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3 Things I found on Twitter this week

Well, things are a little quiet here on the social media front as we busy ourselves with the SchoolsNET rollout. Still, the good thing about Twitter is that we can get our information quickly, and in bite-sized pieces. Here are some things I have found Twitter this week.

Digital Storytelling

Sue Waters shared this link to Anthony Speranza‘s article about Digital Storytelling. It’s a great read, explaining the importance of a multimodal approach and including some great examples (make sure you watch the ‘Henri 2, Paw de Deux’ video). An easy way to bring technology into the classroom and enhance literacy learning. Well worth a look.

Learning Spaces

The very clever Ewan McIntosh presents an interesting video that discusses the different types of learning spaces that exist, and how we can harness them; work with them as we design (and re-design) classrooms and learning spaces. Food for thought.

Ready for iPads?

An interesting article that encourages us to think carefully about the need for iPads in the classroom. Do your staff have the time/energy to investigate and evaluate apps, and plan new ways of teaching? Is it more important to put an iPad in every student’s hands, or to hire great teachers? Have you thought about the ways your students will use iPads? Are you sticking to one device when you should be looking at multiple platforms and systems? A good read if you’re planning on some big purchases.



5 Cool Things We Found on Twitter

We’ve jumped right back into it after a lovely long summer, and I thought we should kick off the year with a few interesting Twitter finds.

Cisco Connected World Technology Report by Cisco

Do you check your smartphone before getting out of bed? According to this Cisco survey, 90% of the Generation Y folks that responded to their survey do. There’s some interesting reading here. After all, many of our teachers are Generation Y. And it’s probably a good indicator of what’s to come with our students.

Obvious to You. Amazing to Others by Derek Sivers

We never think that the things we’ve created or the ideas that we have are going to be an amazing revelation to others. This nice little video reminds us that maybe, it is.

Social Media for Administrators by George Couros

A collection of articles by George Couros about the growing importance of social media in education, and the ways that teachers, schools and jurisdictions are using various social media platforms with great results.

Blogger’s Guide to Creative Commons by The Blog Herald

If you haven’t heard of Creative Commons, it’s a collection of licences that allow people to use, share and remix other people’s work. Perfect for a participatory web where we are constantly creating and sharing. Creative Commons images give us a safe option for using images in our work, free from any copyright concerns. This blog post shares three images that help explain what Creative Commons is and how it works. 

Getting More Out of Student Blogging by Sue Waters

Sue Waters is an Australian educator with a strong presence on Twitter. This article is about student blogs and helping them to develop their skills. Sue discusses scaffolding the blogging process, digital footprints, developing good commenting habits, and monitoring student blogs. Well worth a read.

Speaking of Twitter, here’s a presentation we put together the explain the basics about Twitter, and give you some ACT contacts to follow. Please feel free to use it: Twitter for Beginners

5 Cool Things We Found on Twitter

This week, many of the stuff coming out of Twitter has been good food for thought. So today, I’m offering five articles, found through Twitter, that will hopefully give you something to think about as you close up the year and look to 2013.

What is Personalised Learning? by Josh Griffith

It’s getting a lot of press at the moment, but just what is personalised learning? Josh Griffith outlines a few different learning approaches that are emerging in classrooms: Adaptive Learning, Blended Learning, Differentiated Instruction, Flipped Classrooms, 1:1 Technology, Project Based Learning, Individual Learning Plans and Learning Labs. Have a look and think about how this applies to your school. How do we actually personalise learning? Is your school doing any of them? We’d love your feedback.

Save or Save As? by Tina Barseghian

As adults, we know a bit about the way computers work and how we should manage the information on them (some would argue that there are many that are not so good at that!). This article asks whether we should teach students these skills, along side all the other ‘stuff’ they’re learning to do. What do you think?

The iPony by Alice Leung

Alice Leung is a head teacher at Sydney’s Merrylands High School. In this article, Alice compares the ‘resistance’ that teachers have to using technology in the classroom to the experience that iPhone users have when presented with a new phone option. Interesting analogy, but it might strike a chord. I’m an iPhone user and I totally get what she’s talking about. Perhaps it’s a good way to start the discussion with the teachers in our schools that aren’t quite ready to adopt new practices. 

How about you?  Do you switch from phone to phone without too much angst, or do you set up everything ‘just right’ and leave it that way?

