Studies of Asia – Melbourne, May 2012

Blogs, rich media, embeds, social networking, podcasts, and RSS?

Whatever happened to just “the Internet” and when did “Web 1” pass its use-by date?

This hands on workshop is designed as an engaging and friendly exploration of Web 2.0 technologies to support authentic global learning. You will leave with materials ready to use in class with your students. Discover how easily you can access the latest news and opinions on subjects of your interest, quickly embed compelling videos into your classroom activities and engage students in a culture of critical thinking and self-initiated learning. Web 2.0 puts real, rich and relevant learning experiences right at your fingertips and into the hands of your students.

Participants, welcome! Please go to the Workshop sub-site to begin our activities.

Engaged! EtherPad to Wordle

Real-time Collaborative Brainstorming – What Fun! What Good Learning!

When students have access to computers or personal devices (Netbooks or iPad3+) you can easily create a real-time collaborative writing page that will also generate a word cloud to show the dominant terms students wrote. Here are the steps.

1. Go to PrimaryPad (click on the link or the image below) and then click on the “Create New Pad” button. 2. Copy the URL / WebAddress that is automatically generated for your page.

3. Paste the URL into your Blog post so students can all access the same page.

4. Edit the PrimaryPad page to include any instructions / prompts you want students to respond to.  Then turn off the Authorship Colors so that only students’ writing is colored.

 5. Now you are ready to engage the students in an activity such as this by Year 11 English students who analyzed two scenes from Rebel Without a Cause.  Have students enter their names in the Author Icon so everyone can see who is writing in which color.

6. Once students have completed the writing, you can have them read through it, edit or select the most insightful passages, etc.

7. Now let’s get a snapshot of the group’s thinking by having EtherPad / PrimaryPad create a word cloud including the most used terms. First click on the Timeslider icon. Once the contents of the page reloads, you can run the slider backwards to see how the composition evolved.  It’s cool.  But we want to use the “Import/Export” icon, so click on the two arrows. Next, click on the Wordle export. Depending on your computer’s speed, the browser you’re using and how well Java loads, you should see a word cloud appear in the next screen thanks to the Web site You can click on the Randomize button to change the look of the font, layout and colors. You might want to save the image. If you are comfortable taking and using a screen capture go ahead, but you can also use Wordle’s built-in online gallery to host your word cloud.  Simply click on the Save to Public Gallery button. Go ahead and provide authorship details and description: If you want to include a thumbnail image and link to the full-size image, you can copy the embed code provided at the bottom of the page. Now go back to you own blog post and switch to the HTML view of the Text Editor and paste the embed code. To see what it looks like, just flip back to the Visual Text Editor:

That’s it!  Well done!

Skyping with Christian College Geelong


Here are some links you might find interesting

Sugata Mitra, a professor at Newcastle University and MIT, began his “Hole in a Wall” experiments many years ago. This clip shows the computers placed as “holes in the wall” where children accessed them without any supervision or instruction and then he goes on to describe another experiment where Tamil speaking 12 year old children were challenged to teach themselves biotechnology in English.


  • What’s one significant thing you noticed?
  • What does it make you think about?
  • What does this make you wonder about yourself or the world?

Great work by Participants

The following is a list of the Web sites created over two days by teachers supporting studies of Asia.  We used as the main platform to post Look to Learn activities.  These included embedded YouTube videos and a clever workaround to open shortened versions through direct links to TubeChop.  Thinking prompts encourage students to engage in open inquiry in order to develop a disposition for critical thinking.  The sites also link to Netvibes pages teachers created to enrich the current multimedia resources available to themselves and students.  Finally, we joined Diigo as a way to bookmark, share and collaboratively annotate Web content.  A full two days, but visiting the links below will reveal the great work achieved by all participants.

Lindy Stirling organised this workshop and did a fantastic job rounding-up such a motivated and talented group of educators as well as the location which was perfect for a group this size.

Here is the link for the original workshop posting with all the links and resources.

WebQuests 2.0 Workshop

Welcome to a New View of WebQuests

Let’s start with a brainstorm: What are WebQuests?

