Monday, January 4, 2010


My web presence is both a representation of myself as a nature lover and a trainee teacher but is also an ongoing tool for engaging students in my passions for education and the environment. The unifying user name, “Ms Voren”, combines my unique real-world name with a title relating to my impending status as a teacher. I have used an image of a Spotted Harrier as avatar throughout the nodes to reflect my long-term interest in bird watching. My main node is a Web log (blog) of some of my personal nature experiences. The four contributing nodes are a blog for my students to use for creative writing about nature and a Wiki for students to collaborate on nature-related information reports. I have a Flickr album containing my nature photos, which students may use in their projects. My teaching and nature-related Internet bookmarks are stored centrally in my Delicious Account. I deliberately avoided using Twitter as a node because it would be inappropriate for students to track my personal life and to have access to all the comments and websites linked to in my contacts’ “tweets”.

The appearance of my Web presence has been chosen to match the professional and formal appearance of my existing blogs. The chronological order of posts typical of the blog structure is not paramount in my web presence. Instead, I use blogs as a pre-formatted web-publishing tool to save time and effort (Richardson, 2009). To enhance navigability I have included an index in the margin so that users can browse to a topic that interests them. There is also a link to a “full index” which contains an alphabetical listing of all species mentioned, not just those in the blog titles. Both indexes contain hypertext links to the articles to facilitate browsing. There are also hypertext links at the end of posts to external sites with further information about certain species. I have deliberately chosen a range of sites from museums to enthusiasts’ blogs and Wikipedia. A potential exercise for students is to compare the different sources for style and accuracy.

I have created two of my contributing nodes for ongoing use by my future students. The Student Blog and Student Wiki are designed to encourage the development of multiliteracies: both learning to navigate and read Web pages, and learning to write and edit them. I want students to consider their involvement as serious, professional publishing and so the student blog matches the professional appearance of the main node. While students will generate the content of these two nodes, I will be heavily involved in supervision and assessment of both sites. I can use RSS feeds to track blog updates and the Wiki history pages will provide valuable information about student participation.

I have disallowed comments within the blog so that strangers cannot add information that is unsuitable for primary school students. However, receiving feedback from the teacher and peers in the form of comments on blog posts would enhance the user’s experience so within a school setting I would hope to make the blog available on an intranet so that commenting could be safely used by students.

The Student Blog will be used to develop literacy skills even though the theme is about nature. It includes structural information about the different creative writing styles required to be taught under the NSW English K-6 Syllabus and text examples that I have authored.

The role of the Student Wiki is to provide a collaborative authoring space for factual writing about nature. This has been customised as far as possible to share a similar appearance to the main node. Instructions for using the Wiki are accessible from the side bar at all times and examples of the writing style required are provided. There are many hypertext links and a clearly described structure to assist navigation.

Modern teaching theories emphasise the socially constructed nature of learning (Duffy & Bruns, 2006). Students are often encouraged to work in pairs or groups to enhance learning opportunities. The collaborative nature of Wikis, along with the simplicity of use, means that students will be able to jointly author articles and to practise editing skills without having to learn programming or coding. This Wiki will grow in size and accuracy the more it is used, thus adhering to the key Web 2.0 principle “the service automatically gets better the more people use it.” (Anderson, 2007).

A third node I have used is a Flickr photo album for students seeking photos to use in their blog or Wiki articles. The link from my main node deliberately goes to the "Sets" of nature photos. This page has a clear structure and purpose and is more helpful to navigate from than the unavoidably cluttered Home Page. Hypertext links throughout ensure that students and other users should be able to move easily through all the nodes. All photos in my Flickr album are licensed for reuse with attribution which itself could be used as a teaching point about copyright. I have divided the photos into albums to reinforce divisions in the animal kingdom, for example mammals, reptiles, invertebrates and birds. These divisions are also used in the Student Wiki table of contents.

My fourth node is a Delicious account. As a trainee teacher I have already encountered a significant number of useful websites to facilitate teaching. In my personal life I have gathered hundreds of links about nature. In creating a Delicious account I have been able to import these bookmarks from my personal computer and tag them according to relevant subject areas so they are accessible to other teachers and to my students. The bookmarks will be available from any computer and serve as a back up to this valuable archive of links.

As a primary school teacher I will be teaching in all Key Learning Areas but whenever possible I will incorporate my personal passion for nature and the environment. The main node of my web presence, like the personal Web pages of earlier times is “an elaborate strategical self-presentation” (Doring, 2002). It captures in words, images and hypertext links major aspects of my life: my publishing skills, environmental concerns and educational goals. This node can serve as part of my Curriculum Vitae when applying for teaching jobs. Once I’m employed, the blog will be a tool for role modelling my interest in nature, writing and technology. The contributing nodes will provide areas for students to participate, research and enhance their learning as well as providing a portfolio of assessable work.


Duffy, P. & Bruns, A. (2006). The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education: A Conversation of Possibilities. Retrieved February 5, 2010, from

Madden, M. & Fox, S. (2006). Riding the Waves of “Web 2.0”: More than a buzzword, but still not easily defined. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from

McAfee, A. (2006). Enterprise 2.0: The dawn of emergent collaboration. MIT Sloan Management Review 47 no3 Spr 2006 pp21-8. Retrieved January 4, 2010, from

O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0? Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved December 21, 2009, from

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Corwin Press, California.