Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

It has been a while …..  I’m not sure I know how to write any more.  I’m not even sure I know what to write.

I feel like I have been living in a vacuum – tucked far away from my usual life, floating somewhere in the universe.

Life is so unpredictable, full of twists and turns we can never anticipate.  Challenges crop up and hit us seemingly out of left field.  Unexpected and unplanned events, circumstances and situations can so quickly take over.  Value judgements can be upturned in an instant.  Days that quickly run into weeks and months take us in a different direction.  When it happens though, it’s easy to decide what is important.  It’s easy to decide where attention must be focused.

I hadn’t planned to have more than a year and a half away from my weekly blogging here on NovaNews and BevsBookBlog but it happened.

I’m back now though.

I hope I will be able to find the spark to reignite my love of learning, my thirst for knowledge, my desire to walk with others on the path of discovery.

My desk is weighed down with much to read.  My virtual desk is even heavier!  Getting back into it is made that little more enticing by knowing that many of you have continued to peek at my blogposts during my absence.

Thanks for your loyalty.  I truly appreciate it.

As they say:


I hope to be up and running again real soon.

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I very rarely look at the stats of my blog.  Quite honestly, I’ve better things to do.

But the other day, I was poking around on the NovaNews dashboard looking for something and came across an incredibly high number of hits for a post I wrote back in late 2012:  Learning to learn: 10 essential skills for teachers.

I was amazed to see that in just the first three months of this year – 2016 – there have been a total of 962 hits on this post, a figure which equates to 43% of the total number of hits on the same blog post last year.

Learning to learn - 10 essential skills for teachers!

So I’ve been sitting here for a while puzzling over why this post should be generating so much interest.

Perhaps my post may be garnering some attention via Twitter, but a check of recent stats on my WordPress analytics suggests not.  Most of the ‘referrers’ to this blog post are in fact coming from search engines which suggests

that many ‘out there’ must be searching for ways to improve their own teaching skills and that is the really interesting finding in all of this!

Inadvertently, it seems, I’ve discovered that my thoughts are being read far more widely than I’d previously thought.

Ah, I say with a smile on my face:  the power of blogging!

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I’m not sure how others feel, but sometimes, when I write a blog that involves some research and thinking, I come away from the process feeling excited and elated.   To the uninitiated, or to those of you who only read blogs rather than writing one yourself, you probably think this sounds a little crazy.  To those of us who do blog though, you will recognize my words and are probably starting to nod your head in agreement!

Just because I had so much fun writing last week’s NovaNews post, I thought I’d jot down the process that I went through to create it.   And, just to make it clear, I really have no other motive in sharing this process other than as a recording for myself and maybe just the slim chance that I will inspire some of you out there to get into blogging!

The impetus for last week’s post Scientific Discoveries, Open Access and Jack Andraka ….. The world is your oyster Jack! was a video that I’d seen of Jack Andraka being interviewed by the Director of The National Institues of Health.  I can’t remember where I found this video, but remember seeing it while I was at work.   Knowing that I had no time to concentrate on it at the time, I did what I often do.  I emailed it to myself so I could look at it another time, at home, when I had some uninterrupted time to ponder over it.

When I did get around to listening to the interview again, the words Open Access jumped out at me.   Recollecting a blog post I’d written some months ago about Aaron Swartz and his passionate pursuit to change US legislation governing access to publicly funded materials, I found myself rereading my words from early this year.   This effort however led me on an unexpected quest.

As my blog post back in January had only centered on the sad demise of a great mind, I found myself searching for links to his ground breaking presentation at the F2C: Freedom to Connect 2012 Conference.  An hour or so later, after sifting through lots of articles about Swartz and presentations he had given, I finally found the 20 minute talk I’d spotted back in January, but hadn’t taken the time to listen to.   Now, with my interest piqued about Open Access by 15 year old Jack Andraka, I took the time to listen to Swartz’ speech:  How we stopped SOPA” at F2C:Freedom to Connect 2012, Washington DC on May 21 2012  and added this link into my January post so that I wouldn’t ‘lose’ it again.   In the process of searching for this link, I also found reference to a recent announcement that Aaron Swartz is to receive a posthumous Freedom of Information award for Open Access advocacy.  I also added this link, as an update to my January blog post.

With fresh insight into the whole issue of Open Access and its implications, I was able to re-listen to the interview between Jack Andraka and Dr Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health.  From there, my ability to blog about this interview in light of Aaron Swartz’ passionate advocacy flowed quite easily.   Once I’d completed the blog post though, I started to wonder about Jack Andraka – who he was, what prize he had won, what he had invented and how significant this invention could be in the realm of science and medicine.

An hour or so later, after searching, reading and viewing videos that I located about Jack, I was overwhelmed and felt a burning need to share his youth and intelligence with those out there who may bother to read my post.      And so I added a few extra lines to my finished post and added in the couple of videos that highlighted his youthful joy at winning his prize and his brilliance as he goes on to explain highly technical details of his invention in his TED talk.

When I finally finished blogging, I was amazed to realize that I had been sitting at my desk for more than three hours.   What had transpired was an involved process in which I not only searched for information, but had sifted through this information, analyzing its relevance to my inner thoughts.  In other words, while reading and listening, I was processing this new information with my own thoughts, putting it together in a new format which was meaningful to me and hopefully would be meaningful to those reading my words.

The process I had been through was an adjunct to the information I had learned.   I felt exhilarated by the power of the process.   So much so, that a few hours later over dinner, I excitedly shared, for a good fifteen minutes, this realization with my husband!   In telling the story to him, I realied how much I had enjoyed the intellectual process I had unwittingly worked through over the course of the afternoon.

WOW!  What I actually experienced was ‘the joy of learning!’   What fun!

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A few weeks ago I found myself reading back over some of my blog posts.   It struck me that I’d often incorporated lists into my posts.

Realizing that these lists evolved as I thought through issues, considered ideas or delved into the reason or nature of a given issue, I thought, as much for myself as for my readers, that it would be of good to have a discrete list of these blog posts in the one spot.

The ‘Tips+’ tab above is a new page on NovaNews which lists various tips, ideas, thoughts and just things that have been included in a range of blog posts over the last couple of years.   It is a list I intend updating as I continue on my blogging journey.

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Blogging, reflecting, writing and thinking.

These have now become part of my weekly routine.   Rambling on ….. writing as I do ….. has become a pass time in which I’m able to indulge.  There are no demands on my time.  No deadlines to meet.  Just writing for the sake of teasing out my thoughts.  My writing varies from week to week.  It’s often based on what I’ve had time to explore and discover.   Sometimes my writing is reflective of discoveries made.  Other times I’m keen to share what I’ve been doing or thinking.  Yet other times, I’ve found myself writing passionately about topics close to my heart.

It seems like a natural progression to write articles for publication – either hard copy or online journals.   Up until the last 18 months, I’d published in a journal only once – and that was a very long time ago when I lived a very different professional life.   But since ‘getting into’ blogging, I feel like I’ve discovered a voice that has been lying dormant within me for a very long time.   Just recently, when asked to write a few lines about myself which could be used as an intro, I found myself reflecting on how far I’d come with – well I’d like to say pen and paper, but the reality is that it’s fingers and keyboard!  Sitting back and thinking about all the words written here on NovaNews, as well as those on my other blog, BevsBookBlog, alongside the articles I’ve been fortunate to have published in a range of journals, has made me stop and think about how far I’ve come in a relatively short time.

Sometimes I’ve used my blog posts as the basis for published articles.  Other times, I’ve thought, pondered, drafted and re-drafted until I’m satisfied that I’ve been able to effectively share my thoughts.   Publishing in journals gives a sense of achievement.  Knowing that my peers are interested in what I have to say is indeed inspiring and uplifting.  Some of you have given me complimentary feedback which I’ve appreciated so much.

A natural progression from writing is presenting, as it affords a different way of sharing my experience, my knowledge and my thoughts.  Presenting at conferences or workshops is very much an extension of teaching.  Knowing that I’m able to help others on their learning journey is so very satisfying.  Just recently, I was overwhelmed when contacted by a journalist from Australian Teacher Magazine asking if I’d agree to be interviewed about the process of getting into presenting.  The phone call came out of the blue.  Totally out of the blue.   How did the journalist find me I queried.   Social Media was the reply.   WOW – I thought.   How powerful is that!   And so, an article about me and how I’ve come to get into presenting at conferences can be read in both the online and hard copy of the March edition of Australian Teacher Magazine.

Being able to contribute to our collective knowledge, by sharing my experiences with others and having others gain from me is what it’s really all about.  There’s no time for any of us to be shy or hesitant about sharing our knowledge.   We have so very much to share with each other!

