All posts by troder

Wairaka accounts – our Google instance

I had a play with what I could do with my Wairaka student account to see what our students have access to. I am sharing it here for others who have been wondering the same thing. The following is by no means a definitive account, but rather a little exploration to provide a starting point:

Has Google Drive – can share with wairaka and oustide emails
Has Calendar
Has Google Sites – can create sites
Has Groups – maybe only searches within wairaka but can add wairaka account to existing external group, couldn’t find a way to create a group. Create group by going to Home > New Group – Miriam
Has contacts, Has maps, Has youtube
Has news, translate, Has mobile, shopping
Has blogger – creates a blog with address
Has reader – works as expected
Has finance
Has photos – picasa, seems to work as expected, has a visibility option for “Unitec New Zealand” as well as private and public on web and anyone with the link or anyone at Unitec with the link, not easy to narrow search to Unitec uploads
Has videos – can see videos provided by other Unitec people but it needs permission changes to allow the uploading of other videos

Google Plus is not available with Wairaka BUT it seems like you can turn it on as there is a message for administrators – there is a checklist for preparing –


Connected Educator Month

The New York Times has a Teaching and Learning Network blog and you might be interested in reading Tips from 33 educators we admire which is their first post for the Connected Educator Month being celebrated this August.

The NY Times blog asked a number of educators two questions:

  1. Teaching and Learning with the New York TimesWhat is one important thing you’ve learned from someone in your Personal Learning Network (P.L.N.), however you define that network?
  2. What one person, group or organization would you recommend every educator add to his or her P.L.N.?

Of the month, the Connected Educator website says:

Online communities and learning networks are helping hundreds of thousands of educators learn, reducing isolation and providing “just in time” access to knowledge and opportunities for collaboration. However, many educators are not yet participating and others aren’t realizing the full benefits. In many cases, schools, districts, and states also are not recognizing and rewarding this essential professional learning.Connected Educators

For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Education’s Connected Educators initiative is launching Connected Educator Month in August 2012. Throughout August, there will be coordinated opportunities to participate in events and activities in dozens of online locations to develop skills and enhance one’s personal learning network.


CEM Starter Kit coverThere is even a Connected Educators Month Starter kit to help teachers get involved in the online community.

Written by The Connected Educator author Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Powerful Learning Practice in collaboration with the Connected Educators initiative, and loaded with helpful links and embedded videos, the kit takes a 31 days approach for this special month, giving you one simple way to get more connected every day.

There is an open invitation to pass the starter kit along to anyone who might benefit from being more connected.

Theories and methodologies

This week in our office we have been discussing appreciative inquiry model and connectivism. We decided that we should share so others can also have conversations about learning theories.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative inquiry is a deliberately positive model, rather than a negative or deficiency model. When we ask “what is wrong” we are assuming a deficiency, and this model takes an alternative approach by asking “what is working?”.

The following table and list has been sourced from Wikipedia:

Problem Solving Appreciative inquiry
Felt need, identification of problem(s) Appreciating, valuing the Best of What Is
Analysis of Causes Envisioning what might be
Analysis of possible solutions Engaging in dialogue about what should be
Action Planning (treatment) Innovating, what will be
  1. DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.
  2. DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
  3. DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
  4. DESTINY (or DELIVER): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.



When talking about the learning theory “Connectivism” the first name to come to mind is George Siemens. In this theory knowledge exists within systems and is accessed by people through participation in activities. Siemens talks about Connectivism as a “learning theory for the digital age” as technology has impacted on how people communicate and learn together. The other area to read up on is Stephen Downes’ writing on networks and nodes.

Wikipedia has the following list of principles of connectivism:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.