Sharing with a Wider Audience

Girls Sharing by jasonstaten available via FlickrCC licence

Girls Sharing by jasonstaten available via FlickrCC licence

I’m very fortunate to be working part-time at the State Library of Victoria; I’ve been with their Learning Services area for nearly four years now. Besides introducing school groups to the wonderful history of Victoria and the extensive resources available to them at SLV, I find myself involved further and further with online learning projects including the VicPLN and  the Bright Ideas blog.

Bright Ideas is turning out to be a great place to share my professional learning and reflections; there is a wide audience and a generous community of Teacher Librarians and as well as other educators. So I think while I am regularly contributing to Bright Ideas I will temporarily put TL under Construction on hold. No sense in repeating myself!

Here’s a direct link to my posts on Bright Ideas. Many thanks to those I have been in touch with over the years. Please keep the conversation going!

 

Readjusting my Connection

In 2010, I read David Warlick‘s Gardener’s Approach to Learning: Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network. I liked the idea of cultivating an information ecosystem (it appealed to the permaculturalist in me) . After reading the book, I decided to map my PLN  out.  I found the exercise gave me a good overview of where I was digging, what areas seemed to be most fruitful for me and who my fellow ‘gardeners’ were. But change is as rapid in an information ecosystem as it is in the natural world; tools changed, needs changed, and I found my PLN was getting overgrown so I did a bit of weeding then remapped it. You can see it  and what I wrote about it on my professional eportfolio here.

 

My PLN 2012 Click for larger size

I’m currently participating in #etMOOC and a quote that came up in Topic 1, Connected Learning – Tools, Processes & Pedagogy got me thinking about my PLN map again. First, here’s the quote:

We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.  (Marshal McLuhan)

The active conversation at that stage was about making sense of connected learning; making meaning of being part of a network. It made me realize that not only was my network changing (again)  but that it was changing me and in all the hurry and infowhelm I wasn’t pausing to take in the lay of my info landscape or trying to make sense of it. The conversation also had me thinking that up until now my PLN was a pretty serendipitous affair, like one of those gardens with things that just pop up from seeds of previous plantings. Is this a good thing or should I be trying to plan my PLN a bit more seriously than that? I decided to update my map  then  compare the two, and look at the changes to perhaps gain some meaning from all that was going on. (Back to the Webspiration drawing board!)

There’s a link to my new PLN map here (better resolution)

My PLN 2013

 

In comparing the two and in reflecting on the map I noticed that:

  • I’m being shaped by Google tools – they have more influence on my online experiences and PLN than in the past. (Is this a good thing or a bad thing?)
  • my PLN input is leaner. (I recognize the need to continuously streamline what I subscribe to, and be ruthless about it.)
  • I’m increasingly ignoring my feeds, twitter and Google + for days on end then trying to catch up. (sounds like professional FOMO, I need to learn to let go)
  • staff at school are not part of my online PLN (an area I’d now like to focus on)
  • I’m contributing/creating more content (authoring/creating digital media/presenting at conventions). Increased creation is squeezing out the amount of time I have for consumption. ( Is that a good or bad thing? Good I think)
  • I’ve become increasingly interested in Digital Citizenship (and the bigger picture of SEL)and it is reflected in my PLN
  • I’m shifting from following blogs on RSS feeds to following the blog creators on Twitter (Benefits – extra content, more interactive, more immediate.)
  • I’m decreasing the places I go to for professional news/reading -consolidating on  Twitter, Facebook pages, Google+ rather than subscriptions and rss feeds. Less time consuming.
  • I follow an increasing number of people who are big picture thinkers, not necessarily educators. I’m widening my awareness,  interested in the global changes and trends that are taking place all across the info landscape.
 This has been a useful exercise,  I do understand my network better. I also see I can make it better; there are decisions to be made, opportunities I can pursue and more questions to be answered. Speaking of questions, I’m ready to tackle some of the pedagogical questions asked in Topic 1 in my next post.

Via Tumblr gifs

 

New!

 

A new year and some new projects for 2013 in the library!  We don’t start back to school for a couple of weeks yet, but that doesn’t mean teachers aren’t hard at work. I been running across excellent resources for my new projects and get them organised before I forget.

iPad Cafe

This year our school is launching their 1:1 iPad program, beginning with the Year 7 classes. Each student supplies their own iPad and while IT will get everyone set up on the devices in the first week, the school library will be offering an iPad Cafe every 3 weeks so students and staff can come and learn more about how to use them, find/share apps and just generally get comfortable with iPad technology for learning. 

I’ve got a small team of students (3 so far) who have ‘applied’ for the position of iPad Genius and will be available on the set day after school for an hour to pass on their knowledge  We can’t pay them as such but have arranged to present an honorarium to them and provide a letter of recommendation if they do well in the position

Photo shared by: hammerhead 27 via Flickr cc

Photo shared by: hammerhead 27 via Flickr cc

.

For the short hiring interview, I asked them to come prepared to impress me with some tips or tricks. It was interesting that while they knew a few things,they all knew the same things and were not as ‘savvy’ as I’d hoped. So I’m now busy skilling myself up further and gathering ideas to up-skill my genius’s as well. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a Tumblr site keep tips on and decided to go ahead with it. This could be great for the school community — they can go back, review, check it out on their own time and become familiar with a new Web tool (well that would be mostly for the adults). 

So here is the new Tumblr site, not much on it just yet, but will be wonderful soon. http://vscipad.tumblr.com/

Due to Technical Difficulties

This is just a quick update – I know I’ve been quiet on the blog this past two months.

Plans for Minecraft at school have slowed as my IT partner in crime concentrates on setting everything up for report writing. We’ve run into a couple of hiccups with the Minecraft site not liking the proxy server at our school and we’ve just not had time to chase the solution down and apply it.

On the positive side there are several teachers interested in learning more about the possibilities of Minecraft, even more students eager to have a go with it. I also have a nice group of students willing to teach the finer points and help me get the real estate established AND a student showed me a math assignment/problem her’d solved the other week using Minecraft to demonstrate the solution. Cool!

I ran across this article written by the same guy who writes The MineCraft Teacher on Tumblr. Improving Digital Citizenship skills is definitely the area that I’m most interested in when providing students with the opportunity to try out Minecraft next year at school.

Continue reading

Games-Based Learning: Massively MineCraft Open Day (in which I learn to fly)

I recently attended an online Open Day on Massively Minecraft. It was probably the steepest learning curve I’ve encountered in a while, perhaps since primary school, honest! And here is what I learned.

Massively Minecraft (MM) is a guild or ‘ learning community  for kids and their parents – exploring how to live, work and play in MineCraft.'(MM site)  It had been recommended to me by several colleagues in my PLN as an excellent working model of an educational  private-server community for Minecraft. I was very impressed with MM’s website as I had a look around before the big day. My colleagues were right MM is an excellent model. Here are some things I hadn’t thought of but will definitely adopt:

  1. Their server is a white-listed site. This means they have a set of conditions that users must agree to before they can join and they must fill out an application form.
  2. They have a community charter which was developed by the users (kids) and outlines the community’s rules of engagement. They set the culture and tone of the site and are mostly digital citizenship rules.
  3. The site uses a subtle incentive scheme called Ranks. As MM users demonstrate their willingness to be good citizens online and improve their skills and real estate, they can level-up or climb the ranks. Levelling up gives access to further powers, resources and other areas or worlds.
  4. The site offers forums for users to discuss, share their achievements, and ask questions. These all looked very positive in nature and you get a real sense of community happening from reading them. I also liked that the administrators include and seek input from the users on how the community runs.

So after reading all of this I am excited but starting to realize the size of the commitment in starting up a private server group. (I’m going to definitely need more teacher interest in order to share the love! and the moderation).

As the day/time for the Open Day draws near, I open an account with MineCraft and my older son and Miner Extraordinaire tries to give me a primer on the commands. I find I can’t even walk around properly. Oh dear, this is like kindergarten! Besides just the regular WASD commands (apparently similar in most games) MM has a commands list for their ranks.

When the Open Day starts, I log-in and I am assigned a tour guide to show me around. I did feel sorry for him as I was completely overwhelmed by having to walk, look, read and talk at the same time. There were so many other people on as well that I had a hard time keeping track of my guide in both the dialogue box and in the world. He took me to his mine, past some giant statues, showed me how to chop down trees, go through portals, and how to fly! After all that he got the admin to give me my own temporary spot in the world and permission to try building something then left me to experiment. I tried building a little house (pretty sad effort) and then decided just to wander/wonder around, play tourist. The part that impressed me most? Probably the big hall you first land in with the charter up on all the walls, but there were lots creative efforts happening out in the general community – castles, gardens, fountains, parks …

The experience was truly one of being on the border of a new frontier, a settler in a foreign land. My skills were low, my motivation high and the possibilities (from what I’d seen) endless. I now understand the attraction of playing this game, am in awe of the dedication and effort some of these kids put into their guild. the richness of it is obvious – MM even spells out the educational advantages of it (scroll down the link page to find Massively EdVentures – The 12 Challenges Learning Framework). I am now even more determined to offer this opportunity to students in our school community.