Unit 7 – : The future of learning.

PLN—-Revisiting this question of what is a PLN? Is it a professional learning network or a personal learning network?. For me, since most of the PLN applies to tools that are not able to be used at my work and since nearly all of the course was done outside of work hours, I would tend to categorise this to some extent as a personal learning network; a network where I am improving my own skills to use in many aspects of my personal and professional life.

  • The  key things learned during the course were mainly the web tools. I also learned the value of PLNs.  I loved the extra readings that were used in the different units. The course was well set out and easy to follow. There were some frustrations such as not being able to access Edmodo from school. Facebook and other sites such as Evernote and Animoto although recommended, were also blocked which was a nuisance at times.
  • I did not interact with other participants which I think was remiss of me. Time was and is a factor. However, I will make time to read through the course outline and read the informative blog posts of the other participants once the school term is finished.
  • I would recommend the course. I thought the PLN team were very supportive. I have learned a lot and would consider doing another course.
  • I made a digital story using Xtranormal. This was fun and something that I would not normally do. I also made a screencast using Screenr about advanced image searching in Google. I would redo this before showing it to a class. I did not carefully monitor the timing and thus the screencast does not finish neatly. Initially I was going to do the screencast on Scoopit which I love but this has been done already (and is blocked to students at my school).
  • Finally as Dr. Seuss says Ït is better to know how to learn than to know” and if we know how to learn, then we can adjust and adapt and learn no matter what restrictions there are and what new developments and inventions and changes occur.
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Unit 6 : Changing practice in a digital environment

Making effective use of technology requires acknowledging that students are entitled to an education that fits the way they interact with today’s world

What a great statement. The authors back up their arguments with positive statistics. For education to be embraced by our students, it must seem to be relevant. Our students live in a world filled with technology. They need an education which utitilises technology and makes learning come alive. In my school system, we are in a walled world where there are difficulties for students sometimes to even access computers. Students do not all have access to their own laptops. Many sites are blocked and access is restricted to staff for other sites until after school hours e.g. 4pm.

What are the characteristics of an effective learner? How can technology be used to support these characteristics?

Looking at the characteristics of an effective learner, I am influenced by the Habits of Mind developed by Art Costa. Habits of Mind are defined as  knowing how to behave intelligently when you DON’T know the answer. Costa developed 16 habits or characteristics that are exhibited by successful people or learners.

Taking 5 characteristics only, I think students need to be persistent. Students need to keep trying; to not give up, to practise commitment. The internet enables students to persist. If they can’t find what they want initially, persistence and guidance will enable them to succeed. If one tool does not work, students need to persist until they find the best tool for the task. Students need to be focused and aware of their expectations and obligations. They need to be able to turn off from the distractions around them. This is the most difficult for students. They are so easily distracted by being able to contact and talk to their friends via mobile phones and chat sites. They are distracted by games, by videos, by images, by the many, many sites on the world wide web. As students also have many demands made of them, it is so important that they are organised and manage their time effectively. The amount of information also requires organisation. Online tools such as Evernote and Microsoft programmes such as Word make the task so much easier.  Resilient students, those that can recover from setbacks or difficulties, are more likely to be successful. Resilence is a term that is being used more often in schools. It is something that many schools are trying to instill in their students. Resilience does not require technology. It is something that belongs to the WHO.  Flexibility is a wonderful trait of an effective learner who is able to adapt to different styles of teaching and learning; who is able to work in groups or individually; who is able to be flexible in his approach to solving problems. Technology will continue to evolve and learning will continue to change. Students need to be flexible to adapt to this changing technology and how to use it in their learning.

Consider how learning and professional practice has changed as a result of technology.
Technology has changed the way that I work. It  has changed the way that I learn and it has definitely shaped my professional practice.

