Tag Archives: ultranet

Please help us save our GLobalStudent blogs!

Tweet from my student flurogreen whilst in Melbourne at the Listen2Learners event.

@murcha Globalstudent was the beginning of technology for me! Love it so much! Please don’t delete it!

Please note:- At this stage the post on globalstudent blogs moving has been removed as further discussions and research takes place. The power of online networking, twitter, blogging and collaboration has borne pressure to reconsider. Let us hope the final decision is a favourable one.

So, if you would like to support its continuity, go to the current  post at global student and tell your story with student blogging.

Taking it back a step:- I was both shocked and dismayed to read this post yesterday on the globalstudent blog that the blogs were moving house to global teacher. There are 18,500 bloggers registered on global student – a huge connected and powerful learning/sharing community lost! There had been talk that the #ultranet would stop this global networking and pull us back into the  ‘walled garden’. Now, it is threatened reality! If you are a blogger anywhere in the world, we need your support to keep this platform going and explain why open blogging is vital! Please add a comment back on this post Globalstudent is moving house. We need your help to save us and show that a global network supports them.

This has been one of the greatest innovative introductions by our Department of Education over the last three years. Blogging with students has taken our school on an amazing journey into the power of technology, empowering both staff and students  in their  teaching and learning. Students have had an authentic audience that was both adult and student in nature, had their work showcased globally and developed the blogs into eportfolios. Positive digital footprints were being formed – soon to disappear!

The post assures us that if students move over to global teacher blogs , it will be a reasonably smooth transition, but will the formatting change, will they lose their precious links, their movies, the images of work that they are proud of – all those positive and sharing comments? How can they share their digital footprint with future employers, scholarships they apply for and universities they want to attend? How can they now be googled well?  We have 80% of our students to move from grade 4 up to year 12! This will be time consuming and add to our already overloaded commitment to the ultranet and its implementation.

Our school blog, that staff, parents, students and the wider community are so proud of, is a global student blog. My students proudly have their link to the globalstudent blog within their ultranet space. It makes the perfect complement – internal for private type blogs, external for blogging to others.

Blogging is THE 21st century literacy – it can encompass it all. See my post on this. I know that having two blogging platforms is confusing, but if students become globalteachers won’t that add to the confusion, should we all be globalstudents (rather than globalteachers), as I constantly refer to myself as a learner? Could extra money, go into employing the administrator for extra days per week, to keep both these blog campuses running?

It is hoped that we all have time to discuss this change, the procedures required and that we all can have a say in it. Technology and blogging has brought power to education but best of all, it has brought power to the people. Please #Listen2Learners!

This plea has made it to the Educational Daily The online network is a powerful one!

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The Ultranet – What now?

This was the topic for an online session in elluminate, on ‘reflections on the ultranet’. In our audience there were ultranet coaches, ultranet lead users, teachers, student teachers and an interested participant from the USA. Here is a link to the recording. Participants shared their ideas and interacted via both the chat and the whiteboard. Link to the recording

The whiteboard was used to discuss the following:-

  1. Negatives and postitives from the Ultranet Day (it was great to see that the positives filled up the board more!)
  2. Topics for tonight’s session
  3. What now – how to fit into the current school schedule?
  4. Ideas for Ultranet spaces
  5. What next?

The Ultranet Revisited screen dumps in a ppt presentation.

