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Where have I been?

I can’t believe that it has been over two months since I posted here. I’ve had lots of good intentions but it has all come to nought! At the end of last term I jotted down some plans for term 3 and in my head I was going to blog about that list, if nothing else it would give me something tangible to work toward/abide by…but life of course got in the way.
About 3 weeks ago I started on a new journey with the Powerful Learning Practice Netbook Trial cohort. It’s a fabulous opportunity, not least because my school is not part of the official DEECD netbook trial (we’re doing our own, funded by our school/parents) – we are very lucky to be included! As part of that I’ve joined the ning and have been following conversations and trying to keep up with acitivities.  Last week Sheryl put out a challenge for members to post a forum discussion or write a blog post.  Last Sunday morning I woke ridiculously early and had a couple of pre-dawn hours to ponder (read panic!) all that I have on my plate at the moment and in particular the crazy week that was in front of me.  It seemed logical to post a discussion around that angst – here it is:

I’m sure I’m not the only person to be feeling overwhelmed at the moment. It’s not just to do with the PLP program – right now I’m:
• leading a Teacher Professional Leave team application process (due August 11)
• part of an AGQTP Professional Learning Leaders Program (presentation due September 11)
• preparing a 23 things type program for teachers on behalf of our curriculum focus group
• managing a year 12 study skills ning, running an uphill battle to get more teachers involved and active
• evaluating our teacher’s IWB use and preparing PD
• running a library for 900 senior students
• supporting our netbook trial teachers
• part of a network of local schools investigating elearning (another AGQTP funded project).

Last week I had meetings after school on four nights and ran a “Brekky bytes” pd session on Friday. There are meetings after school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week; I have a 7.45am meeting on Tuesday and the first Elluminate session from 8pm that day. I’m at pd for the Professional Learning Leaders Program all day Thursday and Friday.
And of course there’s my family, including two primary aged daughters who need help with their homework, reading listened to, being read to, played with, driven to and from activities, clean clothes and healthy food on the table, and a husband who thinks I spend too much time on the computer.
I’m a “yes” person; I never say no automatically; I’m open to new ideas and I see possibilities not problems. People who say they don’t have time for technology frustrate me, I don’t understand how teachers have time to “not” engage with 21st century tools – they aren’t “more” work, they “are” our work.
But, I’m sure I’m not the only person to be feeling overwhelmed at the moment…
Does anyone have any magic recipes for feeling in control, or any secret weapons, or any advice at all?

So this kind of sums up where I am right now, and why I haven’t been writing here nearly as much as I would like.  I have had some lovely responses on the ning and it has been a lesson for me in trusting in the community – everyone wishes each other well and if you ask, you get good advice.

By the way, I got throught the week outlined above without too many scars.  The children are still happy and well-fed and they made it to their various activities.  The two days at the Professional Learning Leaders Program has left me more confident about our progress and writing this has given me a welcome break from writing the TPL application.  But I’m still very open to advice and suggestions and I’d particularly like a magic formula to give me 30 hours in a day and 8 days a week (5 days work, 3 day weekends) – what do you think?

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A new year, a new start

It is time to give this blog a makeover – I need a more serious name and look!  This blog was started to record progress in the SLAV Learning with Web 2.0 program but I have moved beyond this and now want to use it to reflect and evaluate all aspects of my new role as College ICT coach.

Stay tuned, change is afoot!

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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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#17 Library 2.0 Movement

I’ve had a couple of goes at doing this.  I’ve tried a couple of times to do some reading but it was disappointing to find a few of the links weren’t working.  Also, the ones that did and I’m thinking particularly of A library 2.0 perspective by Michael Casey would have to be the dullest web page I have looked at in ages!!!  It seems funny when to me when the point of web 2.0 is that it is perfectly possible for people with minimal computer skills to produce professional looking and inviting pages through blogs and social networking tools.  Anyway, I didn’t read it very closely as I find it difficult to read things that go the full width of the screen.

I guess the library 2.0 movement is really the recognition by librarians and their organisations that in order to continue to be relevant to their marketplace they need to keep up with what is happening out there…more than that, they need to lead by example.  And I think, by and large, they/we do.  Certainly in my school there is growing recognition of me and my staff as the people who know about this techie stuff.

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#16 Delicious

I have been using delicious since before I’d heard of Web 2.0; since about March last year I think.  I discovered it from an email on OZTLNet, sorry I can’t remember who was the wonderful person who alerted me to it.

I think it is fantastic!  I have a personal account  which I use for all sorts of things, personal interests, things for my kids, professional resources etc.  as well as two accounts that our library staff all contribute to to bookmark resources for students: senior campus and junior campus.  We have the websites bundled into curriculum subject groups and each site is given a tag for its subject and year level eg Science10 as well as one or more tags relevant to the topic.  We use the notes to give further information if it seems necessary.  We have a link to each account from the library website as well as linking specific tags in our pathfinders.

I have even run a pd for interested staff on using delicious.  Most of them didn’t know what they had signed up for but I think they saw the value after it had been explained.  One teacher was a total convert, he kept coming back and telling me about new things he had discovered that I didn’t know!

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#15 iGoogle

iGoogle rocks!!

Setting up was really easy, the hard bit was all the choices but that was fun too.  I’ve got the date and time (analog clock, love it), a calendar, google maps, get directions, news, to do list (cute spiral bound notebook), a link to facebook (haven’t decided whether I’ll pursue that or not yet), a link to my google docs and best of all a google reader widget.  The google reader widget is fab – the new items appear as a list and if you click on one the whole thing appears as a speech balloon over iGoogle.  It’s a really convenient way to keep up.

I haven’t yet decided whether to make it my default IE page; the school’s network home page occasionally has announcements on it (I wonder if I can subscribe to them in Google Reader??? Maybe not as it is the intranet home rather than the internet.)

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#14 Google book search

Not so excited here.  A bit disturbed to find the top results for Lady Macbeth’s famous cry “out damn’d spot” brought up a number of stain removal books, and only references to books about Shakespeare, not the actual play.

There must have been some gremlins at work also as whenever I tried to look at actual pages all I got was grey squares with yellow lines, presumably where my searched text appeared.

I’ll give it another try sometime when someone comes in with one of those non-specific queries ab0ut a specific book like “you must remember, it was the big blue book!” (I wonder if searches by colour and dimensions are successful, I’ve always said that’s how we should organise the library.)

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#13 Google maps

I’ve looked at Google maps before – it’s fun!  They have newer pictures than last time I looked, obviously done after some rain because I remember everything being very dry last time.  Most exciting to find that my car was parked in the car park at work AND the driveway at home, I knew I was superwoman!!!

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#10 Myspace

I’ve been a bit slack about this week’s activities, but only because I’ve been busy getting 2 more blogs off the ground.  The first one is The MPSC Reading Cafe  which is a blog for our staff to discuss books and reading.  The second is Did I speak to you about… which is a virtual meeting place for the library staff so we can discuss issues relating to the library.  So at least I’ve been well-engaged with Web 2.0 stuff!

Anyway, onto My Space… I wasn’t looking forward to this one because I’ve never really understood the appeal … and I still don’t.  Some of the library ones were sort of interesting and some had sort of interesting ads (The chubby gays chatroom would you believe!).  I can’t really imagine us using it, we’d be more likely to stick with the blog idea.

Facebook will have to wait until next week, I’m told it’s better than my space, here’s hoping.