From the  manual writing of cataloguing detail and the card catalogue, from typing lesson activities and duplicating them on old gestetner or fordigraph machines, from using video machines, from cutting out newspapers clippings for the vertical file to today where all the information is readily available, where online databases give us up-to-date newspaper information, where Youtube and online video databases such as Clickview give us immediate access to video, where computers and data projectors have streamlined classroom instruction.

Your feelings about the impact of technology on us as citizens
I have to restrict myself from surfing the net– where one link leads me to several others; where I get caught up in the web world; where I have to remember that multitasking is supposedly much less efficient than focusing on and fully completing one task at a time.

I also think that as citizens we need to be aware of the effect of what we write may have on others. There have been several recent cases in the media which highlight the dangers of the web world. Twitter and Facebook and blogging have made criticizing and bullying that much easier.
We need to  educate students about their rights and responsibilities as citizens when using technology. Technology is also a concern when it impacts on our ability to live together. I love the various cartoons that show people out having fun together but no one is talking or sharing with the person in their company.
As citizens, technology has affected the way we live. We shop online; we bank online; we pay our bills online; we talk to our friends on line; we read online; we continue our education on line.
Technology is also so immediate. I find it fascinating yet frightening to sit at my computer and watch a tornado about to destroy an American city or learn of some momentous event brought to me by a citizen of the world where it is happening.Technology impacts on every aspect of our world.
Your thoughts about the use of technology in learning and the role educators play in modelling the use of technology

Technology has changed the way students learn. It may not have changed the amount they learn or even what they learn. Learning on a laptop does not mean that students are learning anything new or different.

Educators play a role in modelling the use of technology. Students are comfortable with teachers who use technology in the classroom to make learning more relevant, interesting and entertaining. However, technology for technology’s sake achieves nothing.

Students  will progress and use technology with or without their teacher because now of course the classroom is not restricted to four walls. The internet is made up of teachers from all over the world. Our goal should be to guide them in this world classroom. We also need to teach them that not everything is free and able to be shared and used by them. We need to teach them about attribution and copyright restrictions and age restrictions and consideration for other citizens. We need to teach them about responsibility.

Technology will change the way we learn in the future. Research has already shown that the brain is learning differently. This will continue at an ever rapid pace. We as educators need to be more aware of how learning is changing and what we should be doing as a consequence.

Touch screen, Google glasses, voice controls, virtual reality, panaromic 3D displays, the mind cannot comprehend how technology will further impact on our lives and the way students will learn.

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Unit 5 – Refining the web

For a search engine comparison when looking at the topic of Industrial Revolution, I chose several as I was curious about the results. I looked at Google, Safesearch, Blekko and Instagrog as well as duckduckgo..

With online searching, one problem I find is that students are so focused on Google that it is very difficult to get them to try another search engine. However, apart from this, the main  problem students seem to face when searching is what key words to use when searching. Students need practice in choosing key words and phrases to give them more accurate results. Often the search is not successful because the students do not ask the right questions. Students also expect that Google will always give them the answers –  and that often it is not worthwhile pursuing any other path  to find different or better solutions.

Because students are unwilling to use a different search engine, I think we need to  teach them how to use Google better.  I think we need to also show them how to access databases to find information from the deeper web.

Using Google for the Industrial Revolution resulted in over 61 million hits. This would take a ridiculous amount of  time to sort. Using an intermediate reading level search restricted the results and gave some great hits.

Looking at other search engines, I thought Safesearch (part of Google custom search) was really good and gave worthwhile links straight up. Instagrok may appeal to some but I do not found it that useful.  However, the breakup into website, videos, images, quizes etc could be very beneficial for specific searches say for quiz activities.. It is also fun to watch the breakdown of 0ne balloon into many and to look at Grogs other people have put together. Duckduckgo was simple, uncluttered and from there, I could search Youtube or Wikipedia.

I have just discovered Blekko and I like it. It has no spam, no clutter and quality results. It also does not show the number of hits. It is simple for students- only a few results are shown at a time. You can search in 3 categories – top results, history and colleges. On the right hand side, the related links search is good. I will investigate this search engine further.

