood, and documents many of the school and parish celebrations. Its spiritual character shines through and is a terrific example of using technology to share the message about the Catholic faith with families, the community and beyond.

What is your school doing to communicate, collaborate and celebrate?

September 12, 2007

Collaboration opportunities for students (and their teachers)

Filed under: collaboration, professional learning, teaching — melindaphillips @ 1:26 pm

The opportunity for students to collaborate with others across the globe is one that adds depth and authenticity to their learning, and supports the development of key communication and collaboration skills. Three opportunities that are currently commencing/in existence that you may wish to explore for your students are:

1. “Life round here – our digital storytelling project” is a project (managed by Chris Craft) for 10-13 year olds, and to participate you will need to publish at least six stories by October 31, 2007, using a template available on the wiki. More details are also available on the wiki and in Chris Craft’s blog.

2. “Skoolaborate” is a teen SecondLife project with huge potential that is just getting off the ground (terrific time to get involved!) It is currently being managed by Westley Field at MLC Sydney, and has some great guidelines regarding participation that allow you to decide if this is a project for you. Westley’s email details are listed on the blog as the best way to contact him for more information.

3. Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay did an amazing job with their Flat Classroom project last year (and were recognised for their excellence with a range of awards and accolades.) They will be blogging soon about how to get involved for 2007 (as they are looking for a few new “technically proficient classrooms” to help investigate our changing world with them) – keep an eye out for details.

Participate in the free K12 Online Conference

To finish, here is an event for you to participate in and support your own professional learning: the K12 Online Conference 2007 will be held over the first two weeks of next term (with a pre-conference keynote in the week of October 8.) Twenty different presentations will be posted in each week, supported by live events, podcasts and more. “Teaser videos” on some presentations have started to be posted – what a great way to see if they fit your learning needs!

Until next week …

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