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Earlier this week, I published a post –  10 Learning Paradigms that can be implemented by Teacher Librarians –  on a subject I feel quite passionate about.  It talks about how the skills set of Teacher Librarians could be better utilized in our schools to lead and guide other teaching staff in their ongoing professional development.

It’s clear to me, when I look at the stats and see the very high number of reads that this post has garnered, that this post seems to have struck a chord with many of you.

BUT …..  I will never really know!   Nor will I know whether any of you agree or disagree with my ideas and thoughts nor whether any of you have other ideas that could be implemented in our schools, for, of the many comments received, only one of them is in fact a comment!  All the others are pings, indicating that my post has been scooped by readers of my post, which in and of itself is quite overwhelming.   I would never have thought that anyone would consider my post worthy of keeping or of sharing on a Scoop.it! and to those of you who have scooped it I express my sincere thanks.

It was only a day later when I was off reading links I’d discovered when catching up on Twitter that I realized that I too was doing what others are doing.   As I read fabulous posts about topics that I am curating, I scooped them with the sure knowledge that I would revisit these posts another day.   But ….. did I stop to leave a comment on the post I’d felt worthy enough to scoop?  Sometimes yes, but most often no.

“Uggghhh!!” I thought to myself.  I’m doing exactly what others are doing!    In an effort to make the most of precious minutes, trying to squeeze as much as possible into a ‘computer sitting’ session, I was zooming around scooping here and scooping there.

I then found myself sitting back thinking about what I was doing, what we are all doing, and what in fact Scoop.it! – one of the coolest curating programs around – has and is doing to us all.  Most of all I found myself wondering about the impact Scoop.it! and other curating programs such as paper.li is having on the Blogosphere?!

I’ve given some hard thought to why I enjoy blogging so much.  Yes – one sure joy is being able to rant on to my heart’s content about issues and thoughts that pop into my head at the oddest of moments!  Another is certainly the chance to share those thoughts and know that others are reading them, considering what I’m saying, perhaps thinking about them and adding them to their set of experiences and knowledge.  One of the real joys of blogging is knowing that we are all part of an enormous store of knowledge.  Absorbing the ideas and thoughts of each other is *very powerful* stuff!

But we all know that the biggest power of blogging comes from the discussion that occurs at the end of a blog post.

As someone leaves a comment and the blogger responds, a virtual conversation is started where ideas build on top of one another.  My thought here is not original.  While I can’t put my finger on examples right now, I know that I’ve read the words of many of you in my PLN who have made reference to this very thought in your own blog posts.

Just yesterday I got into a lengthy conversation about blogging with a friend over a coffee.  She told me that she didn’t leave comments on blog posts she read, because she didn’t think she had anything of value to say.  “You do so!!” was my immediate reaction!!!  All of us have knowledge, experience and thoughts that are worthy of sharing.

When we converse about topics of interest over coffee – isn’t there always a give and take in which we share our thoughts and reactions to what the other person says.   Consider the Blogosphere as a virtual coffee chat!  Within the virtual world of the Blogosphere, thoughts and ideas are shared via ‘comments’ left at the end of the blog post.   Know that you do have something to offer!   We are all a store of an immense amount of knowledge, ideas, thoughts and experiences that are most worthy of sharing.   And if you read a blog post and consider it worthy of scooping, saving, bookmarking or curating, take a minute longer and leave a comment or a thought.  Your words don’t need to be ones of praise.  Leave suggestions of ways the bloggers’ thoughts could be enhanced by reading or exploring other points of view.  Cite examples of what the blogger could read.  Link them to a post you’ve written on the same subject.  Give constructive feedback – bloggers value this so much.  Without the input of readers, it just may be that the wonderful, powerful Blogosphere could curl up and die!

Let all of us resolve to not let curating kill the  Blogosphere!

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I bumped into an acquaintance a few days ago.   Words shared in just a few brief moments continue to reverberate in my head.

Why do people blog?” this acquaintance asked me.  “Why would anyone want to read what I have to say?  Why would anyone care what I think?   What’s the point of it?

I’m not into it …..  I’m just not into it …..” was mumbled as this acquaintance walked away.

I found myself speechless.   I just didn’t know what to say.  The disparaging tone that accompanied the words said conjured up defensive feelings within me.   I felt like I needed to defend why I blog.  But I couldn’t get it out.   I just couldn’t respond.   I wandered off ….. deep in thought.

