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Tom Worthington With Tom Worthington FACS, Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University

Educating The Web, 10 July 2002

From reading media reports it is easy to get the idea that on-line developments happen elsewhere in the world. In reality there is development taking place wherever there are people and Internet connections (just about everywhere). One example is education, where Australia and Canberra in particular, plays an active role.

Palmerston District Primary School

Palmerston District Primary School in Canberra has its new "Thin Client" computer system (see: (see: "Thin Clients at School", 5 June 2002). At the same time Barbar Braxton, Teacher Librarian at the school has been recognised as onbe of the ten finalists for the Global SchoolNet Foundation Online Shared Learning Award:

In its simplest form, Online Shared Learning links two or more groups of students together through various communications tools to accomplish a shared learning task. During the course of the project students exchange data, analysis and evaluation, and conclusions. A project can be as simple as a Travel Buddy Exchange or a more complex data collection and analysis project such as the Signs of Spring Project. There are other names for online shared learning... telecollaboration, n etworked PBL (Project-Based Learning), collaborative learning, multi-cultural interpersonal exchanges, and others.From: Award info, 2001 Global SchoolNet.

Barbara Braxton talks about her first email on 1 December 1997 being a definitive moment:

... Following a car accident that limited my mobility, I was assigned to my local school as part of my rehabilitation and was having to consider where I was going as it became obvious that my 25 years as a classroom teacher had come to an end.  As so much of me was the work I did with my students this was an enormous decision to have to make.

Palmerston was a brand new school with a visionary principal who understood the impact ICT and the Internet before many of us even knew the words, and so the school was cabled while it was built and we were among the first primary schools in Australia to have Internet access...

Next step was enrolling in the Master of Education in Teacher-Librarianship at Charles Sturt University and over the summer of 97-98 I did the first two units of my new passion. 

One of the requirements of the course was to join and contribute to OZTL_NET (the listserv for Australian teacher-librarians) and I soon found that this was better than Lindt chocolate!  There were people all over the country with a common interest sharing ideas and information ...

This ‘addiction’ soon led me to subscribe to Oz-teachers, a list for Australian teachers, LM_NET SLN and SLANZA – the lists for school librarians in the US, the UK and New Zealand.  Even though I was still an apprentice teacher-librarian, I found that my classroom experience enabled me to answer many of the questions that were posed and so I became a regular contributor, both to the lists generally and to individuals...

My first venture at taking the children out and bringing the world in was joining the Teddy Bear Rap in mid-99, a project which linked Kindergarten – Year 2 students across Australia as we swapped teddies, wrote about them and where they came from and shared our responses to our favourite stories about these lovable creatures. Our brand-new five year olds learned more about Australian geography from that experience than anything else we could have ever done, and it really showed me the potential of the medium with even the youngest children...

This fascination, my belief in teaching in context, my love of writing curriculum units and the timing preventing us from participating in TheReadIn, led to the birth of Read Around Australia...

Last year I offered this opportunity to two Year 4 classes (9-10 year olds) and they created the Tashi Book Rap which involved 36 groups from around Australia discussing this popular series for children, and then later that term, another two classes of the same age created The Great Aussie Bites Book Rap which involved 45 groups all over the continent.

In 2000, I contributed a paper about the possibilities and potential of using ICT with kindergarten students to the Information Services in Schools (ISIS)  Conference hosted by Charles Sturt University ...

In Term 4 last year, I decided that I would like to spend the summer holidays touring Tasmania so I teamed up with a class of Year 8 students in Hobart, and they each prepared PowerPoint presentations which mapped and costed an itinerary for me!  I continue to correspond with one of the students whose whole attitude to school was turned around by this project...

To win this GSN Award, would just be the icing on the cake!

From: Candidate's Narrative: , Global School Net Online Shared Learning Award, Global SchoolNet 2001

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Copyright © Tom Worthington 2001-2002.