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.


Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians

School library guru Dr Joyce Valenza has written an inspiring post entitled A Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. Covering our responsibilities to students regarding:

  • reading
  • information landscape
  • communication and publishing and storytelling
  • collection development
  • facilities, your physical space
  • access, equity, advocacy
  • audience and collaboration
  • copyright, copyleft and information ethics
  • new technology tools
  • professional development and professionalism
  • teaching and learning and reference
  • into the future (acknowledging the best of the past)

this is a must read, must react, must reflect post. Thanks to Helen Boelens for directing me to this post.


Chatzy is a site that allows users to quickly and easily start their own free and private chat rooms.

Chatzy homepage
Chatzy homepage

All you need to do is fill out a few boxes with your nickname and the email address of the person/people you are inviting. Your friends receive an email with a clickable link. Then you join the chat and away you go.

From Chatzy’s website comes the following details:

  • Chatzy has no registration steps – your friends can join instantly
  • Chatzy is free and has no popup ads
  • Chatzy does not require any installation on your computer (= no spyware)
  • Chatzy works on any PC, with any language and through corporate firewalls
  • Chatzy is simple and easy to use
Chatzy chat
Chatzy chat

Chatzy is a good, no frills way to reflect with colleagues and friends via a back channel when at conferences, professional development and so on.

Thanks to Jenny Luca for the heads up on Chatzy.


Dimdim is a free web conferencing service where users can communicate quckly and effectively.

Dimdim home
Dimdim home

The Dimdim website says that its features are:

  • It’s Easy, Open & Affordable
  • No Install to Host/Join meetings
  • Easy Share Screens & Webpages
  • Audio & Video Conferencing
  • Present PowerPoint and PDFs
  • Private & Public Chat
  • Whiteboard & Annotations
  • Record and Playback Meetings
  • Open Source and open APIs

As with many of the Web 2.0 tools now available, there is the option to upgrade membership from free, basic account to a premium paid account.  The fee structure is as follows:

Anyone wanting to set up a web conference either for professional development or for schools to communicate and work collaboratively, the Dimdim free account gives users the opportunity to do this.

Free professional learning @ SLV

 A few more interesting events are coming up at the State Library of Victoria, all of them are free of charge (but bookings are required), which in this financial environment has got to be good.

On Tuesday 5th May, there is a forum on ‘The Web 2.0 World’. The forum will examine the use of Web 2.0 technologies to find, engage and collaborate with users. Click here  to book.

On Tuesday 19th May, The Learning to Learn series focuses on ‘Today’s Kids,  Tomorrow’s School.’ This session will look how students need to learn and what impact new approaches to education are having on students and their futures. Click here  to book.

On Tuesday 9th June, ‘The Web 2.0 World: Play’ gives participants the option to experiment with Web 2.0 tools and technologies. (The link for booking this session is not yet available. It will be added when ready.)

These sessions are not only relevant to teachers/librarians, but can count towards the VIT PD requirements.

One to one professional learning

Have you had a tough time getting Web 2.0 tools on the agenda at your school? No matter what you try, those in power aren’t listening? Then why not try the idea of ‘one to one professional learning’. The idea here is that you chip away at people until they give in to the power of Web 2.0 – one by one.

One to one professional learning can be held during spare periods so that staff do not feel that this is ‘just one more thing to deal with after school’. By teaching one person at a time, the sessions are casual and fun, without the need to monitor large groups who need their hands held. And one of the philosophies behind the program is that the person you teach goes on to teach another person that particular tool. This takes the strain off library staff and empowers learners to teach and reinforce their learnings. This survey  may help you to introduce the topic to staff via a group email. Good luck!

Will Richardson @ Perspectives on learning v2

For everyone who attended the School Library Association of Victoria’s Professional Learning program today at Etihad Stadium (formerly Telstra Dome), or for those who were unable to attend, here are the links to Will Richardson’s  sessions:

Network literacy: Leveraging the potential of the HyperConnected world.

Podcast, Vodcast, Screencast, LiveStream Nation.

Weblogs in schools.

And here are the podcasts of these sessions:

Perspectives on learning v2 – March, 2009

– “Network literacy: leveraging the potential of a hyper-connected world” – Conference keynote

Link to .mp3 audio file Part 1 – 14Mb approx.
Link to .mp3 audio file Part 2 – 16Mb approx.
Link to .mp3 audio file Part 3 – 16Mb approx.

Prepared by Will Richardson (Connective Learning)

– “Podcasts, vodcasts, screencasts, livestream nation ” – Featured address

Link to .mp3 audio file Part 1 – 14Mb approx.
Link to .mp3 audio file Part 2 – 11Mb approx.
Link to .mp3 audio file Part 3 – 13Mb approx.

Prepared by Will Richardson (Connective Learning)

– “Weblogs in schools ” – Plenary session

Link to .mp3 audio file Part 1 – 15Mb approx.
Link to .mp3 audio file Part 2 – 16Mb approx.
Link to .mp3 audio file Part 3 – 17Mb approx. )

Prepared by Will Richardson (Connective Learning)

A link to Jenny Luca’s session on Now you know Web 2.0, what next?, a link to Adrian Camm’s companion wiki  and a link to Judith Way’s presentation on Bright Ideas.


Elluminate is an online ‘lecture capture’ application that is currently available free of charge to all Victorian educators (State, Independent and Catholic schools are all included) through the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Knowledge Bank.

Elluminate lets people communicate in real time via their Internet connection. People who schedule an Elluminate session meet in a ‘room’. They are able to speak to each other via a headset with microphone, use the chat function, raise their hand to ask a question, draw on a whiteboard amongst other things. The moderator or person running the session is able to upload powerpoint style slides to give the session a focus. At the end, sessions can be saved and archived for access at a later time.

Once Elluminate is installed via the Knowledge Bank page, users are able to access demonstrations, archived sessions and participate in online training sessions. There are two sessions on how to use Elluminate coming up in the next few weeks; Tuesday 13th January at 3.30pm  and Tuesday 27th January at 3.30pm. To participate in these very useful sessions, click on the date/s above to register. (Please be aware that you will need a headset with microphone and have downloaded Elluminate prior to the session.) Once users are confident using Elluminate, rooms can be booked to run your own online sessions.

A view of an Elluminate room

Elluminate has so many possibilities in regard to educational applications; staff can capture professional development sessions or staff meetings for part-timers or those who are absent. Those schools who find attending professional development sessions difficult due to distance or funding can access Elluminate sessions easily and for free. And archived sessions mean that you can revisit a session at anytime. Elluminate also has uses to work with students in a virtual enviroment. Once you become confident using Elluminate, the rest is up to your imagination. 

For examples of previous Elluminate sessions, click here. A previous Bright Ideas post on Professor Stephen Heppell linked to his Knowledge Bank visit. To access it, click here.

For more information on Elluminate, see the Knowledge Bank Elluminate site or contact:

Tamara Carpenter
Senior Project Officer
Knowledge Bank Online Events
Innovation and Next Practice Division
Office for Policy, Research and Innovation
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development

Ph. 03 9637 3010

If you do use Elluminate, please leave a comment to let everyone know what you think of it and how you used it in your school.

Thanks to Tamara for her assistance.


In a previous post about Pascoe Vale Primary School students creating e-books, teacher Margo Edgar mentioned getting students to create their e-books using PhotoStory or VoiceThread.

Group conversations around images, documents and videos
Group conversations around images, documents and videos

VoiceThread is an excellent Web 2.0 resource that enables users to create text, add videos and images and then record an audio overlay. Microphones and phones can be used to record audio. Users can comment on other people’s VoiceThread uploads, so there can be collaboration with other students and teachers if you wish.

VoiceThread is such an amazing and powerful tool, it is probably better to experience it for yourself, so have a look at this screencast that shows exactly how VoiceThread works: VoiceThread screencast.

There is also an excellent wiki that shows examples of VoiceThread projects in classrooms and school libraries.  So creating digital storytelling and e-books is now much easier, both for students and teachers. Students should find e-books lots of fun to produce and share using VoiceThread!

VoiceThread could also be used for online professional development or online learning. Staff meetings or staff PD could be presented using VoiceThread and then saved for later access for people who were absent, or who want to revisit the presentation.

Some lessons could be uploaded to VoiceThread for students who are ill or absent and for sharing with other classes or schools. Distance education could take advantage of VoiceThread’s free accounts as well. Thanks to Margo Edgar at Pascoe Vale Primary School for the introduction to VoiceThread.

Ning – create your own social network

Forget MySpace and Facebook! You can now create your own social network. Whether it be for staff communication or professional development purposes, or for student learning, Ning can provide you with all the tools you need to crate your own social network.

Have a look at the Ning for the Educators’ Guide to Innovation.


As with any Web 2.0 tool, the privacy of both students and staff need to be addressed before entering full names, photos and other information. Please note that users of Ning need to be over 13 years of age. As of July 2010, Ning will be charging for most nings, but there is said to be a sponsored deal for schools in the pipeline.