Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wikispaces Orientation

Later today, some colleagues from Edcentre.ca and I will be presenting wikispaces to a group of teachers in my school division. Consequently, I've spent a lot of my evening trying to think about how best to demonstrate wikispaces to them; I know very few have much of a background in web 2.0 tools so I'll have to be careful not to overwhelm them.

I've decided to start with Suzie Vesper's Learningweb2 wiki as a starting place and follow it up with the slides below. I hope can a least spark a flicker of interest in those attending; perhaps some will be using wikis in the classrooms of Northern Lights School Division before Christmas. Without hope, where would we be?

I wonder how others would present wikispaces to beginners with only 30 minutes to work with and no computers in the hands of the learners?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moving towards online learning!

I got a call from Ted Green, the principal of Edcentre.ca in La Ronge, the other day and he was inviting me to help him and his staff present at our annual teacher convention coming up this week in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I had been planning to attend the session, "Getting Connected," anyway and immediately agreed as I realize that my limited level of connectivity places me ahead of most in our school division. I also believe in the spirit of sharing that I have to credit my PLN for instilling in me which means I am obligated to share my knowledge that I have learned from others. Anyway, the call actually turned into a bit of philosophical discussion about the state of affairs of technology in our school division and the need for a Digital Learning Consultant to take our Division to the next level.

One of the pieces of the conversation centered on the issue of getting teachers to start using the web tools available to connect with their students, parents, and the world in general. In my world as a principal, I have been encouraging teachers to incorporate technology into their classrooms, I host interested staff at Tech Thursday sessions, and I am thrilled that a few have started (Melva, Megan, Tessa, and Sarah). Nevertheless, I am struggling with why it is so hard to get some to see that there are new things in education because of technology that can really engage a learner. In fact, I've been warning people that the day is coming when teachers will be expected to use online tools to make their classrooms available to students and parents. How long will it be before teaching jobs come with advertisements that call for teachers with the skills to use Moodle, blogs, and wikis (to name a few)?

If I could get some to read Jeff Utecht's blog titled Preparing for the worst = opportunity from September 21, 2009, they might begin to understand that increasingly it is normal for teachers to use the internet to work and communicate with their students. He also points out that there are external forces at work on schools like influenza that may make it necessary to work with students in non-traditional ways.
He says, ...I believe every classroom today, especially in the middle school and high school where students are more tech savvy should be a blended model of both classroom learning and online learning…

This is something I've been saying in my school where the problem we face is irregular attendance. We need to find ways to meet the needs of learners who do not do the traditional school day the way it was intended and an online - classroom blend may be the solution. I just need staff who are willng to try the idea with their classes.

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