Happy Steve

Innovation and Learning

Start with clarity of intent.

Now build it out with an evocative vision. Improvise progress by tinkering: with lots of trial and lots of error. The not knowing is the best bit: the mysteries the surprises, and from time to time the windfalls! 

Hello there, I'm Steve Collis! 

Click on "contact", won't you, and wave right back at me?

Filtering by Tag: Beyond Borders

Beyond Borders - a safe web space to share

I launched Beyond Borders back in 2005. In those I was teaching French and English and had no other responsibilities at the school. My Principal told me about an organisation in Europe called WKTO (standing for Work Together). The WKTO network, limited to Northern Hemisphere, used a special web space to facilitate teams of students from various countries operating in one common language (but not their maternal language).

This sounded great for my French students: a web space for them to share with other students in other places where they could communicate and collaborate.

Beyond-Borders (White)
The leaders at my school got behind the idea and set up the IT infrastructure for me. It's great at my school that new ideas and projects are supported strongly. There aren't hoops to jump through, rather a golden path is built!

The pilot project went well in 2005, and I thought "Hey ANY subject could benefit from this model!"

So I swung into action, creating:

- behaviour agreements for students

- tutorial materials for teachers

- a standardised project structure

Funding from the government via a special language innovations program was very helpful. The standardised project structure I called "Collabor8" and am still really pleased with it. Conceptually it adapts to any age and any subject.

Collaborate (Black)

I also started presenting on the website at conferences. My lovely awards were for Beyond Borders and this opened a lot of doors to get the word out.

We actually have 3,616 users registered now! Projects have run in all kinds of different languages with participants from lots of different countries.

Globe (Colour)  

With everything else I'm trying to do, Beyond Borders is quieter now than it used to be, but it is still very much available. 

One thing I have learnt is that a lot of teachers will say "Yes! I will participate!" but literally only about 5% follow through, no matter how sure they were initially. This has everything to do with how busy they are, and I completely understand. I have, however, started holding back from registering teachers until I am sure they're going to follow through. Actually, I try to put barriers in people's way so I can avoid doing all the administration only to have schools drop out!!

Anyway the catalyst for blogging on this is that I am running full day training on Beyond Borders on September the 16th at my school in Sydney. We'll canvass a wide variety of ideas for using the website, everything hands-on and practical, of course! If you're keen to attend, grab the rego form from http://scil.nsw.edu.au/pd/ and send it in.

If you can't attend but want more information on Beyond Borders and the capabilities of the project infrastructure (which uses Moodle, but that's another story), have a look at this manual:

Download Complete Guide to Collabor8

There are plenty of other courses coming up too!

Actually, if you're interested more generally in Moodle, you'll notice we're running training on the November 2nd. We've had Moodle since 2004 and it is fair to say most our teachers are experts. The guys running this course are the experts of all experts!

Look, while I'm blogging this, let me finish with a little announcement! Our Internet radio station, which I presented on at ELH a few days ago, is now available as a podcast. This morning I had no idea how to set up a podcast. It took me about 60 minutes to find the information and tutorials required and follow them until I got it working. 

If you'd like to subscribe, click on the logo below and then click "Add to iTunes" or whatever other system you want to subscribe with! The show is entirely recorded, edited and produced by students! Edit: gosh I listened to the podcast this arvo on the way home and a number of the sections have been repeated. Far from perfect, but at least the ball is rolling!

(Alternatively, listen directly to our internet radio station by going to iTunes or whatever media player you have, clicking "Open URL" and pasting in:

Anyway, that's it for now! 

The day a wiki harnassed the goodwill of unknown colleagues...

In 2005 with help from my school I created Beyond Borders to facilitate collaborative online projects between students around the globe.

I'm very proud that we now have almost 2,500 users, over 50 projects, with schools in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Korean, Saudi Arabia, Canada and America.

Many of the projects run in a nominated language, which is not necessarily English.

To help teachers use Beyond Borders, I created a DVD with tutorial videos.

I wanted to subtitle it in as many languages as possible. Now, although Beyond Borders has won funding, it hasn't won enough to professionally subtitle it.

So I set up a wiki! (What is a wiki? Click here, it is a simple document that anyone can edit.) You can set up a wiki in a minute or two, for free. I used the wikispaces website.

You can see the wiki I set up here: http://beyondbordersdvd.wikispaces.com/

The wiki is not locked. Anyone at all can just show up at the page and contribute anonymously. The wiki has an English transcript of the DVD. Anyone at all can just show up and replace the English with the translation.

I sent out word as far and wide as I could to colleagues. Please, if you could just translate a sentence or two into one of a number of languages?

BbdvdscreenshotThat was about 8 weeks ago.

Over that time, a pool of unseen labour has sprung up and gotten a lot of the work done as if by magic. The Indonesian and Korean translations are done, and much progress has been much in French, Italian and Chinese versions.

Another advertisement for some more help, and a few more weeks, and the job will be done!

Wikis are revolutionary, powerful, democratic. Wikis harnass goodwill. Thanks to everyone who helped !