Share Your Blogging Experience & Tips For Participants From Open PD

247807303_132355739d_m.jpgGreat news!!! I’ve been asked by Robin Ellis and Darren Draper to talk about blogging with educators participating in Open PD.

Slight problem! Minor really — hardily worth mentioning but it’s at 5.00 am tomorrow morning my time (their local time of 5-6 pm US Eastern Time Zone on Wednesday April 9).

Time for a confession — I’m not good at waking up in the morning. I never hear the alarm go off when it wakes up my hubby. So I’m enlisting hubby’s help to make sure I’m awake on time. He’s not 100 % reliable at this either forgetting or, worse still, waking me way too early to find out what time I want to be woken up. Image by VanitasPhotography.

So I’m thinking perhaps I could also get you to help out in two ways?

1. Join us for Open PD

Open PD session is from 5-6 pm US Eastern Time Zone on Wednesday April 9. I would love you to share your thoughts on blogging and help out if hubby forgets to wake me up.

Anyone and everyone are welcome. Ustream and Skype (here is the link so you can join the session) to encourage global participation. I always gain so much from attending these Open PD session.

2. Share Your Blogging Experience & Tips For New Bloggers

I like to stress that the most important aspect of blogging, and where the true learning happens, is in the conversations. So I’m hoping you will write a comment on this post or write your post (which links to this post) so I can show them how blogging conversations work.

So can you please tell us about:

  • Where you blog and how long you have been blogging for?
  • Why you blog? How does it benefit you or your work?
  • How blogging has helped your students and how long have you been blogging with students (if applicable)
  • Why you feel blogging is important
  • What are the 3 most important tips you would share with a new blogger?


Thanks for helping out :). Open PD will be talking about blogging for the next two weeks (April 9 & 16) so there is plenty of time for you to add your thoughts to be part of this conversation.

And if you’re enjoying this blog, please consider Subscribing for free!

One Page Guides For Engaging Others!

introducingwikis.jpgTim Davies has been working really hard producing a series of one page getting started guides with the goal:

that each sheet should take someone from not knowing what a particular social media tool is, nor how they would use it – to at least having taken the first steps to using it in a sensible and sustainable way. And it should do that in no more than one side of A4.

The Guides can be downloaded as either a PDF for printing or a Word document which you can edit and adapt for your own purpose provided you:

  1. Credit Practical Participation including their URL (
  2. Use the same creative commons on your work.
  3. Let Practical Participation know about any adaptations or derivative works.

Here is an example of one of his one page guides on Introducing Wikis as a PDF for Printing version and a Word Document for Editing.

Whether we like it or not, there will always be people that we will need to use text based material with initially. We could use placement of these series of guides, in a various locations within our organisations, to increase the perception and interest in using these technologies. Also they would be ideal for people who are too scared of asking questions because they are worried that they are asking “dumb questions.” (Image from Tim Davies)

Here are the links to the One Page Guides that Tim has produced so far:


What is your opinion? Do you like the idea of the one page guides? And if so, what other Guides would you add to the series.

If you like the Guides, please let others know about them in your network and drop past Tim’s blog to congratulate him on his hard work.

Even More Fun With Photos

Yep, was doing some serious investigations of Murdoch Universities 23 Things Program designed for librarians to learn about web 2.o technologies and my attention was grabbed by Thing 14: Image Generator. Why? Well playing around with the different image generators looks like fun but also is another quick way of creating images for blogs and presentations.

I must have been living in a vacuum because I never realised there was sooooooo many online tools for image generation. Actually I was totally overwhelmed with the quantity of image generators available which makes me wonder how the participants of the 23 Things program felt. Enjoyment at road testing a few or overwhelmed by too many options?

Here are a few of the images I created:

This is what I thought of image generators (Chalkboard Message Generator)


But we all know that I should have been working (


However what I really wanted was chocolate! (Chocolate Generator)


And my mind is too busy thinking about holidays to focus on work on a Sunday night! (Make A Birthday Cake)


And the good news is Kathryn, in the Thing 14: Image Generator post, was also nice enough to provide a link to Generator Blog which posts about these type of online tools. So I will get a regular update on image generators that could save me time creating images – and provide me with a bit of fun time!


The 23 Things program has been adopted by over 100 libraries worldwide and was adapted from the Learning 2.0 program developed by Helen Blowers as an online self-discovery program that encourages the exploration of web 2.0 tools and new technologies.

You can read more about Murdoch University’s 23 Program here. I like the way Murdoch University has included weekly workshops for “walk throughs” of weekly tasks and set up a mentoring network to support participants.

I know Michele Martin has considered adapting the 23 Things program for Non-Profit organisations and after feedback from readers she commented:

“Nonprofit staff hear us talking about online tools, and what they hear is “more work.” Their reaction so often is, “This is complicated, I don’t have time to learn it or use it, and really it doesn’t help me help my clients/ customers/ program participants.”

We need to help them understand *why* this stuff is useful, and *how* it can support their day-to-day work – maybe even help them get their jobs done more effectively and efficiently.

I believe people have/are trying it with educators. So I am pondering how this program would go with educators? I know most educators I work with would have similar thoughts highlighted by Michele Martin.

Getting The Ning Thing? Got It? Or Over It?

displayYesterday’s post Ninging? Blogging? How Do We Best Support Needs Of Educators When Doing Professional Development? added more thoughts and voices to blogging vs ning. Thanks everyone for your comments — I suggest you check out their feedback. And once again I would like to thank both Graham and Clay for inspiring this conversation! And I have decided to follow up this post with reflecting on reasons why we are getting, got it or are over Ning as a result of comments by my readers yesterday!

Never Got The Ning Thing?

Well I don’t know about everyone else but I am one of those people that can take a long time “to get” the benefit of a Web 2.0 tool — I really have to see the “what’s in it for me” to be engaged enough to want to use.

Here are examples of tools and how long it has taken me from being introduced to a tool and then actually start using them effectively:

  • Twitter- 2 months
  • Podcasting – 3 months
  • Wiki – 5 months
  • Ning – 5 months
  • Delicious – 7 months
  • FlickR – 8 months
  • Blogging – 12 months

Now considering most see me as innovative and a prolific user of Web 2.0 technologies — I think how long it taken someone like me to adopt new tools should be considered when introducing these tools to educators who have never been exposed to any of them!

If we look at the whole Ning thing — why did it take me so long “to get it?” Well considering I understood RSS I was not seeing the forest for the trees — I was not subscribing to the feeds from the Ning Forum, Blogs or Latest Activity. This meant there was no way I could effectively manage the information that was being generated by these sites nor was I able to effectively respond to discussions because I was totally unaware that these discussions were taking place.

Whatever online resources and tools we develop our first rule should always be to make it very clear how to:

  • participate
  • use
  • navigate

This is equally important to the experienced and inexperienced — we should not assume what is required is obvious!

What is required should be in your face! So there is no missing the obvious!

So I only “Got It” with Ning when Michele Martin set up Better Blog Community because she modeled how to participate in very simple and obvious terms which I adapted when I set up etools and tips for educators community. She continues to mentor me on how to facilitate these communities which I am grateful for and Simon Brown models for me how to use with students. I also spent considerable time checking out what was working/not working with other Ning communities — check out Steve Hargadon’s communities for good ideas on setting up Ning.

Got the Ning Thing?

My thoughts are those that have got the “Ning Thing” are probably managing the feeds from the sites using Feed Readers like Google Reader, Bloglines or dare I say it NetVibes (ROFL).

Or alternatively realise the benefit of this community such as:

  • Ease of use for the less tech savy
  • Ability to easy manage discussions, embed videos and create blog posts

Over It

What can I say–well there would be a number of reasons. And would love to hear those from my readers. One reason why I was Over Ning initially was I never got it to begin with. However I can understand the feeling of too much Ning because I belong to 7 Ning communities but am only managing 3 of them effectively (on my to-do-list to rectify this with the other communities. And I can totally relate to the whole time issue!

And as Web 2.0 savy people like Patrick point out “being connected to a network that you create based on your needs and passions is far greater than one that is created for you”

Final Thoughts

Well ultimately, at the end of the day, it is not about us techy savy ones but the individuals that we are trying to get started on their journey. So I would really love Graham to convert the comment on my post to be created into your own post, with pictures, because you have, as always, explained it so well especially your closing sentence “We just don’t want educators sitting on their hands in their classrooms saying, “Everything I and my students need for learning is in this room. No need to go anywhere.”

Doh moment! Really think that I have done a disservice to lecturers in my own organisation. I have been using wikis but now realise that a Ning community, based on what I have gained from etools and tips for educators community, would better service their needs in terms of empowering their learning outside of professional development sessions!

Ninging? Blogging? How Do We Best Support Needs Of Educators When Doing Professional Development?

communityWhat can I say? Whatever plans I had for last night were distracted by Graham’s BYO networks post. Why? Because he reflected on Ning communities vs blogging and highlighted that while Ning is a good starting point for new educators he worries that people may limit their online learning by staying within these Ning communities and failing to realise that building your own network from blogs, wikis etc provides greater potential for learning. [image by circulating]

Why the distraction?

Now at this stage you are may be pondering why Graham’s post would lead so much distraction. Well his section on Ning started with Clay Burell’s thoughts on “Is Ninging the same thing as Blogging – and other questions about 21st c staff development“. The distraction? Clay and I debated Ning while Graham sat back, probably chuckling, and went to bed (check out comments on Graham’s and Clay’s posts — plus follow up post by Clay)!

Without writing a really long post Clay is reflecting on how to run workshops for teachers. His “goals are to make them not need to learn from me, but to get out there and find their own pathways” and encourage their creativity. (You really need to check out comments on Graham’s and Clay’s posts — plus follow up post by Clay because it is not possible to summarise all the thoughts and ideas)!

My Ning Passion!

Well lets just say that I am a bit passionate about Ning at the moment! As Michele says, Ning is my shiny new Web 2.0 tool. Etools and tips for Educators at Ning was set up for my 1 hr online presentation on Video in Elearning for various reasons including:

  • Ning’s designed to appeal to users who want to create networks around specific interests or have limited technical skills
  • So members could interact with me before and after my presentation— and to ensure that their learning was much more than just an hour online session
  • So experienced members can share their tips
  • To demonstrate how an online community’s knowledge gain is greater than a person working individually. Collectively a community will always help each other more effectively than I will ever hope to achieve
  • To showcase why communities are important for personal learning

I love Clay’s analogy to a driving instructor because that is exactly what I tell participants in my f2f workshops. My challenge is most of my participants are starting their first driving lesson with their parents and need me ready to grab the steering wheel. Overwhelm them too much and they will crash into the tree.

Outcomes from using Ning

It has been almost 1 week since my Video in Elearning online session and benefit gained from using the Etools and tips for Educators Ning community include:

  • Members new to participating in the online world report the community makes them feel
  • Several have been inspired to go on and achieve personal first’s like blogging, embedding videos, replying to discussions and creating their own videos using Ning
  • Their questions and responses have given me a far greater understanding of who they are and their needs; far more even than my f2f workshops
  • Collectively we have all gained more than working as individuals

There is no way I would have achieved these outcomes if I only interacted with the participants on my blog or if I had played it safe, stuck with just a 1 hr session, and not gone out on a limb to use Ning for embedding video during a live session.

Final Thoughts

I think that Brian C. Smith’s advice for getting others to buy into elearning is good advice. Check out this video of an interview he did with me! This grasshopper needs to remember this Master’s advice more often.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Make It Interactive! Engaging But Not Overwhelming! Using Other People As Your Eyes And Ears!

Today I did my Video in E-learning” for e-Tips n Tools for the 2007 Australian E-learning Networks using a virtual classroom (Elluminate) with +60 participants from Australia, Canada and Chile.

The guidelines for the session were make it interactive, hands on and designed for people new to use of video. I decided to go all out with this session into unchartered waters –by setting up a Ning community (etools and Tips for Educators) for use during the presentation (here are the reasons why!).

Well I survived the session and hopefully so did most the participants. If you want to check out what an interactive session with +60 participants looks like here are the links:

  1. Handout on using video in elearning (7 pages of “how to” informati0n)
  2. Link for the Elluminate recording



Now I have to focus on Friday’s presentation (this Friday!) on why we should be using social networking with our students [image from NSW Learnscope].

Been doing a lot of thinking! Once again I will be using a virtual classroom but this time it will be Abode Connect and most of the participants will be in a conference room — I will not be able to see them and only a few will be able to chat with me.

So here is what I am thinking — they desire that absolute best I can give them! So it has to be:

  • Interactive
  • Engaging
  • Not overwhelming as many of the participants are new to the concept of social networking

But I will be using other people as my eyes and eyes (lets hope they have Eagles eyes and can hear like a dog)!

So I have come up with some ideas of how to make it interactive, and would love to hear from you if you have seen a virtual presenter handle a large audience that they can’t see or hear.

Here are some of my ideas but not sure of the how (any suggestions welcome!)

  • Would like to get them to answer a few multiple choice questions – could we give each table pieces of different coloured card that they could hold up? And then my eyes can tell me the approximate answers?
  • Would like each table to write some questions down — should I get my eyes and ears to run and grab these answers? And then what? Quickly read a few or post them into the chat area?

And if you were going to talk about social networking and why educators should use it for their personal learning and with their students what would you talk about? — being mindful you don’t want to overwhelm them!

Reasons Why IT May Be Crap!

driving carSo far in my post series on use of Web 2.0 with students I have discussed our preconceived notions on our digital natives ability to use technology and why some students automatic response when you start using technology, for elearning, will always be THIS IS CRAP!

Today I want to examine the reasons why the students saying THIS IS CRAP might be right! And for those waiting patiently for me to actually provide examples of how Web 2.0 is used with students I promise those posts start from tomorrow!

The biggest mistake I am seeing with educators new to e-learning is they are so focused on working out how to use the tools that they are losing focus on the outcome they want to achieve with their students.

Let me use the analogy of learning to drive a car. Reflect back to the first time you got behind the steering wheel of a car. Remember how stressed you felt? Now which pedal is the clutch again, where’s the brake gone? Oh no, I need to look in the rear mirror, the side mirror and indicate with the blinker? And if your parents were really lucky you managed, after lots of leap frogging down the road, to drive without crashing the car into anything major! We are so focused on everything we have to do to drive the car, because it is not second nature, that we find it hard to stay on the road.

Well just as your parents didn’t want you to crash the car, and made you focus on the road, you need to maintain focus on what you are trying to achieve when you use Web 2.0 with students. And when you are learning these tools it is really easy to focus way too much on learning to use the tools and not enough on how you will use them with your students.

Forget the tools, there just tools! Yes! I know it is easy for me to say! I’m experienced. But start by having a really good think about what you are trying to achieve? Write down all your thoughts. Then, and only then, think about how you are going to achieve the desired outcome and what tools are required!

To give you ideas you might want to provide your students with an ability to:

  • Practice their language skills
  • Reflect on their learning
  • Collaborative learn by working on projects together
  • Share photos or videos
  • Write and edit documents together
  • Communicate online with each other

Now once you have written down your list and if you are not sure which tool(s) will be best for using with your students then get advice. Never be frightened to ask for help. “There are no dumb questions” and “We can all learn from each other.”

Feel free to comment on my blog about what you want to achieve as I am more than happy to provide possible solutions or point you in the right direction.


Start using some of these tools for your personal learning.

No time? Well you expect your students to learn in their own time, so shouldn’t you be making time? And these tools will end up saving you time. The more you use them in your life the better you will understand how you might use them with students. Don’t feel you need to know how to use them all straight away, start off slowly, one at a time.

This Is CRAP!!!

Yesterday for my post series on use the of Web 2.0 with students I highlighted our preconceived notions on our digital natives ability to use technology. Today I want to talk about how truly totally frustrating students can be when you do use technology, and why they react this way!

As an educator we all have sessions that we spend hours preparing for only to have it all not quite go as planned, and students saying loudly THIS IS CRAP!! in simple terms all our hard work turns to SHIT. We grin, clean ourselves up, bathes our wounds and say thank goodness that is over next time I will do it differently! And when it is just one class we cope.

Unfortunately when it comes to using technology for elearning, we will often plan to use it for several classes, possibility the whole course, so it is much harder to cope with when students say THIS IS CRAP! And trust me, it does not matter what you are doing is, some will say it, and does get on your nerves.

So here are some tips from my e-learning leadership project, which help me cope when facilitating professional development, that also help me understand why some students automatic response will always be THIS IS CRAP!

Impact of Change

Whenever we ask someone to do something differently we are asking them to change, to let go of the familiar, to trust you in where you are taking them and what you are doing. The students are used to doing it one way, now you are saying lets try it another way!

GUESS WHAT–not everyone want to change! Familiar is known, comfortable and secure. Change is uncharted water; many people’s natural and rational response is resistance. Emotionally change can simultaneously bring joy and sorrow, gain and loss, satisfaction and disappointment.

Understand that when a student says THIS IS CRAP it may be their automatic response mechanism to the change, and trust me, it always seems to be the same student(s) regardless of what you are asking them to do (they do it to any change e.g. when shown another way to feed fish).

If a person is resisting change do make time to discuss their feelings as they may have very valid reasons and make the effort to learn more about the impact of change on people because it will help manage resistance to change better!

Adoption of Innovation

rodgers.JPG Roger’s Innovation Adoption Curve is a model often used to explain the uptake of technology within an organisation. So people involved in facilitating professional development use it as away of identify people who are more likely to engage in the use of technology.

However I think this model is also valuable when using technology with students because this model is meant to apply to any population. In simple terms Rogers model classifies adopters of innovations into various categories, based on the idea that certain individuals are inevitably more open to adaptation than others.

A person’s innovation adoption characteristic affects the rate of uptake of an innovation over time.

Roger’s categories are:

  • Innovators (2.5 %)
  • Early Adopters (13.5 %)
  • Early Majority (34 %)
  • Late Majority (34 %)
  • Laggards (16 %)

Every population is made up of these groups so if you have a class of 20 students:

  • 3.5 students will be innovators and early adopters; they are easier to convinc e to innova te. They are typically techies and they eat, sleep, and drink tech.
  • 13 students will be mainstream adopters (early and late majority who make up 64 % of any population); are less into technology, will buy into the innovation for different reasons and need a different level of support from early adopters
  • 3.5 students will be late majority and laggards; you will struggle with students because they are skeptics or set in their way and will only embrace when the others have

Remember that different adopter groups buy into innovation for different reasons and have different expectations. What works with an early adopter does not work for the mainstream and the other way around.

So remember the innovators and early adopters will embrace the easiest but to make it work you need to get the mainstream adopters to buy in because they represent the majority.

[images from PhotoLiv, Massdistraction, Will Scotton, Striatic and Rob Gruhl]


Yes, there are a lot of other reasons why students say THIS IS CRAP these are just some of them!

Fact or Fiction? You Tell Me!

technology futurePlanning and writing a series of posts during the 31 Day Project was hard! But the pro was how incredibly rewarding it was — helped me focus, I reflected on my knowledge and research what I didn’t know! So I have decided that for me it is a practice that I want to continue. [image by Sydney]

So this week, I’m going to take a look at how Web 2.0 tools are being used in education. And just to give you food for thought – I decided to start off my first posts NOT TALKING about Web 2.0 and instead TALK about using technology with students.

Years ago, before I became involved in e-learning, when I was asked to take some of the aquaculture computing class it made me feel really stressed. WHY? Because these students had grown up with computers, they had used them all through school. SURELY they would leave me crying behind in their dust because they had to be absolute GENIUSES when it came to using computers compared to poor old me who still can’t to this day use a graphics calculator!

What I now know is our greatest misconceptions of the so-called digital natives (people who have grown up immersed with technology) or Generation Y’s (the Internet Generation) students relate to our belief that they have a high level of digitally literate and actually want to use technology.

The reality is our students are fantastic at using technology how they want to use it e.g. SMS or IM friends and are much more comfortable using it. They have no fear that the World is going to end if you press the wrong key or install the wrong program! But it DOESN’T make them they are good at using it how we NEED THEM to use it or that they want to USE IT!

And just in case you are planning to argue that technology levels are a reflection of the fact they are TAFE students (vocational education and training) Kate Foy is observing this with her University students (Fear of the tech god, My Adventure Continues or The Horses Are Drinking and How Digitally-Native are Gen-Y?)

My fears years ago had no basis — I have not yet meet a student who is better at using technology than me and this includes students that were required to use a laptop for every class. Saying all this however if you use technology effectively with your students and demonstrate the benefit to them it definitely does engage them.

I strongly recommend you listen to this interview with Becky Saunders on the use of technoloy with students. Becky facilitates instructional intelligence workshops for TAFE lecturers. In the interview she explains how we need to consider the needs and wants of our students when using any teaching strategy with students.


WHY did I want to talk about students digital literacy levels?

Because many lecturers that I interact with fear engaging with the use of technology with their student because of THEIR BELIEF that their students technology skill level has to be better than theirs. My advice don’t be frightened! Start by using the tools in your personal life or to manage your workload and as your skills increase you will soon see how it can be used with your students!

Why Ask Me? When A Community Can Do It Better?

Bungy Inspired by Michelle Martin’s use of Ning for our Better Blog community, I decided to take a huge leap and go right out on a limb, which may well break and set up a etools and tips community using Ning for my live online session on “Video in E-learning” for e-Tips n Tools for the 2007 Australian E-learning Networks.

Why Ning?

  • It’s designed to appeal to users who want to create networks around specific interests or have limited technical skills
  • So members can let me know what information relating to video in e-learning they would most like to find out about
  • So experienced members can share their tips such as their favorite video sharing sites, how they create online videos, how they create screencasts and how they convert video formats
  • As a site for session participants to embed videos during the live session
  • To demonstrate how an online community’s knowledge gain is greater than a person working individually. Collectively a community will always help each other more effectively than I will ever hope to achieve
  • To showcase why communities are important for personal learning

While my initial reason for using Ning relates to my live online session, Ning is a social networking site so the site is not about me, or I, but is about US. This group is open and WE, not I, invite you to join.

While initially we’ll be discussing video good practices however we plan to keep this site going and expand it to include other cool tools for e-learning for education and training.

Help US show other educators how to effectively learn in a community!

To Join eTools and Tips Community

If you’re already a member of Ning (the platform we used to create the community), you just have to go to etools and tips community and then sign in.

If this will be your first time joining a Ning network, go to this page and sign up for your account where you’ll also be able to join the community. If you want to learn more about how to use Ning, check out my How To Use Ning information!

If you have any problems or questions, as always feel free to email me suewater [at] gmail [dot] com or leave a comment.

I hope we’ll see you at eTools and Tips!