Tildee is a fabulous tutorial creating tool that I came across on Larry Ferlazzo’s blog site. Larry used David Mearns Tildee, The Plight of Too Many Pooches as an example of how Tildee can be used as an educational tool.  It is very easy to use for example, insert a video and then take screenshots of scenes in the video and attach questions.  Especially great for ESL and special needs learners.   Larry has so many amazing tools I can’t keep up with, but this is one I have definitely checked out and used. You can create your own tildee really easily – I have just created one on the Industrial Revolution.


Stories alive

Moonbot studio has created the coolest e-book (ipad app) with their vision of futuristic books and stories: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore ($4.99).   With 30 awards for this creation,  the app is a mixture of animation, film and reading that come alive (touch the screen as you turn the pages).  With several other projects in the making by Moonbot, they sure are  leading the way in e-books of the 21st century.   Also included with the app is a video story of the book and a video of how the book was made.   In an age where reading hard copies of books is lessening, this story reawakens the value of books and story telling.  A superb literacy app for reluctant readers of all ages, which captures, entertains and enthralls throughout.  I can’t wait for future releases.


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore Trailer from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

Another of my favourite e-books (for older readers) is Byooks The Adventure of the Speckled Band (Sherlock Holmes) ($1.99) which again uses animation to bring the story alive by incorporating pictures, animation and sound. As the pages are turned, the reader’s immersion is heightened with graphic enhancements.  With text-to-speech embedded, the story can be enjoyed by older readers to  experience the enjoyment of story-telling.  Byooks have also released another e-book, Little Fear which is free!

The power of group learning

This is a truly inspirational video by Sugata Mitra, an Indian education scientist who initiated self learning in children who had no opportunity to attend school. He transferred the success of this scheme, to children in the school environment, again with success.  His proposal for self organised learning environments, shows the power of group learning.

E-reader: is it prepared for the 21st Century?

I have been interested in the E-reader devices (Kindle, Sony, Apple Ipad) but not having used one, wondered whether it would be suitable for school or study use.  These  are the new books of the 21st century but are they equipped for scholarly needs? The E-reader has been described as suitable as tools if used for reading for pleasure but not suitable for academic use.  If you are interested in in-ebooks and e-readers, you may Kerrie Smith’s presentation on e-books, the state of play, barriers and challenges of interest as well as a talk by James J. O’Donnell,  Professor of Classics at Georgetown University regarding his view of the e-reader from an academic use perspective: scholar gets a kindle and starts to read.

Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution

An inspiring presentation by  Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution.  He talks about moving from an industrial, a manufacturing  model of education which is based on linearity,  conformity and batching people and moving to a model which is based more on the princples of agriculutre. Where there   recognition that human flourishing is not a mechanical process it is an organic process. He goes on to say that  the outcome of human development cannot be predicted, but the conditons under which they will flourish can be created  so when we talk about at reforming education and transforming it, it is customising and personalising   education for students.  It is about creating a movement in education in which people develop their own solutions but with external support based on a personalized curriculum.  Watch it and be inspired.

Student access to web tools

Presently I am working in an education environment that restricts student access to web technologies that I would like to use.   Keeping students safe is of course of paramount importance, but as we live in the 21st century awareness and use of these technologies are the skills our students need to develop for their future work life.  Working with a group of senior students, we were unable to access multimedia tools and reverted back to moviemaker and powerpoint.  Then came the opportunity to introduce students to networking, blogging, wikis and the like, and again I met with similar frustrations.  I turned to my professional network for advice in this regard and an  interesting discussion then began on this topic with both points of view being expressed in relation to working within the e-learning environment provided by Education Queensland (The Learning Place) and access to resources outside of this environment.

I share here some of the discussion for the information of other educators.  Undoubtedly there will continue to be two viewpoints amongst educators on this issue, similar to those expressed by Shane and Jonathan.

Shane Roberts:

Why would one need to specifically teach their students (and other staff) togo beyond the realms of EQ.  I’m not saying there isn’t relevant stuff out there beyond EQ, but setting out to send students and staff beyond EQ as the first option is not safe practice.

As stated, there is relevant stuff out there, but purposely promoting
external services equivalent to services offered by your organisation is not safe practice.  Ever been to a Telstra store for them to promote another carrier?

My main point of the first email was to outline the services available to EQteachers.  This was not an effort to single out Qld state / public teachers and I apologise if anyone else on this list feels marginalised by this conversation but the initial email was targetted to EQ teachers.

If one takes the time to explore Learning Place, BlackBoard, Voicethread, iConnect (Elluminate), and Curriculum Exchange they will be amazed at the functionality and resources they have access to.

And finally, we (EQ) teachers need to restrict publishing of student work to
public places to ensure student safety.  It is all about providing a safe
environment equitably for thousands of teachers and hundreds of thousands of students in an EQ location.  This is no different to any other learning environment needing to be safe.  As a HPE teacher I know students at some stage may swim in the surf.  This does not mean I teach them there.  I would love to be able to have open access, but as an employee of EQ I don’t, and it is therefore my responsibility to ensure I follow policy and expectations.

Something else to consider is that any work we produce is owned by EQ, not personally by us.  Therefore decision to host outside of EQ services cannot be a decision made by an individual teacher.  Its also important to note
that we do not own student work either, and requiring them to host outside EQ services is fraught with danger in my opinion.  Now this generally gets the back up of many people but it is true – the work is owned by EQ therefore they control copyright.

Jonathan Clark:

OK. How about this scenario?…

/You’re organising a Travel Buddy project with a teacher in the USA.
That teacher says, “Great. I am excited about this. I am going to make a
web site where we can place pictures, conversations and things we learn from our Travel Buddy exchange.” The teacher sets up the site, but of course it’s blocked in EQ so can’t be shared with the class.

“OK,” says you, “I’ll build the site in Blackboard (ie within the EQ
On the surface this seems OK. But the issues I have are:

a. It takes away the initiative the teacher from the USA showed. I have
to say to her, “I can’t use your site, but you can use mine (if I set
you up access).”
b. It means that I have to do that work. It’s harder to share the load.
c. It smacks of arrogance. “OK. We can collaborate, but you have to do
it in OUR system, as we are not allowed to use your system as our
department views others’ systems as inferior (and unsafe).”

This scenario is happening to me right now.

So, in answer to Shane’s question: Because I want to collaborate on a
legitimate and valuable educational project with a teacher outside the
EQ system (and indeed outside my country).

BTW How many real problems were created in the past from all those
online curriculum projects we designed, built and participated in well
before our education systems started building their own online facilities?

Margaret Lloyd, Ph D:

Thank you to all contributors to this conversation thus far – the postings have given us a glimpse at the complexity of the whole issue.

My first response is to be concerned about the oz-Teachernet projects and their future in Queensland state schools. But this is something I will follow up off-line with the Learning Place. I am hoping that our projects – and we’ve just launched Land Yachts for the third time – are going to be seen as OK. We do spend considerable time and effort to make our spaces ‘safe’ and ***touch wood*** have had no incidents of inappropriate behaviour from teachers or students in the 15 years we’ve been running online projects.  We don’t charge anyone anything – and never have. We think we are running these projects for the ‘right’ reasons and putting some real power into the hands of kids and teachers. Although similarly based in Queensland, we don’t see ourselves in opposition to the Learning Place. We see them as complementary.

Having said that, I do understand why EQ, or in fact, any system does what they do to protect the kids in their care. It would be irresponsible to allow Web 2.0 into schools and not put any boundaries on its use. I have this feeling that an equilibrium will one day be found between care and access. All systems need to begin with rules and tight parameters that start to be relaxed as people feel their way with what they can and can’t do, or should and shouldn’t do. Having said that, I am prepared to put up a fight to continue to have EQ schools take part in oz-Teachernet projects. Last year, Land Yachts had 400 kids in all states of Australia taking part. None of us would do anything to put any one of those kids at risk.

Andrew Westerman:

In EQ, the Learning Place provides a location for parents and schools to
set up booking timetables for interviews via The Learning Place. This is
secure. Frankly, I would have thought a system based on email would have
been sufficient or better, but the facility is there if EQ schools want it.

The Learning Place also offer blogs (to refer to Marie’s query). While
Global Student may provide a more attractive interface, the
functionality is the same. But security is guaranteed with the LP.

As a teacher, I cannot be sure who runs or works for Global Student.
This means I am exposing my children to potential threats by using it.
Most teachers can see the possibilities for breach of duty of care in
that, especially if the blog is very personal (as we hope some will be).


“Why would one need to specifically teach their students (and other staff) to go beyond the realms of EQ”

Because there is a big wide world out there that is inhabited by all the
students we teach on a daily basis, because every teacher has their own teaching style, preferences and needs, because teachers specifically (as a profession) are open and adventurous and like to try new things to see what works best in their classes (and every class dynamic is different), because teachers like to share and collaborate with teachers and classes all over the world. Or maybe we could just wrap Queensland in cotton wool, cut all the cables and pretend that there is not a world out there that our students need to be prepared for.

Jenni Fewtrell:

With Ed Qld’s revised Code of Conduct it looks like we may have to work
within the Learning Place for blogging and other collaborative projects.

Maybe with all of us working together to provide feedback about the
functionality of the LP. they will work on better usability for our younger students. For one, the multiple passwords to access LP is so difficult with any primary student.

We can only try….

Well said Jenni. 

Filling the Global Achievement Gap

I listened today to Tony Wagner’s presentation (based on his book: The Global Achievement Gap) about the essential skills required for young people to enter the workforce today.  The seven surivival skills he identified are:

  1. critical thinking and problem solving including asking good questions and engaging in good
  2. ability to collaborate across networks and the ability to lead by influence
  3. adaptability and agility
  4. initiative and sense of entrepreneurship
  5. communication skills: oral and written skills
  6. access and analysing information (information literacy skills)
  7. curiousity and imagination

In his presentation, Tony identifies the disparity that exists between what schools are teaching and what is required by employers. After interviewing a considerable number of employers and observing classes including those in high-performing schools, his observations include passive learning environments preparing students for memorisation tests to meet assessment criteria and little evidence of critical and creative thinking opportunities and effective communications.

For many educators who try to induce change, this is not new information.  Schools are overburdened with assessment criteria to show successful outcomes.  As Tony says, this is at the expense of  kids being prepared for the 21st century of work.  The more we hear about change and what is needed the better!  Only today I was wondering why some schools have a policy that no ipods are allowed – what about the potential of these tools for learning?  Kids are using them out of school, why not utilise their use in school?

Tony has written the Global Achievement Gap: Why Our Kids Don’t Have the Skills They Need for College, Careers, and Citizenship–and What We Can Do About It, to motivate all those interested in education to help young people succeed in the 21st century.  The book includes chapters on The New World of Work, The Old World of School,  Testing, Reinventing Educatioon, Motivating Students: Closing The Gap,

Teachers are discussing the book’s contents at  Classroom 2.0 social network for anyone interested.

Getting started with Web 2.0 tools

It can seem a little overwhelming knowing where to start with facilitating Web 2.0 tools in the classroom for teachers who are trying to embrace 21st century learning. I was so captured by this wiki: Webtools4u2se that I thought it would be a great tool to introduce teachers to cool tools and what is great about the wiki is that it gives lots of ideas for using the tools. Designed for school library media specialists, it is an ideal starting place for all educators.  It is very informative with a bright inviting home page (this is created using Glogster). It also has a page dedicated to Why Web 2.0 tools? Tools include:

  • audio and podcasting
  • blogs
  • calendars, task management and to do lists
  • drawing, charting and mapping tools
  • portal and web page starting tools
  • photo and photo sharing tools
  • presentation tools
  • quiz and polling tools
  • news feeds and aggregators
  • social networks
  • video tools and video sharing
  • wikis
  • productivity tools


Another great starting place for teachers wanting to know how to start or where, is Anne Mirtschin and Jess McCulloch’s project and wiki for laying the foundations for using Web 2.0 technologies for teaching and learning. Visit their wiki at: Laying the e-planks for a Web 2.0 school. Anne and Jess are embracing 21st century literacies at their Hawkesdale P-12 College (a small rural p12 school, educating 5 – 18 year old students om Victoria, Australia) and are documenting what they have achieved as well as their goals on the wiki.

In the Planks page, they have resources to important issues related to Web 2.0 use, such as cybersafety, digital media and copyright, joining networks and creating an online space. To follow their journey you can subscribe to their eplanks podcasts.

Here is a great  wiki, 23 Things introducing Web 2.0 tools to teachers. It is a 10 week course for teachers. Although it cannot be joined it gives a list of resources that are to be covered in the course. If you are interested in learning more about the course, participating in a future course session, facilitating the course at your own school or adapting the content under Creative Commons, please email Shelley Paul @ k12learning20@gmail.com