My introduction to WebQuests occurred in 1994/95 when Bernie Dodge shared this new format he had been brainstorming for integrating the Web into classroom / online learning.  After several years of being all the rage, many people now treat WebQuests like “old news,” as in, “oh, we did those last century.” I don’t mean to be snotty, but actually, not many people did really do WebQuests in any century.  People who know my BestWebQuests site might be aware that out of 2000 activities reviewed, only about 16% of what called themselves WebQuests actually prompted students to transform newly acquired information into new understandings.  Most were glorified info hunts, solved through skimming Web sites followed by copying and pasting.

Part of the problem is that a WebQuest demands a few areas of experience or expertise.  First,  you have to know your way around the Web well enough to tap into the rich resources and interactive potentials available. Second, you have to really “get” critical thinking.  People do best who have internalized models like Mazano’s Dimensions of Learning, Costa’s Habits of Mind, Perkins et al.’s Visible Thinking or Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design.  It’s not enough to max out at Bloom’s synthesis and evaluation, because we’re really looking at constructing new meaning, accommodating new schema, building new understandings.  The third key area of expertise is the ability to facilitate student-centered group learning – that 3 Ring circus of classroom excitement.

Sample WebQuests

Revisit What are WebQuests?

A Process for the Day

To help “edge-ucators” who already have these backgrounds, let’s look at a new process for quickly drafting what could become a vibrant and fun WebQuest, taking advantage of great Web 2 tools.

A Rich Topic, Concept and Theme

Survey your curriculum for a topic rich enough in complexity to warrant long-term and in-depth study.  Within this topic, there will invariably be at least a few robust concepts to empower student manipulation of important variables.  These concepts will certainly link to broader themes, which when tapped into connect the topic across other equally rich topics.

Topic Concept Theme
Sustainability Sustainability depends on a delicate balance among resources, pollution, population and economics Social Justice, Globalization, scientific innovations
Folktales & Fables Stories that endure across the centuries and cultures provide insights through a rich mix of core human experiences, compelling characterization and powerful emotions The fine arts, folk arts, mythology

360 Perspectives

Once you have a rich topic and some notion of related concepts and themes, take a quick 360 degree survey of who would have vested interests in the topic.  Who cares about the topic?  Who is affected by it?  Who are the “stakeholders?”  List as many of these as you can.  Finally, match up your list to see if you have a balanced list where all sides are represented.  There should be sparks ready to fly between more than a few of the perspectives you’ve listed.  For example, if you have “greenies,” you’d better have developers or manufacturers.

Quick Resource Search

Don’t take more than 30 minutes to make a quick tour of the Web to see if rich resources exist on your topic.  You aren’t gathering a complete hotlist of resources, just making sure things exist to enliven the experience for students.  Consider using your Diigo toolbar and a group or make a list. Be smart, look in TEDTalks, YouTube / iTunes EDU, Diigo groups, RSS feeds and great content providers (Trove, WWF, etc.).

Possible Questions

A WebQuest is guided by a big question – this empowers students to discover their own path through the topic and connect the new learning to what they already know.

Possible Roles

Your 360 Perspectives brainstorm now combines with your quick search to line out what would seem to be the best 3-6 roles to get students deep into the topic.  These will immerse students in areas of expertise that they will use to reshape the gray areas into greater definition and understanding.

Possible Real World Productions / Constructs

Given the topic, the question and the roles, what kinds of things to people make who spend their professional lives caring about the topic?  Do they make formal plans, create artworks, raise awareness, invent solutions?  Choose at least one that makes the most sense for your topic and also sings with some excitement for you and your students.

Possble Real World Feedback

Who could you contact who might be willing and able to provide authentic feedback to students on what they come up with?  These could be parents or older students, but better if they are professionals in the field.  The feedback could be provided in person, but comments through a social network or Skype conference can be just as good.

You’re Ready to Go!

Use the above process to draft together what could become a great WebQuest.  Use your favorite platform like WordPress to develop the WebQuest and tap into all the great Web tools you love to flatten the learning hierarchy so that you can join in on the learning fun and role-model the joy of learning for your students.

Here’s the process as a handout you can work with.

WebQuests 2.0


WebQuests .9 & 1.0