Tag Archive: 21st Century Learning

Hello all,

This week I sent this email out to the students of my school:

Subject: NGS has bought an Island

Dear Students,

Just recently Newcastle Grammar School purchased an Island for us. An Island that I have always wanted and I want you to join me and build it into something spectacular. I will be holding a meeting at Lunch Time on Friday the 25th of February in HF3 to discuss you joining me and my team in working together to create this Island into a world we can enter and enjoy. To be part of this you can apply in two ways…… Tell me why I would call the island Tychwolcom Island or email an application explaining why you wish to be part of this adventure.  Initially I will only be taking an elite crew to the Island so I am looking for specific students who would be eligible.

It started a buz around the school that the we had bought an island off the Pacific and NGS was going to fly students out there to help build it (well thats what I was told from some of the students begging me to take them with me)

I have just finished the Friday lunch time meeting where I worked with about 20 students explaining to them the inner workings of Opensim and how we were going to turn my tiny speck of an Island into a massive learning environment. I have given them a form to fill out asking them why they want to be part of this experience and also to get their parents aware of what their child is up to.

To me they seemed pretty insprired and when the meeting had finished they wanted to play with “Hippo Viewer” and see what my Avatar could do. But when I told them what I wanted to do thats when they really got inspired. I cant take credit for all the things I list below (I can thank Steve Collis for this) but here is what I want to do:

  1. Create a code of conduct
  2. Create uniforms for the avatars similar to our sports uniform
  3. Create terrain similar to the city of Newcastle Australia
  4. Create the Holland building (A building on our campus here at NGS)
  5. Create virtual learning environments (such as Fort Scratchley)
  6. Create an Art Gallery (To post student work)
  7. The possibilites are endless

These are just the beginning and once we really get up and running I hope that other teachers will use the space for the benifit of learning. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks for reading Andrew

ps: its called Tychwolcom Island because it is a combination of the street names surrounding our campus (Tyrrel Church Wolfe and Newcommen). Some of the students got this instantly. Some very bright students out there!


“Its a Small World after all”

Hi all,

I have a Ning Site which my School pays for and I am very grateful. I use it to document student discussion and to keep tabs on how they are travelling as far as completing set tasks and homework. Each year a new student body will join the site and continue adding to the tasks. I hope that when preparing for the HSC the students will log in and use it as a study resource.

The other day my year 12’s asked if I was going to delete their work and were happy that I said no because they had a wealth of knowledge regarding the subject that they are studying. This can be added to and used as a study aid.

To improve the site I started renaming the tabs to make it more user friendly and I discovered a couple of things:

I can embed Prezi’s! Its not that hard to do and it allowed my students to have the notes I made in front of them when I was delivering them as well as refer to them later. Also if a student was away they could log in and follow the notes with reference to the text.

Then I discovered Smallworlds . Smallworlds is a mini Second Life which promotes a safe virtual environment. The major difference is…ITS FREE! I am in the process of building a virtual world using Opensim but Smallworlds has been embeded into my Ning and I am able to set it up how I want it. I have created Blaangs Virtual Classroom and as you can see from the screen shot there is computers to post responses to questions/tests/exams and we even have a lounge area so that we can meet and discuss any issues outside of our normal timetable class. We had a meeting the other night and the students (surprisingly) were completely focused on the topic of discussion.

Smallworlds has a number of advantages:

  • Ease of use
  • Free
  • If anyone does anything innapropriate you can report/ban them
  • You can earn money easily to buy things (such as computer and chairs)
  • Its adaptable
  • I don’t have to be in the room to monitor a students progress
  • Rooms can be members only
  • You can buy more room if you need it
  • If a student is absent they can log in a check/discuss our lesson

Its a very big learning curve and the students appear to be enjoying it. They even wrote their own policy on acceptable use in the classroom which is adapted from Google’s policy of “Don’t be Evil“.

At this stage it is a learning curve to see what we can do with it. At the moment there hasn’t been any hiccups but no doubt there will be. Once they are discovered it will be up to the class to resolve them.

So if you are interested in setting up a virtual classroom and dont have the money or the infrastructure I do recommend you give Smallworlds a try!

Thanks for reading.

“Whats your PLN?”

This is a question that was sent to me via email from a colleague on Friday…….

She had just been to a conference where they talked about making sure that you have your own Personal Learning Network. In life we always want to learn something and where we get our learning from is important to us. Why? For me its because I dont want to miss out on something that may be really important that will help me to teach my students…….also the information that I learn can be passed on……to students, colleagues, staff, parents and others willing to listen (like you!).

My response to the question was simple “My PLN is global and it grows everyday!” It has taken me a long time to develop it…..My PLN is mine and I am happy to pass it on but each persons pathway of learning is different. Also the way that I develop it is different to most because my MacBook travels with me.

How do I make it work for me?

Firstly I dont spen 24/7 building it. If I did it would be MASSIVE and I wouldn’t be able to cypher through all the data that I gather. Secondly I dont get worried about missing information….. I just have to let it go. Noone is going to be dissappointed if I miss out on something. Besides someone is bound to retweet the important bits. Also I can always bookmark or flag something that I need to look at later.

I believe in RSS feeds. As soon as I see the rss icon light up I instantly hit subscribe. Where do I get these rss feeds? Most of the time they are from Twitter. A person I am following posts a link and when I am reading it I find that it is worth subscribing. This goes straight to my rss folders in Outlook and I able to keep an eye on this at work or at home. I know that some people use http://www.delicious.com/ but for me, because of my notebook, it is mobile and with me.

The key to who I subscribe to is what I am into. Its important to establish a theme of interest prior to tweeting, retweeting or subscribing. I am into 21st Century Learning not content driven learning but learning how to learn with the tools of the 21st Century Learning. Hence, most of the people I am follwoing on Twitter or rss feeds are interested in the same thing (Except Julia Gillard yep she’s following me?????). So anyone in the world who says something in a blog or post something online or tweets someting about 21st Century Learning to me is worth following. Plus if they are prepared to post something online about it then they must know what they are talking about…… if they dont I will stop following them!

Who do I follow……on Twitter that easy. So here and you will see them all. You may find someone worth following yourself.

Who do I subscribe to……this is going to take a while (but for you all you have to do is click on the links! I though about giving you a description but I think they are pretty much self explanatory.See below:









































PHEW! As I said it keeps getting bigger everyday.

It is not too late to start building your own PLN. You are more than welcome to use mine as a foundation for your own. That depends on if you are into 21st Century Learning using ICT!

Thanks for reading