Twitter ~ Connecting ~ web 2 and COWs

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I’ve been blogging a bit about Twitter recently.  Here’s another great example of some good ideas sharing.  Check out the video below on YouTube if you are able to.  It gives some great ideas for using web 2.0 tools to structure a different type of learning environment.

piphowell@Darcy1968 Perhaps watching this video called ‘goomoodlikiog’ at may inspire them to create while they have time

A tweet !   ~  140 characters maximum..a discipline in deciding the key message and shortened URL..and the building of a sense of community: a professional learning network; one with the capacity to meet way beyond the walls of our day to day existence.  Think of the possibilities when we, as a whole community, move from a paradigm of school planning to a new paradigm of planning school.  It is a simple reversal of word order, but a powerful shift in engaging with community.

I was talking to a teacher the other day about setting up a Moodle for him to use for his class.  The structure, which allows Categories and weekly or topic based formats lends itself well to planning a site to support a K-6 class.  You can post things which are planned for the week, homework, kids can have their own blog within the Moodle, you can include chat and a database, quizzes etc etc.

The hack work is in the set up, adding users and so forth.  This is easier in a network environment if it’s possible to access an LDAP server, but for a class, it’s not a huge task to create the user accounts, and a lot of fun to learn.

We’ve been running a ‘Virtual OC’ project between Tighes Hill and Biraban schools and the students are in the process of creating and uploading their second set of content around a theme based unit on Gold..’ all that glitters…”

In term 1 the kids produced ppt and podcasts. They are lashing out into video and other digital media this term.  The project has been helped along by one of our Quality Teaching consultants and I’ve been having fun setting up the Moodle and finding solutions; and finding out more about Moodle.  It’s another Collaborative Online Workspace, or COW :-)

If you’d like to know more about our COWs, have a look at 

We also have capacity in our web 2.0 space to provide WordPress blogs for people wanting to have a try in the run up to the rollout of the DET blog which will come with much more seamless authentication possibilities.

A few current examples are below  - This is a WordPress blog running from our hccweb2 space.  Pip uses it to support the outstanding presentations she has been doing around the region.  - Using WordPress as a powerful yet simple solution for school communication..  Don’t forget, however, that the school website service is just about to roll out and looks great !  Just a demo showing off what one of the free themes I’ve found on the web can do for Moodle.   Home of our virtual OC trial  Another nice theme for Moodle – a place for gathering ideas for L4L Some of our Maths Head teachers and others are starting to get some great stuff together.  Notebook resources.  Notice that Moodle has the ability to render RSS feeds from other sites.  This one displays feeds from Pip’s blog.

And, this site is being put together to provide resources and ideas for all of our COWs – Collaborative Online Workspaces.

We also have a whole herd of COWs grazing in the Sharepoint environment which is hosted on a regional server and accessible to authenticated users of the DET network.  Many of our consultants are now managing and growing their own COWs as a place to share resources and ideas amongst their teams and as a way of giving access to more and more schools and teachers to the great ideas and resources they have.

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The learning is there in front of us.

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Dog walking in the park at night: squelch in wet grass and the sound of men in the darkness playing a pick-up soccer match.

Ahead, the glorious rotunda; uplights levitating the corrugated iron and hardwood to hover abovrotundae the park.

And look, inside to see the intricate framework.

What would be the angle between the ‘spokes?’

By applying our knowledge about the total number of degrees in a circle, how can we calculate the individual angles by counting the spokes?  Why have those shapes been used to support the roof.  Is it about strength or asthetics?

Does the roof shape resemble an bandsman’s helmet from a time where a Sunday outing to the park provided an entertainment at the turn of the 20th Century, no TV or radio.  Imagine the gatherings to farewell some of the young men whose names appear in the long lists of the war memorial beside the gates, where the Anzac wreath hangs, flowers browning while the years condemn not the memory of the stone enshrined sadness on either side.

How, why, and with what?

What are the patterns, relationships and emotive responses we feel to a rich and complex world around us.

In other words, if we can excite curiosity, the learning stimuli and resources are all around us.  We can then use some of the great tools at our disposal to find out more, to link ideas and then to create evidence of new knowledge and understandings.

Sounds pretty good to me.  Here’s a sketchbook view of the rotunda


The e-Generation – it’s how we look at life that matters

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We still hear a lot about Gen Y, or Gen X etc etc.  To me, it’s not so much about age.  Recent reports from Education au, for example, point out that the perception of ‘Digital Natives’ may lead us to miss the need for explicit teaching in digital literacy, and in some of the skills needed.

If we look around at some of the people we follow and communicate with on Twitter, it becomes clearer that it is more about a ‘state of mind’  I’ve re-blogged below a piece written about 2004 for ‘Directions in Education.’

Meet the e-generation: a generation unlike others, linked not to a particular age cohort, but rather to the simple uniting forces of an overwhelming curiosity and the strong human need for love and belonging.

The e-generation is any age, and anywhere.

The e-generation, inextricably linked to internet technologies, have replaced the baby boomer linear relay model of life with a new paradigm: the world wide web. For the e-generation there’s a range of possible routes to get to a destination and an horizon of possibility disappearing into the distance. From the eighties, and mobile phones the size of a small sports bag, to the plethora of gadgetry available today, the e-generation has come to regard very little as impossible, given a combination of will, ability and resources.

Luckily, we have realised recently that we need to add to the mix of will, ability and resources a key ingredient : intelligent relationships.  A product of emotional intelligence, intelligent relationships help satisfy our need for affiliation, and, in so doing, deliver better outcomes for all. The ‘web-way’, which allows people to get to similar places without competing for a route is rich with possibilities, if disturbing to the control freaks.

Like any generation, the e-generation has taken time to grow up and decide just what it wants to do. It can happily be reported, however, that huge numbers of the e-generation are tapping in to new ways of affiliation, developing trust and learning communities online.

Connect: The value of Twitter

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I’ve been fascinated by Twitter in the last few weeks.  You know, the micro-blogging platform which allows anybody who wants to to post up to 140 characters in response to the universal question: “What are you doing now?”

Very quickly, as a person largely uninterested in celebrities, the interest value in somebody ‘tweeting’ about the nice coffee they just enjoyed has waned.  What has risen, however, is an apprecation of the ways in which Twitter can connect people with similiar interests and connect places and events, enabling collaboration and creation of new knowledge and understandings.

I was able to tell a conference the other day about a Twitter interaction with an academic at Charles Sturt about research on the value of Video Conferencing for students in rural and remote locations.  In the same few days it was possible to be directly connected to the Laptops for Learning forum being held in Sydney and the Microsoft Innovative Schools’ Conference being held on the Gold Coast, and to exchange messages and ideas with people who had been part of Education au’s strategic think tank in Sydney last weekend.

And, along the way it’s beein possible to make positive links with members of the Hunter business community with the potential fo synergies which will assist our schools and communities.

Seeing the ability of Twitter to contribute to student learning has also been a highlight.

Last night, late, one of the people I am following asked for input for his history class in Western Australia who are studying the Vietnam War and were seeking commentary from people who could recall the tine of the Vietnam war.

I was only a primary school child at the time, but it was interesting to reflect and offer the following.  Through Twitter we have been all able to connect and collaborate to create greater knowledge and shared understanding:  and that is a good thing.

Here are my memories from the Vietnam war period.  If you have others, click the Comment button and add yours.  I can pass them on to a group of students who are helping us to all see the positive uses for tools like this.

Hi to Mr Lasic’s class !!

The online form didn’t really fit what I wanted to say, so it is.

Some memories from the time of the Vietnam war

I was a kid at a one teacher school in Northern NSW in the early sixties as we went ‘All the Way with LBJ’  Children of small mixed farmers, on lands of drought and flooding rains, and varying degrees of love for this sunburnt country on the rim of Dorothea’s time in Gunnedah.

One of the boys of a local farm family was a real character, often appearing shoeless, bright Hawaiian shirt and smile hanging loosely from a personality which was as expansive as the plains just to the west of us.  As was the custom in small rural communities, we all celebrated landmark birthdays.  I can’t recall whether we’d had Phil’s 21st.

Phil went away to Vietnam: as every young guy did.  How could this generation of young men shirk the same sense of duty as shown by their fathers and grandfathers?  Flowers in the spouts of guns may have been nice to imagine as the heralds of a new beginning, but the reality was a headlong rush to muster to the same clarion calls which had brought the men marching from the mid west to join up: ‘for King and country.’

Phil came home with no sight and no ability to walk.

A number of years ago his Vietnam legacy claimed his life.

All of us, farmers kids, spread to other places.  All of us would have reflected on the need for that loosely hanging smile to fall, collapsing at our feet.

To what extent has Australia’s development since Federation been periodically handicapped by losses to other causes?  Imagine if we had seen, instead, the sustained and innovative growth of a young nation?

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