Adrian Bruce's Work to 2005


My Work to 2005
reading gamesmath games
educational resources

In 2005 I received an honourable mention in the 'Global SchoolNet Foundation's Online Shared Learning Award. After being nominated I had to put together a lot of words about my work. This is what I came up with.

Candidate's Personal Narrative

NAME: Adrian Bruce
  1. History
  2. Projects
  3. Collaboration
  4. Learning Requirements
  5. Assessment
  6. Affective and Other Outcomes
  1. Professional Impact
  2. Personal Impact
  3. Promoting your Project
  4. Direct Project Assistance
  5. Empowering Others
  6. GSN's Role

HISTORY (10 points)      TOP

My technology journey has been a huge roller coaster of a ride told in many parts. It is a story of trial and error, success, failure and learning from mistakes. It has been rewarding and frustrating, exhilarating and tedious. It is the story of thinking, 'There has to be a better way!' and 'How can I make the lives of teachers just a little easier?' It is the story of, 'If this technology is not going away how can I learn these skills and still have a life?' It is the story of goal setting, to-do lists, co-learning and exploration, the story of small tentative steps and giant leaps. It has been about building on past experiences, finding solutions, demonstrating what it is to be a life long learner and many, many small achievable steps.

So how did I get to the point in my teaching career where school executive members are asking me to come talk to their staff? Where a university lecturer has recommended me for an International award? And where parents cry when they find out that I'm moving on and their child won't get to be in my class.

Well, how did I get here?

I guess I was always inquisitive about the world outside. Growing up on a dairy farm outside a small country town in Northern New South Wales Australia one couldn't help but dream of the world outside, what it might have to offer as anything had to be better than an isolated farm life.

I remember laying in bed at night as a child with a small ear piece in my ear under the covers exploring the radio spectrum, trying to hear what the world had to say? I remember driving tractors through the night as a teenager and seeing the eerie glowing domes of the streetlights of the three nearby towns rising high into the night above the distant hills and wondering what people were doing.

I remember a neighbour of mine getting a computer when I was a teenager and on the weekends riding my pushbike about 5km across farmland, dragging it under barbed wire fences to get to his house. Once there we tried to keep a DG Z80 running in 38 degrees Celsius heat by pulling the casing off it and running a fan on it rather than on ourselves. We mopped the sweat from our foreheads with our shirts. In hindsight the computer couldn't do very much but people were telling us it was the way of the future even back then. I just couldn't see it.

Even when I was going to University and I was sitting in a lab of Apple 2Es I could not see that the computer was going to have that big an impact on curriculum and pedagogy. Computers seemed to be just another educational fad that would come and go. How wrong can you be?

Once University was finished I took a train to Sydney and took up my first teaching position. It was so weird going from a rural existence to a city of 6 million. The learning curve in all areas of life was very steep indeed.

In the first few years of teaching you learn so much. I was lucky to be thrown into an environment that supported new teachers with a mentor program and that helped me learn the day to day reality of teaching. It also provided ample opportunity for professional growth in regards to curriculum as there was always someone around to talk to and offer assistance.

Now, 15 years later, I've taught across the whole elementary school continuum. I've enjoyed the company and thrill of educating Kinder, Yr2, Yr 3 and 4 as well as grades 5 and 6. I've been challenged by having to teach Gifted and Talented students (G&T) as well as students with special needs. I've taught deaf students and ones with English as a Second Language (ESL). I've tied shoelaces and cleaned up vomit. I've collaborated with classes around the globe and brought cutting edge technology use into the hands of children and educators. I've printed out resources for my grade partner in the room next door and made my resources available to anyone with an Internet connection and a printer in any part of the world. In recent years I've been asked to give lectures and run workshops for teachers and executives in the innovative use of computer technology in the classroom.

But at what point did I go from being a classroom teacher with no real emphasis on ICT to a classroom teacher who uses computer technology so effectively I've been asked to tell the world about it?

I believe the definitive moment came while attending a lecture by Gerry Smith of River Oak fame.
'We are preparing them for their future, not our past,' he projected onto a screen in huge letters using a program that I learned later that day was called Powerpoint. In preparation for this narrative I dug out the notes I took during that session and the above quote is written in capital letters with lots of arrows and doodles around it. It had a great impact in that by the end of the session I was motivated to find out more because this technology was not going away.

Up until that point my classroom computer experience consisted of having my Kinder class huddled around a BBC computer and together we played the adventure game Granny's Garden. Then a couple of years after that my biggest problem was trying to work out a roster so that each student could type up a piece of their writing on a brand new 486 that just landed in my classroom and we were told to use with no inservicing and no real idea about what it could do. So we used it like a typewriter

Gerry showed us examples of digital work done by children that looked very interesting. The work was colourful and had scanned photos in it and the examples were available on the Internet. I knew I had no idea how to produce work like that. He made jokes about software and people in the know around the auditorium had a little chuckle, '…and as you can see little Johnny has discovered Photoshop layers. ' * chuckle, chuckle * It was at this point I realised that I had no idea what Photoshop was, I knew I didn't get the joke (but now I realise that little Johnny had used many, many layers), I had no idea what program you used to view the Internet, how did he get all those images up on the wall? I thought that webpages were the realm of tech heads and nerds, but hey if those ten year old Canadian kids can do it by collaborating with a school in Tasmania then it must be achievable.

In the traffic on the way home my mind was buzzing… if the Internet is like a library then we'll have to teach information skills in this context… if the Internet is like a series of book pages then we'll need to teach people how to contribute pages… if this Internet thing allows international collaboration where can I find out how to get involved and what might I do?

Gerry said that once teachers have the basics of computing under control they can then start putting resources on the Internet for others to use. This last point motivated me immensely. So many times we teachers find ourselves doing the same work that we'd done in previous years or that we know someone else in the school has done. Teachers are constantly reinventing the wheel so I could then see that the Internet might be just one way of cutting down some of the constant repetition.

The next morning in the staffroom my principal, who was at the same lecture, leaned over the table and said, 'I'll get you onto making one of those webpage things for our school.' Oh good I thought, another job to go on top of my teaching load, the endless paperwork and the many out of school time activities. That's just what I need.

Later that day the pragmatism of growing up on a farm kicked in, 'Don't complain, think then act!' I thought. 'How can I do this given that teachers are time poor?! Where am I going to get the time to learn this stuff? I guess I'm just going to have to make the time to learn it.'

That weekend I went out and bought a computer then rang a friend and had him help me set up an Internet account. From that point the first steps of a long technology journey had truly began.

The journey has had several distinct phases, which on reflection ended up being a rather logical progression.

1. Familiarising myself with the Internet to see what is out there.
2. The first tentative steps towards web publishing along with getting the job of school systems administrator because nobody else wanted it.
3. The incorporation of computer technologies into my classroom.
4. Sharing my resources with the world.
5. The first go at a world wide collaborative project.
6. Showing others the strategies I've developed and used to implement ICT into my classroom.

