30 Goals Conference – Bouncing back!

Introduction

Last weekend I was involved (thanks to Shelly Sanchez Terrell) in an online conference for the first time in about 3 years. Shelly has been part of my PLN since 2009 and we met face-to-face for the first time in early June this year when Shelly came to Australia for a conference and was able to take a few days out to stay with us in Western Australia. We talked continuously for the whole time – including about resilience which ended up being the topic for my Keynote at the “30 Goals Free E-Conference

This post is about the experience of planning and presenting a Keynote “Bouncing back! Resilience and survival as an educator.” for the “30 Goals Free E-Conference” through Google Hangout On Air – a new conference platform for me. You can catch the full presentation and the associated textchat through my profile page on the 30Goals website

Planning and preparing

I approached this presentation with some trepidation for several reasons:

  • The length of time available for the session – I have never done a session as short as this (20 minutes speaking, plus ten minutes questions/comment) at a conference before, although I have done a couple of PechaKucha style clips. My sessions are mostly workshops and tend to be a minimum of an hour and often rather longer.
  • The topic was much more philosophically based than my usual ones which tend to be very practice and/or theory into practice oriented.
  • Although I have used Google Hangouts a few times, Google Hangout On Air was completely new to me. So I had no idea how to make it work for my presentation style which is very interactive.
  • I was worried about connection dropout – in my experience Google Hangouts are very bandwidth heavy and I live in a “bandwidth challenged” area
  • I am totally spoilt in that I have mostly been using BlackboardCollaborate (BbC) – in my opinion one of the best platforms – for online presentations and workshops, although I have also recently used Skype.
  • It’s around 3 years since I took part in a totally online conference and I am not doing regular webinars at the moment so I was definitely feeling a bit “rusty”!

Resilience is something I am very aware of – in the educator community, the community I live in and to some extent in myself. I did feel that it was a bit presumptuous of me to talk about it in a global presentation. However once having submitted a title there was no going back! It did take me a long time to prepare the presentation – a lot of thinking and reflecting, and also a lot of time actually putting the words and slides together. For the first time in years I actually wrote down (or at least typed) what I planned to talk about – usually I have just key points or reminders of practical issues. I also tried to make sure I didn’t have excessive amounts of text on slides – having worked so much in BbC and in presenting practical workshops I tend to have more text than I would use in face-to-face and/or purely presentation contexts. Luckily living in rural Western Australia I have an excellent resilience analogy to hand in our native bush which “bounces back” amazingly from severe bush fire events.

Bush resilience 500px

The other thing that exercised my mind during preparation was how to incorporate some interaction. I knew we would have ChatWING but wasn’t sure how easily I would be able to monitor the chat and anyway I really prefer more interaction than just chat. Eventually I decided to use two LinoIt canvases and ask for people to add “stickies”.

The session

Thank you Shelly, Jake and Judy for the huge support before and during the session! You all helped me to feel more confident. After a great introduction from Shelly I was launched on the uncharted waters of “Hangout On Air”.

It certainly felt strange to start with to be talking to an unknown number of people and without the  feedback (through emoticons, chat and audio) that I am able to get when using BbC. Having ChatWING certainly helped to some extent but I felt peculiarly detached from my audience because:

  • I had no idea how many of them were listening/watching
  • I didn’t know who they were
  • I couldn’t tell if I was holding the attention of all, any or none (no body language as in face-to-face or emoticons/audio etc as in BbC)

On the whole I think the session went quite well. I was happy with my slides (now uploaded to Slideshare – although not very useful without the audio) and how I synchronised them with what I was saying. I only had two that were just text, being bullet points about which I spoke in some detail.  I was pleased that I had done my usual things of trying to include interaction and pushing the boundaries in order to do so by using the LinoIt canvases. Including interaction in a very short session was challenging both for me and for participants. I was so delighted that it worked to some extent with some comments being added during the session even though there wasn’t really time to discuss the comments.

I have included the two LinoIt canvases here and would love more “stickies” to be added. The first canvas “Challenges” asks you to add your educator challenges.

The second canvas “Being resilient” asks for your own personal tips on being resilient.
There were inevitably some glitches! That panic moment when bandwidth won and I was dropped out of the session – however I was half expecting that to happen and so I managed to reconnect very quickly. Also I think (although I am not sure) that I got in a muddle with my two LinoIt canvases and gave the second link first.

Aftermath

One of the things that this conference has done for me is to nudge me into reconnecting globally again. This year I have not been doing as much teaching as in the past and have been focussing on doing some LMS e-learning development for my orgnisation and on facilitating colleagues (both in my organisation and across Australia) in using e-tools and social media for professional development and working with students. On a personal basis – I am still recovering from illness last year and am also concerned with a threat to my home community from mining. These factors have led me to look inward rather than outward as is more usual for me. However I am beginning to feel the “outward urge” again and hear the “wild geese calling” me to the wider world.

#Twitterati Challenge – my top five!

I was honoured to be named in company with @cybraryman1 @gtchatmod @GiftedHF @murcha as one of @jofrei ‘s top five “Go to” Educators in the #TwitteratiChallenge. All of @jofrei‘s other top five and @jofrei herself have been part of my PLN for over five years.

I don’t usually do these sorts of “round robin” things but on this occasion I accept the #TwitteratiChallenge and will name my top five “Go to” Educators – the rules prevent me including any of the educators  named by @jofrei, or indeed Jo herself!

The conditions of the challenge are posted on Mary Myatt’s blog at

http://marymyatt.com/blog/2015-05-03/the-twitterati-challenge

Here they are:

Started by by Ross (never known to nap) @TeacherToolkit – “In the spirit of social-media-educator friendships, this summer it is time to recognise your most supportive colleagues in a simple blogpost shout-out. Whatever your reason, these 5 educators should be your 5 go-to people in times of challenge and critique, or for verification and support”

There are only 3 rules.

  1. You cannot knowingly include someone you work with in real life.
    2. You cannot list somebody that has already been named if you are already made aware of them being listed on#TwitteratiChallenge.
    3. You will need to copy and paste the title of this blogpost and (the rules and what to do) information into your own blog post.
    What to do?
    This what to do:
    1. Within 7 days of being nominated by somebody else, you need to identify colleagues that you rely regularly go-to for support and challenge. They have now been challenged and must act and must act as participants of the #TwitteratiChallenge.
  2. If you’ve been nominated, please write your own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost within 7 days. If you do not have your own blog, try @staffrm.
    5. The educator that is now (newly) nominated, has 7 days to compose their own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost and identify who their top 5 go-to educators are.

So here are my choices in no particular order – because no way could I choose a “top of the list” person:

@suewaters Sue was my PLN mentor when  first started to dip a toe in the water of PLNs back in 2008, she is so often my first “port of call” when something online doesn’t make sense, as well as being my edublogs saviour when I have problems with my blog. We do live in the same state (WA) of Australia and do know one another “for real” and not just virtually but we don’t work together so I hope this is OK.

@shellterrell Shelly (based in the US) has been part of my PLN almost as long as Sue! She came to some of our early webinars and also presented several. I participated in some of the early #Edchats the twitter #chats initiated originally by Shelly and a couple of others so Shelly has been a long time colleague and I am so excited that I will be meeting her in real life when she visits Australia in early June  – I only wish she could bring #RoscoThePug with her!

@mgraffin Another WA tweep – we communicated extensively online before we met “for real”. Michael has been in my PLN since about 2010 and has been a real as well a a virtual friend for almost as long. As in Sue’s case we don’t work together Michael is in the school sector.

@penpln Penny is based in Victoria, Australia and has been part of my PLN since around 2010 both on Twitter and Facebook especially through the FacingIT group on Facebook. We have so many interests in common including teaching science and photography.

@poulingail Gail is a Kindy teacher from the USA and  has been part of my PLN since around 2010. We got to know each other very well because Gail was a regular participant in our Edublogs Serendipity FineFocus webinars. Gail shares so many great things!

So these are my top five – this was really hard! My PLN is one of the very best things that has ever happened to me.

 

 

 

Social media for professional development and networking

Introduction

A post for my colleagues who are beginning to consider social media for professional development.

