Google Keep colour codes

Google Keep was one of my big takeaways from last year’s EdTechTeam Melbourne Summit (are you coming to this year’s?). I’d been hearing about it for a while but I thought it was just Google’s version of Evernote and, as a huge Evernote fan and continuing user, I figured it was one less thing I needed to know about.

How wrong was I!

It turns out Keep is a complement to Evernote, not a rival or alternative. While Evernote is fantastic for organising study notes, managing research; storing, annotating and searching PDFs, generally anything you want to keep long term; Keep is better suited to those short term items. You know, the ones we use sticky notes for in the analog world.

Anyway, I’m now a big Google Keep fan and I promote it to teachers and students to help them get organised too.

Being a serial organiser I love the colour coding feature and have set up a system for my personal Keep account and a different one for my work one. I put a pinned note with my colour codes explained (plain white, all text – how dull!) on each account. All good, sort of.

Inspired by Kasey Bell I started adding images to notes like my ongoing to-do lists (one for my current study subject and one that is just general stuff) but with Kasey’s inspiration I’ve now used Canva to create a colourful customised note to explain my colour-code system.

Here’s the before and after for my personal account:

GK colour code text version GK Colour code colour version

So much better!

If I needed more categories I could have used grey (how dull!) and no colour (aka white) but six is enough for me. Any finer categorising I need to do can be done with Keep’s labels.

So now my gift for you!

The category image was created in two steps using Canva. First I created an image with the six colours but no text. I downloaded that as a png and then uploaded it back into Canva where I added the category text over the top of each colour, I then repeated the steps to create a different version for my other account. To save you the trouble of identifying the hex codes for the six colours and adding the shapes to a rectangle on Canva, here is that image. Feel free to download and do whatever you like with it!Google Keep Colour coder - no text


AITSL Teacher feature video

(Cross-posted from Learn, do, teach…)

Back in September last year I attended a Teachmeet at Oxfam in Carlton. @becspink and I had sneakily signed up for two spots to fulfil our “creative coffee morning” task for INF536. Lewis Allen and Clinton Milroy were there from AITSL to promote the Teacher Feature section of the AITSL website. They wanted to film some teachers for the site and I managed to get myself involved. Luckily I was well-dressed and made-up ready to go out later that evening for my wedding anniversary (21 years, thanks for asking!).

I’d managed to forget all about it till today when going through some survey responses for the video I’m creating for INF532 someone had provided a link for a video they’d uploaded to Teacher Feature. Unfortunately the videos didn’t want to play on the AITSL website but I managed to track them down on Youtube. I was expecting to cringe when I watched myself, I always think I’m stumbling over words and saying way too many umms and ahhs when I’m being recorded, but I was pleasantly surprised (and thank you Lewis for responding so quickly to my request to have my name spelled correctly). Anyway, I’m happy enough to share the video here – what do you think?

If you go to AITSL’s YouTube channel you can see the playlist of videos including those recorded with Bec Spink, Mel Cashen and Leigh Murphy.


What is the best part of my job? #YourEdustory

I’ll admit I’m playing catch-up this week. The final assessment for the MEd subject I’ve been doing over the summer session is due in less than a week so writing that has had to take priority. However, it is almost complete so it is a good time to step back from it for a bit and get something written for this challenge, which I’m equally keen to keep up with.

I’m a teacher-librarian so I don’t have a regular classroom or students; instead I work with anyone who’ll have me, in and out of the library and classrooms. In my previous position I was also ICT Coach which meant specifically working with teachers to build their capacity in ICT. My new role also encompasses a bit of that and it is my favourite “best” part of what I do.

Teachers often speak of students having “ah ha” moments when learning locks into place. For me there is nothing better than witnessing a teacher’s “ah-ha” moment when they can suddenly see the pedagogical possibilities of some bit of technology that I have been sharing. When they go from thinking “oh that’s just Heather, she’s good with technology; I couldn’t do that, it wouldn’t benefit my students learning” to “wow, I can do this, I can see how this will help me and my students achieve x, y or z”.

