What is e-learning now?

Yesterday I got the opportunity to speak again at the Chisholm Institute ‘Ripple’ Conference at the Mt Eliza Business School, overlooking Port Phillip Bay; this time with a focus on what e-learning looks like to me ┬ánow and how can help support teachers through change.

Last year I focused on the students who were coming in to tertiary institutions from k-12 schools and what that meant for learning environments. This year my focus was more on the teachers. It was a beautiful spring day, maybe the first real spring day this year, and the conference was well run with a group of teachers who wanted to be there.

Below is a an abridged version of the slideshow with some of the key ideas. There’s also an annotated list of the resources I used on Diigo here: http://www.diigo.com/list/warrickw/ripple-2010

Google Sites

A while ago Google purchased the wiki engine Jotspot and I was wondering where they would go with this tool. I registered interest in the next stage of this development and his week I got an email saying that Google had launched Google Sites. I’m not totally convinced yet, it seems to want to default to some kind of enterprise mode that encompasses your whole school, but it certainly has potential in that wiki space world.

They say:

Google Sites is the latest offering from Google Apps, a suite of products designed to improve communication and collaboration amongst employees, students, and groups. Google Sites makes creating a team web site as easy as editing a document. You can quickly gather a variety of information in one place — including videos, calendars, presentations, attachments, and gadgets — and easily share it for viewing or editing with a small group, their entire organization, or the world.

To get started with Google Sites, you’ll first need to sign up for the Google Apps edition that’s right for you (if you’re not already a Google Apps user). Start the sign-up process at:


The end of email as we know it…?

The Australian today published an article sourced from The Independent called ‘The end of email; discover new ways to stay in touch’, which focuses on new communication modes, particularly the use of collaborative websites like wikis or google documents to facilitate effective team work.

The article gives some interesting examples of companies that have moved from an email communication paradigm to using a wiki, or gogle docs successfully.  Instant messaging also gets a mention as an alternative to the over-stuffed inbox approach to life.

This comes as I hear more and more teachers talking about drowning in an email deluge and many of us look for wiki tools that can be effectively integrated with our existing systems.

Definitely worth a read HERE

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This is one of those tools that grows in usefulness the more you use it. It’s basically a mini wiki that runs on your computer and I use it grab little snippets of daily information which I can tag or archive.

I began using it just to grab notes on telephone conversations and I liked it because it lives in a Firefox tab in my browser, which is basically where I live. It grew from there and it can be modified to set up a fairly decent GTD (getting things done) interface. I previously used a great little bit of software called Treepad (and later Evernote) to hold things like passwords, snippets of text, to-do lists etc. but the nice thing about Tiddlywiki is that it’s there in the browser, just an .html file which you can search very quickly and easily.

They say:

Welcome to TiddlyWiki, a popular free MicroContent WikiWikiWeb created by JeremyRuston and a busy Community of independent developers. It’s written in HTML, CSS and JavaScript to run on any modern browser without needing any ServerSide logic.

It allows anyone to create personal SelfContained hypertext documents that can be posted to a WebServer, sent by email or kept on a USB thumb drive to make a WikiOnAStick. Because it doesn’t need to be installed and configured it makes a great GuerillaWiki.

You can read more and download the empty tiddlywiki file to begin HERE

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A spring in the step

Couldn’t help but notice a spring in the step of students and staff today as the long, dark winter term comes to a close. I almost couldn’t keep my mind on a good discussion about wiki features today, thinking about having a few days down the coast re-charging the batteries.

Rationale Wiki

Earlier this year I blogged about a concept mapping software called Rationale, which has some nice features, particularly in the area of planning essays and analysing arguments. Not quite the free-form approach of Inspiration, and not the crazy online lower-caese way of bubbl.us I was talking about earlier this week, but some good specific features that would suit senior Humanities and English classes particularly.

So I was pleased to see another sign that Austhink is maybe a company that gets it in that they have a wiki, using the pbwiki platform, for Rationale users to share stuff and contribute to. Austhink is still firmly upper case, but it gave me a nice warm fuzzy feeling came over me to see a software company adopting the web 2.0 approach.


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Engaging middle years students with web 2.0

Lauren O’Grady from Caroline Springs School in Melbourne (ICTEV Teacher of the Year) talked about engaging middle years students.

She began by showing us the ‘What is Web 2.0’ video, which is a pretty powerful presentation on the text to hypertext transformation, (web vs us) thought it didn’t really explain the web 1 to 2 thing as well as how own explanation. It was worth explaining as it came up a couple of times in my previous session.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/6gmP4nk0EOE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Lauren then talked about what web 2.0 might do for teachers:

  • Create new opportunities for learning
  • Create and share work
  • Collect and remix workb
  • Collaborate with others
  • Innovate and create easier than ever before

These are better reasons than ‘engagement’, the commonly used one, that I think isn’t good enough. Lauren didn’t emphasise this, but talked about the power and simplicity of these tools.

Other tools that Lauren talked about were:

Lauren’s blog is at global teacher HERE

ICTEV 2007 – Digital Discussions

Off to the ICTEV Conference on Saturday. I went last year, and enjoyed the small scale, hands on nature of the event. This year the theme is ‘digital conversations’; I can feel a podcast coming on!

So what are digital discussions and how can we utilise them best in our classrooms. Digital discussions obviously fit in the ‘ICT for Communication’ dimension of the VELS, but we need to go beyond basic communication. We need the email, blogs, wikis, chats, video conferencing, etc. to be more than just faceless communication, we need them to be rich, educationally sound, interactions that we get by looking into someone’s face and having a good conversation. We need to use them to encourage the many who don’t readily discuss face-to-face to enter into a communications medium that will enhance their learning. We need them to become one way for children and teachers to present and share ideas, to communicate with others, but not just a shallow communication, one that lends itself to the expression of inner selves and allows all involved to grow and learn through the experience.


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