0

Reflections on the SLAV learning with Web 2.0 Program

I was asked recently to write a short piece to be part of a larger article where a number of participants would reflect on the SLAV Learning with Web 2.0 program.  Here’s what I wrote, although not exactly – it struck me as I wrote that there was little point in hyperlinking to the various sites I mention for a print article, I find articles with lots of long web addresses tedious to read – I want to click and get instant gratification!  It’s a real shift in the thinking/writing process and drives home to me the value of the online world – it’s so much more convenient and direct.  Anyway, the article should appear in the February 2009 issue of FYI.

Back in March this year Web 2.0 was something I’d heard of but I didn’t really know what it was.  I discovered that I was already using a couple of Web 2.0 tools – Delicious and WordPress blogs – but I had no real concept of what was out there.  At the SLAV conference in March Lynette Lewis and Leslie Sharples spoke about the SLAV Learning with Web 2.0 program which I hadn’t at that point planned participating in – they grabbed my attention and I immediately went back to school and signed up our entire library staff for the program.

That was the start of an amazing journey, for me personally and for our library.

We set aside specific times when we would work on the program so that we could do things side by side and that was one of the most rewarding things – being able to share our difficulties and our successes.  It was an excellent learning experience and really brought home the value of online hands-on learning.

We now have a library staff blog where we can share concerns, set items for meeting agendas and discuss issues.  This is fantastically helpful for us to improve communication as we have two libraries and nine staff including four part-timers.  We’ve also started using instant messaging for communicating with each other and our computer technicians – the immediacy of the contact is incredibly useful.  We’ve also just installed Live Meeting so that we can talk and share resources remotely, we’ll be running our library meetings using that next year.  Office Communicator and Live Meeting are available through edumail for teachers in state schools.

We have a couple of other blogs – the staff Reading Café and the student Great Reads – for book reviews and discussion. 

Our procedures manual is a wiki and is still a work in progress.  It probably always will be but that is the beauty of a wiki – we can all access and edit, and the live version is always the latest one.

I’m in the process of developing a wiki as an adjunct to our library web (intranet) page.  The current page, although attractive and useful, is cumbersome to update – another advantage of a wiki is the ease of updating.  The wiki will allow for more dynamic content and some interactive elements.

On a personal level for me this program kicked off an incredible learning journey.  From reading blogs I have discovered many fabulous people, ideas and resources.  I’ve started listening to podcasts in the car on the way to work; I’ve joined the OZ/NZ educators community who have online meetings on Sunday nights, I’ve contributed to the Edna Blogging Corner 08 challenge, and I’ve discovered all sorts of amazing tools that can be used to enhance education and communication or are just plain fun!  I’ve continued writing my blog (not as regularly as I’d like) and more recently I’ve joined Twitter (I’m @hbailie).  This sense of community and connectedness is perhaps best summed up my previous post.

At the end of last term I was appointed to a new role as Leading Teacher College ICT Coach, to start officially next year (unofficially of course…let’s just say I’ve been in demand!).  My decision to apply for it was very much tied up in what I have learned and how I have developed this year and that was all sparked off by the SLAV program.  The journey has been amazing so far and I suspect I’m only at the beginning!

Anyone else out there had a similar experience?  What set you off on your learning journey?

4

Me the learner

I registered as part of the blogging corner group some time ago and I’ve been receiving the email updates but this is the first time I’ve participated…now that the SLAV Learning with Web 2.0 program is over I think I need a weekly prod to produce something, I hope it will be worth reading!

Me the learner.  Wow, where do I start.  This year has been amazing.  It started with a SLAV conference back in March where the Learning with Web 2.0 program was promoted.  I’d seen it in the flyer but hadn’t paid it much attention but the presentation by Lynette and Leslie from Yarra Plenty Regional Library (they ran the course) pushed my buttons and now, barely 6 months later I’m preparing to present at the next SLAV Library technicians conference on our Web 2.0 journey.  The “our” is my entire library staff of 8 who have all (almost) completed the course.