After school during 1998 once my marking was finished, I'd done a little school documentation and then planned for the next day, I'd jump on the computer and use the Internet to learn something new. 'What is all the fuss about this Internet thing?' 'How do you make a webpage?' 'How do you get a webpage on the Internet?' 'How are other people using Internet publishing in their classrooms?' 'What's this button for?' 'How do you get it back to normal now that I pressed that button?' : )

The blue glow of the computer screen in a dark office is one of the major memories my wife has of that time but we both believe it was time well spent. I tried to keep it to half an hour of learning, but given the nature of the web, half an hour often turned into a couple of hours trying to solve one problem or just following links to see where you'd end up. This initial learning was a lot of very small steps.

Towards the end of that year I decided to visit my sister who had married a Canadian and lived about 5 hours from the Gerry Smith's River Oak school. I organised a visit and Gerry took me on a personal tour of the school. It was pretty amazing and he answered heaps of the questions that I had. I could see that there were a few problems with their model but in the end the visit was an inspiration.

Back in Australia I was taking my first steps towards integrating the Internet into my classroom, I organised an Internet computer for my room and my grade partner's. Together we had the children involved in web quests, information skills & research. I know I was basically using it as an electronic book but this type of information literacy is of great use in a world of rapid change.

My grade partner and I were blown away by the power the Internet gave us over and above the books in the library. Having all the great artists' work at your fingertips, being able to ask a scientist a question using email, being able to find a picture of a three toed sloth at the point of need , being able to take a photo of a spider that is living in the room scan it and email it to an entomologist to see if it is dangerous. Possible new uses for the technology were popping up daily and we were testing it all out.

This was just the beginning.


PROJECTS (10 points):    TOP

The next challenge for me was to introduce the technology to children of actually creating content for the web. My first ever web project stemmed from having a nice collection of teaching resources and ideas associated with teaching the maths concept of symmetry stuck away in various folders. I had accumulated these ideas over the years of teaching and they were all scribbled down on loose pieces of paper and each year when I wanted these resources I had to hunt them down from in amongst all my other loose pieces of paper : ) So instead of complaining I set about to add all this content to a website so anyone could access the resources.

I assigned each group of three students in my class one aspect of symmetry and after a small amount of research we got together and did a series of design sketches for what each new page would look like. The children then constructed their pages using an early version of Netscape Composer and a set of procedures that I had typed up on how to use the program. Once all the pages had been peer reviewed I conferenced them with each group and then took all the pages home on floppy disks and worked out how to link them together.

The project turned out to be a huge job and I did spend a bit too much time on it, but by using a computer in my room, a computer in my grade partner's room and a little creative timetabling I had become a worldwide educator and my children had become authors on the world stage. We were very proud of what we had produced and the time we spent upskilling ourselves gave us the skills to continue on our technology journey . NB this is a later iteration of the site but all the original content is there.

To publicise the site the children had to bring in 5 e-mail addresses of friends, relatives and anyone that we thought might be interested in what we had produced. We emailed them and asked them to have a look at the site and review it for us.

Suddenly the emails began to roll in from all over the world. The children and I were chuffed to say the least at the amount of positive feedback we received. Next, one of the students asked about adding a counter to the page. So after a few more web searches and a bit of tinkering I added a counter and it began to click over faster than we had anticipated.

As part of being caught up in the moment we would leave the page open all day just to see how many people were looking at our work. Then for a bit of fun one of the class dads showed us how to add a wav file to signal when an e-mail arrived. It was novel to begin with as Homer would call out, 'The mail is here! The mail is here!' or Monty Python's ' Message for you sir' would ring out across the room. Eventually so many emails were arriving throughout the day we had to turn it off as it was too distracting. In the end we would print out the messages at lunch time pin them to a big map on the wall that showed where the messages had come from. The children would then bring their parents and children from other classes into our room to show them the feedback. The project produced a nice buzz around the school.

As this first little adventure into web publishing became more and more popular I found myself involved in my first collaborative project as a bonus. Teachers began sending me excellent ideas for content and activities to add to the site. One New Zealand teacher even sent me her Powerpoint presentation based on the site with the suggestion that I add it to the site for others to download. In January 2005 it was downloaded 1277 times. That has to be a huge time saver for teachers.

The following year when it came time to teach symmetry to my next class of Yr 6, they already knew about the project and wanted to be involved in the creation of more content. So I did the project again but in this iteration I became a lot more focused and I had refined the process a great deal. As a result we added a heap more subject matter with the new children. I also was adding to my own learning by exploring new software and adding little 'tricky' bits such as java applets, a quiz and some interactive Flash objects that demonstrated the concepts of line symmetry and rotational symmetry. These days I still get e-mail associated with the project and one of the most common comments is that, 'This site is so much more engaging than a text book'. What a compliment.

Other emails fall into a couple of themes:
· ideas to add - 'Why don't you do something on teeth?' and 'Can you make a shape with 3 lines of symmetry and only uses 6 lines?'
· Stories about the tears involved in doing homework…
'I've told you Mum, I just don't get it !'
'I can't help you dear, I've got no idea what rotational symmetry is.'
'Adrian, you are a God send, you've helped out my daughter and I've even learnt a little something myself'
· here is my child's homework, can you complete it and e-mail it back. Yeah sure : (

Here are a couple of actual emails received in the last month or so…
This was just an awesome trip all the way around! I kept finding more and more things that I can and will use in my classroom for many days to come! I teach remedial math to 7th and 8th grade students and they thrive (and come alive) when we get to use the computers and the interactive smart board we have in the classroom. Of course, as a new teacher, I am excited to find your site because I am being observed by my mentoring teacher tomorrow and needed something that would make even him say "Cool!" Thanks for helping me do that with this awesome site!
Annamarie Arkansas, USA

The work on symmetry was a life saver! Have struggled to inspire my class after the usual run of activities were exhausted and they were unsure. Look at the ideas in your site and we have had a great investigation about symmetry in nature, architecture, technology etc. Really wonderful. Thank you very much.
Amy Aberdeen, Scotland

The site has had over 300 000 visitors that I know about as many school networks block the counter script and even if the site didn't help half of the visitors that have checked out the site, 150 000 people looking at a Grade 6 children's work is pretty impressive.

On reflecting on my first project I think this is where I came to see the power the Internet could deliver to teachers and this excited me. It is probably the reason why I continued developing my knowledge of web based technologies and how to use them in the classroom.

