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.

Sunday, 27 May 2007


I was listening to Virtual Staffroom podcast 2 this morning on podcasting where the teacher noted that his use of blogs for his yr6/7 class in Qld may have to change due to education dept restrictions. The concern was that comments that were published outside the confines of the school network could not be later removed if there was a problem with the comment. My understanding is that blogs can be moderated if set up that way and therefore before any item is published the teacher could have the final approval. I guess I will have to follow up on this under the NSW system. If you have come across similar restrictions, please let me know.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Digital Natives

My son made an interesting comment to me the other day which I felt epitomised digital natives. He said that whenever he picks up a new piece of equipment, be it a camera, mobile or whatever which has a memory chip in it, it is as if the info on how to operate the equipment is automatically downloaded to his brain and he knows how to operate it (without reading a manual)! While his comment was made tongue-in-cheek, I felt that it captured the essence of their ease and adaptability with new devices.

Global Read/Write Web

When I included the clustr map on this blog it was mainly to learn how to insert some form of counter.If I were using a blog in the classroom, students would have an idea of the number of visitors to their blog and a visual display seemed more interesting.

However , I didn't realise how it would enable me firsthand to appreciate the read/write nature of web2.0. In a week my blog has had 44 visits, and while in the scheme of things this may not seem many, it encourages me to continue to record my thoughts. It is also amazing to look at where the visitors reside. While I can understand visits from Australia as I mentioned my blog in a post to the OzTeachers mailing list, I have also had visits from the USA. While it is possible that they are members of the OzTeachers list too, it certainly emphasises to me the global nature of the Read/write web.

If you read this, please share a note as to how you came to this site, as it would be interesting to gain an idea of the interconnections of the web.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Finally Back

I've decided it's about time I actually wrote something on my blog. I created this blog on the 30th March and since that time have been doing as the name implies; wandering web2.0. It's a whole new exciting world and I can see some incredible opportunities for engaging teenagers.

I feel the best way to learn and appreciate these tools and their use in education is to actually use them so I've jumped in boots and all and created this blog, created a account (and even have my first fan!), subscribed to zotero, created a flickr account, read wikis created as class projects (a solution to the heavy textbook problem?), watched vodcasts and listened to inspiring podcasts from educators who are already using these tools in their classrooms. My teenage children have been amused to see me with my new MP3 player listening to international educational speakers I would never otherwise have the opportunity to hear. My favourite podcaster would have to be Chris Betcher, in the Virtual Classroom who happens to be an Australian like myself, but the interviews he has done are with educators from around the world.

As several podcasters have referred to Thomas Freidman's book "The World is Flat" I decided to read it and have been amazed at the changes in the digital world that he talks about. I thought I kept relatively up to date with technology, but as he titled his first chapter While I was sleeping, I feel the same sense of amazement at the massive changes that have taken place in the past few years which will have an incredible impact on the lives of our students as they mature. Although I was already sure that web2.0 tools were important to bring to the classroom(and hence my study topic for my masters), I now think it is imperative that as 21st century educators, we have a responsibility to adapt our pedagogy in order that our students are well-equipped for the digital world they live in. While a majority of high school students already utilise these tools for leisure they do not necessarily appreciate the value for their lifelong learning, and I believe that it is our responsibility to enable them to recognise this, assist them to develop collaborative skills and at the same time guide them in safe usage.

I recently mentioned to a teacher that I was learning about blogs , wikis, podcasts, etc and they waved away these terms with the comment that I was talking a foreign language to them. How can we educate these digital natives if we don't understand the world they are growing up in? While I can appreciate that this is a steep learning curve for many teachers, it is essential that we bring our pedagogy up to the 21st century, if it is to have any relevance to our students. Of greater concern is the fact that many new graduate teachers have no idea of Web2.0. According to a lecturer I spoke to there is no time to cover this in any detail, however I would suggest that a major rethink of the areas covered in an education degree is long overdue.

My major frustration is not having classes of my own so that I can practice what I preach, however at least I can use my free time to educate myself and reflect on the many ways the read/write web, as Web2.0 is often referred to, can be used to facilitate learning.

So ends my first blog. I'm off to explore the new world some more!

Please feel free to add your thoughts and experiences.