Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ULearn conference 2010

ULearn 2010 starts next week on 5th October - Collaborate, Innovate and Educate. They are having a new stream this year for research where there will be speakers, papers presented and some posters displayed.

There is an interesting programme for teachers including such things as:

  • Using Web 2 tools in the classroom
  • Global communities
  • Virtual field trips
  • Developing iPod Touch/iPhone applications for learning

For those not able to come to the conference look at the web site for some ideas to use in the classroom.

With the earthquake (still getting those aftershocks!!) some people thought it would be cancelled or postponed but everything is going smoothly. It should be a really good conference.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I have just been making a quick quiz to show my students how a Web 2 tool can be used. I have made this one using MyStudiyo. You can add movies and graphics to the quizzes and then children can add these to their blogs or wikis.

Some ideas to use in the classroom:
  1. Story writing - the children could have a story they have written on the web site with a quiz to finish
  2. Research project - children could write about the findings from a research project on the web site and have a quiz for the viewer to finish with
  3. Maths - children could construct maths quizzes to put on the web site and then others in the class could use them

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Do You Need to Succeed in Online Education?

There was a time when online education was the anomaly; today however, it is the norm. It has grown in leaps and bounds not just in the quality of education offered, but also in respectability and reputation. In fact, the University of Phoenix which offers both on-campus and online courses is the largest institution in the USA in terms of number of students enrolled. More and more people are choosing to study online for various reasons – it allows them to earn while they learn, they can set flexible schedules, and they don’t have to pay through their noses to gain an education.

While critics of online education are quick to point out that the success rate in online education is low because people tend to leave courses incomplete and the dropout rate is pretty high, the truth is that online programs are meant for people who are able to establish a schedule and who have the discipline to stick to their plan. It takes more than just the will to learn to taste success in online education, and to do your best, you must be:

• Determined: You must be determined to succeed no matter how many hurdles you face. It’s not just enough to want an education, you must be willing to do all it takes to ensure that you get one of the highest quality. There will be hurdles cropping up every now and then, you may be bogged down by work and other personal issues, and there will be times when all your efforts seem so futile. However, the key to success is to never give up. Stay on the path that you’ve marked out for yourself, and you’re sure to scale greater heights.

• Disciplined: You’re going to be juggling many balls in the air when you choose to go back to school and earn a degree online. With commitments to work, family and social relationships demanding your attention, your education could take a backseat. However, if you’re disciplined and set aside at least an hour every day to devote to your lessons and assignments, you won’t find the going tough when it’s time for your exams. Just as you make time to eat and do other things that are a part of your normal routine, make some time for your education too.

• Flexible: Even the best laid plans tend to fall apart because of the uncertainty of life; so unless you’re able to change track on the fly and reschedule your day according to the circumstances, you’re going to be stressed out and find yourself staring into the eyes of failure. Learn how to multitask – you can invest in a netbook or a smartphone and learn on the go, when you’re traveling or when you have a quiet hour at the office; know how to alter plans so that you’re able to get things done without getting flustered and losing control. Success in online learning is all about being flexible and knowing how to go with the flow.

• Ambitious: There are times when you need to look beyond your coursework and search for more information. Use sources like the Internet, books and magazines to collect data and information needed when you’re doing practical projects and when your assignments call for you to get creative and push the boundaries of your knowledge. Unless you are ambitious and try to be the best you can, online education is going to be just another thing that you do, not something that you must succeed at.

• Tech-savvy: And finally, it pays to understand technology when you choose to study online. There are a number of gadgets and applications that help you learn better and faster, and which help you get organized and become better managers of time. So invest in learning technology before you invest in the gadgets themselves, because unless you know how to harvest the potential of a device, it’s as good as useless.

So if you’re armed with these necessary qualifications, you’re sure to find online education as easy as a stroll in the park.

This guest post is contributed by Carrie Oakley, who writes on the topic of online college. Carrie welcomes your comments at her email id: carrie.oakley1983(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Life goes on...

Life is returning to Christchurch. We have been incredibly lucky with no loss of life but there is a lot of damage around the city. At the moment buildings are being demolished and roads are being repaired. We are still having aftershocks.
Even though you think something like this does not affect you, it does. The other day I went into a mall and kept thinking; ‘I don’t want to be here if we have another aftershock’. These were continual but luckily have now died away.

Some roads are still being repaired but most have been repaired to the point that traffic can use them. Many people have found that the houses they live in are going to have to be pulled down and rebuilt which is putting pressure on finding them rental accommodation. It is very unsettling for people in that position.
This week I have been into several schools around Christchurch and found that the children are all coping very well. They know that if there is an aftershock they go down under their desks – they are pretty good at it. For many of them it seemed like a big adventure.

I was very impressed this weekend from someone in England (who I do not know) wanting to know how to make a donation to the earthquake disaster. As this is going to cost several billion dollars we need all the help we can get so I thought that it was lovely that someone wanted to help.

We have had a big storm over NZ this weekend - luckily Christchurch was not in line for this but down South they have had a big dump of snow and the weight of it caused the roof of a big netball stadium to collapse.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


This was in the newspaper here (The Press) and shows the estuary straight after the earthquake. It looks as though there a lot of mini volcanoes. These were bubbling up during the earthquake which is what caused the sulphur smell we had.

This picture also appeared in the paper. As I said in an earlier post it has always been said that there is no major fault line over on this side of the alps.

The earthquake was centred around Darfield. A farmer from there went out and wrote in his field - right by a new fault line.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Earthquake update

You would not believe it but...

The city has now extended the state of civil emergency for another seven days.

This morning I was quietly sitting having a morning cup of coffee when the first of the after shocks (this morning) struck. It was very frightening - another big one but not as big as the initial one. The house shook and things feel down but nothing too bad here however in some parts the electricity went off again and more damage has been reported. Since then there have been several smaller ones.

Although New Zealand has fault lines it was always thought that there was not a major fault line near Christchurch. It has always been thought that a 'big one' would strike in Wellington. Well Mother Nature has proved them all wrong.

Earthquake wiki

Jill Hammond has started a wiki about earthquakes. This will be an interactive collaborative teaching and learning opportunity for our pupils.

It is entirely open and public which means anyone can edit the site so feel free to add your ideas or use it with your students.

Already there are some great ideas for teachers on the Share Ideas page as well as photographs and movies.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What was it like to be in the earthquake?

I keep getting asked what it was like so ...

I was sound asleep when I got woken up by the initial jolt. I realised straight away it was an earthquake; the house was shaking - side to side and up and down!! Very scary.

As a teacher I have taught disaster units where we have looked at such disasters as the Napier earthquake. During my life time I have felt other earthquakes.

My natural inclination is to want to get outside but that night I could not get out of bed, the whole house was shaking so much I could not have stood up. I have just heard about someone I know who did try to get out of bed and now has a broken ankle.

I just lay in bed, held onto the side of the bed and waited for things to stop. When they finally did stop I realised that nothing much had happened here - the power was still on and I did not realise about the water at that point.

I went outside and there was an awful smell of sulphur, that was from the estuary which had been bubbling stuff up. It was very quiet everywhere and quite eerie.

Family members and friends rang each other to make sure everyone was OK.

At that stage I did not realise how serious things were as none of the houses near mine were damaged. It was only when daylight came and accounts were on TV and radio that the full impact of what was happening struck. I certainly did not venture out on Saturday as I thought that it was better that people stayed off the streets.

It is not an experience you want!!

Still in a state of limbo

The inner city of Christchurch is still like a war zone. The uni is closed until next week. There are photos on our web site.

Schools are supposed to be open tomorrow but I have seen the state of some schools and I am not sure that some will ever be able to open again. One school in Dallington looks as though it will be condemned.

We had some big after shocks last night and everyone is still very jumpy.

Thank you so much to everyone for their messages of support (they have been coming in from all around the world) - it has been great, especially as we are such a small country and so isolated from everyone else.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Earthquake damage

Our water is now on!! I am so pleased.

As I have said we are so lucky in that there were no deaths. There is a lot of damage to property around the region (about 2 billion dollars to repair). Gradually things will return to normal but at present you just feel as though you are living in limbo and of course the after shocks keep coming. It is an awful feeling.


Stupid as it may sound, I now feel a lot better as I have had a shower. Not at my own home (still no water here) but I went to see a family member who had water on. I took all my stuff to have a shower there. We have portable loos at the end of our street and a tank where we can fill water bottles! I have to tell you it is awful not to have water!!

The husband has wisely decided to stay away for a while longer!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Still no water!! I was away visiting schools last week and as the earthquake hit on Friday night I have not been able to do any washing - I also need a shower!! Apparently the mains burst in a neighbouring area and there was water everywhere. We have not had anything like that where I live but our water has been off all this time. I am visiting two schools tomorrow morning (if they are open) so I need a shower!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010


The city where I live is now in a state of emergency.

We had a 7.4 earthquake last night. It struck at 4.35 in the morning and I was sound asleep in bed! I certainly woke with a start as the bed started to rock and roll.

I live in a 4 story house on the beach so luckily the house is on sand and just rolled with the quake. I have to be very honest and say that I was pretty shocked.

My husband is away for the weekend so I was on my own. I was too frightened to get out of bed for some time. Our water is off and a lot of broken glassware but no real damage. In the inner city a lot of buildings have come down and many roads have big holes. A lot of the bridges over the Avon River are closed so we are rather cut off but have plenty of food etc. Really we have come out of the whole thing pretty well as there are no reported deaths and only one serious injury where a chimney fell on a person.