Building a Western Australian PLN (#WApln)

Halfway through last year, a Twitter conversation with @suewaters raised the prospect of building the Western Australian online teacher community, with the goal of running our own professional development through unconferences led by educators, for educators. (There is a BIG event in the works, more details coming here soon).

One of the key issues raised out of our early discussions was our difficulty in finding local Twitter teachers,and the need for a specific Western Australian education Twitter hashtag. At the time we only knew of around 10 people, but with the recent efforts of @LouCimetta in the Catholic Education school system, there are now more than a 100 Twitter teachers here in the West.

In what we believe is the first step of a long journey, we are launching the #WApln Twitter hashtag. This is intended to be a universal Western Australian education hashtag – we welcome contributors from primary, secondary, and adult education – across the government AND private sectors, and in metropolitan AND rural areas.

Get Involved

1) Tag your tweets with the #WApln hashtag, and add it to your Twitter client (Hootsuite, Twitterific, Tweetdeck).

2) Subscribe to @mgraffin’s WA Educator’s Twitter list – instantly follow 100+ local educators!

3) Please help spread the word – through your blogs, school communities, and Twitter networks!

Learn More

What the heck is a PLN?

 

Introduction to Twitter (via @KerryMuste)

“The View Over the Hill” (#Slide2Learn Reflections)

Slide via @learnexchange

Last week, the #Slide2Learn Conference hit Western Australia for the first time. Normally, teacher-run ICT / mobile learning conferences such as these pass us by, but I’m really grateful that this one didn’t!

Sometimes you get a quote which just defines a conference, and this one from Ben Beaton (@learnexchange), sums it up nicely:

#slide2learn was an opportunity for early adopters,  ICT leaders, and keen life-long learners to help each-other stand on top of the hill, looking towards and planning for a future where concepts of ‘mobile learning’ and ’21st century skills” are obsolete, and just called “learning”.

Like many others at the conference, we believe that ICT and mobile devices are tools which can, and should be invisibly integrated into the teaching and learning process. We’re not interested in promoting the “next great revolutionary device” … we’re interested in promoting and supporting LEARNING through technology.

We came together with different skills, perspectives, and philosophies – but #slide2learn gave us the chance to connect, and make our voices heard – as we move towards the top of the hill … together.

Skype Keynote by @achurches

Through #slide2learn, I was able to:

  • Build & develop my professional networks through meetings and conversations with so many wonderful teachers, including many online collaborators I was meeting f2f for the very first time.
  • Meet the amazing @TonyVincent (thank you for being so welcoming)
  • Discover the language and resources to define my philosophy of teaching and learning … I learnt a great deal about “Challenge Based Learning” from the Apple rep. and @janeinjava.
  • Develop my skills and professional knowledge in relation to iPad VPP management, Augmented Reality, and use of iPads in Early Childhood.
  • Learn some valuable presentation skills from the Keynote presenters – most of whom I’d already met on Twitter 🙂
  • Launch the #WApln twitter hashtag (more info coming), and commence discussions with @JASONDARGENT and others about a TEDx ED Perth event in 2014.
  • Fit into a community of teachers who share my ideas, goals, and dreams for the seamless, and ultimately invisible integration of iOS devices into teaching and learning.
On a personal note, I am extremely grateful for @LouCimetta, who gave me the push I needed to come to #slide2learn. Lou, your support and advice is always greatly appreciated, and I hope to work more closely with you over the years to come.

 

Augmented Reality with @kmacc1 and @deanscanlon

 

Congratulations go to the AMAZING #slide2learn team, who pulled off an incredibly rich, diverse, and valuable learning experience.

You did such a great job that I will seriously consider flying over East for the next conference 🙂

via @KerryMuste

 

Congratulations also go to @KerryMuste and @AmieMeyer4, two amazing fellow West Australian teachers who presented at #slide2learn. 

@KerryMuste, #globalclassroom teacher presenting @ #slide2learn

 

And thanks to all those wonderful people that I was able to meet f2f for the first time … there are too many to list, but you know who you are.

