My Learning Journey

Traveling and Learning with #ETMOOC

Google Hangouts Tutorial

February 5, 2013 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

Thanks to Alec Couros for tweeting about a great post that led me to this great tutorial about Google Hangouts and education.


A look back on Connecting

February 5, 2013 by · No Comments · #ETMOOC, WEEK TWO

ABC Learning

I have been running a bit late and slow the past few days and have not written as much as I would have liked.  On the other hand I have been thinking and reading a considerable amount.  I don’t want to make this a long post on what I have learned as that would take forever (possibly) but I thought I would just mention a few things that I accomplished and have learned on ETMOOC though I often feel like the teddy bear back at the very beginning.1. I have begun to use Twitter more.  By that I mean that I am actually trying to contribute to the conversation rather than just be a lurker or a reader.  I have had some success with this but no that I need to keep working on it.  Twitter handle @heatherd1951.  I use Tweetdeck on my desktop and Hoot Suite on my iPad.

2. I have been commenting on more blogs and working hard to have a conversation – again with some success but it will come.

3. I have researched a number of curating tools – Rebel Mouse, Mentor Mob, Scoop-it and Diigo.  I haven’t decided yet which one I am going to use.  I am continuing to use Symbaloo but I need something with a bit more flexibility.

4. Google+ and Google Circles – this is a biggie as I have never really grasped what they should be used for.  I am beginning to understand as I have expanded with the ETMOOC group and then discovered other communities.  I decided to join the iPad Ed Community.  My first task was to ask about ideas for deployment of apps on a lot of iPad carts hoping that I would get some ideas or confirmation that we were on the right track.  I was amazed that within an hour I had 13 comments all with good suggestions and many with links that I was able to use.  I appreciated the willingness of everyone to share and be open.  I was also happy to find out that we were not the only ones that were struggling with the best way to handle so many iPads.  It was nice not to feel alone.  I was very pleased to be able to turn the suggestions over to the head of our Academic Tech area.

So I have made some connections – want to do more of that.  Learned a considerable amount – want to do more of that and don’t feel quite so overwhelmed as I begin to get more of a focus.  It will be interesting to see what comes out of Digital Storytelling.  I am ready to investigate, learn and hopefully contribute.

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A Mouse goes Rebel

January 31, 2013 by · No Comments · #ETMOOC, CURATING, LEARNING TOOLS, WEEK TWO

One of the areas that has really caught my eye since we began ETMOOC is curating.  I mentioned in the previous blog post that I had never really thought about curating but was going to investigate further.  Well, I have started that process and while I don’t know if my mind is any clearer on how I personally want to curate I have started to look at some of the tools that were mentioned in the Introduction to Social Curating session. The first one I am looking at is called Rebel Mouse.  I love the name.

I easily set up my account and then began reading about it.  They have pretty decent instructions on how to link to your different feeds though I am struggling to figure out how to delete my Pinterest feed.  Rather than just get my feed I seem to be getting everyone’s and I don’t want that.  I have to investigate a little further obviously.  They do have a good FAQ section and I was able to work out some of my issues by following that but not Pinterest.  I think the issue I am having with Pinterest feed that is coming in is that I am looking at Rebel Mouse as a way to curate by professional life not my personal life.  I only have one Pinterest account that is a hodge-podge of this and that.  I am thinking that I am going to have to set up another account that will only represent what I am involved in and learning professionally. Enough about Pinterest as I can spend hours lost inside that great app.

OK back to Rebel Mouse…. they do have a nice small bookmarklet that you can drag up to your bookmark bar.  I haven’t used it yet but I will shortly.  I am hoping that this works the way the Pocket bookmarklet works which is many instances is too easy. I still have over 300 items in that file to work through.

So while I don’t have a lot of detail on Rebel Mouse I am looking at it.  I just want to figure out how to get my Google Reader feed into it also but maybe I am trying to stretch the possibilities of the program.

The other question I have is this.  Am I just going to use Rebel Mouse for my own curating or am I going to use it in a social way and share with others?  Maybe for a now while I am investigating I will use it as my Personal Knowledge Management System.


Cross posted to Teach Less! Learn More!



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One “H” and 4 “C’s”

January 28, 2013 by · 4 Comments · #ETMOOC, LEARNING TOOLS, WEEK TWO

English: Compulsive hoarding home entrance

I think this is what my mind looks like plus spinning around and around in circles.

It is amazing how all different aspects of my life seem to come together on occasion.  This is not necessarily a frequent occurrence so when it does happen I end up with an “AHA” moment or moments.  This happened this past weekend and while I am still mulling all of this over in my mind. I am cognizant enough to know that I am heading in a good direction for me.

I had listened to Introduction to Curating session and then attended online the EduCon 2.5  in Philadelphia where I was a participant in Joyce Valenza’s session on Curation: Three Ways. When it brought the two together I realized that the word I kept hearing was curating/curation.  In all honesty I knew what hoarding was, after all there is a show on television about extreme cases of it and I knew what collecting and curating were but had never applied them to technology and the vast amount of information that is out there and that I come across daily. When I think about it I probably bounce between hoarding (you never know when you will need it or as soon as I throw it away I will need it) and collecting but definitely not curating.

