Re-focus is on the agenda.

Frances Manning writes two very good blogs. Yes, two! I’m flat out managing one. HFS conversations and Personal Thoughts about Learning. She posted this video on her personal thoughts blog and titled it Re-focus.

I watched it and it connected with me. I long for the down time right now. I’ve just finished up with reports, an inquiry week that included an overnight stay in the city, and the downright business of life. And all on the back of 18 days in China recently. I’ve hardly blogged and I feel a bit out of the loop with things. Holidays are on the horizon. I hope to get back to good form and start my thinking happening again.

Re-focus is on my agenda!  (As is updating my blogroll – I’ve discovered so many great blogs this year and haven’t had time to reflect this in the blogroll. That will be rectified in the next couple of weeks – stay tuned.)

Networked Student – Wendy Drexler has helped us out.

Wendy Drexler has created this very useful video explaining how students can benefit from operating and learning in a connected environment. She has very cleverly borrowed from the film techniques employed by Lee and Sachi Lefever to create a very effective means of explaining what many of us try to convey to colleagues every day. She produced it as a response to questions posed by George Siemans for the Connectivism course he and Stephen Downes have been offering online.

  1. What is the quality of my learning networks: diversity, depth, how connected am I?
  2. How has this course influence my view of the process of learning (assuming, of course, that it has)?
  3. What types of questions are still outstanding?
  4. How can you incorporate connectivist principles in your design and delivery of learning?

Questions 2 and 4 are addressed in the video above. The presented scenario is definitely not a complete picture of connectivism. I think it’s a good start for a k12 classroom. I view the work with my students as networked learning incubation.

Wendy, I think your use of the word ‘good’ needs to be replaced with the word ‘great’. It’s an excellent means of transferring what so many of us think. I love the fact that it was her 15 yr old son who helped her out with the artwork and provided the narration. Great work both of you.

I had aspirations to participate in this course but just haven’t been able to find the time. Thanks Wendy for sharing with us and encouraging us to share it with others. True Connectivism at work.

School’s out Friday

That’s it.    I’m never complaining again.    Imagine having to do this everyday when you went to work!!

He does have some incredible skill. It reminds me of my recent time in China. One of the things I liked to do was to watch the people riding bikes with the most unbelievable loads attached. Made you very thankful for the life you lead.

Thanks to Paul (a parent from the school I teach at) for alerting me to this video. 

I think I am almost free of reports! Should mean a good weekend ahead. Enjoy yours.

World Teachers Every Day – apparently I’m one!

Recently I entered a competition offered by the Victorian Institute of Teaching. It was in honour of World Teacher’s Day and they were asking teachers to put together a 3 minute video telling your ‘world teacher’ story.  I wouldn’t have even known about it if not for Ranjith Dedawalige, Head of Internationalism at my school, who encouraged me to get an entry in. I was pressed for time. He told me about it the week before I left for China and I had a million things to do.  Another issue was that Windows MovieMaker wasn’t working on my computer. It all felt too hard. The other thing was that I’m not used to doing something where you blatantly self promote yourself. I know you’re probably looking at this blog and thinking ‘Well what do you think this is all about’, and maybe you’re right. I think of the blog differently; it’s a means of sharing rather than saying ‘look at me’ from my perspective.

My husband, who has been an amazing support to me, encouraged me to get moving. I downloaded a trial version of Sony Vegas and started grabbing screenshots (using Jing) of things I’d been involved with over the course of this year. My husband recorded the opening and closing video with a Flip camera and I started putting it together.  I have to say I was pretty impressed with Sony Vegas – very easy to use and no crashing problems like I’d been experiencing with MovieMaker. Once again I had problems with the Flip camera files. I had audio but no picture. I uploaded the files to YouTube, converted them with keepvid and put them into Sony Vegas again. They worked! 

The finished product was burnt to a DVD (with my husband’s help once again) and sent off. This morning I got a phone call to say I’d won the competition. The prize is a $5000 PD package, including $3000 to support further professional development from Pdi and $2000 to support travel and accommodation from Victoria Teachers Credit Union.

That’s exciting. Just taking it all in right now. I have to say it’s pretty good getting some recognition. This has been an amazingly busy year and as it nears its end I’m feeling tired. That might have something to do with a weekend dedicated to marking and report writing!

School’s out Friday

I loved Star Wars when I was a kid. I will never forget being 13, sitting in a cinema and seeing that Star Cruiser pan across the screen. It was truly an amazing special effect at the time. I was hooked and returned to the cinema on a further two occasions to take my fill of Luke Skywalker‘s story. Part of the special experience that was Star Wars was John William’s soundtrack. I even purchased the album. I lived Star Wars for a period of my early adolescence!

