Unit 6 – Learning here and now

Unit 6 – Changing practice

  • My own progression with technology.  As I reach the end of a long teaching career it is interesting to look back and reflect on the changes that have occurred over the last 45 years, or even longer looking back to my first years as a student. Can you believe that I remember using thin slate pencils on blackboards as we sat cross-legged on the floor in prep.? It can’t have been for long as we definitely had chalk as well. Then it was on to pencils and finally in Grade 3 pen and ink (remember inkwells and the ink monitor – always a messy little boy with blue blotches all over him!) As I watch my three year old grand-daughter navigating her way around an iPad, playing games, watching TV shows and listening to music it is hard to comprehend this incredible advance. Or my thirteen year old grandson making movies and inventing computer games!
  •  I think myself lucky to have been in a profession which has, relatively speaking, moved with the times. As a TL I have had to make decisions about computerising the library – which system to go with; the introduction of PCs into the library setting – how many do we have, where will they go, what will we allow students to do on them? Then moving on to the present where it is part of my role to encourage students to use new and interesting applications which can enhance their learning in so many ways.
  • The opportunities to collaborate with colleagues – not just in my school, or region, but around the world are so much greater now. Who would have believed that you could watch Ken Robinson on Ted.ed giving a lecture practically live? Or respond to Neil Gaiman on Twitter? Or read the New York Times as it goes to print? To me it is still quite mind-boggling. In many ways it is moving so fast now that my head is spinning and I am finding it quite difficult to keep up. That’s why a PD opportunity such as this has been so worthwhile. Yes, I used blogs and Facebook and Evernote etc. before, but the PLN has helped to put it all into some perspective and fine-tune my knowledge.
  • Impact of technology on us as citizens. Where to start? To know the extent to which we depend on technology these days you only need to consider what happens any time there is a power outage and the electricity goes off. Everything from the lights in our home, to access to our money in the banks, to traffic jams caused through traffic lights not operating, to medical emergencies if power is limited in hospitals. It almost seems as if the world stops – and that’s without even considering that we can’t access Facebook on our computers (well, I suppose there is always the battery, and the iPhone….) or watch iView to catch up on Call the midwife!
  •  Over the last few decades the effect of technology affects every aspect of our lives. I suppose I am speaking from a middle-class first world perspective here, as there are some places in the world not affected so much on a day-to-day basis – yet they are getting fewer and fewer. Witness the reach of the mobile phone in China and Africa over recent years. The point is that good citizenship must now encompass digital citizenship. The dangers of being uneducated, or too quick to believe information without checking its sources, can be demonstrated by events such as the Boston bombing where some citizens incorrectly identified suspects posted on social media – an act which could very well have had tragic consequences.
  • Use of technology in learning. Examples of how technology can be used positively are too many to mention, so let me give a couple of examples. A number of teachers at my school are starting to use Jings to enhance learning and to assist in assessment. One teacher prepares a Jing for most classes where he introduces new work or concepts. Students who miss the class, or who require extra assistance, can watch the Jing at home through the teacher’s blog – and rewatch it a number of times until they gain full understanding. Another teacher uses a Jing for assessment whereby students email essays or assignments and the teacher corrects them through the Jing explaining why she has assessed in such a way and suggesting ways of improving the work. By modelling new and effective ways of learning these teachers are empowering young people to do likewise, to experiment and generate ideas of their own.


  • The important phrase in the previous paragraph is ‘to enhance learning’ . Using technology for its own sake, whether it be BYOD, 1-1 computing, computer labs etc is merely finding another way of educating with pen and paper – and an expensive way at that. Technology should be providing new opportunities for creativity, motivation and understanding. It should be leading students into an exciting future that offers new methods of learning, learning that extends beyond the classroom.
  • 5 characteristics of an effective learner.
  1. 1.      Curiosity – ‘Curiouser and curiouser’ said Alice. But she didn’t stop there, she went on to discover how and why and who and why. For learning to be a continuum that doesn’t end with the gaining of a certificate, or degree, or doctorate, the learner needs to retain her sense of wonderment and curiosity. Why did that pavlova fail? How does a butterfly eat? Who will be the first female Pope? When will Australia recognise the contribution of its indigenous population? What is the value of mindfulness? The world is full of so many unanswered questions and learning is a life-long pastime. The ability to see the way others think and feel, through Twitter and blogs, can bring new insight.
  2. 2.      Resilience – As the world seems to move faster and faster, and change becomes the one constant, developing skills of resilience becomes essential. Technology doesn’t always work for us and there are times when you need to go back and start again. Today’s learner is developing skills that will soon be superseded. The jobs that they train for will not be the job they will still be doing in twenty, or perhaps even ten years time. The ability to be flexible and adaptable will form part of the resilience that will be necessary for all learners to acquire.
  3. 3.      Motivation – One of the consequences of developing one’s own skills base and being responsible for one’s own learning is that the learner can no longer rely on someone else to motivate them. Whilst this has always been true, the use of technology exacerbates this need. Keeping up with recent innovations, learning better ways to complete work, being creative with your own thinking requires enthusiasm and personal incentive. Organising your learning with tools such as Diigo and Evernote may assist in helping you to sort out, or categorise, hat you know and where you are going with it. A disorganised mind finds motivation more difficult.
  4. 4.      Mindfulness – this might seem a strange characteristic to suggest for learners. In its simplest form mindfulness means ‘the art of conscious living’ or paying attention to the present in a non-judgmental way. For students it might mean thinking about what you are doing and why, in other words being analytical, and mindful of the effect of your actions on yourself and others. Being responsible social media and technology-users is essential for students in managing their digital footprint. It is also an important role for teachers and teacher-librarians in encouraging students to be accountable in their use of technology.
  5. 5.      Creativity – ‘technology’, in the broadest application of the word has always led to creative thinking, or been a result of creative thinking. From the invention of the wheel, to Egyptian hieroglyphics, to Gutenberg’s printing press to Babbage’s computers, technology has meant progress and innovation. Information technology is the latest revolution, speeding up the creative cycle with new inventions appearing almost daily. I remember seeing on a show on ABC called ‘Beyond 2000’ the concept of banking using a plastic card in a hole in the wall. I was astounded to think this would catch on! Now we don’t even need the plastic card, just a computer or phone to move our millions around. Is it only 7 years since iPhones appeared? Watch a class of Year 3s using iPads to write and illustrate a story, or a class of Year 6s making a movie about their trip to Canberra. The young Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg took the tools of computing and created something world-altering. The sky is the limit as far as creative use of technology is concerned. Watching a Canadian astronaut singing David Bowie’s ‘Space oddity’ live on YouTube from an International Space Station says it all!

“I’m stepping through the door 
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way 
And the stars look very different today….”



Unit 5 – Search the Web

Task 1 – Evaluate search results.

Year 8 students have just started a unit on the Renaissance so I have chosen this as my search term.


Top of the list was Wikipedia – a quick look indicates that the language would be too difficult for most Year 8 students.

Second on the list was an Exhibits collection, most of which did not refer to the relevant Renaissance study. After this the list went directly to cosmetic clinics, computer companies, hotels etc.

On the R of the page under related searches there were some relevant links to Renaissance art, music, artists, man, architecture etc. The students would need to be aware to look here for further searches.

Clearly a more accurate, or advanced, search than just “renaissance’ would be preferable.


  1. 1.       Meanings with links to cultural movements, art etc.
  2. 2.       Costume
  3. 3.       Wikipedia

The language in the first link was marginally more appropriate for Year 8s, but you soon end up at Wikipedia. The links on the R of screen go directly to Wikipedia, dictionary.com, Merriam Webster, and Simple English Wikipedia. This simple version of Wikipedia is definitely more student friendly. If they are going to end up at Wikipedia it may be useful for them to be aware of this site for their initial search.


  1. Advertisements (also on R of screen)
  2. Wikipedia
  3. New World Encyclopedia
  4. Simple English Wikipedia
  5. Local businesses


Service was unavailable on iPad

I am having trouble in Google getting the non-American site. Even when I put in google.com it immediately adds the .au and goes to the Australian version which doesn’t have the infograph or the voice options which I would like to use with students. I will check with our network managers to see if there is a reason for this.

Task 2 – Evaluating resources

My trusted website is the CSIRO site www.csiro.au

Using the CRAP method of checking a sites relevance I was able to determine:-

1. Currency – the site is on Twitter and was last used 33 minutes ago; the events page gives details of recent events in March and April. There rae regular media releases and podcasts.

2. Reliability – the kind of information detailed on the site includes recent discoveries, discusses their national impact, and includes an education section for students. There is also detailed information about partners of the CSIRO, research and up-to-date blogs. The content could be biased or merely opinion but in most cases is backed up with research outcomes, references and data, and also the ability to forward enquiries.

3. Authority – there is detailed information about all publications including background details and qualifications of researchers involved. There are no advertisements apart from details of publications etc available form the website or store.

4. Purpose – the purpose of the site is to give information about the work of the CSIRO both for the layman and academics. It can be accessed on a number of levels from students to PhD researchers. It is a welcoming and u ser friendly site

I actually found the CRAP formula very useful in guiding my thoughts when investigating the site. I tried to look at it from a couple of points of views – as a student looking for useable information in a language I could understand, and from a teacher’s point of view looking for reliable, relevant and up-to-date scientific information. I was unaware of the differences between google.com and google.com.au and now know how to find google.com. I really like using the knowledge graph.

I have added some tags to previous sites and now look forward to my reward of checking out ‘some really cool places to find and collect resources.’




Unit 4: Evaluate an online tool

[Take 2 for this response – I think I have worked through some WordPress issues, so I am crossing my fingers that when I ress Publish Post – it does!]

Unit 4 – Teaching and learning tools

Task 1 – Free tools

The tool I have chosen to investigate is Evernote.

It was a relatively easy task to locate the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy for Evernote through the Account Summary, which also gives details of how to activate your account, and which other services your account is linked to such as Google.

Under Help in Evernote Support there is a long and detailed Terms of Service document which explains your contract, rights and licences and data protection. The first ‘pages’ are quite reader-friendly and self-explanatory explaining such things as responsibility for content and who has the rights to modify the service, however as the document gets down to the nitty-gritty, especially from Limitation of Liability on, the text becomes harder to read with more legal jargon.

The Privacy Policy is shorter and easier to understand. They state that very little personal information, apart from email address and details of geography and language, is collected. They will send you information about updates and new products via email, but there is the option of setting this to ‘not receive’. Data is stored in the US and they cannot guarantee 100% security for your site – but , how could they?

No, I did not read the whole of this document when I signed up. A little like signing a contract for a mobile phone – whoever reads the small print? I’ve often thought that they are designed to be daunting to the man(woman) on the street!

I would be happy to recommend the site to others on the proviso that they know that there are specific Terms of Use, and that if they have concerns they should make themselves familiar with some of these details.

Task 2 – Assessing the value of a tool

I would like to assess the value of using the Web 2.0 tool Scoop.it.

Scoop.it does require a login, but all you need to provide is an email address and a password of your own choosing.

The Terms of Use and Privacy Policy are shorter and easier to read than Evernote, but still contain a certain degree of legalese. They stress that the tool is designed for non-commercial, personal entertainment usage. There is a detailed  Code of Contact, pretty much as you would expect fro this type of tool. Potential issues for school use would be that users must be 13 years of age, and 13 to 18 year-olds require parental consent.

