PLN update

This year’s Personal Learning Network (PLN) course is underway, and we’ll bring you updates to refresh the memories of alumni and perhaps update your own web toolbox and PLN community.
The 2012 intake began simply, with discussions and reading about the idea of PLNs, creating a Google account and Reader subscriptions, and a couple of tasks to introduce some bright ideas early on.
Participants posted a message on Wallwisher about what they hoped to achieve in the course, and placed themselves on a Google map: both tools that can be used to collaborate with colleagues and in libraries or classrooms. It also gave participants a means of sharing information and reading about other people’s hopes and fears.


Image of Wallwisher wall

The next task was to set up a PLN blog, a huge task for people who’ve never done such a thing before. The blogs are coming in thick and fast, with some great posts and designs already. Take a little look here.
A web conference including a discussion with Miffy Farquharson (Mentone Grammar) and Celia Coffa (St Luke’s, Blackburn) introduced people to the Elluminate/Collaborate software and allowed us to connect and talk.
This week, people are launching themselves into social media, signing up for Twitter, facebook and testing out Skype.
The VicPLN facebook group is part of the course but also an ongoing PLN community to which you are all welcome.


Image of Google map

A number of PLN participants have asked whether there are any classes or schools out there who’d like to connect through Skype or blogs.
Any takers?

Poetry mash up: Leanne Hampson

The Resourcehound

Leanne Hampson (aka The Resourcehound) from Brauer Secondary College recently completed the PLN program and is experimenting with web tools in her library and classroom. Her guest post today talks about how to create poetry mash ups with students.

Recently I was studying poetry with my year 9 English class, mainly focussing on analysing particular poems. Most students seem to find it difficult to create their own poetry and I certainly find it very difficult to assess (poetry is such a personal thing, don’t you think?). Then I happened across a Bright Ideas post about the Phat Poetry site and although I couldn’t seem to get the mash up function to work (more investigation required!), it was the spark I needed.

One thing I have discovered is that while students can use some computer programs well, they needed a lot of guidance and suggestions on how they might present their mash ups. Whenever I promote a particular web tool or program I like to demonstrate it to the students as well (the old, ‘and I expect yours to be much better than mine…’). This meant creating some mash ups of my own. This was quite addictive and I spent far too long on my ‘demos’ when I should have been writing reports…oh well.

Students used two texts with a similar theme but they could choose these themselves. I recommended they select song lyrics they felt strongly about and then we went to the library and searched the poetry collection for something that matched. Then students had to take lines from each text, find images and music to match the feel and atmosphere and then decide on a program to create their mash up. I recommended to students that they use either Photostory, Animoto, Movie Maker or Glogster. All of these have the capacity to combine text, images and sound together. I made examples in Photostory, Animoto and Glogster to show them.

Some issues we had were that Animoto tended to ‘eat’ their internet quota pretty quickly and its ability to add text is limited. But it does come out looking absolutely smashing! Glogster is also simple to create but I did struggle with how to let students share their work. I think this was because I was unfamiliar with the new Edu Glogster though, rather than a limitation of the site. Photostory was very straightforward and was probably the most successful of the three. We worked together to solve issues and had a great time in class looking at everyone’s work.

Overall the students were very engaged. They loved using their computers and the final products were impressive. It is amazing how effective the new texts were. One student used poetry written by her grandmother and even the ‘I hate poetry’ boys got enthused. I also used Rubistar to create an assessment rubric for the task (if you’d like a copy, contact me via my blog, The Resourcehound, or Twitter, @LHampso).

Here is an example I made using Animoto. It features ‘Been Caught Stealing’ by Jane’s Addiction and the poem ‘Stealing’ by Carol Ann Duffy.

Act Wild

Act Wild is a website, m-site and mobile app providing opportunities for students to take simple real world actions that benefit wildlife.

It offers information in a range of formats such as videos, fact sheets, images, and habitation mapping, and offers online actions that students can take if they want to get involved in saving the Sumatran Tiger or the Growing Grass Frog.

It also includes feeds on recent web or mobile initiatives by the Zoo and other wildlife organisations (for example, the use of iPads in Zoo learning activities, or new apps launched recently).


Act Wild is a partnership between Zoos Victoria and Greening Australia and is funded as part of the digital education content initiatives and strategies of the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) through the Find Use Share Education (FUSE) project.

Phat poetry

Here’s a great FUSE project, not just promoting poetry to students, but also highlighting the ways in which web tools can add creativity and fun to learning.

Phat poetry

Phat Poetry is an interactive poetry website targeted at middle years students (VELS Level 5). The site allows students to research a range of poetic styles and techniques and explore poems in the Poetry Vault, chosen from a selection of classic and contemporary poets. Students are then encouraged to use original or published works from the site and combine it with photos, animation, video, sound effects and music to create a digital mashup.

Teen book videos

St. Patrick’s College of Ballarat hosted its annual Immersion Week for the students in year 9.  This included students participating in two and three day elective units.  One of those units, ‘Teen Book Video Awards’, was created by the dynamic teaching team of Michael Goss and Julia Petrov.

The unit involved students using online tools to create book trailers and publishing them to the Library webpage. The students used Windows Movie Maker to construct the trailer, Jam Studio to create the music and Flickr images as well as their own photography.  The end result was impressive and the students are now keen to vote for their favourite trailer.

Here are two examples of student work:

Shutter Island by Lachy L and Joey S

Cirque du Freak by Lachlan K and Ash D

And here is the unit outline.


Digital Trailers


Everyone loves a good story, so why not share some of the stories you have loved with others? In this unit you will create a 90 second book trailer that will be entered into a competition. You will:

  • Choose a book from a set list and/or bring along two of your favourite books;
  • Become familiar with the film platform for recording your trailer;
  • Learn about how to persuade an audience; and,
  • Enter your trailer into a competition.

Digital storytelling requires a different way of thinking about how you might develop and present the information about your book/s. You can choose from a variety of digital platforms to develop and present your trailer.


At the conclusion of this unit you will be able to:

  • Create an engaging representation of a book in a well-structured multimodal text.
  • Participate in discussions and conversations about various strategies you will use to connect, organise and structure you text.
  • Use a digital platform to publish your trailer
  • Develop your skills as a writer.


The trailer will be assessed using a rubric including the following elements:

  • audience;
  • text structure;
  • ideas;
  • character/s and setting;
  • vocabulary;
  • cohesion;
  • conventions (spelling, sentences, paragraphs)


Teen Book Video Awards is a two-day unit.

Thanks to Ria Coffey for this guest post and to the students for sharing their work.

Great new vodcasts for VCE students

Merspi is a free online social networked learning hub for VCE students, where they can ask questions and have them answered by members of the merspi community. All information is self-organised through Web 2.0 tagging and user votes.
Now merspi, in partnership with SLAV, presents The VCE Advantage vodcast series.
This project leveraged on this learning community by establishing a bank of videos that share strategies for the development of transferable skills that instill independent learning behaviours and deeper web-based research understandings.
The vodcasts provide tips, research strategies, guidance and pointers to useful resources to support VCE studies. Topics range from study and survival skills through to essay writing, power searching, online tools for organising and presenting, as well as tips for VCE English.

Find a way to alert your students and VCE teachers to these vodcasts: highlight them on your library website; screen them in your library; suggest them as resources for VCE orientation and information sessions ; email VCE students and teachers!
The vodcast are available via the VCE Advantage link on the merspi front page,  directly from the merspi YouTube channel and through FUSE for all schools – search for merspi.

Guest Post: BialikTV by David Feighan

David Feighan, director of Libraries and Learning Resources at Bialik College, Hawthorn, Victoria, has been kind enough to do a guest post about BialikTV. BialikTV is a place where the college celebrates learning, reading, and literature.

BialikTV was created in response to the fact that content is becoming more varied, more immediate, and more multimedia. Students are still working with text, but increasingly they are also working with images, sound recordings and audio-visual content. As a result there is a change in how people find information, with YouTube now recognised as the second largest search engine after Google. As a library that thinks about how information creation, distribution and use is changing; we need to understand and be on top of these major trends. What is the role of the library in a post text multimedia world? How do we collect and integrate text and multimedia? What metadata do we use to facilitate access to multimedia content? How do we include the growing amount of multimedia citizen journalist content into our collections? How do we ensure we are using authoritative content? What will a school library collection look like in 5 or 10 years’ time?

BialikTV is also where we celebrate learning, reading and literature at Bialik College. As such it is a platform where we can host and celebrate the student’s work,  for example the book trailers students create. To protect the children’s identity, and to prevent inappropriate comments, no children’s faces are shown, and the ability to comment has been removed from BialikTV.

Further reading:





Well done to David and the Library staff at Bialik College for creating BialikTV and for using it in such a wonderful way.

Miffy Farquharson and Bev Novak’s Prezi

Prezi is a zooming presentation application that allows you to show the connection between concepts as you zoom around the canvas. You are able to zoom in to focus on a piece of information, then zoom out to see the bigger picture. The prezi website provides a number of short videos that explain how to use the application.

Teacher librarians Miffy Farquharson and Bev Novak from Mentone Grammer (Mentone, Victoria) presented at the May SLAV conference Creative communication: A conference for library technicians and assistants on the topic ‘Social networking to publicise books’. To illustrate this talk, Miffy and Bev made a prezi. They have kindly allowed Bright Ideas viewers to see their prezi, and it is clear how effective a good prezi can be in conveying information and in capturing an audiences’ attention:

Thankyou Miffy and Bev, your prezi is fantastic. For those of us just starting to play with this application, your prezi shows us what is possible.

Guest post: Barkly College Libraries: Connecting, encouraging, blogging

The staff of Barkly College Libraries have created a wonderful blog, Barkly College Libraries, to connect the Barkly District, the College, and the Libraries, and to foster a love of reading and learning. Shelagh Walsh, Library Technician at Barkly College Secondary, has been kind enough to write a guest post about the creation of the blog, and how it is being used to encourage learning in the community. 

Barkly College Libraries have been asked to write a guest article for this amazing blog and we feel very privileged to do so.

To put us into perspective – we are situated in the middle of the Northern Territory – about 500kms north of Alice Springs and 1000kms south of Darwin. We are classed as a remote location, and because of this, we have many challenges that other suburban schools may not have. Our student base is majority indigenous with over half of these students being ESL (English as a Second Language) students.  As you could appreciate, libraries and reading are not high on their agendas.

We wanted something that, we hoped, would catch their attention – and, it should be said, that of the staff as well.  Something to make it easy to keep people updated with anything that was happening in the library – an easier way to promote books and to bring new books to everyone’s attention – something we could use to promote our college and the Libraries.  Another aspect of the creation of our blog was the fact that we, ourselves, were interested in learning and using the Web 2.0 tools.  This seemed a way of combining both wants or needs into one – so to speak.  Having tossed the idea around for a while, we sought approval from the Director of the College to go ahead.

After that, came the fun part.  We started by researching a number of Library Blogs to get an idea of what others had done and what hosting site they were using.  It appeared that Blogspot seemed to be the most commonly used, and was an attractive layout as well. 

To give you an idea of the ease of setting up the blog – we did it in an afternoon at home with a laptop – while bathing my dogs.  It was a snap.  The hardest part was the first post – blank looks at each other – now we are here what do we want to say?

Barkly College Libraries 

Our aims are simple – we want our students and staff to know what is happening in the Library world – and importantly, to feel a part of it.  We are campaigning for book reviews by students – whether by themselves or as part of a class.  Our kids love trivia and all that sort of thing, and so the Worthless Wisdom post was conceived.  We have asked them for suggestions as well – if they feel an ownership, then hopefully they will use it.  Currently there is an article posted from one of the year 7 classes after we spent a lesson showing them how a library works and how to find things.  More lessons will involve research skills and evaluating websites.  We have developed various ‘games’ and activities to get the message across without lots of talking and writing as we are an Indigenous ESL school and this seems to work well.

 Barkly College Libraries


We are fairly passionate about reading and books and, I believe, have been reasonably successful in getting kids and books together, especially the senior students.  So somewhere to review books, to be able to comment and discuss the books they had read seemed to be worth a try.  Get them reading, we are halfway to getting them into learning as well was our thought – and if they don’t realise it is a sneaky attack on the flank, so much the better!

It is early days yet and we know that it is going to take a lot of effort and promotion to get this running the way we envisage.  Setting up the blog is the easy part – it is getting everyone on board and using it, along with keeping it continually up to date with interesting posts that will keep us on our toes.  But we are optimistic that it will become an important part of our schools – and meanwhile we, ourselves are learning lots and having fun.  Who could ask for more than that?

I really didn’t realize that librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group … They are subversive. You think they’re just sitting at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them.”

Michael Moore.

Thankyou, Shelagh, for this wonderful look at how you are using a web 2.0 tool to foster learning, and well done to you and the Barkly College Libraries team on your great blog.

Guest post: An international 3-way webchat for Gippsland youth

On 21st May 2011, an innovative group took part in an international 3-way co-author webchat via Skype.  The chat was set up by Phong Truong, Branch Support Librarian of the Civic Centre, Port of Sale, Wellington Shire. The webchat allowed rural youth to connect with authors. Particpant and author Hazel Edwards explains the process, the strengths of the webchat, and the challenges:

This morning we had a chat about writing which overcame geographical and a few other barriers.


This webinar was an innovation set up by Branch Support Librarian Phong Truong after attending a talk I’d given at the SLV on our YA novel ‘f2m:the boy within’. She wanted to use technology to attract youth & provide access to counselling resources on issues such as gender.


f2m: the boy withinAcross the Tasman and across Skype, it was a 3 way Webinar between Wellington Shire Gippsland Youth Council members, co-author Ryan Kennedy in Wellington New Zealand and myself  in Melbourne.


Ironically, at first, we didn’t realise both places were both called Wellington. 


Did it work? Yes. But we had a few technical hitches. Despite the trial on Thursday afternoon, where audio problems were solved with a closer microphone relaying questions, getting the visuals working three ways on the Saturday ‘real’ event was a challenge.


Was it worthwhile?  YES!


Strengths of Webinar:

  • Role modelling by Ryan as young novelist, writing first book from own gender experience.
  • Demonstration of how ‘outside’ authors could be accessed, where-ever they or potential readers live.
  • Practical sharing  of how co-authors had utilised electronic ways of collaborating (and how to cope when things go wrong).
  • Good questions and candid answers.
  • Encourageded rural youth to utilise Internet resources when seeking answers to problems: relationships, gender or literary.
  • This area has a Youth Council with a Youth Mayor, and Pauline the Deputy Youth Mayor participated.
  • Audio was clear.

What have we learnt from the experience:

  • Network connection recommended over Wifi.
  • Need to have a test session, especially for sound. Re-position seating.
  • Prepared questions
  • Suggest audience identify themselves when asking questions.
  • Wear a bright coloured jacket to stand out from dark chairs.
  • Intimate group enabled questions to be answered fully. ‘Casual feel’ atmosphere conducive to  a real exchange.
  • Since our YA novel subject matter of gender was controversial, helpful to have co-authors viewpoints from varied backgrounds & generations & access to their website resources such as YA guests blogs.
  • Needs a co-ordinator to arrange books available for reading beforehand & this is where e-books are more easily accessible.


  • Several youth who were expected didn’t make it, but there were eight in the room, including the deputy Youth Mayor.
  • Technical issues with getting the visuals to work three ways on Skype. After a 10 minute delay, we decided to go with visuals between the Wellington Youth and Ryan in NZ, and utilise Hazel’s audio although they could ‘see’ Hazel. At the end, we had a concentrated visual session between Hazel and the group in Gippsland.
  • Co-ordinating: Phong prepared books, handouts etc and invited reps from youth groupings, but 10 am Saturday a bad time for techie support and those who play football.
  • Questions covered writing issues such as how to co-write on Skype and e-mail, how did the book get published and benefits in e-book format. Gender questions included issues such as how do you get support in a rural area, Ryan’s personal experiences transitioning and media and librarian reactions to ‘f2m:the boy within’.

Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy

PS Only afterwards, I realised the room in which participants chatted was called the Wellington Room! I was still in my Melbourne study, but my husband had cleared up his desk, visible behind my head on the web cam. That’s another plus for participating in web chats! Desks get tidied or are caught forever on web cam. 

Phong outlines the Wellington Shire Gippsland Youth Council and lists those involved in the Skype chat:

The Wellington Shire Youth Council is made up of 18 youth between the ages of 12-25, who eagerly represent young people within Wellington Shire.  It provides an avenue for youth issues, feedback and communications to liaise with Wellington Shire Council, forming a bridge between youth and local government.  Youth Councillors are instigators of positive change and act as role models and leaders with the community.

Youth Councillors who were in attendance:

Krystal Davison, Youth Mayor, 19 yro, Sale

Pauline Rathnow, Deputy Youth Mayor, 23 yro, Wurruk

Mallory Ginkel, Youth Councillor, 15 yro, Sale

Dean Hardisty, Youth Councilllor, 19 yro, Paradise Beach

Mel Giles, Youth Councillor, 22 yro, Sale


Phong Truong, Branch Support Librarian

Katy Cummins, Communications Officer  – Media publicity and photo

Damian Norkus, Information Technology Support Officer – Set up of Skype link

Before participating in the webchat, the youth were expected to read f2m. The trailer for the novel is below:


Thankyou to Hazel and Phong for sharing their webchat experience. What I love about this webchat is that regional youth were provided with role-modeling from the authors, experienced amazing technology, and discovered how there are really no barriers anymore to what can be achieved (co-authors Hazel and Ryan explained how they co-wrote on Skype). If you are thinking of organising your own author/youth chat via Skype and would like to contact Hazel, Ryan, or Phong, please leave a comment or contact them via their websites (linked to above). To see reviews of the fabulous book f2m, visit Google Reads.