We have 2 libraries as we are a 2 campus school.  We now communicate using instant messaging, we have a blog called “Did I speak to you about…” which is where we have a meeting when we can’t have a meeting.  Our procedures manual wiki is going ahead in leaps and bounds.

After meeting up with an old friend at another SLAV conference I decided to set up a staff reading challenge.  She had done this successfully at her school and it sounded like a great idea.  We have lots of staff who read widely and we regularly host staff morning teas to display our new purchases.  I had already planned to create the “Reading Cafe” blog to promote online discussion about books and reading.  The idea of the reading challenge (staff are challenged to read a number of books, 2 of which must be young adult, before the end of the year) soon meshed with the blog to become a challenge where participants must post a blog entry to register the books read for the challenge.  In this way I would kill two birds with one stone and, by stealth, introduce some of our staff to the idea of blogging.  It has been moderately successful so far.  Quite a few people have registered and have been made writers for the blog but only a few have actually completed a post.  I hope to entice more next week when we celebrate book week (yes, I know it’s a week late, but it clashed with science week and parent teacher interviews and we simply weren’t going to be ready in time) with an online staff book quiz that offers bonus points for anyone who posts a review during book week.  And there will be prizes.  I have my fingers crossed for a flurry of activity.

I have been learning to do new things all along the way and as soon as I do, I try to teach/show/share with someone else.  It’s a great maxim that learn/do/teach is the best way to consolidate learning and I believe it is SO true.  The best thing about my web 2.0 journey has been the sharing and learning from each other…which is why it makes so much sense to me to start contributing to blogging corner – hope you agree!

3

What are you doing with Web 2.0?

I have been asked to present a concurrent session at the SLAV library technician and assistants conference on October 13.  It will be a reflection on the Victorian School Libraries Learning with Web 2.0 Program which has been attempted/completed by 8 library staff at my school.  I would also like to use some feedback from other people who have done the course, particularly from library technician/assistants, and especially on what web 2.0 tools you have actually used as part of your job.

Please comment here if you’d like to help.

0

Conclusion

I’ve loved doing this course and I think I’m going to miss it!  I couldn’t believe how quickly some people finished, I’ve really enjoyed dipping into it every week or so – it’s given me time to put to use some of the things I’ve learnt.  Probably the thing I’ve used most so far is blogs – I now have 5 that I manage, including this one.

Other stuff that I’ve found really useful are Google Reader, Google docs, iGoogle and Wikis.  I was already using del.icio.us and it continues to be a fantastic tool, no wonder it won 1st prize in the web 2.0 awards bookmarking category.

Even though I haven’t had call to use them much yet, learning about the resources available on youtube, teacher tube and through podcasts, ebook and audiobook sites has been great and I’m sure they will be used soon.

I plan to continue writing this blog, I want to explore aspects of technology in education and I’ve found the process of writing for the course an enjoyable.  It’s been fun to see on my cluster map widget that my blog has been visited by people from various parts of Australia as well as North America and Europe!  But I don’t mind if I just write it for myself, the value to me is in the doing!

0

#23 Ebooks and Audiobooks

I think the Ebooks available through sites such as World eBook Fair are a fantastic resource for libraries.  As with anything though, it’s a matter of remembering to use it!  I’m not sure if I would want to read an eBook for pleasure – that’s something I usually do in bed, lying on my side, and I’m not sure that an eBook reader would be the most comfortable bed companion.  However, for research and academic purposes having these millions of titles easily available is fantastic.

I can see myself getting more use out of the free audiobooks that are available.  As I’ve said before, my kids enjoy listening to audiobooks in the car on long trips and my husband and I are both very anti in-car DVDs – you’ve got to look at the scenery when you’re travelling!  Audiobooks are the ideal compromise for bored kids and having a free source is all the better.  I even worked out how to save the files to my computer so that I can turn them into CDs or load to an MP3 player (when I get one!).  When I subscribed to an audiobook podcast earlier I couldn’t figure out how to use the files other than listen on the computer.

