Web 2.0

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When ken rodoff launched his Edublogs Awards bid, he established his campaign site using a platform that I had not come across before - Weebly. It is actually an extremely popular blogging platform with over one million users already. (I can hear readers thinking out loud, "He's only found out about Weebly now!?")

Anyway, I decided to set up a site to have a go at this microblogging concept. My idea to add in bite sized chunks of web content and thoughts that fall outside the parameter of this blog which is mainly focussed on the professional side of my life. I don't expect that many people will be that all that interested in the minor things that catch my fancy but it is interesting to play with a new platform and see how it stacks up against a familiar technology like WordPress.

Like Stephen Downes said yesterday, I don't need to spend time describing how to use it or dissect its features when I can just link to or embed the appropriate resources.

I noticed that it doesn't easily allow for embedding of single Flickr images or have any method of comment moderation so I'm not sure that I'd use it in the classroom. But the click and type in the editor feature is pretty handy and has a shorter learning curve than the WordPress dashboard.

Anyway, you can check out Graham Wegner - Mix & Mash if you want a short snack sized break from my edtech ramblings and see if Weebly is a worthwhile new format for blogging.


Heard about lifestreaming?

Via the super savvy Chris Harvey over on the TALO list:

...blogging is not necessarily dying, but is becoming an inadequate paradigm to keep up with all the data that the average internet consumer now produces. Lifestreams are the way to keep up with it all.

Yongfook has his own open source solution ready to go. Called SweetCron, you really need to see it to understand how it all holds together. Thankfully, Chris has installed it on his site so others can check it out. Barbara Dieu has hers up and running as well. It seems that you need to have your own hosted site and a bit of web nous to make it all work which puts it out of reach of a cheapskate free ranger like me. 

And ironically, doesn't this make me.edu.au a form of lifestreaming?


I received a staff email today that linked to the "Pay Attention" video created back in early 2007 by Darren Draper, passed down from the higher offices of our department. It seems that his message has eventually seeped upwards to some of the decision makers and policy writers in our education system here in South Australia. I know my staff viewed Darren's work early in its viral rise but it may not have made the impact then as it seems to doing a year and a half later. I replied back to my staff with the following:

Thanks for the link - it is a very good video with a good message created by a very innovative educator. It is interesting that the internet allows anyone to reach out and make connections with that innovation - http://drapestakes.blogspot.com/2007/04/pay-attention-people-its-global.html I'm not sending this link to "big note" but to point out that this is the power of Web 2.0 and that we can leverage this discussion with other educators around the world about the future of education for the benefit of not just our students, but ourselves.
Cheers, Graham.

I think that sometimes the hardest idea to sell to my colleagues is the fact that they themselves could be giving someone like Darren feedback and tossing out their own ideas for the connected education community to bounce around. Maybe, getting Darren Draper out for a CEGSA Conference Keynote might be the way to go!


dear ken,

Do you like the way I started this post by using one of your trademark writing quirks?

Anyway, it has taken me this long to pull together some bits and pieces since your post that got me thinking. I went and did what I threatened in the comment. I took your techno-ripe idea, ping-ponging its way via the network from California to Pennsylvania to South Australia, twisted it around to suit my Year Six classroom and have a few samples to share.

Check this one first...

The goal was to advertise their upcoming Personal Research Projects (starting up this week!) in one minute with the assistance of four relevant adjectives combined with four skilfully chosen CC images. Some kids did well with their adjective choice, their excellent speaking skills but struggled to break away from the obvious connection with their chosen topic. Not to worry - these are 11 year olds after all. I was happy about the attribution and thought put into this one.

Others were not as fluent at the speaking part but their image choice was positively inspired...

And if you're wondering what four adjectives would sum up your own fine country from an Aussie child's perspective, try this ad for the topic of the USA.

So, ken, I did much of what you suggested. In between the demands of your young family, just know that your influence (and so many others that I read and connect with) resonates in my classroom half a world away.

And that still blows me away.


I know that many are raving that diigo trumps del.icio.us with its ultra-bookmarking and extra bags of tricks. But for many teachers I work with, del.icio.us is an ideal starting spot for them in the world of social software subverted for educational purposes. It's simple but powerful. Too many bells and whistles just scare nervous teachers away.

We've been trying to build a collegial network of users and I'm pushing the line that sharing favourite sites and links is much easier this way in preference to the email out to all staff with the "Have you seen this?" tagline. We've started using unique tags to tie all of the web links for our inquiry units together but some teachers' eyes still glaze over when we mention phrases like "common tags", "adding fans to your network" and "bundling tags."

Some are uneasy about the public nature of the service.

"It's only websites," supporters say.

