Unit 6- A brave new world


When I look back at my own progression with technology, I am immediately reminded about my return to work after taking 8 years for family leave. For my last grade, (before giving birth), I had handwritten their reports. They had a carbon copy, that would be put in their file at school, and the original was sent home with the students. The worst thing you could do was make a spelling or grammatical error, because that would mean re-writing the whole thing again!
When I returned to work, almost every teacher had a laptop, they all had work emails, and there was something called the intranet, which involved drives with different letters. I thought I only had to catch up with curriculum changes. Hah! There was another whole teacher based curriculum that I was required to learn and learn fast! It was beyond overwhelming!
There is no doubt that technology has shaped my professional learning in an enormous way. Professional development is always linked to online learning, whether it be links to related resources, suitable clips or just email contacts for further learning. As the Program for students with disabilities co-ordinator, I use the internet, apps and email every day. This does have a nice balance with face to face contact with teachers, students and their parents. For my Art lessons I accessed you tube clips for students on related topics, and not being one with an art background, I have managed to found loads of ideas, activities and inspiration on sites like Pininterest, google images and facebook pages.
As a teacher, though, I still feel daunted (frightened even) by the incredibly fast pace of developing technology, which was a key reason for me signing up for this course. I know I lot more than when I started, but I also know what I don’t know, and there’s a feeling of- will I ever catch up? Don’t I need to be on a par with my students, if not ahead of them? ( I’m probably in my last decade of teaching, and although now part time, I hope to return to the classroom full time before retirement. )
I’d say the answer to my question is -yes.

The nastier side of the technological world is regularly highlighted on the media. Tragic consequences of cyber bullying, financial rip-offs and scams, effects of foolish facebook posts, plagiarism, mis-information-the list is endless.
My golden rule is “ If you are going to post something online , assume it is there for anyone to see, sooner or later.” Privacy settings can be changed without notification, and when you are a teenager, your friend today, may not be your friend tomorrow.
It is common practice now for employers to look up prospective employees on facebook or twitter. I am pleased to report that, that particular message is getting through to most of our students, (or so they tell me!)
On reflection, I realize that my access into the world is governed ,( or perhaps supported is a better word)by the internet and its associated technology. Need to purchase something? Research online, read reviews, find the best price. Going on a holiday. Trip advisor, google search, and certainly book my own flights on line. What’s for tea? Epicurious, taste.com , here I come.
And how did I not know about the http v https thing? I shop online frequently! Time to check those sites!

I like the idea of the digital citizen, fostering respect and understanding in the online world . As an educator, we play a vital role in developing this in our students.
As I write this, I can hear a news item in the background about Australia’s possible mirroring of the US in trawling through facebook and internet browsing in the interest of national security. Mmmm…

My five chosen characteristics of an effective learner are;
Being inquisitive – technology offers a world of resources and knowledge
Being resilient – if at first you don’t succeed try and try again.
Being reflective – think about what you are doing and how you are using technology, is it the correct way? Is it safe? Is the source or tool reliable and the best choice?
Being respectful – very important in any field, think before you do or say at all times. This is an extension of developing a tolerance for different opinions, styles of learning, and learning rates.
Being persistent – if it doesn’t work one way then try another.

The Future?
It can only be exciting, with lots of WOW!
We are given little tastes, via You tube clips and news stories on television. And they are mind blowing! Virtual screens, (who needs a TV?) imbedded chips under the skin (EWWW!)
The world really is at our fingertips. And it is definitely smaller. However when I consider the sadness and inequity in the world, I hope future technologies can go a long way to fixing some of multitude of issues that face humanity. And let’s not forget the environment!
My other concern is the increasing amount of time we all spend online, and what this means for families, general health and face to face connectiveness. I am like anyone else, and sometimes it’s all too easy to retreat to a virtual world a little more than I should.


Unit 2, Is it linked???? $#?!



Here I am back to finish Unit 2. (1,3,4 and 5 done)I thought I had actually done this unit . ( I did have a bit of a break with PLN while life got in the way.)

I’m feeling a tad frustrated. I have viewed the tutorial several times on how to hyperlink an address, and it just won’t work!

So sorry assessors, You’ll have to highlight and copy in to your address bar. I’m using word press, and found myself on the dash board page- looks a bit different ,and it doesn’t seem to have the tab. I need, Sigh!

But back to the rest of the Unit review. which I think might even be life changing. 9Yes really)

Current techniques? handwritten notes in my work diary, scraps of paper slotted into diary, paper files piling up on my desk, and eternal frustration with lost stuff.

I am not great with Evernote,(yet) but I can see how it just might allow me to easily organise myself. I like the way it is accessible everywhere, however my Ipad doesn’t seem to sync. There’s no doubt I need to be able to find my notes more easily . The decision is down to which tool?

Workflow to students Essential!!! there is so much information out there. I have watched my Year 10 student get bogged down with inefficient searching, then losing what he found, then going off on a tangent, and missing the required focus completely. And in the classroom, You can usually make a pretty clear link between successful organisation of handouts, notes from the board, research notes, school diary or even an electronic diary and successful learning outcomes.

How has it changed my life so far??

I am a pretty keen facebooker, and find the renewed new and social connections, enjoyable and beneficial. (It can be a bit lonely in a small rural community with limited social contacts. Plus I am always adding pages -Bright Ideas, Autism related, etc.
I tend to look for recipes online now rather than my cook books. It’s just quicker!
And I love having a world of information at my fingertips, when I need an answer to something. From casual musings to work related dramas!

Now back to Unit 6. Getting there- just a little bit later than others!

Searching! searching! searching! Info overload. Unit 5PLN


So just, when I thought I was pretty savvy when it came to surfing the Web. ( I mean I’ve been doing it for 10 years for goodness sake!!) along comes Unit 5, to kindly show me just how little I knew about the process. Or more specifically, how to make the Web  really work for me, rather than success being linked to how much time I have to explore.

After my exploration of google, Instagrok and Duckduckgo! I am trying to decide if google should still be regarded as King Of the search engines, (after all its become a verb..). I was under the somewhat ignorant impression that other search engines had become almost insignificant  under Google’s dominance. I suppose it depends on who you talk to.

Google is impressive though. First up, I can’t wait till Australia gets the spoken word option when entering search terms. As someone who works with students with specific needs, the potential here is obvious.

I am equally impressed with Knowledge Graph. The simple but vital concept of search words being part of the real world connected to intelligent collections, seems to solve that problem of calling up sites that have two of your search words in common, but have nothing to do what you want. Other great features I love  are the reading level  and image type and size settings. I was also unaware, that you could start your search with gov, edu or org, to restrict it. I made the assumption that these sites are hopefully way up on the reliability scale.  The list of features/settings  offered by google was impressive.  To be honest, there were many I would not use, but it was good to know they were there for future reference, particularly when working with students and my own children.

I then had a quick cruise around instagrok and Duckduckgo looking for different or exclusive features, before I conducted a comparative search.

I typed in the giant Panda, and Google performed as I expected. It was good to use the different features I had discovered, and I definitely found more than I would have before my google study.

Instagrok was visually impressive, and initially I  was quite excited by its layout. (I do love a mindmap) And lots of information seemed to be at my finger tips. However there were 3 things  that cooled my initial appraisal.

1. I can see students getting “lost” as they click on different topics and end up meandering around to a point where they lose “site”(ha ha) of their initial task. Fun and informative, but time consuming.

2. To use the journal feature, I was required to join up (another username and password. aarrghh!,) then I was told I had a trial before payment was required?? Maybe I got it wrong, and I could have used the “general” feature, rather than” teacher” I was invited to add students so that may be why. Anyway by this stage I was losing interest.

3. I wasn’t sure about the sites that were suggested. Some colleagues who had done extra exploration thought the quality and standard was not great for secondary students. Might be better for primary students, but again, it was all part of this meandering process that put me off.

Duckduckgo offered a slightly different experience, but a lot of their  features were also on Google. Their  claim to fame of private browsing is impressive, I wonder how they do that?

My panda search on Duckduckgo was quite good. I liked the clear options on the side to search through wiki, Australia.gov .IMDB, library thing etc. And particularly impressive was their bang feature.-customisable to common sites you tube facebook etc

Site Evaluation.

My trusted site was AMAZE (previously known as Autism Victoria)

I have a particular  and personal interest in autism  being a special needs/integration teacher, and also by being a parent of a child on the Spectrum. I consider my own knowledge to be pretty good, and I have spent countless (and I mean hundreds!) of hours on the internet, particularly after my child was first diagnosed.

It is a scary world when it comes to Autism and information on the Internet. The amount of misinformation, misleading “facts” and downright lies, that are printed and accessed online is (I believe) almost criminal. Promised cures, (some of them physically dangerous) supposed causes, expensive remedies and resources, can prey on parents who are looking for something or someone to blame when they discover their child is autistic.

Fortunately, through some good support agencies and extensive professional development in the field, I was directed to the most reliable sites. I am aware that many others in our community do not necessarily have that access.

So what makes AMAZE a trusted website? I had a fresh look at it using Kathy Schrocks 5 w’s of Web site evaluation.

WHO  AMAZE  is a member -based not for profit organisation and is the peak body for Autism Spectrum disorders in the State of Victoria. A history of the formation of the group and its members is outlined under the About us tab. -all very reliable with an impressive patron-Professor Margaret Prior. AO

WHAT The purpose over all is to provide an excellent resource and service provider for people with ASD as well as their families and carer. In fact the aim is to improve their  quality of Life. The site is well set out, easy to read and provides a site map, for a quick overview, which is pretty important given the size of it. Information  and services on AMAZE includes (but is not limited to) Info and Advice lines, training programs, accessing funding, Library, fact sheets, counselling ,merchandise for fundraising, directory of services and current  related news and events.

WHEN- It is regularly updated, with  a calender of events, timelines, media events, and current news in the World of Autism. The organisation has existed since 1967 by a group of parents. it doesn’t say when they first came online, but I would guess it would have been soon after the internet was accessible. The equality, depth and appearance of the site, suggests they have been at it a long while!

WHERE AND WHY The information for this site obviously comes from multiple sources. they have several links and references to other organisations, government and local resources, as well as reputable experts in the field. A test I have always applied when researching is repetition. If I don’t know much about a subject I need to see the same information on multiple sites before I give it any credibility. Despite Amaze’s huge size, with its myriad of links, I can’t  find any  contradictions in the facts, services and knowledge provided. Considering Autism is such diverse neurological disorder, that is quite “amazing.”

And to finish up this post, a quick word on tags. Such a useful and simple  little process that can take you where you want to go, and where you might not. I realise I hadn’t realised their potential.

Curation tools. Love them, use them, share them, Learnist was new to me, and just what I need for extra inspiration for my student’s art projects. I have contributed to some, but I am still very careful what I post on them. In my mind, its there forever. Better make sure I don’t regret putting it there!


Unit 4 PLN My first Glogster.

Glogster review.

Being an Art teacher, I was looking for an online tool that had some possible artistic applications. The description was fairly apt in that it was a fairly straightforward way to create posters which included videos, images or texts.It took me a while to work out the various features of the tool, but anyone (probably most kids over 10!) that can create powerpoints, blogs with links, or even basic websites, would find it a breeze. There are templates to use if you want, (I used the pin board  one and created “a bit about me poster”). It was actually quite fun!  I didn’t have many photos on my laptop but   I was able to access google images, and photos I have posted in facebook.

The terms of Use were the common, long winded, legalese gobbedly gook. I was bored and confused very quickly. The privacy aspect didn’t seem any less stringent than other sharing  sites. The main message I took from it was  if you don’t want the world to see it, don’t post it. I was able to choose the Private versus public setting before I saved it, but what this actually means was not explained on that page.

You are also invited to withdraw and delete your account, if you don’t agree with the conditions of use, (but one must be bothered to read them, and check back regularly to see if they have changed)

From the Art lesson perspective, it would be a nice way to share photos of  the students art projects. It would also be a useful way of producing the art folios I see from later years students (including photos, samples and annotations)

In terms of SAMR, it probably reaches the Modification stage, but my exploration of its features was not totally comprehensive. There may be more possibilities. 

The big question I just realised  is “Can I print out the posters, or are they only available on line?” More exploration needed.

Unit 3.Done! (VicPLN 2013)


I’m now on twitter (with some reservations, but am remaining open minded about its potential)

Find me @LeeMcLeod17.

At the moment I’m feeling a little overwhelmed about the amount of information that is out there in online professional communities. I can see myself using them to seek answers, find new ideas, and just to feel I am keeping up to date with the vast array of avenues for communicating and sharing with fellow educators. I’ve always believed that teaching is, and indeed has to be very collegial to be truly effective in keeping the student at the centre of our focus. What I didn’t realise was just how wide reaching this collegiality extends!


New habits around accessing this endless amount of support need to be made/