I evaluated the resource slidesharehttp://www.slideshare.net.

I use this resource. I find interesting and different information here.   SlideShare is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations. “With 60 million monthly visitors and 130 million pageviews, it is amongst the most visited 200 websites in the world. Besides presentations, SlideShare also supports documents, PDFs, videos and webinars” Also, it  was recently voted amongst the World’s Top 10 tools for education & elearning.

http://www.slideshare.net/MarionLittlejohn/industrial-revolution-htav-2011

Using the criteria of  CRAP -currency, reasonableness, authority, purpose, I know that this resource is reliable.  The information was current and even more importantly was targeted, for my search purposes, to the Australian Curriculum. The information included in the resource was succinct, apt, balanced. There were intext references. The author was informed and an educator in a recognised reputable institution.    

I find it useful to tag my blog posts, especially as the posts get longer. It allows easy access to information. However, it is important to have tags that you are going to search for and not just tags for the sake of having them. Without tags in Diigo, my searches would not be as successful. The more tags, the more useful.

Curation – the process of collecting and sharing – in this time of excess information, is wonderful. Resources from like minded people on topics of common interest are able to be explored, shared and developed further. Curation tools such as Pinterest, Slideshare, Diigo, Scoopit, Learnist are brilliant resources for those involved in the dissemination of information. I hope to explore Learnist more in the future.

 

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Unit 4 – Assessing tools

I enjoyed reading about the profiteering from sites that I frequent. How do they make money was insightful,  almost distressing.
Facebook is an interesting “free” online tool. It divides.  Some are devout followers. Some detest it.  I thought that the article by Mike (2010) about Facebook “If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product, gave me much to think about. However, will I quit Facebook eventhough I know more about how it works and how it targets me? Like most users, I will continue using Facebook. Cameron Hocking in The Danger of a Free Lunch highlighted the fact that in the end, the user must pay somehow if they want to keep their site operating.

Information about a site on Bright Eyes called “Didn’t Read”, rated Facebook with no rating as yet although they have started to rate sites with Terms of Service from Class A to Class E.

On Facebook, I tend to lurk and follow. The Terms of Service page is found by clicking Terms at the bottom of the page. It seems simple and easy to read. There is a Statements of Rights and Responsibilites page, a Data Use Policy and Community Standards section about what’s not allowed and how to report abuse.  However, even though it talks the talk, no where does it show a simple way to contact Facebook and report any issues. The information is easy to read and non threatening so that you feel comfortable with the site; unless of course, you read Mike’s article about ‘paying’. Like all such pages, I normally ‘don’t bother’ and if I do, I only quickly skim through.

More information is also found by clicking on settings at the top of your home page.

I did not read anything  that makes me cautious about using Facebook. However, I am very cautious about Facebook based on what I hear and read from other random sources. I did not read the conditions or terms before signing up.

To backup Facebook data, this does not seem possible. It seems possible to close down your account by de-activating your account although I could not find how to delete my account and have been told by others that it is not possible to delete your account. The best you can do is de-activate.

I would recommend the service because of the ease of following friends, keeping up with family, having international access to friends from any computer in the world.

However, because of the numerous stories that one hears about Facebook and the people who can access Facebook, I think that one needs to recommend Facebook with caution. However, if students use it a lot (not in school time). I think then that we should be showing them (if we can) what is a good Facebook page and what can be done with Facebook and what should not be done with Facebook. It is essential to make them aware of the lasting damage and consequences of  posting without careful thought. 

I  have joined a couple of professional Facebook sites and receive their daily posts. I rarely post. It is useful for keeping groups together. I do not have to be concerned about Facebook in my work environment because it is blocked to all students and only available to teachers after 4 pm.

Facebook does  require a login and when signing up for an account, you need to enter your name, birthday, gender, and email address and then choose a a password.

