Here we will attempt to answer some of the frequently asked questions about the course. If you have any others, send us an email or ask a question in Edmodo and we’ll post the answer here.
What equipment and software do I need?
To participate fully in all the activities of the PLN, this is the equipment you need:
- Computer (or tablet) with internet access
- Sound and video to enable access to podcasts and videos
- Headset with microphone (just a cheap one is fine and if you can’t get one, don’t worry too much – the microphone is optional but more fun)
- Your computer should have Java, Quicktime, Flash an
d Windows Media Player installed.
This is a list of websites, software and services you’ll access over the course which, we know, may be blocked or hard to access from some schools. Please do what you can to make sure you can access or download these, and it will make life easier for you.
You need access to:
You may have to speak to your school admin and tech support staff to ensure these tools can be accessed within your school for the duration of the course – at the very least.
State Library access
Please register for a State Library of Victoria library card here. The library card will give you free and remote access to some exceptional resources, which we’ll cover in Unit 5. Make sure you register for the card as soon as possible to allow time for processing.
How is the course structured?
The VicPLN will run for seven units. Each unit takes one week to complete. The 2014 schedule is:
- Unit 1- Week commencing 10 June (Queens Birthday June 9)
- Unit 2- Week commencing 16 June
- Victorian school holidays 28 June – 11 July
- Unit 3- Week commencing 14 July
- Unit 4- Week commencing 21 July
- Unit 5- Week commencing 28 July
- Unit 6- Week commencing 4 August
- Unit 7- Week commencing 11 August
What devices can I use to complete the course?
All of the services and resources we will explore work on standard computers (i.e. Mac & Windows). All you need is a computer with an internet connection. Some of the services will also work on tablet devices and smart phones, but to get the best experience of the course a computer is required.
Do I have to complete each unit each week?
As interaction with other participants is an important part of each unit and the course, it’s best (and more fun) if you try to stay on schedule and complete a unit in the set week. This will hopefully keep you on schedule and help you finish on time.
But we know that sometimes life gets in the way of best laid plans. Just remember – if you fall behind, you can still catch up and help is at hand. Just let the PLN team know via email if you’re struggling or need any help – or you can post a comment in Edmodo and you’ll probably find others who have struggled with similar things and are happy to share their tips.
How do I complete each unit?
Each unit contains a number of activities, tutorials, reading and topics. You’ll access the units through the Course materials page (we will also link to each unit in Edmodo). Each unit has an introductory page explaining the focus for the week, and outlining any reflection questions that you might want to consider as you work through the course materials.
You can work on the course at any time you like. Some people prefer to work at home, others set aside time at school. Some participants have found it’s best to chip away at a unit, and others try to do it all in one sitting. It’s up to you.
Once you’ve worked through the unit, you make a post on your course journal blog (you’ll set one up in the first unit) about the unit’s content. This might include an example of some of the work you’ve done, as well as your answer to the reflection question. Then you submit your assignment in Edmodo and share with us the web address (URL) of your blog post.
How long will each unit take to complete?
We estimate each unit will take up to 5 hours to complete. Obviously this is only an estimate and will vary. If you complete the course you will receive credit for 35 hours work, but you might like to also keep your own record of hours completed for your own PD records. Your blog also functions as a record of your work and achievements.
Do I have to share my work with other participants?
Please do. Sharing and communicating with other participants is a fundamental part of our course. We know that it can be challenging for some people to share their thoughts and work online, but we’ve found that course participants are welcoming and supportive of each other.
If you have any particular privacy concerns that mean you’d rather not share, then please don’t hesitate to contact the team and we can make alternate arrangements.
Can I share the course materials with my students or colleagues?
Yes – and again, please do. This course is all about sharing and collaboration. We hope that you learn plenty here, and would love it if you then made use of our materials to teach your students, colleagues and friends about these tools and resources. Better yet, we hope by the end of the course you’ll be making your own materials, and sharing them online! That’s what the PLN course and community is about.
What happens if I get stuck?
You’ve probably heard this before, but here it is again: “There’s no such thing as a stupid question”. If you are really stuck, then chances are someone else is too. If you need help then ask for it in Edmodo. One of the PLN team will try to help you as soon as possible. Other participants tend to jump in and help as well, which is fabulous. So if you know the answer to someone else’s question, feel free to answer it.
One other tip. Sometimes it’s best just to walk away for a while, take a deep breath and not think about the problem. Take a break, sleep on it, or just turn off the computer and turn it back on again. Technology is fabulous when it works, but can be frustrating when it won’t do what you need it to do!