Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blogging about blogs

In the past my intention to follow other peoples' blogs has been quite good. Just the same as my intention to blog regularly. However, the reality of my following blogs has not matched my intention. I tend to be really put off by blogs which are scrolling pages of text. Even with shorter text pages I tend to look for the links straight away and not actually read the content. In an ideal world with more time to take an interest in blogs and blogging maybe my blogging habits would be different.

Some blogs I have intended to follow and have, in reality, visited from time to time are:

Larry Ferlazo's Websites of the Day
An absolute treasure of links to useful resources sorted into categories

Bright Ideas
A blog by the School Library Association of Victoria. I love the way the links are really easy to find in this one- underlined and in green text. Sometimes I read the whole blog entry but more often than not I go straight to the links.

Teaching Challenges
A really practical blog written by Australian classroom teacher Penny Ryder. I noticed this week she even blogs during the school holidays.

Human: For fellow teachers...
This Tomaz Lasic's blog. He is an educator in Western Australia with a passion for Moodle. His blog has just moved from to

GO2WEB20 Blog
From time to time I visit this blog to find out about the new web 2.0 tools available from

FETCH - the Flinders Emerging Technologies Community Hub
This is the home of the Emerging Technologies User Group (ETUG) at Flinders University. Members can share ideas and resources, communicate with each other, and get help for using Emerging Technologies in their professional lives at Flinders. Non members like me can just visit and look around. I guess in some ways it is more like a wiki than a blog because it is a space where lots of people add their ideas.

The Edublogger
A place maintained by Sue Waters where you can find tips, tricks, ideas and help with using web 2.0 technologies and edublogs.

The Moodleman Blog
This is where Julian Ridden shares "everything Moodle".

I am struggling to find 2 more to make a total of 10.

I subscribe to these blogs using iGoogle. It is a great way to keep track of blogs and other regularly changing content but the problem for me is that I forget to visit my iGoogle pages. For a few months I made iGoogle one of my home pages when opening Internet Explorer or Firefox but that changed when my computer was upgraded and I have not got around to doing it again.
Maybe now is the time!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Embedding bits and pieces

Task 3: Embedding bits and pieces

I just love embedding bits and pieces. My difficulty in this blog post will be deciding what to embed and knowing when to stop.

Most of my embedding in the past 12 months has been directed at a student audience in OzProjects.

Here is an embedded game. It is made using an online quiz/game making site called What2learn. On this site you can make games without registering or logging in. Each game generates an embed code which you can use in Moodle or in a blog like this.

Play this game on the what2learn site

You can see how this game is used in a learning context for students in Activity 3 of the Celebrate Astronomy OzProject. It is the Alien Abduction Word Game. All of the answers are astronomy words.

Another example of embedding in OzProjects is the map I have included in the December Celebrations around the World project. As people joined the project and introduced themselves I added their location to the Google map below.

View Larger Map

Google maps are so much fun to play around with. Another map idea I have been experimenting with is to display links to Australian Aid case studies from the Global Education website as links on a Google map. Here's an example.

View Australian Aid Case Studies in a larger map

Embedded widgets also liven up blogs and web pages.
Vokis are one example. They can be freely made at . This is the Voki from the OzProjects home page

Press the play button to listen.
Adobe Flash Player is required to view this content.

This is an Asian languages widget included in the Explore Asia Online OzProject.

The Encyclopedia Britannica is a good source of educational widgets on a range of topics. Instructions re embedding a Britannica widget in your blog are also available.

Flickr allows uses to create a photo badge to display photos in a widget. Each photo in the badge links to Flickr where users can find out more information, see more photos and check the licensing to determine how the photo can be used.

I have included two photo badges in the Explore Asia Online project which link to my Flickr photos of Vietnam and Japan which are licenced Creative Commons Attribution so that teachers and students can use the photos in their work. Here is the Vietnam photo badge.

I could keep embedding bits and pieces but this blog post is already getting very long. Here's some other sites which generate embed codes. I will be interested to hear which ones other people are using and how they are being used in an educational context.

Timetoast gives you an embed code so that you can embed the timeline in a web page. You can also get the url of the timeline you create so that you can link to it directly. is an online brainstorming tool. You can freely create mind maps and save them as images. You can also embed them in a blog or website.

You can embed a Glogster digital poster in a blog or web page. Jessica's ePortfolio is a good example of this.

Mixbook is a site for creating digital stories, online scrapbooks, and storyboards which can be embedded.

Vocaroo is an online voice recording service. Voice messages can be recorded and then sent by email or embedded in a blog or web page using the html code provided. Alternatively, a link to the recording can be included in a web page or blog.

Toon Doo allows students to create their own embeddable comic strips.

Slide allows users to create Guestbooks.
Jessica has embedded a Guestbook on her ePortfoilo at

VoiceThread is a powerful way to talk about and share your images, documents, and videos. It creates embeddable files.

There are hundreds more just waiting to be discovered.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Images and avatars

Task 2 of BlogFest 2010. Images and avatars! What an enjoyable task. I could play all day on this one. I have a few avatars which I use in different places. Probably really confusing but somehow I think different types of avatars suit different audiences. Here's a few I use regularly.

This one is a Messdudes creation. I use it mostly on OzProjects where the audience is students. At the moment I am using this one as my edna Groups avatar as well and for this blog.

A photo from from a few years back. Currently my avatar on

I can't remember where I made this one but I think it was an avatar maker that based the profile picture on an uploaded photo.

To make a BlogFest logo I used FlickrStorm to search Flickr for blogging photos with a Creative Commons licence which allowed me to share and remix the photos. I saved the photos and the attribution details required (provided as html). I then imported the photos to Picnik and enjoyed some playtime to create the logos below.

Here's the attribution details for the photos used.

20,000 a day to start a blog / CC BY 2.0

Shaggy Blog Stories
Woman's Home Blog Book
Auto Blogger
I'm blogging this
We Can Blog it
Blah Blah Blog

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Visible Thinking about Biodiversity

2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. My challenge as Coordinator of OzProjects is to create an online student project with a focus on biodiversity. How can the online Moodle environment of OzProjects engage students in a celebration of biodiversity and increase their understanding of the value of biodiversity?

In my opinion online projects about current global issues such as this should also include suggestions for "taking action". Some ideas for taking action to preserve biodiversity are listed on the International Year of Biodiversity website. It will be my challenge to include some of these ideas as "student friendly" activities in the online project.

Teachers love links to quality resources, especially those which can be used effectively on an interactive whiteboard. The new edna Simple Search tool (while still in Beta mode) will help me find relevant quality resources, not forgetting that there is already an edna Biodiversity theme page.

Several OzProjects from 2007 and 2008 were created using Bloom's Taxonomy to structure questions which promote higher order thinking. The Possum Magic OzProject for lower primary students was planned using Gardner's Multiple Intelligences.

I also think online projects should provide opportunities for students to share creative thoughts. I have recently been exploring an approach to thinking called Visible Thinking. I think some of the ideals and routines developed by the Visible Thinking Team will help me to develop online activities which involve students in investigating, sharing creative thoughts and working online to celebrate biodiversity and learn more about this global issue.

See Think Wonder seems to me a good place to start. I have already found some interesting Flickr photos tagged with biodiversity and saved some of the ones which are licenced with a Creative Commons licence such that I can use them with attribution under certain conditions.

See Think Wonder is a routine for exploring works of art and other interesting things. In the Biodiversity online project I hope to encourage students to make careful observations about the biodiversity photos thus stimulating their curiosity and encouraging them to find out more about the photographed plant, animal or micro-organism and the ecosystem of which it is a part.

Here is one of the photos I will use.

Students will be asked to respond to each photo by writing 3 sentences with the following beginnings.

I see.........................

I think.......................

I wonder....................

Under each photo (as well as the Creative Commons Attribution) will be some links to more information relevant to the photo.

I look forward to your ideas in regard to using this and other Visible Thinking ideals and routines in online projects.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Purposeful blogging

For a couple of years I have tossed around the idea of blogging and experimented with several different blogs.

I learnt how to embed images in my blog at

I discovered how easy it is to take photos with my iphone and then send them to a blog at

I recorded my learning at a conference in a blog post at and wrote several blog posts late in 2009 to support participants in a workshop by providing links to useful resources.

I was inspired to put my thoughts about web 2.0 tools into writing in September 2009 in a blog post entitled Why not start with the tool and used a blog post to describe several web 2.0 tools and their application to education earlier in 2009.

So what now? I think I am ready to combine all my blogging experiments and learning into one place. My aim as a participant in BlogFest 2010 is to establish a blog where I regularly try out different online tools and "tricks of the blogging trade". I also hope to use this blog to reflect on my learning and professional development. My purpose is not only to learn about blogging but also to encourage some discussion about online tools with an educational focus and how they can be used to foster creativity and higher order thinking. I am hoping for lots of comments and contributions of ideas from other BlogFest participants and bloggers in general.