Using Web 2.0 to Change the World

While a lot of negative things have been said about the ways in which teenagers behave on the internet, there are also children and teenagers out there who are comitted to making a difference in other people’s lives, and who have been able to affect a far wider audience because of the internet.  Below are 3 examples that I’ve heard about recently: Ryan Hreljac, Laura Stockman and Chris Raine.

Ryan & Friend Ryan's Well Map

Ryan’s Well Foundation

At 6 years of age, Ryan saved $70 for a well in Uganda, and has gone on to inspire others to become involved as well by using the power of the internet to attrsct, share and globally motivate people.

In 1998, when Ryan was in grade one he learned from his teacher, Mrs Prest that people were dying because they didn’t have clean water to drink. He decided that raising money for people who didn’t have clean water would be a good thing. He worked for four months in order to earn his first $70. Ryan’s first well was built in 1999 when Ryan was seven years-old at a school in a Ugandan village.

Ryan’s determination grew from the $70 collected by doing simple household chores to a Foundation that today has contributed a total of 518 water and sanitation projects in 16 countries bringing clean water and sanitation services to over 640,000 people. The Foundation has raised millions of dollars.

25 Days to make a Difference

25 Days to Make a Difference

When 10 year old Laura’s grandfather died, she decided to do 25 acts of kindness in his memory. She set up a blog, saved $25 of her  pocket money and offered this as a prize for the best act of kindness by another child. In December 2008 she and her sister Nina again challenged people to help, and said that they would help the winner’s chosen charity for the entire month of January 2009. At the same time they wrote about what was happening on Twitter –

Albert Stockman was my grandpa. He loved helping other people, and he believed that everybody could make the world a better place, not just by doing big things, but by doing small things too… In December of 2007, I decided that the best way to remember my grandpa during the holiday season would be by living my life like he did, by making a difference and being a leader. I decided to honor my grandfather’s memory by trying to make a difference every day for twenty five days. I wanted to be able to do little things, like kids my age typically do, instead of HUGE things that are sometimes hard for kids like me. I decided to write about my adventures here, and I also created a challenge.

I challenged everyone who read my blog to TRY to do something every single day during the holiday season to make a SMALL difference in his or her world.

With 76,640 hits to date, Laura’s project inspired children and adults aliike to make the world a better place. These are a couple of comments that others wrote on her blog:

i love the idea of this website .i think it really incorriges people to do something to help other people and helps the world.i think everybody should make a difference ,not just in December in any day
of the year !!!!! (hannah)

Thanks not only for creating the project, but for deciding to share it with the world via a blog. I’m sure you’ll reach more people than you’ll ever know!

Hello Sunday Morning

Hello Sunday Morning

I first heard about Chris Raine when he was interviewed on the radio about his blog Hello Sunday Morning. He is “passionate about using mass communication for good” and set up his blog and a twitter account to share his thoughts on what is was like, as a young person, to give up alcohol for a whole year. He says:

“I have committed to not drinking for a year and doing observational & psychological research into youth behaviour to find a viable alternative to problematic youth drinking. This project is for young people who believe that there is a better way. It is about creating positive change to the aspects of our youth culture for future generations. ” Read more about him and his project here.

From the website:

“On January 1st 2009 Chris Raine drank what would be his last drink for one whole year.

The reason why this was his last, was due to a commitment he made to spend one year researching and experimenting as to what exactly it would take for a young person to change their drinking behaviours. He documented that process on his blog on

What the HSM research team found in that year was just how entrenched alcohol is in a young person’s life and how just little support there is out there for those that wish to change that.

Hello Sunday Morning has now become an opportunity for young people to get the support they need to shift their personal belief systems around alcohol and in doing so, shift those of the people that surround them.

This isn’t a project that is against alcohol or for lifelong abstinence. We believe alcohol has a place in our lives and in Australian society. Hello Sunday Morning is simply a project that is about supporting young people that believe in changing their own belief systems around alcohol.”  (

Working Together

If you would like to be involved in a project to help others and make a difference in someone else’s lfe, then join this ning created by Jenny Luca

“Working Together 2 Make a Difference is a community for educators, parents, and students who are involved in volunteerism and service learning. Our goal is to create and nurture connections that will provide all of us inspiration and support as we strive to give back to our local and global communities”



This wiki is the brainchild of educators on Conversations, a webcast on Please feel free to add ideas, resources, connections that can be used by students to help connect with and support Haiti.

The internet can be a powerful tool for changing people’s lives for good. Have you heard of any other examples where children and teenagers have made s positive difference using Web 2.0?

Patrick Ness – Chaos Walking Trilogy

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness  Patrick Ness  the-ask-and-the-answer-by-patrick-ness  Monsters front cover jpeg

Author Patrick Ness has become a worldwide sensation with the release of his highly-acclaimed Chaos Walking series – The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and The Answer. Todd Hewitt is 13 years old and the youngest boy in Prentiss Town, a harsh and brutal place where men can hear each other’s thoughts, and where there are no women. Todd’s only friend is his talking dog, Manchee, until they stumble across a place in the swamp where there is no noise – and discover Viola.  Together they flee to Haven from the violent army of men determined to hunt them down, but Haven is not the refuge they had hoped it would be.

While the idea of ‘noise’ is creative and original, the books’ real substance is in the conflicts that occur in Todd’s mind, the decisions he makes on his way to becoming a man, and in the questions Patrick Ness raises in the readers’ minds about the reasons for war.  The third book in the series – Monsters of Men – is due to be released in the UK, Ireland and Australia in May this year.

