Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tips for First Timers - prior to #educampAKL

First time at #educampAKL or encouraging colleagues to take the plunge? Everything you'll need to prep for unconference is on the #educampAKL wiki. Plus here are a few tips to explore before the event.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose - Dr. Seuss

Prior to #educampAKL

Register your interest and view who else might be attending. 
Registering is not a prerequisite however it is an opportunity to connect with other participants and their interests. 
#educampAKL uses the Open Space Meeting format, no real agenda is set and it is up to participants to determine the focus for sessions on the day.
Consider what conversations you could initiate and contribute to?
Follow #educampAKL on Twitter
Join the educampNZ wiki and Google+ Community

Go with the flow – This event is intended to help you and all the other participants find the time and space to talk with and learn from each other*

Ideas and examples for participating at educampAKL.
Smackdown - contribute strategies, questions and themes you are keen to explore on the day. Smackdown alerts everyone to the learning opportunities in the room and enables you to connect with like-minds and ideas quickly and follow what you are passionate about learning.

Take responsibility for your own learning – if there are topics you are really interested in that don’t appear on the agenda at first, you need to put them there*

  • @1MvdS "I have always wanted to attend an Educamp in Auckland, but it just never happened.  This year however, I took the plunge, registered and was brave enough to add slides to the Smackdown..." 
  • (+Marnel van der Spuy )

Follow your passion – Go to the sessions that interest you*

 *Kaliya Hamlin 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

NZ Student Summit featuring Google for Education

During last Friday's Hangout on Air, The Google Educators Group New Zealand (GEGNZ) were excited to launch the first NZ Student Summit featuring Google for Education.

This was also the first GEGNZ Hangout contributed to by students. If you missed the event the Hangout has been recorded and is definitely worth watching, especially if you're investigating the Maker Culture...lots of useful recommendations, tips and strategies for accessing the NZC.

We know there are many students exploring innovative ways to create and learn and our hope is that the NZ Student Summit featuring Google for Education will enable students to not only contribute but lead the learning on the day.

Visit the NZ Student Summit site
Students are invited to pitch a proposed presentation, demo or hands on workshop by Friday 22nd May. Pitches also include an option to present via a Google Hangout on Air if located outside of Auckland.
This is a free event and to support the programme we are also planning additional activities including a keynote speaker plus a demo slam competition with prizes.

Head to the event website for more information, dates and contact details and please share with your networks. Please post to the GEGNZ Google+ Community if you have any questions, Tweet @GEG_NZ , tag #GEGNZstudent

Blogging about this event? Please share to the GEGNZ Google+ Community under the NZ Student Summit label.

Friday, March 6, 2015

So you are planning to create 100 student blogs...

“Is there a template that can be duplicated... can we push new blogs out to students through Hapara teacher dashboard?” 

The short answer is no, however whether you are creating 10 or 100 blogs there are some recommendations that will support the process and potentially save you a lot of time. 

The Effective Blogging site is a must read before you start creating student blogs, especially the Student Blog Protocols.

Familiarise yourself with the process on the Effective Blogging site and follow the steps for organising and creating individual blogs. By following the steps and recommendations a single blog can be created and set up in a few minutes.

Some additional tips...

Create a folder for your blog's .xml file template and the text doc with the html for the blog gadgets so files are easy to locate and access when you need them.

In addition to the gadget html the text doc should also include descriptions that you are going to use in your blog header and teacher emails that you will copy and paste into your blog layout. 

Multiple users in Chrome

If you’re a facilitator supporting multiple schools:

Create a text doc with the html for the blog gadgets for each school you create blogs for as the teacher information and headers will vary.

Organise them in separate folders on your computer. This will also help when the time comes to teach others in the schools to take over this responsibility.

Templates and text docs set up for individual schools are organised in folders
If you're on a Mac use Exposé or your computer’s dock to quickly move between docs and your browser as you are creating each blog. This is a lot faster than moving or minimising/maximising windows.
Initially teachers will not need to be as familiar with the processes above however there are some key messages for teachers and students when they start blogging.

The following presentation is used to support teachers who are new to blogging.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"There's a #FirstTweet for everything"

Seven years ago today I sent my first Tweet... a time before the RT, #tags, clickable links, @usernames and the celebrity Tweet! 

It's interesting to look back at those first few Tweets and the beginnings of a truly inspirational professional learning network.  Try it, especially if you've been Tweeting for a few years. 

Find out the date you sent your first Tweet here

Personalise the bold text below with your Twitter username and a date range that includes your first Tweet.

from:username since:yyyy-mm-dd until:yyyy-mm-dd

Copy and paste into the Search Twitter field from your home page at

Plus some familiar faces popped up when I checked out my first followers and my first follows using Tweet Tunnel.  
Twitter has certainly been a game changer for my learning.
How I manage my Twitter in 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Counting down to #EduCampAKL tomorrow

The following post originally appeared on #edChatNZ Blog

What motivates kiwi educators to spend 4-5 hours together, sometimes more when they travel, and on a Saturday?

Maybe the opportunity to share with like minded learners, mixed in with a bit of geeky stuff and a whole lot of networking and fun…essentials of an EduCampNZ event!

EduCamp in Auckland originated in 2008 as an unconference. Educators already connecting and sharing through blogs and Twitter, decided some kanohi ki te kanohi would definitely add value to their existing learning and sharing online.

The unconference model was a no-brainer as it seemed to reflect the serendipitous-ness of social networking. In comparison to traditional conferences, unconference is participant driven (whoever comes is the right people), sessions are scheduled on the day and the event itself is free.

In hindsight the strength of the online networking was also pivotal to initially spreading the word and continues to be a force in and around all EduCampNZ events.

While most EduCampNZ events include a focus on digital learning the programme is developed on the day by whoever is there. Sessions range from demos and hands on to lively conversations as well as an active backchannel sharing on Twitter and collaborative docs. Many events will also include participants contributing from a distance … you don’t have to be there, to be there.

As attendance is free, EduCampAKL events have been hosted through the generosity of local schools providing breakout spaces and wifi. All participants are encouraged to bring a digital device and be prepared to go with the flow! (

This year EducampAKL will be on Saturday 26th  July, thanks to the team at Western Heights School in Henderson and  principal +Ash Maindonald . Everyone is welcome and encouraged to connect now through the wiki and online.

In the past year over a dozen events have been organised locally and supported nationally around New Zealand. No two events are the same as they are inspired and realised through a desire of participants to share and learn in an open environment. 

If you are keen to attend or organise an event check out the EduCampNZ wiki and participation ideas. All content is available under Creative Commons

Plus some tips here for organising an unconference (via +Fiona Grant &  +Anne Kenneally

+Caroline Bush

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Create to Learn"

The Manaiakalani Digital Immersion PLG is designed to support teachers in their first year teaching in a digital learning environment where learners are 1:1 with a digital device. Teaching as Inquiry provides a framework for Manaiakalani Digital Immersion PLD and direction for the facilitators who are supporting these teachers.

During last Friday's Digital Immersion PLG we used the following hypothesis, in response to the ongoing evaluation of Manaiakalani by The Woolf Fisher Research Centre, to ground our thinking and dialogue.

'The learn-create-share cycle generates opportunities to learn from texts and across texts and to explain/reflect/demonstrate that learning, through creation' (via Rebecca Jesson)

We took time to explore current practice while referring to the ‘Create to Learn’ hypothesis to support our thinking in response to the following questions:

  • How often are you including opportunities for students to create to learn?
  • Where and how could you include increased opportunities to create to learn?
  • Teaching as inquiry - identify possible teaching and learning opportunities aimed at achieving the outcomes you have prioritised for your inquiry.
  • What are the learning needs of your students? Effective pedagogy and the digital learning environment
  • What are your learning needs? SAMR: scaffolding use of technology to support learning
Explain your Teaching as Inquiry focus in the style of a CommonCraft or RSA Animate

This session included an opportunity for teachers to deepen their understanding of their Teaching as Inquiry focus and to consider the possibilities afforded as a result of creating to learn in the digital learning environment.

Explainer videos have been shared on blogs, Google Drive in our Google+Community, with colleagues and students. They will contribute to the documented evidence of each teacher's inquiry and can ground further thinking and professional dialogue with facilitators and school leaders.

Videos shared on Vimeo

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Go West!

EduCamp Auckland is heading west again in 2014. This year's unconference event will be on Saturday 26th  July at  Western Heights School, Henderson thanks to principal +Ash Maindonald and his team for hosting.

Follow #EduCampAKL on Twitter and check the wiki for updates and tips for how you can participate and contribute. Collaborative docs will be live early Term 2 to register your interest.

EduCampAKL is a free, unconference event where participants are encouraged to "go with the flow, follow their passion and take responsibility for their own learning"(

Explore ideas for participating and learn more about EduCampNZ events from past participants (video and blogposts) on the EduCampNZ wiki.

A bit about Smackdowns... 

I wanted to share a bit about the purpose of the Smackdown at an unconference as it is not simply a share-fest. At its heart the Smackdown is an opportunity for participants to introduce themselves while alerting everyone to what contributions, questions and learnings they are interested in pursuing.

At EduCampAKL events, the Smackdown is strategically placed at the beginning of the day to alert participants to the learning opportunities in the room, connect with like-minds and ideas quickly and follow what they are passionate about learning.

Contributions to Smackdown can be anything from a useful tip or tool to participants sharing 'big questions' that are currently challenging practice.

Contributions to Smackdown are short (less than two minutes) and delivered quickly to avoid extended conversations around topics that do not meet the needs of all participants. Links to further information are recorded on the Smackdown doc for participants to follow up. 

During the Smackdown participants are encouraged to be alert to the people and themes that they are interested in exploring further and in greater depth during the unconference and beyond e.g. ThinkSlam, Birds of a Feather...see the wiki for  more.

Check the wiki for events in your area. If you are keen to organise your own event the wiki is open and you are invited to use and repurpose any of the content and ideas that have been shared.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Big Learning

EWC2...known for their visual art and green thumbs too...
Edgewater 2 @ Sommerville Special School may have the smallest Teacher Dashboard of the Manaiakalani schools but there is nothing small about how students have been accessing their GAFE accounts to "learn, create, share". Each student has their own blog and teacher +Lionel Tapara has also created a class blog which he utilises to organise and share access to further learning for students and their families. 
A recent conversation with Lionel, reflecting on the impact of the digital learning environment, highlighted some considerations as we plan next steps:
  • both students and parents/caregivers have recognised the increased opportunities for sharing learning conversations with their children both online and kanohi ki te kanohi
  • as a satellite class the blogs have also enabled school leaders to regularly connect and respond to learning (Team Leaders support satellite classes on multiple school sites across Auckland)
  • students have demonstrated increased confidence specifically in response to IEP goals which include progressing through a sequence of instructions with multiple steps. For example in a digital learning environment this can include in excess of 20+ steps to create and share learning using Google Drive or other web based apps, followed by posting to a blog. Consider the steps students followed to create their Learning Tours in Google Maps.
  • the digital learning environment has scaffolded an existing programme of learning that is already highly motivating for students. Specifically it has increased opportunities for students to make links to prior learning.  This can make a significant difference to students' motivation and disposition when approaching new learning.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

'Capitalising on Affordances in Efficiency' with Digital Images

"An emerging model of an effective classroom is one in which the 1-1 devices afford a streamlined, efficient delivery of curriculum via google sites and docs. The reduced need for organisation and management of students provides the teacher with opportunities to engage students in extended discussions and feedback about their learning; and extensive access to online curriculum resources" (Stuart McNaughton, Manaiakalani Evaluation Programme)

Learning can be enhanced through the effective use of digital images scaffolding opportunities for higher-order thinking and creativity. Including revisiting and using images to ground learning conversations with students, parents and peers.

To enable this it is essential that there is a process for efficiently archiving and sharing digital images.

Enabling the email upload function in your Picasa Web Albums, especially from a mobile device, is one way content can be organised and shared to provide increased opportunities for teachers and students to "capitalise on affordances in efficiency".

Prior to a planned event create and share a Picasa Web Album, embed in your Google Site or Blog then send images from your smartphone or tablet, on the go.

Add 'secret email' to your address book.
  • Include opportunities to collaborate with students to identify what images are needed to support the learning. 
  • Establish routines with your students for collecting, storing and sharing the images. 
  • Images can be made available immediately for students to repurpose and share on their own blogs, in Google Apps and multimedia presentations.
  • Another option is to share a Picasa Web Album with users via email only and enable them to contribute to a Picasa Web Album. Also by sharing your 'secret email' for Picasa uploads and ensuring contributors have the name of the album, they can also share using a mobile device. Once the event is finished you can change your secret email.
  • Take screenshots or photos of non-digital exemplars of learning to share online or display in class to support a specific strategy. Often these opportunities arise 'in the moment' and if you are ready for them can engage students in extended learning conversations. If you don't have a smartphone in your pocket ensure your camera is accessible and that you know how to capture a screenshot on a variety of devices.
Let people you share albums with contribute photos
Also an alternative to sharing images is the 'Post via email' option in Blogger to send images directly to your blog, or use the Blogger App available for iOS and Android.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Share Picasa Web Album in Google Site

Create Picasa Web Albums and embed on your Google Site for students to access, download or take a screenshot to use in their blogs, Google Apps or  other multimedia presentations.

When I first linked my Google account with Google+ I noticed that the URL would default to my Google+ photos page when opening. If this happens to you try the following:

Bookmark the following URL to redirect to your Picasa Web Album page

I found that after a while this stopped, so may not be a current issue.