The associated presentation is available on Slideshare

We all have some sort of Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN). In the past this was based around people that we met face-to-face or communicated with by phone or letter. However the growth in online communication and social media has given rise to an immense expansion in the potential for learning through networks.

Personal/Professional Learning Networks

I have a large global network of educators across all sectors with whom I “chat” frequently and acquire links to many excellent resources, websites and articles. The main networks that I use are Twitter and Facebook, but I also use our statewide Adult Literacy and Numeracy Network (a Google Group), Google+, LinkedIn, social bookmarking and web conferencing. These “platforms” constitute my own Personal Learning Environment (PLE).

Much has been written about PLNs and how to develop your own PLN, this can only be a guide! Every PLN is different because it reflects the interests and personality of its “owner” and because the balance of platforms forming the PLE will vary.

PLN

One of the best ways to get started is through someone who already uses one or more of these platforms, who will act as your mentor. Both Twitter and Facebook are good platforms to start with – Twitter has the advantage of brevity, and Facebook the advantage of familiarity for many people. I usually recommend that people use both – they are both relatively easy to manage and it is also possible using one of the available clients to cross-post (this means post the same post on both platforms at the same time).

LinkedIn is a little different from other platforms in that it has more of a job/workplace focus. Many people who use it do so for the purpose of career development rather than professional learning.

Be careful about where and what personal information you share. Keep your home address, mobile and home phone number, private email, and anything similar out of comments and posts.

If you are new to PLN/PLE you can find getting started information in:

 Conclusion

This post and those about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are intended to help you get started. The next step will be actively participating in those networks.

If you have any questions please use the comments on this or one of the other posts to ask them and I will do my best to reply.

LinkedIn for professional learning

Introduction

LinkedIn is a little different from other platforms in that it has more of a job/workplace focus. Many people who use it do so for the purpose of career development rather than professional learning. However there is still potential for joining special interest groups and taking part in the discussions and also for making connections with others in the same field.

Getting started

1. Go to the LinkedIn joining page and join up. Because of the focus of LinkedIn there is little point in using a pseudonym.

2. Once you have signed up it is almost essential to complete at least part of your profile including an image and some career information. Again because of the nature of LinkedIn it is best to use accurate information and a photo for your avatar.

3. Now it’s time to start making connections. LinkedIn will make suggestions and if you have included a profession, a workplace or a school/university in your profile then others with similar interests are likely to be suggested. There are educators from all over the world on LinkedIn. You can tap into ideas and conversations from all sectors however there are several groups related to the VET/Adult Ed. sector in Australia.

4. Use the Search within LinkedIn to find people you may know and Groups that may be of interest for you.

Conclusion

This is a very basic post for getting started with LinkedIn. If you have any questions then please use the comments on this post to ask them and I will try to help.

Where do you get these sites from?

This post is a cross-posting from the West Australian Adult Literacy and Numeracy network newsletter, so apologies if you have seen it twice. I wrote it in response to a query on our network of literacy/numeracy practitioners in WA most of whom are quite new to online tools and strategies.

Introduction

This question was posed in response to a recent post by Phil (@philhart) on our Western Australian Adult Literacy and Numeracy (ALaN) network GoogleGroup – Phil shared a site called Visuwords, an online graphical dictionary that gives a visual representation of associations between words. Phil’s answer was that he gets many of these kinds of links via his Personal (Professional) Learning Network (PLN).

Like Phil I have an extensive, global PLN – mine is in excess of 4,000 educators globally with fewer than 20% of these in Australia and less than 10% in WA. I find this network invaluable in helping me to stay up to date and innovative in my teaching and learning. The inevitable next questions are of course “What is a PLN, how do I get one, and what are the benefits?”

A PLN is …

A PLN is a network of people often, but not always, with similar interests to your own. We all have a PLN of some sort even if it is just the network of colleagues we meet through our daily work. However the most useful and effective PLN is one which extends outside our own day to day physical environment, outside our own specialist teaching area and outside our particular educational sector.

My own PLN is global, cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral. It makes considerable use of social media and online tools in general. So my Personal Learning Environment (PLE) through which I access my PLN is largely electronic. The main point here is that no two PLN’s are the same! We all have our own preferred balance of people and communication environments/strategies. Mine (like most others) has evolved over time and now looks something like the diagram below.

