SLANZA 2015: Lots to Learn from our NZ Neighbours!

By Kay Oddone

In September, I was honoured to take part in the School Library Association of New Zealand’s biennial conference, in Christchurch. Presenting a workshop and keynote, I was delighted to meet many of the amazing professionals who do a wonderful job managing school libraries across the North and South Islands, many of whom go above and beyond to ensure that NZ students have access to contemporary, effective and high quality information and resourcing services.

The three days passed in a blur of conversations, author breakfasts, conference dinners, keynotes and workshops, and reading back through the three Storify collections I created which collated the huge number of tweets shared (we trended in both New Zealand and Australia on several occasions!), I was compelled to write this blog post to share with others the rich learning that took place.

Below you can access the three storify articles, but for those short on time, and who would like to dip their toes into the learning, I have also created a Haiku Deck slideshow that attempts to capture just some of the themes of the conference. Click on the image below to view the slides.

The keynotes were fascinating in that almost every one raised the pressing issue of workforce change, and how technology, automation and globalisation are rapidly bearing down on us. For educators, we are on the precipice- skills previously valued will no longer be of use, and students live in a world which requires new ways of information management, cognitive load management, higher-level and different types of communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly, manage constant change and think creatively. Research such as the articles pinned on my Futures Pinterest board all point to the need for a re-think in what students learn, and how they learn it; as jobs are automated, outsourced or radically re-imagined.

The storify collections below contain fascinating reading; take some time to be inspired, to discover and to make connections with the School Librarians of New Zealand; and share your thoughts in the comments below!

storify day 1

storify day 2

storify day 3

Making the most of your conference – Twitter and the Tweetstream

By Kay Oddone.

Conferences are exciting – groups of like-minded professionals, gathered together to network and hear experts share their wisdom, sometimes in far-away locales and always with too much food.

However, conferences are also expensive, and in some ways, a leftover from days before the internet brought us all together with the ability to connect across time and space. A traditional conference presentation is generally a passive, one-way experience – the presenter speaks and the audience listens. As so many people have gathered, hands on activities are difficult to manage, and the limited time-frame of a conference means that pre or post interactivity may be limited.

We’ve all been a faceless delegate at a huge conference… flickr photo shared by richard.scott1952 under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Twitter (and other similar micro-blogging tools) has changed this. Inviting participants to share with a conference hashtag via a Twitter back-channel at a conference opens a multi-way conversation for a much richer experience. Using a conference hashtag,  conference delegates (and even those who can’t physically attend) have a way to discuss their responses to speakers,  inspirations and the resources presented at the sessions they attend. Here’s an example of how one person can curate a massive amount of information shared online from a Conference.

But wait…I hear you say “a conference what-tag via a Twitter which-channel??” The lingo of Twitter can be confusing for the uninitiated, and may be a reason why at so many conferences, this powerful tool is under-utilised. So let me explain.

By now most people are aware of Twitter and the increasing number of people using it as a professional development and networking tool. One of the most useful elements of Twitter is the hashtag; a user-generated term, which, when preceded by the # hash symbol becomes a key word that enables users to search and gather together similarly themed tweets. When a conference has a hashtag (such as #sxsw or #edutech15) participants can post tweets that reflect what the speaker is saying, share resources or communicate their inspirations and responses, and ‘link’ these with other delegates by including the hashtag in their 140 characters.

These tweets form the conference ‘back-channel‘ – the discussion between the delegates (and speakers!) that goes on even while the session is taking place. The back channel has always existed (and exists in every classroom or lecture hall) – it is the whispered asides, the notes passed between friends, and the aha moments noted down – but the power of Twitter means that everyone can now benefit from these perspectives, and even those who can’t be there physically can still take part, discovering new interpretations and adding to the conversation.

An example of a conference back-channel; photos and tweets shared, connected by the conference hashtag #adolesuccess15

An example of a conference back-channel; photos and tweets shared, connected by the conference hashtag #adolesuccess15

If you are a conference delegate, sharing your notes via Twitter means that you are more likely to connect with other participants (you may notice someone else also tweeting and make plans to meet up) and you are also sharing the conference more broadly with your twitter followers. This can also result in fantastic networking opportunities.

