Test driving the Volvo


On Friday, about 50 of our Year 6/7 students had the opportunity to trial the Ultranet at Hawkesdale p12 College. Our school agreed to participate in the DEECD trial, involving 7,000 students from around the state being logged on simultaneously. They had several simple tasks to complete, including opening and customizing their Express page, writing a short profile and finding and joining a Collaborative Space. Apart from a few password and uncharged netbook issues, students were able to help each other complete these tasks with very little assistance from teachers. In contrast to Monday 9th August, this trial demonstrated that the Ultranet can be  a stable and user-friendly platform for students and teachers to work together.

So, our learner drivers have had their first lesson in the Volvo – they weren’t at all nervous, or excited, they just took it in their stride. For them, the ultranet is nothing more than a tiny part of cyberspace, where their teachers may encourage them to visit. Sure, it is a safe and secure place, where students can practise the skills of being collaborative learners and global citizens. However, I believe our students have access to very powerful tools and with that privilege comes the responsibility of sharing the learning that results. Very few students in the world have such complex technology at their fingertips, and just as we learn from those that have gone before us, we need to support others to improve their learning.

Globalteacher and Globalstudent have provided an outstanding platform to launch teachers and students on their cyber-journeys and it’s success is based on the global audience that blogging allows. Students need to learn the skills for cyber-safety and global student has proven to be an excellent way to achieve this goal. I hope that these opportunities to connect with a global audience are not replaced with test driving in a supermarket car-park.


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  2. brittgow

    Thanks for your comments Marc – I’m enjoying my “Volvo” too! This afternoon I was exploring a student’s space, while he was waiting for a bus, and found out how the Ultranet looks to them. They have a page for Learning Goals and a Learning Portfolio, as well as an Express Page and Profile. So before our Parent-Teacher interviews later this term I would like my classes of Year 6/7 and 8 students write their learning goals and add some of their work to their Learning Portfolio. It will be a great conversation starter with parents and students and a good way to introduce the Ultranet to parents.

  3. Marc B

    I enjoyed your post Britt. It is good to see some thoughts around where technology fits in the global and local classroom. It is also important to understand the difference and global teacher is a great resource for ‘see’ spaces. As a former Volvo owner though -they are great cars and even Peter Brock raced them 🙂

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  5. brittgow

    Thanks Anne, I really appreciate your comments. My personal learning network has already expanded enormously due to the Ultranet – on Twitter and Globalteacher. What I am really looking forward to is being able to give kids frequent and timely feedback on their work and being able to show parents examples of their children’s work. I am also passionate about the web2.0 opportunities that our students have to improve their learning. Bring on the Volvo!

  6. Anne Baird

    Another great post Britt. It’s really good to hear how things are going so far with the kids. I do agree that part of the appeal and great potential of wikis, blogs and other social networking tools on the web is the fact that they connect us in such a powerful way with people from all over the world. There are so many engaging and exciting ways that students can learn, very easily produce examples of their learning and work effectively with others. I think there is still an enormous role for the ultranet though. Yes we will have access to wikis, blogs in the Ultranet. And we will be able to bring in lots of the web tools through iframes. And I also know that there are possibly people who will see the fact that the ultranet is behind a ‘locked’ gate a disadvantage. But I don’t see it that way. I think that once we see Release two we will understand better what the Ultranet can do for us in terms of creating a record over time of student learning as well as collaborating with other teachers. I think that is one of the things that I am most excited about. The fact that we will so easily be able to share, plan and work together to create really powerful learning opportunities for our students. As teachers our personal learning networks are going to expand enormously too. I think I’ve said it before. I see web 2 tools on the web as playing an enormously important role in our students education and this needs to go hand in hand with the Ultranet and what it can offer us as a good reliable Volvo.

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