PLN PLE 500I expect that my PLN will continue to change and evolve – I currently use a variety of platforms so that I don’t miss out on posts from people for whom I have enormous professional respect but who don’t use my preferred platform for the majority of their interactions.

Getting a PLN

There are many different strategies for developing your own PLN. Mine started inadvertently, when a fellow e-learning enthusiast who was also a Vocational Education and Training lecturer but in a different college introduced me to Twitter. This is still my “favourite” PLN environment although I now use many other social networks as well. Many members of my own PLN have been introduced to the concept and started developing their own PLN through PD activities. If you are thinking about building your own PLN there are a few strategies that can be particularly useful:

  • Start with one social media platform – find a mentor on that platform who is very experienced and has a medium to large network of their own.
  • Sign up to the platform – make sure you complete your profile and have an avatar, many potential followers/friends won’t connect with you unless they have a little information about you
  • Don’t rush it – allow your contacts to grow fairly slowly at least initially
  • Give as well as taking – join conversations, make comments, share resources and links
  • Be social, be human – the social interactions are important despite the derision you see levelled at some platforms regarding the triviality of some posts, social interaction – the personal relationship “oils the wheels” of the professional relationship.

If you are interested in further developing your PLN then leave a comment here and consider participating in some of our regular webinars because if enough people are interested we could do some webinars specifically on this. If you are going to take the plunge anyway and your chosen platform is any of: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn then please feel free to follow/friend, or whatever the connection label is, me. You can find me as follows:

I do check out profiles before I connect back (because like all online contexts there are plenty of “black hats” out there) although if I already know you from another context I may not. I will usually connect back within a few days.

What are the benefits?

The benefits are many! The list below is just a few of the positive gains shared by members of my PLN:

  • Keeping up with innovation in education
  • Links to great tools and resources
  • Instant help with tech problems and other questions
  • Learning, learning always learning!
  • Support in coping with issues
  • Sharing, sharing and sharing again!
  • Opportunities for global collaboration on projects
  • Opportunities for PD through online discussions
  • Overseas “E-visitors” to classes (via Skype or similar)
  • Broadening perspective from local to global
  • Learning about other cultures
  • Never feeling isolated at a conference (someone from your PLN is almost certainly there!)
  • People (that you feel you already know) to meet up with when overseas/away from home
  • Someone to “talk” to in the small hours – there is always someone awake

Some members of my own PLN have become good friends without us ever meeting! When chance gives us opportunities to meet there is none of the awkwardness of strangers meeting for the first time. This is a huge benefit for me as, despite my advanced age and years of teaching, I am quite shy when meeting strangers.

Conclusion

For more ideas about PLNs checkout this post “What the heck is a PLN?” by a West Australian teacher with a global presence who is part of my PLN and is now a good “real face-to-face” friend that I first “met” online via Twitter.

For me personally the global nature of my own PLN and the opportunity to be involved in learning from such a diverse group are the “icing on the cake”! I have been immeasurably enriched by many people in my own PLN and can only hope that I am able to “pay this forward” in some way.

Recent Edublogs webinars Aug/Sept – summary

Introduction

As has been the case for the last few months I have not been able to post overviews each week. So this one is a digest of  our webinars over the last few weeks.

Serendipity (1/2 Aug 2013)

This recorded session was a Serendipity session in which considered two topics. We brainstormed some way of enthusing teachers to use technology in class and then moved on to think of “5 minute fun fillers” not necessarily involving technology use.

Fine Focus – digital literacy in an adult ed curriculum

As always this session was recorded. The session was based around content from a recent webinar that I did for our Western Australian State Adult Literacy and Numeracy network. One of the main curricula used for Adult Literacy in WA has recently been re-accredited and now includes many references to digital literacy and digital texts. So I have been presenting a short series of webinars to help adult literacy teachers think about how they might come to grips with the new requirements.

