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Brekky Bytes debut

apricot and raisin toast
On Thursday I ran my first “Brekky Bytes” PD for staff, the topic was “Learn to love the intranet”.  The invitation went out to all offering a half hour session, with coffee and raisin toast available prior as an incentive.

Eight people attended plus our Teaching & Learning Coach who came to offer moral support and supply/cook the toast.  An interesting array, rather top heavy with the college principal, a campus principal, four leading teachers and two others who I am sure will not mind being described as experienced. 

We went through how to add announcements to the staff home page, how to access and upload documents (including a longer than expected diversion into the difference between the school memory and staff documents) and a look at the intranet calendar and how it can be accessed as a shared calendar in Outlook.

I showed everyone how to set up an alert so that once a day (or week, or instantly) one can be sent an email with the content of new announcements, reducing the need to actually scan the staff home page.  In the process I discovered that while ‘my’ alerts are automatically sent to my edumail address when others in attendance tried the same thing either the default email was not visible or it showed xxx@ourschoolname etc instead of their edumail address.  I spoke later to our network manager and discovered that this address is an internal one and part of the student email system that has been set up for students to communicate with their teachers.  The teachers have been given another email account so that they don’t have to give out their edumail address to students. 

But why wouldn’t a teacher want to give their students their edumail address?  Surely as teachers our business is education and our “business” email address is our edumail one.  If students use this address to send inappropriate material then if they are identifiable as the sender they can be dealt with within the school’s discipline structure.  If inappropriate emails pop up from unknown senders then they can easily be blocked.  Our edumail address should be seen as no more personal than the school’s street address or phone number.  I can see that this issue will need to be resolved, the last thing that technophobe teachers need is added complications when they are barely grappling with checking one email account as it is.

So, as always, things never quite work out just as I imagine.  Just when you think you know how something works, you show someone else and it doesn’t work the same for them.  Some would find that frustrating and a reason not to try new things but for me it just strengthens my resolve to keep on trying, keep on exploring, continue to learn.

Picture courtesy http://flickr.com/photos/penguincakes/2788691971/
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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?

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What I did in the holidays

Well it’s back to work and reality tomorrow.  I was offered the positon of Leading Teacher College ICT Coach on the last day of term and told not to speak to anyone about it that afternoon as unsuccessful applicants for that and other positions may not have found out yet, and of course there is the provisional period to get through.  It has all felt a bit unreal – two weeks later and I haven’t actually spoken to anyone I work with about getting the job (did I imagine it??).  No, I’ve had the official email, it’s all real.  As I started with, back to reality tomorrow.

That being said, I have spent much of the holidays furthering my learning journey.  I have spent a lot of time working on the presentation I will be making at the SLAV People and Technology conference on Monday 13 October.  I’m happy with my preparation at this stage, the slides are almost all done and there is very little text on them!  I’ve written extensive notes which will form the basis of what I will say – now I need to pare them back into useful prompts.  I’ve created a wiki which I will invite the conference participants to view and join if they wish.  It will provide links to everything I speak about on the day so hopefully they won’t feel compelled to write notes as I speak!  I always hate that feeling when you are listening to someone speak, that you might miss noting something important!

The presentation is about the Learning with Web 2.0 program my library staff and I completed earlier this year.  Doing the preparation prompted me to revisit some of the Web 2.0 tools that I’d only touched on earlier and that was worthwhile doing.  Google Book search must have been having a blonde moment the first time I checked it out, second time around it looked much more useful.  I’ve started using Google Calendar integrated on my iGoogle page; I played around with a couple of gadgets to integrate Delicious into iGoogle but with only limited success but then I installed the latest Delicious toolbar which incorporates a sidebar which is much more useful than the old two buttons and effectively does what an iGoogle gadget would have done.  I tried again to get excited about second life, but couldn’t manage it. 

Along the way I got continually sidetracked by interesting things popping up in my Google reader.  It is fantastic, the paths you can be lead down and the fascinating thing you can read and view…but time can disappear alarmingly!  I subscribed to several more blogs (the count is now 40, up from 30 a month ago) and joined two Nings. Work Literacy  and OZ/NZ Educators.  Work Literacy  is running a 6 week professional development event which I am participating in:

Sponsored by Work Literacy and the eLearning Guild, from September 29 through November 7, 2008, this network will be THE place for you to learn about Web 2.0 and how social media tools can be used by learning professionals.
The goals of the event are to:

* Introduce you to new tools and methods for work and learning
* Discuss implications of these tools for learning professionals
*Prepare you to participate in DevLearn in new ways as an attendee or as a spectator.

Through the Work Literacy program I have joined LinkedIn which is like Facebook but for professional engagement and networking rather than social.  I haven’t decided how far I’ll go with LinkedIn, on the face of it it seems to be mostly populated with hard core business types rather than educators but as I am learning, it takes effort and persistance and the right approach to build a network.

I’ve continued to participate in the Edna group Blogging corner and their 08 challenge – it’s good to be prompted to explore or reflect and then blog about what you have done.

