VicPLN list of online tools

As part of Unit 4 – Teaching and learning tools in the Victorian Personal Learning Network (PLN), our team has collated a list of online tools for participants to test drive and review.

The list has been collated  in a Google doc – Tools.

Tools are tagged using the following categories (with a few examples):

If you’re more of a visual type, we have also built a list in a Springpad notebook. You can sort by tags using the Filter option (this may not display properly in some browsers, so if it doesn’t just use the Google Document instead).

We will be posting regularly to #vicpln with links to people’s reviews and examples.

Image credit: Helmut Newton, (1953) Construction of 36-mile oil pipeline at Corio, State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection

Using screencast software to provide student feedback

In this guest post William King from Brauer College explains how he uses screen-recording software to provide detailed feedback on student work. 

Giving effective feedback is an essential part of the teaching and learning process. The impact of feedback on student achievement has been highlighted in recent years by academics such as John Hattie who gives it an effect size of 1.13. The most successful form of feedback is by giving it face to face with your students, but in a class of 26 or more kids this is not always possible. This is where screen-capture software comes in.

Screen capture software allows you to record as if a camera was pointed at your screen. Using a microphone you can also record your voice to provide a detailed commentary. Jing is a free to download screen-capture tool that allows you to record what is happening on your screen and also to take screen-shots.

When thinking about what comments make it is important to follow a regular structure and I tend to use the Goals, Medal and Mission approach as suggested by Geoff Petty. Petty stresses the importance of giving feedback that contains real information and not just general praise or encouragement. His structure involves stating:

  • Goals: What the student should have been aiming for, which could include learning intentions or success criteria,
  • Medals: Where they are in terms of meeting those goals,
  • Mission: How to close the gap between where they are now and their goals.

It is important to write down some dot points on each of the above before you begin to prevent constantly having to re-record due to being unsure of what to say.

After installing Jing, look for the sun icon at the top of your screen and select Capture

To use Jing simply download the program. When installed you should have a small sun at the top of your screen. Open up the document that you wish to give feedback on. I usually go through the document and mark it up using the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word before recording, so that I can see the particular areas that I need to focus on. When you have marked up the piece of work and written down some basic notes it’s time to record. Hover your cursor over the sun and select the prong marked ‘Capture’. Take the Jing arrows and use them to position the recording window over the screen area (containing your document) that you want to focus on. Then click on the video button when you want to start recording. Make sure to use a microphone as this will ensure that your voice comes across clearly so that the student can hear what you are saying. It is important that when recording that you don’t re-read the whole document, but simply hone in on which areas are most important for the student to improve in.

Jing allows you to flick between documents while you are recording so it might be handy to have a copy of the assessment criteria that you can open and refer to if necessary. Don’t open and close too many screens while recording as this can be confusing. Scroll through the document as you speak and use the cursor to point out the relevant annotations. Jing will give you 5 minutes to record your feedback but I wouldn’t use more than three as this is already a lot of information for the student to absorb. When you have finished save it to the desktop or the Techsmith site.

Remember to give students a reflection sheet to send back to you with their comments on what they should be able to improve on in their mission. Jing offers an interesting source of feedback for students and also a means for providing detailed commentary. Plus it can really help if you have bad handwriting!

Thanks to William for sharing his experiences, and to William’s colleague Leanne Hampson for introducing us to his work. William makes use of Jing for recording his feedback videos but there are other free screencasting options such as Screenr and Screencast-O-matic that could be used in the same way.

The method outlined above would also be a great way to provide annotated student work samples for students, or to model writing processes. Let us know in the comments how you’ve made use of screencasting software in your classroom.


New approaches for VicPLN in 2013

For a few years now, the Victorian Personal Learning Network (PLN) course has provided professional development for school library staff and educators. The twelve-week course was presented online by the State Library of Victoria and the School Library Association of Victoria, and hundreds of people have participated in the course over the years.

Through the Personal Learning Network participants can:

  • Engage in personalised professional development with educators across Victoria and beyond
  • Build their own personal learning network through a self-paced online learning system
  • Connect with hundreds of colleagues who share resources and support their learning
  • Use the web in innovative ways to enrich their teaching and learning experience.

VicPLN alumni have gone on to create a thriving online community – a PLN in action – which provides support, resources, inspiration and great ideas throughout the year.

