Disaster Resilience Education – Educating the Educators

(Cross-posted from Slide2Learn)

I had a great time at the recent Slide2Learn conference in Perth. There were some fabulous keynotes, lots of interesting workshops and the opportunity to meet inspiring educators.

I was there with an ulterior motive, to publicise the project I am working on with Australian Red Cross in conjunction with Australian Emergency Management Institute (AEMI). The project is about Disaster Resilience Education and aims to develop teacher confidence in the teaching of disaster resilience education and thus develop disaster resilience within primary and secondary school students.

Some background:

The incidence of natural hazards – bushfire, flood, cyclone etc – is on the increase. More people are being affected every year and the cost to the community is growing.

Reports such as the Black Saturday Royal Commission, the Keelty Report and APEC Ministerial Statements have noted the importance of community engagement and education.


Government and Emergency Management Agencies are increasingly aware that assistance cannot be guaranteed in the immediate aftermath of an emergency or even for 24 hours or more after an event. Communities need to be prepared and know how to respond.

Disaster Resilience has a four stage cycle known as PPRR

Prevention – identifying hazards and removing if possible

Preparation – having a fire plan, preparing an emergency kit, making an evacuation plan

Response – responding to the immediate needs of the emergency situation

Recovery – the actions needed to return to normal, whether or not that is the same as before.

Disaster resilience is enabled by the understanding and ability to enact these four stages.

Disaster Resilience Education (DRE)

Educating children is a way of indirectly influencing families and communities – children encourage their family members to act, and they help connect families with communities. Disaster resilience is important for every member of society, regardless of age or physical ability or where they live. Children can change long term behaviour to build more resilient communities, and resilient children will become resilient adults.

To be effective DRE needs to part of the curriculum, not an add-on, not “yet another thing we’re expected to teach”. The project seeks to use the development of the new Australian curriculum as a means to embed the teaching of DRE across curriculum areas and general capabilities. We want teachers to have an understanding of and be able to articulate what DRE is and why it is important

To achieve this firstly we are mapping existing Australian DRE resources to the Australian Curriculum. Many of these resources have been created by Emergency Management Agencies. The report from this exercise will be used to develop pathways for teachers so they can select the best resources to use with their students. We will also provide information to Emergency Management agencies about where their resources fit the curriculum and where there are opportunities for improvement and new development.

Secondly, we will be designing and delivering professional development for teachers to promote the disaster resilience message and to share and explore available resources. Some of this will be in person at various conferences but I also plan to create some online resources and I’d love to work with teachers and students to do so.

Can you help?

Do you know of any conferences, network meetings, or other opportunities where I would be welcome to present? I’d love to hear about them – I am able to travel for this purpose.

Do you have an interest in disasters? Are you and your students looking for a real-life project where you can make a difference? Could you and your students work with me to create resources like videos, games, ebooks to help spread the DRE messages to teachers and students?

Please get in touch!

Reply to this post, send a tweet to @hbailie, email hbailie at redcross.org.au or download the project app http://my.yapp.us/CSJYL7 where you can leave a message under “Share your thoughts”. I’d love to hear from you.



There is a lot of talk about Facebook – in the media, the staffroom, amongst the parents in the carpark.  Some parents flatly proclaim it the work of the devil while others get their under-age children online to help them acquire points in games.  Schools often have Facebook blocked but most students can freely access it on their phones.  Some teachers refuse to have anything to do with it because they think they’ll compromise their positions, while others seem blissfully unaware of any possible consequences.

Fact is Facebook itself is only a tool – it’s the way it is used that makes it useful or dangerous, good, bad or otherwise.

DEECD Technology A-Z warns:


Safety information: Information posted on sites and in profiles is used to create targeted advertising. It is difficult, if not impossible, to delete an account once opened. There are privacy issues with Facebook. Users are offered the chance to ‘connect to your friends’ and then asked for their email account and password to collect details of email contacts in order to make the connections. All users (both teachers and students) should be aware of their digital footprint. Once images and content are posted online they may become public, despite your initial privacy settings.