I chose to do Facebook because it is still one of the most popular online sites eventhough statistics say users are moving away. Techcrunch in April this year said that Facebook currently accounts for about 46% of social logins eventhough it had a 3% decrease from its 2012 logins. Students do not seem to be as excited by Facebook as older users. The culture and the community is changing.I n fact, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr seem to be becoming more popular.

I think this could be used in professional learning – it would provide a much more interesting way of presenting and gathering information and allowing for comments and collaboration and ”likes”.   

There were lots of other online tools I wanted to  look at. Storify :storify.com – the “brilliant digital storytelling tool that enables” the building of  stories using video, pictures, text, tweets and more.  Edcanvas :www.edcanvas.com where teachers can create and deliver lessons digitally also had appeal.” I loved the idea of Learnist: learni.st  which is designed around the idea of collecting videos, images and links on topics and presenting them step-by-step  so you can work your way through the information or tasks.

Finally Animoto- animoto.com which turns  photos and video clips into professional video slideshows in minutes.’ For the purpose of this exercise, “Could this tool be used in an educational setting?”,  I am going to look at Animato.

Students in Year 9 have been asked to do high quality book trailers.  I have suggested they try Animato. They can use another tool if they prefer. Book trailers (using Animoto or Moviemaker or other tools) make the task of reviewing books fun and interesting for students. It can let them show their creativity as well as their understanding of the text. In the SAMR model of assessment, I think creation of booktrailers is part of the transformative stage, in particular – Modification. The learning task is ‘modified’. Although students still need to read the book, they need to understand the theme of the novel. The heart of the task remains the same but the learning is different. Students need to think about their precise use of language, persuasive techniques as well as how to select visuals and audio to enhance the text within copyright guidelines.
Also, this belongs to the category of Storytelling. It gives a digital outline of a story using multimedia tools.

 

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Unit 3 – Networking

I love the idea of PLNs. I appreciate the generosity of those that share so willingly. Sometimes I feel that there is so much sharing that I have little that I can add. I particularly feel this in the Twitter world where there are just so many words being tweeted. The Professional Learning Networks of Teacher-Librarians are wonderful. The links and resources that the share make my work so much more exciting.  I particularly agree with the 5th reason of Tanya Roscorla of why educators should network  ” To stay engaged in education”. “The only way you can become a better teacher and stay engaged with what you do is by learning”. I think the many words of my colleagues on the padlet re-enforce the importance and benefits of PLNs.

I am in a government school. We do not have the funding or staffing seen in the private school system. Through the PLN network, I can keep up with what is happening in other sectors and to be aware of the latest advances in technologies. Also articles in professional magazines, newsletters and blogs are useful for keeping up to date with what is happening.

I am on Twitter  @myjanelle and now following the SLVLearn/VicPLN2013. I have even sent a tweet to the #VicPLN2013. I am waiting to see what replies I receive.

I really love and am amazed at the speed of information on #events. #Boston provided news so quickly about a devasting event; faster than the traditional news media or even the media online. If I cannot attend a professional development event, then often I can follow or learn about what is happening once I know the # for the event. I was not able to attend a Google two day conference in Queensland this weekend but thanks to #gafesummit on Twitter, I will be able to check on what is happening.
I have not used Twitter specific chats such as #TLchat but plan to do so when I have caught up with my assignments.

I am now following three tweeters mentioned in the VicPLN suggestions. I was already following a couple of those who were suggested.  However, I need to be careful about the number of people I follow as it takes time to quickly scan what they have tweeted. So many words, not enough time!

Twitter and Facebook are both blocked in Queensland schools to students. Teachers can access Facebook after 4 pm daily.

Facebook is a dilemma. Sometimes I go there often; then I ignore it for months. I know that I have not explored the potential of Facebook and that there is a lot I do not know. I also know that there are privacy issues and that these rules keep changing. I need to spend more time reading about this. I also worry about how difficult it is to edit a post or remove it once it is out there. Students need to be more aware of these dangers.

I agree with Will Richardson that we should be teaching our students about Facebook. How to make a good Facebook page; what we should write or not publish to Facebook; the dangers of a digital footprint and the consequences of writing on social medium such as Facebook.

I have asked to join the VicPLN group on Facebook.

Google+ seems to have a lot of useful stuff. However, there are restrictions if you are not an Android user, which I am not. Also, I do not think that this is a resource that will be used in my school. My use of Google+ would be primarily for social and professional use. However, I think that PLNs including Facebook meet my requirements currently. I do not envisage that I will be using Google+. I am following the Google in Education circle just to see what happens.

 

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Unit 2 – Organising information

How quickly time moves. I need to get this Unit 2 finished. Moving down the list of activities, I have downloaded Chrome. I normally use Firefox but I am experimenting  with Chrome. I have found a problem with proxy settings on Chrome. I can’t pay online accounts using Chrome but I can with Firefox. Not sure what the issue is! I had to restrain myself in the Chrome Store as I love gathering apps. I have so many folders of apps on my iphone. Many I don’t use all the time. Now focusing on the reflections for this unit:

  • The  current techniques for keeping my work organised, keeping track of resources and sharing these resources are centred around bookmarking and emailing fellow educators with links to great resources that I have found. I use Diigo to search for good peer reviewed links on a topic.  Now that I am  a member of the SLAV PLN group, I will also consult this list. I am a member of OZT/L and QLDT/L, the Australian and Queensland Teacher-Librarian groups where lots of resource information is shared. With the abundance of resources available, organisation is so important.
    How to share the information with people that I want to reach is also an issue for me.
    I also have lots of topics on Scoopit. The first five topics are free and then you have to pay if you want more topics. I find this a great place to keep links on a topic.
    I did make a WordPress blog for staff to access for information on resources and links. However, this was blocked by our school filtering system, so I have not kept it up to date.
  • I have not used Evernote before. This seems to be a great resource. I know that I will use it a lot. I have the app now on my phone as well so I will have to start experimenting.  I have added the Pocket extension to my Chrome page.
  • I have attended a workshop on Onenote. This is  a similar resource. Onenote is the one that is promoted at my school. There is also another notekeeping tool mentioned in PCWorld called Keep. This article also does a good job of comparing the three. http://www.pcworld.com/article/2031818/google-keep-vs-onenote-vs-evernote-we-name-the-note-app-winner.html
  • Of course, it is important to incorporate the teaching of workflow and organisation techniques to students. This is a weakness of many students. Within the education system that I work for, cloud access is not available  to our teachers or students. Students organise their material primarily in a student directory which they can only access at school. There is also a protected Learning Place environment which students can access from outside the school. Here students can make blogs, create studios, save bookmarks and pictures etc. It is restrictive and many students only use this platform for teacher directed activity.However, I think that it is important that despite these restrictions that students are aware of what they can do.
  • Digital technologies and internet access have changed the way that I access and process information. I still use paper, especially sticky notes. Also,  I use Notes and Calendar on my iphone to keep myself organised. I find digital technologies and internet access have made me greedy and impatient for information. I want and expect answers and responses immediately. I also find that I waste a lot more time because as I search for information, many links take me off on a tangent. However, with so much information, it is very important to be organised with the storing and processing of this information. Now, we have the tools to do this more efficiently.
  • Here is my Evernote link
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Unit 1

It’s been a winding ride to this first unit. I have previously set up a WordPress blog but have not accessed it for some time. It is probably good to revisit the process. I did try to make a blog using Global2 but was not able because of my location. PLNs seem to be the buzz word of the moment. However, this is my first official PLN online membership.  I think it is important to keep up to date with all that is happening online and that is one of the primary reasons for my joining this PLN. For this unit, I already had a Google account, so have added myself to the map showing participants. It was good to see some other entries from Queensland.

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