Innovative Technology Doesn’t Mean Instructionally Innovative by Frank LaBanca

A school finds out about a cool new technology, buys a class set of it, then struggles to figure out what to do with it. Sound familiar? Luckily we’ve got a lot of very innovative people in our system, so it’s not especially common, but it’s definitely something to think about. The purchase of any technology should always be prefaced by some thorough reflection and planning: what exactly do we want our students to learn? What do our students want to learn?

This article argues that innovative technology doesn’t mean there’s innovative teaching going on. That the technology must be used in a meaningful and transformative way. We would love to hear of some examples where this is happening. Please comment below and let us know.

12 Principles of Mobile Learning by Kevin Corbett

Access. Metrics. Cloud. Transparent. Play. Asychronous. Self-Actuated. Diverse. Curation. Blending. Always-On. Authentic. Have a look and see what you think.

Teaching and Learning with Twitter

It was just week shy of their final exams, students were in the ‘maths zone’ and were firing questions as rapidly as machine gun fire in the height of battle.  Nearing the end of one day, I decided to take the maths to twitter.

I debated for a number of hours about whether to use my existing twitter handle @ezka29, or whether to create a new one.

Here is the debate as it wagered in my head…Well one twitter handle would be much easier to deal with, that I don’t have anything to hide or gain personally from keeping them separate.  I am me and am professional always.  Whilst for me personally one account would be more manageable there is a slight benefit to be gained by keeping them separate.  Firstly, that it would be easier for my students to not be bombarded with all my other tweeting interests, whilst some could be interesting and beneficial to them even, keeping a separate account that is targeted towards a specific goal seemed far more purposeful. Secondly, the other 300+ followers on my normal handle probably didn’t need to be bombarded with random maths questions, tips and reminders specific to our units.  And so @erin_hc was born!

I created a twitter profile, shared it with the students and started tweeting lots of mathy goodness.

A quick search yielded 6 of my students and told them to spread the word, including the creation of two specific hash tags for our units.

#mm2_hc and #sm2_hc

And so it began, a wonderful story about learning maths with a teacher at hand almost 24/7.

Working into the first night, it was quick and simple for me to answer questions as they arose from my students, I didn’t find it an imposition at all, in fact using tweetdeck, it made it really simple for me to engage with both my professional conversations about quality teaching, blended learning or apps for mathematics whilst still answering questions of my students.  The students seemed to like the idea as well,

and our previous principal even got in on the action to wish them luck for their exams.  

Eventually the real maths started, I threw out some questions via twitter (through instagram), and students responded via twitter


Then they started asking me their questions…


I even started producing very quick little videos to answer questions that I couldn’t explain in 140 characters.

At the same time I was also marking their assignments, how about this for a quick way to give feedback.

All in all, I think I have started something that I will pick up again next year.  Students responded well, and within 2 weeks I had nearly half a class following me.  I imagine if I started at the beginning of a year it could be a fantastic avenue for immediate feedback, recognition, questions and answers (via text, photo or video).  I loved the fact that students could ask in that moment when they were studying, and could get answers nearly immediately – whether from me or from their peers or a broader twitter network.

And… not to mention the students liked it, and appreciated it.

Is twitter right for your teaching and learning?  It seems to be right for mine.

@ezka29  (Personal blog, antisame.wordpress.com)

5 Cool Things We Found on Twitter

One of the great things about Twitter is that it is constantly introducing us to really cool stuff: new blogs, interesting people, technological developments, and some really cool web 2.0 tools.

The trouble with Twitter is that sometimes it goes by too fast and we miss it! So, we thought we’d bring together some cool stuff once (or maybe twice) a week. That way, you might at least catch some of it!

Inklewriter – Creating Interactive Stories

Doug Peterson (from the blog Doug – Off the Record) has written a post about this cool (and free!) website that lets you create ‘choose your own adventure’ type stories. If you’re anything like me, you’ll remember the (paper) books quite well. I think students might get a kick out of creating this kind of story – fairly quickly and easily – and it looks like they are very easily shared. Because that’s what makes these technologies awesome. The sharing part!

Doug’s post includes an example to check out, but you can also go straight to the Inklewriter website and have a go. Let us know how you do.

Teaching with Smartphones

While we’re probably not quite there yet, there are many schools around the world embracing the technology that their students bring to school in their pocket. This blog article discusses the use of smartphones (which many students – even ours – own) in the classroom. We’re hoping to have a bit of a discussion about the whole BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) thing in future blogs, but this one might get you thinking. Let us know what you think.

