Author Archives: murcha

Designing CD Covers – a task students enjoyed

This lesson worked well with my year 9/ICT class today. They used random links on a number of sites to come up with a CD cover. I prefer them learning by doing rather than learning by theory. This task teaches copyright, appropriate acknowledgement of IP and gives them some avenues to explore in other subjects when they cannot think of anything creative! Here is how it looked:-

Today we will design CD covers using some internet sites. This task is worth 10 marks towards your first semester assessment.

First watch the videos from Common Craft on Creative Commons

Follow these instructions:-

  1. Go to wikipedia and hit random article on the left. The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band. Key it into a Word document. Save the name and the url
  2. Go to the quotations page and hit random quotes on the left. The last 4-6 words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your album. Save the name and the url.
  3. Now find a photo that fits with your album! You can look for photos at compfight. Add a search word. Choose creative commons and find an appropriate image.
  4. Make sure that you follow the prompts, grab the  code or get the web address of your photo and the photographers name so you can acknowledge (and link) where you got the photo from. Double check the permissions!
  5. Use powerpoint, word, paint or other program to put it all together for your CD cover design. Consider using an online text creator for the title of your CD
  6. Save as a jpg or png.
  7. Goto your blog, write a blog post. Insert your CD cover image, explain how you put your album cover together.
  8. Share the owner of the original photo or follow the permissions  and required credits given.
  9. Add the category IT or Info Tech to your blog post
  10. Add tags stating all the websites used and why you used themetc
  11. Publish your blog post.

Tips for Creating Engaging and Effective Online Presentations

As the #ozelive conference approaches, following are some of the tips that I have for presenters to make their webinars engaging and effective. You are invited to add your tips as comments on this post.

  1. If it is your first time presenting  keep it simple but make it effective. 40-45 minutes is ample time to share your presentation.  Allow for questions and anwer them where possible
  2. Use text, wordles, word clouds, images where possible to remind you of what you would like to share (Remember: nervousness may make you forget) Keep text to a minimum – it can be boring! Do not read the text it is even more boring!
  3. Use lots of images but keep images to a small file size ie Do not use high quality images as they may not load in to the virtual room. If possible resize to 600width x 304height, or below 50kb in size. Irfanview is free and is a good digital editing software for windows machines. Or double click on the picture in powerpoint, goto compress pictures and choose email, apply to all.
  4. Where possible add some questions on slide and get participants to answer them in the chat to encourage interactivity.
  5. Add a poll for interactivity and get people to vote  or share their experiences
  6. Start with a slide(s) sharing who you are, what you do, where you are from and your passions. Add an image of yourself so people can see what you look like.
  7. Add your contact details, email address, links to your online sites eg blogs, wikis, websites, twitter handles for further connections, conversations and sharing.
  8. Depending on how much you will speak to each slide, 30-60 slides is a rough guide as  to how many you would need for a 30-45 min presentation.
  9. Preferably use a white background as colour uses up digital space in a virtual room.
  10. Share stories and experiences where possible.
  11. Create a google or online document that shares the links to your resources, contact details and enables questions after the webinar. Provide the link in the chat at varying intervals or create a qr code

What do you look for when attending online conferences? What makes a really effective virtual presentation? Do you have any tips to share from virtual presentations you have made or online conferences you have attended. Please share your views, ideas and resources.

What does the world’s largest classroom look like?

map across vic
What would the world’s classroom look like at any point in time? I feel that I experienced that this morning. Why? There was/were

    • 1 classroom (virtual in Blackboard Collaborate)
    • up to 17,000 students
    • 170 physical classes
    • A class of deaf students from Furlong Park School
    • 1 teacher (or presenter)

It is Safer Internet Use Day today and the Topic is “Let’s Build a Safer Internet Together”.  Our Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development organised a webinar for all interested Victorian classrooms. The presenter was Greg Gebhart from Cybersmart ACMA who spoke on “Let’s Build a Safer Internet Together”.  The session went for 45 mins and was highly interactive which is essential to student engagement in a virtual environment.

Year 5 and 6 are engaged

Year 5 and 6 are engaged

Questions and polls were posed at varying intervals. Class answers were placed in the chat. The presentation included lots of graphics and images and Greg’s presentation style was also engaging. When a round of applause was called for at the end, many used the virtual clapping hand but it was also exciting to hear real applause and cheers from classes who turned on their microphones.

Isn’t technology exciting? This is  a wonderful use of technology that has engaged and embraced many students across Victoria simultaneously. To keep the conversations going, innovative Sandy Phillips has created a blog where students will actually be able to “Build a Safer Internet” and share their ideas, experiences and opinions. It is rich in resources so check out each of the pages as well as the posts and interact where possible. Below are the questions that Sandy uses to get discussions going with students and others.


What are you doing for Safer Internet Day?

The importance of visuals in your profile

visuals in a profile

Recently I was contacted by Linkedin - a great global networking tool that allows connections and networking on a professional basis. I was asked to explain why I uploaded visual content to my profile. This visual content includes presentations that have been uploaded to slideshare, images and video links.

Following are my responses to the questions posed and they would not only be for my linkedin profile but any networking site that allows visuals and media:-

Why did you upload visual content to your LinkedIn profile?

A strong profile is essential to catch a viewers’ attention, tease them to linger longer, learn more about me and connect with me. Visual content and colour add depth to textual information.  Large chunks of text can be boring and tedious to read. People will quickly move on elsewhere. Visual content emits warmth, curiosity, excitement, passion and shares innovation. As global education is a passion, my network is global and imagery helps overcome potential language barriers.

As a teacher many students see themselves as visual learners and I love to share what they do. The innovative work that is done in my classrooms has resulted in requests to present at conferences locally, nationally and globally. To captivate interest and understanding, I put as many images on the presentations as possible. This then inspires and encourages others to do likewise.

As my network is global and many do not speak English as a first language, it helps them understand. If there are too many words, they will struggle to comprehend.  My students have been involved in many global projects and the International Dot Day projects and International Peace Day resulted in some great drawings by my students. It gives readers a glimpse into my personality, passions and work outcomes

How has uploading visual content to your LinkedIn profile helped you in your career?

As visual content sets my profile apart and gives credibility to what I do, it has brought in further valuable connections, special offers relating to education, requests to present at conferences, suggestions of groups that I may be interested in joining, offers of job interviews including international proposals and alerted me to potential career opportunities. As other social media links are provided on my profile there is further opportunity for networking and for ongoing conversations.

No matter the personal occupation, images will help share a person’s abilities, daily activities or employment outcomes. It gives credibility to what I do. All images used are original.  The profile that will be remembered over other profiles, will be the one featuing  images or videos. I want people to see that what I do is important I want to catch attention, make my site interesting and encourage readers to stop and read more about me and innovative learning and teaching. Links are provided to other social media that I am involved in and creates further connections and conversations.

What are your tips for other LinkedIn members?

A strong network is vital to the success of a career or passion. As a strong profile attracts endorsements it elevates you in the search function. It is necessary to:-

  • make the profile as captivating and interesting as possible.
  • Use original images, videos and presentations.
  • Illustrate all profile headings if possible.
  • Ensure your profile avatar is a current or consistent personal photo.
  • Limit text and replace with visual content to convey who you are, what you do well and any personal passions.
  • Update your profile regularly.

Do you use visuals in your profile? Why? What tips would you provide?


Happy New Year to my Chinese friends!

gong xi fa cai 恭喜发财

May You Be Prosperous! May You Earn A Lot Of Money! May you Obtain A Fortune! (used as a greeting at Chinese Spring Festival or Chinese new year)

year of the horse1

Chinese New Year is a special time of year as our school teaches mandarin Chinese as its second language. It is also special to me as I have some very close online and face to face colleagues who are Chinese. One such colleague is Veronica Woo who I have e-worked with over the last 5 years or so. (See cultural eLearning adventures). Veronica teaches in a Chinese school in Malaysia - SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh.