The Internet has made it possible for a teacher with an informed knowledge of curriculum and a relatively small level of ICT experience to produce resources for teachers around the world to use. These resources are instantly accessible to beginning teachers that need some activities to impress their supervisors, experienced teachers who are a little tired of their normal activities, parents who are trying to help their kids with homework, adult educators trying to get their students to pass their exams, and university lecturers who wish demonstrate to pre-service teachers that if kids can make content like this, then so can they.

By the time I was a few years into this webpage escapade, the school site was getting bigger and was being used as a model for what other schools could achieve. I was running tutorial groups to help the other teachers on staff integrate web publishing into their programs at lunch times and after school, I was being asked to come and in-service staffs in other schools in the district and I was also asked to be a member of a team that was looking at the future direction of computer education across the educational region.

Then came the big one, at the end of 2000 I was asked to give my first full on lecture to a large group of my peers at, 'The New South Wales Schools Conference on Classroom Technology - An Essential Guide for the K-12 Connected School'. I had to lead the session entitled, 'Webmaster Skills - Quick Reference to Creating and Managing a Great School Website'. I was so nervous I couldn't eat lunch, but as the first Powerpoint slides began to flow ( hey, 3 years on and I'm doing for other teachers what Gerry Smith did for me - inspiring them) and once lunch settled, people began to sit up, take a few notes and take notice. After the presentation lots of people came up to chat and ask questions. One guy walked straight up to me shook may hand and in true Australian style said really loudly, 'Adrian, that was f***ing inspirational!'. It was then that I knew I'd done well : )

After that presentation I went to ground for a little. My wife and I had started a family, quit our jobs, left Sydney and moved about a thousand kilometres north and started afresh. I did a lot of casual work in schools around the area and began to get a bit of a reputation for being 'the guy who knows his stuff and is good with computers'. I started building websites for schools in the area as a way of getting known and then helping inservice their teachers.

NB this last URL is a Distance Education Centre and as well as refining the site I trained some of the key personnel in how to have their students contribute content from their remote locations.

At the same time as putting together these sites I started my own site. This started out as a place to showcase my own photography as I wasn't sure what work I was going to get when we moved. I was covering all bases. The site then began to grow into a place to store teaching resources.

Also during this year I began to do my bit for making teachers' lives a little easier by sharing some of my resources online. As a casual teacher you develop a repertoire of 'activities that work', activities that teachers ask about and that students 'pester' their classroom teacher to do. After a while I realised that these games were pretty useless sitting on my hard drive. I realised that these activities had been tested out in so many classrooms settings, with so many children that the idea for my maths resources page was born.

On this site people can find games for reinforcing 2D and 3D shape names and properties, games to aid in learning multiplication tables and games to help with understanding decimals. Between 60 and 400 people visit the site each day and many of them take away more than one game.

Thanks for the inspiration ! I am currently a student (although a slightly mature one !) and on my last seven weeks of teacher training - I'm sure my Year 3 class will love this !!!. I will be forwarding your web address to all those suffering students on my course !!!
Rachel UK

By Term 4 of my 'casual year' I was asked to do a permanent 3 days a week as an STLD ( Support Teacher Learning Difficulties ) working with students who had a lot of difficulty reading. One of the activities we did was to do word searches for particular sounds they were having difficulty with eg 'ight' or 'ch' and then when we had collection of words we'd go off to a computer and put together a poster with clip art to illustrate the words. We then printed out copies for the STLD classroom, a copy for each child and a copy for their home room. I then added these to my website. Each poster only gets about 150 downloads a month at the moment but each download has a story…

There is a teacher in Japan who walks from class to class teaching English carrying my posters in a folder under her arm. She pulls out the posters at the point of need. I've received emails from parents saying that the posters are stuck on toilet and bedroom doors, fridges and notice boards all around the world.

The process of making these posters was by far the most powerful part of the learning activity for the students but not everyone has the skills or time needed to make these posters. So given that the job has been done once and done rather well, I've put the resources on the web so others can choose to use the posters if they need them.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, I am setting my room up and wanting something different for the displays. You have saved me hours of work.
Gayle Victoria, Australia

Thank you so much for your obvious dedication to teaching and your students. Your posters are great and have inspired me to make more for other sounds. Thanks again from Canada! Australians are miles ahead in the education game!
Kim Canada

Given that this poster work was done over 4 years ago, it is nice to see it still being of value this far down the track.

Now we come to the most popular of my sites and the one that I probably gain the most satisfaction from. My reading games site.

Coupled with the maths site, this site gave away 44 000 printable games in January 2005 and almost a quarter of a million games throughout 2004. I'm constantly blown away by what people have to say about them. Here are a few of the emails I received during January.

We have just started with these games, but how glad I am that you have taken the time and effort to post them on your site, I have five children, two of whom I home educate, I also child mind (daycare) and work in the evenings - it's a mega busy week every week, so to find something like this is wonderful. Thank you again.
Berni UK

I only make about $200 or less per month. Gas is $1.90 and higher per gallon here and my job requires a lot of driving. So you can see my problem. I really do appreciate this site. I want to get my daughter the best, but I just didn't have the money.
Lynette USA

The reading games site arose out of the time I spent working as an STLD.

I've always been fond of teaching the SCAMPER process and one day I realised that often as teachers we teach processes but in our lives we don't tend to use them. So I began thinking about games that I've seen children enjoy and how I could Substitute, Combine, Adapt or Modify existing games in order to foster reading skills. The first games created evolved from student needs. I needed the games in my class to engage some of the reluctant learners and at the same time teach specific skills that they were lacking. Once the games were made, taught and played, the children could take home the URL and print them out and play them with their siblings or parents.

This project has also became collaborative by default. There is a reading teacher in Northern Ireland who has started sending me new games that he has made or games that he has modified from my site. I then build a webpage for the new game and load it all onto the my site when I get a spare couple of hours.

The games exist as Word files so that if users want to they can adapt the games to suite the needs of their learners. The games are available as Acrobat files as well so that people without access to Word can download them. This site is an ongoing project that I update when I can.

In 2001 I landed a full time job in Byron Bay (Australia's most easterly point) and in this environment I was given permission to excel. The school was a parent run community school and after the panel interview one of the Management Team members approached me and said, "Adrian, whatever way out teaching idea you have, feel free to go with it, we'll back you."
Wow I thought, but I've been teaching the syllabuses for so long, what am I going to do? Eventually the integration of webpage design and construction evolved in the classroom into an excellent way to showcase the great work the class was doing.

The site gave the children a real audience. About 600 people a week are currently coming through the site and many send emails about the quality of the work they see.

In February 2005 the site was named 'School Site of the Week' by

Each term I set technology goals for myself. Often it will be one application or one new strategy. It is always something I see as being achievable. One term I tried my hand at a Bookrap. Whilst I was a little disappointed at the level of questioning in this project we made a great contact with a real author. I still keep in contact with her and talk about writing with and for children. She has also offered advice on some of our writing. Here are some of the questions my children sent her and received answers for.

