Free eLearning content by and for teachers is being developed at the WikiEducator wiki. 


What is it and who developed it? The website states:

Sir John Daniel, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning was the founding patron of WikiEducator. The project has adopted a community governance model which is coordinated by WikiEducator’s Open Community Council, building on the work of the Interim International Advisory Board. Ambassadors for WikiEducator promote the project around the globe, and our technology roadmap helps us make the future happen.

WikiEducator’s technical infrastructure is supported by a financial contribution by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) to the Open Education Resource Foundation an independent international non-profit head quartered at Otago Polytechnic New Zealand. The servers are hosted by Athabasca University, Canada.

There are ways for interested teachers to get involved with WikiEducator. The website explains how:

Get Involved ~ There are so many ways…

Thanks to @wizdommy for the information on WikiEducator!

Feature wiki – Lowther Hall AGS

Glenys Lowden, Head of the LRC at Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School has developed an interesting wiki resource with English teacher Jenny Cas. Part of the Year 10 English course requires the students to read and study a book of their choice from a list available on the wiki.

Reading wiki homepage
Reading wiki homepage

Glenys outlines why the wiki was developed:

Jenny and I set up the wiki to encourage the girls to discuss and gain insight into texts which we had purchased specifically for this purpose.

It is great to see, when visiting the wiki, that students have indeed joined and made comments about their books. In some instances, these comments have become conversations when either Glenys, Jenny or other students engage in further discussions about the texts. Glenys outlines some of the issues that she and Jenny faced when setting up the wiki:

We had some problems with students gaining access to the wiki although I think this may have been due to our settings.  Consequently it took ages for the students to get their comments up and by this time the short program has almost finished.  When I last checked not all students had followed through with commenting.  This is another issue which needs to be addressed prior to the next group.  However it has been good to learn from this group and improve the process ready for the next group to start.

Glenys and Jenny have also kindly agreed to publish their supporting documentation; a letter to parents, an introduction to the program and the introductory discussion questions they have been using.

Glenys and Jenny have set up a useful wiki for the girls and have obviously learned a lot through the developmental stages. Well done!

Google Sidewiki

One new resource that has caused a stir in the last few days is Google’s Sidewiki.  

Sidewiki homepage

Sidewiki homepage

Once Sidewiki is downloaded by a user, it lets them comment on any webpage, with the comments available for anyone to view. Here’s what was published on Google’s Official blog about Sidewiki:

As you browse the web, it’s easy to forget how many people visit the same pages and look for the same information. Whether you’re researching advice on heart disease prevention or looking for museums to visit in New York City, many others have done the same and could have added their knowledge along the way.

What if everyone, from a local expert to a renowned doctor, had an easy way of sharing their insights with you about any page on the web? What if you could add your own insights for others who are passing through?

Now you can. Today, we’re launching Google Sidewiki, which allows you to contribute helpful information next to any webpage. Google Sidewiki appears as a browser sidebar, where you can read and write entries along the side of the page.

Google’s brief video explains more:

 Jeff Jarvis, author of Buzzmachine, isn’t convinced. He says of Sidewiki:

Google is trying to take interactivity away from the source and centralize it. This isn’t like Disqus, which enables me to add comment functionality on my blog. It takes comments away from my blog and puts them on Google. That sets up Google in channel conflict vs me. It robs my site of much of its value (if the real conversation about WWGD? had occurred on Google instead of at Buzzmachine, how does that help me?). On a practical level, only people who use the Google Toolbar will see the comments left using it and so it bifurcates the conversation and puts some of it behind a hedge. Ethically, this is like other services that tried to frame a source’s content or that tried to add advertising to a site via a browser (see the evil Gator, which lost its fight vs publishers).

So this goes contrary to Google’s other services – search, advertising, embeddable content and functionality – that help advantage the edge. This is Google trying to be the center.

Jarvis goes on to report Twitter comments about Sidewiki and his further thoughts:

On Twitter, Google’s Matt Cutts says: “@jeffjarvis points taken, but if it gets larger group of people to write comments on web, that can be good. Plus API allows data to come out” And: “@jeffjarvis and I do see one very nice use case where people can add their comments about scammy sites, e.g. work-at-home scams.”

Points taken as well. It would enable sites without commenting functionality to get comments, including negative comments. In the case of a spam site, OK, that could be useful. But that could also include attacks that one now must monitor (watch out, Google: every story about Israel and race and Obama and health care will attract venom that affects my site but is not under my control).

I don’t think this was done maliciously at all. I think Google didn’t think through the implications.

 Have a look at Sidewiki and decide for yourself. Perhaps only time will tell how people will use this new application.

Getting Tricky with Wikis

Getting Tricky with Wikis is a resource that gives you tips and tricks to customise your wiki. From changing your wiki name, adding a background image to a page to embedding any webpage to your wiki, this site gives you the instructions and html codes to easily make the changes you want.



Getting Tricky with Wikis is from the people who brought you Web 2.0 Cool Tools for Schools.

Thanks to Rhonda Powling for the link to Getting Tricky with Wikis.

Best Australian library blogs, wikis, etc.

We are on the hunt for Australia’s favourite school library blogs, wikis, netvibes, webquests and pageflakes (and so on). We’d also like to seek out blogs by library staff that are reflective of of our profession.

Please consider nominating your colleagues, people from your networks and virtual networks or even yourself. Once we have a shortlist representing different platforms, voting will be open to anyone interested.

Please send information such as:

  • Your name and school
  • Who you are nominating (if known)
  • The name of the website/s
  • The URL/s
  • Any other information

You can nominate as many different websites as you like. Nominations will close on 11 August. Voting will commence shortly afterwards. Please send nominations to

Feature wiki – The Hamilton and Alexandra College

Margaret Simkin, the Head of Information Services and Head of History at The Hamilton and Alexandra College is happy to share the development of her wiki  with Bright Ideas readers.

Margaret explains:

 This wiki is the result of several years of deliberation about what to do and how to do it in the most sustainable way, while allowing for the fact that we have a small library staff with limited time available for management. Undertaking the SLAV Web 2.0 course provided the idea as it enabled us to work on things together and discuss their potential. Two of us successfully completed the course.

The catalyst came when I attended the SLAV conference where Will Richardson used his wiki as the vehicle for his professional learning delivery. Suddenly the whole picture became clear and the way in which to link it all became obvious. 



The aim was to create a site where staff can go when they want to find out how to do something to enhance their teaching and learning. Working through the best way to set it up in terms of layout and linking pages took some time and is still open to alteration as suggestions arise. Affirmation during this process came from a teacher responding to an email link I had sent about how to create podcasts. She replied: “It would be good to have somewhere to put these links so we could find them when we need them”.

After several months of trial and error the site was ready to introduce to staff last term. We held a special afternoon tea and demonstrated how to find information. Since then visitors have had a look from all over the world, which is very exciting to see.

Google apps

Google apps

To anyone thinking about what to set up and how to do it, I would suggest that you just need to start. As with all things technological, change is continuous and there will be another new thing tomorrow! My preferred option was a wiki as I had used them more often in class than blogs or nings. It is a matter of personal preference and should not be a cause for concern or delay. Just develop your concept and see where it leads. There are many valuable spinoffs, most significantly the fact that cooperative planning and teaching is strengthened by the process.

What's new

What's new

Our next intention is to create something for students to access, most probably a blog!

View more presentations from msimkin.

Congratulations to Margaret and her staff on creating a visually appealing and useful wiki, with lots of Web 2.0 tools embedded such as Animoto and Slideshare. We look forward to featuring your blog!

Digital Research Tools wiki (DiRT)

The Digital Research Tools wiki is a collection of tools that is arranged by task, preceded by a definition of that task.

Wiki homepage

Wiki homepage

A great example is that of screencasting. The DiRT wiki gives the following information:

Definition:  A screencast is a recording of actions taken on a computer screen, often with accompanying narration.  It is essentially a movie of what is happening on a monitor.  Screencasts are often used as tutorials or instructions of how to perform certain actions or operate certain programs on a computer.


  • Adobe Captivate: Windows-based software that “enables anyone to rapidly create powerful and engaging simulations, scenario-based training, and robust quizzes without programming knowledge or multimedia skills” (commercial)
  • CamStudio:  Open source Windows software records your computer’s screen and audio activity into AVI format.  Can save into Flash format (swf)  (free, GPL)
  • Camtasia: Windows-based screen recording software (commercial)
  • iShowU: Mac-based software for recording audio & video on a computer screen (commercial)
  • Jing: Available for Windows or Mac, Jing is “the always-ready program that instantly captures and shares images and video…from your computer to anywhere” (commercial)
  • ScreenFlick: “features high performance screen capturing for smooth, fluid motion up to 60 fps” (Mac, commercial)
  • ScreenFlow: well-reviewed screencapture/screencast software for the Mac (commercial)
  • SnapZProX: make quicktime movie or screen shot (Mac, $)
  • uTIPu: Download the uTIPu TipCam, record a video of your computer screen, share online publicly or privately, and even embed into a web site (commercial)
  • WebSlides: Turn Diigo bookmarks and feeds into slide shows.  Add background music or voiceover. (Free, web-based)
  • Wink: Wink is a freeware screen recording and editing software to create software tutorials (Windows/Linux, freeware).

DiRT is licenced under creative commons. The contributors include librarians and researchers. Well worth a look!

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!

Pageflakes @ Casey Grammar School – a winning combination!

At the end of 2008, Julie Squires and Mark Phillips from Casey Grammar School were awarded the then Education Channel’s (now Connect) ‘Webquest of the Year Award’ for their Webquest  “Earth 2.0 Headquarters – Is it possible to create a completely sustainable planet?”

is it possible to create a completely sustainable planet?

Earth 2.0: is it possible to create a completely sustainable planet?

Julie, then teacher librarian and Mark, then Head of Humanities decided to collaborate on a project that the year 10s could undertake.  Julie explains, ‘I was really motivated to have a go at entering the then Education Channel/SLAV Webquest of the Year Competition (now Connect/SLAV). Although time was short, we got our page together and had a number of students ‘test drive’ and critique the site.’ The students suggested that Julie and Mark add more games and make it ‘more fun’.’

The Webquest has a lot of links, mostly devised by Julie and Mark. These include a wiki, several vokis, trading cards and a blog.

Earth 2.0 wiki

Earth 2.0 wiki

After taking the students ideas into consideration, Julie and Mark completed the site and entered it into the competition. The rest is history! Julie and Mark created their Webquest using the Pageflakes Web 2.0 resource. Congratulations to Julie and Mark for creating a vibrant and engaging piece of work for their students. Their recognition by winning the 2008 Webquest and Beyond! Competition was richly deserved.

Web 2.0 competition

Connect along with the School Library Association of Victoria are launching a new Web 2.0 competition for Victorian educators. Readers of Bright Ideas have been given a sneak preview as the competition will be officialy launched by Will Richardson on Monday 23rd March at the SLAV conference to be held at the Telstra Dome.

The Connect Web 2.0 competition page states:

  • Will Richardson will present on leveraging the potential of a hyperconnected world at the School Library Association of Victoria(SLAV) Conference on March 23rd. He writes about new internet literacies on this wiki. Will Richardson will also launch the new Connect Web 2.0 Competition.This competition is a collaboration between SLAV and Connect. Teachers and/or Librarians work in a team to develop an online collaborative project incorporating use of a blog and/or wiki and other web 2.0 technologies. Emphasis is on creative, innovative use of the technologies and how they are used to engage students in learning in new ways. Entries will close at the end of Term 3 with presentations made at the annual SLAV International School Libraries Day Awards Dinner in October. This competition supersedes the successful WebQuest competition held in previous years.

Criteria and entry guidelines are available on the Connect Web 2.0 page. There are some fabulous people doing amazing work with Web 2.0 tools, so have a go and good luck!