But as my colleague and friend, Alex Hayes, has pointed out, a long term or active user of del.icio.us does lay out their entire digital learning history for the world to access.

But the interest is building. Our switched on teacher-librarian has been pushing the social bookmarking barrow enthusiastically and gradually more and more teachers who want to use the internet as a regular part of their learning program are realising that it is impossible to manage 300 + bookmarks in Favorites! But it is weird that a service like del.icio.us which has been around since 2003 is already viewed by many edubloggers as old skool when the vast bulk of teachers are only just becoming aware of the power of this simple but highly effective tool.


My theme for my ten minute audio at last Friday's Learning In The 21st Century roundtable discussion was about protecting teacher innovation and how student learning can extend beyond the classroom. I managed to get myself to educationau headquarters on Fullarton Road shortly after 2 pm and got to be involved in the last two hours of discussion which was centered around the development of a starting framework of what Teaching And Learning Online means in an Australian context. I tried to catch up and plug in on what had transpired in the previous five hours while the other participants were tiring after an intense day. My impressions of our facilitator Joan Russell, an eminent South Australian in the field of Science, were first rate. She set the tone for working through the issues in a timely and open manner keeping all participants on track whilst respecting their various points of view. I wish that I could have been there for the whole day but Mike Seyfang recorded all of the relevant presentations and conversations in due course I will be able to listen to all of the audio and be well briefed.

It is great to see that Al Upton has restarted blogging with his class under a framework of guidelines developed in consultation with his principal. If you visit his blog, you will notice that the Notice For Closure page has been archived under a tab and you will know be able to re-directed to his new miniLegends blog. Al has kickstarted so much of this conversation that we had to have here in Australia and it is only through boundary pushing innovators like him can we discover what is truly best for those learners under our care.

That's why innovation is something precious to be guarded within our schools. Without the innovative educators, we would be always camped at the safe no-risk end of learning - innovators are the ones who open up new possibilities and create new entry points for others to follow through. But the concept of "duty of care" is a real one that K-12 educators must deal with. Whenever you invite someone to interact with your learners the potential and expected benefits must carefully weighed against the potential risks. While a lot of American research is cited that dispels a lot of the myths surrounding use of the internet, there is precious little that carries similar weight in an Australian context. So do Aussie educators assume that the North American findings are directly transferable or do we proceed with caution and push for more research to be carried out with our own population?

"Duty of care" assumes that the students under my care will be cared for and not exposed to any risks that a parent or caregiver would consider unreasonable. In the case of using the web, that parental point of view could swing from parents who use heavy filtering, perhaps have deliberately chosen to not to get web access at home to the parents for whom the web is a big mystery and they don't give much thought to where in cyberspace their children might be because their awareness levels are just so far behind.They just don't know.

Peter Simmonds, our DECS Learning Technologies Projects manager was an all day attendee on that Friday and he used the Outdoor Education analogy to good effect. To paraphrase his words, outdoor education could potentially be a very risky undertaking (think rock climbing and kayaking as two examples) but the educators involved have developed such well developed protocols and guidelines that the risks have been diminished to their very slightest and are now considered to be safe activities for students to be involved in. Teaching and learning online activities also would benefit from the development of protocols and guidelines that would turn the use of blogs and other online tools into a safe, highly valuable and essential learning practice. Doing so without this happening is like trusting your ropes will hold you down the rockface because of your experience rather than taking the time to check and ensure that the activity will not end in disaster due to human oversight or negligence.

The framework under development and started on May 2 by the gathered group of volunteers is a positive step in the right direction for Australian education.


Kudos to educationau for offering to host the May 2nd event titled "Learning In The 21st Century" as a positive spin off from the issues coming to a head with Al Upton's class blog closure. Now the event is not about Al's situation but is more a roundtable discussion as a starting point for moving forward. Acknowledgement must go to Alex Hayes who came up with the initial concept of an event and drove the TALO involvement but will be nursing his swollen knee as the discussion unfolds. Janet Hawtin has also been amazing, connecting all the dots and encouraging key people to have their say. Over a GMail chat the other night I negotiated an afternoon only visit to the event and a recorded contibution for the morning due to my classroom teaching commitments. As I type the just over 10 minutes of audio is uploading to my podomatic account and hopefully I'll link to it just before I head to bed.

Audio presentation for May 2 - click to download.

Sites mentioned or relevant to my presentation.

Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century

Spin The Global wiki project


Reduce your digital footprint.

Make all of your online profiles private.

Restrict the photos you post of yourself online - they can be used for purposes you may not like.

Ensure your Bluetooth is turned off to avoid "data slurping".

Be aware that mobile phones with cameras and voice recorders may be in your school and classroom.

Try and ensure that you know the true identity of everyone that you chat to online.