Keeping track during a conference can be overwhelming, especially if lots of delegates are rapidly sharing. A tool such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite helps manage this fast flow of information. These tools allow you to separate the various information ‘streams’ coming in to your Twitter stream across a series of columns; you can follow the conference hashtag in one column, tweets that have been sent to you in another (enabling you to easily conduct a twitter conversation while keeping an eye on the rest of the conference tweets) and a third column devoted to all other tweets. Essentially, these apps provide a ‘dashboard’ experience, so you can stay on top of your social media while it is coming at you from all angles! There is even scope for scheduling tweets, so you can set a specific time to ‘tweet’ (such as to promote your session 10 minutes before it starts, or to tweet resources 5 minutes before the end of a workshop).  Having trouble choosing which to use? This article is a simple summary of the best of both.

A Hootsuite Dashboard allows you to 'separate' out the streams you receive in Twitter.

A Hootsuite Dashboard allows you to ‘separate’ out the streams you receive in Twitter. Click to view a larger image.

In addition, once the conference is complete, you can use a tool such as Storify to collate all of the useful tweets into one place for re-reading after the event. This is better than note-taking, because not only do you capture your own thoughts and observations, you also can draw upon any of the other participants’ tweets for a very rich reflective piece on what was shared.

An example of a conference that I have ‘storified’ is below; click on the image to go directly to the story to explore further:

Click to read this Storify in full.

Click to read this Storify in full.

Storify is easy to use. You can log in using your Twitter details, and then simply create a heading and subheading. Then drag the relevant tweets (or just add them all) from the column in the side, which you have identified by searching using the hashtag. You can also search across other social media as well as add text and images, so you can make your Story as rich as you would like. Here’s how:

The conference organiser perspective:

If you are a conference organiser, having a Twitter hashtag is also a great way to advertise the conference and promote it to others. Before, during and after the event, tweets that capture the spirit of the conference and share what delegates are likely to experience and take away from the event will draw new interest, and tweets that delegates make during the conference may entice those who couldn’t attend to plan for next year’s event. Tweets like this are fantastic promotion:

tweet to catch upHow do you make your tweetstream come alive during the conference? Consider these tips in your planning:

  1. Create a short, meaningful hashtag that hasn’t been used before:
    Tweets are 140 characters, so don’t take up characters with a long hashtag (that is also likely to be harder to remember and slower to type!). Select one that is meaningful and related to the conference (and if you are likely to repeat the conference consider keeping the same tag, and suffixing it with the year e.g. #edutech15). Before announcing the hashtag, do a search to make sure it is not already in use – you don’t want irrelevant and unrelated tweets cluttering your stream!

sign up

2.Promote the hashtag well:
Nothing kills a backchannel like hashtag confusion. Label all booklets, posters, fliers and all web presence with the hashtag, so that people can begin to use it even when preparing for the event. Embedding the tweetstream on the conference website also builds excitement, as delegates and those considering attending see the hashtag in use and read about others they might meet at the conference.

3.Consider a TwitterTeam:
Create a team of delegates or organisers who will lead the tweetstream. Having regular tweets (preferably with a range of media such as photos or videos attached) can capture the flavour of the conference, encourage others to tweet and retweet quality observations already being shared. If they are happy to wear one, perhaps consider giving them badges so that others who need technical advice might know who to chat to at the conference.

4.Provide Twitter 101 and a Tweet-Up
Not everyone comes to a conference as a Twitter expert, however many might like to participate if they only knew how. Providing a simple tutorial prior to the conference or in the conference paraphernalia encourages those who are keen to try Twitter, without having to ask others for help (which they may find uncomfortable). Also, give those who are tweeting the opportunity to meet in person, by choosing a time for a Tweet-up during the conference, where all those who have been networking online can meet up in person. This takes the best of the digital world and connects it with the real world for a win win experience! Something like this simple interactive image might be all participants need to become familar with the Twitter interface.

5.Display the tweets during the conference
Not everyone will be twitter savvy, but everyone can benefit from a public display of the tweets being shared. Apps such as Twitterfall or Visible Tweets make it easy to display on the big screen what others are sharing. Simply type in the conference hashtag and watch the tweets appear! These apps are free, and simply convert the tweets to a more public view; if you want more control (say at a student conference, where it is possible that inappropriate tweets may be shared) paid apps such as Tweetbeam (which also has a free option) allow you to moderate tweets before they are displayed, and give you more control over the way the tweets appear.

Visible Tweets is just one way to make conference tweetstreams visible.

Visible Tweets is just one way to make conference tweetstreams visible.

So the next conference you attend or organise, why not take advantage of the power of Twitter to create a much richer experience for everyone. Promote, share, network, question and connect – all the things a good conference aims to achieve!

Like this info?  Click the image below for a printable handout that might be useful to distribute and share.

bring your conference alive with twitter (1)


#Edutechau – Report from the 2015 Edutech Conference

This is why we must have events like Edutech.

The Edutech Conference is the largest of its kind in Australia. Over 1000 delegates, participating in streams reaching broadly across the educational landscape; K-12 Leadership, Teacher Librarianship, IT Directors, Higher Ed, Vocational Education and Training, Tertiary Education, Business Managers – basically if you are in education, there is a stream for you.

The world is undeniably changing, and we must prepare students for a future which will be significantly different to our own experiences. Many speakers, including David Price, author of Open, How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future, pointed out that the rate of technology development is rapidly shaping the skills and capacities required by today’s learners. While the entire 15 minutes of the following video is fascinating viewing, here’s just the final summary, which paints a challenge for everyone in education and indeed in government today:

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. George Couros asked us to remember that sometimes, it can be easy to be drawn into the myths of technology, and be swayed by the negative hyperbole of the media. His stirring keynote reminded us that there is a lot to be gained from the connections social media enables us to create; both from a learning and a personal point of view. He presented strong challenges to the myths of technology; that it automatically ensures engagement and that connecting with strangers online is inherently dangerous He also argued against the common beliefs that technology will make us narcissistic, replace face to face interaction and dehumanise us, while also making us dumb! You can read more about each of these on George’s blog, where he addresses each of these myths.

One of the highlights of the 3 days was the effervescent Super Awesome Sylvia, who’s have a go attitude and maker videos have brought her world wide attention at age 13. Her short keynote was a great example of ‘feel the fear, and do it anyway’ – she was clearly nervous (as any normal person speaking in front of such a huge crowd would be), but she spoke with passion and simplicity, encouraging everyone to take on a maker mindset, see failure as part of learning and learn through play.

2015-06-09_0933Personally, I had great fun presenting to a group on the value of developing your Personal/Professional/Passionate Learning Network, using Social Media, and also was honoured to be a part of a panel which included Joyce Valenza, Jane Viner and led by Debbie Hunter, where we discussed the value and importance of curation for the Australian Curriculum.


Reporting on such a massive conference is challenging, as it is physically impossible to participate in the workshops run simultaneously by world class speakers, and even a keen eye on the mind-boggling tweet stream could only give a glimpse at the amount of information being trafficked. My summary below is just a tiny snapshot. I have included also as many links as I could to the speakers’ handouts, websites or resources, as well as the links to my Storify Summaries, which are on the final page of the presentation below, which was created in my latest tool ‘discovery’, E-Maze.

The video below tries to capture some of the emerging themes of the conference. You can view it at a more leisurely pace, viewing the videos and accessing the hyperlinks (the little orange ‘play’ symbol indicates if a word or phrase is a hyperlink, and every web address should also link directly out) viewing it online here.

If you would like to read more deeply into some of the wisdom shared via twitter by accessing the three Storify summaries I have created – one for each day.

2015-06-09_08282015-06-09_0828_0012015-06-09_0828_002 This was my first experience of Edutech. It was a great confirmation of the work we are doing at schools in Brisbane Catholic Education, and an opportunity to meet with likeminded educators who all share the belief that being an educator is an ongoing learning experience. Share your Edutech experience in the comments below!



Could your students make a real difference? Take part in a world first!

ITU Telecom is part of the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), the United Nations specialized agency for telecommunications. ITU Telecom organizes global events for the governments, industry leaders and regulators that form part of the world’s ICT community. The first ITU Telecom event was held in 1971 and marks its 40th anniversary in 2011. The next ITU Telecom World event, will take place from 24 to 27 October 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The ITU Telecom World 11 MetaConference [] is all about seeing how young people think technology might solve some of the world’s greatest problems. You can sign up to get involved right now in this project brought to you by the United Nations agency responsible for ICT:

ITU Telecom World 2011 [] is the MetaConference’s physical event in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing together thousands of influential delegates from the telecommunications and technology industries to discuss what steps need to be taken to get more of the world connected. It’s the world’s most important ICT event, where big decisions are taken on how technology can be used to solve some of our biggest problems.

And they need the help of your students!

By asking your students how they would go about solving problems running through seven major themes, you are not just covering content that is almost certainly in your curriculum – you’re offering a global stage for the ideas in front of the very people making the decisions for all our futures.


Conference organisers are  inviting 10,000 global school children (8-18)  to design the innovations that could make a real difference to their world, and submit their videos, blog posts, photographs and sketches, through you, to

We want them to tell us how technology could be harnessed to:

•        alleviate poverty and hunger

•        improve education for all

•        address gender inequality

•        make sure everyone has access to health care

•        protect our environment

•        make disabled people’s lives easier

•        close the gap between the developed and developing world


Ideas and prototypes will be shown to delegates at the World 2011 event in Geneva, Switzerland on October 25-27. In addition,  all students will be encouraged to send in their ideas live during the event, with the event’s expert panels answering their questions and points.


There are  some brief online lesson starters and project ideas to help you make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your students []. There’s also a collaborative space to share your own teaching and learning approaches, as well as upload video, audio, photographic or written content from your students’ work.


This is YOUR chance to be part of a world-first experiment, to have YOUR voice heard on a   global platform, to have YOUR ideas seen by the very people who make the decisions that affect our everyday lives. How can technology make our world happier, safer and smarter? How can people from different countries work together to make our world more sustainable


Once you’ve registered [], you can share your ideas and prototypes with each other. Your ideas will also form a significant part of World 2011’s Manifesto for Change; a blueprint for using technology to make a real difference. 

This challenge comes to you from the International Telecommunication Union

Sign up today:

It is amazing what kids can achieve:

Normalising the use of digital technology in teaching and learning

In everyday life, technology is ubiquitous. From the moment we climb out of bed, to the time we get back in, we are constantly connected or interacting with diverse digital tools and modes of communication. Everyday life in schools should reflect this reality – when students enter the school grounds, they should not have to ‘power down’ (Manzo,2009)  as if they were entering into another world.Our recent experience at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar Schoolas part of the Eighth National Interactive Teaching and Learning Conference clearly demonstrated normalised use of digital technology is achievable and well worth the effort.

An Ivanhoe Junior class-space

 The short movies below capture just some of the many ways the school staff have effectively integrated a variety of technologies into their everyday practice. Although IGG is a very well-resourced school, there were many ideas to be gained that could be implemented in any classroom using the resources currently available.

The emphasis on collaborative learning, on developing student awareness and responsibility for managing themselves as digital citizens and the creative use of learning spaces are not dependent upon expensive tools, and are within reach every teacher and student.

Being a P-12 school, IGG has adopted a stepped approach to internet access. From Prep to Year Two, access is limited to a small number of thoroughly checked sites. From Years’ 3-6 students have broader access, although still filtered, and from Year 7-12 there is no filtering applied. This allows teachers and students the ability to access the appropriate tool at the appropriate time, with an atmosphere of trust allowing students to apply their digital citizenship skills, which have been developed incrementally throughout the primary years.

Our conference highlights:

The conference provided an opportunity for ResourceLink staff to present two papers and to engage with teachers and other professionals from across Australia. There were over 170 sessions, with keynotes from Rick Oser, principal of Golden Avenue School California, and Andrew Churches from the 21st Century Fluency Group in New Zealand.

Of the many sessions we attended, some of the highlights were:

The Values Exchange: How to use digital technology to enhance students’ critical thinking, persuasive reasoning and social awareness across the curriculum

A screen grab of a Values Exchange topic

– presented by Professor David Seedhouse

David Seedhouse  has developed an innovative tool called the Values Exchange, which is a unique web-based debating system.
The system allows students to explore any social issue and powerful social concepts (feelings, hopes, ideals, equality, law etc.) using ‘Facebook-style’ technology.
It allows students to explore the Dashboard of instant results (charts, free text, images etc.) in class as soon as they submit their ideas.

Using the iPad as a Creation Device
presented by Shawn Taggart eLearning Manager, Acacia College, VIC 

In this session, Shawn demonstrated how his school manages a 1-1 iPad program, and highlighted how when iPads are not used as shared tools, they can be a powerful device not only for consuming but also for creating. The speed and mobility of the iPad allows students to ‘power up’ whenever they need to record notes, take photographs, access information….the possibilities are endless.

Shawn demonstrated how the iPad can be used throughout the curriculum to create most classroom work from basics like taking notes and writing essays (using a wireless keyboard) to  creating presentations and mind mapping and even more complex tasks like digital storytelling, video editing, storyboarding, creating vector artwork, composing music and developing web pages. His presentation can be accessed here

Brushes iMockUp ThumbJam ReelDirector CourseNotes GoodRead

Growing digital citizens for a digital world – presented by Andrew Churches, 21stCentury Fluency Group

Andrew Churches

Andrew Churches  currently teaches at a school that has a cross platform laptop program from Years’ 6-10, and an open network in the senior school, where students bring their own device to connect to an unfiltered network.  In his experience, unenforceable rules, such as ‘thou shalt not use your mobile’ are counterproductive, and he believes that an ethical approach to digital use agreements is the most effective solution for preparing students for active and ethical participation in society. These agreements should be regularly renewed and shaped by student, teacher and parent input. Having shared input creates a sense of ownership and also ensures the policy is comprehendible to all stakeholders.

Ownership and understanding were two key aspects Andrew felt were vital when tackling challenges schools are currently dealing with, with regard to social media and digital access.

Andrew suggests ten guidelines for students to follow when considering appropriate behaviour online:

1. Set privacy settings – on almost all social media and networking sites, privacy settings may be changed to limit who views your account; become familiar with these settings, and use them.

2. Choose a name that is appropriate & respectful –avatars and online identities are a part of interacting online; it is important that the username chosen does not send a message that is inappropriate or disrespectful.

3. Only post suitable info & photos – once something is online, it is almost impossible to remove – see guideline 9 for a good test of what is ‘suitable’.

4. Secure passwords – it can take minutes to break a predictable or weak password; random combinations of letters, numbers and symbols are the strongest and best passwords for high security accounts.

5: Always report anything that feels uncomfortable and be open with a trusted adult – every student should have at least one adult they feel they could go to if they feel unsafe.

6: Don’t participate in & report cyber bullying or unkindness- being a bystander is not acceptable.

7: Report abuse – most sites have a button that users can click to report abuse, inappropriate material or spam – it is free, easy and anonymous.

8: Show care by not flaming or forwarding unkind messages – not only is it inappropriate behaviour, but it is impossible to predict where such messages may end up, and what may go viral.

9: The ‘grandma’ test – if you wouldn’t want your grandma to view/read what you are about to post….don’t post it.

10: Show care by not visiting websites that are inappropriate – the mere act of visiting these sites supports their existence and is not positive digital citizenship.

In short, Andrew Churches suggests students remember the following;

Senior School
Respect Yourself
Protect Yourself
Respect Others
Protect Others
Respect Property
Protect Property

Junior School

Look after yourself
Look after Others
Look after Property

We would encourage anyone to participate in this type of conference. The learning from viewing best practice in classrooms, participating in and delivering conference sessions, the collegial relationships we affirmed and created and ready access to a range of providers of contemporary educational tools made our three days in Melbourne highly productive.

Manzo, Kathleen Kennedy. 2009. “Students See Schools Inhibiting Their Use of New Technologies.” Education Week, April 1.