11 Videos About Using Twitter

Yep, we’re probably going to keep banging on about it for a while, but Twitter really is a cool tool. Try it, you’ll be glad you did!

But don’t take our word for it, Amy has posted a playlist of 11 videos that take you through why you need to use it in the first  place, how to use it well, and how it’s working in some classrooms. Check it out and let us know if you decide to join in (via Twitter of course!).

Hands On Homework

The Ins & Outs is a very cool classroom blog from New Zealand (thanks Jenny for referring us to it!). I (Mel) particularly like the ‘Hands On Homework‘ posts, because I really struggle  with the concept of homework, both as a teacher and as a parent. What are your thoughts about homework?

Warning: deliberately provocative content follows:

Are You Behind?

Emily shared this blog post via Twitter and we think it’s at least something to ponder. Of course, there are many issues to consider when creating digital learning spaces, but it’s important to think about what’s happening out there already, and where we stand in relation to that. The conversation about how to best meet the needs of all of our students in our complex teaching and learning environment is one we’re still having. But this might provide some food for thought. Are you behind?

It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that the content provided in this post does not represent the views of the ACT Education and Training Directorate. The links here are gathered from Twitter and are provided for you to explore, to hopefully start conversations with us or with your colleagues, and of course to support you in your innovations.

From pockets of innovation to an innovative culture

On Friday 9th November, a group of ACT educators met with Canadian principal and consultant George Couros.

Rethinking School

George started out by challenging our perceptions of school and of the online environment – what do we understand about Twitter and our own digital footprint, and how can we possibly compete with a participatory web that our students are using every single day? He shared some great examples of how blogs written by children had a global reach, and how students were remixing content and creating quality digital products that were shared across the globe.

One story that George shared demonstrated the impact that a simple blog could have. He told us about Martha Payne, a young Scottish girl whose blog posts about her daily school meals prompted interest from Jamie Oliver, a change in the menu and helped her raise a lot of money for children in Malawi.

But that’s not the message. The message is that the web is a powerful force, and children are already using it in amazing ways. More importantly, these amazing things that the kids are doing are happening outside of school hours (or in spite of school). He challenged us to think about the ways that we could change school to bring these experiences into the classroom.

We do have some great innovative practice going on in Canberra already. Teachers, students, and sometimes whole schools are taking it upon themselves to harness the great tools we have at our disposal and create engaging, meaningful and robust learning experiences that are at the heart of what George was talking about. Our challenge is to turn those ‘pockets of innovation’ into system-wide innovative practice.

George wrote an interesting blog post about his trip to Australia. You can read it here.

Our Digital Footprint

Many of the people in the room on Friday already had an online presence. Some didn’t, though by the end of the day many of them were excited about the potential of  sites like Twitter. But the main point that George was making is that it doesn’t matter whether we’ve cultivated it or not, we all have an online presence (have you Googled yourself lately?), and unless we take charge of it, we have no control over what the perception of us might turn out to be. You’ve all heard the story about the folks who got fired because of some dumb Facebook stunt…

So would it hurt to take charge of our digital footprint? Post some enlightening stuff on a blog, reply to a Tweet with some great advice, share our best practice with the world? For some, that’s enormously confronting, but George (and many others) says that the world’s changing. Is it our responsibility to keep up? To set a good example for our students?


The other eye-opener from Friday was Twitter. Some of us have been using it for a while: some extensively and daily, some as observers, and some as occasional Tweeters. But George showed us the power of Twitter in building networks, sharing resources and getting instant help and feedback. For both teachers and students.

I won’t do Twitter justice by trying to explain it, especially when others have done it so well already. If you would like to know more about the power of Twitter, I’d recommend reading one or two of these articles:

Humanizing Our Organisations Through Social Media by George Couros

The Remarkable Power of Twitter: A Water Cooler for the 21st Century by Jeff Goldstein

3 Tips for Teachers New to Twitter by Bill Ferriter

100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education from Edudemic

If and when you decide to join Twitter, please make sure you check out the #ACTlearn hashtag. We would love to have you in the conversation!

What do you think?

So, to get back to the title of this post, and how we do move from the pockets of innovative practice to an innovative culture, perhaps building our digital presence could help. If nothing else, it presents us with the opportunity to broaden our networks and become more global in our focus. What do you think?

Post by Mel