As Term 4 of 2003 came around, I finally felt that I had the skills, processes and confidence to take on my first full on online collaborative endeavour. I read about a few projects and eventually signed up for the Global Virtual classroom project. This project is run by a group known as 'Giving Back to the Internet' . They run an online competition where schools from different continents are teamed up and required to produce a collaborative website on any topic they desire. I really connected with the idea of giving back to the Net.

On signing up I listed my areas of interest as Art and Science and was teamed up with Cindy and her class in Valencia Spain and Carol and her class in Gulfport Mississippi USA. None of us had ever worked on a collaborative project of this nature before but together we supported each other and set out on an adventure. Our learning curves were very, very steep and together we produced the grand prize winning entry, 'The Science Wow Factory"


COLLABORATION (10 points):    TOP

E-mail was the workhorse of the project. Right from the beginning the messages began to fly. We started with a getting to know you phase. We teachers sent each other e-mails about who we were, what we taught, or strengths and our weaknesses, our interests and our families. We also agreed that we would be working with computers so a lot of things could go wrong and we'd be patient and help each other out.

For our first activity we had the children type up biographies of themselves in Word and insert a digital photo. We attached these files to e-mails and sent them to each other, printed them out and made wall displays out of them. The kids loved it and it was a very effective introductory activity. But right from the beginning we had learning to do.
'Mate, look how long it is taking to download these messages!'
'So how do you make the graphics small enough to e-mail?'
A quick procedure was typed up on how to optimise graphics and e-mailed and then all was well. Instantly a problem was identified, a solution found and the children then had a new skill which was taught in a real context. We made sure the children saw their teachers as co-learners and life long learners in this project.

Eventually we decided to add the procedures we made to the website so that anyone who wanted to could access our solutions ie another teacher would not have to solve this problem, they could just access our solution.

The graphics program we used was PhotoPlus and the main benefit of this is that it is free for the children to download at home.

Next we signed all the children into Nicenet. This is a secure collaborative environment where the children could message each other and have their say on questions that we posted on a notice board like setup. By the end of the project we felt that e-mail was much more effective as the children would log into Nicenet infrequently and then were disappointed when they found no messages. Next time we do a project like this we thought we'd sign them up in small groups and set tasks that had to be responded to within say seven days to raise the level of collaboration.

We also used 'snail mail' to send each other packages filled with paraphernalia from our home towns overseas. The Australian package included some of our milk chocolate, Vegemite, a Dr Karl Science book, some tourist information about our town and our 'Travel Buddies', a toy kookaburra and butcher bird.

The Americans and Spanish organised similar packages for us. Carol's class sent us a toy racoon that we named Rocky and he still writes home every couple of weeks even though the project is over. My current class are organising a roster so that one child can take him home each week. We found that Travel Buddies are a very effective way of engaging the students in learning about other cultures as it makes it a little more fun, a little more immediate and real.

Whilst the 'Getting to know you' phase was happening the teachers were negotiating what the heart of the project was going to be. We didn't simply want cultural understanding, we felt that this could happen as a by-product of the project. We wanted to give back to the Internet. Eventually, after many e-mails we decided that we would give of our passion for science experiments and demonstrations. We decided to take some of our favourite science activities and make them into Readers' Theatre scripts that would allow people to download them and use them for their own purposes.

The creation of the scripts was by far the most time consuming part of the project. We tried various ways of generating the plays but in the end I found that taking a guided writing approach in small groups was the most efficient and allowed us to capitalise on the many teachable moments that were presented.

During the script writing sessions we bounced ideas around a small table and I scribed. As we generated ideas I thought aloud as a writer, asking questions like, 'Will the audience understand what we mean here if…?' ' How can we make this clearer?' 'Maybe we should do this bit first and then this because... what do you think?' The children then took the scripts away and performed them or read them onto cassette tape. They then noted any problems or suggestions for further improvement for the next time we worked on that script.

Once the scripts reached a workable first draft stage we typed them up on in Word and e-mailed them off to our partner classes as an attachment. We then waited patiently for their feedback. Any suggested changes were typed in a different colour and e-mailed back for the authors to consider. The e-mailing of scripts created a noticeable level of anticipation and excitement amongst the children. They would come in each morning to check the e-mail to see if any new scripts had arrived or to see what the other classes thought of their efforts.

Check out 'The Floating Teabag' for a taste of what we produced.

By creating these scripts Carol, Cindy and I envisaged that teachers and students could download them and use them in a variety of ways. They could be used to put on a Science Show either as an assembly item or maybe even during Science Week. Classroom teachers could use them in Guided Reading and casual teachers could add them to their 'lessons that work folder'. Science teachers could use them as models or springboards to writing their own scripts.

NB The scripts are definitely not intended to be ends in themselves, we intended them to be used as platforms for further investigation, experimentation and discussion.

The other teachers and I really worked on extending our comfort zones during this project. None of us had used chatting environments before and we thought that it would be a good activity to try. I did the research into software and online resources by posting a message of request to a superb newsgroup that I belong to here in Australia, Oz Teachers.
This a place where Australian and International educators with an interest in computer technology in the classroom hang out and offer each other advice. I have learnt so much from the group over the last few years. From this group one of the member recommended Tapped In.

Tapped In is a secure online environment that allows real time online 'chatting' and then sends you a transcript of the session once it is over. Carol and I had a bit of a play with the interface and then organised a chatting session between the children. The Americans stayed back after school and my guys came in a little early for the hook up. The children enjoyed this part of the project immensely as we simply allowed them to chat.

As teachers we were quite happy that we had organised a chat and managed to pull it off with very little hassle. We had learnt a new technology, incorporated it into our teaching repertoire, organised a meeting across different time zones and the kids had learnt a little something about each other. We then reflected on how to make the next session better.

Later in the project we organised another chat and this time I moderated it after I posted to Oz Teachers and asked for some advice. You can see my original post in the archive here So after a bit of thought and discussion we split the kids into 4 smaller groups and then rotated through the chat as a literacy centre station in half hour rotations. I then broke the session done into three ten minute sections - ten minutes of questions about Australia, ten minutes on questions about Mississippi and then ten minutes on 'Kids' Stuff'. Educationally we found this much more satisfying way to organise the chat but it still allowed us to harness the enthusiasm towards the relatively new technology.

Here are a few of the questions we used in order to make the chat more effective:

* If we were to visit your town what would be the 5 things you would take us to see? Why?

* If we were to visit your country what would be the 5 things you would show us? Why?

* If we stepped outside your school, what are the first 3 native animals we are likely to see?

* What are the best features of where you live?

* Who were the last 3 Australians you saw on TV?

* What areas of Australia would you like to visit? Why?

* If our class were to research one part a part of American history, what do you think you would recommend as being the most interesting?

Using the Internet to Access Experts in their Field

We also organised a Tapped In session with an Association of Independent Schools Science Consultant. We e-mailed her some of our draft scripts about a week before the chat to give her plenty of time to think and make comments. Then during group work she was at her desk in the Central Business District of Sydney, Carol was at her home in Gulfport and my students were at the classroom computers in Byron Bay and together quite a fruitful discussion was had. Part of the transcript of this chat is available on the website.

Ahh, the power of this medium that it allows real time access to experts in their field for next to no cost. NB the computers I was using during this project were ex-business machines that we picked up for a couple of hundred Australian dollars each and had a parent network for us.

We also used e-mail to send some of the scripts off to University lecturers and professors to see what they thought. Their feedback was positive, constructive and very useful. Some of their responses are also in the website.

Once the scripts had been around the world several times and all the refinements were made we set about organising the creation of graphics and the making of the webpages. We wanted to give the site a 'kid friendly' feel, the problem was that we really didn't know how to do it. We experimented with several methods of graphics creation and in the end settled on hand drawn cartoon illustrations. We experimented with ways to optimise the graphics and in the end put together another procedure that we all used and it is also available on the site.

Once the graphics were under control it was time to get the web pages happening. I modified some of the Mozilla procedures that I had been using to make my Starfish class website and put them on the website as well. The children then collaborated with groups in the other countries and made all the content pages and the teachers linked all the pages together with a couple of hours to spare before the competition deadline.

When our team was short listed to the final few entrants the kids were very excited and I must admit I was too. When it was announced that we won I was so pleased that the judges had chosen our work as being worthy of a prize. The kids were absolutely over the moon, but in the end it was the co-learning process that we all went through that was of value, the prize was a bonus.

Cindy, Carol, about 70 children around the world and I explored and co-learnt lots of technologies and teaching ideas that were new to us - online chatting, notice boards, graphics programs, web creation programs, ftp and e-mail We experimented with lots of organisational strategies in order to find the ones that worked best for us.

I remember reading somewhere that, 'There are no gurus in the area of integrating technology into the classroom, just us.' And the 'us' worked well together to motivate and extend each other. Also, by engaging in the processes that we did we taught children, made resources available for all and demonstrated life long learning as well as adding skills to our personal 'teaching toolbox'.

So to the Management Team guy who gave me permission to try new things, I have to say thank you. As that opportunity to explore allowed me to develop processes that enabled the seamless integration of web design and world-wide collaboration into the primary classroom. The experiment has been so successful that I have been flown to Sydney 3 times by the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) to lecture at their conferences. My Powerpoint presentations from these state wide conferences can be found on the AIS Professional Development Website Resources / Conference materials and look for references to Adrian Bruce.



The Symmetry Around the World Project - this project was about acquiring math concepts in a real context. The children discussed, argued, clarified, explained ideas relating to symmetry. As a result of this they came away with a very real understanding of the math outcomes required by our maths syllabus document . Now, several years later this project is supporting the learning of many children in the Australian educational system as well as others around the world come to an understanding of symmetry in the world around them. Check out how many.

Upon looking at the ISTE Technology Standards for Students I feel that this project covered points 1, 3, 4 and definitely 5 and 9 simply by the nature of having the children participate in web page construction.

The Maths Games Site - The games available on this site relate directly to the New South Wales Math Syllabus Content and Outcomes.

They aid children in formulating an understanding of 2D and 3D shapes, decimals and multiplication. They enhance the curriculum in that they make the learning of these fact just a little more fun.

The Reading Games Site - These games relate directly to the acquisition of literacy. They cover the basic building blocks of phonics and enhance the curriculum by making the learning engaging and fun. They also enable the great deal of repetition that many special needs students need in a way that is not so dull. They can also be modified so they can better match the needs of the learner.

The Starfish Site - Byron Community School embraced collaborative group work. This site was created by having the children work in small groups to create online content. The pages found on this site relate directly to New South Wales syllabus requirements in many ways. The poetry pages address the different forms of poetry and give a real audience to the children's attempts at the acquisition of figurative language. The Art pages showcase the children's experimentations with different media and processes as well as developing positive values and attitudes towards Art. The Writing area looks at different ways of publishing children's writing as well as giving an audience to a variety of text types. The Music section brought to the attention of the community the fact that children can create electronic music. The creation of this music using computer technology takes the 'organising sounds' section of the curriculum to a level not previously available to primary school aged children.

In the end each of the sections on this page are published extensions of the Key Learning Areas dealt with in the day to day running of a Yr 3 / 4 classroom.

My own site there are ties to most of the NSW Key Learning Areas.

I get the opportunity to talk to a lot of teachers about my work these days and they feel that this site enhances curriculum by providing others with a model of what it is possible to achieve with children. e.g. I was talking to an Assistant Principal a couple of weeks back who says he used a data projector to present the 'White' poem as an example of a catalogue poem and then deconstructed it with his class and after that had the children create their own poem using my class' work as a model. So not only is the work of value to my immediate class it is of value to others in the teaching profession. It is a form of collaboration that is teacher to teacher sharing.

The obvious ISTE Technology Standards for Students that relate to this project are - 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 & 10.

The Science Wow Factory - This project had so many links to curriculum.

English - it provided a real context for: formal and informal communication, interaction with pairs and groups in the classroom and across the world, script writing, drafting, editing, proof-reading, typing, publishing, talking, listening, discussing, arguing, oral reading, performance, spelling, grammar and consideration of audience.

Science - Within the scripts we built in opportunities for curiosity, exploration, questioning, prediction, hypothesis, testing, analysis, explanation and in some cases recording. The plays afforded us the opportunity to discuss with the students the metacognition behind how we learn new science concepts. I phrased it as, "You need to state or draw what you think so you can know what you know''. We then discussed how teachers often add another idea for consideration to challenge you and help you change your thinking in order to come to a more scientific understanding of a concept.

Human Society and Its Environment - by sending our travel buddy we met the NSW outcome of 'Describes places in the local area and other parts of Australia and explains their significance'. By having the students through the soft toy's voice explain places of significance to the children overseas. The overseas children also explained elements of their culture e.g. Mardi Gras and Fallera.

Art - The children and I experimented with cartooning during this project. We used a scanner to convert the drawings to digital form and then used software to colour & enhance images. We experimented with different processes as well as experimenting with digital photography. This covered the syllabus requirement that the children investigate image creation using computer technology.

During the project we also explored a couple of pieces of software that we thought might be of use but eventually discarded as we couldn't achieve our desired results. This too was a valuable process. The enhancement in this case comes from having the children see that Art can be a process of trial and error, it doesn't have to be everybody painting the same picture.