These pieces of advice were part of the “Cyber Safety For Teachers” presentation from our CEGSA AGM. Without being a basher of the presenter, there are a number of problems with talking about the topic of cyber safety from a negative, glass-half-empty perspective. We were given a handout at the end for which I cannot find a web pdf link, no matter how hard I search. It sets the scene for teachers online in the following way:

There have been many reports of students bullying and harassing other students using digital technologies. As technology rapidly changes opportunities for such antisocial behaviour increase including the use of sms, websites, and even the use of mobile phones to record bullying incidents which are then posted on websites such as YouTube and MySpace.

Unfortunately there have also been incidents where teachers have been bullied and harassed by students, as well as ex-students and parents.

Teachers need to aware of the risks inherent in their daily contact with digitally aware and capable students, and take steps to protect themselves.

It seems to be the recommended method to deal with these issues is to ensure that as little of ourselves makes it onto the web because it can all be used against us. Close it all down - don't give the sneaky so-and-so's any opportunity to misuse your personal data against you. After all, who wants to Google their name and see the first hit defaming their professional or personal reputation?

But I would suggest that perhaps the opposite advice is actually a safer option. Being open about who you are, what you stand for, publishing your ideas, your work, your interactions with others means that the web stores a pretty comprehensive and weighty body of evidence that would easily counter any scurrilous content authored by others with malicious intent. So, expanding your digital footprint can therefore work in your favour and it is from that digital footprint that we can verify the identity and intent of those with whom we choose to interact with on the web.

I know that there are those who feel safer behind an alias or an avatar. I would venture to say that particular choice is made more out of fear of non-online retribution in many cases (but I'm happy to be corrected).

It's from that open identity that we find our global collaborative partners, build digital collegiality and share our best practices and resources. And hand in hand with that open identity comes open dialogue, open exchanging of views.

Teachers shouldn't be running scared of the online world.  If they decide to make it part of their professional existence, they can take control of their online identity and the worst efforts of others will be much easier to deal with.

Original image: 'identity card' 
identity card
by: Simone Petralia


I've been recently tagged by Doug, Patrick and then today, David. It's been everywhere and dodged me until now. I thought I had the perfect photo if someone ever decided that this game of tag should come this way until I checked and found it was © copyright. 🙁

So, I've found a CC version that is pretty similar - more on that in a minute... here's the rules.

Passion Quilt Meme Rules:

1. Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
2. Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
3. Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
4. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

Collaboration And Linking With Others Makes You A Star! 

"Hand Star" by Chris.P. 

The thinking behind my photo was that it had to be about learners, be they students or educators or anybody. How do they/I learn best? By collaborating and linking up with others - you can learn by yourself but not in isolation from everything/ everyone. Everything you learn has a connection to someone else. Also, every time you learn/ create something, it becomes more powerful when shared/ linked with others.

Who am I tagging? Let's go for some of the most passionate people I know on my network.

Alexander Hayes
Ken Rodoff
Leigh Blackall
Chris Harbeck
Konrad Glogowski

I just hope that Alex doesn't throw up my Open Educator logo as his example - it could end up well utilised in the near future anyway.


I've been keen on the idea of a Digg style site that can be customised for a classroom since last year but the demise of CrispyNews put paid to that avenue. But I'm been using another site, CoRank, to build something similar for this year and it looks promising. I haven't seen much in the edublogosphere about this site so I thought I'd let you know.

You basically set up an account (valid email only required) and then you can choose from a few templates to set up your site. You can then invite others to join the site so that they can help submit news stories and websites that can then be commented upon and voted up or down Digg style. This way you set up your small voting community and watch as topical stories surface and climb or fall according to the preferences of the participants. There are tabs where you can see all stories submitted, they can sorted by tag, rank, and every user can see their activity history as well.

Why might this be useful in the classroom?

I figure it can be useful in a number of ways. Firstly, there is a lot to be learnt in terms of the students sensibly starting and managing a web account and how to be protective of their identity via their profile and the creation of a fun avatar. It can be useful in terms of teaching younger kids how to start contributing to the web without having to author original material but instead getting them to start making insightful comments. It gets them thinking about the wider world and making judgement calls about suitable material for the site both by voting up or down and then via posted contributions.

You can get a bit of an idea by looking at the site I created. I've gone with the SpinTheGlobe theme thinking that we might restart our connection to Doug Noon's class with this as one distributed point where we can find topics of interest together for 11/12 year olds. Already, students have been really keen and have added some articles already, and started the commenting. The voting feature is a hit - please bear in mind that this is barely a week old but it is a tool that is worth a good look in terms of tapping into your students' interests and assisting with information literacy skills and general internet awareness. Check it out.


Spin The Globe Classrooms > Top via kwout