Thank you for the conversations … I’ll see you online 🙂

Struggling to Teach Creative Commons

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Scott McLeod


Would you believe that our education department ICT policy makers, in their infinite wisdom, have blocked student access to Flickr.com?

And that this means, that no less than four out of five Creative Commons images sites, which are SUITABLE for students, don’t WORK AT ALL? Even the site recommended by the Department doesn’t work properly due to these restrictions!

How I’m supposed to teach students ‘appropriate and ethical’ ICT practices regarding copyright, I don’t know …

The ONLY site I could get to work was Google Advanced Image Search; however, this makes it exceptionally difficult for students to a) check the terms of the CC license, and b) attribute the image.

I mean, students can access these sites from home, but how am I supposed to teach and model appropriate use if I can’t access these resources in class?

Suffice to say, I am (still) not particularly happy about this!! I’d love to hear about potential workarounds (other than sharing my 3G connection with students …)

 

Finishing up the #WLPSict Journey – For Now

On Wednesday (March 27), I completed my four week stint as the #WLPSict integrator.

I left with mixed emotions … sadness at leaving a position which I loved, but also with a great sense of personal vindication. I left knowing that I’d done my best, and that I’d done it well.

The last week gave me the time to finish what I’d started, wrapping up some projects that I’d been preparing students’ for, as well as laying the seeds for ongoing ICT projects which will continue when I’m gone.

Here’s my final #WLPSict wrap for Week 4 …

World Water Day 2013 (Year 2, and some Year 7s)

I’ve already blogged about this here, so I won’t go into too much more detail – except to say that with comments from 10 countries, and 1000+ hits in a week, I’m proud to say that the third anniversary of my ‘first’ global project was a wonderful success. Well done kids! 🙂

Completing the Asia Google Docs Inquiry (Year 5/6)

I spent my last lesson with the Yr 5/6’s helping students finish their Asia presentations, incorporating the information so kindly shared by students and staff at a variety of international schools throughout Asia. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I was unable to obtain copies of the presentations to share online, as I couldn’t work out where the students had saved them! 🙁

If I’d had more time, I’d have used Google Presentations … which would have allowed students to actually collaborate on their presentations AND easily share them online! (I’ll get off my Google Soapbox now …)

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the staff and students at the following schools for the wonderful support for this experimental project:

PuppetPals with Year 3N

I was really pleased with the progress Year 3N (Year 2F, and Year 3C) made with their use of the PuppetPalsHD iPad app.

We used our last lesson in Year 3N to create group PuppetPalsHD presentations on Jungle creatures, tying in with the class theme. With the help of their wonderful classroom teacher, students had planned these presentations, and the final results weren’t too bad. I was able to put a few on the school YouTube channel, and I’ve shared them below.

This little project bore witness to one of the most infuriating moments of my #WLPSict tenure … stay tuned for my upcoming reflections (rant) on (trying to) teach about Creative Commons images.

WordFoto with Year 3C

The Year 3C teacher has exciting plans for using the WordFoto app with her class, and to my great surprise (and pleasure) actually borrowed an iPad, and showed her class how to use it (outside of our ICT time) – a significant leap forward!

So I spent my last lesson with Year 3C roaming the school grounds with a box of iPads and iPods, letting students have a play with the app, and Dropboxing the results. The brief was to create WordFoto partner portraits & school landscapes, so the only one I’m really comfortable sharing is the one they did of me 🙂

 

Year 4 – Getting Excited about Animoto

In my last week, I introduced the Year 4 students to Animoto. While with hindsight I wouldn’t use a ‘whole-school’ account again, I was really pleased to see how popular (and useful) this tool actually is. The Animoto for Education account wasn’t as fully featured as I’d expected; however, it does allow for the creation of student accounts – In fact, I’ll be recommending WLPS teachers to create their own class accounts in future.

Here’s a student created example – using images they took on a recent class excursion to “Sculptures by the Sea”, at Cottlesloe Beach, WA.

And thus ends my stint at #WLPS … for now at least. This is one of remarkably few schools where I have truly felt ‘at home’, and the first where I’ve been able to really share my passion for all things ICT and global education. I hope that this #WLPSict journey marks the beginning of a fruitful long-term relationship over the years to come. Time will tell.