Patrick will be touring New Zealand and Australia in February and March this year. In Queensland he will be presenting a public lecture at Queensland University of Technology on 15 March at 6pm, and he will also be presenting at the Somerset Celebration of  Literature Festival – 17-19 March on the Gold Coast. Check the Walker Books website for more details.

I Need My Teachers to Learn

Here’s an excellent video created by Kevin Honeycutt about the need for teachers to embrace Web 2.0 technologies and elearning:

If they’re unsure of where to start, send them to this article written by Joyce Valenza in Tech & Learning:


How to retool yourself–a roadmap of at least 16 ways for school librarians (and their classroom teacher colleagues) to develop professionally

1. The Common Craft In Plain English video series provides no nonsense explanations of nearly all things 2.0 and many of us use these little videos in professional development workshops.  Watch them; share them; embed them.

2. When I need to get up to date quickly, I often look for presentations created by folks I respect and I search the SlideShare archive.  I am blown away by the content our colleagues freely share.

3. Discussion hubs:

4. ISTE’s SIGMS and many of the other SIGS),offers a variety of ways to get involved and retooled.  Join the SIGMS group and participate in the community discussion in the ISTE Ning.  The AASL-SIGMS Virtual Learning Community hosts regular meetings in Second Life featuring notable speakers like Alan November, Mike Eisenberg, Doug Johnson.  Among many other things, ISTE’s Second Life Wiki shares an archive of videos from the ISTE Eduverse Talks in Second Life.  Facebook users might prefer to join the ISTE Facebook

5. TeacherLibrarianNing is a meeting place for TLs all over the world. We are completely redesigning the interface and hope to feature more provocative discussion. Volunteers are always welcome to inspire forum discussions and polls and more.  Email me if you’d like to be made an administrator!

6. Check in regularly with David Warlick’s Hitchhikr to see what’s hot and to keep up to date on upcoming confs on- and offline.

7. Absolutely better late than never! Visit any already held conference and experience it from a distance. November Learning and last year’s ISTE/NECC host a wealth of fabulous video and slideshows and wikis filled with resources for learning.  Here’s our Smackdown Wiki from NECC09 in DC, the event held at ALA, and the most recent AASL event.

8. Join or visit any of a variety of relevant bookmark sharing groups in Diigo.  I belong to: Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom, Diigo in Education, Educators, History TeachersWeb 2.0 @ School, Project-Based Learning, Teacher-Librarians, eLearning 2.0, High School Librarians. You have so many choices!

9. Plan to attend the free, global K12 Online Conference that started just this week! You will be amazed at the wealth of options. Experience presentations by leaders, thinkers, and practitioners (most participants span all three categories).  Participate in the live discussion.  Visit and share the archive.

10. Follow a few bloggers. Just a few.  Visit my NewTools page on blogging for lists of teachers and librarians who blog.

11. Follow a few Tweeters.Just a few. Visit my NewTools page on tweeting for resources to build your network.  One of my personal favorites is Twitter4Teachers.

12.  I’ve been maintaining this page on 2.0 Learning Resources.  Start anywhere, but I recommend visiting:

13.  Steve Hargadon of Classroom 2.0 recently offered school librarians Elluminate space and time for our own monthly/regular discussions.  A steering committee is currently planning a series of events of interest to school librarians, as well as other educators, to be held the first Monday of each month.  Our first event is tentatively scheduled for Monday, February 1.

14. Check out any of a growing number of video learning portals for professional development, as well as content area learning. My very favorite of these portals is TED, where you can gather wisdom from some of the most creative thinkers and speakers of our time, but there are so many:

15. A few of us on the AASL Geek Squad recently built a wiki to share effective online school library practice. Visit the site to see examples at all levels of instruction and for a variety of aspects of library service.

And sneaking just one more item:

16. Visit the shortlist nominations for the Edublog Awards to see examples of effective practice in blogging, tweeting, wiki creation, and, in general, teaching and learning using the information and communication tools of our time.

Did You Know 4.0

Many of you will be familiar with the video Did You Know 3.0, (see below) watched by millions of people since it was released in October 2008. This video was a remake of the original “Shift Happens” videos (see the Shift Happens wiki)



How will we be reaching students in 2020?

The new Did You Know 4.0 video was created in September 2009, and predicts that the next big wave of advertising and social networking will be via mobile phones. 

Will schools be ready for this challenge when we ban phones in classrooms today? Sometimes not just in the classroom, but students are banned from bringing them to school at all.  Over the next few years we will need to get our heads around another big paradigm shift in education – and this while we are still struggling with elearning via one-to-one laptop programs.

However, doesn’t this create an ideal way for Teacher Librarians to lead the way with researching how mobile phones can be used in the classroom, and implementing some strategies themselves? For example, book reservations and RSS feeds on new items via text messaging, chapters of novels sent out via SMS (copyright free books), useful websites added to the Library webpages and sent to teachers and students via SMS etc.  Others are already exploring the potential – author Marieke Hardy earlier this year was commissioned by The Age newspaper to write a novel specifically for mobile phones: The Age Text Tales with Marieke Hardy.

We need to think carefully about Alvin Toffler’s comment:  “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”  Teacher Librarians must make sure that they are not only literate, but also leaders.

Have a look at  10 Ideas for Engaging Learners with Cell Phones, Even in Districts that Ban Them by Lisa Neilsen, also Mobile Phones, Mobile Minds: “a look at the world of young people with mobile phones, and the impact on schools and education”

Owning a mobile is becoming an indispensable element of young people’s lives, for both teenagers and increasingly primary age children, all around the world.

Are mobile phones a force for good, or an example of technology gone awry? Is it sensible to ban their use in schools or should this device be given a place in lessons and learning?” (