I can see the tool being used by senior students as a way of keeping track of relevant websites under a number of subject areas, though I wonder whether a tool such as Evernote might provide a broader management system. As far as a framework such as SAMR is concerned, I am inclined to think that Scoop.it only works as an Enhancement tool, substituting for other systems that record and file information, rather than a transformational tool which allows for a creative approach to management of information. I do like the visual approach Scoop.it provides, which makes sites accessible through linking to a logo or picture from the site. In a category model it definitely fits the visual mode.

Last year for my Personal Growth Model at school I was investigating a way of passing information about good sites on to staff members. Initially I tried Pinterest, but found it didn’t really do the job I wanted, being more suited to personal interests and hobbies. Scoop.it was more successful  as I set up 5 subject area (all that it allows) from ‘Books and reading at Woodleigh’ to ‘What’s new in science’ and shared these with selected colleagues. Many found it interesting and useful; the less tech-savvy were impressed with the layout (not realising how easy it was to use!). The difficult part is getting staff to keep using it and to follow updates, as it doesn’t work like Edmodo in sending posts to members.

Here are some links to what I have done in the past






Unit 3 Reflection

There is no doubt that professional networking has become greatly enhanced by the availability of great websites and some of the social networking tools we have been studying in this unit. I would be completely lost as a TL without the information and updates i receive regularly from sites such as Bright Ideas and insideadog. I follow the blogs of educationists such as Joyce Valenza, Ken Robinson, Will Richardson, and Jenny Luca.

Whilst I joined Twitter last year I have not been finding it so useful. I’m not sure if it is the brief entries, or my failure to follow through on links that are suggested in the Tweet. I love the way that it is used in TV programs such as Q & A where you can see immediate responses from viewers to each speaker. The immediacy is one of its great assets, but i have yet to get the confidence to post my own Tweet!

I have been a member of Facebook for some time and use it mostly for family connections. It is the best thing when one member of the family, or a friend, is travelling as you can get regular posts and photos of their adventures. I was in Europe last year and found Facebook connections a great way of keeping in touch with my husband and family. At school, however, we are discouraged (in fact almost forbidden) to share Facebook pages with students. I feel this is fair enough for personal matters, and I am not yet clear as to how you separate personal and group information. Hopefully I can find out more about this tomorrow at the session at SLV. We do , however, have a school Facebook page which is terrific for sharing information about events, or posting photos of special occasions like sports days, grandparents day etc.

One question I have is – if you like someone or a page (eg VicPLN13) can anyone else in that group then access all of your pages. I am thinking the answer is yes (yes, I did read all that privacy information)

As far as collabora2tion with colleagues is concerned, there are possibilities. For instance our local SLAV group set up a Wiki a couple of years ago as a way of sharing information about events, Book Week, registry of TLs, author visits, etc. For a Wiki to work effectively it needs all members, and especially the administrator, to keep it moving. Ours has lain dormant for perhaps 12 months, as I think everyone is just so busy running events at their own school. Perhaps a Facebook page would work better? I may suggest this at the next meeting.


Unit 3 – Twitter

Well, Easter is over for another year, plus a round of family birthdays and holiday events. It is time I got back to my PLN and made a start on Unit 3. I am already on Twitter and Facebook, so I’m hoping this won’t be too hard. My Twitter account is HeatherBoundy@BanksiaBunyip (it’s a long story) I have a few favourites that I follow on Twitter, but it hasn’t become routine for me – not something I do every day. And it is so easy to be distracted by Stephen Fry or Harriet Hashtag!

I am also hoping to attend the session next Wednesday at the SLV and meeting some of the names that keep popping up through this PLN. More reflections tomorrow.

Reflection on Unit 2

The trick is finding time in a busy day in the library to get through all the tasks. Because I am a week behind I am probably rushing through things a bit. I grab ten minutes here and there which is not conducive to good learning, I know. I have used both Evernote and diigo in the past, but gave up on them both. Evernote I found clunky (though i think it has been improved) and diigo was left behind for some reason I cannot remember. Now that i have a Mac at work and and an iPhone it holds more appeal.

Won’t get time to do the linking now as I have a meeting to go to. Maybe tomorrow.