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:

Monday, February 21, 2011

ICT in the Classroom

So Shaun and I are going to be presenting on ICT devices in the classroom.  Although very few people would argue that ICT should not be in the classroom - a lot of educators and school divisions do not allow or provide personal ICT devices in the classroom.  Seeing as this is a tech class in education we decided not to argue for or against ICT in the classroom, but instead we asked the question:

As an educator, what would make the best personal ICT device for the classroom?

This led us to other questions like:
What does the perfect personal ICT device look like?  What features does it have?

So - basically to decide this for ourselves we created a criteria for what we felt would make the perfect personal device and then we rated the 3 big categories: Smart Phones, Tablets, and Laptops against them.  Finally, we added up our scores and then included a final annalysis of what we felt about each device!

If you want to check out our presentation its available on Google Docs here:

See ya all tomorrow!

Darren Kuropatwa

I was really impressed with the amount of both interesting and really practical information that Darren inundated us with!  I was especially impressed with how he put a lot of emphasis on community both in the classroom!  If you read this blog you know that I think community is HUGE not only in the classroom but also online.  We have to create positive, responsible communities!  Therefore much of what Darren said fit with me really well.  I was also really liked what he said about letting students admit their mistakes.  This is one of my goals as a teacher, students in the classroom are so paralyzed with fear about not getting good grades or ‘doing it right’ that they have no intention of doing something like…take a chance, think for themselves, or experiment.  That could cost them marks and who knows what the repercussions of that could be in the future!! (yes I know it’s hard to be dramatic with type…)  This has got to change – we need students to know that mistakes happen and more importantly – it’s all good when they do.
Darren also pushed a few theme lines that are really effective and important:
Create It – when students create things they learn much more efficiently than reading through a textbook!
Publish It – when something is created by students - put it online, make it visible to the world, make their creations matter and students will then take pride in what they do!
Watch It, Do It, Teach It – I was already aware that medicine used this philosophy and I think it is dead on!  If you teach someone something there is absolutely no doubt that you yourself had to know it first – you can’t teach what you don’t know!
Interestingly each of these three principles can be aided by using ICT in the classroom!  Creating projects, videos, pictures, slideshows, etc. is soooooo much easier with a computer.  Obviously publishing is quick and effective with the internet and its even easier for students to be able to watch, do and teach by using technology. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Web 2.0

So I know we were supposed to write a topic on Web 2.0 and I know its kinda late but honestly it was because I didn't really feel I had a lot to add this year.  I mean I think Web 2.0 is great - there are a ton of really useful sites out there than Mike has shown us (Shelfari, Wikipedia etc etc etc etc etc etc etc)  and I am sure I am going to use a lot of them in class.  Recently one of our other profs told us that a recent study found that Wikipedia is actually 'correct' more often than printed versions of the Encyclopedia Britannica - so obviosly Web 2.0 sites and resources are effective and they ARE going to be part of the classroom in a VERY big way.  But honestly saying that really hasn't changed my outlook much over the past year.  Bascially, there are a million options out there; as teachers we have to find creative ways of using them for a miriad of reasons; and the net has become so inundated with Web 2.0 stuff that really its almost impossible NOT to use it if you are using the internet.
I do find the idea of Web 3.0 interesting - and honestly a little scary.  I'm not sure why really, but the idea of google or other internet companies collecting enough information on all of us to predict our needs is just a little - well - scary.  I am sure I will use it when it comes along to a greater extent, but it still gives me a little nervous itch at the back of my head.  Any comments?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Whats going on in School's TODAY...or at least what should be!

So on Tuesday we had a Skype conference with George Couros! (George is evil!! I'm actually kidding I just want to know if gets this on his Google Alert thingy!  George if you are reading this let me know!)
Anyway, I think if I were living in Alberta I'd be applying for a job at his school because I think his philosophy is EXACTLY what we need to have more of in schools.  I completely agree that students should be able to use more and more and MORE tech in the classroom and that ultimately all students are going to be bringing in their own laptops, iPod’s, BlackBerry’s, etc. to do their school work.  The internet is far too powerful a tool for research and the sharing of ideas or work not be used by students, teachers, whoever!
I also completely (and I really can't relate in words how completely) agree that schools have to STOP trying to prevent students from possibly stumbling on something 'bad' or more likely controversial; and instead move to a philosophy where teachers discuss how to use the internet responsibly and safely.  This is not only good for schools but it’s important for society; and currently the only institution capable of teaching internet responsibility to students is the school system.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Animoto is a cool little free program available for anyone.  Basically it makes movies in minutes!  There are tons of different ways you could use this in the classroom.  All students would need to do is prepare some pictures and then plunk them into Animoto.  They could use the videos to spice up a presentation or as a 'virtual tour guide'.  One of the best tools that is included is the music that you can add to your video.  It's not bad - they already have it in theme packages AND its acutally legal to use! Which is often a worry and/or struggle to find.  Here is a video of my wedding I made quickly this week:

Create your own video slideshow at