In most schools there is a sub-class of teachers whom everyone else considers. not exactly luddites, but perhaps “the least likely to engage with technology”. Last year I worked alongside a primary language teacher (a whole learning area that falls into that group at my school) to introduce Google Classroom as a forum for sharing student work within the class. The students were in year 3, the lowest level at my campus. It was fantastic to witness the excitement of the children who quickly learned to attach their work to announcements and post positive feedback to each other; but it’s been even more exciting to observe the eye-opening of other teachers who suddenly realise “I want what she’s having”.

Sometimes my patience is tested as I seem to be explaining the same function or process for the billionth time but when they “get it”, when things start changing in their classrooms because of it, it all becomes worthwhile.

Working with teachers, that’s what I love, that’s the best bit of my job and I think it’s what I do best.

PS For those who ask me how I get everything done my stock answer is “my house isn’t very clean” but it’s also about using time efficiently. This post has been written on my Chromebook on a train and a tram as I travel to work today


The Ultranet: a PMI

ultranet_logoI’m currently studying a subject called Designing Spaces for Learning as part of my MEd. (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) and I’m doing a case report on the Ultranet as an example of a virtual space that was developed with the goal of improving student learning. This blog post is an attempt to sum up my personal experience and thoughts about the Ultranet as well as incorporate the thoughts of others who were closely involved and who have been good enough to share them with me. I’ve decided to structure this as a PMI and I can already see some people who were acquainted with the Ultranet rolling their eyes because they don’t think there were any positives…but there were.

During 2012 I was the only teacher in my school of 1800 students using the Ultranet – even though I’m a strong unionist I didn’t think the AEU’s ban on further implementation of the Ultranet applied to me because I’d already implemented it in my classes. In 2013 I was not in a school. If I had gone back to my old school and had to teach similar subjects I would have been very disappointed to find the Ultranet gone, which it was by the start of 2014 – my whole curriculum was there, in a form that was easy to update and customise to the needs of whatever students walked into my classroom. More than disappointed, it would have been a disaster in terms of my workload.


  • I used Learning Tasks successfully with my year 10 classes in the second half of 2011 and 2012 but it wasn’t all plain sailing. Particularly at the start of 2012 when a number of my students were new to the school there were ongoing issues with having them linked to my class. The Ultranet got its student and teacher data from CASES21, the DEECD school administration, finance and reporting system. It took time for new students to be transferred over from their previous school and the slightest problem with their data meant this could be delayed even further. In the meantime they did not appear as part of my class and I couldn’t assign tasks to them. In one case a student never appeared as part of my class. For the students for whom it all worked it was terrific. I could plan my tasks linking in the relevant VELs progression points, easily see who had started a task and who hadn’t, check in on progress and record assessment including comments. Current and outstanding work, and assessment was available to the students’ parents via their Learner Profile. I can’t help now comparing Learning Tasks with the simplicity of the newly released Google classroom – if Learning Tasks had looked like this maybe there’d be a whole lot more Sister Rosemarie’s teaching today…But we still wouldn’t have those explicit curriculum links available…
  • The online community that developed around the Ultranet introduced me to people who are now important figures in my PLN and was for many the first concrete example of the value of a PLN. The Ultranet share n tell sessions, every month from August 2010 to 2013 opened up web conferencing to many teachers who hadn’t used it previously. The #ultranet hashtag was very active on Twitter; again, for many it was through the Ultranet that the value of this medium was discovered.
  • For those unfamiliar with Web 2.0 it was a safe environment for exploring and experimenting with online tools. Teachers like Mel Cashen found it “a great opportunity for my kids to ‘play’ and I, my students, their parents and the school felt safe that they could test the waters of an online world without the harsh consequences the world wide web.”
  • It had the potential to provide consistency, connection and continuity for children, schools and parents as the students moved through the system from prep to VCE; providing parents with one consistent access point regardless of the ages and stages of their children, and teachers with access to all relevant information even when students changed schools.
  • Success stories like Riss Leung’s Ultranet village and The Big Day Away demonstrated just what was possible
  • Steve Seddon’s post A positive look as we move to ‘Life after Ultranet’  sums up positives from his perspective.
  • A comment from Kynan Robinson on Andrew Williamson’s Ultranet Down is almost a negative: “The only positive I can think of is that it forces teachers who are lagging in ICT skills to get involved but it does so in such an unintuitive way (look at the complicated process involved in merely uploading a photo) that there is the fear that it will merely make them more opposed to the use of technology.”


“Staff attitudes towards the Ultranet were negative from the start. This was caused by the initial delays in getting the real product designed and actually created. There had been lots of talk for so long before the product was actually created that educators had already lost faith in the project. It was extremely hard to work with people who had already formed these strong negative beliefs.” a former Ultranet Coach

  • The over-the-top security approach. The IDAM (Identity Access Management) process was fraught with difficulty for teachers and students alike. The computer generated usernames were as difficult for students to learn as complex 7 passwords were to create and remember, never mind the “secret” questions (“What item of food could you live without?, What is your Grandmother’s maiden name? What is the most boring sport? What name would you give to a pet anteater”) and pin code. Many primary schools resorted to using the same password/secret answers for all students which is not modelling good digital behaviour. Even in my year 10 class where we used the Ultranet every lesson students frequently forgot their username and/or password. Resetting the password was a hit and miss process; luckily for me and them I was an IDAM administrator so I could reset passwords and look up usernames but it’s easy to see this being a big frustration for your average classroom teacher.
  • Teachers too struggled with the complex password process and there were issues in the associated CASES21 system that lead to ongoing registration issues for some staff (including our own principal) and problems with students being allocated into the correct teacher’s classes so they could allocate learning tasks to them.
  • General clunkiness of the interface – many things took more steps than other similar tasks on more user friendly sites. “The product was not user friendly from the start. There were too many clicks required to do even the simplest of tasks. It was not intuitive and was not designed for users with low technology skills (which many of the teachers had).” (former Ultranet coach).
  • Collaborative and Design spaces could be private, restricted or open but open spaces weren’t really open, you had to join before you got to see what was there. This discouraged people from exploring and at the same time my students found it disconcerting that other teachers had joined our space (my collaborative space for my year 10 class was recommended as an example of good practice). To my mind an open space should be viewable by all but have to be joined in order to contribute. I had no problem with other teachers looking at how I had set up the space and how the students were using it but I didn’t particularly want them to do anything like edit a wiki or contribute to a forum.
  • Students couldn’t share with other students unless in same collaborative space which had to be set up by a teacher. There’s heaps of research out there about the value of social learning and the importance of making connections. Fears of unchecked bullying were ridiculous considering nobody got into the Ultranet or was able to do anything without leaving their unique digital fingerprint. Inappropriate comments or content could be flagged and from personal experience I know it was followed up. Instead of enabling the opportunity to connect and to deal with inappropriate behaviour when and if it occurred all students were treated as though they could not be trusted. In this article – Digital natives restless – you can read about some year 2 students who were already blogging when the Ultranet was launched  They couldn’t understand why they couldn’t connect with other students.

  • As the College ICT Coach I was a natural choice as a School Lead User but I do not know what criteria was used in selecting the remaining lead users for my school. The principal had to be a lead user which I think was not necessarily the best idea – the principal needed to strongly support the implementation but does not have the day-to-day connection with students that makes the use of a tool like this worthwhile. Other lead users at my school mostly had other leadership roles which kept them busy. Also there was no real incentive to be a lead user. Other than two days away from school at training the lead user responsibilities were an add-on and for most just too hard to maintain enthusiasm about.
  • Because I took the time to play, experiment and learn the Ultranet eventually came easily to me and I would think it really was ok afterall…until I tried to show someone else how to do something. Then I realised that the steps required were often not logical, there were way too many of them and what you got in the end was underwhelming at best. I’m thinking about the process for display a slide show or uploading a document or scoping a wiki – nothing was easy.
  • It tried to emulate other web2.0 tools but did it badly. If I want to blog I’ll use Global2 (the Victorian education system’s Edublogs campus); if I need a wiki I’ll use Wikispaces or PBWorks. Why reinvent the wheel at enormous cost when there are better (and free) tools available? Teachers who had already embraced Web 2.0 tools found the Ultranet versions unintuitive, unattractive and difficult to use compared to the relative simplicity of tools like WordPress blogs, Wikispaces, Flickr and so on.
  • Teachers who hadn’t ventured into Web 2.0 tools found the Ultranet’s versions incomprehensible and there wasn’t clear guidelines from above about why and how these tools were important. They were unlikely to be attracted by the clunky Ultranet versions of tools like blogs, wikis and photo displays.
  • Getting logged out in the background after 15 minutes lead to loss of work. This was later changed but caused immense frustration and loss of confidence in users before it was.
  • Problems with one browser or another. It was supposed to be browser agnostic although IE was preferred but some things only worked in Firefox.
  • August 9 2010 (need I say any more?). Even afterwards there was too much down time, it wasn’t reliable. I could almost guarantee problems any time I’d arranged to work with a class and teacher to get them registered. After August 9 many teachers needed little further encouragement for their cynicism.
  • “Although the spaces within the Ultranet had the name ‘collaborative’ learning spaces’, the actual amount of collaboration that could occur within these spaces was minimal. (Basically reduces to post on a forum). There was such a focus on safety and control in these spaces that it hindered the amount of true collaboration available within the space. These spaces were also competing with sites such as Twitter and Google Docs where collaboration was free and easy and only hidden behind 1 simple password (not a complex7 password and then 10 other mouse clicks)”. Ultranet Coach

 “One of the biggest lessons learnt from the Ultranet is that if something does not make some sort of sense at first glance then it takes a lot of convincing, as well as tedious and repetitious explanation, to get staff and students on board.” Aaron Davis 


  • Looking back in my Diigo library I found things like CSS colour charts and the Ultranet CSS generator created by an Ultranet coach. The Ultranet experience taught me some basic css and html which has been useful in other circumstances.
  • I wrote a series of blog posts on embedding in the ultranet because it wasn’t straightforward. I know my problem-solving skills were enhanced by my Ultranet experience.
  • I never got to see the parent view because my child’s school never got to the point of adding parents. As a lead user it was difficult to plan for parent adoption without knowing exactly what they would experience.
  • I remember the first time I saw Edmodo and all I could say was “why isn’t the Ultranet this simple?” More recently I’ve had similar thoughts about Google Classroom.

Any new technology needs to have a clearly visible purpose and the promise of improving something for the user. Learning tasks were the part of the Ultranet that had the potential to improve the way teachers planned, distributed, collected and assessed student work. In my opinion if the Ultranet had consisted only of Learning Tasks and Learner Profile (Release 2), leaving the other functions to the (mostly) free web 2.0 tools it would have been much more successful. Learning Tasks fulfilled a need that wasn’t (and still isn’t) being filled anywhere else, particularly with the direct explicit curriculum standards links. Most teachers would have seen the potential for Learning Tasks to improve their teaching practices but unfortunately by the time Learning Tasks was released and working for most teachers the Ultranet was already a distant (bad) memory.

Further reading:

Lessons to be learned from the Ultranet – the background | Learning : Teaching

Lessons to be learned from the Ultranet – Did it work? | Learning : Teaching

Compass and the Spectre of the Ultranet | Reading Writing Responding

Measuring Success | Reading Writing Responding

The scourge of low expectations (the Ultranet post) | Richard Olsen’s blog



I’m an entrepreneurial learner

Part of my Masters studies is writing a reflective blog. For this first subject Concepts and practices for a digital age we are required to publish four official posts over the course of the semester but are free to post other reflections as and when we wish. This is my first official post, cross-posted from Learn, do, teach… The directions were:

Using your readings and interaction with the subject to date, develop a statement about your current knowledge and understanding of concepts and practices in a digital age within the context of your work or professional circumstances. What is the context of your learning? What are your personal aims in this subject? What challenges are you hoping to meet for yourself?

As you might imagine I’m a little nervous about my first assessable writing in a long time – what do you think?

The Global One Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights from JSB’s Keynote at DML2012). Retrieved from http://youtu.be/fiGabUBQEnM

I didn’t know it till this week but it seems I’m an entrepreneurial learner. I look for new ways to do things, seek new resources, re-evaluate, re-assess, tweak, try, and reflect. I’m not happy doing the same thing in the same way unless I know there isn’t a better way (and that’s rare). So John Seely Brown’s words right at the start of the video struck me straightaway. That’s it! That’s my passion! I want other teachers to be entrepreneurial learners too.

I want to find new and better ways to inspire and motivate teachers to have a go in the networked learning environment, to become “connected educators” – what Tom Whitby defines as “teachers who are comfortable with collaborative learning, social media, and sharing their ideas online.” I share his concern of a “huge gulf now developing between connected and unconnected educators.” (Digital trends shifting the role of teachers)

I want to be able to use the right language to convey my passion, to be able to articulate in pedagogical terms why it is important to keep up and to back up what I say with compelling examples from research. I read widely and find myself nodding my head in agreement or protesting “no” at an outrageous assertion but lack the skills to articulate why I respond that way. I need to “level up” my academic prowess. This is key in my motivation for study and I’m already being rewarded by the range of information being shared formally through the module and the new eye with which I’m viewing information shared informally.

Teachers I work with get bogged down in real and imagined barriers relating to workload, red tape and previous bad experiences, using them as excuses not to try. I love seeing the lightbulb go on when someone realises that a particular tool can actually make them more efficient (seen recently with a new Evernote convert) but often teachers lack motivation or are scared of breaking something or admitting they don’t know. I want teachers to find the same joy I do in play. As Seely Brown says “a key aspect of play is…permission to fail. Fail, fail, fail, then get it right”.

I want teachers to see that the technology itself is irrelevant. Just yesterday a primary teacher bemoaned the fact that her students struggled with using a mouse because they were so used to touch devices. Does it really matter? I can see a day in the not too distant future when the computer mouse will be viewed like the fountain pen, a quaint relic. We already have voice and gesture recognition and eye control is being developed. The mouse should be seen for what it is – an input device, nothing more, nothing less. This tweet from Marc Prensky sums it up beautifully:


I want teachers to see the need to transform learning tasks, that simply digitising an existing task and teaching it in the same old way will not develop 21st century skills.  Future work skills 2020 articulates skills that will be required in the workplace of the future but traditional teaching methods will not serve these needs. Consider Ruben R. Puentedura‘s SAMR model:

Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D. http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/
Retrieved from http://jennyluca.wikispaces.com/TPACK+and+SAMR 13 March, 2014

SAMR can be applied equally by teachers thinking about how they teach and how they themselves learn. I want to be an agent of redefinition.

Finally, I need to become a better teacher-librarian by sharpening up my own search and research skills. Already I am enjoying the challenges this poses.



One week as a Masters student

Recently I wrote about the first four weeks of my new job – Four weeks in. To add excitement to my life (because working in a new school isn’t enough!) I have also started studying for a Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation). The course is taught by distance education through Charles Sturt University. This video from the course director Judy O’Connell will give you some idea of the scope of the course. I certainly hope that through study I’ll understand everything she is talking about soon!

So this first week of study has been a lot of setting up, joining, reading, developing systems and connecting. The first subject I am undertaking is called Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age; as one of only two compulsory subjects it is considered the “keystone” subject for the course. This week we went through the Introduction, watching a talk by Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM, A New Culture of Learning, to provoke some thinking about the nature of learning; joining the Diigo group; following and contributing to #inf530 on twitter; learning about the library resources available to us; thinking about how we will manage references; introducing ourselves and sharing our goals on the subject forum, and setting up a new blog for reflection, a compulsory part of every subject in the degree. A twitter chat was held on Tuesday evening. Surprisingly, for someone who has used Twitter for a long time, I’d never used TweetChat before – it was a good way to concentrate on a hashtag at a high-use time and saved being distracted by the other columns in Tweetdeck.

So far I’m feeling pretty good about what is to come. Unlike some of the other students I’m already very comfortable with Twitter, Diigo, blogging using Edublogs/Wordpress etc so the structural/techno things won’t hold me back. I’m very happy that, working 0.8 this year, I have a full day each week to devote to study and with the commuting I do, around an hour a day to read or keep up with other things. As always, though, when faced with intellectual dialogue, I start doubting my ability to engage at the expected level. Just reading some of the early blog posts from other students has me gasping in admiration at the depth of their perception, the academic eloquence of their words. I do fear that, intellectually, I’m not actually up to this. I hope to prove myself wrong!