So why blog?  My thought out response runs something like this:

  1. Blogs are a source of infinite information about a wide range of topics.  Blogs with an awe inspiring, extensive list of subjects, are constantly being added to the blogosphere:  science, maths, education, sport, hobbies, recreation, music, environment ….. The list goes on and on……
  2. Blogs can take on an almost limitless format.   They can be reflective, informative, personal, educational, opinionated, technical, experimental ….. The depth and range of blog formats is both exciting and inspiring.
  3. For me, blogging is a way to think and reflect on new experiences, new discoveries, new thoughts.
  4. By sharing my thoughts, my knowledge and my discoveries, I’m able to  link up with others who have similar interests.
  5. As I read the blog posts of others, my knowledge is expanded.   As others read my blog posts, I’d like to hope that their knowledge expands too.  In this way, blog posts add to an ever growing pool of knowledge and thought on any given topic.
  6. Blogging invites and encourages others to comment.   The comments of others add to this collective pool of thought and knowledge.   These virtual discussions in turn inspire further blogging.
  7. When we comment on each other’s blog posts, links are forged and virtual ‘friendships’ flourish.  Without realizing it, Personal Learning Networks are being developed.  When just recently I met up with some of these virtual ‘friends’ we felt like we’d known each other for years.   That warm, fuzzy feeling of friendship is great to experience.
  8. Blogging provides an outlet for me to express my passions, my beliefs, my opinions and my experiences on issues that matter to me.  I share them because I feel so passionate, because I think others are interested in my words and because I know that my thoughts contribute to our collective pool of knowledge and experience.
  9. Blogging is inspiring, motivating and empowering.  Being able to link up with others who share similar interests and knowledge is encouraging.  Feedback from readers develops confidence and a desire to continue blogging.
  10. Blogging, I’ve discovered is addictive.   The more I write, the more I want to write.  The more I read, the more I want to read.  I’ve deduced that this inner urge is what lifelong learning is all about.

My acquaintance must be missing out on something, because my life is definitely richer for being a member of the Blogosphere!

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My learning journey took a new and different twist this week.

Together with Miffy Farquharson, I was asked by the School Library Association of Victoria to present at their conference: Creative Communication: A conference for library technicians and assistants on the topic Social Networking to Publicise Books.

Initially hesitant, it didn’t take me too long to realize that after a year of playing, learning and exploring with all things webish, I really had learned and internalized much along the way.  While it was a challenge to figure out how best to share my learning with an audience, one thing I was certain about was my desire to inspire the session attendees.

Apart from deciding on the content of my talk, there was the inevitable battle with presentation tools.  Revisiting Prezi for the combined presentation turned out to be a good choice, though I admit that it took me far longer to prepare the presentation than I had anticipated.   Even though I had played with Prezi a bit last year, it was many months ago.  Forgetting the how to’s produced some very irritating, frustrating and time consuming moments.  Getting to the end of the creation was – I admit – a relief!   Using good old PowerPoint (minus the bells and whistles it offers) seemed to be the quickest and easiest format with which to present my own story about the development of my other blog: BevsBookBlog.  Converting this into a SlideShare for publication was a breeze.

With the content set and the presentation tools utilized, my last concern was that technology would reliably facilitate the delivery of it all.   Fear of this or that not working ensured that I had more back ups – both digital and hard copy – than could be imagined!  Fortunately a wonderful man appeared by my side fifteen minutes prior to the presentation and ably assisted the connection of a range of cords into my laptop and the array of equipment that met me at the podium.  I regret however that I didn’t adequately thank him for his assistance.  Perhaps my gratitude will reach him over the air waves of cyberspace.

For those who may be interested here is the presentation made at the SLAV Conference: Social Networking to Publicise Books.

Prezi-Social Networking to Publicise Books

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As they say – a picture is worth a thousand words. But embedding pictures, graphics, or media into a blog post does more than that:

  • they add a focal point to your blog
  • they can illustrate the point you’re trying to make in words
  • they can extend the words of your blog post
  • they improve the overall look of your blog
  • they can be inspirational to your readers
  • and most of all ….. the sense of satisfaction achieved by successfully embedding a blog is great!

Although it looks hard, embedding media into a blog post is really quite simple. The kitchen sink (just love that descriptor!) in the dashboard of the blog makes it so simple.   If you’re unable to nut it out, simple directions can easily be found to guide you along the way.

I’ve dabbled just a little in the ‘creative’ stuff of producing media.  Animoto was one of the early tools I used.  Once I got a handle on how to ‘do it’ I had fun with it.   My major production some months back was the Highlights of the VicPLN.  But I’ve also fiddled with Slideshare.  Althought it took me a while, it was fun to create a SlideShare: Finding time to read which complemented my blogpost I’ve got too much to read!

My Tools page is replete with stacks of amazing links to a wide range of presentation tools, but for the moment they will need to stay there as I straddle the lifestyle of having far too many interests than time to indulge!

What I have found that works for me though, is embedding videos into my blog.   There is so much out there that says it so well and is so informative.  And as a time efficient process ….. you just can’t go past it!  Embedding a video is both quick and easy.   Have a  look here ….. get inspired ….. and give it a go for yourself!

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It’s just as well that the Teacher Challenge is including something on copyright and images ’cause I admit that this is an area that baffles me!  Unfortunatley copyright issues are in the same league as insurance policies for my stubborn brain!  These kinds of issues just sit there and stare at me, taunting me to fully comprehend them!

So now that I’ve gotten that ‘truth’ off my chest ….. here goes …… a best possible effort to make sense of what I can and can’t do with images!

I’ve found some of the notes on Sue Water’s post about images and copyright quite helpful.   Her first three points seem clear enough:

  1. Use Creative Commons images
  2. Use your own photos
  3. Create your own images using a range of different tools

Working backwards ….. I’ve fiddled around quite a bit in the past to create a range of images for my blog having had heaps of fun in the process.   Some of the ToonDoos were a great challenge: Holiday Times and Saving Toons in particular.  Other tools such as Animoto, Wordle and Slideshare are a great way to add interest and appeal to a blog.   In my Tools page though, I have an incredibly long list of tools that I need to play with.   All on my ‘to do’ list.

Moving along ….. Using my own photos seems simple enough.  If I take photos and then use them in my blog, nobody can quibble that I’ve broken copyright, because the photos are, like my toons, my own creation.  Re-sizing before uploading photos is important though.  Too big and it will take ages to load the page.  OK.  Got that one down pat.

Next and last is what presents to me as the most confusing!  Creative Commons …..  what on earth is this and what does it mean I can and can’t do?!   Well ….. here is my best effort to summarize the salient points and then to drill them into my head so that I can clearly and easily explain to someone else!

Creative Commons has been developed for the common good of all. When someone creates an image it can be ‘licensed’ with Creative Commons allowing others to use that image without having to seek permission from the original creator.

  • sounds good to me
  • saves having to track down the creator/owner of the image to seek permission
  • the only proviso is that the image is used in the manner stated in the creative commons license

Now we get to the nitty gritty:  Where does one find Creative Commons images?

Flickr is a good source we are told.

Simple!  Well …. kind of …..  The long list that Sue lists in her post starts making me nervous.  There are lots of do’s and don’t here, with asterisks and qualifications that need to be heeded.   Think I’ll steer clear of Flickr to save myself the headache.  (You can probably tell that I’m an inexperienced Flickr user!)  But just in case I get brave, here’s a ready reference to Sue Water’s summary statement about copyright and Flickr:

CCLicense for Flickr

OK ….. I think I get it.   The bottom line is that if an image is used then the author must be acknoweldged by the user.  Restrictions according to the CC License notes above may mean that there are restrictions on how or whether or not the image can be modified.

Moving right along: Some great tools have been developed to help us find Creative Commons Flickr images:

Alright! I’m gunna give it a go!

I can’t go past experimenting with some of the tools I’ve just listed. First up I’m using Wylio because it looks quite simple and straight forward.  It says on the site that it does all the work for me, inserting the attibution and all.  Let’ see…..

Bunch of frogs !photo © 2005 Ioan Sameli | more info (via: Wylio)

Not bad.   Now let me try another tool to add in a second picture.  I’m not quite sure how this has worked as I started with Compfight.com, but it took me directly to Flickr.  Nevertheless here’s the pic that I’ve grabbed.

Why I'm Going to Work for Zooomr

Unfortunately this time the attribution hasn’t been included.  So, giving credit where credit is due, this second pic is by Thomas Hawk and is titled: ‘Why I’m going to work for Zoomr’.  I do hope I’ve credit this correctly.

I’m not sure how I got the text to wrap around the pics.   Possibly more accidental than intent.   I’d love to know how to do it properly though.    Once I’d posted the HTML for the pic, I discovered that I could move the pic in the ‘Visual’ mode.  When I looked back at the HTML though, I discovered that it was a mess, so I did a manual clean up.  For some reason the text remained wrapped around the pic.  It’s a mystery to me as to how it happened!

At least I got there though!!  Phew!!!!

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