Category Archives: social networking

Connecting nations

 Collatorationnation collaborates with our nation

Students from CT, USA…..please meet  students from Hawkesdale, Australia. And so it was, that 14 students from their homes in the USA at 8:45pm logged onto the computers, whilst 12 students from Hawkesdale College continued on with their IT lesson or came in during recess time, to get to know their US counterparts.
Under the wonderful teaching authority and expertise of Mr P Bogush (@shagghill), we logged on to their class wiki, using coveritlive as our interface. Although, CT had access to a video image of Mr Bogush and access to, we were blocked out of the option, which in hindsight was better for our first time experience. Their students not having the comfort, safety and educational infrastructure of the classroom environment, were able to communicate with their teacher whilst I could remind my students of some etiquette, give prompts and walk them through any questions. My students all sat at individual  desktops, so they could follow the conversation trail and add to it.
Paul had complete control of the situation and was able to moderate the comments to ensure all was okay. His discipline was superb, and he took control, by remote control very effectively, when he at several times had to command us to all STOP NOW and wait for directions. Initially, only a few students were online and the conversation flowed with me directing our student traffic verbally, but as more logged on and curiousity got the better of all concerned, questions and answers were flying in all directions. Unfortunately, this led to discord in the conversation flow as answers to questions lost their sync and meaning.
At one stage, Paul asked if I was happy with the way it was going with students directing the conversation. My response was ‘yes this is student directed education’. They need to get to know each other first with basic questions and as their acceptance of each other grows, their interactions will take on more purposeful meaning. A quick poll ensured that each country took it in turns to ask questions. Once replies came through, a prompt asked the other country for their question.
Prior to this, we had been sharing blog posts and commenting on each other’s weekly prompts. Some of the outcomes of today’s learning included

  • Different terminology and language
  • Different cultures
  • Various sports, school subjects studied etc

One  of CT’s questions asked the subjects our students study. A typo was made by one respondent, prompting a question do we do “whaling”. However, the answer should have been “walking” as part of our student’s” Advance” program.  So the correct answer “walking” was keyed online and a further question:-
CT “Do you walk people
Hawkesdale “no, we walk in the bush”.
CT “What is the bush?” etc
Conversations flowed and student directed learning ensued. Much laughter was to be had over misunderstandings!!
Advantages of

  • a great live blogging platform – whose full capabilities will only be  realised with further use
  • Allowed chat
  • Polling
  • All participants could be involved  immediatel
  • Allowed the moderator full control over which comments should be published
  • Can be embedded in a wiki for easy sharing
  • Constraints
  • No audio or video
  • CT had yackpack for audio use and a real time video of their teacher to keep all on task.

Thank you Mr P Bogush, students of CT and their respective families, for allowing us to connect and be part of a wonderful,  incredible experience.




Live Blogging!!

As I am a member of, a recent discussion by @kimcofino re a request to list student blogs allowed me to meet Paul Bogush (@shaggyhill). He was looking for student bloggers to work with his students at Collaboration Nation. We had just set ours up, so I volunteered my year 9 and 10 group as they really enjoy blogging. After collaborating on posts, we decided to chat live. However, time zones are always a problem. They are EST and we are gmt +10. Paul felt that his students would be willing to be online at home, when our students were at school early in the morning. He suggested that we use yackpack which is embedded on his wiki. As I am not at all technical, I felt I could handle that. However, then I received an invitation to join – a live blogging tool. That was a lot more stressful! (for me)

Today, we had a trial run, 9am our time, 7pm their time. First skype worked, (our distress line), so I could let Paul know that I was ready. We then logged onto the live blog at the given url and it worked beautifully. We were in instant chat mode, with three of his volunteer students online as well and some of my year 10 students. However, our school has yackpack blocked and despite the technicians unblocking it, there must be futher filters blocking its appearance on collaboration nation’s wiki. (That has to be rectified before Friday when we have our real session together, sharing our teenage lives, cultures, school, country etc)

My dependable colleague Jess McCulloch, (thanks a heap Jess) helped me through it (and did a trial run the previous day). After the test run, we decided to test it with my year 10class. This has given us a sounding board for the huge potential that this tool may be used for. Click here to see the results of that live blog where basic questions were asked re their ownership of various technological gadgets and online presence. Note the way the polling results come up. Arent they great and so easy!!!

What we liked:

  • moderation capabilites – the moderator has the power to allow, disallow or block unwanted material before it is published.
  • Moderator has a full panel of promt tools, but paricpants only have a text chatting window
  • Moderator panellist sets the questions or prompts. Students can immediately respond via text
  • Polling ability – with easy formatting. Students may be prompted for a yes/no answer or a comment or ???
  • Can share music, images and video immediately for audiences or evaluation or polling
  • Can be finally published, edited and shared on website
  • Despite some ‘crashes’ with the computers, it allowed students back in and prompted them for the poll that they have missed out on when they had to restart.
  • Students worked well with this technology

Possible uses (full capabilities will only be determined over time)

  • great live collaborative tool for powerful, media rich blog
  • Sharing of media for polling, evalutation, opinions etc
  • instant results for surveys or polls
  • students interacting in real time
  • educationalists can work collaboratively for a powerful blog post. Comments and contributions are instant
  • powerful learning and educational tool

Any other suggestions would be warmly welcomed.


Flashmeeting with OZ/NZ teachers

screen shot of Joe Dale teaching us

Interested teachers from Australia and NZ who follow twitter, met for the second time last Sun evening. The first meeting was very informal and last night’s session was hosted by Simon Brown or @skytrystjoy. @sujokat started us all off and it is a great way to make connections and share and discuss various issues. First JoeDale from the Isle of Wight talked us through the sections of flashmeeting and then we tended to divert and discuss student blogs.

Evaluation of flashmeeting as an online conference tool.

  • It allows all members in the meeting to have video projection, which elluminate, skype and other tools do not. Skype only works between two parties.
  • There is an interactive whiteboard and it allows sharing of applications.
  • My age is showing as I fear I am going deaf and blind. The tabs were really small and extremely difficult to read. @gkat talked us through the method of increasing the size of the chat text but we still had to find the tab that allowed us to text chat.
  • My video camera did not work, despite logging in and out twice. It works on skype and msn so I will have to test it before the next session.
  • However, the quality of the video and sound was good, although personal settings on microphones need to be adjusted as we nearly ‘jumped’ out of our seats at times when someone else started talking. Some were too soft.
  • can interupt the broadcaster, but that is considered rude unless some emergency develops. Otherwise you wait in a queue to have your turn to speak.

However, with consistent use, further advantages of using this software will be evident and despite all the learners in the room, we all managed to communicate.



Why I love skype!

When I suggested my top ten web2.0 sites for 2007, skype was one of them. I had experienced using this software with my two sons who live in London and have since used it at school for videoconferencing purposes with NZ Chrissy and Gail Casey when she was teaching ESL in Korea. Whilst it was snowing in Korea, we had some sound difficulties but skype are working on improving sound quality all the time.

Since then I have used it for

  • discussion purposes with teachers on collaborative global projects
  • professional development (Quest Atlantis uses this)
  • interviews and surveys – both staff and students
  • involving teachers from other countries teaching my classes etc.
  • sharing advice, clarifying issues etc
  • guest speakers for night classes
  • live demonstrations for parent information sessions
  • conference calls
  • See what allanahk, a primary school teacher in NZ has achieved with video skype chats.

 Here are 10 facts you may need to know:-

  1. Skype is VOIP (voice over internet protocol) and its use is free if it is calls are made computer to computer.
  2. Equipment: skype  software (download from , headset with microphone, or desktop mic, a webcamera (for videoconferencing), IWB or datashow for projecting the video (if for classroom use), user names (equivalent of phone numbers) of contact people
  3. User friendly, quick loading (sometimes falls over but getting more reliable all the time)
  4. Neat search facility to add other users to contact list
  5. Chat or audio can take place. It is polite to send a request message via chat first, to ensure that person you are contacting is not in class or otherwise engaged. (My laptop has embarrassed me on several occasions by ringing, in class)
  6. Conference calls: both audio and chat. Currently, videoconferencing can only be used between two users. The video aspect cuts out after a third person enters the conversation.
  7. Chats can be saved with appropriate title, by bookmarking. Goto chats>bookmarked chats and enter a title whilst in skype conversation) or goto recent chats and it tends to save automatically, but with a non categorised title.
  8. Can buy credit to ring landlines locally, domestically, overseas (extremely cheap overseas calls)
  9. Constantly requesting feedback as to quality of calls, and working on improving the service. (Sometimes line quality is not high, delays but these are getting less over time.)
  10. Number of users is restricted to, I think, 10 and then a bridge phone number must be given.

Hint: If using it for the first time, experiment with a friend or colleague after work hours, to ensure you know how it works before trying it in a 3way (or more) chat or videoconference setting.


Another interesting post on “Why I love skype!”

Meme Passion Quilt

I have loved looking at some blogs where the writers have been tagged for this activity. Some of the images are fabulous and I wish someone would pool them all together on one site or wiki, as it would be such a rich resource.

My web2.0 classroom

Swimming  the Global Waters of Web 2.0
I’ve been tagged for this meme by  WCGaskins. I have a passion for all things web2.0 and am experimenting with various tools that can be used beneficially in the classroom. Collaborative projects, virtual teamwork and interactive projects allow us to connect with the world. This picture captures the essence of my students and I learning to swim our way around the global waters. I would like to sincerely thank my  teaching colleague Denise Regan ( a fabulous photographer) for creating this image for me.
Here are the rules:
  1. Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
  2. Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
  3. Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
  4. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

I look forward to seeing the images that Rashkath, Alupton, Sujokat, Simon and Gail post onto their blog.

If I could turn back time……

As it is now 8 months since I started using the web2.0 technologies, I was asked what I would do differently if I could turn back time. If so, what would I suggest  for newcomers.  First of all, I would not ……

……..start with trying to learn everything (as I tried to do) – wikis, blogs, nings, podcasting, RSS feeds  and as many web2.0 online tools as I could possibly find!!! My head is only now clearing out of the cyberfog that surrounded it for a good proportion of the last 8 months. However, the mist still exists in my cyberworld!!!

  1. Join a social network asap. It might be easier starting now, as online social networks have started to establish themselves in ever increasing frequency. It is an absolute must to latch onto a social network, either in your area, state or online.  One of my favourite networks was, and still is Since then I have joined quite a few ning groups (too many) in fact and it is almost impossible to keep up with them all. Another good starting point, would be http://www.projectsbyjen.ning.comwhere some fantastic global projects are offered, allowing you to meet lots of other teachers, mainly primary, from around the globe and establish a network. Many of these are new to it all, but experienced teachers help guide the newbies. There are forums, discussion groups, blogs and just plain good reading material on both these sites. Membership is free. Victorian and Australian mailing teacher lists are a good source of contacts.
  2. Start with I started my journey here and would do it again, if starting over. This is an online bookmarking site, think my favourites on your computer, except that it is a social network and available to you anywhere you can access the internet. Websites are tagged and can be bundled into appropriately named folders. You can add other people whose work or interests is similar to yours and tap into their bookmarked sites, and then add them to your network. There are online blog posts, youtube and teachertube videos to guide you.
  3. Commence a blog and just concentrate on learning to use that blog and all the powerful features that it will give you. Read other people’s blogs and place comments on their posts. There are some great hints, tips and advice given on the adventure calendar for 2008 by experienced bloggers. The experienced and caring bloggers will email back to you with a reply and their email link is displayed. This may allow a network to be established or conversations may be started online.  Look at all types of blogs not just educators’ blogs.  Start with a simple theme and concentrate on writing. It is easier to start with journal type posts first, discussing you aspirations and classroom activities. Gradually work on presentation, add widgets and enjoy posting regularly.
    I am so glad I learnt to use blogs and experimented with them for 6 months, before I introduced them to my students this year. Once I was confident and comfortable with my blogging I would move onto nings, wikis and video conferencing. These are all powerful uses of the emerging technologies.

….. Hope that  cybermist clears one day….. as it is such a sunny web2.0 world!!!



Social Networking Rocks!!!

I am just so excited that I am going to write up my ejourneys of today, immediately. Those who have used these emerging technologies will be highly amused, I am sure, but for those who may still venture down this path,you  may be interested in my jottings. In years to come, I am sure that I  will be highly amused about this post, when I reflect back on my naivety. However, I shall start with some of my personal attributes as I see them and then tell you my journey of today.

Personal characteristics

  • love technology
  • a sociable person
  • good sense of humour
  • rather shy when placed with people I really admire
  • prefer to chat using text to talk with people I am uncertain of.
  • not a good public speaker and would rather ‘do’ than ‘lecture’ in the classroom.

Checked out a blog yesterday and it had a neat widget that showed the blogger’s personal profile, so I decided to add it to this blog. See it in the lower rhs. It was then I realised how few public spaces I use for communication.

At least I had a twitter user name to add to this widget. It was only last week, that I started to use seriously. Reading about its potential in a discussion in, I decided to actively create a network. In the first couple of days, I only had a few people who followed me but I was following some really interesting educators. This did not allow for much interaction or collaboration, as I kept tweeting to people that did not even know I existed. With the help of some really caring tweeters, I was introduced to a wider network where I am establishing  good social and educational contacts.

Searching through other people’s followers, I found an icon for edtechtalk, so decided to follow that (completely oblivious to its meaning) Periodically tweets come through to say there is an edtechtalk show going on. Plucking up my courage I downloaded the software and entered the room a couple of times when sessions were in progress. People were kind, chatted away and I tried to listen to the audio that was going on, but got distracted with all the chat. Twitter names appeared amongst the participants.  I think the first time I just watched the chat and had no idea that there was audio attached.

Second time in, I realised audio was attached so I listened to a great session and yesterday, I came in late and missed most of the show. This brings me to today!In I went to the elementary school talk not knowing what to expect but feeling more confident than earlier sessions. People welcomed me by text and I listened to a really good show on incorporating RSS into the classroom, giving students the opportunity to use RSS. I had not even thought of that despite the fact that I use google reader for my own use.

Trying to keep up with the chat, listen to the audio and my brain ticking away fast thinking of possibilities,  Alice asked for me for my  skype contact. Not really thinking, because I would never have done it otherwise, I messaged it back. Wondering what it meant, I logged off my personal skype name and entered the one that I used for school purposes.

Yipes……….I had entered into a  conference chat with names of people I had followed on classrom2.0 and twitter!!! Some were from California and New York. Plus being such a newbie I was still on another session in the original site which meant I was hearing two sessions at once. Starting to panic, I was tempted to take off the skype one and just ‘run away’. What if the video feature was on? I was in my old farm clothes, wearing some old glasses because I could not find my normal ones and here I was in front of the teachers from the United States. (Still dont know if video was there, because I knew I was not going to switch on that option!!!)

In a mad state, I switched off the other talk show and tuned into skype. Next minute I was asked a question. Pretending I did not hear it, I was asked again.  The participants were so kind, interested in what we do and then shared their ideas on rss in the classroom and finding a way to use google docs in my classes despite the fact, it could be blocked at school. Soon, I relaxed and really enjoyed that session. Too soon it was finished but I have a lot of ‘food for thought’ and again valuable contacts who will help me to use these web 2.0 tools.