Tag Archives: ICT

Ultranet Share N Tell


On the first Monday of each month, I help to present the online PD series “Ultranet Share N Tell” with Mel Cashen and Anne Mirtschen. The Ultranet is an online learning management system being used by government schools within Victoria that has been developed by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

We have been running these session for just over a year now. Links to recordings  of previous sessions we have held are available through the Guide to Innovation Ning operated by the DEECD Innovation and Next Practice Division.

Our October session was action packed with lots of sharing from our participants. It  was also the first session we held using the new Blackboard Collaborate. This meant that a number of us had to get our heads around where the tools we were used to using were located.

The session included:
          A short chat about activities being undertaken during school holidays. Participants shared Teacher’s Games experiences, housework and cleaning, catching up with family, cleaning out RSS Feeds. Jenny Ashby joined the session during her trip to Coolum. She talked about her experiences whale watching and mountain climbing during her trip.
          Mitch Hughes popped in quickly to plug  the upcoming Melbourne Teach Meet Session on Friday October from 1-3pm at Pascoe Vale PS. Scott also mentioned the great video explaining what a teach meet is that was put together through sponsorship from BrainPop UK 
          Graeme Henchel from the DEECD Ultranet Team at Central Office joined us as Wendy McPherson is currently in Arizona. He talked about current testing being done to OSL (Orracle Student Learning – The Learning Tasks section of the Ultranet) to improve. Should be released in the first week of Term 4. 
          Over the next few weeks the Ultranet Coaches space will be converted into a space for all lead users. New space should have about 4500 lead users as members.
          Jenny Ashby asked about the possibility of receiving some form of notification when students post or add to a blog or wiki. Graeme mentioned about the possibility of using the activities portlet within the space. Possibility of e-mail notification in the future (but no promises!)
          Scott made mention of an e-mail received from the Ultranet Team regarding a possible student focus group trial  looking at the content landing pages. Trial would involve both primary and secondary students. Contact Sandra Phillips (Philips.sandra.l@edumail.vic.gov.au) at the eLearning Branch of DEECD.
          Heather Carver, Ultranet Coach from Casey Central, shared her new blog titled “Ultranet – UltraEasy”  . Will focus on the simple things on how to use the Ultranet. Discuss about exporting Ultranet Spaces as templates to save others re-inventing the wheel. Ultranet spaces are exported as a LAR file.
          Estelle Pizer tweeted earlier in the week seeking ideas for systematic approach to managing student portfolios templates or ideas. Mel Cashen talked about using the wiki template within the DEECD Student Goals and Portfolios Design Space and as pictured on the slide in the session. Heather talked about creating nodes for wikis. A node is a way of combining 2 wikis together. She talked about moving away from nodes as they were not easy to use. Some schools replaced using a wiki with them creating a community space where the student creates, the teacher moderates and the parent is a member. Portfolio Community Space would be added to the portfolio eXpress space as an iFrame. Having done this with 800 students it was hard work with many steps.
          Graeme expanded more about the use of nodes. Discussion about the use of portfolio space and that it should operate more like other spaces within the Ultranet that allow for pages and subpages.
–     Mel asked about how to go about creating a node within a wiki. Graeme has created a space titled “wiki display processes” that explains nodes. Within Ultranet wikis, there is a little spanner within the wiki allows you to create the nodes. Like all things within the Ultranet, simple once you know how !
–     Jodi Woodward and Mel Cashen raised the question about creating a space where we could all share our templates. Heather talked about the complexities of a seperate space and the likelihood of people going to it to download. Discussion about greater promotion of great space and the inclusion of some templates within the Content.
–     Jenny asked about process to export a space. Graeme explained that some browsers have issues with exporting .LAR files. Might need to use Firefox as your browser as some other browsers think it may be a differnt file extention. 
–     Heather promoted a new Collaborative Learning Space being developed around Melbourne Cup Day  based on the Literacy and Numeracy Collaborate Learning Space.  
The next Ultranet Share N Tell is scheduled for MONDAY 7th NOVEMBER at 8pm.
Session deatils and links will be posted on the Guide to Innovation Ning

PD through podcasts

So mabye I’m a little late in jumping on the bandwagon, but I’ve discovered podcasts.

Photo created by Bent Kure Photo under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Photo created by Bent Kure Photo under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

I’ve been listening so far to the Ed Tech Crew with Tony Richards and Darrel Branson and R U Connected with Jenny Ashby and Lois Smethurst. I’ve been listening to them each morning and afternoon as I drive to and from work and been listening as I do the ironing (a task I hate but made so much more enjoyable as I listen to each of these episodes). I’ve loved learning about new sites and resources and using them as an opportunity to liven tasks that I’d otherwise seen as boring or as a chance to be more productive at a time when I’m usually not.

As a ‘noob‘ though, what I’m wondering though is how do others manage their podcast subscriptions ? Is there a better way of managing\subscribing to podcats ? At the moment, I download episodes on my iPhone whilst I’m out and about. Is there a way that they can be ‘magically’ sent to my phone ? Is there a way to be notified that a new podcast is available ? What I’ve also noticed that if I am downloading a podcast I can’t go back listen to one whilst that one is downloading…. Where do they disappear to ?

What tips would you offer someone new to using podcasts ?
What resources could give me more information ?
How do you manage your podcasts ? What resources do you use ?
What other podcasts are you listening to ?

Cybersafety: Teaching Computers without Computers

It’s now about five weeks into the start of the 2011 new school year and I feel I am beginning to find my feet as specialist ICT teacher.  Being in a brand new school has meant that we have experienced some delays with our ICT equipment getting deployed. This has meant that I have had to be quite resourceful and innovative with my lessons.

I have manged to secure use of a portable LCD TV that I have been able to connect my laptop to and share images and presentations with my students.

I had always planned to start of the year with cybersafety activities, but had wanted it to be far more hands on. That said, I am quite pleased with my achievements in teaching ICT without any ICT. Below is a summary of the activities I have completed to date with each year level.

GRADE 5 & 6

Having taught Grade 5\6 last year, I am enjoying the opportunity to work with these students. In planning their lessons, I have found it challenging to find resources and activities that are pitched appropriatly. Some content is a bit too advanced for their age group, whilst other sites and activites are too basic, immature and result in them loosing interest quickly.

To date, we have addressed the positives and negatives associated with using ICT. I used the “Jigsaw” video developed by the Child Explotation and Online Protection Centre in the UK as a tuning in activity to stimulate discussion around the consequences of sharing too much information online. The way this video had been made sparked a seperate conversation about movie making and the production strategies the producers had used to communicate their message.

We also watched the “Let’s fight this together” video; again another UK resource but promoted through the CyberSmart program by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. I shared this video with five different classes and continued to be moved by this video each time. With the exception of a few, the students I showed this to were silent throughout the entire presentation and empathised with Joe’s experience. The video featured very little dialouge and relied heavily on the use of the images and song to communicate the message. This again lead to a seperate discussion on the strategies used in making the film.

Completing the “Kick Start your blogging” challenge over the summer holidays made me more aware about the issues of copyright and creative commons. Teaching this was difficult. Finding quality resources to teach this concept was a challenge and not being able to provide the students with a “hands on” follow up activity made this lesson very much feel like a lecture. I ended up using the “All right to copy ?” videos from the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theift. I didn’t like that I was unable to view their videos at full screen and the layout of their website meant that I was unable to change the zoom level and increase the size of the page. Each video required you to select your internet connection speed which became annyoing each time. Allowing you to watch all the videos from one page and at full screen would be a vast improvement. Whilst the content and information was good, the video had become a bit dated and some students lost interest quickly. The topic did however provide a stimulus for discussion about where they could source materials online that they could use for projects. This lead to us exploring the idea of Creative Commons and the different licences available.

GRADE 3 & 4

When I completed Teacher Professional Leave to explore ICT Resources and develop an ICT Assessment Continuum for my school, I was teaching Grade 3 & 4 at the time. Subsequently, I had plently of resouces to use with this year level.

We have been working our way through the Cyberquoll program also promoted by the CyberSmart program by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. I have found this age group loves the humerous approach (mutant goldfish, slime, boogers and a ‘special friend’ named Cindy) whilst learning important information about what information to share online, uploading photos, communicating with others in chats and forums and how to deal with popups and web forms. Follow up activities have involved students designing their own pop up scam, selecting appropraite and inappropraite photos to upload and writing an advice letter to someone who is receiving negative e-mails.

GRADE 1 & 2

Hector’s World was recommended to me by a member of my PLN on Twitter. We have focused on the series that deals with keeping your personal information safe. The students have loved the annimated characters of Hector, Tama, Ming, Ranjeet and Kui. They also love singing along with the theme song at the start and end of each episode.


Having never worked with preps other than a few days during teaching rounds, working with them has been my greatest challenge. It is so hard to work out what do with them given they have little school experience and my sessions with them only go for 30 minutes.  The other Prep teachers and again members of my twitter PLN have provided great support and advice on what to do.

We started off with drawing pictures of what we think we will be learning about during our computer lessons this year. Lots of drawings about playing games and typing stories (Not forgetting a few dinosaurs thrown in mix !).

I had planned a lesson of cutting out pictures of ICT devices, matching them to the words and pasting them together but this was far hard given the short amount of time I had. I changed tact for my second lesson and ended up turning it into a game similar to “memory” (turn over the card, tell me what the picture is, turn the card back down). Plan B ended up being far more successful and resulted in the students increasing their vocab of ICT devices.

In the last few lessons we have been looking at the correct posture and positon to sit when using the computer and how to positition their hands when typing. This again, was an intersting experience. Without “real” computers we were using a photocopied black line master keyboard template. There was also lots of moving and manipulating of little fingers to try and get them into the right spots. I even created a song to help them remember how to sit (Backs…. Bottoms…..Bring your chair in. Elbows in with no chicken wings. Feet on the floor….make your hands like a claw). I either need to finish off my song and work out how to include where they need to put their fingers or give up and try and search for one on YouTube   🙂 I am quite suprised though at how well they have mangaed to pick this up, as most of them are able to now position their fingers correctly on the home keys.


After spending most of yesterday at school with our tech, we have imaged and setup most of our machines ready to use on Monday. I’d like to finish off our cybersafety exploration with:

    • The Grade 5\6’s creating a video on one of the themes we have explored – (If anyone has a rubic, tips or instructions for doing this feel free to send my way !)
    • The Grade 3\4’s creating an interactive quiz using powerpoint on cybersafety issues.
    • The Grade 1\2’s creating a poster or brochure communicating reminders about staying safe online.
    • The Preps to learn how to log in and develop their mouse and keyboard skills through paint and keyboarding games and activities.

I’m also hoping to setup class blogs in conjunction with their classroom teachers. This will allow them to share their learning with a global audience and provide a real and authentic experience that reinforces the cybersafety skills we have been learning.


Have you had to teach ICT with limited or no equipment ?  How did you go about doing this ?

How do you teach your students about cyber safety ? What online resources do you use ?