Web Two Telegraph – A Collaborative Web 2.0 Environment

A personalized search engine

Posted by murcha on February 23, 2008

As I have several (acually, too many!!) blog sites, I wanted to put in place a widget box or link that would allow people to search for posts, topics or themes throughout my blogs, delicious, twitter etc, so lijit looked a distinct possibility. eg A visitor may wish to find any references that I have made to skype in any of my online posts. However, wordpress is fussy about code and the code that I embedded did not give me an attractive search box, just a boring almost non-visible text link. That was disappointing. However, I left the boring text link there and was surprised to see that Barney who must be one of the software producers for lijit emailed me for an evaluation of the link. After voicing my disappointment and contacting wordpress as to the reasons for failing to embed the lijit code, lijit worked further on the code and personalized a badge for me which now sits proudly on my globalteacher blog site. (WordPress blocks javascript.)

lijit badge

To make it easy for readers to navigate all your online sites and to find topics of interest, consider including a personal search engine widget.


To add the search widget (the one of your choice), register for a username and password. Activate your account through the resultant email. Return to site, copy the given  code for wordpress, or choose the one appropriate to your blog. Return to your wordpress presentation tab, choose widgets, add a text widget to your sidebar (drop and drag the extra text option into the sidebar and place in  position of your choice.), Click on the configure button in the top RH corner,>paste the code into the pop up window. Save > view site and a link to the search engine (in my case lijit) should be present. If it’s appearance does not look correct, contact me or the site from whom you got the code and they may have to modify it. Wonderful statistics and weekly feedback is also given. However there are other web2.0 sites who offer this search facility so choose one to suit you.


Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Peripherals | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

What is a Wiki?

Posted by murcha on February 18, 2008

Several of my dear blogging friends at LeEnchanteur, (whom I have sadly neglected but will get back to, I promise!!) and soul food cafe and the wildgarden, have asked me what a wiki is, and I am sure many of you out there do not know either, so I shall write a post re wikis.


To me, wikis can be used for various purposes:-

  • a resource bank and storage area
  • a web page for a school or business
  • an interactive and collaborative tool where either selected persons or everyone can add to, delete, edit etc
  • and many more, dependent only on the imagination of the user

I started with wikis about 6 months ago and now play an important role in my web2.0 life now, including my teaching application.

The following is a definition from the largest and best known wiki of them all:- wikipedia. A wiki is software that allows users to create, edit, and link web pages easily. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.

sample of one of my wikis

Above is a screenshot of one of my wikis that I use for filing all my resources.It is constantly updated and open for all to view but not to edit. It has a vast collection of links, blogs, urls and documentation for the web 2.0 journey I am sharing with my students. They can be accessed by clicking on the links. It is easy to embed videos, podcasts and other web2.0 html. They can be used interactively and collaboratively. A discussion site is present and the history tab allows you to see any editing.

I am also a member of various other educational wikis eg eduwikius, Women of the Web etc My classes have been part of collaborative wikis between other countries. Students have created a talking voki (computer animated ID) and introduced themselves to a school in NZ and in Las Vegas. Teachers in both countries had administrative rights and could add to the wiki or delete as necessary. Time is always a factor and they are still work in progress. I love this wiki of Graham Wegners shared with a school in Alaska. It shows the power of a wiki for collaboration.

Currently, our students are working on 1001 flat tales project at an elementary level (grade 3 and 4) and at the middle school level (years6 and 7). Four schools from USA, two from Canada and two from Australia are involved. Students will each be given a page or space of their own where they will start to put up a little about themselves and start writing their stories. Their partner in another country will comment on their ideas, storylines, accuracy, sentence construction, word fluency, conventions and mechanics etc over a period of time using the 6 traits to effective writing.