From the chat:-

  • Join the guidetoinnovation ning
  • Heather Bailie: ONe of my tweets ended up in the age!!
  • Greg Twitt: we ended up in local newspaper
  • we wanted staff to learn more about 21CL
  • for many schools web2.0 is a new innovation so it was great  on the day
  • Most important to keep up the momentum and give staff time to continue connecting.
  • we have also included a regular ultranet item on the staff meeting agenda
  • We are having friday morning snapshots, and 1 hour PD sessions 3 times a term
  • We are going to be using our staff meetings to make it a priority.
  • ll info regarding PD is now shared through the Ultranet rather than via e mail or intranet
  • I think it is essential that the profile of the ultranet is brought forward and is a “no opt out”
  • we have built it into staff meetings to build teacher capacity in it before student  come on board
  • Georgina: We’ve been part of a seven school online development. Many lessons learnt.
  • IDAM support https://edugate.eduweb.vic.gov.au/olt/idam/default.aspx
  • am a bit worried about bringing parents/students on board when staff haven’t had much success
  • exactly – before we go ahead and start creating spaces willy nilly, we need to be thinking about what we are trying to achieve? What is the purpose?
  • We are structuring which spaces we have and what they are for before asking staff to build them
  • It is very important that schools liaise with their ultranet coaches to help them plan to move forward. They are the ones who have experience and training.
  • seen this happen too many times in the US and it ends up failing plus a big waste of money – training is so important
  • Students will use the system far more than some teachers. As time goes on if teachers don’t get on board then we found students didn’t continue either.
  • IDAM video tutorials: https://edugate.eduweb.vic.gov.au/olt/idam/default.aspx
  • Set up a word or Excel doc and put answers and passwords, usernames  there (for younger students)
  • The coaches help heaps, but staff are essentially being asked to learn a new system in their own time.
  • absolutely agree but the coaches are there to help when it’s needed and to provide training for Lead users who will train people in their schools. It is so important to have someone to call on when there are issues.
  • Create a mentoring system with students. It works wonders in supporting other students and teachers.
  • We created the STAR program that was a personal learning program that supported student learning via the online space.
  • I really hope that our model which includes a heavy commitment to providing training in all schools will ensure that this initiative will be more successful than others.
  • we have created two spaces that everyone must join
  • loonyhiker: really enjoying this conversation – making me see how similar our countries are and dealing with a lot of the same problems
  • I think that techs need to be part of it as they some are missing the link between teaching and learning with ICT.
  • I believe their job is to provide us with a working network etc. We don’t get them to help us teach literacy and mathsso i think we need to seperate the tech from the teaching and learning
  • definitely help with technical issues but I believe the decision was made that their work is focussed on the technical aspects of the school. The Ultranet is not dependant upon technical know how.
  • Can you use iFrame to embed the bookings system?
  • we do ours through excel these can then be uploaded and put in a wiki
  • We’re looking at embedding existing wikis and Web 2.0 spaces within iFrame.
  • It’s important to have an ending on all calendar notices so that they finish in a timely way.
  • This needs to be inclusive not exclusive to ensure all understand teaching and learning.
  • Our tech has been interested in how we are going to use it in the classroom.  Have been sharing all that I have been doing with him.
  • Twitter has been invaluable to my PD on Ultranet
  • Web forms are another application. You can make up a form for people to submit information
  • I’ve made one for library new book requests, when completed it emails to me
  • Is it possible to create a space on the Ultranet between meetings?
  • hitchikers guide to the ultranet is every fortnight on elluminate
  • Look for elluminate innovators in the design spaces…
  • I think I will use an alphabet task as a wiki to start with
  • Look for North Fitzroy PS in Vimeo

Are we there yet? The Ultranet

(First, apologies for the longer than usual blog posting, but this has been a long time coming!)

8 years ago, I was fortunate to have received a Navcon scholarship to attend a conference in New Zealand. Whilst there, I met staff from the Glen Waverly College , Melbourne, Australia who had devised their own intranet of Learning Management System. This sounded so exciting and I wanted our school to be part of it. However, they told me that our Education Dept was interested and about to build something similar for all Victorian schools. So……..

After years of planning, production, preparation, publicity and million dollar budgets, the ultranet is ready to be launched. To ensure that government schools and staff are ready the following actions have been taken over the last number of years:-

  • Ultranet coaches were assigned to each of the regions in Victoria working with schools to bring technological skills up to date
  • A laptop program for all teaching staff
  • Trial 1:1 netbook program in a number of regions
  • Ultranet Lead Users appointed from each school who together with their Principal were trained over a number of days in the use of the Ultranet.

At pre-training sessions it was apparent that the Ultranet was HUGE!, a little clunky at first and not as user friendly as many of the online tools that were already being used. There are many spaces to be populated, involving blogs, wikis, iframes, RSS feeds, staff walls, connections, contacts etc. There are spaces for the community and collaboration.

Then came weeks of preparation by the Ultranet Lead Users. Here are some web2.0 tools used prior to the launch

  • Twitter was used to good effect – with suggestions for approaches to the 9th August shared and discussed. It also enabled a back channel for learning together.
  • An online meeting in elluminate was also held for Ultranet Lead Users and DEECD staff.
  • A wall wisher was set up by Britt Gow to determine what teachers wanted to know on the PD day
  • A google form was embedded onto the school blog for staff to choose their sessions.
  • A wordle to summarise staff feelings about the day

Britt Gow, one of our Lead Ultranet Users spend weeks ensuring she knew how the ultranet worked , the nature of the spaces offered and the applications that could be applied. Britt had spent time developing a passport for staff to complete, including a treasure hunt and an outline of the day. Some wonderful resources had been put together by the DEECD team and these were to be found online at Connect. Finally the day for the ultranet launch came.

Whilst Principal staff attended the Big Day Out in Melbourne, students from government schools throughout Victoria stayed home on Monday 9th August, so that all staff –both teaching and non-teaching, could be professionally developed on the use of the ultranet.

After a night of seeing ultranet logos throughout my dreams/sleep,  I couldn’t see the logo when I got to school anywhere online – the Ultranet failed to load!!!The twitterverse ran ‘hot’ with tweets from all over Victoria letting us know that we were not alone – they were also unable to logon.

Our staff assembled in the library. Amongst them were the anxious, the cynics, the excited, the curious but mostly the interested. The wordle below describes how each staff member was feeling about the day.

It was always bandied around some  educational circles that the Ultranet would not work, but being optimistic, we lived in hope. Fortunately, we had a number of activities planned that did not require ultranet access, but would complement its use once staff became confident.

Our planned program:-

Introduction: -with 2 videos

  1. Mr Winkle an animated character who woke up after 100 years to find that everything had changed, except schools!  and
  2. A Vision of Students Today

Feelings! A pen and sticky note were at each seat, staff wrote on the sticky note how they were feeling. These were collected and keyed into a wordle. (See wordle above)

Session 1- Introduction to the Ultranet

  • What is the Ultranet?
  • Mythsbusters
  • Purpose and overview of Express, Collaborative, Community and Design Spaces
  • Setting up personal profiles and developing the express space.
  • Hands-on – Your Express Space – Message board, edit profile, join spaces etc

Session 2 Staff choice (sessions chosen from a google doc on the school blog)

  • Working with images
  • Scavenger hunt/ultranet spaces
  • Blogging
  • iPods for Learning

Session 3 (after lunch)

  • Scavenger hunt/ultanret spaces
  • Working with images
  • Podcasting/video making
  • All things google

Closing: -Reflections and discussion on potential use of ultranet in the classroom

Personal reflections

Having been so long a supporter and user of online tools eg blogging, videoconferencing, wikis, nings etc, it has been with mixed emotions, that I have contemplated the implementation of the ultranet. Over the past three years, blogging has been used to great effect for reflections, class instructions, tutorials, lesson plans and given us a window to the world. Nings have been used for networking and socialization, wikis for interaction and web page building, voicethreads for podcasting, wall wishers for interaction, bubblus for mind mapping, delicious/diigo for social bookmarking, flickr for online photo storage, google apps for spreadsheets, documents, surveys, emailing groups, presenations, mapping etc.  These tools have all been free. (although ning now charges and flickr is subscribed to for extra services). Not wanting to come back completely ‘inside the walled garden’ but to be able to walk the path between the tw0, there was uncertainty of what would be required of us. Will we still walk the major highway of globalization or be pulled back behind the safety lock on the gate to the ‘walled garden’?

So much of what the Ultranet offers, I can do now and possibly better with existing online tools.

  • Provide an element of learnin/teachingg 24/7
  • Connect my students to a broad audience including a global one
  • Communicate and create with others across the globe
  • Expose  students to other cultures
  • Prepare them for the flat world that they live in and increasingly globalised world that will be theirs.
  • Connect with parents who have online access via blogging conversations through comments.
  • Use a fantastic suite of online tools that are user friendly, manageable and free.

