Tag Archives: technology

Putting Learning into Practice

We are about to delve deeper into BYOD in our board after a successful pilot in 2 schools – teachers AND students in one elementary school, and teachers only (for now) in one of our secondary schools.  We are about to open it up much wider this September and it will continue to grow.  At the same time, we are about to begin our fourth year of Blended Learning, using the provincially-licenced D2L platform.  So the time is right to provide much more support to a wider audience of teachers than just the pilot groups.  How can we do this?  Since we can’t financially support board-wide PD for all of our teachers, we will have to rely on online modules and resources for self-directed, self-selected learning.

Where do we start?  We have an ICT web page on our website where teachers can access lots of ideas and tutorials, but having finished my Masters in Educational Technology from UBC, I can see that this can result in fragmented, disconnected, and ineffective integration of technology in our classrooms.  We need to go much deeper and revisit some basics in pedagogy for the 21st century learners ( yes, an overused term, but it makes my point!)

I am impressed with the graphic organizer found on M. Kharbach’s website called Educatorstechnology.  He has identified 33 digital skills every teacher should have, but more importantly, has identified what skills the students need using our understanding of pedagogy.

From here, I want to include the digital tools that teachers can and should use to help students develop these skills to their fullest potential. But first, I want to ensure that teachers understand why they should use these tools – not just for the sake of using technology – but for the optimum learning potential for the students.  Sometimes, the best tool is NOT technology – but let’s make sure that the teachers understand the learning potential (and pitfalls) of each tool.

So this is my focus for this year – finding the time to develop this framework and start the creation of learning modules that start – not with the technology – but with the skills the students need, followed by the skills the teacher needs – then the possible tools that can help.

More to come….

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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Go Wide or Deep?

Here is the classic dilemma:  What do you do when:

  • you KNOW from research that we need to go deeper with our PD and initiatives (fewer and more in-depth with follow-up and consistency) than wider (let’s do it all, to everyone!)   BUT
  • you have a new initiative that can be expanded that is SO popular, everyone wants in – yet there are not enough dollars to do that
Our 2-year Blended Learning pilot project with elearning Ontario was a big hit with teachers and students – and the Ministry was impressed with our delivery model – loads of PD for teachers, a cross-panel emphasis, providing small pods of netbooks in the participating classrooms, using a wide range of online tools,  etc.
So now, the initiative is available to all boards, to all students and teachers, and the emails have poured in from principals and teachers pleading to get on board.  Hence my dilemma:
Do I continue with the existing classroom teachers, move them even further along in their understanding of effective use of technology, and add just a few more people that could be mentored by these veterans…..or do I say, hey, let’s go wide and add many many more classrooms – oh, sorry, no money for more netbooks though.
Either way, there are going to be disappointed people.  I definitely need to develop a well-thought-out plan that I can share widely so others can see the direction we are headed – to eventually have everyone (who want to of course) enjoying the online learning platform!
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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Musings


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Going Beyond Engagement

We all agree – technology in the classroom is amazing for engaging students – it grabs their attention, raises their heart rates, gets the juices flowing – but for how long?

We know how short the attention spans of some of our students can be – the novelty of any new toy or tool wears off really fast, especially if the tools we offer in our schools may not be the most upadated version of what the students own in their own homes.  So engagement gets their attention at first, but how do we go beyond this and actually see improvement in learning?

The question is:  How can technology do for us, that the most amazing teacher has difficulty doing in the traditional classroom? What does technology provide that we can never do as well on our own. (let’s face it – technology is awfully expensive – we need to have the strongest argument for its inclusion in our budgets)

 I suggest the following list, although I am sure there are far more out there. 

  • it meets the students where they are (and isn’t that the basis of good instruction and DI?)
  • peer collaboration and feedback are easier (using tools like Google docs and online chats)
  • group work can continue outside of school (no worries about students living in different communities)
  • animations/simulations can solidify understanding of difficult concepts
  • increases opportunities for creativity – countless tools for this
  • wider range of tools for students to demonstrate what they know and can do rather than posters, ppts, and papers
  • caters to a wider range of learning styles
  • provides access to global resources eg Skyping with authors, scientists, world leaders
  • allows students to collaborate in creating resources eg wikis
  • opportunities to teach students about digital citizenship as this is where students are creating their online identities outside of school hours

Are there others?  Can you tell I am preparing myself for something?

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Posted by on August 23, 2011 in Musings