That’s why I love this a capella effort. It’s a tribute to Star Wars and to John Williams. Another thing I enjoyed growing up in this era were the musical soundtracks John Williams created for classic films like ‘Jaws’, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind‘ and ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark‘. They all feature here. Clever lad who created this. I think he may have breached copyright somewhere because his original upload to YouTube is no longer available for viewing. I had to revert to someone else’s upload of his work.  I found it after someone put out a tweet about it on Twitter earlier this week. Sorry, I can’t remember who it was to give them credit.   

I face a weekend full of correction and report writing. Lucky me. Hope you are doing something great. I’ll be thinking of you!   

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The Future of Libraries.

John Connell has written an excellent post about Cloud computing and the future of education and the web. He muses;

Since 2002, I have been boring anyone willing to listen to me that this would be the case one day – and the core idea behind Glow in Scotland is based on this fundamental premise – that the world of knowledge is shifting inexorably onto the Web.

John has written a very interesting and thought provoking post. I urge you to visit his blog and read it.

I posted a comment because the post spoke to thoughts I have been mulling over regarding the future of libraries. Here’s what I said;

I have been grappling with this idea for some time now and you have articulated what I have been trying to put together in my mind. I’ve been trying to picture the future of libraries. If knowledge is everywhere and accessible to everyone then what is the point of some central location. There isn’t one. What the point of libraries will be, I think, is as a meeting place for humanity to share ideas. A bit like Ancient Greece where the Sophists would meet up together to share ideas. What keeps coming to me with all of this change is that we still need human interaction and the formation of meaningful relationships to sustain us. I feel that I have found a friend in you John through this PLN, but meeting you probably cemented the friendship. I look at the school library I run and what is happening with the students at my school. Their reliance on print material has lessened greatly with their shift to the web. We may as well ditch non-fiction altogether. And yet our Library is thriving. Why? A welcoming environment. We have couches, cushions, kids can eat in there and use their phones and listen to ipods. We listen to them and we like them. We don’t force feed them books but they like the connectedness they feel there. The knowledge will be everywhere and easily accessible, but the need for human connection will be constant.

John’s post was speaking to eduation as a whole rather than the specific nature of Libraries, but I think we can draw parallels. There will still be a need for schools and teachers. I don’t think we will become obsolete. I do think the nature of learning will change; we will need to encourage and foster self directed learners and this is what I see the function of teachers will be in the future. We will need to guide and mentor our students; explicit teaching of some skills will still be necessary, but empowering our students with the ability to discover and learn off their own steam will be the essential life skills. What will be a vital role of schools and teachers will be what has been vital all along. The space where students can form relationships, the space where they can articulate ideas and glean advice and encouragement, the space where the human network forms and where they can find ways to make it grow.  

I’d love to know what others think. Is this the future, has it always been this way, or is the future something else altogether?   


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RefSeek – what is the future for subscription databases?

I was finally doing a bit of reading via my Google Reader, when I came across RefSeek, written up by Jane Hart on her very handy blog.

 Ref Seek is a website for students and researchers that accesses articles from web pages, books, encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers. The idea behind the site is to make academic information easily accessible to everyone. I did a couple of searches on topics for Australian audiences (Ned Kelly and Kevin Rudd) and it didn’t come up with really brilliant results, but it did source a couple of more specialised sites that were useful. Below is a screenshot of what you see when you click on directory at the top right hand side of the screen.


Click on the links to the available sources of information and you will get an idea of the types of resources they are searching.  Below is a screenshot of some of the encylopedias used in the searches conducted.


RefSeek is an interesting alternative for our students and makes me think about what the future may hold. I’m wondering how long subscription databases will continue as resources that schools pay for. Will they eventually become free resources and rely on advertising to generate income? At my school we subscribe to databases like eLibrary, World Book and Newsbank. We’ve made decisions in the last year to cut some of our subscriptions because we didn’t feel usage warranted the outlay of money required to sustain them. As we see the net evolve and semantic search engines like Mahalo generate pages of rich relevant results, we may see subscription database services feel the pinch. Already Brittanica offers bloggers access to widgets that can be embedded allowing your readers full access to articles on topics you write about. I have a feeling that we will see scholarly articles become more accessible as knowledge becomes more widely available.

Maybe I’m wrong. I’d be interested in hearing what others think.    

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