Sunday, 27 April 2008

The Australian twit list !!

Well., it had to happen. we had lists of bloggers by region and blogrolls. Now somebody @andrewsayers has constructed what is a basic list of Australian Twits. It is done by state and seems like quite a good effort on the surface, but a quick comparison with some of the key voices in my network and who he actually lists shows lots of gaps. The idea is great and as we are continually getting new followers or having to recommend people to follow to new tweeters, a list based on interests would be a great idea. Perhaps this can be done by a wiki or through our Diigo group? Andrew has started me thinking about how we use the network to create the network and strengthen it. Should we be constructing a more detailed one with people who are available to mentor on particular topics or is that trying to formalise the randomness and excitement that is twitter for something more constructed? What do you think?

Tweetclouds -a lesson in how the network speaks

There has been lots of fun talk around on twitter lately about some of the applications for twitter addicts, like tweetscan, twitterkarma and twitpics- just to name a few, but the one I have found most fascinating as an expression of what I have been doing for the last few months is the Tweetcloud. Here is my current one and I am so fascinated by the way I have used language and who my links are to. These are people, many of whom I have never met f2f, but they are people I hurry home to hear from at night and have been organising a group meeting on Flash meeting so we can talk together more about our jobs and our ideas.This cloud is more than just words -it is a visualisation of what is happening and very real!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Swimming not Waving

The first week back at school has been a great one for me in terms of moving forward in my journey into technology. The name of my blog came from my first few weeks of blogging- everyday there was another thing new to explore and so often I feel like a kid in a giant lolly shop.

The previous post where I described my lesson 'introducing/co-learning' Google Sketchup was wonderful and the second class was even more so as students explored how they would make their project have a minimal footprint environmentally.They explored the 3D warehouse and found objects such as solar panels and water tanks already constructed and ready to go. In terms of takeup, the geeky computer star boys were happily just fiddling around and chatting about the app, but a couple of the girls just absolutely zoomed and were actually creating detailed interiors to their building - much to the surprise and chagrin of the supposedly 'expert' boys. Way to go girls!
My school now has a second meeting every week apart from faculty and staff meetings and it is designed to allow for IT training. Last term I offered blogging and only two people reluctantly attended which was really disappointing. So this term when asked to do another blogging one, I suggested I would rather do and of course received a blank stare. Wednesday morning at staff briefing no takers on the list so I made a brief but excited announcement and by recess had 17 takers on the list. By the time of the class, I had 20 - a real audience at last, so I prepared a sheet, using my bookmarks, diigo and my network. I used the Commoncraft video on which is found on Teachertube - another little lesson- and added a link to Sue Waters great post on her wiki that has great hints for the beginner and the more adventurous.
So twenty people did turn up, several just could not get on the network- wireless was down just then - of course, and the rest happily followed my directions and by the end were busily bookmarking and creating networks themselves. What a difference from my previous effort and I have had positive feedback from several staff since.

Diigo Oz Educators
My big effort at going in the 'deep end' and actually starting something has been starting Oz Educators group at Diigo. As I write it is currently at 37 members and I am so pleased there are new names I am not familiar with. So on Saturday night a tweet came through to watch a flash meeting on podcasting. A few of us popped in but the sound and vision were really poor so we chatted. Jess McCulloch and I decided to have our own one as I now have booking rights for Flash Meeting. So I booked a session and tweeted it and then got going working it out as we went. Eight people came in - all Aussies or Kiwis and we played with the software. John Larkin has already blogged about this - in fact within the hour and his screencasts give you a great idea of how it looked to the participants.
Thanks to Simon, John, Nirvana,Fiona,Jess,Sue and Sarah for being 'early adopters'!!
So we have started and now we are planning to try and have a big OZ/NZ Educators meeting in Flash Meeting at 8pm AEST. I have tweeted the link three times so far today and am planning my evening around the meeting. Hope it will be a positive beginning to building links for the southern hemisphere. I am also thinking of trying a Google forms survey as we go. Wish me luck!!'I'm Gonna Blog About This!'

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

A Personal Learning Network that works.

Second term has begun and after a two week break, classes are underway. My year eight bloggers are working away on their blogs and also completing a presentation for a grant of $1m. They have to workout how they would spend the grant for the benefit of the local and school communities and do a presentation for the whole class.Last year in the mainstream classes, they were in groups of four and had two weeks. This time , my guys have a week and only two or three in a group.
While sitting doing some planning work this morning , I remembered a programme that someone had mentioned that was a web based 3D drawing application. This class is full of really talented kids, could I find something to stretch them with this presentation? I couldn't remember where I had seen the app, looked through my tags on and the did the same on Diigo, but no luck. Did I forget to bookmark it?
So what does the well connected teacher do? Ask my Personal Learning Network!!
I tweeted the request and within a few minutes I had two answers, Google Sketchup!

Patrick Wegner and Susie Vesper were both finding an answer to my problem and I thank them as they demonstrate a very typical aspect of twitter. It is an invaluable source of support, both practical and emotional and is now something I rely on everyday. Yet how do I share this with others- they all say they are too busy and don't have time. Yet my tweet and the response took five minutes, I quickly downloaded the programme - it was free and had a quick play. Off to class after another ten minutes and while describing the task of the presentation to the class ,I mentioned Sketchup- several cries of 'Yeah I've used that' 'I know that..' came to me and instantly the chatter began and kids were discussing the programme and what it could do.
By the end of the double- luckily I had been able to get a lab booking- most groups were well on the way with their proposal for the grant and the majority were planning a 3D presentation of their plan. Some were even working out how they could bring a portable software app from home to use for the presentation. How exciting- and all because my network were there and the kids were able and willing!
While the kids were working, I had a play more with the programme and found the 3D warehouse and the search function. Seeing I am starting 'To Kill A Mockingbird' with Year 10 soon I wondered if anyone had done a map of the fictional town of Maycomb. Well two people have and the screencast above is of a fantastic one by Michael - a regular contributor. Sketchup is a very useable programme - easy to use and it allows you to walk through what you have made- great potential for spatial learners. I also am about to work on 'The Hobbit' and a quick search using 'middle earth' as my search term found all sorts of amazing structures. Google Sketchup is a great tool which could have enormous potential for teaching language- thanks network and my great kids!! I am looking forward to their products

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Visual poetry -Dianne's great idea

Thanks Dianne Cordell for posting such a great idea . This will be fun to try with Animoto or Rockyou as well as Slide. I will get my year 8 bloggers to have a play. Dianne also suggests that a search in Flickr creative commons under poetry will provide some great images. Thanks Dianne and also Carolynn Foote - sorry missed this first time!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

More of Diigo - beginning steps to becoming a Diigo star!

Ok So here is the story so far. I have a diigo account and a account and I have started Oz Educators as a group on Diigo and we now have 31 members which is really exciting. So today after reading a huge thread of discussion about Diigo, I thought I would try to explore some of the more complex ie non-newb bits. So I found the tools section and put a 'save to diigo' tag on my blog and inserted the diigolet on my bookmarks toolbar so I can either use the main diigo toolbar or the shortcut.So far - all good!
Then I connected all my diigo bookmarks to my feed so they all go in there. That worked too! Then feeling very techy I also did a feed of my Diigo to the sidebar of my blog- nice,looks good, works well. The girl is happy.
Last thing the biggy - I imported all my delicious bookmarks across to Diigo. Took a while but finally I got the email saying job done- yippee. Ok, now I sound like the newb I am because I do find some of the terminology and the technicals about feeds and trackback etc a bit tricky, but if I can't do it how on earth am I ever going to teach it to others?
Anyway there I am happily clicking around my diigo page and my blog, looking at my new tag clouds - I added the delicious one too- and thinking 'wow this is really amazing - now all I need is another month of holidays to read all this stuff!'
Then I start playing with the diigo toolbar - nice ,easy, that makes sense and come across to the sidebar tab. Lordy lordy- I can see a whole lot more information- friends tweets and bookmarks and activities all in the one place. Fabulous- I am in information overload again.
So little MS nerd is happy and all the things I saw on the various screencasts and presentations listed in my previous post, make sense- thanks my PLN! But I do have one little question- how do I send out a notification to all members of my group ? Do I have to make a contact list of their addresses or is there a quick way? Some of them are not in my friends list yet so it might involve a long search. Any clues? Till my next diigo bulletin Bye.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

A Diigo Flavoured Month

As fast as I learn about one particular app- a new one moves across the blogosphere and is the flavour of the month. Diigo is the new killer app in terms of what it can do and twitter is running hot with conversations about the pros and cons and lots of tips and hints to make it more effective. It seems to combine the best parts of as a bookmarking and tagging and sharing tool, the social capabilities for connecting and chatting as Facebook and Twitter, as well as some other new capabilities which appear to make it a very powerful app. Kristin Hokansen has written a really detailed post examining the potential of the program and Liz Davis has made a great screencast which takes you through the basics. I have had a play and I am excited by the idea of the group which will be like a ning I imagine but a bit different. Feeling very forthright, I created a group for Australian Educators and NZ ones too and called it Oz Educators in the hope that the rapidly increasing number of teachers in the Southern Hemisphere can start making some connections and finding resources appropriate to our schools and teaching experience. The voice from the Northern Hemisphere is a very strong one and we also need to develop our own one. Jo Mcleay has had the idea of some kind of show like WOW 2.0 but for the southern Hemisphere, and this is a start at building this. We already have 24 members and there are lots of familiar and also several unfamiliar names, evidence of how these tools of twitter and Diigo are expanding and contracting the network of teachers by bringing them closer.There are a number of other areas of Diigo I have yet to explore like some of the highlighting and notetaking functions, but it will happen.
On a sadder note Nikki -one of my darling Redpoint Siamese cats is failing fast as he is struck down by a kidney problem that he had when younger which has been kept in abeyance up till now, but his age and the heat of summer and the sudden cold has made flare up again very badly. He has lost lots of weight and after tests today there is not much that can be done; we are trying to make him as comfortable as possible.He is nine years old now and he and his brother have been such a wonderful part of our lives - siamese twins who rule the house.