Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Guest Blogger -The Voyage of Discovery

Who am I?
Hi, my name is Janet Bianchini and I am currently having a gap year to pursue "the call of the wild" in Abruzzo, Italy. I have been an EFL teacher for 30 years and have only recently started exploring the theme of technology in education. I am deeply honoured to be writing a post on Richard's incredible blog and he has kindly accepted my invitation to do a guest slot next month on my blog called Janet's Abruzzo Edublog.

The Twitter Connection
Richard and I are linked in only 3 steps from being complete strangers to me writing on his blog today. How did this happen? Well, it all started back in November 2008 when I first tentatively looked at Twitter. I was totally at a loss as to what to do and say as I was completely and utterly "tweetless" in the Twittersphere, so to speak. "Rmbyrne" was my first follower and he kindly gave me the prophetic tip: ".The more people you follow, the more information you can gather. It's like an ever-expanding conversation. Check out the folks I follow" and the rest is history.......

I luckily found out about this guest blog spot via Twitter and with heart pounding furiously but without thinking twice, I sent Richard a Direct Message saying I was interested in doing a post. To my absolute amazement, the reply came back almost immediately saying "I'd love to have you do a guest post".

So here I am! Thank you so much Richard for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime to share my thoughts with your readers.


The Mountain of Adventure
The mountain above near where I live in Abruzzo provides the background to a very interesting analogy and statement regarding my introduction to the world of technology in education. According to my current tutor from Ning Digifolios and Personal Learning Spaces, Cristina Costa, it represents "a cyberspace landscape - with flat terrain to run and mountains to climb, and a sky to remind us there is no limit! How does it feel to be part of the landscape? To be there observing its changing, while taking part in the change....The first attempt is always the hardest - after climbing the first mountain all the other ones seem easier!"

Welcome to the world of a Newbie Blogger
Well, my technological journey in the past 12 weeks or so has certainly been a helter-skelter ride of a few lows and many highs. I decided to write a blog simply because I wanted to do something different and creative in my life. I was curious to see how I could apply an educational blog to my world of teaching but I had very little idea of how to go about creating one. The impetus came from a short online course I followed, one which is well documented in my personal blog postings. The main aim of my blog is to share ideas, learn new things and to learn from other educators and sites such as Free Technology for Teachers. I am achieving this aim slowly but surely. If I can inspire other people to create a blog from scratch by following my example, then I would be very happy. In addition to the educational perspective, I am also writing about my new life in Abruzzo, Italy.

Discovering new tools
The following is a tool which I learned about as a direct result of writing and researching for my blog. Wordle is a site which easily allows you to make word clouds from words that you paste into a box. The application for education is great. Students can recreate a text from the words given, they can predict a text from the words as a pre-reading task, they can create their own "Wordles" on a subject they are researching.

Here is my own "Wordle" of the new tools and concepts I have come across and used in the past few months.

I have created my own examples and shared my learning curve of dealing with most of the above tools/ideas in my blog.

The Future is NOW!
I sincerely believe that you never stop learning. It is what motivates me - the eternal quest for new horizons in teaching and the hope to inspire fellow educators and students to do the same.
The future of teaching and education is all about
  • caring
  • sharing
  • contributing
  • supporting
  • discovering
  • being adventurous
  • integrating new technologies
  • having fun


The Animoto experience
Another new tool I have been experimenting with recently is "Animoto". This allows you to create a slideshow of your photos with the added bonus of music to suit your theme. I had fun creating the following video and it shows off some Abruzzo pictures.

Application for education? Great for students to use in showcasing projects based on particular themes they are researching. The videos are free if they are under 30 seconds long and very easy to create with no specialist technical knowledge to master. That is the beauty of Animoto. If it was easy for me, it will be fine for anyone, I can guarantee.



I'd like to thank Richard once again. It's been a real pleasure writing this posting.