Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The classroom - According to The Book of ICT

OK so here we go – this is my very last education project and probably the one that is most relevant to my own slant on education.  For me using technology (laptops, the internet, smart boards etc.) come fairly naturally.  Last term I even had one of my students ask me if, “I would always be using [my] laptop and the smart board?  Cuz, like…none of our teachers do that…they just sit in the room.”  I looked at him and said, “Yeah, I will be almost every day.”   The only response I received was, “Cool!”  I think this goes a long way in showing the difficulty with using some of the technology that is already available in many classrooms – most of the teachers today see it as this new thingy that they can use to ‘connect’ their lesson plans to their students.
 In a way that’s fine, it shows they want to make their lessons more relative – they just find it hard to fit them in.  I’ll go back to my own experience with the same group of students as I quoted above.  Apparently me using computers just blew them away because the question this question came up a few days later, “Why do you use it? Just cuz you like it?”  I replied with the only response that came to mind, “Yeah, in a way.” I explained the concept of the ‘digital native’ I explained that I had always used computer.  They had always been around and from very early on in life I have played with settings, learnt programs and eventually pulled them apart and put them back together.  I explained that he (the student) and I shared that aspect we were both digital natives.  Then I explained that people only a few years older than me did not have that advantage – computers were something they learnt because it was a new tool, a way of doing things easier or faster.  They didn’t incorporate computers into their lives in the same way that digital natives did.  This discussion I had with my class not only helped them understand their teachers a little better, but it also helped me understand myself – and therefore other young teachers.  Currently many PD workshops involving ICT are about “how we can integrate it into our classrooms”, again that’s fine – I went to one this year during SAG.  But that’s not going to be the major issue for ‘our’ generation of teachers.  What our generation needs is for the system to catch up, to stop viewing the internet as a tool to help connect the old style of the classroom with students; and start looking at it as a way to change the classroom all together.  Our schools need to understand that the wired world is not the future – it is the now students already know it, they just need schools to catch up.
I produced a video that I think sums up my feelings and what we have been learning all term long.  I hope everyone enjoys it and has had as much fun as I have:

...Sharing is Education

I think this is probably the most important line from Dean Shareski’s video.  I really agree that today sharing is much easier and the BEST way to get great resources and ideas today is by venturing into the internet and ‘meeting’ colleagues from around the world.  One of my other favorite quotes from the video came from our friend George!  He says that, “...if we want what’s best for kids then we should share our ideas with other teachers.”
In the end I completely agree that as teachers it is our responsibility to share our ideas about not just resources, but also our views of education itself.

WBC - Blackboard

So I have been fiddling around with Blackboard for the last couple days on my Computer Sci 30s course (I will be teaching it this term coming up).  I have to say I was pretty impressed - the layout was very intuitive and clean.  To me thats a huge first step - most of the screen could be used for what I wanted to do - not with side bars, top bars, bottoms bars, popups, etc.  I liked that there was an easy to use calendar and email system.  I really liked that to send e-mails it had a number of options to send to different groups that was 'right there' easy to find and such. I also ran through the assignments that were available and they were really useful - it not only had explanations for you but one of them even had an example of the 'program' they were going to develop.  Anyone could simply click on the link with the assignment and the program would load.  Depending on what topics in the class I am going to be teaching are I may very well use some of the resources on Blackboard for my f2f teaching this term and I would be very interested in using it to augment a f2f classroom of my own in the future.  The ability to have students connect with material outside of the classroom alone would make it worth the effort.

Edu Blogger

So for my edublogger portion of this course I have been following George Couros because - let’s face it George is fun, exciting, and most importantly - pretty much the principle that we would all like to work for. One of the things I love about George’s site: The Principle of Change - is that he spends a lot of time both talking about his own personal experiences and about creating positive communities. I think really his message is all about community - whether it’s online or in his school.
I remember one of my favourite posts from his site was on the topic of principles and what makes a good principle. He quoted one teacher who said that they loved their principle because they 'stayed out of her way'. George then commented on how he felt the principles most important job was not simply 'getting out of the way' but that he felt principles should set the goals and atmosphere for a school. That really resonated with me because it’s a powerful idea - one that he has clearly accomplished in his school. Without his vision of bringing tech into the 'school' instead of just the 'classroom' I doubt every teacher would be using tech to the extent they are today.
For me I think I will continue to ready The Principle of Change because George not only has a lot of great ideas - but he also advocates for change is such a positive manner.
If you want to check out The Principle of Change check out: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Just For Fun!

Ok so this sorta has to do with Alec Couros and kinda has to do with Mike but mostly its just funny.  It was made for Alec for his 40th Birthday.  Check out the 3:43 mark to see our prof rocking out!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Westcast - Couros Part 2

Yeah I know my description was a little cryptic so I will try and explain it a little better. Alec actually actually calls himself an Open Educator - basically he does all (or I would assume as much as he can) of his teaching, classwork, lectures, assignments, etc. in an open and transparent way using the internet. He beleives that using online apps such as Google Docs, Flicker, Twitter, and basically any other Web 2.0 programs will take education to a whole new level. People will no longer have to be locked into a classroom to take a class - or to become a student. Student's from around the world can take the same class and all contribute to work or ideas using online programs. Naturally topics such as digital citizenship and social justice online are topics that he is also passionate about because without them its very difficult to have meaningful online relationships.
I think this is a really important philosophy to have heading into the future. The internet is not going away, and the amount of information available in it is only going to expand - probably dramatically. It makes sense that educators should start breaking up the idea that learning has to take place in a classroom. Students should be able to get notes, or assignments, ask questions, do homework or classwork from anywhere they happen to be. I don't think this means the end of the classroom - far from - I just think that it means an extension of the classroom to everywhere a student can access the internet, which increasingly is anywhere.
Well that was a bit intense so I think I'll finish with a spoof vid that Alec made of himself - it does a good job of showing off Alec's philosophy and his sence of humour as well:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Westcast - Couros

Ok so I attended Westcast this week and was lucky enough to have had Alec Couros as one of the keynote speakers. Alec is a pretty remarkable educator and is responsible for some pretty big ideas in the Internet Education world. One of his major beliefs is that education has to become far more open, and flexible in this new networked era. When people can connect with anything at anytime just about anywhere then teaching and the classroom has to shift with it. It's a powerful and really positive idea I think! One of the great things about Alec is that he puts his ideas into practice Alec actually puts his grad courses online and has people from all over the world watch via the internet! What a cool idea! Honestly I have too much to say about Alec right now so I'll leave it at that and come back and write some more when I have more time! If you are interested in seeing more (and also seeing Mike singing) check out Alec's blog at: