Personal brain

Personal Brain is a total mindmapping tool. There is a free account or the choice to upgrade and pay.

Personal brain homepage
Personal brain homepage

Personal Brain enables project management and collaboration with colleagues. Marco Torres explained that Personal Brain is how movie studios keep track of productions; schedules, budgets, actors, locations and so on. If Personal Brain can effectively manage multi mullion dollar shoots, then it sounds like it will get the job done in schools.

Students and teachers who are visual learners will love Personal Brain. And as Marco Torres suggests, Principals could use Personal Brain to map the entire school curriculum and immediately see which class was studying which topic at a given time. This could lead to more interdisciplinary studies as often we aren’t exactly sure what some of our colleageus in other levels or learning areas are currently teaching.  Productivity is sure to increase when using such a tool for planning as it is quick and easy to use and share and all users can immediately see where a project is at and what still needs to be completed.

Free webinars are held weekly to introduce users to Personal Brain and how to get the most out of the program.

Tania Sheko’s personal learning blog

Whitefriars College teacher librarian Tania Sheko has been kind enough to share her personal learning blog with the Bright Ideas readers.

Brave new world homepage

Brave new world homepage

Tania explains the evolution of her blog:

After going through the SLAV Web 2.0 course, which used the blog as a platform for recording progress and reflection, I realised how much I enjoyed the writing, and decided to continue. The blog evolved from a step-by-step explanation of new tools trialed, to a place where I had a voice. A blog is a powerful way to deconstruct your own thoughts and ideas, as well as receive feedback from others, or even create a discussion.  Some people push against blogging; they feel it’s self-indulgent or a waste of their precious time. I would say, if you take time to think through things, question, if you get excited or frustrated by something, instead of internalising this, or sharing it with one or two people, write it out. 

My photo blog, 365 photos is a challenge I set myself for this year – to take a photo for each day of the year. At first I thought it was a fairly superficial exercise, but now I can see the value of recording events, using a photo to reflect, explain or as a springboard for creative writing. And, of course, there’s the connection with others who leave comments. I’ve particularly enjoyed feedback from those in the northern hemisphere, eg. People commenting on our sunshine when they’re deep in snow, or our falling leaves when they have just glimpsed  new shoots and the beginning of Spring.   I can see potential in adapting this exercise for the classroom, by allowing choice of image, and using that image as a springboard for writing or reflection. It also provides an opportunity for teaching about the use of flickr, for sharing photos and understanding Creative Commons and fair use of images, for participation in or the creation of groups (see post 

I think the connections I’ve made with others are the most valuable part of blogging for me. It’s a great way to reduce isolation, and it makes you realise that there are people who share your interests globally; it helps to make the world seem ‘flatter’.  What a wonderful opportunity for students to connect with those from a different hemisphere, from other cultures.  An online discussion around a theme or topic with a class from another country is  engaging, authentic learning.  There are so many good things about writing a blog, that I could go on for some time: increasing self-confidence in expressing ideas, developing fluency in writing, understanding appropriate language and online etiquette, gaining an understanding of other cultures, connecting to students in your own class in a way that doesn’t always happen in class, especially in case of shyness, exercising higher order thinking in commenting, evaluating, and analysing, etc.

As with any knowledge of Web 2.0 technologies, it’s not a matter of understanding them theoretically as an educator, but of playing with them, understanding them from the inside, modeling them for other educators and students. 

The future world of work and life for our students will require an online identity, a digital footprint, an ability to create a network of people to learn from and with. I feel that if I don’t immerse myself in Web 2.0 technologies, not for technology’s sake, but for the sake of broadening my own network – people I learn from and communicate with globally – then I’m doing a disservice to the students I teach and the teachers I support.

365 photos

365 photos

Congratulations to Tania for being such a reflective and lifelong learner. We can all learn from your philosophies and examples. Thanks for sharing your blogs with Bright Ideas!

Two Web 2.0 presentations

Recently Donna DesRoches, a Learning Resources Consultant from the Living Sky School Division in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada shared two of her presentations with the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL). Donna has agreed to share her presentations with us here at SLAV’s Bright Ideas as well.

Selection 2.0: Using RSS to enhance print, multimedia and web-based resource selection

(Description) RSS, a web-based application that allows the training of information to come to us, can be used to carry-out the professional selection responsibilities of teacher-librarians. This workshop will explain RSS, demonstrate a variety of formats for organizing incoming information and provide a number of sources for print, multimedia and web-based resources.

In this session I showed teacher-librarians how to use delicious feeds to create updated lists of resources for teachers and students. I suggested using NetVibes and using the private pages as the ‘messy’ pages where the feeds from things such as book blogs, and other tools with RSS feeds e.g. CM, Open Culture, Librarians’ Internet Index and Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day – much like the pile of selection tools that ends up on our desks.

As teachers find sites that meet the learning needs of their staff and students they add them to their delicious account tagging them appropriately. The feeds for the specific delicious tags are added to their NetVibes public pages resulting in a collection that could look like this….

Using Emerging Technologies to Build a Personal Learning Network

(Description) Teacher-librarians are specialists with unique learning needs that are not always met through school or division-based professional development. This workshop will provide teacher-librarians with the tools and the knowledge to create networks that will lessen the isolation and provide global connections that will enhance their own learning and benefit the teachers and students with whom they work.

My slide show and supporting links can be found at

If you have questions about the presentations – please contact Donna.

Thanks to Donna for sharing her presentations with us here in Australia.


An interesting Web 2.0 resource that could be useful for the beginning of the school year is thisMoment.

thisMoment is a type of digital portfolio that can chronicle events in a person’s life. As with all of the best Web 2.0 tools that can be used for educational purposes, thisMoment has privacy settings so that students’ work can be shared only with selected people.

‘Moments’ appear in the form of a timeline, with the ability for you to upload photos or videos alongside the text that you write; a description of what the moment is and how it made you feel. Getting students to create their own moments could be a great way of getting to know them at the beginning of the year. If thisMoment was introduced to year 6 students on orientation day, they could collect moments over the Christmas holidays ready to upload and share with their new school mates and teachers. For those schools with pets, accounts for pets can be created and (for example) the life cycle of a pet could be chronicled. This type of activity has applications for VELS areas such as Science, English, Humanities, ICT and Personal Learning

There are lots of social networking tools that users can tweak to add to their thisMoment experience.