Probably the most significant thing (to me anyway) is that last night I bit the bullet and joined Twitter.  It was an amazing experience.  After I registered I went to Jane’s eLearning pick of the post on the Top 100 (e)Learning Professionals to follow on Twitter which I’d first read about on Lucacept and followed the process to follow those that I’d heard of elsewhere.  Many of the people’s whose blogs I subscribe to were there so I quickly found about 20 to follow.  What came next was the amazing part.  Within minutes Sue Tapp had direct messaged me as a fellow Melbourne TL and invited me to join the OZ/NZ Educators ning (see above).  Shortly after that Jenny Luca started following me and then Sue Waters tweeted to ask if I’d like her to put out a tweet to her network for people to follow/follow me.  Of course I said yes, please – Sue’s posts on the Edublogger and Mobile Technology in TAFE are a big part of the reason I decided to make the jump.  Then Tom Barrett put out a tweet to his network on my behalf.  Over the next few hours lots of people started following me so I’m following them in return – I’m now following 47 and being followed by 38…wow!  Hope I have something worthwhile to say.

I’m going to finish now because I really want to get this out before I am actually back at work…and the ironing is calling, goddamn domestica!, however I will have more to say on my Twittering soon.

Oh, and by the way, I didn’t spend my whole holidays looking at the computer…in between times I managed to see Wicked (one of Rob Guest’s last performances, very sad that he is no longer with us), go the the Melbourne Show, visit my very frail mother-in-law in hospital, have a lovely day on my own shopping in Richmond, go to the opening night of Mame at the State Theatre (and the after party, thank you to Adam and Esther), celebrate my youngest daughter’s 7th birthday with a party at home for 14 children, make a purple jewelled crown birthday cake for said party, have a couple of lovely bike rides with daughters (7 year old got new bike) and generally have a nice time with my family.  I love Melbourne in spring!

P.S. As I type this I’m listening in to the flash meeting of OZ/NZ educators…things move fast sometimes!!

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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.

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PD, Showcase, ePlanning

I’ve had a busy 10 days or so.  Been out of the school on no less than 3 of the last 8 school days and my head is buzzing with lots of ideas.  There was the SLAV conference last Monday which I’ve already written about; then last Thursday my campus principal asked me if I’d like to be our sole representative at the DEECD Innovations showcase … would I?  Silly question, of course I would. 

It was a fantastic day – very inspiring speakers, lots of good AND do-able ideas, plenty to take back and talk about.  The only disappointing thing was that teacher-librarians were not represented anywhere in the program (including 18 concurrent workshops).  A real opportunity lost I feel; I know from experience at SLAV conferences that there are plenty of TL’s out there doing innovative stuff – we can’t afford to be just preaching to the converted (ie a room full of TL’s).  So I sent an email to Mary at SLAV along those lines, knowing full well that her response would inevitable include a hint/suggestion that I might like to put my hand up!  Here’s what she said:

I was registered to go but unfortunately ended up with too many things to deal with last week.Fortunately, I had already heard the keynotes at other events.

The timeline of the planning of the event was extremely short and we already had so many things on and I was asking our members to already contribute to events that SLAV had planned in advance that I didn’t think that I could ask anyone to do anything else extra last week.

The innovation people are very aware of what SLAV (and its members) are doing in relation to Web 2.0 and the online program and are interested in talking further to us – so I am following that up. They also had staff at our conference on Monday.

Anyone can offer to be part of the showcase and maybe they don’t need to be prompted by me – but we will alert our members to offer workshops in the future.

When next I meet with Katrina Reynen, the Manager of Innovation and Next Practice, I will find out if they intend to make this style of thing a regular event and we can get a list together of prospective presenters. Are you interested in being part of this list?

So I replied “I’m thinking maybe a reflection on the Web 2.0 online stuff – what I/we learnt and the different directions people have gone with using all these new tools…that sort of thing” … I said I thought a team approach would be more appropriate/appealing (to me) – who else is up for it?

Today I have been at the Whittlesea district ePlanning Workshop which was run by our Ultranet coach Anesti.  Again it seems I have put my hand up for something which is bigger than Ben Hur and I’m now officially part of the ePlanning team who are charged with the task of writing the school’s eLearning plan (and, presumably, having a big part in making sure the plan actually happens).  Like most things of this nature it’s pretty scary on the face of it, but it’s exciting too.  In terms of my job and the library’s place within the school I’d much rather be part of it than not.

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SLAV Re-imagining: Web 2.0 applications and implications

Andre the punkBack at work today after a fantastic day at the SLAV conference.  Will Richardson is a great speaker and what he had to say didn’t scare me as much as it might have done even a few weeks ago.

I’ve got a heap of sites to go and look at and I’m coming up with more and more applications for blogs and wikis and the whole 2.0 adventure.

It was great, as always, to catch up with people too…and we got the unexpected bonus of Andre Rieu (!!!).Andre the Punk