Wikis can be closed to public viewing or open with permission for all to edit, add to and delete (this is how wikipedia came about) or may be viewed but not edited unless permission by the space manager is given.
Some of the most popular wiki tools are:

  • Wikispaces – easy to use, great backup service, free to educationalists (make sure you register for the free version if you are in education as it is ad free as well)
  • Wetpaint Our school cluster uses wetpaint as its wiki tool as do other individual members of our school staff. If wetpaint will come to my post and place a comment on it, (which they have done twice)  they deserve 10+ out of 10. They have reminded me that their wikis are free and their educational wikis are advertisement free. Due to their personal interest, I am certain that their support service would be great. Checkout their wikisineducation site. And further,  if you find you like a Wetpaint wiki in the classroom, you can be featured at http://wikisineducation.wetpaint.com/page/What+the+Bloggers+are+Saying
  • pbwiki

Other examples of wikis are

http://aquaculturepda.wikispaces.com/ I love this one by DS Waters – lots of resources and tutorials for web2.0
Wikibooks is a Wikimedia community for creating a free library of educational textbooks that anyone can edit. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms, Web 2.0 Resources | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

My flat classroom

Posted by murcha on February 12, 2008

Today the students were going to have a guest teacher, Mr Jeff Whipple, outlining the nature of a wiki and explaining the nature of the 1001 flat tales global project.  Grades 4 and 5 will work on the elementary wiki with China, Thailand, US, Canada etc whilst grade 6 will be involved in the middle school one. Jeff would use his laptop to demonstrate the wiki.

Using our atlas ascertaining where Jeff is from
However this was no ordinary classroom as Jeff lives in Canada (read his version of our experiences on his blog ). He is the technology educational specialist for his school and is setting up the wiki for the project. With the help of our library  interactive white board, 50 odd students and half a dozen interested teachers watched with amazement, Jeff talk to us from his home, show us his pet cat, outline the project and then with the help of the SMART Technologies Bridgit on the IWB allowed us to view his laptop screen and walk through the wiki. His time was 10pm, ours was 12:00 midday. The weather was sunny and 25 deg C where we live, with students about to go to the pool for swimming classes. 15cm snow and -16deg C was the weather pattern where Jeff lives. Students are now fully motivated to start the project. Atlases came out and we found the city where Jeff lives. A great deal of geography was learned in 30 mins.!! Jeff was kind enough to come back to us 40 mins later to do a photo shoot for our local newspaper “The Warrnambool Standard”. The photographer and reporter had to make a 30 minute drive to our school.
How, did we get to know Jeff, you may well ask? Well, I was trying to sort out our “From Me to You” envelopes in the computer pod last week. My year 11 students were quietly and diligently completing accounting exs when I noticed my laptop flashing. Having forgotten that I was still logged into skype, I found someone was chatting to me.  My curiousity got the better of me.  It was Jeff, introducing himself as he was setting up the wiki for the project. As we chatted, he offered to demo the wiki via skype to our classes. We took him up on that offer. My twitter network through Kim Cofino, from Bangkok, had alerted me to the existence of the project.Skyping with Jeff
The second interesting event of the day, occurred prior to our skype session. I had spent several hours the night before working out a cyber safety lesson. Again, my twitter network came to the rescue with lots of interesting links, url’s, wikis and online videos. I had my year9/10s for a double class first thing this morning, but to my utter dismay, found the internet was down and all my lesson plans with it. Students started writing a post for their blogs whilst the principal and I tried to sort out the internet. Some time later, it was back on. Students quickly checked out their blogs and found they had comments on them, some from our staff, students but others from Holland and the US. Well………..that was it!!! My lesson plans never went into action. Instead, the students initiated their own learning. They wanted to email back the people who commented, some of whom were similar age students in the US. Then, they checked out those student blogs. Students who are often reluctant readers and writers were fully engaged reading the various posts. The boys even found a post on cricket by one of the US students. That encouraged them to wrote a post about the local cricket team they play for.
Next, they wanted to add a clustrmap to their blogs etc. The double was finished all too quickly. An authentic audience makes such powerful learning!!!

dsc00703.jpg….and to top our day,our first two cards from the US schools in the “From me to you” project arrived. Excited students will open them tomorrow morning.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Social networking, Web 2.0 Classrooms | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

Let’s Get Blogging on…..

Posted by murcha on February 5, 2008

Last week, despite personal mental and physical exhaustion coping with first week back at school, one crashed computer lab and intermittent internet access, my students on Friday, set up their own blog space. We decided to enrol with global students, as our experience with edublogs did not work last year. (possibly our school’s tight security.) Following are the steps we took.

Pre-Learning activities

  1. Viewed some online blog sites, including our own backyard site (where I would grab their writing and images and post them online myself) and discussed content and appearance.
  2. One group was given the responsibility of commenting back on a youthradio blog that we will be involved with this year. I quickly checked content and spelling to ensure comments were suitable and discussed etiquette and the need for saying where they were from. (but no personal details!!)

Going online

  1. Each student applied for a blog, checked their emails, activated the response, got their username and password) and then logged on.
  2. Each student had to set a minimum of 5 goals for the year, three had to be school related and two could be personal. (a very interesting excersice and will summarize the results at some stage as it was a rather eye-opening one)
  3. We kept the post simple except for some basic formatting and will look at presentation more fully next week (although the geeks were off and running and found that option early on.)
  4. Students then created a cartoon to illustrate some portion of their blog. Most are still working on this and it does add interest to the post. They created the cartoon, made a screen dump and resized the image and saved it through MS Paint. Then uploaded it into their blog.
  5. I am in the process of linking all their blogs to this blog and will ensure that I have administrative rights over their blogs.

As our students as a whole call themselves technokids, each year level has techno in front of it. Scroll down this blog and some year 9s and 10s (technoteens)  have completed their first post. (eg Tarzy, Dhugsy) Even our challenging group of ex-year 9 boys were focused on the task and enjoyed the challenge.


  • All students, from the least to the most literate, completed 5 goals (only a few struggled to find 5)
  • Would have liked a little more depth to some of their goals and had to push them to explain some of their sporting goals.
  • They enjoyed making cartoons and enhancing the presentation
  • The geeks were off and running – discovering all sorts of areas of wordpress that took me months to find
  • The comments we made on youth radio ended up in Kevin’s spam box. They were quickly retrieved. Hint:  email your host informing them that comments have been made.

Post lesson acitivity: will endeavour to reply to student posts with comments plus try and get form teachers to do so as well.

Postscript Would you believe my digital students (more precisely, the year 10 boys) are still off and running and what it took me 6 months to learn, they are already doing linking their blogs to each other, adding comments, telling the others to hurry up and moderate etc? It is truly, a baby boomer teaching the generation Y. Cant wait to see what they do next and I am sure they will teach me a lot.

Some or most, actually, have now been working on their blogs at home and added extra posts. To check them out try the links called technoteens on the RHS of my blog and try Flick, Tarzy, Glenn, Nat and Chatty for a start. Nat has started to upload the little digital movies that he has made on a movie page.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms | Tagged: | 1 Comment »


Posted by murcha on January 17, 2008

Twitter is one of the fastest growing uses of the internet. It is the equivalent of a one minute blog completed in 140 characters. In the short time that I have used it, my knowledge of web 2.0 has been on another steep learning curve due to the virtual teamwork involved.  I will outline how to use twitter in its basic format. There is much more but that can wait for another time.

twitter home page

Register with twitter and activate the resultant email. (Some people have several twitter names.)

Search for people who you know are in twitter and click follow. Add as many as you can and return to the home screen.  Tweets by  people you are following should show up on the screen.


Key in what you are doing at the moment and press update. Just keep on tweeting until someone replies or simply watch everyone else’s tweets.

Click on an avatar, go to next window and a direct message link will show up on the RHS side bar. Key in a direct message to that person and it is then kept private from the general tweeters and goes directly to their email account.

To add more interesting people, click on one avatar and look at who they follow. Choose some of these people to follow. Some of the experienced users will take a very caring and sharing approach if they know you are a newbie. Many will suggest some good people to follow. If you join in, people will want to follow you.

A person can be removed or blocked from your list if the need arises. Click on their avatar and look for the links.

140 characters is the limit to a tweet.

Uses in education

Twitter is a powerful social networking tool and this is where I see its greatest benefit. I started with 3 people to follow and one week later have 89 and 58 following me. Some of the most popular tweeters state that 150 is a good number and may not wish to follow more. However, unless they are selective, you can still follow their comments and learn.

A blog in a minute.

Quick communication and feedback tool.

Follow sites like edtechtalk and be informed when their live shows are on. (Highly recommended.)

Possibility for classroom uses.

There is so much more to twitter but give it a try. However, careful, it can be very addictive.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Social networking, Web 2.0 Resources | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Uploading videos into WordPress

Posted by murcha on January 16, 2008

After spending a great deal of time taking photographs, importing them into Sony Vegas Moviestudio, I was ready to upload my digital story based on the fantasy world of Rainbow Beach into a posting in my blog. This video was created as a result of Le Enchanteur’s promptings.

However, after several hours I was still trying to embed it. First, I uploaded the video into www.teachertube.com because youtube refused to complete the uploading process.  I tried to copy the various codes from teachertube and place them in the post’s code section. Failed!

Then I noticed a note on the teachertube site alerting me to the fact that if I wanted to embed teacher tube into wordpress I had to place various codes into the theme section. That was no good to me as I am not at all technical. Tried youtube again but still no success. In desperation I emailed my yahoo group who are working on the joint blog, and Imogen made a sugestion that finally worked. I had to goto the upload section where images are uploaded, click on the videos tab and place the url in there. Again the teachertube url did not work.

My last resort was to try google video. This would be my first attempt at uploading to this site. Anyway, it was a fairly simple procedure and within a short time, my video uploaded. It was then quite simple to goto>upload>videos and paste the url code in that window. Click my mouse cursor where I wanted the video to go in the post writing section and choose send to editor. That worked!!!!

So voila, here it is…..!!!!

When my internet connection is stable, I shall try youtube as I am sure this would work as well. Now, I will have to work out what to do when I return to school as google video is probably blocked. Perhaps I could just stay on Rainbow Beach.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Audio Visual | 2 Comments »


Posted by murcha on January 10, 2008

Using Vokis
School holidays are always a welcome relief from the pressure of lesson plans, assessment, general adiminstration and report writing. It can be a time to catch up with some genuine web 2.0 research, establish social networks and explore some of the improvements to existing web 2.0 software and discover new applications.
One software that I revisited,  was the rather ‘kitchy’ voki website at www.voki.com These little computer animated vodcasts allow you to customize your own personal ID, add your voice or use a computer generated voice to communicate online or via a mobile phone. Students love using these and even the shyest don’t mind talking into the microphone.

See examples of student vokis used on a collaborative project at http://anzaconnection.wikispaces.com/Introductions Be patient as it will take a while to load!

Steps in using vokis

First register for the website with a user name and password. If a student ensure they use an unidentifiable user name and if they are under the age of 13, let them access your voki logon as many vokis can be created under one user name.
You must activate your account from the email you have directed registration towards. (do not forget or you will not be able to save your vokis.)
Return to voki website and login. Click create a new voki.


(If you have already created a voki choose use existing scene to keep your voki consistent. Choose one of your existing examples. (The audio message only is changed.)
Choose your face, clothing, glasses, backgrounds and even an audio player style by clicking on the approprate icon and build your little voki. The illustrated voki above  allows messages to be shared by clicking on the little notepad icon in the bottom right hand corner (just above the player) If the cube in the lefthand corner is selected, it will choose a random character for you.
When satisfied with your voki, it is time to “give it a voice”.

Create a voki 

Choose from telephone, T or microphone. We use the microphone (making sure you allow access) and press the record button. Wait until you see the little wheel going around and it actually says ‘recording’ and start talking. A written script ensures that the audio flows smoothly. When finished, click done. If student is too shy or recording does not work, choose the T which allows text to be keyed in and an accent chosen for the mechanical voice.

Replay your message and when satisfied, click done. Save to your hard drive. You are then returned to your startup window, so that you can now find the code required for your site. I choose the small dimensions, agree to conditions and then copy the code that appears. This code can then be used to embed into a wiki, blog or webpage for collaborative use by pasting it in the usual manner.Some voki characters allow you to add messages. This opens up further educational value. Eg discussions between students or teacher/student on an initial statement made by the original voki.
Some possible classroom uses
·  introductory  purposes between students from other schools or countries with class member vokis all embedded in a table on a wiki.
· Allow questions to be posed and answered between classes.
· To introduce a topic in an interesting manner on their wiki, blog or web page
· If a character allows insert message, then a discussion can take place on the one voki between students.

If you use vokis or wish to use them, please add a comment and let us know how you use them.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Audio Visual, Web 2.0 Resources | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Impact of Web 2.0 on the 2007 classroom

Posted by murcha on January 1, 2008

Myspace New Years - http://www.newyearstext.com

Reflecting on the past year, as one usually does when the old year ends, it was time to write up some of the observations that have been made on the impact of web 2.0 in the classroom. Associated with this are some of the highlights experienced in both teaching and learning.
The school year started in its usual manner, with the complication that I had lost an accounting class (I was devastated at the notion as I love teaching accounting) so instead, and as we are a prep to year 12 school, I picked up grade 3/4 and 6 IT. IT classes commenced and progressed as usual, with more advanced skills in using MS Word and Excel being taught to the higher levels and basic skills to the younger levels. Some Dreamweaver, Flash and other multi media software skills also commenced.

……Enter the world of web 2.0 in June 2007…….

My classrooms changed, necessary skills taught took on a different nature, our classroom walls started ‘crumbling ‘ before our eys, software types were now often online and motivational levels increased dramatically. Below, is a summary of some of the impacts noted.

  • Del.icio.us started the web 2.0 journey. To our surprise and delight, google picked up one of the grade 6 girl’s page and had it on their first page when a search was made on “Penshurst and volcanoes”. This really motivated students and boosted personal confidence of those involved.
  • Our backyard blog was initially created with grade 6 students. Comments were made on their work by unkown people in the USA, Hawaii, Australia etc Suddenly, there was an authentic audience for their work, not just a teacher assessing assignment work. Excitement with, and pride in their own work increased amazingly. Motivation levels ran high and students were off taking digital photos of their backyards or scanning existing photos into their blogs. Parents and community members also became involved.
  • Year 9 boys, (our most difficult to motivate group) actually leapt out of their seats to help experiment within our school, the use of skype. They were utterly engrossed for 110 minutes in helping our staff who had not used skype before, learn the processes.
    Year 8 students, a rather ‘mottled lot’, also leapt out of their seats period 5 on a Friday, and as a group and yet quite independently of my assistance, produced clips to create a video to show those ‘Los Angeles’ kids what ‘footy’ was to the Aussies.
  • I am harrassed and almost “bullied” at various times as I walk down the corroidor by students, often students who normally take little interest in school work or who rarely produce work of high quality or who suffer low self esteem, wanting to know if I have put their blogs, movies etc online yet. I even get queried when I am out in the community!!!
  • Learning from students who are 9 and 10 years old!!!! When we got our webkinz Patch, my grade 3 and 4 students worked with me as a class, using a datashow and website projection, on getting started with our virtual world. They were actually teaching me even though they had no experience in virtual worlds, themselves. These, surely are our digital natives.
  • The walls of our classrooms have started to crumble, so students are talking, via vokis and wikis to students in other countries and producing videos of our school, area, farms, towns etc and sharing them via a ning website with those students. We have ‘seen’ inside the walls of various other global classrooms and homes, sheds and backyards. No textbook could have the same impact.
  • Skype will continue to have an amazing impact on our classroom walls in 2008. When we started video conferencing with Korea, we simply asked questions of each other in the 50 minute blocks but by the fifth day, we were showing them vegemite, cricket demonstrations, aussie meat pies, blue tongue lizards, and in turn, we saw a snow clad school yard, complete with man sweeping away the snow from the school paths, Korean mobile phones/technology and Korean school uniforms. This is such powerful learning, despite the language barriers.
  • Virtual and online teamwork with other enthausiastic staff in other countries is now the norm. No longer am I a lone teacher in a reasonably remote rural school, struggling to keep up with the latest in technology but am able to update and communicate with global colleagues via blogs, social networks and ning sites. Mailing lists have also been great.
  • Grade 6 and year 7 students show no hestitation in emailing me either for advice or thanks for uploading their work or getting them involved in projects. I even got emails when I was on long service leave in Europe from grade 6 girls, asking for help with their video editing software and I was able to duly respond overnight, to allow them to continue on.
  • A renewed excitement and revigoration has returned to the classrooms with an overlap into other subject or class areas. Other staff are showing and interest and starting to come on board and it is hoped that this will continue and expand into 2008!

A very happy web year 2.0 you all!

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

My top 10 Web 2.0 sites for 2007

Posted by murcha on December 29, 2007

Being an absolute beginner at web 2.0 until June, 2007, I am going to reflect on the 10 web 2.0 sites that I have enjoyed using most this year. I am following the lead of my friend Chrissy, Teaching Sagitarrian who helped start me on this amazing journey. See her favourite 5 web 2.0 in the classroom.

Mine are as follows but not necessarily in order of popularity:-

  1. http://del.icio.us.com this was where I started
  2. www.bubbl.us used widely for brainstorming
  3. blogs at www.wordpress.com with a lot of help and encouragement from Heather Blakey and Jess of technolote
  4. www.wikispaces.com used for classroom use and also for summarizing my ejourneys with the students.
  5. docs.google.com for online sharing of documents and spreadsheets with classes in other countries.
  6. www.skype.com – videoconferencing with powerful learning applications, used with NZ and Korea
  7. www.voki.com for fun, user protected podcast applications
  8. www.podomatic.com for hosting our student podcasts
  9. www.teachertube.com for hosting our videos
  10. www.surveymonkey.com for easily created online surveys

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms, Web 2.0 Resources | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Feeding a web2.0 appetite

Posted by murcha on December 23, 2007

Looking forward to each new day of the wonderful advent calendar of Heather’s at the following address:- http://www.dailywriting.net/Wild%20Gardeners%20eLearning/Advent2007.htm, many people may wonder how they can keep up with all the new entries from their favourite blog authors, news headlines or podcasts.

Web 2.0 has provided another wonderful feature in the form of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually. RSS content can be read using software called an “RSS reader”, “feed reader” or an “aggregator“. A subscribscription is made to a feed by entering the feed’s link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds. You will know if your favourite blog allows RSS as it has a small orange module with 3 white curved lines and RSS written above it.

Some possible readers include the following:-

My reader of choice is google.reader.com Time has not permitted me to use iGoogle fully yet but as I subscribe to some yahoo groups, myahoo will allow me similar functions.
If wishing to use google reader, become a member and click on the link add subscription on the left hand side. In the resultant window, enter the web address you want to subscribe to and hey presto, you will be notified when new entries become available.

In yahoo, click on the link to my yahoo on the opening window. Just click to add the module and follow the instructions on the page. Just choose where to display the module on your page and you’ve got an RSS newsreader in just a few simple clicks.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms, Web 2.0 Resources | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »