bitly + for maths class

bitly has been designed to allow you to shorten, share, and track URLs. You may have seen it used in Twitter, where the reducation of the url length makes it easier to stay within the character limit. What you may not know is that bitly’s real-time link tracker provides statistics and analytics. Sign-up to bitly is free, and a maths class studying statistics could have fun examining how many times their blog has been hit, or, if using twitter, how many times a tweet (mathematics based of course) has been retweeted. Tracking stats are provided once users shorten their long links with bitly and click on the ‘infopage +’ (on your homepage in bitly). You can also add a + sign to the end of any bitly link, so students could examine the statistics of their favourite website, video, online game, etc.. Maths class just got a whole lot more interesting.


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.

SLAV vodcasts support VCE students

One of SLAV’s FUSE projects is the vodcasts that are on the Merspi site. SLAV talks about Merpi and The VCE Advantage vodcasts below:

Merspi is a free online social networked learning hub for VCE students. Students are able to ask questions and have them answered by members of the community. All information is self-organised through Web 2.0 tagging and user votes. This project leverages 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.


We are delighted to announce the launch of The VCE Advantage a series of vodcasts that SLAV has developed in collaboration with Merspi.

These 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!

Go and have a look at The VCE Advantage video series here.

Digital Play: Ideas for ESL teachers (and others)

Digital Play is a blog by Kyle Mawer and Graham Stanley that provides computer game activities and ideas for, specifically, EFL/ESL teachers to use with their students. Any educator, however, would find something useful on this blog. Their latest post ’10 gaming genres to adapt in class’ provides the gaming genres (such as point-and-click, arcade, and puzzle) and information on how they will help build language skills, with examples of particular games to be used in the classroom.

Digital Play

The blog also provides lesson plans for gaming, that are very indepth plans to bring gaming into the classroom. The plans often include the level, topic, language focus, location for gaming, game details, prepartion, and tasks related to the game.  Digital Play is a truly fantastic resource that should be explored and shared with teachers in your school.

SLV’s ‘Shaun Tan: untold stories’

As a huge fan of Shaun Tan (Australian author, illustrator, and Oscar winner) I am very excited that I can view the video of Tan’s talk ‘Shaun Tan: untold stories’, that was presented at the State Library of Victoria on March 17th 2011. Living in country Victoria, it is hard to get to all events in Melbourne, so access to videos makes my life much easier. 

Shaun Tan: untold stories

During the illustrated 48 minute talk Tan shows pages of his sketchbooks and explains how a simple image can evolve into a complex story. I love his message to accept the messy creative process. A must view for art teachers, english teachers, teacher librarians, and anyone who is a fan! Teachers would be able to show excerpts of the talk in class to offer inspiration to many students. Also definately worth exploring, Tan’s fabulously illustrated website:

Tan's website

Wiki Walk-Through by Teachers First

Teachers First have put together Wiki Walk-Through to help teachers who are wanting to know about wikis and how to use them in their classrooms. The ‘Wiki ideas appropriate for most subjects and grade levels’ is great for people who know the basics and want to know how to integrate wikis into their classroom teaching and student learning. The site gives some fantastic classroom ideas for maths, science, social studies, language arts, and other subjects. Even if you are an advanced wiki user, this site can give you some new ideas for using the tool in the classroom. I really like the travel brochure idea in the language arts where the wiki is used to ‘advertise’ different literary, historical, and/or cultural locations and time periods, such as ‘Dickens’ London, fourteenth century in Italy in Verona and Mantua ( Romeo and Juliet),  The Oklahoma Territory, The Yukon during the Gold Rush, Ex-patriot Paris in the Twenties,  etc.’ .

Wiki Walk-Through

Maths Maps

Tom Barrett has created Maths Maps using Google Maps. The maps show the location, and the placemarks explain the math activities (placemarks are colour-coded according to year level, from year 1 to year 6). Each location deals with one topic. For example, there are ‘Measures in Madrid’, ‘Shapes in Paris’, ‘Data handling in Nottingham’, and ‘Addition in Adelaide’. What a fantastic way to interest students in math topics.

27 measures activities in Madrid

Maths Maps is a collaborative project that relies on teachers adding to the maps. So, if you let Barrett know the map you are interested in exploring with your class, he will make you an editor of that map. Have a look at the blog page for detailed information:

Maths Maps

Sir Ken Robinson’s animated ‘Changing education paradigms’

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) posted an amazing RSAnimate video of Sir Ken Robinson’s Edge lecture ‘Changing Education Paradigms’ (2009) (uploaded in October 2010). The animated video is an edited version of the talk and goes for 11 minutes. I love the animation. At first, I thought that the animation took my attention away from the what was being said, but soon it all mixed together and I was focussed on the content.  Thankyou to Susan Warren on OZTL_NET for suggesting the video and to watch it with a nice cup of coffee.


The full-length lecture (goes for about an hour) can be viewed here.

Fully digitised medieval manuscript at SLV

The first fully digitised medieval manuscript on State Library of Victoria’s (SLV) catalogue took my breath away. It is called The pilgrimage of the lyfe of the manhode ; and, The pilgrimage of the sowle / [anonymous adaptation in English of original by Guillaume, de Deguileville]. The manuscript was published roughly around 1430. It is so amazing to see something so old and so beautiful and to be able to zoom in and examine the calligraphy. Here’s a peek (to examine the manuscript go to here and click on the ‘Web link(s)’ image) :

SLV medieval manuscript

This is a brilliant resource for history teachers. They are able to show medieval history students the ‘real thing’. Students are able to explore the manuscript and look closely at the writing of the period.

There are plenty of other resources on the catalogue that are digitised. To have a basic browse type in ‘digitised manuscripts’ in the search tab of the catalogue and enjoy what you find.

Worth watching – Mike Matas: A next-generation digital book

Worth watchingThankyou to Lindy Hathaway for suggesting this Ted Talk video to subscribers of OZTL_NET (volume 87 issue 7).  The video is of Mike Matas, a software developer and co-founder of Push Pop Press, showing the first full-length interactive book for i-Pad (Our Choice by Al Gore) (filmed in March 2011). Have a look and see what you think. The comments below the video on the Ted Talk site are interesting to read. To view a trailer of the digital book Our Choice , click here.