What the Ultranet can do that I currently may not be able to do

  • Connect Victorian Government Schools/classrooms. Internet filters, proxy issues etc, have made Victorian classroom connections extremely difficult. The ultranet will make those connections simpler.
  • It will benefit rural and country schools, enabling subjects to be taught across schools, where they may not currently exist, ensure a broader curriculum eg Languages Other than English, senior specialist subjects, bring experts into schools via videoconferencing type methods etc
  • Assure teachers across the state who may be timid about embracing technology that they can use it and may rest assured that safety and privacy can be theirs.
  • There is a uniform and common platform of use
  • Great potential to connect communities and parents – one of its strongest points.

However, the Ultranet has to be a stable platform. It has to work all the time, for people to have confidence in its use. Otherwise it is easier to teach in the current format, which for most educationalists is one without technology. It has to be available 24/7 with few downtimes. It has to cope with the possibility that all teachers and students may be on at the one time. We have to have technician time and look seriously at a 1:1 program for all students so they do have ready access. How will grade preps and ones cope? Will they require a 7 digit password incorporating a capital letter and symbol?

Time has to be given for staff to ‘play’- it will take many months, maybe years to learn how to use if to best effect, by the majority of staff. Ultranet coaches need to continue in the position, helping schools on a demands and needs basis.

The Ultranet is an exciting concept that is quite unique globally, uses the technology that students live with, connects communities, parents and stake holders and can lead us into an exciting future for education, but it has to WORK!

Listen to an interview/podcast by @georgiapeorgia with me at RRR

The Big Day In! The Ultranet launch

Students who attend government schools  in Victoria Australia, will have a student free day on Monday 9th August, so that all staff can gain professional development on the ultranet – the  launch of a learning management system that has been several years in the making.  Principals have been invited to the Big Day Out in Melbourne where

  1. Yong Zhao
  2. Richard Elmore
  3. Sugata Mitra will speak.

Principals will be encouraged to tweet, sms, email and web forum

Meanwhile for our “Big Day In” at Hawkesdale P12 College, all staff will be involved, both teaching and non-teaching.

Preparation for the Day

Britt Gow, my teaching colleague and fellow ultranet lead teacher has spent many, many hours of work in preparation for this day. She has developed

  • an ultranet passport
  • a running sheet and program for the day
  • an initial wallwisher asking teachers what they would like to know about the ultranet.

An online session in elluminate was offered to share conversations amongst ultranet lead users two weeks ago.

We have ordered food (always a priority for the day), the library to run our initial session in, power boards, netbooks for the non teaching staff who do not have a laptop. (How will they work them without a mouse?), an alternative program should the internet and the ultranet go down.

Techno Parents in Elluminate – transforming educational communities

This is our launch for Education Week and an important step for a seamless Ultranet uptake

One of the final stages in transforming our educational community and associated readiness for the ultranet at Hawkesdale P12 College is to bring our parents/students/staff online into elluminate tomorrow night at 7:30pm for 1 hour. This session is initially offered for parents and students of our netbook program (years 5 to 9)

There was some doubt as to whether our parents would like to take up this offer, but there have been numerous phone calls, emails etc from parents wishing to come online – all excited but understandably nervous. We have a mix of internet access from dial up, to satellite to broadband.

How we will do this:-

  • Conduct a face to face meeting with parents in our school library to share conversations re netbooks.
  • Book an elluminate room with our Department of Education
  • Notices seeking interest from parents have gone out (repeated in our school newsletter)
  • User documentation on accessing and using elluminate
  • A practise run through will be conducted at school during lunchtime tomorrow with those students whose parents are involved. (Most of our years 5-8 have used elluminate before)
  • Students (wtih their netbooks) will come online with their parents (on desktops) and mentor their parents on access and use

Agenda for first online  meeting Monday May 17th

  1. Introducing elluminate (4mins)
  2. Ice breaker (6 mins)
  3. From our Principal (7 mins)
  4. Assistant Principal (7 mins)
  5. Online exploration: Ms Murnane (7 mins)
  6. An e-guest from Darwin – Rachel Neale (7 mins)
  7. From the classroom – Mrs Gow (7 mins)
  8. Mr Poynton – Education Week  (7 mins)
  9. Question time (7 mins)

Hoping that there are few technical glitches and a report will be given on the outcome. This online session will be offered for another two weeks, with the possibility of conducting them once a month.