So much of a culture, language, geography and backgrounds can be learned in real time using technology to connect with those who live in other countries….. but nothing beats travel, actually visiting the country and meeting face to face online colleagues. As such my husband and I have visited Malaysia and met Veronica and travelled with her around Ipoh and Penang. To our delight, Veronica and her niece came to visit us, stayed on our farm and vistied my school in December last year.

xhiao wen and veronica

A large parcel  was discovered in our roadside mailbox yesterday. It was full of gifts, cards and red packets or ‘ang pau’ for family and students at school to celebrate  the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Horse in 2014. There were decorations, photos, Tshirts,  cushion covers, a  horse and much more!


With pride, I took the cards and gifts to school, distributed them to students and  adorned our front office proudly with the decorations acknowledging our association with the Chinese people!  Students were excited to open up their cards and find their laminated photos and of course my grandchildren loved the gifts and cards too.

A snap decision was made to decorate our office window and foyer with Chinese decorations to share this festival with staff, students and community members.


office and lanterns

Festivals are a time for celebrating with families. Thanks Veronica for making the new year special to us at Hawkesdale and Happy New Year to you and all my Chinese friends.

Do you celebrate the Chinese New Year? If so how? Melbourne (my state capital city) celebrates Chinese New Year. Veronica has suggested that the following movie is viewed:-

The Reunion Dinner (回家過年) is a 15 minute short movie written and
directed by Anthony Chen (導演: 陳哲藝) who just won the Golden Horse 2013
Best New Director (第五十屆金馬獎最佳新導演).A simple yet superb film that will surely touch your heart:
The Reunion Dinner 回家過年by Anthony Chen 陳哲藝@

Two other youtube videos suggested by Veronica Woo for the staff and students to watch:-

A site for Chinese phrases

OZeLIVE Conference 2014


Three years ago, under the encouragement of Steve Hargadon, Carole McCulloch and I commenced the Australia eSeries to bring together all educational communities in Australia and enable webinars, PD and discussion to take place across all educational sectors and through to the globe. It is with some pride that on a very fast schedule, the OZeLive conference — the free, Australia time-zone friendly educational technology virtual conference will be held in February. The team from Australia e-Series in collaboration with The Learning Revolution, are very excited about holding our very own  first conference in 2014 online, free, in Australia friendly time zones (and much of Asia, New Zealand, Pacifica etc) and that will encourage presentations and sharing from all educational bodies and across all educational sectors.

As such, we are looking for presenters, participants and volunteers. Will you be part of this our exciting first conference? We would love you to be part of it.

See the official flyer for more information, please join our Australian Educators ning (it is not just for Australians) and watch out for the hashtag #ozelive on twitter, facebook etc. What questions do you have?

Reflections on the Global Education Conference #gec13

global audience for Nasir

Summer holidays and camping with family prevented me from attending any of the three google hangouts that Lucy Gray cofounder of the Global Education Conferences held. My reflections from the land down under are as follows!


  • the sheer awe of being part of a conference that is free, completely global, enables international networking and simultaneous sharing with world wide educators in real time.
  • being able to volunteer to moderate the conference and virtual lounge for long stretches of conference time whilst those in the USA were asleep.
  • learning from and with educators from Africa, the Middle East and other distant lands.  There was a great cohort of new educators from these countries this year.
  • From the ning chat, we learnt of  the current state of living and learning in Syria. The power is taken off at least twice a day for 2 hour stints to reduce the amount of violence. Kudos to this educator who was a presenter at the conference and was able to juggle around these blackouts and succeed in her efforts.
  • Admiring the efforts and lengths that other educators have to go to to present. In the words of our Syrian presenter when asked how her presentation went:- “Actually, we planned it well! We went to one of Lattakia 5 star restaurant to make sure that we have excellent internet access and on electricity.”
  • the virtual conference lounge where there was spontaneous networking, general chat, getting to know the presenters, the volunteers and general chat etc.
  • the chat on the ning where many people are comfortable to ask questions, share their experiences, passions and where they live and most importantly develop that all important global network. This would mostly be in English but often in Spanish and a translator tool had to be used to be able to understand each other.
  • Learning to moderate Spanish sessions with the help of translator tools, emoticons etc
  • Moderating a mulititude of sessions in the Australianevening with others from Israel, the Middle East, New Zealand and my wonderful colleague, Julie Lindsay.
  • setting aside dedicated time to moderate many of the sessions and hear how others are approaching global education.
  •  certificates were available for presenters and participants
  • the new ability to view recorded presentations in Blackboard Collaborate, or save as an mp3 file or share to youtube.
Tatyana Chernaya presents from Moscow, Russia

Tatyana Chernaya presents from Moscow, Russia

The disappointments

  • gaps in (Australian) night  time slots where there were no presentations.  But this quiet time gave time to plan, organise and network beyond the conference presentations
Social media toolbox with Hani

Social media toolbox with Hani

Suggestions for future conferences

  • encourage sessions in other languages. English is still the predominant language with a number  of Spanish sessions.
  • look at the timing as the Global Education Conference came hot on the heels of Connected Educator month – a busy time for other online conferences, webinars and activities

Getting to Know You MEME – Taking up the challenge

A special colleague, Theresa Allen, has tagged me in a meme. These are rather fun and a great way to get to know bloggers further.

Here’s how It Works:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 Random Facts About Me:

  1. I initially wanted to be an air hostess. (Just as well  I didn’t as I can get really airsick especially when landing!)
  2. As I completed a commerce degree it was assumed I could teach typewriting (I had no idea how to type and had to teach myself fast!).  Then it was assumed I could teach computers. When I walked into that classroom of eager year 9 student computer users, it was the first time that I had seen a computer – commodore 64s!  I have always had to learn with the students.
  3. I love using technology and its use. Half my immediate family live overseas, so it is used intensively to keep up to date – viber, skype, email, facebook etc
  4. Twenty years ago, I fell of a bicycle, suffered severe concussion which has caused some memory loss, continued neck problems and made it difficult for me to do any heavy work in the garden – a hobby I love!
  5. I am really impatient in supermarket queues!
  6. I enjoy playing the piano and was musical director of many school musicals in years gone by including Grease, Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat
  7. Living in an area where there are four seasons, gives me a lot of satisfaction – swimming in the sea (the Great Southern Ocean) in summer, watching the autumn leaves fall and often enjoying an Indian summer, sitting by our wood fires in winter, reading a book or working on my computer and enjoying the freshness of spring.
  8. My husband and I have four children – Jonathan, an engineer, living in Johannesburg, South Africa; Jason, assistant headmaster in a secondary school in London; Katherine, a landscape designer and James, a property valuer. Although I miss the two sons dearly, I like them living in two very ‘travellable and beautiful’ countries – London, UK and Johannesburg, South Africa. Great excuses for annual travelling! Travel is one of my passions but I have no desire to go to Antarctica or outer space!
  9. Roast lamb with roast vegies is my favourite meal.
  10. I love teaching, learning and try different things. Teaching with technology brings risk taking, impulse learning, teachable moments, a wonderful global network and I love seeing the growth in students over each year.

My answers to Theresa’s 11 questions:-

  1. If you could choose just one thing to change about the world, what would it be? Erase poverty – allowing all global citizens access to sufficient food, the right to education,  satisfying work etc
  2. Should people care more about doing the right thing, or doing things right? Why?  I prefer  the notion of “to do the right thing” or as far as is humanly possible as that will engender harmony, empathy and a peaceful existence. I often wish that I could do things right, but because I do make so many mistakes, I am continually learning and it will be the same for others.
  3. What things hold you back from doing the things that you really want to? Money! Always money. I love travelling, need to rennovate our home, would like a new car and a caravan etc but I shall keep on saving!
  4. What was/is your favorite class in college/university?  Why? Economic geography at Melbourne university was my favourite class. It was a really innovative subject for its time (early 1970′s) as it was individualized  learning. We would select our own times each week, sit down at a correll, listen to the recorded lecture and view the slides and photos (these were the days before computers)! Japan was the major country of study and it was fascinating way to learn rather than sit in huge lecture theatres and listen to a lecturer.
  5. What makes you, you? As an Aussie, I am easy going, love my family and friends,enjoy learning and living,have a good sense of humour, like the outdoors and socializing.
  6. What makes a good friend? Someone who is loyal, communicative, sociable, kind, caring and genuine.
  7. What is an important thing people should know about educators? That teaching is one very special profession and should be at the top or near the top of any respected professionals list.
  8. What is your favourite grade to teach?  Why? I love teaching secondary students, especially the year 12 students (approx 18 year olds). They can be reasoned with, are mature, show a greater desire to achieve well at school, will take on responsibilities and are ready to be prepared for the world of work.
  9. Who/what inspired you to be who you want to be or are today? My parents, especially my mother. Mum suffered from type 1 diabetes from the age of 23, lost her eyesight in later years, persevered through many health issues but never complained and was able to enjoy life through sheer determination. She was a loving mother who always put others before her own needs.
  10. What is the best age to be?  Why? A child aged 5 to 6- the age of innocence, make believe, freedom, lack of real responsibilities and the opening up of a whole world of learning.
  11. Where do you want to travel? Anywhere and everywhere! However, UK and Sth Africa are always special as our two sons live there. I would love to go to Sth America, Vietnam and many of the African countries.

The 11 bloggers I nominate:-

  1. Maria Colussa
  2. Britt Gow
  3. Jess McCulloch
  4. Mel Cashen
  5. Sue Wyatt
  6. Lois Smethurst
  7. Penny Bentley
  8. Coffeechug  (Aaron Maurer)
  9. Sebastian Panakal
  10. Rheinhard Marx
  11. Jasmine Shannon

11 questions for my selected bloggers! (These are a mix of original and previously asked questions)

  1. If you could choose just one thing to change about the world, what would it be?
  2. If you could only read one blog this year, which would it be? Why?
  3. What is your favourite online tool and why?
  4. How do you learn best?
  5. Who/what inspired you to be who you want to be or are today?
  6. Favourite hobby?
  7. Where do you want to travel?
  8. What is the best book you have ever read?
  9. What kind of student were you?
  10. Do you have any pets? What are they?
  11. What is special about your culture?

Christmas on the Farm


At the request of my good friend, Tatyana Chernaya from Moscow, Russia asking for a description of what Christmas looks like on the farm, this post will try and briefly describe how it looks. The Christmas period is always a busy one but its timing for the farm makes it doubly so. It usually means that the hay needs to be cut, raked and baled and this year. At the same time the warmer weather means that the sheep need to be brought home, drafted, checked through, sheep crutched and suitable fat lambs sold at market.

hay bales1

The blackwood wattles and fiery red bottlebrushes are in full flower and make a wonderful contrast against the hay bales.

Black wattle in full bloom

Black wattle in full bloom

A week or so before Christmas, Bruce, my husband, cuts down a young pine tree from the roadside, to place in the house. It is decorated with bright decorations. On Christmas Eve, it is time for a special Children’s Service at our local church where the children replay the nativity scene. On Christmas morning, the children and grandchildren come out to open up their presents from under the Christmas tree.
christmas tree inside
Any of our children who are overseas and unable to come home for Christmas are videoconferenced in via skype. This year, it was Jason and Katrina in London who watched virtually the opening of presents.

Jason & Katrina watch via skype

Jason & Katrina watch via skype

Lunch and the evening meals are times for family gatherings. Our immediate family enjoyed roast turkey, pork and lamb together with a variety of vegetables. The evening meal consisted of cold meats and salads with the extended family coming to our place in the evening. We love to eat outside whenever possible and as the weather was warm we were able to enjoy the meal outside on our patio.

Christmas tree patio

Branches of pine trees set in pots were decorated by the grandchildren! How do you spend Christmas, if you also enjoy celebrating this festival?

Perfecting the Blend – Local and Global in the Blender

This was a presentation given at a recent Perfecting the Blend conference in Melbourne, Victoria that shares the use of virtual conferencing and virtual classrooms on a local and global basis. Our Education Department has provided Polycom Videoconferencing equipment, a license for Blackboard Collaborate and MS Lync. Skype is a free tool.