Friday, 8 November 2013

Reflections on my own ULearn Presentation

This post has been a few weeks percolating...

I was excited to go to ULearn and nervous to present. My topic is very dear to my heart, Connecting with my learners and their whanau / family. You might be sick of looking at popplets, but here is my outline:

I approached the topic from looking at our own identity, at the way we all (incl. our students and their whanau / family) stereotype (a fascinating topic, I definitely want to look more into this!) and make assumptions, the different personas we all fulfill at different times. Then I wanted to ensure that the attendees understood why it is important to connect: Not just because my gut feeling says it is a good idea, there are lots of researchers out there that can tell you exactly why, e.g. 

Next point was how to connect with them, overtly and coverty, finishing off with what to do when there are problems with these relationships.

So far so good, I am still happy with the content. However, as e-Learning Facilitator and this being ULearn I felt obliged to include e-tools. As it was a hands-on workshop I tried to cater for multiple platforms and multiple preferences my activities, e.g.

I knew I would be pushed for time, 75min is less than you would think :) However, my key mistake was making assumptions. I assumed that everyone who went to ULearn was a techoholic like myself. I assumed that everyone would know how to deal with Rolling Notes, how to install apps on their iPad, how to take an object / video they have created and insert it into Google Docs etc. To sum it up, I made some of the mistakes I had wanted to prevent the attendees from making with their learners. I did not take the time beforehand to find out who they were, what level of technical confidence they had and how to cater for them.

I received four evaluations, two giving me a 4 out of 4 and two giving me a 2 out of 4. And I am certain that they were spot on. Some people 'got it', and others were hampered in their 'getting it' by my not knowing where they were at. The irony of this happening at a workshop called "Connecting with my learners" does not elude me.

I was beating myself up about it a bit. These people have paid a lot of money to come to ULearn. Thankfully nobody else but these two felt strongly enough about it to complete an evaluation giving me a low score. However, I can't go back and change it, but I can learn from it.

My learnings:
  • If you present in an unfamiliar forum, ask others who know for some background.
  • If you use technologies, ensure you get a feeling beforehand about the technical confidence of attendees
  • Contact attendees beforehand if you have a chance.
Today I held a very brief online presentation in a semi-familiar forum, this time I had asked about technical expertise from someone who knew. While there was no immediate technical acitivity required by the attendees, I am hoping that they will do their 'homework', and I am thinking about following up with a survey in a couple of weeks time.

If you are interested in looking at my presenter materials from ULearn, they are available here.

Collaborate on Popplet

Following my previous post about Popplet, Hazel and I have had a tutu to collaborate on a popplet. After a few false starts we have succeeded (URL

So how can you collaborate on a popplet in real time?
Start your new popplet or open an existing one. Click on the Share button on the right:

Click Add Collaborators and enter the name or email address of another Popplet Account holder (can be a free account), then click add them! This will generate an email to them, inviting them to this Popplet.

You have a choice for your collaborator(s) to edit only their own popples (default) or to edit any popples on this popplet (a few to many 'p's in this sentence!). For this you click on the cog and select Labs, then Popplet Permissions:

Unlike when you embed or share the link to a popplet, you don't seem to need to make your popplet public - this one is as I have embedded it into the blog.
And there you go - online collaboration!!!

Popplet for schools

Popplet accounts are available for schools at a reduced rate, and you can find out more about it here. I would love to hear from teachers in New Zealand who are using Popplet class accounts with their students!

Popplet iPad app

I only have the lite version of Popplet on my iPad (which allows you just one popplet at a time), the full version currently is NZ$6.49. However, I have just found on the Poppletrocks! blog that you can move popplets between your iPad (seems to require a full account) and your web based account. If you would like to find more about it, just have a look here

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


Today on Twitter I noted some tweachers discussing their problems with inserting Popplets into their Google Sites. As Popplet is my absolutely most favourite go-to tool for all sorts of things, I wanted to share its use and how to embed it into a blog with you.

What is Popplet?
The online application Popplet let's you create digital mindmaps with ease. You sign up at for free for a limited account (5 popplets at any one time) or you can purchase a full account with unlimited popplets for a small fee (from recollection $3/month?). I started using Popplet back in February, and initially I felt that I didn't need more than 5 popplets anyway (you can export them easily), but I have since paid for the full version which allows me to work on a project for some time. You can also download the lite or the paid iPad app (NZ$6.49).

Here is one example of a popplet I created while planning my ULearn session, and here is the URL for it:

What would you use Popplet for?
Any time you want to collect ideas, brainstorm, show connections between facts, to plan an event, to develop a lesson, I have used in in writing sessions with students to collect rich vocabulary, to develop a story from an interesting image / video / music video with alternative beginnings and endings, to practise word families etc. This tool is very easy to use, even by junior students, it allows you to include images / videos from flickr, vimeo, YouTube and your computer. You can also draw (I struggle with this aspect, need to practise this I think!). I have not used it as a collaborative tool yet, usually it's been individual or collective brainstorming and one person typing. 

How to create and change a popplet?
Log in to Creating a wall is completely self-explanatory. You select a title and get a choice of colours both of which you can change once your popplet is created (just click on the title and delete / type etc.). To create a popple, just double-click on the screen, or tap on the iPad. {Note: I have tried this for the first time on my Chromebook today and it didn't want to give me my first popple. I clicked on setting (cogs icon at the top) and selected New Popple and was fine from there.} The popple can be typed into, have an image inserted, you can change the colour, draw in it, change the font size - all really self-explanatory. To add a popple, just click and drag on the little circle off to the side of a popple. If you would like to sever a connection between to popples, hover on the line connecting them and click on the x. Alternatively, if you want to connect two popples, just drag out from one popple's circle on the side to the next popple. 

Why and how would you embed it in a blog?
Why? To show your students and their audience.
On the right side of your popplet you find a share button. In order to share a popplet, you need to make it public. You can select to share it on Facebook or Twitter, or you can get a link or an embed code for your popplet. This will allow others to view your popplet. To embed it on blogger, get the embed code (gibberish). While creating your blog post, click on HTML, and at your chose location, paste the gibberish. Return to your Compose view and you will find a grey box with a triangular playsymbol embedded. Once you publish the blog post, you will see you popplet and you are able to navigate within it.

Collaborate on a popplet
Again, you click the share button and you can invite collaborators. Collaborators apparently need to have a Popplet Account - if you would like to collborate on the popplet below, please contact me and I will invite you - I would love to give this a try.

Below you find a little test popplet embedded and here is the URL.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Padlet Walls

One of my schools has experimented with embedding a Padlet wall onto their blog, so I thought this is a good opportunity to post about this very versatile tool.

What is Padlet?
Padlet ( is a free web-based application, you might have known it as Wallwisher previously. It is an online wall where you can place sticky notes. Depending on what privacy settings you choose you can have just one person place sticky notes and others may or may not be able to read them, you can have several people place their stickies and edit their own stickies, or you can have anyone place and edit stickies on the wall. Below you find one example I did with some y3 students:

What would you use Padlet for?
Any time you want to collect ideas, brainstorm. As this is an online, collaborative tool, any number of people can collaborate on this at the same time. The owner can at any time change the settings to stop others from adding or editing any more and therefore keep the wall as evidence, e.g. as part of the inquiry process, towards assessment etc.

How to create and change a wall?
Sign up for a free account on Click on Build a Wall. On the right side bar you are given the opportunity to modify your wall. You might like to play with appearance etc. but the most important features to look at are Privacy - who do you want your wall be visible to? - and Address: You are able to pick your own unique padlet address (provided nobody else has used it before) which can make your life a lot easier if you want your students to type the address into the browser address bar.

Why and how would you embed it into a blog?
Your class / teacher blog, or your class / teacher site can be a great platform for students to access their learning activities all in one place.
To embed a Padlet wall into your blog, click on the Share Button at the right of your wall:

This will open a side bar with the options of Sharing, Exporting and Embedding your wall:

To embed the wall, copy the gibberish inside the box (it's called an Embed Code). Back on your blog, create a new post. On the top left of your 'paper' you find two boxes: Compose (the default view) and HTML. Click on HTML and paste the gibberish you copied earlier into the space. When you click on Compose again, your wall will appear on the paper!

Below you will find my little test Padlet Wall. Please feel free to leave a professional sticky note on this wall!