Posts Tagged PLN

Stuff I believe

It was interesting to follow the tweets of @BiancaH80 and @durk94 tonight, as they discussed the school funding data available on the MySchool website.

To be honest, in the interests of keeping myself in a positive and generative work state of mind I’ve avoided looking at the new MySchool site at all (and no, I’m not going to hyperlink to it because I don’t think it deserves the traffic).  Next week I’m going to have to though, so I can talk about it with my students in class.


Even though I now work at a university, which involves striving for curriculum excellence in schools in every sector, I maintain my firm commitment to the social justice agenda of supporting public education.

However, government departments of education tend to be clunky, inefficient, wheel-reinventing institutions.  I know, I used to work in one.  And if I returned to teaching you’d find me back there.

But while funding and resource benchmarks are a large part of the problem, a widespread lack of willingness to consider radically shifting our models of curriculum ‘delivery’ prevents the construction of a meaningful way forward, in my opinion.  The composition of the local student ‘community’ and its relationship to the related local ‘campus’ needs to be significantly rethought.

So I’m posting my tweets for tonight up here, just for the record.  I’d be interested in hearing other people’s visions for the school campus of the future.  Will there still be a distinction between ‘public’ and ‘private’?

I hope not.

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My PLN: working with Bianca

Part of the re-vamp I’m undertaking of English Curriculum Studies 1 to ‘make it my own’ is to use the first tutorial as time to:

  • get to know each other and form reading groups, and
  • start the students building their online PLN, or personal learning network

I have also been picking the brain of my friend and colleague Bianca Hewes as I prepare materials on project based learning, or PBL.

Bianca is a key node in my personal learning network, and her thoughts, arguments and resource links pervade my personal learning environment – we follow each other on Twitter, read each others blogs and are connected as friends on Facebook.  For me this illustrates two important elements I have found to be instrumental in building my PLN

  1. that learning happens everywhere (even in ‘personal’ spaces like Facebook)
  2. that a good learning environment is ‘personal’ in a very literal sense – friendly, generous and warm

It’s worth recording some of the building blocks of our collaboration thus far.  I’ll pick up the thread where I saw Bianca’s tweeting away while she prepared English lessons for Term 1 at the end of the summer holiday and started asking questions, to which she replied:

I had heard about PBL, but hadn’t used it well so far myself.  So I asked Bianca for some help because…well, that’s one of the lessons of this story really.  She’s in my PLN.  I know she’ll send me what she can, when she can.  As a learner, I’ve had an opportunity to personally ask her though about what it is I want to know.  And because I want to teach PBL, I know I need to learn more about it, and draw on the expertise of others:

SUCCESS! A willing expert!

To maximise Bianca’s willingness to let me pick her brain, I emailed her some more specific questions about what I wanted to learn:

Now Bianca is back at school and has preparing materials for her ‘Innovator’s Workshop’, while I’ve been busy working away on thesis corrections and planning the learning sequence for my English Curriculum Studies Unit CLB018.  This has included making a blogging ‘hub’ for the tutorial groups to compliment the QUT Blackboard resources and a twitter account for unit related tweets.  She’s created a Prezi with the information she would like to share about PBL with my class (yesss!) and now even if we don’t get a video interview or link of some sort as I had originally envisaged, I feel like I have enough material to move forward and teach this concept to my pre-service teachers.

Bianca’s Prezi includes a Common Craft video about personal learning networks, which links to the website for , so now I also have two killer links to refer people on to who are new to PBL.  Are you?  Why not watch the common craft video now, you’ve come this far:

So, THAT is the story of how having a PLN that you love and put energy into building pays back in spades.

If nothing else I hope that giving my students this path and these tools for expanding their personal learning environments will encourage them to look forward to learning again.  If they read this post they will see that learning done well doesn’t limit itself to one space, one person, or one network.  I won’t be able to teach them everything I think is important about English Curriculum in nine weeks, and that’s why equipping them with the motivation and capability to keep learning beyond week 9 is priority number one.

Thanks Bianca for being in my PLN and for being part of this story 🙂



How Real Media Misses The Point Of Social Media

As you could glean from my last post, I’ve become a little sensitive to social media zealots who seem determined to paint everyone who is wary/concerned/resistant to social media as merely being scared, whimpy individuals.

This is not to say that very good points do not continue to be made in favour of using social media.

Consider this article reproduced for Business Insider: How “Real” Media Misses the Point of Social Media written by Lisa Barone from Outspoken Media.

Barone makes a point that many of us using social media tools would make:

“The risks to exposing yourself to your customers and community aren’t nearly as severe as you may think; and the rewards are huge.”

However, she also sums up one of the best pieces of advice I would give about using social media:

“If you’re going to be a big boy and swim, and benefit from, these waters you have to be able to take it.”

These two mantras pretty much sum up the bulk of what I have seen going around in terms of the pros and cons of harnessing social media (in my context, to develop my PLN, as opposed to using it as a marketing tool etc.)  However, the rhetoric that I often see invoked when a social media convert comes across a social media resistor is that the resistor is just ‘too old-fashioned’, ‘afraid of computers’, ‘non-reflective’, ‘too scared to share’ (and by extension, even ‘selfish’), or ‘a luddite’.

In my last post I suggested some other issues that, in my mind, are not currently being considered in enough depth, and which the ‘social media resistors’ are perhaps finding it hard to articulate because of their lack of familiarity with the technology.  Interestingly, most people I would have expected to drop a comment were nowhere to be found…although it is school holidays, to be fair 😉

I suspect that discussions around how power is wielded within an identity-rich online PLE (Personal Learning Environment, consisting in part of social networking spaces like Twitter and Facebook) are difficult to have without putting noses out of joint.  However, I also think that being open about how we construct and project our identities will be a test of whether we are ‘for real’ about connecting and collaborating in a democratic and generative way.

We can’t afford to be blind to reproductions of unhealthy practice in this brave new (connected, public) world.

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A Teacher’s Guide To Web 2.0 at School

I love, love, LOVE these slides by Sacha Chua:

I absolutely ADORE finding stuff on Slideshare that doesn’t rely on hearing the speaker (sometimes 100 slides just don’t make sense outta context, you dig?). This is my new favourite 🙂  Best part of the message? “It’s OK if you don’t get it.  We’re all still figuring things out”.  So true.

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On books and moving

Alas, Mr. K’s promotion up to Brisbane is in full swing, and now my HSC class is all wrapped up, it’s time for me to start my leave and follow suit.  Term 4 I’ll be finishing my PhD (yes, “finally”), and next year I’ll find a casual or temporary teaching job in Brisbane.  These are exciting times!

I know I have mentioned around the place that I am moving, but up until now I’ve been too busy to really think about it, or talk about it much.  The last couple of days of school were quite teary, and a lot of students came out of the woodwork to say goodbyes and thank yous.  It was sad, but lovely.  I had some great class parties – thanks for the cards and presents 🙂  I will miss my colleagues and students (not to mention family and friends!).

On Thursday, two comments that I found full of symbolism, and so very typical of an English teacher and her humanities-loving students 😉 were these:

  1. I was talking with two very awesome students from year 10 about maybe going to their formal, and about some books I was supposed to lend them.  I said that I would leave the books at school for them to read next term – that way we also could be sure that we’d see each other again before the end of the year, because I’d neeed to get my books back even if I didn’t go to the formal.  And one of them started crying 😦
  2. Later, another year 10 student brought me a present – a book where you write down all the books you want to read, books you love, and books you have leant out to other people (because she had had my copy of Eclipse for about 6 months, and I had forgotten!)  We started talking about how the move was finally seeming real, and I mentioned that it had felt real to me once I found boxes to pack up my bookshelf.  I reckon moving never seems really real until you acknowledge you’ll have to pack up your books.  Then I started crying! Then we both were crying 😦

Geeze, I had done so well all week! Ah well…I think most of you who have read this far will know how hard it can be to leave a school.  But bright things are on the horizon!

I’ll be keeping up my blog, hopefully even improving it.  One thing that is making the idea of moving easier is the strength and quality of my PLN…so thank you!

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NSW Laptop Tweets

For those of you out there who are about to receive (or are lucky enough to have already received!) one of the NSW DET issue Lenovo Laptops, this list of Twitter contacts may help you build your Personal Learning Network.

The following is a list of Twitter users that wove their hands about with great enthusiasm when asked who wanted to discuss and share resources for teaching with the new laptops:

You can join Twitter and start following these excellent people at

If you’d like to be added to this expanding list, add a comment with your twitter username and some info about your role and region.   There seems to be a lot happening in the Hunter/Central Coast region, surely the rest of us can give them a run for their money 😉

Also let us all know if there are networks springing up in other spaces – for example, English teachers can now join the Teaching English with Laptops ‘Ning’, a site specifically focussed on using the laptops in the English classroom.

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