Saturday, 13 October 2007

Web2 and Documentaries

On Thursday I attended a great course called "Into the Frame 2" at the Aust Film, Television and Radio School. Documentary film makers and teachers worked together to determine how to better support each other using documentaries in education. Mark Pesce presented on how 'digital natives' regard media. He noted that young people share media in a completely new way and that social credit in the 21st century is based on the ability to share media.

Cathy Henkel, an award winning documentary film maker, talked about a project she is working on at the moment, The Burning Season. It tells the story of the burning of rainforest in Indonesia to provide land for growing palm oil, and the devastating impact on orangutan numbers and carbon emission levels. From the film's website is this description of the film

"Faced with a global crisis on an unprecedented scale, a new breed of crusader - the environmental entrepreneur - has appeared. Can a fresh approach and sharp negotiating skills reverse the devastating impact of climate change? Or will self-interest triumph yet again?

Time is running out. Another burning season is approaching.

Can one major carbon trading deal protect the forests of Indonesia, save the orangutans from extinction and help redefine the Earth's future?"

Apart from the personal impact on me as I was not aware of the extent of the problem, what I found interesting was Cathy's use of a multiplatform strategy for the documentary. Although the documentary will not be available till next year, various aspects of the production are available online, such as blogs, My Space, You Tube and a Webcomic. Cathy's blog provides insights into the massive amount of behind the scenes work required to produce a documentary and her use of web2 tools enables students to connect to the documentary in keeping with Mark Pesce's insights. One of the orangutans, Waru has his own MySpace, with a great video, also available on YouTube.

My first embedded video!! And I didn't have to ask my 15 yr old to help.
I love web2

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Wikis in English

I finally have a chance to have my own classes - at least for a term! I will be doing a term block in high school English which I am really looking forward to, and hope to be able to incorporate using Wikis with at least some of my classes. When I determine whether the school is happy to allow me to use these I will share my experiences here and hopefully be able to make the site public.

I have tried to find a blogging service which is not blocked by filters, but have so far been unsuccessful. I think blogs would be ideal in the English classroom, but will have to follow up whether this will be possible.

Monday, 6 August 2007

More on Wikis

A link to a very worthwhile presentation on using Wikis in the classroom by Adam Frey from Wikispaces can be found at

"The session will aim to help teachers and practitioners understand what wikis are, how to use them and how they be valuable in the classroom.

The session will cover:
- What is a wiki? What's the difference between a wiki and a blog?
- How do I get a wiki? What are my options?
- Are wikis secure? How do I manage my students' experience?
- How should I use wikis in my classroom? What are some good examples of wikis in classrooms?
- OK, so how do I"

Tuesday, 17 July 2007


Due to assignment commitments I haven't had time to add posts till now, however as I am about to examine Wikis in detail for use in HSIE, I would be interested in other educators' experiences in the use of Wikis in high school. I have listened to a podcast about the Flat Planet Project where 2 Religious Education teachers, one from the UK and one from Canada had their students work collaboratively on environmental issues. Certainly inspiring and worth a listen at the Virtual Staffroom.

Another inspiring and award winning project is the Flat Classroom Project. Students from an international school in Bangladesh worked with students from Georgia, USA to examine issues from Thomas Freidman's book the "The World is Flat".

If you are aware of other projects, large or small, successful or not, I would love to hear about them. If you have reservations about using Wikis in education I would be interested to hear those too.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Digital Divide

I was listening to a very interesting podcast this afternoon by Alan November as he interviewed Professor Angela McFarlane
She believes that some of the students who are the most digitally literate and in the past would have been our high achievers and successes of the school system are no longer prepared to accept a curriculum which they see as inauthentic, of no interest to them and one which will not further their own needs in the future, and they are walking away and flunking out of school. I know of such instances myself however would be interested to hear if others have also found this to be the case.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Reality Check

Recently I experienced a reality check as I was chatting to a friend I consider to be reasonably computer literate. She asked what I was studying and I said "Web2.0" and before I could go on she interrupted and asked what that was. I realised that most of my exploration and musings had been done with fellow Web2 users who are aware of the latest developments of the internet. However there are obviously a lot of people who have no idea of the amazing changes which are currently taking place on the internet. This friend spoke of an earlier desire for a means by which someone could assist her in searching the internet for the most relevant site when she had a query, and I suggested that social bookmarking might be of use to her.

It seems to me that those who are not in a position where their work or education enables them to become aware of these developments will remain ignorant of the changes, as traditional media do not promote web2 and in fact tend to be scaremongers, warning of the perils of interacting with unknown souls on the internet. Do you see the general public becoming web2 literate in the near future or will there be a gradual change as younger generations mature?

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Computer Management Issues

I have been so involved in reading and listening to inspiring teachers who are using Web2 tools in their classroom that I had not stopped to think about the management issues involved. As a casual teacher I have limited opportunities for using computers with classes, however on a block last year I found that students tended to switch to the latest flash game or other online distraction the second I attended to another student. I would be interested to know of others' experiences in this regard, especially those who are able to frequently utilise technology in their classroom.