0

#22 Second Life

Hmmm.  Can’t see myself getting into this one.  As other people have commented, it’s hard enough finding time to do what you have to in your real life.   Had a good laugh at www.getafirstlife.com though.

I guess it would have a greater appeal to people who are into this kind of gaming – most likely younger people – so I suppose I should try and get over my reticence.  However I’m struggling with just how much learning/time would have to go into it in order to get anything that I see as valuable out of it.  Unlike most of the other web 2.0 tools that we have covered which I have quickly seen uses for and acted on, second life seems like it would take a big commitment before you get the rewards.  Of course, without having actually tried, I’m not really in the position to say…but I can’t see myself trying in the near future.

0

#21 YouTube

There’s no doubt there is some fantastic stuff available on You Tube and Teacher tube but it can be very frustrating too.  One video which I LOVE is actually an ad for a technology company in the US.  It’s about these people who build aeroplanes in the sky, while they are flying with passengers in them.  The workers tell us (one with a tear in his eye) how much they love their jobs!  To me it really sums up what we need to be doing with techology in schools.  We don’t have time to wait for the infrastructure to be perfect  we need to be getting into it and using what we do have and moving forward at all times.  If we wait until we have enough computers or network points or bandwith or whatever before we start using this in the classroom it’ll all be too late. 
Building planes in the air

I have tried and tried to actually embed the video instead of linking it but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  It all looks fine until I actually save it.  I shall persist, however.  I will consult with the resident geek girl when I get back to work tomorrow.

It took me a few goes to find this video again today which seems to be a bit of a problem with youtube/teacher tube.  I started doing this topic a few days ago and found a video I really liked that showed a girl putting a picture of herself on a noticeboard and then multiple people were able to take it from the noticeboard.  It was pointing out the problems with putting photos on the internet and how you can’t get them back once you have.  I thought it would be a good one to show to students but I can’t find it now.  Obviously it’s important to keep a note of what you see and like at the time you do because these videos seem to move in mysterious ways!

I’ve found another video that I like and will try to embed as well (if I ever work out how).  It’s a warning to educators to not be scared of technology and to use it rather than ban it in schools.  I think there are plenty of people in education out there who could learn something from this but unfortunately they may find the technique of SMS language incomprehensible…what do you think?  It’s called “Technology fear factor in education” .  Here’s the link, the video may or may not appear below now too. 

 

 

This is another video I loved, I’m just going to link it, it’s all about how NOT to do powerpoint presentations.  Very funny and unfortunately too true. How not to PowerPoint

0

#20 Podcasts

I can see great potential for podcasts in education.  At the education dept showcase I attended in May one of the speakers was Andrew Douch who has won awards for the innovative stuff he does, especially in creating podcasts for VCE biology.  He has achieved great results and is really engaging his students.  The podcasts allow him to cover the content of the course in a way that students can use over and over which then allows him more time in class to work on other important areas like exam preparation and SACs.  His podcasts are available throught iTunes and he currently has over 2000 subscribers (and less than 50 actual students!!).  At the showcase he talked about other uses:  English teachers discussing a text; dance teachers giving the choreography over the music which students can use for rehearsing on their own; vodcasts where maths teachers can explain a method while showing it…the possibilities are enormous.

I had a look at podcastalley.com and I subscribed to a podcast of children’s book readings.  My kids love listening to audio books on long car trips and we have been disappointed in the past when the 3rd disk of 5 of a story borrowed from the library has turned out to be so badly scratched that we can’t listen to it.  Being able to download podcast stories will be great…when I figure out how to do it!  I subscribed using my google reader account and I can open them and listen to them using the computer but I’ve got no idea how I would get them onto an mp3 player – any suggestions gratefully received!

I’ve now also downloaded the itunes software. I’ve only had a quick look but there seems to be plenty to choose from.  I know from other people that downloading from there and putting onto an mp3 player or burning to cd is easy so I’m not expecting any dramas there.