Here’s to new years and new beginnings

Almost exactly one year ago I started my so-called “gap year” with my first day at Australian Red Cross working on the Educating the Educators Disaster Resilience Education (DRE) project. It was an interesting time to start at Red Cross in the Emergency Services program because they had just been activated for the Tasmanian Bushfires and shortly after were again activated for the Queensland floods following Cyclone Oswald. In an activation normal duties cease and everyone’s attention is turned to supporting relief and recovery programs; people wear those coloured aprons (tabards apparently) to denote their role – logistics, planning, operations and so on; they work long hours and staff from outside the area step in to assist. However, as an externally funded project officer I wasn’t expected to be involved so in amongst all this my manager and I worked through my introduction to Red Cross and just what the project was about. I found myself suffering severe information overload leading to absolute exhaustion and the need for a lie-down as soon as I got home from work. My children speculated that it was the blood bank’s fault (even though the Red Cross Blood Service is an almost completely separate organisation). After 20 years at the same school I certainly knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore!

Twelve months down the track the project is almost complete with a range of achievements of which I am very proud. A report mapping existing disaster resilience education resources to the Australian curriculum has been published (with a revised edition to be available shortly); a video competition for secondary students was held, with an outstanding winner:

and we have a fascinating case study of how disaster resilience education was integrated in an inquiry based learning program:

I had the opportunity to attend and present at a range of conferences including travelling to every state and territory of Australia except Canberra and Tasmania. Articles I wrote were published in Connections and the ABC Splash website with another due to appear in Ethos, the journal of Social Education Victoria, shortly. I’ve curated DRE resources on Scoop.it, created an app using Yapp, developed a website and established a Diigo group. I’ve connected with a fabulous array of people working in emergency services and disaster risk reduction. True, I had a lot to learn from them but I’ve also been able to give back with ICT expertise and perspectives on education. I hope to be able to maintain some of those connections in the future.

This job was an unexpected opportunity that just happened to come my way – I’m so glad I was brave enough to go for it instead of sticking with the safe and comfortable environment of school.

Another new year…

Another new beginning!

Yes, I will shortly be starting a new role at a new school. Not only that but after 26 years I’m resigning from DEECD in order to do so. My new position is Library & Information Services Manager at The King David School in Armadale. A hurried application two days before heading overseas for a month lead to an interview via Skype (at 9.30pm in Lisbon, Portugal) and subsequent negotiations via email. I certainly never expected to come home from a holiday with a new job!

I’m very excited about this new opportunity for a host of reasons, not least is just how different it will be to what I’m used to. For starters it will be my first ever experience working in the private system, something I never anticipated doing. It’s a much smaller school than Mill Park SC (somewhere between a third and half the number of students overall) but includes children from pre-kindergarten to year 12. I’m very excited about working with upper primary students particularly after the very positive experience with Essendon North PS for the DRE project. KDS is currently housed over five sites but a re-building and consolidation program over the next 5 years will see that reduce to three, no doubt all sorts of adventures will be in store for the library, might even take me back to the early years of MPSC.

Heading back into the library is one of the most attractive things about this position. Over the last few years at MPSC my focus was primarily on ICT coaching and IT teaching. The past year gave me some distance and perspective and I came to the conclusion that it’s through running an excellent library service that my skills in ICT coaching can be best utilised and targeted. Part of the new role is overseeing the roll-out of a 1-1 iPad program in the junior and middle schools – I’m still to have a strong focus on ICT capacity development for staff which suits me just fine!

Now I just have to make sure I update everything to reflect my new role and make sure I can still access various accounts. Some years ago I actively started using my gmail account for anything personal, and recently, increasingly for professional activities, but for many sites that “edu” element of the email address is essential to access educator accounts. Changing your email address across multiple sites is time-consuming and not always straightforward; neither is transferring contacts to Gmail, but hopefully I’ll have it all done before being “cut-off” from Edumail on January 28. I’m very excited that KDS are a Google apps school – I can finally fully exploit the power of Google for integration and keeping organised.

As part of this new beginning I plan to return to blogging to reflect and share, hence this post. Your thoughts, advice and suggestions for making the most of my new role will be much appreciated!


Thing 7: communicate

I haven’t had much to do with Google hangouts although I participated in the EdTech Crew end of year podcast hangout at the end of last year.
I hadn’t realised, till I started reading the post for this topic and exploring some of the links, that you could broadcast the hangout live, that you don’t actually have to be a participant to view. This opens up lots of possibilities I think, particularly for presentations to large distributed groups where several people need to interact while others just listen (or participate via backchannels perhaps). Hangouts in general would be amazing at the organisation where I work as there are 3000 employees and many volunteers spread across the country. There are teleconferences held all the time but how much better would it be to see who you’re talking to, and to be able to record the conversation for anyone who missed out live. Even on a smaller scale it would be fabulous. My manager is in Brisbane and our partner from another organisation is in Macedon. Unfortunately the computer system doesn’t currently allow the use of Skype and the only browser is an old version of IE! Oh yeah, and we don’t have audio!
Skype I’ve used more. I once had a job interview on Skype; my husband has travelled a bit for work so we’ve caught up on Skype (much nicer than a phone call but it confuses the dogs no end), and I’ve attended several conferences where keynote speakers have presented virtually through Skype. The most recent was at EduTech in Brisbane in June. Sir Ken Robinson lost none of his charisma or impact even though he was thousands of miles away and it was 2am where he was.
The Skype an author wiki is a great resource and well worth checking out for schools and libraries alike. In my current job I have suggested that a similar central listing of emergency management personnel could be a useful addition to existing disaster resilience education resources.

Postscript 21 July

I just came across this fantastic list of 50 Ideas for using G+ Hangouts in Learning by Category from Teachthought Can’t wait to try some of them out!


Thing 6: video

So, the limitations of completing the challenge only using mobile devices are starting to appear. I can’t find any way of grabbing YouTube code to embed here. It seems the best I can do is get the link. Well, I’d rather embed so even though that goes against the spirit of what I’m trying to achieve, so be it. I’ll publish this now ( from my phone, on the train ) but I’ll come back and edit next time I’m on my PC.

I’ve used video in a number of ways, both in the library and as part of my ICT coaching role. I’ve used both YouTube and Vimeo for uploading video; Jing, Debut and Screencast-o-matic for screencasting, and I’ve played around with various phone and iPad apps for video.

Talking Tom library welcome from Heather Bailie on Vimeo.

Some examples: as part of library orientation we made some short videos to incorporate in an online quiz; for book week I made a quiz for teachers and had some people read famous passages from books for the participants to identify author and title;

Nette1 from Heather Bailie on Vimeo.

I’ve videoed guest speakers and uploaded the videos to YouTube and then embedded the video in a Ning network. I regularly make screencasts for quick “how-to’s” – it’s so much simpler and more efficient to “show” rather than tell. My favourite tool for screencasting on a computer is screencast-o-matic – it’s great because you don’t need to download any software and it is very easy to share your video using YouTube or Google docs and you can save to your computer as well.

Creating instructional videos using an iPad is also quite easy and very effective using apps like Explain everything. Here’s one I made about the Flipboard app as part of a workshop at Slide2learn last year.


Thing 5 – photos + maps + apps

Wow, where did the last 4 weeks go? I’ve got some catching up to do.
I think History pin has great potential as a local history resource. I can see great use for it in the classroom obviously for history but also geography, literature, outdoor ed and more. It would be great to use in literature where real places are the settings – you could set up a tour showing the significant places of a novel.
Personally I haven’t had a lot of success. I have taken and uploaded a photo, it appears on my account but not on the map. Sometime when I’ve got more time I’ll try again.
I am looking forward to using history pin when I’m travelling in Europe later this year, I think it will offer some interesting insight into the places we visit.
Short and sweet but sometimes that’s how it has to be. What’s next?