Category: Professional development

Resources and writings about professional development

Through Web 2.0

Today, we kicked off a Web 2.0 Expo at our school with two main aims. The first one is to make staff and students see and reflect on the changes in online world that are rapidly transforming and building communities on and offline…and all with a slightly pointy educational bend (see clip below). The second aim is to go hands on and start to dabble in or improve on ‘Web 2.0’ with a helping hand nearby – a modified “23 things” of a kind.

While the expo is the brainchild and organisational baby of ‘three amigos’ (Simon Carabetta, Jaeik Jeong & yours truly), it is the students as volunteer helpers that are the real drivers and superstars.

During the first day, we had a bunch of kids creating blogs, wikis, even a newly born Ning dedicated to the expo. We had a wonderful but usually very withdrawn student, who doesn’t have Internet access at home, absolutely flourishing after setting up his Gmail account (first ever) and within 45 minutes TEACHING (!!!) five other kids how to set up RSS through iGoogle (very “hole-in-the-wall”-ish). We had teachers saying things like “wow, this Skype is really neat!”, or “do you think we could set up a Ning with our pen pals in Hawaii?” (OK, we had our share of stuff-ups too :-P)

When asked about Ning, I simply pointed my colleague who asked the question to a self-appointed ‘Ning specialist’ among our student helper crew and 30 minutes later I saw them in deep conversation about “settings and updates”.

I said it before and I repeat – magic happens when students help teachers. I have not seen a teacher who refused help with tech when a kid says “did you know Miss there’s a really good way to do … Do you want me to show you?”

If I said it, it would not stick nearly as much (if at all).

For the occasion, I made an ‘introduction’ clip about Web 2.0, based on a fantastically funky YouTube clip by Kutiman (Thru-You-01 Mother of All Funk Chords) . The wording is appropriate because it is through the changing web (shhh, don’t mention Web 3.0 yet) and through the people that I for one hope to see the changes happen. Real ones.

I hope you enjoy the re-mix, feel free to share (see CC licence). I knew we were onto a good thing with it when a Year 10 student clapped when he saw it first. Students – the yardstick that matters by far the most in things ‘educational’. (if YouTube blocked, version here)

PS. We are hoping to bumble through our next few days just as well 😛 A message to people who were happy to ‘drop in’ – look out (& pass onward if you like) for tweet(s) with a drop-in link. Sorry, but it’s a little “crazy good as we go”. Any line, sound, tweet, comment from ‘the outside world’ will be read and appreciated, thank you.

(If you see an ad on top of the post… not my idea(l) 🙁 Sorry)

Using real world

I can’t claim some sort of exclusive on this line, I think it belongs to Michael Wesch, collected through Twitter (where else!). But I just had to put it in a strip comic this afternoon.

Real world

The tall person in the comic is meant to be a teacher, the small one a student. On the ground, where it matters most, questions like these stick more than seminars full of ‘gurus’. No, this isn’t some book-bashing, it is about seeing education as a part of OR divorced from the society it operates within, draws from and sustains.

Speaking of seminars, our school will be running a ‘Web 2.0 Expo’ for four days next week (Tuesday, 14 Dec to Friday, 17 Dec; 9.00 (9am) to 15.00 (3pm) UTC +8 world clock here). The three amigos Simon Carabetta, Jaeik Jeong and myself plus 15 student volunteers who have signed over the last few days through our school forum will try to live our expo slogan: “This is not about computers, this is about people.

We will showcase ‘Web 2.0’ and demonstrate what it runs on – people, their care and their ‘cognitive surplus’.

For that reason, we would love it if you or anyone you know might be interested to drop in via Twitter, Skype or other ways to meet, share, laugh, ask, learn. For now, if you could tell us your location, contact (you can tweet me @lasic, leave a comment below or email me moodlefan at gmail dot com), when you could drop in and maybe a mode (Twitter, Skype, your choice…) it would be FANTASTIC!

Thank you & feel free to spread the word.

Grow a Moodle

moonflower seed after soaking overnight

I have been thinking about and scouring the net for ‘best’ models of trying to get teachers to use Moodle for some time. I have tried a few things myself with mixed success until the most obvious thing hit me.

There are gigabytes of info on ‘growing gap between the teachers and students in using technology’. And what do we mostly do? We get ‘experts’ (adults) and fellow teachers teaching the newbies, reluctant or otherwise. Yet the biggest resource and pool of experts sits right in front of our nose – our students!

Talk about focusing on solutions not the problem…

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10 minutes ahead

Oh, the orbital language of ‘21st century skills’ and ‘leadership’.

If you are an educator keen on using technology and wanting others to join you and benefit from it, don’t try to get them to move into “21st century” – just get them to move 10 minutes ahead to the point where they have just learned something simple and useful that will work in their class.

Use the gamers approach to learning – easy entry, easy win then level up and try again. Move them as a colleague, with empathy (“walk in their shoes”) not sympathy (“oh, you poor thing”).

Dean Groom tells it better – thanks mate for this gem. You can tell it below.

(A short blog post never felt better)

Best when human

Getting busy at the Education.au ICT in Learning Symposium

This is an attempt to organise many thoughts after spending an amazing weekend with a number of passionate and wise ‘ed-tech’ people at and after the SICTAS symposium in Sydney last weekend.

It may have been an ‘echo chamber’ a little at times but…it felt wonderful. The gathering was passionate, informed, engaging, motivating and hopefully fruitful when our recommendations come to the top echelons of public service in Canberra. A big public thank you goes to people at Education.au for pulling it all together.

