Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Power Searching with Google

Certificate emailed on completion of the course.
@nickmajor81  recommended the Power Searching with Google course at one of our Netbook Teacher meetings last term. I'm  fairly confident searching online however, was interested to learn more and explore possibilities for our CyberSmart category, SmartSurfing

Power Searching with Google is a free online course that includes search techniques and teaches some of the advanced tools in Google search. Short video clips with demonstrations from Google Search guru, Dan Russell, are supported with activities that can be worked through at your own pace. These can be revisited along with short tests to review new learning. 

Links to online resources, search forum, blogs and lesson plans are also included.

I am going to include this as part of our orientation for new netbook teachers and suspect that many teachers would find this course useful for identifying search techniques that can be adapted to support existing programmes of learning. Depending on literacy levels students could also enroll in the course with their GAFE account and complete independently.  

How to be notified about upcoming Power Searching classes via Dan Russell

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is Technology Just a Tool?

This week has been one of those 'perfect storms' for learning. Four days of conference breakouts, five keynotes, the combination of online and face-to-face networks, considering different perspectives that challenged my thinking and making valued new connections to continue the conversations. Also preparing my contributions to conference breakouts can provide some of the most powerful reflection for my own learning even before the conference begins.


This post continues a conversation (with @rachelboyd @annekenn @MtManaia) in response to a tweet I posted after hearing the statement "technology is just a tool", referenced in more than one keynote this week.

I appreciate that this idea may have different meanings in different contexts however, I try to stay tuned to its use in rhetoric. It's very easy to say! What do we mean when we refer to technology as "just a tool" and how might this be interpreted?


If I default to technology as 'just a tool' I don't believe I am recognising the complexities that surround its use to support learning. That is:

  • The professional learning and inquiry educators invest in to improve their ability to integrate new technologies as effective pedagogy. 
  • The increased opportunities for students to learn, create and share new knowledge and thinking when they not only have access to 'the tools' but also the support of teachers who are skilled and confident professionals. 
My analogy to the ukelele was in response to watching a clip of Jake Shimabukuro playing his ukelele in combination with a quote from Jason Ohler when he suggested that technology could be akin to giving bad guitar players bigger amplifiers.

"... although multimedia can act as an assistive technology, it cannot take the place of vision, talent, or skill, whether developed or inherited. We will always need to tell a story with our art and to tell it with honesty, depth, and detail if it is to survive as more than a transient, disconnected thought. For this reason, teachers will become more important as technology increases in power. More than ever, students will need teachers for their wisdom and knowledge to help navigate a purposeful path through the glitz and distraction".  (Jason Ohler)


I originally used the video and quotes as a prompt in a breakout I facilitated at Learning@School in 2006.  I had been wondering what might result if we explored this statement as a question and considered the actions of the teacher or the student, and how these actions might impact on the concept of technology as "just another tool".  


In the hands of Jake Shimabukuro the ukelele is an amazing instrument. What does this say about his approach to learning?


What does your use of technology say about your learning?


"The ukulele itself, and those like Jake who play it so insanely well, represent both the struggle and the inspiration and delight that comes from blowing away other people's low expectations of you through your own hard work, unbridled passion, and dedication to excellence." (Presentation Zen, 2010: Jake Shimabukuro wows TEDxTokyo)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Apple Tools sMACdown #uLearn12

Crowd Sourcing #uLearn12
Crowd Sourcing
Crowd sourcing the uLearn12 conference at the Apple Tools sMACdown

Established at uLearn10 this breakout is hosted by a team of enthusiastic Mac users... but it is also sMACdown and everyone is invited to participate.  

uLearn12 was no exception with a host of top tips, resources and Mac geekiness from a great group of participants.

I also enjoy browsing the participant contributions on the Google form and the archives from previous years in the sidebar...like finding $$$ in last season's jacket pocket.


 Ka nui te mihi!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

GoogleFest #uLearn12

This post supports my contribution to GoogleFest at uLearn12.


Kiwis... officially Googlised
Kiwis @ Google Teacher Academy Sydney 2011

CyberSmart Curriculum
Exploring how to deliberately teach Digital Citizenship within a context that is relative to students specifically in a 1:1 netbook class. For example all students from year 5-8 with a netbook have a blog. Students learn SmartFoot Print and SmartValues in a context of learning how to write a quality blog comment. These are two of  ten categories we have identified as important to a cybersmart curriculum. 

This Google Doc includes a process we have used to introduce blog commenting to students. Students save a copy of the document in their Google docs. Teachers provide multiple opportunities for students to practise and reflect on their blog commenting. Initially students leave comments on blogs in their school as teachers can monitor these comments through the Teacher Dashboard.


This Google Doc was used to explore the difference between personal information that is safe to share online and what is private. Students write a personal profile for their blog which is initially posted as a blog post with a link from their blog side bar "About Me" widget.


Using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to support learning with primary sources
Using primary sources as a context with the aim of demonstrating how I select and orgainse digital content to support learning using GAFE. It also includes some new thinking that I am exploring around using primary sources to teach Digital Citizenship.

"Getting My Google On" - In this blog post I share my top take-a-ways from GAFEsummit 2012 and my resources from my breakout "Integrating GAFE to support learning with primary sources."

Google Tool: Chrome Multiple Users

Chrome Apps: Hootsuite
Twitter - some of the best free PD. If you are serious about building your PLN you need to get serious about managing your social networking. With Hootsuite you are able to set up multiple tabs, searches and organise your social media dashboard. Set up on your laptop and when you log in to your iPad/iPhone App, Hootsuite will automatically sync. Enables you to easily follow current events using a #tag or Twitter handle.


Click to zoom

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Getting My Google On

I participated in New Zealand's first Goggle Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit yesterday. Masterfully organised by the EdTech Team and our own Dorothy Burt it was a day full of opportunities to learn, valued conversations with my PLN and just the right balance of Google geekiness. My top take-a-ways from the day included:

YouTube in the Classroom: Jim Sill (@mistersill)
YouTube often gets a bad rap but in just 60 minutes Jim was able to skillfully demonstrate how this resource can be a powerful learning and teaching tool. I would recommend exploring Jim's site, especially YouTube for Teachers, which includes some valuable recommendations for finding and organing the best of what YouTube has to offer including TED-Ed Lessons Worth Sharing.

GoogleChrome Breaking the Seal: Tony Richards (@itmadesimple)
I have been skirting around Google Chrome for a while but have found the ability to set up multiple users has made a huge difference to my work flow this year across multiple school sites, GAFE admin accounts and school Blogger accounts. I have created a Screenr to demonstrate and would recommend setting this up even if you are switching between 2-3 accounts during your day.

Tony's Google presentation is a treasure trove of useful tips for managing your setting, apps and extensions and is worth investing the time exploring. It has definitely improved my ability to personalise Chrome for my needs.

Integrating GAFE to support learning with primary sources
In this session we explored integrating GAFE to support learning with primary sources. I used primary sources as a context with the aim of demonstrating how I select and orgainse digital content to support learning using GAFE. This is shared as a Google Presentation which I have also embedded in a GoogleSite as there are links to examples of how content might be organised within an online learning environment. It also includes some new thinking that I am exploring around using primary sources to teach Digital Citizenship.

More presenter resources can be accessed on the GAFEsummit site and also #GAFEsummit on Twitter.