The VIT Code of Conduct requires that “teachers are always in a professional relationship with the students in their school whether at school or not” but as explained here by Andrew Douch, this does not preclude the use of Facebook:

When I asked the [VIT] field officer about Facebook specifically, she confirmed that the alleged VIT anti-Facebook policy was unfounded, but cautioned that teachers who choose to use Facebook should make sure that their practice adheres to Principle 1.5 of the Code: “TEACHERS ARE ALWAYS IN A PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE STUDENTS IN THEIR SCHOOL, WHETHER AT SCHOOL OR NOT”  Part D of this principle says that a breach of this standard would include (among other things) “having contact with a student via written or electronic means including email, letters, telephone, text messages or chat lines, without a valid context”.

Therefore Facebook has no different standing to any other form of interaction, electronic or otherwise, between teachers and students.  It is the nature and topic of communication that is subject to the code of conduct, not the conduit of communication.  This is just as it should be.

Douchy’s WeblogVictorian teachers who friend students on Facebook will be automatically de-registered by the VIT

I strongly recommend staff do not ‘friend’ current students on Facebook; and I encourage them to carefully check their privacy settings to ensure that what is posted is shared only with friends.  If your friends have friends you do not know (and who doesn’t?) how can you be sure who is seeing your posts/photos/events or what your friends see via your other friends?  Another option is to categorise your friends in order to share only certain things with certain categories (see How to Friend Mom, Dad and the Boss from Read Write Web) but I still would not recommend being friends with an existing student.

Your profile should look almost anonymous to anyone who doesn’t know you, this is how mine looks.

If you wish to connect with your students the best alternative is to either create a Facebook page (which your students can ‘Like’ in order to see what you post there), or to create a Facebook group where you can control who can join and what is shared.

Categorising your friends, creating pages and creating groups is well explained in this article: The why and how of using Facebook for educators – no need to be friends at all.

Some of the differences between a Page and a Group are illustrated here:

Facebook Groups Vs Pages

Facebook Groups Vs Pages

At my school teachers of senior classes (VCE, years 11 & 12) have set up Facebook groups for their students; I encourage them to use a group for its immediacy and ease of communication but in conjunction to use the Ultranet to provide access to resources.

Recently I presented a workshop on using Facebook safely, creating a Facebook group and using the group to link to resources in the Ultranet – here is the presentation:

Andrew Douch has written about the value of Facebook Groups here: Why the Facebook group my students created for themselves is better than the discussion forum I created for them

Some more interesting reading:

The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook An interactive graphic shows how default Facebook privacy settings have changed over the years.

3 Rules of Facebook privacy From Common Sense Media, good advice for parents to help your child set up their Facebook account with appropriate privacy settings.

Three ways to create fake Facebook profiles for historical characters from Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers. Use Facebook as a way for your students to consolidate and present their knowledge about a historical or fictitious character.



I love listening to podcasts! So often the radio is repetitive and boring (or full of sport) and when you have to drive 20 minutes or more to and from work it’s nice to think you can listen to something useful and actually get some value out of the time.  Even better, most podcasts can be downloaded automatically and for free from the iTunes store.

Online Degrees.org have just published their Top 40 podcasts for teachers.  It’s a fantastic list with suggestions for teachers of all disciplines and I’m going to have some fun checking out some new resources.  One that was missing is my absolute favourite podcast: The Ed Tech Crew which is produced by Tony Richardson of IT Made Simple and Darrel Branson (The ICT Guy), an Ultranet coach from Mildura.

Online Degrees.org have also recently published Creating an Educational Podcast which is an excellent rundown of things you’ll need to consider if you want to try podcasting yourself or with students.  For step-by-step instructions check out How To Podcast.

Have you ever created a podcast either with or for students?

What are your favourite podcasts to listen to (education related or not)?


DEECD Innovation Showcase

I attended my second DEECD Innovation Showcase today. As always getting out of school and amongst some interesting people with great ideas has inspired me to communicate.

Sadly, I wasn’t nearly as inspired by what I heard and saw as previously.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some fabulous speakers and many teachers doing wonderful things in their classrooms, although I heard less truly new stuff than previously.  No, it was the audience and the lack of wireless that failed to impress.  I couldn’t believe that everywhere I sat I was the only person in sight using a netbook or laptop.  I never write notes anymore because I know I’ll never look at them again and my handwriting is so slow and messy that even if I did I probably wouldn’t know what I wrote.  There was no public wifi but it still surprised me that there were only a few of us (richielambert, curry08, toze12, merspi, murcha and me) tweeting.

What I did enjoy were the keynotes from Charles Leadbeater and Adrian Camm.  These are people who force us to think about the why and how of what we do and we need these wake up calls.

Seeing what Lynette Barr and Louise Duncan are doing with games and mobile devices has only renewed my resolve to investigate this for my school and it was interesting to hear about how Cam Tingay is using Ning with upper primary students (even though, as Kanga37 pointed out) they are under 13, the minimum age according to the terms of service.

Apart from the lack of wireless, the organisation, facilities and food were all excellent.  And those Dyson Airblade hand-dryers in the restrooms were something else!

Dyson Airblade


Digital Bloom’s…it must be spring!

Bloom’s revised taxonomy and higher order thinking skills have been the flavour of the month here lately.

I came across Mike Fisher’s Visual Bloom’s wiki and forwarded it to my principal. 

Digital Blooms

She loved the visual representation with Web 2.0 tools  but wanted an annotated version to share with the leadership team.

Annotated blooms

Annotated visual blooms

Mike Fisher describes his work as “an implementation point, a discussion starter” and we had some interesting discussion about his diagram in our leadership meeting.  One person mentioned that she didn’t like the diagram’s similarity to the healthy eating pyramid and the inference that there should be more lower order thinking skills than higher order and her thoughts must have been echoed by others.  The diagram is described “a work in progress” and when I visited the site today I discovered that this revised diagram was added less than two days ago:

Visual Blooms 2


The new graphic also recognises that various Web 2.0 tools can be used at different levels according to the context of the activity.  The site is well worth a look at.


Flickr is blocked…I don’t believe it!

I’ve started a mini 23 things project for a select group of our teachers.  I’ve been planning something like this for a bigger group but circumstances have encouraged starting earlier with this group.

The teachers are the people who teach core subjects to the two classes who will be using (hopefully leasing) the netbooks in the trial that my school has started.  My principal is concerned that the teachers are able to see uses for the netbooks beyond simple Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  I am going to be running a few sessions on tools such as Voicethread, Audacity, Comic Life soon (has been delayed by more pressing PD needs like first aid) but in the meantime it seemed that introducing them to a few Web 2.0 tools via a 23 Things/SLAV Learning with Web 2.0 style project was a timely thing to do.

Last week I set up my blog and posted the first task – setting up their own blog using GlobalTeacher.  All the teachers were emailed the link with an explanation of what it was about and lots of encouragement to make a start.  You can read about the first tasks here.

This week I wanted to look at Flickr to introduce these teachers to some of the fun and educational things that can  be done with this resource.  I joined last year and while I haven’t uploaded many of my own photos, I have found it to be a fabulous resource both for specific curriculum needs (I started a blog for Art resources when I was having trouble finding pictures of masks for an art teacher), for illustrations for this blog and just for fun.  Lately I’ve mostly used it from home so it was a big surprise last week to discover that our internet provider in its infinite wisdom has blocked it as “music downloads”!  When I queried this with our network manager he said that Flickr had been put in the same category as Youtube (ie putting innocent lives in mortal danger) and therefore could not be unblocked.  I just wanted to scream.

I know that there are unsavoury things that can be found (if you look, and sometimes accidentally) but in that case perhaps we should also ban dictionaries – there are rude words in them!  Isn’t it better to teach our young people to deal with the inappropriate material in a sensible manner, after all, they are just as likely to come across it at home when the net nanny isn’t in place.

To prohibit the use of an enormously valuable resource just because there is a chance that students will find something unpleasant is plain shortsighted and dumb, we might as well ban cars because people have been killed in accidents.

Let’s stick with the business of education and do our job.  Let’s educate our young people and prepare them for all that they might encounter.  Let’s not wrap them in cottonwool and put blinkers on ourselves hoping all this scary stuff will just go away.  It won’t.

Let’s take advantage of a wonderful free resource.



Last weekend I was following Twitter and @lucybarrow asked for volunteers to comment on some student blog posts.  I’m a helpful type, one of the things I’ve quickly come to love about Twitter is the ease and willingness of tweeps to help someone out, so I clicked the link and found myself at the Year 10 agriculture class blog.  But this was no ordinary blog, here the posts were in the form of MP3 audio files and they had been posted by mobile phone using Utterli.

I was mightily impressed.  I listened to all the posts which revealed that the students had been on an excursion to the Geelong Show.  Their short posts discussed the finer points of sheep judging and the like, not my area of expertise (!!) but it wasn’t the content that was important to me.  How fabulous for these students to be able to instantly record their observations to a public environment.  How fabulous that they are using ICT while miles from their PCs, instead using technology that 99% of students have personal access to.  I had to investigate further.

On visiting the Utterli site I discovered that it is basically another social networking site for sharing news, pictures, video and audio but with the added feature of being able to use your mobile phone.  Here’s their front page:

From the site: Utterli: Talk amongst yourself, sign up now to start a discussion from your computer or phone. Utterli lets you share text, pics, video and audio with your friends, even from your mobile phone.

However, it is the cross-posting feature that makes this such an exciting tool.

I registered with an email, username, password, my mobile number (without the first 0) and indicated which country I’m in (most importantly, Utterli has local phone numbers for cities all over the world, including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in Australia).  Then under APPS & WIDGETS selected cross-posting.  A range of blogs and other services to select from appeared:

So far so good.  I figured that as Globalteacher is based on Edublogs which is based on WordPress then selecting WordPress would do.  Unfortunately when I put in this blog’s address, username and password the site was not found.  Lucy Barrow told me she had selected WordPress for her Edublog and it had all worked fine.  I’ve had contact with @globalteachers who assure me that a globalteacher blog should do everything an edublog does, but clearly not!

Not one to give up easily I figured I’d just set up an edublog which I did.  This time selecting the WordPress option in Utterli worked first time.  So next step was to try it out.

Using my mobile I called the local Melbourne number available on the site and was instantly connected to a perky American digitised voice.  The instructions were easy to follow and it turned out not to matter when I hung up at the end instead of pressing 3(?) and waiting for further options.  Sure enough, within the advertised 10 minutes our first two audio posts appeared on my new Test blog.  When they appeared they were headed “Audiopost” but you can use the blogs editing features to change the title and to categorise and tag the post if you want.

When registering I was also given the option to include a 4 digit pin so I could post using any other phone.  This gets better and better I thought, so I tried it out – the third post recorded on the test blog came from our school phone – at the cost of a local call.

So this really can be a very cheap application to use.  It’s nice to know that using your mobile will not cost any more than calling any other local landline number and I think part of the value of using this with students would be to encourage succinctness – no one wants to listen to a ramble.  There is about 20 seconds of instruction when you call – it should be easy to record a worthwhile post within a minute of mobile time.

I’m still figuring out the ins and outs of using this with students.  Whether they have their own Utterli account and if so can more than one Utterli account cross-post to the same blog, or whether the teacher creates one account which all can use (the students would need to know and enter the mobile number and PIN for the account which would make the calls longer).  I imagine the solutions will depend on the situations but there is still much to explore.

I think there are all kinds of applications for schools to use Utterli to cross-post to blogs.  At my school our year 9’s spend a week at City School – this would be ideal for them to record their impressions of what they have seen and capture the immediacy of the situation.  In fact, any excursion, outdoor activity or event removed from computers could be enhanced with blog posting from Utterli.

How could your students benefit from using Utterli to post to their blogs?