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I visited this incredible gallery in 2009.Definitely curation

It was suggested that curating rather than collecting leads to critical thinking.  To make this easier we were asked what we would collect if we could only curate 10 topics.  I really liked this idea as it gave me boundaries as I tend to be very ADD when it comes to information on the internet.  I have begun to realize that now that I am no longer in the classroom full time I need to change my approach to what I am saving.  It is hard to let go though.

So I am in the process of creating my list of ten topics based on my new job as a Technology Integration Specialist for Grades 2-5.  I know that I obviously need to focus on iPads in the Classroom as that is our new initiative but need to move on from there.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I am not even going to approach all of the apps that were mentioned in the session but it was stressed find the ones that I am most comfortable using and stick to those. Jumping from here to there doesn’t benefit anyone least of all me.  I am attracted to new apps and ideas and so I do jump but I am going to investigate new approaches to curation but with an essential question.  ”Will this app help me curate easier, faster or better than what I am already using?”

There is so much more I want to share about those two sessions but I think I will stop for now as my mind tries to catch up.


(Cross posted to Teach Less Learn More)

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The end of Week One – Wow.

January 21, 2013 by · No Comments · #ETMOOC, LEARNING TOOLS, WEEK ONE

It is Monday afternoon here in Guatemala City and outside my office our Elementary IT teacher is doing an excellent job of teaching a Grade 4 class about researching safely on the internet.  In my office, I am not quite that organized either on my desk or in my mind.  As you can see my desk is quite cluttered though I do have a nice view through a window to the outside behind me.

My mind is in much worse shape as far as organization but it is full of wonderful ideas and possibilities. This journey with ETMOOC is both amazing and overwhelming but I cling to the suggestion by so may experienced “Moocers” that there is a way through and to take it in small bites.  So that is what I am trying to do.

I could spend all day just browsing through all the incredible information but I am going to try and get a focus.  I had planned on doing more of that this past weekend but got hung up on listening to Simple K12 webinars on iPad usage and then on Sunday it was football day.  While not having a team to really follow in the playoffs I still love seeing a good game and chatting with my family back in Canada about what we are all watching.  So not as much got done as I would have liked.

So back to my review of Week One – What I have learned?

I attended or listened to the archive of all of the sessions offered and learned so much.  I have already written about what I learned from the blogging session.  Today I listened to the Curating and Social Bookmarking session.  I have to admit that up until I listened to Jeff Heil do the session I had never really thought about curating information as opposed to just bookmarking it.  I really appreciated the distinction that was made and I made a decision that I want to be more proactive with bookmarking and then beginning to curate the information. I think I need to narrow my focus a bit.

One of my favourite apps is Pocket formerly called Read it Later.  It is so easy to just click the link and save anything so that I don’t lose it but can get it later.  The problem is that at the moment I have over 300 things in my Pocket that I have to read, some going back 18 months.  This seems to be defeating the purpose.  I am so afraid that I will lose something that is interesting or appropriate for what I am doing that I easily just put it in Pocket with great intentions. It reminds of the ease of ordering on iTunes or Amazon once your payment info is there. Click and off I go. The problem seems to be that I don’t get back to it or don’t seem to use the opportunities I have to revisit what I saved.  I have decided that I need spend time this week either just getting rid of everything or decluttering my Pocket app.

I have an account in Diigo but have never really known how to use it.  Jeff gave some excellent suggestions.  He also talked about Scoop it! (unfortunately I couldn’t get the link to work so please search) which is an app I have had on and off my computer.  Someone talks about it and I think it sounds great and I use my account again and then I get frustrated because I don’t feel like I am using it properly and I take it off.  I am committed to learning how those two tools work.

My take away this week – I have met a number of nice people and I am proud of all the Canadians that keep popping up. I am committed to blogging for myself and not for others.  I am going to investigate Diigo and Scoop-it! and I am using Twitter more and more.

That is a good amount of learning for this past week.  I am proud of myself and have set goals that I think are reachable.


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Learning so much

January 18, 2013 by · 10 Comments · #ETMOOC, LEARNING TOOLS

I am learning so much that I can’t begin to keep up even with this blog but I think I will go for shorter posts and maybe that will work.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the session in Blackboard led by Sue Waters.  I have long been a fan of Edublogs even when I couldn’t use it in China because it was blocked.  I faithfully would follow the instructions and dream of the day that I would be actually be able to use it with a class.  Well, that time is now except I am not in the classroom anymore but working as a Technology Integration Specialist for Grades 2-5.  I have found a couple of teachers that are interested in blogging with their classes this year and so I am going to introduce Edublogs to them.

The session wasn’t just about Edublogs but about blogging as a whole.  It got me thinking about why I tend to be a lurker more than commenting and why I don’t write regularly on my blogs.  I have three blogs or rather four when you count this one and am a big believer in blogging but for some reason I don’t do it with any regularity. The blogs all have different foci (just learned that word by the way).  I have a professional blog, this ETMOOC blog, a personal blog that is suppose to recount my travels and a spiritual/faith journal.

Back to the session last night and my takeaways. There were several points made that I thought were excellent.  I was also proud of myself that I participated in the conversation in the chat room and was able to be honest.  All about trust you know…..  We talked about commenting and how that is the way you have the conversation.  My frustration, which I voiced in the chat, was that when I do decide to comment I try to make an intelligent comment and often am really putting myself out there with openness and yet do not get any response back from the blogger to whom I responded.  I am then not sure whether what I said was considered ridiculous or not important.  That lack of response seems to intimidate me and I respond less.  While I don’t get that many comments on my blogs I do try to respond to whomever comments even if it is just a thanks for their comments.  I realize that I need to maybe write more there.

The other take away was on finding my own blogging voice.  (“Wait – what’s your blog voice, you ask? It’s the tone, the personality and the persona you carry each time you share content on your blog. Master your voice and the rest is a cake walk. Okay, maybe it’s not a cake walk. But it’s way less intimidating.”)  This article is not about education but small businesses but I found it to be a good read about blogging voice.  When I am talking and when I am writing an email I don’t have any problem being my own person, having my own personality.  So often people say when they read an email I wrote that “it was just like you were telling me f2f”. But when it comes to blog I seem to get bogged down.

I am not a technical or pedagogical blogger though I can do this if required or it is necessary to the situation.  I tend to be a blogger who shares what is going on or what I am trying.  Because of the very nature of how I blog I get stuck because I wonder who would ever be interested reading what I write. 

That brings me to the third and for now final takeaway. I have to stop thinking about who will read what I write and write for myself first and foremost.  While it is wonderful to have someone read what I have written it must be first and foremost for me.  I need to stop thinking about how my post will be received and write from my heart.

OK, it turns out that I may not be capable of writing shorter blog posts.. hmmmm!!!! but at least I feel like I shared what I took away from last night.  Hopefully, it is posted in the archive and if so I would encourage you to listen to it.

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OK I have signed up….now what?????

January 15, 2013 by · No Comments · #ETMOOC, LEARNING TOOLS

I was very excited when I read about the ETMOOC and quickly signed up not really knowing what I was getting into but I thought the topics looked interesting and I love learning.  I also figured anything I learned would benefit the teachers I work with. I am always looking for ways to bring them ideas of how to incorporate authentic technology (that is such an overused phrase) into the classroom.  So I was signed up and I began investigating exactly what I was going to be doing.  Even after an excellent session with Alec Couros in Blackboard I was still not exactly sure what was going on.  I enjoyed the discussion but was overwhelmed by some of the pedagogical ideas that came out.  Was I into something that was going to prove to be too difficult? (No, I never accept that as a reason.)  Was I into something where I would not be able to make a contribution with my point of view? Was my sometimes simplistic approach to this subject going to hinder me from moving forward or establishing relationships or being part of a conversation? I was a bit taken back by the negative comments that I read from people who had taken a MOOC before and didn’t always view it as a positive experience.  This was a bit disheartening.  I know it wasn’t intended that way but it was how I interpreted some of the comments.  I decided I needed to know a bit more about what was going on.  That is when I found Dave Cormier’s You Tube video.  It is an excellent and very clear explanation of what a MOOC is and how it is best to approach it.  I now have a better way to approach this challenge and am looking forward to it.  Still much too learn and much to do but excited.

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Introduction for #ETMOOC

January 14, 2013 by · 2 Comments · #ETMOOC, INTRODUCTION

I used Animoto for the Introduction.

I also mentioned a You Tube link so you could see an New Zealand All Blacks Haka. This is done before every game and is a Maori Tribal Dance. I choose this one because it is the All Blacks against Tonga another tribal nation. Hopefully, you will enjoy.


A new chapter in the learning journey

January 10, 2013 by · No Comments · INTRODUCTION

January seems to be the month for online professional development courses and I have been trying to determine what I want to learn.  When I came across a blog (can’t remember which one right now) mentioning the #ETMOOC I read it with great interest.  To be perfectly honest I did have to look up what MOOC stood for and got an in depth description from Wikipedia.  Then I moved over to the website and decided right then that I wanted to be part of this experience.  So here I am. I am excited to meet a world wide community and learn things I can share with my teachers.

I decided to set up a new blog for this course but have links over on the side of my other blogs.  I am an infrequent blogger much to the disappointment of my friends when I don’t write about my life in Guatemala.  Oh well. maybe I will get better at it.

The picture at the top of my blog is taken in Guatemala City and is the volcano Agua.  The picture is a bit stretched but it was a beautiful view during Christmas and I couldn’t resist including it in my blog.

The pictures below are from our beautiful campus in Guate.

Students and Parents having reading time together

A great courtyard outside the Grade 3 classes