Blog Archives

Cross-posting: From Luke Dyer in New Zealand

I just love how the teachers who have signed their classes up for The Travelling Rhinos Project have embraced this project and in many instances, have put their regular teaching on hold to ensure that their students can participate fully in this project. Once such teacher, Luke Dyer, blogged about the project today. I have cross-posted with his permission:

First Global Project – Travelling Rhinos

LesdieBack last towards the end of last year I saw a message on twitter asking for classes to collaborate in a project to increase the awareness of the plight of the Rhinoceros.  This South African teacher, Karen S or @ICT_Integrator, and her class had 5 Rhinos made from traditional African fabric, gave them names and sent them out into the world to different classes. Now, almost 6 months later, Lesedi (Light in Setswana) arrived in the mail.

For the past week we have learned about Rhinos; facts and figures about their life and the sad facts and figures about their rapid move towards extinction. So with these issues in our mind we decided to try and do something to make a difference.  Many ideas were raised about ways to raise money, but it was clear that money was not the issue – the issue was that people did not know that there was a problem.

Then a small child said “Why don’t we make a google form and get people to sign their name and we can put it on our blog for people to access.
Another added “…and we can tweet it out on the class Twitter and your Twitter Mr Dyer”.
Then lastly “…and Mum’s got Facebook and she can like it on that and heaps of people will see it.”photo (14)

So through social media we made a petition and shared it (as I type this blog post we have over 300 names on the petition).  The class made a poster and shared it at assembly and we also used the school newsletter emailing list to get the link to the form out to all parents. Instantly we discovered that the local newspapers read our newsletters and we have had one reporter in already taking photos and recording the journey and another is coming in tomorrow morning.

Through participating in this project I have truly seen the power of modern technology in knocking down classroom walls and making global connections.  Karen’s aim of the project was to raise awareness of the issues and I believe that in our small way, this small rural school in the middle of nowhere has made a difference. Technology removes the barriers of distance, knocks down the borders between countries and allows for global collaboration of epic proportions.  This may be just one project, but there are many more out there and I urge you to look for one or begin your own.

If you have not added your name to the petition do so now and if you have thank you.

photo (13)

Click on the image to view the petition

Thank you Luke, for your enthusiasm and support for this project! Please visit Luke’s blog to read more.


A Visitor From Afar

On Friday last week, we had a visitor come and visit our school all the way from Australia. But before I explain who it was, I have to tell you the story behind the visit!

Last year I struck up a conversation on Twitter with a young man, Michael Graffin (@mgraffin). He co-founded the Global Classroom Project (mentioned in an earlier post) and I was very interested in getting involved. Over the next few months we communicated quite regularly and I got to help with his project by setting up the Facebook group and helping with the Global Classroom Project blog.

Michael is a relief teacher in Perth, Australia and he has recently started working as a research assistant for Dr Jenny Lane at the Edith Cowan University. He has followed our school’s iPad journey with interest and I was pleased to see that he was involved with iPads at the university.

Well, obviously Michael mentioned our pilot project to his boss, because two weeks ago, out of the blue, I got a message on Twitter:


In a jiffy we set up a meeting for 24 Feb – we weren’t missing out on this opportunity!

Dr Jenny Lane is a senior lecturer at the Edith Cowan University. She has a particular interest in applications of technology in learning and the teaching of E-Learning.  She was also awarded a research fellowship for 2012 and is researching the changes in classrooms when teachers are confident users of iPads.  See her blog:

Our meeting, attended by myself, our Head of IT (@maryna_n) and our Senior Primary principal (@artpreston), was a very fruitful one. It seems that teachers all over the world are experiencing very similar issues and apprehensions when it comes to the integration of ICT into the curriculum. It is, however, being driven by the Australian Government and is being included in the new National Teacher Standards for Australia, which are currently being rolled out.

As for iPads, Dr Lane is very excited about their implementation in the classroom, hence the topic for her research this year. What came out of our discussions was the following:

  • Affirmation that our cautious approach (25 school-owned devices for a pilot project) is a wise one – she has implemented a similar approach at the university.
  • Baby steps – try something small, one lesson and let it grow from there.
  • Prior planning is vital.
  • Consultation with the teachers and parents is important.
  • On-going support is essential – not by an ICT boffin, but by a teacher who has intimate knowledge of classroom management.
  • You do not need Wi-Fi to make the device work!

We will stay in contact with Dr Lane and Michael (of course!) so that we can learn from her research and perhaps implement some of the ideas and tips that stem from her blog and possibly contribute to the research from South Africa.

Thanks Michael, for the recommendation! Thanks to Twitter for the amazing contacts!

The Importance of a PLN

Yesterday I made a new ‘friend’, thanks to the wonderful PLN I have created on Twitter.  A while ago I touched on the value of Twitter, but I feel I need to revisit the topic of a PLN again, because only now am I really beginning to see its true value.  I am now of the opinion that a PLN, or Personal Learning Network, is of utmost importance if one is to keep abreast of what is happening in education around the world.  If we are to keep up with trends, read the latest thoughts on issues in education and keep up with ICT developments world-wide, then a PLN is a MUST!

As I have mentioned before, I joined Twitter about two years ago, and then I started searching for people in the same line of education – ICT integration.  Before long I was following an array of people who ranged from specialists in the field, to regular teachers like myself, people with a passion for ICT and a love of social networking!  Well, it
has certainly worked for me! In the past two years I have learnt more, discovered more new things and ‘met’ more people, than I ever thought possible.  All thanks to the wonderful people in my PLN! I am following people in South Africa, America, Germany, England, Australia, Spain, France and most recently, Romania!

That brings me back to my newest ‘friend’ – @bucharesttutor.  This young man saw an appeal I had made for Maths websites and Cricket World Cup lessons, and in a jiffy he connected with me, and sent me
a list of links which I will now share with my fellow teachers.  He is based in Bucharest, Romania and is a qualified Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry private tutor who teaches all grades.  How amazing is that?

Through my Twitter connections, I have started following the blogs of a number of these wonderful people. I now don’t know what I would do without my amazing PLN – each day I learn more and more from them and I look forward to reading their latest offerings.  I am also hoping to meet one or two of these lovely people at the Intel ICT in the Classroom Conference, in Johannesburg, in July!  I know that @nharm (Naomi Harm from Wisconsin, USA is one of the international presenters – I met her at the same conference in Durban in 2009).

Please understand that Twitter is not the only way to create a PLN!  It was my tool for creating connections, but there are various other ways such as Facebook, joining Ning communities relating to your interests, and other networking tools.

 My advice to you then?  Get networking!!