But there were some curious moments and statements that made me think. Continue reading

One sentence

Good news travels fast. ‘Sticky’ ideas even faster.

In her recent comments, fellow teacher and moodler Mary Cooch (known also as @moodlefairy) mentioned how the staff at their school spend a couple of minutes of their weekly meetings talking about their use of Moodle in the classroom. I loved the idea and in the brief email exchange that followed hinted that I will try to use it here at our school too.

This afternoon, I had a cryptic staff meeting agenda item called ‘Share’.

When I got my turn to speak, I simply asked:

‘Could you please share ONE thing or strategy you have found Moodle useful for in your classroom.”

Silence. Tick, tock, tick, tock – 15 seconds.

Then it opened. What followed was just about the best 8 minutes of my three years at this school – 10 short stories, 10 people, 10 different uses, 10 different skill levels. Genuine, specific, relevant, encouraging … and more we haven’t heard because of the crammed agenda.

As I write this, an email popped into my inbox from a colleague Aaron. This is the last sentence from it:

“What took place in today’s staff meeting is exceptionally rare, so from one colleague to another, well done”

I find myself happy and sad at the same time.

Sad? Because, as Aaron says, it is exceptionally rare. Making such things standard practice won’t change a few staff meetings – it will change the profession we are in.

Can you teach me Moodle?

Thumb

This afternoon a staff member walked up to me and said: “Tomaz, I have been meaning to see you about Moodle. You really need to teach me about how to use it.”

This of course is music to my ears as the resident moodler. But then I returned what is now becoming a standard line and a sure tickler: “I couldn’t possibly!”

She stood there stunned but polite. Huh, did I get her attention.

I did continue:”I would love to have a chat with you about Moodle and show you around but first – have a look in our Sandpit what Moodle is [the “Moodle explained with Lego” clip] and then the sort of things you can do with it [the ‘How can Moodle change a school] clip(s)]. This will give you a broad idea about Moodle before starting to poke around. When done, come up to me with a classroom problem and we’ll solve it together, step by step. How does that sound to you?”

“See you on Monday at the workshop!” was the immediate and enthusiastic reply.

Too often we approach teaching of things like software applications with a “these are the features, click here, click there…” and then leave it to people’s imagination how they are going to use it. Doing so, we tend to break one of the most important rules of communication – we make it about the software not about the people. We own the information, they merely borrow it.

By turning things around and solving a real-life classroom scenario, challenge, problem, idea people suddenly own the solution. They recognise themselves in the picture – “Hey, that’s me”!

Teachers are a very pragmatic lot and love to borrow good stuff. Give’em a good one in Moodle and they will come! If a science teacher has a great solution using Moodle for a problem or idea her class and say, an English teacher sees it and ‘gets it’ – you can bet the English teacher will at least try or ask how to go about it. And coming from a colleague and a fellow ‘struggler’ is a much more powerful thing than coming from the school’s main Moodle peddler like me. The bigger the struggler the more potent the message, even at the subconscious level (“If she can do that I reckon I can do that too!”).

‘Classroom solutions (with software)’ versus ‘Software solutions (in classroom)’. I know which one a regular chalkie would go for and why. Do you?

Help a sinner!

AhAs a coordinator of a senior school course called Career & Enterprise at our school I have decided to take a different tack on the often over-worked career exploration, life and work balance, resume writing, job finding and similar themes of the course in the past. This year the focus is on ICT and the way it has been changing our social and professional lives. The course aims to be innovative (eg. major projects are set in the community, students running ed-tech workshops for interested staff) and looks to sometimes challenge a few ‘sacred cows’ of mainstream schooling (eg. teachers and students will often switch roles). For brevity and those interested, here is the link to the syllabus.

‘That sounds interesting’ you may say but that ‘interesting’ bit could be like the (oft misused) Chinese proverb. Why? I am taking a big gamble here – and I need your help.

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A bride stole my show

BrideSurvived the two days of ‘teacher development’ before the students fill the classroom on Monday!

The standard PowerPoint overkill on compliance, procedures, initiatives, scores etc breached just about every rule of good communication, so I decided to cut my presentation from 30-45 minute mix of ‘tech stuff’ and animation (see the intended icebreaker monkeys below, text here) to a very brief 10 minute stand-up address. Even though a bride-to-be upstaged my presentation (no kidding, she walked in about 2 minutes into it and had everyone admiring her dress…she did look stunning, best wishes!), I think I managed to sow a few seeds without those glazed looks on people’s faces.

I flagged the running and the format of regular workshops on the use of technology in class but I didn’t tell staff what the workshops will be on. Moodle is probably a gimmie, but the rest….?
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Gazump

Squeeeeze! (Lemon Grenade)Gazump. A situation in which the price for real estate or land is raised to a higher price than what was previously verbally agreed upon.* (1)

This week I lost half of my job. The half I formally started this year and was promised to go for another year, the half that gave me a chance to begin to wisen up on ICT, how to ‘infect’ people with enthusiasm for the impact and potential of ICT, the half that gave birth to Moodle and so many other valuable things at our school that have made an impact on the entire school community. Like many of my colleagues working for the same employer (largest in our State…have a guess), I was asked at the start of this job to come up with ways to better engage teachers and students with ICT in ways that are relevant and specific to the context of our school. A number of wonderful colleagues and myself worked hard to do just that this year, only to be…

gazumped!

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