2013 sees a slight change in approach for the online courses, in response to feedback from participants and our sense that it’s time to move beyond focus on “shiny new tools”. Following last year’s trial of a short course on research skills and tools, the 2013 program offers a range of shorter courses for people at different stages of their PLN experience:

  • Personal Learning Network introductory courses are now a more achievable seven units: the first course in this format begins March 12. Course materials focus on concepts and skills and a core set of web tools that we all need in our toolkit
  • PLNPlus is a four-unit “advanced” PLN experience, based on a more collaborative online learning model – presented for the first time from July 15
  • The Research Toolkit is a four-unit course focused on research tools and skills, offered this year from 14 October.
  • Shorter modules are in planning on topics such as digital storytelling.

We’ll keep you posted about course opportunities in the coming months and we’d also love to hear your ideas or feedback on past – or future – PLN courses. Leave us a comment here or tweet us via #VicPLN.


History resources from Sovereign Hill

In this guest post Peter Hoban, Education Officer at Ballarat’s Sovereign Hill, introduces the comprehensive range of online resources and events produced by the Sovereign Hill education team.

Sovereign Hill Education is using online tools to make AusVELS history accessible to teachers and students.

Our free webinar series for teaching History will kick off this year with a presentation from the staff of Canadian Lead PS. This innovative school trialled AusVELS History across the whole school in 2012 culminating in a wonderful school community history night called “Back to the Future Fair”. The night featured student work amidst community group presentations and created a real sense of excitement and a real audience for their students. Teachers will discuss their experiences in a one-hour after school webinar on 20th of March.

This program inspired us to develop a teaching kit for Level 5 History. Called The Settlement of Victoria, the kit provides links to online collection items from some of Australia’s most reputable institutions so students can study the fascinating story of the settlement of our state. The kit culminates in students using the skills they have learned to complete a research project about a famous Victorian and a Diigo bookmarking group has been developed to share useful research websites for this project. It is hoped that teachers and students will share good websites they have found to help other students from across Victoria. The free online kit is being supported by web conferences to explore it. The first is on the 14th of  March.

The second webinar features two authors. Peter FitzSimons has recently published “Eureka: The Unfinished Revolution” and has a string of other titles to his credit. Many teachers will also be familiar with Doug Bradby, author of the “Seriously Weird History Series” that kids love. Both will be online to discuss the importance of story-telling in engaging audiences from 4.30pm on 2 May.

Lastly, Sovereign Hill Education has been working with local secondary History teachers to provide good ideas and resources. An AusVELS History Diigo group presents links tagged according to AusVELS but at present has a strong focus on Years 7 and 9. An Edmodo group called History Teachers PLN has also been created so teachers can ask questions of each other and seek advice. All history teachers are invited to sign up to Edmodo and join this group. You can use the group code i4pz2q or join using this link.

To book for any of these sessions or to find out more call (03) 5337 1188.

Thanks to Peter and the rest of the team for putting together such fabulous resources. We look forward to attending the upcoming webinars. 


Lizzie Bennet Diaries: transmedia story telling

In this guest post Centre for Youth Literature Program Coordinator, Adele Walsh talks about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – an amazing example of transmedia story telling.

When you think of Lizzie Bennet, most see a tome of Pride and Prejudice or Jennifer Ehle slowly coaxing a smile out of Colin Firth in the last scene of the BBC adaptation. Since April last year, the two hundred year old character has undergone a radical makeover in the form of a hugely successful web series.

Hank Green, one half of the Nerdfighting duo with brother John Green, and head writer Bernie Su, have created The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a web series that lovingly references the classic text while reflecting life today and social media trends. LBD, as it’s known, has also created a staggeringly engaged online community.

It’s a perfect example of highly successful transmedia at work – a series of web tools that integrates the elements of narrative to create unique content based on existing (and out of copyright) properties.

Remaining loyal to the structure of Jane Austen’s work, Hank and Bernie have followed the same narrative arc, but have adapted characters and motivations so they make sense today and fit the medium. For instance, there are only three Bennet sisters in LBD – Lizzie (our fearless vlogging protagonist), Jane (timid but lovely) and Lydia (irrepressible and endearing). Mary makes an appearance as a cousin with Kitty as the family pet. Every change to the original is done with love and humour, it never mocks its source material.

Marriage proposals are now job offers, estates become large corporations and as for the shocking Wickham/Bennet development….well, our lips are sealed.

Green and Su have also integrated different social media platforms to develop characters and events from outside Lizzie’s perspective. Each character has a Twitter account composed by the series’ writing team where they interact with the public and each other. Jane works in fashion so her outfits and inspiration are posted on her Tumblr and Lookbook accounts.

Jane Bennet on Lookbook

Lydia starts her own web series to have a share of the spotlight but what starts out as an exercise in narcissism becomes something else entirely. Lydia Bennet has never been as beloved as she has in this form of Pride and Prejudice. The appearance of the characters (and cast) at last year’s VidCon brought real and imagined worlds together in a way that tickled the funny bone and imagination of the LBD audience.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries appeals to new and established audiences. Many of the teens and adults who have gravitated to the series have no pre-existing knowledge of the story so every new episode is a revelation. The dialogue, acting and variations in the story give viewers familiar with the novel a new experience which often challenges them to think about characters in a different way.

The series also encourages audience participation. Viewers are actively involved in the characters’ lives – giving Lydia advice (or warnings…) in YouTube comments, chatting with characters on Twitter and pestering creators to hurry up and introduce Darcy!

One of the most interesting spin-offs from LBD is the fan group, The LBD Seahorses. Before Lydia’s fall from grace, fans couldn’t agree which tragedy would ruin her in a contemporary setting. Pregnancy seemed to be the frontrunner. The question was then asked, “What would Darcy even do to help the situation?” To which someone replied, “He’d offer to carry the baby for her.” “Oh, so he’s going to become a seahorse?”

And so the niche group was born.

LBD Seahorses group on Twitter

While it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and not all LBD fans love it, the group is a great example of how web based media evolves. In a recent Lizzie Bennet Q&A session there was even a shout out for this fan group.

The creators couldn’t have anticipated the audience driven art, discussions and interests inspired by the series. The actress who plays Jane often styles her hair using ideas from the World War II era prompting questions about how she does it.  Jane posted on Pinterest and made video tutorials so now fans are wearing elaborate hair styles like Victory rolls and milk maid braids.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries project is slowly coming to an end. This week celebrates the 91st episode and (almost) a year of continuous, free narrative-based content. Who would have imagined that a series of 3-5 minute videos and social media channels based on a classic reimagined text would so firmly capture young people’s attention?

Hank Green and Bernie Su did.

The big question is which classic will they tackle next?


PLN registrations are now open

Registrations are now open for the next round of the Personal Learning Network, an online course run by the State Library of Victoria and SLAV. The course is the perfect introduction for teachers or school library staff looking to connect with other educators and discover some great free teaching & learning tools.
Computer Toddler
The PLN is delivered entirely online, meaning that participants can work through the course materials at any time. Over seven units you will explore tools to help you stay organised, discover useful resources, and explore issues like digital citizenship. You’ll also get started with blogging and learn about the range of free professional learning resources available online. Weekly webinars will also give you the chance to meet other participants and explore the themes of the course in more depth. The course is $115 ($105 for SLAV members) and commences on March 12. You can find more information or book online here.

The PLN is now in its fourth year, and this year marks a new and exciting time with the shortening of the PLN course and the introduction of several short courses. Alongside the PLN course there will also be an Advanced PLN running over four units in July, and the Research Toolkit will return in October 2013. We’ll keep you posted about these courses here on Bright Ideas, but if you’d like to register your interest in any of these courses then email

For details of how to stay up to date with all of the news from the course and to connect with the #vicpln community make sure you have a look at our PLN page. We look forward to seeing you in the course and online.

Promise from Webwise

Today is Safer Internet Day and across the world a number educators and organisations will work with students to explore the theme of  ‘Online Rights and Responsibilities – Connect with Respect’.

To coincide with the day, the Irish association Webwise have launched Promise, a thought provoking video exploring the impact of comments online. Whilst the video does touch on the damage caused by negative online comments, the piece also explores the power of communities and the potential of the web. It’s well worth a look, and would be a great conversation starter in your class today. You can watch Promise below and find other resources on the Webwise site.

Promise from PDST Technology in Education on Vimeo.

Safer Internet Day 2013

February 5th marks the tenth anniversary of Safer Internet Day. This international event aims to promote safe and responsible internet use by increasing awareness amongst students and educators. The event’s theme is ‘Online Rights and Responsibilities – Connect with Respect’.

Once again the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Cybersmart team will coordinate events across Australia to promote the day. You can find out all about the day’s events and get some great resources from the Cybersmart site.

ACMA are also running an internet radio show on the day from 5pm-8pm AEDST. The show will feature student panellists, representatives from social media companies and experts from a number of organisations. You can take part by emailing or tweeting using the #SID2013Oz hashtag. If you can’t tune in on the day then the program will be available for download afterwards. The global hashtag for the day is #SID2013

Congratulations to the Cybersmart team on their excellent work in organising these events and their work in general. They do a great job educating people about an often tricky subject. Make sure you explore the Cybersmart site for all of their fantastic resources and follow along with all of their updates on Twitter and Facebook.


What is a TeachMeet?

Today’s guest post comes from Celia Coffa, one of the organisers of TeachMeet Melbourne. Celia tells us about TeachMeets and the schedule of free events for this year. 

TeachMeets are professional learning opportunities, for teachers, by teachers. Starting in Scotland about 8 years ago, the movement is growing and the structure and style varies from place to place. The Melbourne experience started in September 2011, following the lead of TeachMeet Sydney and has grown steadily since.

TeachMeets attract teachers from all sectors: state, independent and Catholic and from all primary, secondary and tertiary levels, thereby creating a wonderfully eclectic group different to many other Professional learning opportunities we may attend. TeachMeets rely on the willingness of participants to be presenters, usually in two or seven minutes time slots. TeachMeet presentation topics are as varied as those presenting them. Learning theories, teaching strategies, educational projects and cool tech tools are some of the many topics discussed. The presentations are important, but just as important is the opportunity to meet and extend our Professional Learning Networks. Making face to face contact with people who we may already have established relationships with on social media, through Twitter, online courses or blogging. This connecting and networking strengthens and broadens our scope as teachers, widening the opportunities for our own personal development as well as extending the reach for our students.

Melbourne TeachMeets have a friendly atmosphere, and have been hosted in a wide variety of educational settings, including schools, Science and Environmental education centres, Libraries and Museums. No two meets are the same, harnessing the expertise, friendship and ‘feel’ of the group gathered.

The upcoming meet on February 2 will be hosted by ICTEV and will take place in a Pub (where reportedly the first Teachmeet occurred), allowing for the sharing to continue in an even less formal manner in a TeachEat afterwards. Later in the year, meets are scheduled for the State Library of Victoria (May 16), Melbourne Museum, Royal Children’s Hospital and other school based venues.
Wikispaces becomes the hub for planning events after venues are offered. Twitter and word of mouth are the main publicity methods at this stage. A feature of Teachmeets is that they are organic, changing according to the needs, interests and ideas of those who participate. Who knows what they will look like in a year or two?

For more information :
TeachMeet Melbourne
TeachMeet Australia

You can also find out more by following the Twitter hashtags #TMMelb and #Teachmeet

Thanks to Celia for sharing with us about TeachMeet, and also for her work in organising these fabulous events. We’d encourage you to try and make it along to a TeachMeet in your area, or even organise one of your own. They are a great way to share and build your learning network.


Planboard: Time for a different plan

In this post Bev Novak takes a look at Planboard, an online planning tool that hopes to replace the iconic teachers’ chronicle. This post originally appeared on the NovaNews blog.

An email floated into my inbox not so long ago. It was the annual request by our school admin asking me to decide which kind of ‘teachers’ chronicle’ I would like to order for next year.

Ah… I think: Is it already time to start planning for next year?

My heart thumps furiously as I reflect on the many years of writing those course overviews, aims and objectives, semester plans, term blocks and weekly plans; not to mention of course the detailed day-to-day lesson plans. All that paperwork – the ‘essential’ adjunct to a teacher’s role.

But … hang on… it’s the twenty first century! Our world has shifted. Changed. We no longer do pen and paper do we? Nowadays it’s all on computer – no? Our lives are totally online – no? So, isn’t it time we changed the way we go about planning?

These were the thoughts that swirled around my head as I took a look at Planboard. It’s a neat, very easy to use program, allowing you to create your daily lesson plans in much the same way teachers always have. The big difference is that you do it online. Being able to work from anywhere, all that is needed is a computer, an internet connection, and a web browser. The lay out is straight forward and easy to navigate. Text can be formatted and links and videos added. There’s even a cute post-it-note to allow you to jot reminder notes to yourself. The completed plan can then be saved as a pdf and emailed on to anyone else. Nice!

With various options ranging from 100 lesson plans for free to a monthly cost, I can seriously see an online application such as Planboard taking over the traditional market. Check out the video here or have a read of this very comprehensive review.

While I’m sure this not the only ‘online chronicle’ it is certainly a reminder to us all that perhaps it is time for us to re-think the many routines that have for so long been associated with education.

Times have changed. Thinking has changed. We really do need to start doing things differently.

Thanks to Bev for sharing her post about Planboard. You can find Bev on Twitter and read her excellent NovaNews blog for updates on teaching and learning.