Serendipity 14/15 aug 2013

In this recorded Serendipity session we took a look at supporting older people in using technology and learned about an exciting new free online course in teaching maths available through Stanford University. The course itself is now finished but is intended to re-run from March 2014 and resources from it are being made available on the “youcubed website”

Fine Focus – Playing in the Moderator Sandpit

This was another recorded session in which we took a look at some of the tools available to moderators that can be used to add interactivity to BlackboardCollaborate sessions

Serendipity 28/29 Aug 2013

In this recorded session in response to a participant question we took a look at blogging with a class of students, specifically how to get started in doing this with Edublogs.

Fine Focus – PLN? PLE? How have they changed

As always the session was recorded. We discussed and explored the terms PLN (Personal Learning Network) and PLE (Personal Learning Environment) and considered how these have changed for us as individuals over the last few years.

Serendipity 12/13 Sept 2013

In this recorded Serendipity session we looked at two topics. The first was a guided tour from @jofrei of a series of recent posts on her Sprite’s Site which followed the adventures of the Tweetlets during their Work Experience week at the Twitter Stream. Our second topic was a discussion of how we might be able to prepare training materials more efficiently.

Fine Focus – “This house is resolved …”

In this recorded session we did something a little different – I am always trying to come up with different formats and themes for Fine Focus sessions so that we don’t have “just a presentation” each week. So on this occasion I had been thinking about some of the controversial statements related teaching and learning with “e” and decided to present four of these for discussion. The four statements were:

  • Face-to-face conferences are a ‘has-been’
  • BYOD is a fad that wont last
  • You have to have a ‘maths brain’ to do maths
  • Qualifications are outdated, they should be replaced by digital portfolios

All four prompted lively discussion despite considerable agreement on each by the participants.

Serendipity 3/4 Oct 2013

There was no session on 26/27 September so Serendipity was a week later. In this recorded session we briefly discussed four topics:

  • We are Connected Educators. Anyone feeling the need to do more
  • What is involved in acting as a volunteer for the Reform Symposium (#RSCON4)
  • A success story from working for Broadband for Seniors
  • To share or not to share, how do you decide?

Conclusion

Once again I am finally up to date with posting webinar links. Sorry again for the short session descriptions.

Our Next Webinar

FineFocusSmallOur next webinar will be an Edublogs “FineFocus” session on Thursday Oct 10th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday Oct 2th at 7am West Aus, later in the  morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. In this session we will look at moderator tools from the presenter and session facilitator perspective.

Edublogs webinar overview – Serendipity, ISS watching & Facebook apps

Introduction

In this recorded Serendipity session we actually took a look at two topics – “spot the station” and “Facebook apps”. For both we asked the proposers to expand a little before we decided this.

Spot the station

This intriguing title gave us a fascinating subject. The International Space Station (ISS) and related matters in the context of learning. “Spotting the ISS” was something recently discovered by one of our participants but unknown to the rest of us. So none of us had in-depth knowledge to share on how we could use this with students.A cartoon image suggesting the ISS as a teaching resourceHowever we all had snippets of information about the ISS and other space related resources, so we each spent five minutes exploring and then shared links and thoughts on the whiteboard, in chat and through audio. The NASA ISS webpage has lots of exciting content and the ISS tracker page shows the current position and track of the ISS. Lots to explore and huge potential for educators especially as the astronauts are on several social networks!

Facebook apps

We moved on to talk a little about Facebook apps, although inevitably there was some broadening of this into other social media. Concerns raised were about security issues and the increasing amount of advertising in one form or another. We all recognise that advertising is what enables Facebook to be free for us to use. However with Facebook and with other social media this seems to be on the increase and becoming more and more intrusive. In terms of security most of us are cautious about using apps in social media. It often seems that the security and privacy settings are far from simple to use and that they sometimes revert to defaults! This is a potential topic for a future FineFocus session.

Conclusion

As always Serendipity gave us much food for thought!

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is a FineFocus session where we will take a look at learning style inventories and their usefulness or otherwise. Join us on Thursday April 18th at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning April 19th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Edublogs webinar overview – A cuckoo free Twitter nest!

REMINDER

It’s that time of year again! Over the next few weeks timezone chaos will reign. Half the world goes onto daylight saving and half comes off daylight saving. Except for a few regions such as here in Western Australia where we don’t have daylight saving. Just to make it even more complicated different places change on different dates. This is one of the main reasons we use GMT/UTC for our webinar times – because (like our West Australian time, but with much more “credibility”) it stays the same all year round.

If you have just lost or gained an hour then double check the times for anything trans-global in which you are involved. In the Northern Hemisphere you are heading back into winter so will “lose” an hour when your clocks are set back, thus our webinars will be an hour earlier “your time”. In the Southern Hemisphere you are going forward into summer so you “gain” an hour resulting in webinars an hour later “your time”

(For the link for live webinars and info about the times and topics scroll to the bottom of this post)

Introduction

It’s a long time since we had a session related to Twitter and as there seem to have been several waves of spam DMs around recently it seemed a good idea to take a look as some of the strategies we can use to help guard against becoming victims of the people in “black hats”. In other words to stop cuckoos laying their ph*shing eggs in our Twitter nests!

The session

In this recorded session I started with a few questions about how the group uses Twitter. Sometimes our own usage patterns can put our accounts at greater risk of attack – some of these patterns were raised in these initial questions. We then moved on to use the whiteboard to share some of our individual thoughts on the risks posed by attacks on our Twitter accounts.

Next we thought – again using the whiteboard about potentially suspicious Twitter activity that might set our own “alarm bells” ringing.

This included sharing my personal “alarm bells” that have emerged over 4 years and approaching 20,000 tweets.

Next came a look at what to do about these activities – the fake DMs and other potential issues. Catch the recording for the full strategies! One of my main concerns in this is that if you get a fake DM please don’t blame the messenger (ie DON’T block & report) – it could be you next time! We are all vulnerable to attack – if we take some precautions we become less so, but it only takes a moment’s inattention or just something that we don’t know about and those fake DMs could be going out from our accounts! For me personally I think my most effective strategy has been close management of my followers and being careful who I follow!

We finished up with a look at our best take-aways!

Conclusion

A good session – Twitter is a topic that I always enjoy discussing and I do have strong feelings about the community supporting one-another in combating the “black hats”. Over the four years I have been tweeting I have worked out my own strategies to deal with some of the issues that arise and I think it is important to share these widely.

If you have something to share either about Twitter safety strategies or anything you would like to present a webinar on please let us know (add a comment to this post, or Tweet us – @JoHart or @philhart). Then join us to facilitate a session about your e-edu passion! If you are not familiar with BlackboardCollaborate we can help you plan how best to do your session so it works for you.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session where we invite you to suggest your “hot” topics for discussion – we then select the topic by poll.  Join us on Thursday October 11th at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning October 12th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Three Edublogs webinar overviews – e-publish, Serendipity, don’t lose data!

Introduction

Three overviews in one this week. At the moment I seem to have no time for anything and so once again the previous two week’s webinar overviews were postponed.

(For the link for live webinars and info about the times and topics scroll to the bottom of this post).

E-publish or be e-damned!

In this recorded session Phil  led us through some of the tangled web of e-books, beginning with some discussion on what they are.

From the plethora of formats (file types) and different publisher standards that Phil told us about, it seems that the world of e-books/e-publishing is at that stage in development where the publishers are attempting to “lock in” both writers and readers to their particular format. They are fighting to corner the market so that eventually almost everyone will be working with one format – that of the “winning” publisher who will “own” that format!

Phil moved the discussion on to consideration of e-books/e-publishing from the perspective of the author looking at factors around: saleability, preparation format – prepare in a common format and convert or author directly in the format for publishing. We also took a look at deciding on a publisher/format.

Producing a great (and successful) e-book is not just about having great ideas and content. Understanding the medium, having some knowledge of mark-up languages, presentation and marketing are all  important and the whole process can be hard work!

A great session which certainly made me much more aware of the ramifications of e-publishing and also very conscious that many e-books are not presented or sometimes even written particularly well. Perhaps e-books are currently in a similar stage of development to that of Science Fiction as a genre in the era of the “pulp” SF magazines last century!

Serendipity – what are, and how we use, wikis

This was a very lively recorded session with lots of audio and text chat interaction and not much on the whiteboard, though we did share some wikis and blogs through AppShare.

Initially we tried to get some clarity on wikis. I remember my own early confusion with wiki and Wikipedia when I first came across wikis and this is potentially even worse now with a multitude of online projects prefixed by the work “wiki” giving a variety of different impressions of what wikis are about.

Discussion then moved on to uses of wikis in a teaching contexts with some sharing of wikis and later blogs by participants to show how they are being used. There was a lot of side discussion ranging across many related topics particularly with reference to blogs. I think that the functional crossovers between wikis and blogs make it almost inevitable that if you discuss one you will also include the other.

A true Serendipity session with lots of serendipitous discovery as well as the chosen topic exploration.

Don’t lose your data!

As always we recorded this session and my personal opinion is that this is a “must” for anyone who has ever lost any data – and that means all of us! Again this session was led by @philhart who gave us fantastic insights into risks to our data and some of the ways to combat these. When Phil is not involved in edu activities he is a computer consultant who works with a variety of personal and business clients often advising on data preservation strategies as well as developing software.

Phil kept us busy throughout the session starting with a few questions to get us thinking about what we understand by the terms “data”, “risk” and “consequence”. We then moved on to consider the possible impacts on ourselves of losing data with consideration of where we keep our data and what risks we ourselves see.

Then Phil moved on to discuss some of the detail of what he sees as the three primary risks to our data: theft, loss and corruption. The risks can’t be eliminated entirely but we can control them to some extent. We need to do what is effectively a cost/benefit analysis where we balance the likely “cost”, not necessarily in material terms, of data loss against the “cost” of backing up.

Phil asked us what we do for our own data security – for most of us the focus was on some degree of backing up to reduce the “loss” element of the risk without much upfront consideration of the other . However it was interesting that when Phil shared his own strategy this was a blend which addressed all three areas of risk much more broadly!

To finish Phil asked us what we might do differently in the light of this session – for most of us this seemed to be a variation on the theme of find out more about what we already have and do more backups!

I found this session incredibly useful – despite living with “a backup obsessive” ie Phil it still opened my eyes to more risks that I need to consider!

Conclusion

Three fantastic sessions! I enjoyed all of these as always. I particularly enjoy sessions where someone else is the main facilitator. If you have something to share please let us know (add a comment to this post, or Tweet us – @JoHart or @philhart) and then join us to facilitate a session about your e-edu passion! If you are not familiar with BlackboardCollaborate we can help you plan how best to do your session so it works for you.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session where we invite you to suggest your “hot” topics for discussion – we then select the topic by poll.  Join us on Thursday September 13th at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning September 14th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Edublogs webinar overview – all about #gtchat

Introduction

This is the overview for our most recent (recorded as always) FineFocus webinar with guest presenter Lisa Conrad (@ljconrad).Lisa gave us a fascinating look at the Twitter (Gifted and Talented) #gtchat from its inception to the current position and on into the future. She also gave us opportunities for and answers to many questions!

The session

Lisa began with an explanation of #gtchat and a poll to find out our awareness of #chats in general on Twitter. Then she talked about the origins and history of #gtchat from its foundation by Deborah Mersino the first moderator, through the transition to Lisa herself as moderator, and also the support from the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented.

Next Lisa gave us a run through on joining Twitter and also: ideas on finding relevant people to follow; suggestions on setting up a Twitter client for #chats; and some explanations of Twitter jargon.

Then came a look at the format of #gtchat

With a look at how topics are determined by Poll. This led into a look at some recent topics, and some recent guests.

Lisa then moved on to the future, starting with upcoming events and then moving into the future with exciting ideas for future developments in other social media to enhance the undoubted value of #gtchat as a professional development opportunity.

This concluded the formal part of the session and we moved on to a great question and answer session where Lisa did a terrific job in responding to many questions.

Conclusion

This was a great session! Lisa gave us a fascinating insight into the “inner workings” of #gtchat and much food for thought and inspiration through the potential future developments that will add another layer of “richness” to #gtchat. Thank you Lisa for such an interesting session!

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday August 16th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday August 17th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic