Skyping with Commander Chris Hadfield

One of the teachers in my daughter’s school was lucky enough to organise a Skype call with the astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield. ¬†She is currently completing her Masters and is researching the use of technology with her 2nd class students. They have been working on a cross curricular body of work centred around the topic of Space, the culmination of which was the Skype call with Chris. I was asked to come along on the day – thanks Leanne ūüôā

1pm on the 9th of June was the appointed time and just before that I tweeted a picture of the girls waiting. When it was retweeted by the man himself I was more than a little chuffed ūüôā


The next half an hour passed too quickly with the girls working in teams asking the questions they had already prepared. I loved their team names which included ‘Moon Stars’, ‘Space Buddies’ and ‘Sparkling Space Scientists’ among others. They asked fantastic questions too, ranging from Chris’s thoughts on lift-off through the availability of electricity in space, how they got rid of rubbish, his use of twitter and his preference for life on space vs earth. I loved the variety in the questions and the confident manner in which they were asked. But what I loved most about the call, was the thoughtful way in which Chris dealt with the girls. He was very careful to make sure he answered their questions thoroughly and to mention their team names throughout. I think there were a few starstruck adults (this one included!) in the room on the day not to mention the girls themselves.



Youth Media Team at Excited 2014

The Excited Festival of Digital learning gave the Youth Media Team a chance to go on tour again. ¬†The Festival was held over¬†the Friday and Saturday of the June bank holiday. ¬†We landed in Dublin Castle at 11am on the Friday with our gazebo in tow and promptly¬†got caught up in the excitement that was Excited! ¬†The plan was that we would work with RTE Digital on the Friday, the most amazing opportunity for our red shirts! We had four of the Tipperary contingent and another four from St Wolstan’s in Celbridge in Kildare as part of the Friday team. ¬†St. Wolstan’s had set up a Radio TY group as part of their Transition Year programme based on the YMT so it was a fantastic opportunity to get both groups working together. Team Excited small While we got settled with RTE, our gazebo specialist with help from his son got to work constructing our home for the next few days ūüôā Conor Prep smallThe brief with RTE was to create a behind the scenes look at the students Dragon’s Den that was a feature of the day. ¬†We had to choose people for the various roles – producers, directors, presenters, camera assistant and editor. ¬†Once the team had sorted that out between themselves it was time to get to work.

Over the course of Friday night and Saturday, the team got on with their ‘day’ jobs of interviewing, blogging and tweeting. They interviewed Lord Puttnam, Marty Cooper (inventor of the mobile phone) and Dr. Rene Lydiksen (Managing Director of Lego Education Europe) among others. IMG_1634[1] IMG_1638[1]

We also got a chance to be part of the highlights from the Festival on both sides of the camera ūüôā

All in all it was a great opportunity for the team to be involved in such a central way in the inaugural Excited Digital Learning Festival.  You can check out their work from the event at

Day Two in the Castle small

What a backdrop!

TeachMeet CESI 2014


Last Friday saw me make my way to Galway for the annual CESI Conference. ¬†The event was preceded by a TeachMeet (replacing the previously held CESIMeets). ¬†There was lots of information shared on the night. ¬†Here’s a flavour of the night from Twitter.
























As you can see there were lots of great ideas shared at the TeachMeet.  To see the full twitter conversation and to access the links shared check out the transcript here.   Well done to Helen and John for facilitating a great night of sharing ideas.

Due to some technical difficulties on the night it was not possible for me to login to show Flickr.  Check out my Prezi on Flickr here.

Personal Learning Networks and Organisations

Week 3 in the Exploring Personal Learning Networks seminar has us looking at PLNs and Organisations. ¬†In some ways it’s dto ifficult to see where the overlap comes between the two. ¬†PLNs by their very nature are personal. ¬†They evolve and grow as a result of the interests and passion of the person involved so I’m struggling with how they fit with organisations. ¬†There is however no denying, that organisations can and do benefit from the very strong PLNs of their employees. ¬†¬†My major concern is that, as so often happens, trying to fix something that isn’t broken can lead to smashing the very thing you valued.

Over the last few weeks of the seminar many of the participants have been grappling with defining PLNs and after a fashion we have come up with our definitions but they’re personal to each of us. ¬†This makes it very difficult for an organisation to ‘adopt’ PLNs in my opinion. ¬†For each persons ¬†definition of a PLN, there is also a set of tools which helps them to connect with those in their PLN. ¬†This can involve entirely virtual connections to entirely ‘in-person’ and everything in between! ¬†I think it’s fair to say that for most people it’s probably a mix of the two especially in this connected world we now live in. ¬†I know it is for me.

The biggest challenge for organisations as they look at adopting PLNs, is that there are so many ways for people to connect, that it can be difficult to be supportive without being specific about the tools which people could or should use and the manner in which they could and should connect. ¬†What works for one person will not work for another when it comes to their PLN. ¬†If we look at four of the many tools which can be used to facilitate connections: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. ¬†For me personally, Twitter is my go to place. ¬†I love the brevity of the 140 character message as it forces people to really focus on their key message. ¬†I also love the open nature of Twitter, as, for the most part, you can dive into a conversation without even following those involved in the conversation. ¬†Yet for others, Twitter is their worst nightmare! ¬†I don’t see Facebook as part of my PLN for the most part. ¬†I have an account but keep it mostly for personal use with most of my contacts on Facebook personally known to me. ¬†Yet for others, Facebook is where most of their connections are fostered. ¬†Google+ hasn’t lit the same fire in me as Twitter as a means of connecting with others. ¬†I find the lack of brevity more overwhelming and find that I have to work harder to find the information of interest to me. ¬†This has been helped with the Communities option but I worry that this is narrowing the focus as mentioned in my previous post. Yet, for a growing number of people Google+ is becoming their go to place for connecting. ¬†Finally LinkedIn for me is just somewhere to have my digital CV of sorts but I haven’t leveraged the power of the discussions and so many other aspects of this networking application that so many others seem to use to their advantage. ¬†What I am hoping to illustrate is that when it comes to PLN’s


So maybe the challenge for organisations is more to do with supporting the many different ways to connect rather than adopting PLNs …..

4731898939_e972eb3594image credit:

Exploring Personal Learning Networks

I’ve just started an online seminar called ‘Exploring Personal Learning Networks‘. ¬†The seminar started on October 7th but I’ve just started this week so I’m a little behind the curve on it. ¬†In spite of my tardiness starting, I’m really enjoying being involved so far, as I read other participants blog posts about their Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), vc c and attempt to catch up on what seems to be a very busy twitter chat on the #xplrpln hashtag!


One of the first tasks we’ve been set, is to share our stories, regarding how having a PLN has changed how we learn and practice in our professional fields. ¬†For me, my PLN has dramatically changed how I practice as a lecturer. ¬†It’s hard to believe that I didn’t really even know what a PLN was a little more than a year ago. ¬†To be honest I’m not sure that I’m any more wise now but at least I now know the term! ¬† I’m not really going to delve deeply into a definition of a PLN in this post, as this will come in my next post for the seminar. ¬†I haven’t yet researched this topic, so I’m going to address my sense of what a PLN is about, as well as, what I can and do get, from my PLN.

My current loose definition of a PLN is “the people I come in contact with, both in person and virtually from whom I can learn”. ¬†I know this is vague and probably overly broad but it works for me right now. ¬†I’m lucky to be part of a very rich, vibrant PLN who have challenged, encouraged and supported me in the various endeavours I undertake from lecturing in Maths and Programming, to organising the ICT in Education conference, to taking my first tentative steps in presenting at conferences and so much more. ¬†I suppose my primary point of contact for many in my PLN is Twitter. ¬†I love the openness of Twitter, as you often come across ideas that may not be related to anything you are currently doing or planning, but which could be adapted to work for you. ¬†The other really positive aspect of Twitter for me is the diversity of experiences and viewpoints you get from the many people you connect with. ¬†I love the ease with which I can connect with other educators across the spectrum of education as too often we see a disconnect between the levels. ¬†Here in Ireland, and in other jurisdictions, we have a tendency to see primary, secondary and third level education as completely separate when in reality our children don’t dramatically change in the couple of months between finishing primary and starting secondary or between finishing secondary and starting third level. ¬†On hashtags like #edchatie, we can and do learn from each other.

The second task we’ve been set is to try something new. ¬†I decided to give Storify a try. ¬†I’d signed up a while ago but never progressed past a test, so I decided to use it to put together a Story of the #mathsfest conference I went to last weekend. ¬†Have a look at the fruits of my labours here.

Social Learning

Back in June I spotted a tweet from Nick Jackson¬†mentioning some Social Learning workshops that he was giving in the UK with Abhay Adhikari. ¬†At the workshops attendees would examine essential digital communications and look at developing an online digital toolkit. ¬†I really liked the look of the workshops and somewhere in the conversation that followed between Nick and I, the idea was mooted of bringing the workshops to Ireland. ¬†There was a slight complication in the shape of Nick’s impending relocation to Australia but why let something like that get in the way!! ¬†When we looked at possible dates the only viable date was Saturday 22nd September. ¬†I knew from the start that having the workshops in September was not ideal. ¬†The start of the new school year is a very busy time for teachers but I didn’t want to let the opportunity slip past.

To backtrack a little I first came in contact with Nick around this time last year though Liam Dunphy. ¬†We were all involved at the early stages of the connected classrooms (#ccGlobal) project. ¬†Through the project we had a ¬†few Google+ hangouts to discuss how best to proceed. ¬†This was followed up by Nick Skyping in to our CESI Meet before the ICT in Education conference in May. ¬†Through these various interactions with Nick I knew that the workshops would be worthwhile. ¬†Fast forward to 8 o’clock last Saturday morning and I found myself in Thurles getting ready to welcome Nick, Abhay and the attendees to the workshops. ¬† Meeting Nick for the first time in person was like meeting an old friend. ¬†This is one of the things that I love about social media – the ability to make real friendships with people in the virtual space.

Abhay facilitated the first workshop.  He started by giving us an introduction to social media. This broad banner covers social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, social media sites such as YouTube and Flickr, social bookmarking sites such as Pinterest and geosocial networking sites such as Foursquare and so much more as you can see from the infographic above.   The main thrust of the  workshop was around how to start a conversation.   In groups we looked at ideas we wanted to share or activities we wanted to promote.   To give the workshop a definite focus we zoned in on four ideas from the attendees

The surprising thing about this part of the workshop was that there was very little mention of social media.  The focus was on defining the outcome and identifying who could help you to achieve it.  Finding people who share your values is really the key to starting the conversation.  This is when the penny started to drop that this was where social media came in.

The next question is where to start the conversation and this very much depends on what you want to do: network, share resources etc., how much time you have to devote to social media (it is after all a time consuming process – believe me I know :-)) and the type of content you are creating.

The final part of the workshop zoned in on your profile on social media and what you want it to say about you. ¬†This was something I was very concious of when I started my Twitter account and this blog. ¬†The intention was to have them both for professional purposes only but I’ve found over the last year that the line between professional and personal has blurred. ¬†Pam the lecturer is not a different person from Pam the wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.

We also looked at peoples profile pictures and what they say about you. ¬†This is something I’ve grappled with as my profile picture is the poppies above. ¬†I didn’t feel comfortable putting up a photo when I set up my Twitter account so I picked poppies – there’s nothing significant about the poppies, they are just a flower I happen to like. ¬†I’ve had a few conversations about whether to come out from behind the poppies, most recently this week when Sharon Flynn wrote a blog post about coming out of hiding

I’ve come to the realisation that I like my poppies and I’m happy to hide behind them. ¬†Truth be told, I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert, although that is changing through my use of social media, and I’m OK with not having a photo of me as my profile picture. ¬†That may change in the future but for now poppies it is!

The session after lunch was facilitated by Nick and was a hands on workshop focussed around creating an online digital tool kit. ¬†We looked at Google+, the practicalities of getting started with it and how it could be used for education. ¬† We also looked at Facebook Groups for Schools and how useful this might be to connect with students when it is made available. ¬† One of the most interesting areas for discussion in this session were the barriers to social media use in education. ¬†In my haste to tweet I incorrectly referred to the barriers to using tech rather that the barriers to using social media. ¬†It was that kind of a day ūüôā

This led us into a conversation about digital literacy …

As you can see from the length of this post, the workshops have given me plenty of food for thought.  Thank you to Nick and Abhay for leading us through such a thought provoking day.

I’ve selected some of the tweets from the day above but you can check out the full¬†archive at¬†

Social Media Day 2012

I found out about Social Media Day from Mike Cox.  There was a tenuous plan to have some kind of event in LIT which would link to the event planned in CIT.  Mike asked me to have a think about Twitter with a view to answering the following questions:

  1. What is it?
  2. How do I use it?
  3. How does it work with other social media I use?
  4. What next?
As it turned out the plan for the event in LIT did not come to fruition but you can find my Prezi with my thoughts on Twitter here.

On Social Media Day I followed the event in CIT through Twitter initially and then got sucked in to watch the live stream.  Hearing the panel in the after lunch session, discussing how social media has helped them deal with either their own health issues, or those of their children, gave me a very different perspective on social media.  Hearing Alex talking about how her blog helped her as she fought cancer, hearing Eoin speak about how his family used Twitter, Facebook and blogs in different ways as they dealt with the reality of their daughter having a serious heart condition and hearing Lisa talk about creating the Grace app that would give her autistic daughter a way to communicate, really stopped me in my tracks.

Later in the day I saw a link to a live Google Hangout that had been organised as part of the Cork Social Media Day event. ¬†Jane Boyd¬†and April Ennis¬†in Canada¬†, Greg McQueen¬†in Denmark, Marti Konstant¬†in the US and¬†Paul O’Mahony,¬†Bernie Goldbach¬†and Mike Cox in Ireland were involved at various times during the hangout. ¬†The first hour of the hangout involved a multiway chat between all of the above which demonstrated the power of Google+ hangouts to connect people around the world. ¬†For me the chat really got interesting when it was reduced to just Jane and Greg after an hour. ¬†As they discussed social media and what it means to them it was like they were discussing my own experiences of social media. ¬†How getting involved in social media is like learning a foreign language, how it can be a lonely experience at the start and yet how it is worth persevering because of the generosity of people on social media.

As Greg and Jane discussed beginning to engage with people and having people engage with you, building relationships through Twitter backed up with hangouts and before you know it you’re in it, it really resonated with me as this has been my exact experience. ¬†Signing up for Twitter and not doing much for a while, then retweeting other people’s tweets which started the engagement, obsessing over how to respond when someone actually tweeted me directly, being in awe of people with thousands of followers and who have sent thousands of tweets and yet now, here I am completely embedded in Twitter, wondering how I will survive without it for my 2 weeks of holidays. ¬†It’s no secret that I love Twitter but I find that generally the people I interact with most are those whom I have met in person or whom I have hung out with via Skype or Google+ hangouts as I find that this gives an added dimension to our interactions. ¬†When the chat turned to the idea that we as humans don’t like the feeling of being alone it echoed the sentiments of the panel earlier in the day and for many this is what social media gives them – a way to connect with people regardless of geographical location.

The discussion point between Jane and Greg that I’ll leave you with is the real power of social media which has people discussing what ‘we’ did rather than what ‘I’ did. ¬†Social media in it’s many forms makes collaboration so much easier and to quote Jane it is ‘incredibly inspiring to collaborate with people around the world’. ¬†This has certainly been my experience whether it was my involvement with Liam Dunphy and many others on the #ccGlobal Project or interacting with Ira Socol, Pam Moran, Conor Galvin and Bernie Goldbach in the preparations for the ICT in Education conference. ¬†To echo Greg, putting your ideas out there and having them picked up by others and added to should be viewed as a positive rather than a losing of something in the sharing.

For some ideas of other social media applications to try out check out the infographic below

image from