My other thought on curriculum enhancement in regard to Art is I wonder what will be the long term effect on creativity of exposing children to these technologies and processes so young? I feel that given their level of engagement with the medium they will continue to develop their experimentation and creativity.

In the case of the Science Wow Factory the technology standards addressed are:
5 Use technology tools (e.g., multimedia authoring, presentation, Web tools, digital cameras, scanners) for individual and collaborative writing, communication, and publishing activities to create knowledge products for audiences inside and outside the classroom. (3, 4)

6 Use telecommunications efficiently to access remote information, communicate with others in support of direct and independent learning, and pursue personal interests. (4)

7 Use telecommunications and online resources (e.g., e-mail, online discussions, Web environments) to participate in collaborative problem-solving activities for the purpose of developing solutions or products for audiences inside and outside the classroom. (4, 5)


ASSESSMENT (10 points):    TOP

The Science Wow Factory started out as being a means for me to put my toe into the water in relation to collaborative online learning. It ended up being an experience that exceeded all my expectations. The project grew from a simple idea into a project that had major focuses rooted in the Key Learning Areas, world-wide collaboration, group skills and the use of computer technology in an educational setting. Essentially I became involved in the project because I wanted to upskill myself, the children and those in my school community in regards to online learning possibilities. I also wanted to generate excitement towards the possibilities of this relatively new and evolving pedagogy. And since I did all that and more I deem the learning outcomes achieved.

As a more formal assessment, the major webpage construction task was presented as a design brief. When working with design briefs the evaluation is inbuilt into the task. Here is the brief for the webpages that had to be made for the Science Wow Factory. Brief for Global Virtual Classroom Project 32.doc

As you can see, the brief says, 'You must include…' so therefore the children can self evaluate by asking the question, 'Have we…?' and if the answer is yes to each of the stipulations then they have completed the task successfully.

When the students felt that they had completed the task I would have a discussion with them to gauge their levels of understanding in relation to webpage creation and offer advice on improving the page.

As the deadline grew closer and a few tensions began to arise, my Learning Support teacher and I implemented a peer assessment questionnaire to gain an insight into the workings of the groups within the class. This gave us valuable information on group processes that had to be specifically modelled in order to help the children achieve their goals.

Much of the assessment in my room during this project took the form of anecdotal records. Noting what was done well and what could be improved upon in relation to group work, writing process and the use of technology. There was a great deal of class discussion along the same lines, What is working? What isn't? How can we change it? That is to say constant reflection enabled me to teach the children and myself at what the constructivists call, 'the point of optimal learning'.

Feedback came from experts in their field that indicated a job well done. The Science consultant for our school system Debra Talbot commented favourable on the knowledge, skills and attitudes that the children had acquired during the course of the project. Dr Karl, one of Australia's leading science educators, placed a link from his site to ours for a couple of months after the competition.

Rosemary Hafner, a member of the NSW Board of Studies, personally asked me to write an article for one to their official publications about the nature of the project. This article is on the editor's desk and is yet to be published.

Many of the parents would stand outside my door before school and at home time and say just how enthused the children were towards the project. This too was an indication that learning outcomes were being met. The parents would talk of their child's new found love and excitement for science and how they wanted to come to school to see if their overseas friends had e-mailed them anything new. I feel that this is an indication that the project generated positive values and attitudes towards this type of learning.

At the conclusion of the project we received many e-mails of support and praise for our work. I was asked to lecture on the project and have since written a journal article for the Australian science teaching journal - Investigating. This article is also currently under consideration and is yet to be published.

Oh, and I nearly forgot, we also won first prize in the Primary section of the Global Virtual Classroom Project competition which I feel is a pretty good indication that the criteria for the website had been met.

After the winners of the competition were announced our culminating activity was a Tapped In chat with the Americans. (Poor Cindy could never participate because of the lack of support from the powers that be in her school and her systems administrator).

The evening/morning chat was a standing room only affair for the Americans. There were parents, executive, guests from the local school board and excited children. All these people braved a tornado warning to see the chat projected onto a large screen in real time. Later in the night a news crew arrived to interview Carol and film the event for the late news. The chat was a great success and was an excellent way to get a different perspective on the learning objectives.

Here in Australia we also received media attention. NB The photographer took a little liberty with Photoshop as our machines would never have been able to run video conferencing hook-up of that quality. : )

The last piece of work associated with this project was that we had the children do a reflective piece of writing on the whole project. The best bits, the worst bits, the most exciting, the most boring, the value of it as a learning opportunity etc. The last question they had to answer was, 'If you had the opportunity to enter next year's competition, would you want to do it?' Every child answered with an emphatic YES!  


On arriving back to class after lunch duty one day I found a small piece of paper left rolled up on my desk was a note from the kids. On the note was written, 'Thank you for bestowing wisdom and intelligence upon us' and it was signed by every member of the Yr 3 / 4 class. Mind you, it did have a second line, 'We hope this note gets us good grades.' : ) This note was pretty typical of the feedback I received from the children, parents and other educators who had anything to do with my room.

'Thank you so much for the great work you are doing with the children Adrian, not just academically, I've noticed a huge change in my child's attitude to learning in the time they have been in your class'. - class mum

Given that the children had experienced very little science in the lower grades, their attitudes and values to the discipline increased immensely during the course of the Wow Factory Project. Once the project was completed, if we went a week without a science lesson they would be asking when we were going to have it and when were we going to make up the one we missed. I noticed that their hypotheses went from being myth based to ones rooted firmly in cause and effect. They developed a love of science and finding out more. Given the chance, their reading material of choice was the children's science magazine The Helix. and once we won some prizes from this magazine for our Martian postcards they wanted to read it more.

The Science Wow Factory project brought the realm of science into their everyday lives. When asked to name the groups they were working in for a particular task one group decided to call itself the Nanotechnicians. There is a poem on the Starfish website that is a response to chaos theory that the girl wrote because she wanted to. It wasn't homework, she just wanted to write about it.

From the Christmas cards and parting gifts I received as I left the Byron Community School at the end of 2004 there were many messages of thanks from parents. Some addressed their child's new-found love of science, reading, poetry, art, problem solving, etc. Others thanked me for the opportunities given to their children by working collaboratively with children on the other side of our planet. Other parents talked of the carry over from classroom life to home where the children were looking to find out how things worked, asking the big questions and wanting to read more and more. As well as this they were experimenting with technology on their own. Some had made digital movies, some were developing their own websites and others were using credible sites with their parents to find their own overseas buddies.

Whilst the kids still wanted to play games on the Internet any chance they could get, after the projects they now have an idea that the Net can be so much more. A place to learn, communicate, collaborate, research, chat and contribute. They learnt appropriate netiquette and that the world is a much smaller place with experts at their fingertips, the ability to gain direct insight into how others lived - not just the clichés as presented on TV. The project also gave their learning a real context and in the end they had produced a body of work that can be used by others. The Internet is a place to share and give back, not just an amorphous mass to consume.

Upon talking with Cindy and Carol they found that the project had a similar effect on the children in their classes.

As far as the influence of the reading and maths games' sites, I receive a great deal of e-mail that speak of the games 'switching children on' to learning to read.

A+ site. The best yet. I am a 4th grade teacher with students of mixed
ability and they love the games. I'm seeing improvements in reading
already. Please keep this site going! I have already shared this site with other
colleagues. Thanks Adrian!!
Delores Bahamas

I often share some of these e-mails with the children in my class as a way of demonstrating that we live in a global community where those with the knowledge and expertise can help those in need. A really valuable lesson in a me centred consumer culture.  


The opportunity to lead a project such as the Science Wow Factory was a remarkable learning experience for me. The planning, the negotiating, the staying calm in the face of obstacles, researching software and online environments, experimenting, failing, modifying in the face of need, making mistakes, learning from mistakes and in the end succeeding was remarkable.

Through the Science project I was given the opportunity to learn from the other teachers in the team and they from me. Together we all grew in our knowledge of pedagogy, collaborative learning, software, online environments, organisational skills and negotiation.

The project placed liked minded individuals side by side and gave us the opportunity to share ideas, lessons, learnings and grow professionally (an opportunity that we did not have had a chance to pursue in our individual schools).

The project also gave me the opportunity to explore and refine the notion of co-learning as part of my teaching repertoire. It has become a strategy that has become a favourite of mine and the professor who recommended me for this award wants to 'showcase it to the world' just as soon as I settle into my new school.

The ladies and I have continued our professional contact. At the moment our travel buddies are 'doing the rounds' of the students in our classes. We occasionally share work and chat about school stuff. One day we hope to work together again on a BIG project.

As an emphasis in my room I feel that I'm faced with the challenge of teaching children how to use technology that doesn't exist yet. So it is in this context that I now focus on 'transfer learning' i.e. being able to transfer the learning from one application to another. I am constantly demonstrating being a lifelong learner as I have to adapt to constantly changing software in order to stay fresh.

It has been great contributing resources to the Net. It is so good to hear that people appreciate your resources and I believe I will continue to work in a collaborative way as it is such a powerful medium for producing quality resources.

By having taught myself web skills I feel that I have become a part of an educational community not just as a classroom teacher with one group of students but as a teacher on a world stage. It is exciting. As a result of this I've found that I put extra effort into constructing a resource because the world is looking on.

As a direct result of working with my partners I was asked to give another lecture in Sydney entitled, 'Thinking, engaging, connecting - One Teacher's Classroom'. After that presentation the consultant hosting the auditorium came up to me and said, 'Adrian that was inspiring! The obvious next step for you in consulting. When will you be starting?'

On hearing that, and thinking about it long and hard, I have decided to take my professional involvement and emphasis one step further. I'm going to start working with teachers one day a week to help them integrate ICT meaningfully into their classrooms. It is a big step moving out of the classroom but I know that people want to hear what I've been working on and receive strategies for effective implementation of ICT into their classrooms.


PERSONAL IMPACT (10 points):    TOP

When one gets 15 years into a teaching career it would be easy to sit back and go with the knowledge gained in that time, but technology in classrooms beckons. The possibilities are exciting. Technology gives teachers the chance to explore so many things. It can reinvigorate you passion for teaching.

Online collaborative learning has contributed greatly to my sense of community. Whether it be helping out other teachers acquire technological literacy via Oz Teachers or giving away reading games to teachers in the Sudan, it is very rewarding on a personal level.

The Internet offers so many opportunities to collaborate. It has meant that working in a remote location where professional development is hard to access, is not such an issue anymore. Especially in a country as big and sparse as Australia where the tyranny of distance makes attending inservicing in major cities expensive and time consuming. Online learning means that I can help out teachers in the Northern Territory who are using the Starfish website as a model for their own with a couple of keystrokes and a few clicks of a mouse.

I love the way that the Internet can hook people together with similar interests so they can learn from each other on so many levels. It means that teaching can be more fulfilling as you can engage in discourse, send each other articles and sites of interest as we try stay at the forefront of uses of technology in the classroom. Or give a first year out male teacher who has survived his course on a diet of beer and 2 minute noodles a recipe to impress the rest of his staff the first time he has to supply morning tea. (OK, I was thinking of me here lol)

The GVC Project gave me enormous personal satisfaction on a job well done,. Winning was a bonus but if we didn't win, the learning and experience gained would have still been worthwhile. After all, when it really gets down to it, we are teachers and what we do is teach. And as a modern professional teachers we should not lose sight of the fact that we should be the epitome of what it is to be a learner.

On the day of one of the chats, Minh (my learning support teacher) came in on her day off to participate in the experience. As the end of the session was approaching I walked over to her and said, 'Wow, they are all so engaged in what they are doing.'
'Adrian,' she replied, 'engagement is often overrated, those children could be engaged in anything, but what they are doing is very powerful, they're learning.'
I believe that people should be engaged meaningfully in their learning where the opportunity exists.

Insight - I hadn't really thought about the effect of what I was teaching in relation to values that the children carry forward through their schooling. I guess it is because we are so caught up in the rhythms of a school term with the end of the dance being that last day of term four. On the last day of school last year one of the mums commented in a heartfelt way, 'You have fostered in him a love of technology and learning that I'm sure is going to stay with him for years to come.'
We really do have a huge responsibility in educating the young.

One of the early challenges overcame in the project was when one of the team members wanted to withdraw from the competition. I found it difficult writing the e-mail to convince her to stay. I talked about opportunities to learn from each other, that the other members of the team would help out with any difficulties and as educators we need to rise to challenges. It must have worked as she stayed and she did learn a great deal.

There is also a level of professional satisfaction that one gets from giving lectures and having people want to get back to their classrooms and try out ideas. Getting e-mails from all over the world to thank you for a resource or to ask advice is also very rewarding.

During one of my lectures I talk about how as teachers so much of our effort goes into paperwork that is later destroyed once the time period dictated by law has passed. I know that we have to do this work and I'm not complaining about it but as a result of this paperwork teachers don't often leave a legacy for others to benefit from. This is why I put many of my resources on line. If I spent the time making the resources and if I found them useful then I'm sure others will as well. Consequently work that I did three years ago or more is helping out people today whereas paperwork that I did that long ago is still sitting on a shelf collecting dust and waiting to be destroyed. I know which work I'd rather be doing.  


1. Children e-mail friends and family and ask them to check out our site and give feedback.
2. I post new additions to my websites to relevant newsgroups
3. I have just started my own newsletter to inform people who opt in about new additions.
4. I have submitted URLs to online education sites and newsletters
e.g. the Busy Educator , The Virtual Teacher & Charlie O'Sullivan's input Adrian into the search field.
5. I've given interviews for local newspapers -
6. Submitted URLs to Education Networks such as Edna. Type Adrian Bruce into the search field here
7. Have given permission for the Symmetry site to be given a write up in the Times Educational Supplement in the UK
8. I've included a 'Tell a friend' facility on the Symmetry site
9. I've submitted my sites to search engines e.g.""
10. I often change my e-mail signature file to promote my latest additions.
11. I have spoken at state conferences about my work
12. I contacted Dr Karl's Office and he placed a link on his site to ours.
13. I e-mailed the local University and told them of our success and some of the lecturers came out to visit my room and watch me teach.
14. I have had various sites written up in Australian education journals - Primary Matters highlighted my Art site and a Western Australian Technology journal wrote an article entitled 'Teachers are doing it for Themselves' which showcased my personal site
I have visited several local schools and ran presentation afternoons where I talk about the possibilities the web has to offer and then showcase my websites and the work of the children in my class.  


Within my projects assistance takes various forms:
· e-mail support to answer questions is the easiest
· advice and discussion around various teaching methods and how I implement my resources into the classroom or use limited hardware and software to achieve the things I do
· e-mailing written procedures for using software
· we hook up for a Tapped In chat
· encouragement when people are finding it difficult
· redirection when needed
· knowing when to stand back and let them work it out for themselves - we had a poster on my wall last year that said, 'Thank you for helping me by not helping me.' This related directly to avoiding learned helplessness and rising to meet challenges.
· I pose a question
· I give an analogy
· I draw on transfer of learning from one application to another e.g. In Word you do it by doing… how do you think you would do it in Mozilla?
· I provide design briefs.
· I sometimes send URLs to read, think about or find solutions on
· I model seeking solutions to the children by posting problems to newsgroups, e-mailing friends, looking for online tutorials and if all else fails we read the instructions together : )
· I provide annotated notes to the students after viewing their webpage i.e. You've done this, this and this well, next time I'd like you to use my colour theory book to help you choose a font colour and background. I feel the pulsating purple and yellow animated gif background makes your fluro green text a little hard to read.  


· In the presentation I gave in Sydney entitled, 'The Science Wow Factory - Pulling IT All Together' I encourage the audience to set one achievable goal that they will try out when they get back to their schools. I tell them that it is fine to fail in front of the children as long as they demonstrate being a life long learner and seek another solutions. Below are some of the evaluations submitted at the end of that session. They show the impact of being a leader in the field of ICT in the classroom…
- very inspirational
- excellent presentation and innovation to enthuse anyone
- a great session to see what can be done using limited resources
- What an inspiration! Where is my PC?
- Dynamic, Inspiring, Useful
- very good, very practical, very creative. Excellent presenter!
- a great demonstration of what can be done with few resources but loads of enthusiasm.
· within the Science project I empowered the other teachers in the use of various applications by experimenting with the software with my own class and then typing up our findings as procedures and e-mailing them to our partners. Then by making these procedures available online those that choose to be empowered can.
· it has been said by others around me that my leadership and example in using ICT in the classroom has motivated them to, 'put their toe in the water' and have a go at implementing different applications for themselves
· being the team leader for our entry in GVC Project I was in a position to oversee the entire project and as such saw the level of commitment to the project from the students and teachers involved. This group ownership and group commitment is a very powerful motivator which I know I will harness again in the not too distant future.
As of February 2005 I've put myself a position where I am talking with teachers about ICT implementation in their classrooms and running workshops to empower them to do it. I've cut my classroom teaching load back to 4 days a week to get out there and inspire others to get into this exciting field. You can contact me through this page if you'd like to chat  

GSN's ROLE (10 points):    TOP

I feel that there are several challenges that need to be overcome in order to have people try out Online Collaborative Learning (OCL)

·* fear of the technology - teachers need to see that they are machines and problems will occur and that there are several ways of overcoming such problems. - maybe you could develop some flow charts on how to overcome common problems - perhaps an interactive CD with movies on various aspects of this.

·* even though I had a fair amount of experience with software I found the whole process of organising the project quite daunting starting from scratch. It was a very worthwhile process that I went through but more people might take up the challenge if it was a little easier. Perhaps some concept maps of things to consider, things to organise, things not to forget, possible organisational strategies.

·* tips on co-learning - you don't have to be an expert - a webpage with a few streaming movies from teachers who have tried things.

* timetabling - teachers need to see examples of successful co-operative group work structures so that they are tempted to let go of doing all their computer work in one 50 minute period in the computer lab. Perhaps a website with possible grouping structures within the classroom, ideas that work, a dictionary of OCL practices.
* posters for the walls that can be downloaded- e.g. ' Ask 3 then Me' is a great computer trouble shooting strategy for teachers and children to know. I have one motivational poster on my site that says, 'If you are tempted to say I can't, then have the courage to add YET'. I'm sure teachers would have heaps more ideas that they could send to a central place for posting to the web.
* What software and online resources are people using - I spent a long time searching out a safe chatting environment…perhaps a list of available / approved websites might be beneficial. Mind you we need to encourage people to think outside the box and be creative with their choices of software as well. Maybe teachers could outline what works well for them and host that list on a webpage.
* I wanted the project to use free software and pretty much succeeded in that goal. Perhaps you could have a list of free resources, shareware resources and really expensive ones. Perhaps simple tutorials / procedures or links to tutorials could be made available for download such as the ones on the Science Wow Factory site.
* the crowded curriculum - there are many pressures on teachers to cover a lot of content as well as be creative - perhaps a few time management strategies could help out here - ideas on how teachers can 'Make the time' to participate in such valuable experiences rather than complaining that they 'Don't have the time'.
* problems with the Systems Administrator - perhaps a list of persuasive phrases that one can draw upon to get the systems administrator onside : ) Some negotiation skills/tips perhaps - maybe a resource that the systems administrator can access to put themselves at ease about firewalls and installing free software that has no dataloggers, spyware, etc.
* timezones - can you recommend an online tool that takes into account the changes in daylight savings that can help organise meeting times.

* tips on running a good educational online chat - you could create a webpage that lists various options.

* tips on FTPing from behind firewalls - Cindy had to take it all home to upload it.
* a major project is not really the place to start. People should be encouraged to start small with say a Bookrap, Travel Buddy or an e-mail exchange and then work their way up. Maybe a webpage with a list of projects graded from novice through to expert - maybe a star rating similar to the ones my kids and I put together for rating books we read in class.

How can I help? - Well... my wife tells me I'm not to volunteer for anything else for a little while as there is a baby on the way. Although I'm sure I can fit in a few hours of testing, experimenting or online lecturing of some kind if you asked nicely : )


Adrian Bruce
Classroom Teacher
Ballina NSW

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