Sunday, 8 December 2013

Teaching with Technology PD Workshop Summary

My Major Digital Project is complete! For now anyways.  You can view all project resources on my Major Digital Project page.  For a complete overview of the project, please refer to my compilation of Teaching with Technology blog posts.  All major digital project posts were labeled  "Teaching with Technology".  They were posted in the following order:
  1. Final Project Outline
  2. Teaching with Technology Website
  3. Teaching with Technology Professional Development Workshops
  4. Teaching with Technology Website Video
  5. Teaching with Technology Presentation File
  6. SECTIONS Model
  7. Moodle Course and Teacher Blog Posts
  8. Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

In previous posts I have described the Teaching With Technology workshop which has been the focus of my Major Digital Project.  In this post I intend to highlight the lessons which were learned through the process, and the modifications Leanne Forrest and I plan to make for upcoming sessions.

A couple of weeks after the Teaching With Technology Session, we sent participants a follow-up email.  In this email we told them we had provided feedback on their blog posts and asked them for session feedback by completing an online survey.


Unfortunately, the timing of the survey was close to report card and interview time, so the response rate for the survey was quite low, with only two of the seven participants completing the survey.  Listed below are the survey results.  
In reviewing the survey responses and participant comments we were able to determine a few different things:
  • Participants liked the website resource and found it useful and easy to use
  • Participants were happy with the format for the workshop
  • Participants liked the SECTIONS model
  • Participants were open to the idea of using the blog to post about their progress with their chosen project
  • Participants are less interested in viewing and commenting on the blog posts of others
  • Participants like the idea of a technology fair, but are not interested in helping to organize the event

Moving Forward

Leanne and I are excited about the possibilities of this PD opportunity and are looking forward to upcoming sessions.  We have two sessions already planned for the early months of 2014, and registration for both sessions is already at capacity, with 20 participants per session.  In these upcoming sessions we plan to implement the following changes:
  1. Introductions: At the start of our session we introduced ourselves as presenters, but we did not take the time to allow participants to introduce themselves to others and identify their teaching assignment.  Fortunately, because of the small group size introductions did naturally occur, and because of this teachers began to network with participants with similar teaching assignments.
  2. Networking Opportunities: Teacher feedback indicated they would like more opportunity to network and collaborate with other participants during the project.  This might include Skype sessions between classrooms, joint class blogging projects, etc.  We plan on encouraging and promoting these ideas in future sessions.
  3. Establish Professional Learning Networks: We recently offered a "Using Twitter to Grow Your PLN" session for all Regina Catholic employees.  As part of that session we promoted the hashtag #rcsdtech for the sharing of tech ideas and resources through Twitter.  We plan to encourage the use of Twitter and hashtags in upcoming sessions
  4. Resource Updates: We will continue to update the website with resources suggested by teachers
  5. Timing: In the future we will avoid offering sessions close to report card season.
  6. Commenting: Upcoming session participants will be able to view and comment on blog posts from the first session.  We would like to encourage this and plan to build a commenting section into the PD workshop.
As in any PD session I have given, there is always room for improvement.  Leanne and I plan to reevaluate future sessions and make modifications as suggested by participants.  We look forward to collaborating with teachers to create opportunities for teaching with technology in the classroom.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Summary of Learning

In preparing my Summary of Learning project, I spent time looking back over the extensive notes I have collected over the past few months.  In doing so I came across the goals of the course as identified by Alec:
  • better understand the historical role technology and media have played in educational & social change; Achieved thanks to the knowledge shared by Alec and a variety of guest presenters
  • become knowledgeable of social learning tools as tools for teaching, facilitating learning, professional development, & designing educational environments; Achieved through the sharing of my EC&I classmates and my PLN
  • become familiar with the wealth of open educational resources (OERs), learning-related content, & media available for teaching & learning; Achieved through the sharing of my PLN on Twitter and through Goolge+
  • become knowledgeable of relevant educational theories and philosophies that inform teaching and learning in the digital age; Once again, achieved thanks to the knowledge shared by Alec and a variety of guest presenters
  • better understand the many social, ethical, political, cultural, and administrative issues often associated with technology & media in education and society; Achieved through personal experience and the shared experiences of others in my PLN
  • become critical consumers and producers of digital media and information; and, Achieved through active participation in the three ongoing class assignments
  • build sustainable, personal learning environments and networks. Work in Progress.  I am very happy with the progress I have made in this area.  I choose to consider this a work in progress because it is something I will continue to build and nurture in my professional life.
In our first class Alec made the statement that we as a class would determine our learning experience.  What a learning experience it has been!  The advancements I have made in the area of social media have occurred because of the collaborative efforts of all of the EC&I 831 community.  Thanks to everyone for connecting with me and sharing this experience.  I have managed to view a few of the Summary of Learning assignments which have been posted to the blog hub already, and I am impressed.  I look forward to viewing all of them as they become available.  Embedded below is my Summary of Learning project for EC&I 831.  I will be posting my final thoughts on my Major Digital Project later in the week.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

How I have Become a More Networked Professional

As part of the Networked Professional Learning assignment for my EC&I 831 course, my professor, Alec Couros, challenged participants to develop a "personal learning network" through continuous participation with a wide variety of social media tools.  As a summary of our growth, we were asked to consider the question: "How have you become a more networked professional?"

I decided to base my response on the concept of "The Networked Teacher" diagram Alec shared with us during one of our sessions.  In my infographic I have highlighted the thirteen components of connected learning in which I experienced significant growth.  For each of these components I have provided links (dots) to examples of tools which helped me become a more connected teacher.  In addition, for each component I have provided a video explanation (black play button) outlining how that component allowed me to become a more connected educator, and what I learned in the process.

I have decided to post  this Thinglink as part  of my Summary of Learning because it outlines the growth and learning I experienced in my attempts to become a more connected educator.

Creating This Project
I began by exploring a number of different infographic creation sites.  None of the ones I looked at suited my needs, so I decided to build my own in a low-tech way.  I built the infographic using MimioStudio Notebook software (similar to SMART Notebook).  I probably could have done the same thing with PowerPoint, Paint, or Photoshop.  Once all of my images were in place, I saved the slide as a .jpg and uploaded it to Thinglink.
Next, in Thinglink I created links for every icon I had included in my diagram.  When possible, I linked directly to my account for the web service or tool.
Finally, I gathered "evidence" of my growth for each component through screen clippings and screen recordings.  I loaded these clips into iMovie and added voice narration to explain my growth.  I uploaded these to my YouTube account and then linked these to my Thinglink image.

I would definitely consider doing a project such as this with students in the classroom.  How might you use Thinglink?  How is your growth as a connected educator similar or different to me?

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Moodle Course and Teacher Blog Posts

As was outlined in earlier "Major Digital Project" posts, one of the main goals of the Teaching with Technology workshops was to:
  • Explore, plan and implement a technology tool to support an instructional strategy or outcome. The model will support selecting, evaluating, and reflecting on the teacher’s plan.
  •  Share the successes, challenges, and implementation of the strategy or additional technology integration as a community of learners through a series of blog posts and reflections.  
Our hope was to make the learning process of the teacher participants visible, and to provide a supportive collaboration space for teachers to share their project experience.  Our division made an upgrade to Moodle over the summer, so in our planning we decided we wanted to try out some of the Moodle blogging features.  In planning the session we began by creating a Teaching with Technology section on our Moodle site.  We then enabled the blog block for the Teaching with Technology course.

During our session we introduced the teachers to the SECTIONS model for evaluating technology tools.  The sections model is divided into four parts: Define, Assess, Implement, and Refine.  Our plan is to have teachers submit a blog post for each of these four parts as they work through their project.

Participants were given time during the workshop to complete their first post.  In this post they answered the following questions related to the Define component of the sections model:
  • I really want students to learn...
  • I think I could be more effective in facilitating this learning if...
  • The learning activity that I've chosen to address these objectives is...
  • The technology I'm thinking of using to support this learning activity...
Teachers were also asked to attach the Assess Checklist document to the first post.  The Assess Checklist document was the checklist teachers used based on the SECTIONS model to evaluate their chosen technology tool.  Displayed below are a couple of examples of initial blog entries made by participants.

Sample blog Post 1
Sample Assess Checklist

As teachers work on their class projects they will be asked to submit two more blog posts.  The second blog post will address the Implement portion of the SECTIONS model.  Teachers will complete this post while they are actively implementing the project with students.  In this post teachers will respond to the following questions:

  • In observing the students engaging with this activity, I notice...
  • The technology I have chosen is enabling the learning because...
  • The technology I have chosen is a barrier to learning because...
  • Feedback from students about this technology is...

  • Sample Blog Post 2

    A final post teachers will be asked to submit will be for the Refine part of the SECTIONS model.  In this section teachers will be asked to consider future changes or improvements.  During this stage teachers will reflect upon:
    • What worked?
    • What didn't work and why?
    • I need to change...
    • My plan to make this change is...

    Final Blog Post

    Leanne and I have begun the dialogue in this area by commenting on participants' first blog posts.  We plan to encourage teachers to support each other in this space by viewing and commenting on the posts of other participants.  Participants in future sessions will also get the opportunity to view and comment on all participating teacher posts.  It is our hope that this will encourage sharing of ideas between teachers and help in our development of a technology fair.

    Sunday, 17 November 2013

    Getting Things Done

    Where did November go?  I can't believe it has been two and a half weeks since Halloween.  November is always busy: my daughter's birthday is November 1st.  This weekend we celebrated her third (and final) birthday party.  Ringette also gets going full-tilt in November, complete with practices, games, tournaments, and bottle drives.  We also start in on basketball (me, my daughter, and my son); piano; drums; and flu season.  And in a two teacher household, November is synonymous with report cards.  Yet through all of this chaos, I somehow managed to achieve a number of things this week, and managed to watch the football game too - Go Riders!  Here is a quick look back at what I have accomplished this week:
    • Updated my blog, read through Blog Hub blogs, and made some comments on Google+
    • Learned how to do some basic photo editing in Photoshop and learned how to animate objects using Flash
    • Provided Mimio training for a number of elementary and high school teachers
    • Participated in an Education Technology Advisory Working Group meeting to determine potential deployment models for the new tech plan
    • Provided Gr 8 students with a 1/2 day robotics workshop using LEGO Mindstorms kits
    • Began planning a "Growing Your PLN Using Twitter" workshop for teachers in early December

    Photo Credit: Luke P. Woods via Compfight cc
    A couple of highlights for me from this week involved my work in classrooms.  Over the past 5 years I have provided the 1/2 day robotics session for about 50 different classrooms.  It is always a great time, with students begging to stay in at recess to keep working on their creations.  Having read "Invent to Learn", by Sylvia Martinez, I now feel that I have some of the theory to back the practice of project based learning. 

    A second highlight occurred today as I was leaving church.  I have been helping a group of Gr 8 students prepare book trailers based on Willow Award books.  The next step involves uploading the trailers to YouTube and then creating QR codes for each book trailer so that students can easily access the book trailers by scanning the QR code with their smartphone.  On my way out the door a student from the class approached me and asked when I would be coming back to help him to get started with the upload and QR code creation process. When I told him I wouldn't be out until Thursday he was a bit disappointed because he is excited to get going on this part of the project.  It is always encouraging to see that students are engaged in learning.

    For EC&I 831 I have made some great headway on all three assignments.  I remain an active participant on Google+, Twitter, and the Blog Hub.  I continue to slowly grow my PLN.  This week I created a couple of posts for my Major Digital Project and also tried to include a couple of more personal posts.  I have begun putting together an infographic as part of my final explanation of how I have become a more connected educator.  I am using new (to me) tools like ThingLink, Voki, and Wideo to explain my growth in this area.

    I have begun organizing my thoughts for my Summary of Learning assignment.  In order to make my learning visible, I am in the process of creating a LiveBinder as a way to summarize many of the key concepts I have learned through this course.

    My Major Digital Project is also coming along nicely.  Over the next two weeks I plan to outline two final components of the project and identify some of the modifications and adaptations I will make to future PD sessions.

    Wednesday, 13 November 2013

    LiveBinder Summary of Learning

    EC&I 831 has been great!  I can't believe how much we have covered in such a short time.  The variety of topics we have explored these past couple of months has been incredible.  All of the great references to web tools, resources, articles, videos, blogs, etc. has at times been a bit overwhelming.  In beginning to think about my Summary of Learning project I decided I needed a way to organize all of these resources in one place.  Below is a link to a LiveBinder I have created for the EC&I 831 class.  I have tried to divide it into subsections based on class sessions.  I have also included sections related to my Major Digital Project, Networked Professional Learning and Summary of Learning projects, as well as a section with a number of articles recommended by classmates on Google+ over the course of the semester.  In each subsection I have included links to related articles, suggested readings, web links, etc. which were mentioned by each presenter.  I have also begun jotting down some of my brief personal reflections for many of these resources in the binder as well.  This is very much a work in progress, and is in no way completely comprehensive, but if you need quick access to resources discussed in class please feel free to take a look.

    Click here to open this binder in a new window.

    Tuesday, 12 November 2013

    The Other Side of the Projector

    In my role as Technology Coach I often provide various training and professional development presentations for staff.  Today I had the opportunity to sit on the other side of the projector as a participant in a CS6  training session.  The session focused namely on Photoshop and Flash.  These are two programs I have limited experience with, so I found myself fully engaged in the experience.  I walked away from the full day session feeling like it was a very worthwhile session.  It got me thinking about the qualities of an effective PD session.  The aspects of today that I enjoyed included:

    • Instructor demonstrated deep knowledge of the material
    • Presentation was organized and included an outline for participants
    • Explanation of WHY to do things as instructed or HOW to use in class
    • Support documents and links were provided
    • Step-by-step instructions provided (and repeated)
    • Individual exploration (play time)
    • Opportunity to ask questions
    • Humour and Fun
    Have you attended any great PD workshops lately?  Why were they great?  What are the qualities of a great presentation?

    Monday, 11 November 2013

    SECTIONS Model

    SECTIONS Model
    In this post I intend to outline the reflective document teachers utilized as part of the Teaching with Technology Professional Development workshop.  This workshop makes up a portion of my Major Digital Project.  For more information about the project, please visit my "Major Digital Project" page, or any post labeled "Major Digital Project".
    A significant component of the Teaching with Technology PD project involves helping teachers document the process of incorporating a specific tool to successfully implement an effective teaching strategy. My colleague and I wanted to provide teachers with a reflective process that would allow them to identify and evaluate a potential tool; a way to measure the successful use of the tool; and a way to consider the future use of the tool in their teaching practice.  After some research, we found an excellent document from the University of British Columbia Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology.  The document is titled, "Assessing Technology: Using the SECTIONS model", and it based on a framework originally identified by Bates and Poole in the book, Effective Teaching With Technology in Higher Education.  [Bates, A.W.; and Poole, G. (2003) Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations For Success. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 79-80]

    As is suggested in the document, the SECTIONS model is designed to "facilitate decisions with regard to choice of technology at both the strategic and tactical level, and also to help decide within a particular technology the most appropriate balance between different media." 

    The process is divided into four parts: Define, Assess, Implement, and Refine.
    During the Define stage teachers identify what they are looking to accomplish and establish the direction they will take.  Reflection questions in this stage include:
    • I really want students to learn...
    • I think I could be more effective in facilitating this learning if...
    • The learning activity that I've chosen to address these objectives is...
    • The technology I'm thinking of using to support this learning activity...
    After sharing the nine effective teaching strategies with teachers, we asked them to consider one strategy they wished to incorporate into their teaching practice.   They then completed the Design portion of the SECTIONS model with that effective teaching strategy in mind.  Of important note is that teachers were not asked to pick a technology tool they wanted to try.  Instead, they were asked to identify what they wanted students to learn and how they were going to address the specific learning objectives.  The type of technology to be used is only considered in the final question of the Define stage.

    In the Assess stage teachers are asked to evaluate the technology they have chosen to use or explore using a checklist.  This multi-page checklist is divided into the following categories:
    Ease of Use
    Technology & Learning
    Organizational Issues

    In completing the survey, teachers are encouraged to contemplate features of the technology that are important to them and issues they may need to consider in using the technology tool in the classroom.
    We asked teachers participating in the workshop to complete the Define and Assess portions of the SECTIONS framework during the planning portion of the workshop.  Once completed, teachers were asked to post these reflective pieces as part of a Moodle blog created for the workshop.  Details about this component of the project will be explained in a future Major Digital Project blog post.

    Implement is the third part of the SECTIONS framework.  In this part teachers record initial impressions regarding the effective use of the technology.  Reflective questions include:
    • In observing the students engaging with this activity, I notice...
    • The technology I have chosen is enabling the learning because...
    • The technology I have chosen is a barrier to learning because...
    • Feedback from students about this technology is...
    This portion of the SECTIONS model needs to occur once teachers have had the opportunity to implement the use of the technology tool with students.  Participating teachers are currently involved in this process with their students.  As they complete their class projects they will be asked to reflect on these questions as part of a follow-up blog post.

    The final portion of the SECTIONS model gives teachers the opportunity to Refine.  In this section teachers are asked to consider future changes or improvements.  During this stage teachers reflect upon:
    • What worked?
    • What didn't work and why?
    • I need to change...
    • My plan to make this change is...
    Once again, teachers will be asked to post reflections on this section as part of a final blog post.  Our ultimate goal will be for participating teachers to share these projects and this reflective practice experience with fellow colleagues as part of a future Technology Fair.

    Our first impressions of the SETIONS framework have been very positive.  Teachers responded well to the format and found the checklist easy to use.  I would not hesitate using this document as part of future technology projects and workshops.

    What are your thoughts on the SECTIONS framework?  Are there additional evaluations models to consider?

    Sunday, 10 November 2013

    Growth with Twitter

    Photo Credit: mkhmarketing via Compfight cc
    In a recent post, Cory Cochrane spoke about his stages of Twitter, and how they related to the 10 Stages of Twitter for Teachers as outlined by Daniel Edwards.  I was interested in what the 10 stages might be, so I took a look.  I was surprised by how accurately Daniel's stages matched my personal evolution in the use of Twitter. 
    When I began, I was reluctant to sign-up to use Twitter, and rarely logged on to my account on my laptop.  While attending a few different conferences, I tried out some of the backchannel discussions during presentations and began to recognize a few of the names of people who were contributing to different discussions.  Eventually I got an iPad and was able to more easily access Twitter during "down time".  I began to follow specific users and retweeted ideas I liked as a form of bookmarking.  Retweets lead to direct discussions and follows from other professionals.  I slowly began to realize that I could tweet from apps like Zite, Flipboard, Kindle, and from the internet, and began to share more of what I was reading through tweets I composed.  I then began to add a few of my thoughts to these tweets as well.  Once I received my smartphone, it became even easier to check Twitter when standing in line at the grocery store, or while watching a commercial on TV.  Currently I find myself at about the 8th stage described by Daniel, and I am definitely at a point where I want to share my experience with fellow colleagues.
    Over the past couple of weeks my department has been hosting educational technology advisory working groups as part of a needs assessment to help determine the focus of future technology deployment in our school division.  During these meetings a number of participants have expressed an interest in the need for collaborative sharing of resources and ideas between teachers.  Looking at the Saskatchewan Educators on Twitter document, it is apparent that few of the teachers from my division have declared their involvement on Twitter.  That isn't to say that they aren't using Twitter - just that they may not be using it for professional development purposes. 
    As a department we have discussed the idea of providing interested teachers with "An Introduction to Twitter" type of PD session before Christmas.  The focus of this "getting started" session will be to:
    • highlight the value of Twitter and dispel common misconceptions
    • help teachers with account creation and the sign-up process
    • explain Twitter language like "Tweet", "Retweet", and "Hashtag"
    • explain how to tweet, retweet, reply, and follow
    • discuss Twitter chats
    • provide teachers with some key people and organizations to follow
    I have compiled a number of resources in preparation of this session, including:
    Has anyone else put together an "Introduction to Twitter" session for their staff?  Any hints or resources would be greatly appreciated.

    Friday, 8 November 2013

    Considering My Digital Identity

    Developing my digital identity has been a major goal and focus of my EC&I 831 course.  A couple of weeks back, our instructor, Alec Couros, posed a number of questions for us to consider regarding our digital identity.  In reading the responses of Jessica Madiratta (Digital Me) and Kristen Hansen (This is me - in digital), and reading articles about digital identity, I have really put some thought to my ever evolving development in this area. Here are my responses to a few of these questions.

    1. Have you ever Googled yourself?
    I have done this a number of times and I have definitely witnessed an evolution in this area.  A few years back, a quick search of my name resulted in very few results linked to me.  As a result of work I have done in this class, I can definitely say that a Google search of my name results in many links specific to social media accounts I have.  As well, a Google search of my name also provides evidence of projects I have created and examples of digital collaboration with other individuals.  In educating students about developing their digital identity, the idea of being "Googled" by potential employers is an important point to discuss.  The article, "You've been Googled: What employers don't want to see in your online profile", suggests a number of common things employers look for in potential candidates.  I think students recognize that a Google search which results in embarrassing photos or examples of inappropriate behavior can jeopardize the chances of a positive interview.  What I don't think students realize is that a Google search which results in very little or no information can also be seen as a negative thing.  Part of your digital identity should point towards evidence of positive use of the internet, and should provide employers with examples of collaboration and participation within online networks.

    2. Did what you find surprise you?
    For the most part.  The answer to this question is no.  What did surprise me was the image results associated with my name.  I need to understand how and why some of the images that are displayed are linked to the search terms "Dean Benko".  What I have noticed is that the image results change on a daily basis.

    3.  Have you ever thought about your digital identity?  Does it matter to you?  How so?
    I definitely have developed my digital identity in a purposeful way.  Before I entered into my position as Technology Coach, my involvement in social media was very minimal.  Every network I have joined and every account I have created has been done with my professional identity in mind.  Because I wanted to provide evidence of my online involvement in social networks, I have always created accounts using my full name, (no nicknames).  I am currently active with Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, edConnectr, and MimioConnect.  I am very conscious of what I post and feel my presence on each of these accounts represents the "professional" side of me.  However, I recognize the "personal" side of me is underrepresented in these spaces.  Providing some glimpses into the more "personal" side of me would allow people the opportunity to connect in more meaningful ways.

    4. What policies or processes could schools adopt regarding digital identity? 
    I think this is definitely something schools can help students understand and address.  I also feel that it is something which should be addressed with students at an early age, when they are just starting out on the path of creating their digital identity.  Sue Waters brought up a very interesting point during her Introduction to Blogging presentation.  She said one things schools shouldn't do is force a digital identity on students.  She referred to a number of incidents of students asking to have their childhood blog sites removed because teachers had them create these accounts using their full names, and the students didn't want this work to become part of their digital identity.  I do think it is important to help students identify characteristics of positive digital identities, and to provide them with the skills and tools to create their own. 

    How would you respond to these questions?  Has your digital identity evolved over the years?

    Sunday, 3 November 2013

    Looking Forward and Thinking Back

    A Dilemma (2008) by Julie Manzerova on Flickr
    Wow!  November... Where has the time gone?  Hard to believe we are already looking at selecting classes for the Winter semester.  This weekend feels like a perfect time to think back on lessons learned, ideas tried, and my successes and failures.   It is also a perfect time to begin to look forward to concepts yet to be learned and to projects to be completed.  Looking back, it would probably take me MANY blog posts to cover everything I have learned over the past few weeks.  Here are some of the highlights:

    Class One - Introduction to the Course

    • Google+ - Why haven't I been using this before, and how can I get staff and students to use this?
    • We as a network will determine the learning experience.  How will I make my learning visible? (blogs, Twitter, Google+)  How will I contribute to the learning of others? (responding to posts, sharing articles and tools, writing about my own learning experiences)
    • What's a MOOC?  EC&I 831 is a MOOC?

    Class Two - Preparing for an Open Boundary Course

    • Blogging isn't too bad... I sure like reading what others have to say.
    • Part of being a good blogger is reading and responding to blog posts ofothers
    • It is hard to keep up with all posts (But the blog hub sure helps!)

    Class Three - Virtual Learning Communities

    • Tagboard is a great way to keep up with #eci831 tweets
    • Online relationships can be very real and very deep - they can even be enhanced by technology 
    • Like any relationship, digital relationships develop over time and must be nurtured
    • We have trajectories in communities and can move to different parts of the community

    Class Four - Introduction to Blogging

    • When students blog for a global audience there is a big improvement in the quality of work
    • Common blogging mistakes include failing to link; failing to connect; distracting theme colours and fonts; and focusing too much on the readers
    • Workflow should be about working smarter not harder (ie: Flipboard, RSS,
    • An About Page helps readers connect with you
    • Linking is important
    • Blogging isn't about publishing - it is about social learning
    • Blogging is a great way to make learning visible

    Class Five - How Higher Education Will Change

    • What we know isn't as important as how we can learn new things
    • We shouldn't use technology for the sake of comfort
    • Everything being done today is being done in networks
    • Technological and economic pressures change institutions

    Class Six - Networked/Connected Learning

    • It is important for a person to declare their digital identity
    • We are living in a participatory culture - this requires us to have an ability to nurture our networks
    • Networked learning requires critical thinking skills in order to sift through information to find the truths
    • We need to use our online presence to grow and shape our world, and to inspire others to do the same
    •  We need to look at ways to safely thin the walls for our students

    Class Seven - The Maker Movement for Teachers

    • Sylvia Martinez, author of Invent to Learn, is an engaging speaker - I should finish the book!
    • The Maker Movement s about constructing knowledge through experiences
    • Projects are about the end product, but project based learning is about the process
    • Proponents of the Maker Movement view the internet as a place to get things done (create, collaborate, etc.)
    • The three game changes of the Maker Movement are Fabrication, Physical Computing, and Programming
    • "Kids won't BE engineers... They are engineers"
    • Putting yourself outside of your comfort level can make you a better teacher

    Class Eight - Introduction to Digital Citizenship

    • Digital Citizenship is different from cyber safety.  Digital Citizenship addresses the broader concept of how to prepare students to interact in a society full of technology
    • The appropriateness of content is relative and changes over time. 
    • The concept of intellectual property is being blurred in the digital age.  We must make students aware of copyright and copyleft issues.  If we are going to teach students about using copyleft resources, we should also show them how to identify their creations as copyleft
    •   Once something is posted - it is difficult (if not impossible) to be completely erased.  Is there a way for our kids to be forgiven for their digital sins?
    • Teachers can play a role in introducing students to the world of activism

    Looking Forward

    • Building a PLN takes a long time!
    • I don't need to be as exclusive in my selection of who to follow on Twitter.  Lists can help me organize the people I choose to follow
    • Commenting on the posts of others is good, but I need to do better at providing links to thought-provoking articles for others
    • I have read a lot, but not all of this has been visible - I can use LiveBinders to organize some of these resources and write short reflections.  This binder could then be shared with others.
    • There is always something new to learn
    • Learning (and applying this learning to practice) can be uncomfortable, but fun
    What are some of the key learnings you have gained over the past eight weeks of EC&I 831?  What things are you considering as you move forward?

    Teaching with Technology Presentation File

    This video briefly outlines the presentation file and session format used for the Teaching with Technology Professional Development Workshops.  This encompasses one component of my Major Digital Project.  A full list of resources created for this PD session can be found on the Major Digital Project section of my blog.  Further explanations about each component of this project have been posted with a "Teaching with Technology" label.

    Video Overview

    Ideas?  Thoughts?  Suggestions?  I would be happy to hear from you.

    Monday, 28 October 2013

    Teaching With Technology Website Video

    On this page I have included a sixteen minute video which highlights some of the key components of the Teaching With Technology website resource.  This resource is one component of my Major Digital Project for EC&I 831.  In the video I describe:

    • the main focus of the resource
    • the nine effective teaching strategies
    • creating the environment for learning
    • helping students develop understandings
    • helping students extend and apply knowledge
    • the criteria involved in selecting the suggested tools

    Please feel free to add any tool suggestions you feel would assist in the implementation of various effective teaching strategies here.  Thoughts or suggestions for the professional development workshops?  I would love to hear your comments.  For detailed information about my entire project, please visit the "Major Digital Project" section of this website or view any posts with the tag, "Major Digital Project".

    Friday, 25 October 2013

    Teaching with Technology Professional Development Workshops

    In this post I intend to provide a bit of background around the development of our Teaching with Technology Professional Development workshop sessions.  For a complete overview of my Major Digital Project please click here.

    As described in my Teaching with Technology Website post, Leanne Forrest and I originally developed a resource designed to facilitate the integration of technology with nine effective teaching strategies to improve student learning for the 2012 IT Summit.  For the 2013-2014 school year, we wanted to offer professional development opportunities for teachers looking to integrate technology into effective teaching practice.  The development of these workshops was a multi-step process.

    We began by outlining our ultimate goal for this project, which is to develop a community of learners to support each other, and to reflect on professional practice through a Moodle course blog.  We knew we wanted participants to complete the following as part of the project:
    1.       Reflect on the role of technology to support the nine research-based strategies for increasing student achievement.
    2.       Explore, plan and implement a technology tool to support an instructional strategy or outcome. The model will support selecting, evaluating, and reflecting on the teacher’s plan.
    3.       Share the successes, challenges, and implementation of the strategy or additional technology integration as a community of learners through a series of blog posts and reflections.  
    Ultimately our goal is to showcase these projects and experiences with other interested teachers through a technology fair.

    Once we had established our goals, we revisited the Teaching with Technology resource to determine changes we felt we needed to make in order to achieve our goals.  Our original resource only outlined seven of the effective teaching strategies.  We decided it was important to provide background information and tool options for all nine strategies, so we reviewed the Classroom Instruction that Works book and updated our resource to include summaries and tool options for all nine strategies.

    Next, we determined a time-frame for delivering the workshops.  We decided to offer sessions in October, January, and February with a focus on Grade 4-12 teachers.  With this decided, we sent out a registration email to teachers.  Current registration for all three sessions is at approximately 30 teachers.

    Finally, we decided upon the workshop format.  When we first developed the website, we delivered the information as a "presentation".  We spoke about each of the strategies and explained the tools we had listed.  However, we did not want this to be the main focus of the Teaching with Technology workshops. Instead, we wanted to ensure teachers had adequate time for resource exploration and project planning.  With this in mind, we developed a workshop agenda to allow for the following:
    • Project overview
    • Introduction to the Nine Effective Teaching Strategies
    • Connecting to the Teaching Strategies
    • Project planning time
    • Evaluating technology tools using the SECTIONS Model
    • Documenting the Learning Process - Introduction to blogging in Moodle
    • Individual project development time 
    Leanne and I developed a number of resources in order to support the Teaching With Technology workshop, including: Teaching with Technology Website; Mimio presentation file; and Moodle course with Project Overview and links to required resources.
    In future posts about my Major Digital Project I will describe in further detail the Teaching with Technology website, the presentation file, the Moodle course and blogging process, and the SECTIONS Model teachers used to select and use technology tools for the project.


    Thursday, 24 October 2013

    The Maker Movement

    Tuesday night my EC&I 831 class had the pleasure of hearing Sylvia Martinez speak.  Sylvia is the co-author of Invent To Learn.  I am currently about half-way through the book, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to hear Sylvia speak.

    Sylvia is a proponent of the "Maker Movement", which is focused on allowing students to construct knowledge through experiences.  Many of her ideas are based on the teachings of Seymour Papert, who stated, "The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge".  Sylvia's view is that kids are not going to be engineers - they already ARE engineers.  She suggests that teachers should provide students with experiences, because learning occurs when students are able to connect existing knowledge to a new experience.

    When developing a learning opportunity, she suggests the following variables as described by Gary Stager:
    • A good prompt, motivating challenge, or thoughtful question
    • Appropriate materials
    • Sufficient time
    • Supportive culture, including a range of expertise
    During her presentation, Sylvia described three game changers of the Maker Movement:
    1. Fabrication (Includes CAD and 3D Printers)
    2. Physical Computing ( Includes Raspberry Pi and Arduino)
    3. Programming (Includes Turtleart)
    While reading her book, one quote relating to fabrication really struck a chord.  Sylvia states "There is every reason to believe that fabrication technology will change the world even more than the information technology revolution has."   During her presentation, Alec Couros referred to this as "disruptive technology".  Many in class, including myself, had not heard this term before.  Alec expanded by describing it as "Something that brings about societal changes".  I definitely see fabrication technology as something that could bring about such changes to our society.

    Like many of the participants, I was very excited with the ideas Sylvia suggested.  Her MaKey MaKey kits got me thinking about ways that I have allowed students the opportunity to Invent to Learn.

    Four years ago I was asked to develop Middle Years workshops to integrate technology and curriculum in the areas of Practical and Applied Arts, Language Arts, Science, and Career Education through the exploration of technology careers and skills for the 21st century.   The result was "Ex.C.I.T.E. Camp - Exploring Careers in Technology Education".

    Over a period of three years, my colleagues and I provided numerous half-day workshops for hundreds of students.  The four workshop modules we developed as part of Ex.C.I.T.E. Camp focused on the areas of robotics, electronic circuits, photography, and webpage design.  These workshops proved to be extremely popular with students, and were very rewarding to teach, because students were fully engaged in hands-on learning.

    The robotics workshop was designed to give students an introduction to basic robot programming.  In small groups, students were asked to build robots using Lego Mindstorm NXT kits.  Once built, students were challenged to add various sensors to their robot to perform various tasks.  Through trial-and-error, students learned how to program the sensors to perform different functions.  With extended time, teachers could allow students the chance to create more complex programs to upload to the robots.  This workshop proved to be especially popular with Grade 7 & 8 students.

    The electronic snap circuit session was designed to support the Grade 6 Science curriculum for the electricity unit.  Using Electronic Circuit Kits students were given the chance to create dozens of circuit projects from a list of more than 300 possibilities.  Students enjoyed creating working alarms, flying saucers, and AM radios.

    A valuable lesson that we learned when planning and implementing the workshops with students was that they needed LOTS of time for experimentation and play.  Our first sessions included direct instruction at the beginning of the workshop.  We soon realized that students learned the same concepts we were telling them about by actually working and experimenting with the kits, so we ensured that hands-on-learning time was the priority.

    Another thing we learned was that the projects described in the kits were good, but students learned a lot more when faced with a challenge they were asked to solve.  For example, the kits provide detailed instructions for students to build series and parallel circuits.  Instead of simply asking students to build Project #3 and Project #4, we provided students with the following challenges:

    • Using two light bulbs, 1 switch, 2 batteries, and 8 wires can you create a circuit to light both bulbs?
    •  Using two light bulbs, 1 switch, 2 batteries, and 8 wires can you create a circuit where one bulb remains lit when you unscrew the second bulb?
    In this way students created a variety of different circuits and experienced first-hand the difference between series and parallel circuits.

    Because the Education Technology department is currently focused on directly supporting a number of new initiatives, I get fewer opportunities to be directly involved in Ex.C.I.T.E. Camp workshops.  However, teachers are still able to borrow these kits, and the workshops continue to be a popular way for students to learn about circuits and robotics.

    Thinking about starting your own version of Ex.C.I.T.E. Camp?  Feel free to contact me for more information.

    Wednesday, 16 October 2013

    Teaching with Technology Website

    As explained in my previous post, "Final Project Outline", Leanne Forrest and I originally created the Teaching with Technology website as part of a presentation we gave for the IT Summit in 2012.  In this post I intend to provide a bit of background around the development of this resource.  For a complete overview of my Major Digital Project please click here.

    The inspiration for the Teaching with Technology resource came from reading the book -  Classroom Instruction that Works 2nd Edition by Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone.  In the book these authors regroup the nine effective teaching strategies as originally identified by Marzano, Pickering and Pollock into the following three categories:
    1. Creating the Environment for Learning
    2. Helping Students Develop Understandings
    3. Helping Students Extend and Apply Knowledge

    Focusing on these three categories and nine effective teaching strategies, Leanne and I developed a resource designed to facilitate the integration of technology with these strategies to improve student learning.  As is stated on our home page, "Focusing on these strategies to improve learning while matching pedagogy, content, and technological knowledge, allows a focus on teaching and learning that includes technology."  

    While this resource lists a number of technology tools, our focus is not on telling teachers which tool they should use, or on providing them with technical instruction for how to use each tool.  Instead, our goal is to help teachers identify effective teaching practice, and to realize that technology can be used to help support the implementation of each teaching strategy.

    In the resource have provided a brief overview and summary for each category, and have divided each category into sections based on the corresponding teaching strategies.  For each strategy we have included suggestions of tools which could be utilized to integrate the strategy into teaching practice.  By no means is this list of tools all inclusive, and it has been updated and modified over time.  As part of this final presentation we have created a public Google Spreadsheet and we are asking for teacher input.  Our intention is to periodically visit the spreadsheet and to update the website with tools suggested by workshop participants.  Please feel free to add to the document.
    When first developing the list of tools, Leanne and I attempted to suggest tools that fit the following criteria whenever possible:
    1. Since we originally designed this resource for Regina Catholic teachers we did not include apps, because we did not have tablet devices available at a system level at the time of creation of this resource.  Our intention is to further develop this website to include app suggestions for each teaching strategy.
    2. Because our division does not have student email accounts we tried to include tool options which do not require student email accounts in order to create accounts
    3. Because many Web 2.0 tools include terms of service which require students to be 13 or older to create an account, we tried to include tool options which do not require the creation of accounts, or that allow for teachers to create "class" accounts for students.
    4. When possible we have tried to list "free" tool options.

    In preparing for our Teaching with Technology Professional Development sessions we revisited the entire resource and made a number of  modifications:
    • Added the "Reinforcing Effort and Providing Feedback" section
    • Added the "Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers" section
    • Added the "Additional Tools" collaborative Google Document
    • Revisited each effective teaching strategy section and modified suggested tools (removing outdated tools and updating new offerings)
    Please feel free to explore the effective teaching strategies document and to add to the list of tools we have suggested.  Feedback will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Creating the Learning Environment
    2. Helping Students Develop Understandings
    3. Helping Students Extend and Apply Knowledge

    I plan to provide a more detailed video explanation of this resource in future "Major Digital Project" reflections, along with information regarding the development of the professional development workshops, and project reflections. Please visit the "Major Digital Projects" section of my blog for resources and support materials related to this project.

    Tuesday, 15 October 2013

    Updated Presentations Page

    I have updated my presentations page to include some of the Social Studies and Mimio resources I have co-presented over the past year.  Please feel free to check them out here.

    Saturday, 12 October 2013

    "Future-cation" - Virtual Keynote Presentation

    In January 2012 I attended the FETC conference in Orlando.  I would highly recommend this conference to any person involved with Educational Technology.  The keynote sessions were excellent, and the conference offered literally hundreds of break-out sessions to choose from.  Since attending the conference, I have taken part in two of the free virtual conference events which have been offered by FETC.  Thursday I listened in on a number of sessions offered as part of the 2013 Virtual FETC event.  For those who missed it, I believe sessions can still be accessed by registering here
    The keynote session by Marc Prensky was titled "FUTURE-CATION: New Basics and New Balance For a New Age".  In the 60 minute presentation Marc addressed three big questions:
    1. What is the goal of education?
    2. How do we teach for the future?
    3. What should we teach in the 21st century?

    Marc suggested that "our kids see a world in which everything is more variable, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, rapidly changing, and connected."  And unlike us, these kids never knew a world that was not that way.  According to Marc the goal of education is different for society, teachers, and kids.  He suggested the main focus of education should not be on the "learning" but on the "becoming".  We should be preparing students by helping them become good, capable people, and learning should just be the means to this goal.

    As for how to teach for the future, Marc proposed that education can no longer function from the top down.   "The goal is to make all of our students (and citizens) effective 'Nodes on the Network,' because in the future 'Education' will have less to do with courses, diplomas and exams and far more to do with everyone's becoming linked to resources, and to each other... With teachers as coaches and Guides... and, of course, with more technology".

    An idea I really liked is Marc's suggestion that technology should be viewed not as a tool, but as a foundational skill.  He listed a number of "Skills" he called verbs.  These included things like thinking critically; presenting logically; communicating; persuading; being rigorous; understanding context; and creating emotion.  The verbs are things that "stay the same".  Marc compared "Tools" to nouns, and suggested that these change rapidly.  Examples included the shift from books to e-books; blackboards to electronic boards; laptops to tablets; and Powerpoint to Prezi.  What I really liked was Marc's suggestion that we "teach and assign only verbs and give students their choice of nouns."  he is not concerned that technology will replace teachers because it lacks "respect, empathy, and passion".

    Marc concluded the presentation by addressing what teachers should focus on in teaching.  I agreed with his viewpoint that we should not just use technology to teach old things better.  Technology should be used to advance our pedagogy and to be used in new an innovative ways.  Marc stated that our problem in education is that we teach too much from and about the past and we teach it in the wrong context.  He dubbed this type of teaching "Past-ucation".  Past-ucation worked in education in the past because the world changed slowly, and in that context past-ucation worked well.  Instead, Marc proposed that the focus on education today should not be for or about the past, but for and about the future.  To do that, Marc feels schools should focus less on the "MESS"
    Social Studies
    and more on the new core basics: Effective Thinking; Effective Action; Effective Relationships; and Effective Accomplishments.

    How might you respond to some of the reflection questions Marc proposed to participants?
    1. How do you balance the past with the future in your school?
    2. List as many things as you can in your school that would constitute Future-cation.  What would you add?
    3. How would you integrate the subjects currently taught in your school into the areas of "Thinking, Action, Relationships, and Accomplishments"?  What tasks would you have students do under each of the new basics?

    Wednesday, 9 October 2013

    Final Project Outline

    Teaching with Technology

    This week I took a number of significant steps in the development of my EC&I 831 major digital project.  For me, this project has been in the works for close to two years, and it is one I am hoping to continue developing into the 2014-15 school year.  Over the next few weeks I intend to outline my project; share the resources which have been created to support this project; and to document and reflect on the processes involved in achieving my goals.  As this is a work in progress, any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated.  So what exactly does my final project entail, and why have I been working on it for close to two years?
    In the spring of 2012 Leanne Forrest, Digital Fluency Consultant for Regina Catholic Schools, approached me with the idea of creating a presentation for IT Summit in Saskatoon.  Because our division was actively promoting effective teaching strategies, we felt it would be a good idea to develop a resource that identified ways in which technology could be integrated to support these effective teaching strategies.  In preparation for the presentation we read Classroom Instruction that Works 2nd Edition by Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone.
    Marzano, Pickering and Pollock (2001) examined decades of research to find the teaching strategies that have the most impact on student learning as part of the first edition of Classroom Instruction that Works.    In 2012 Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone revisited these strategies and updated them for the 21st century by dividing them into three categories. 

    In 2012 Leanne and I collaborated in the development of a website designed to facilitate the integration of technology with these strategies to improve student learning.  The initial version of the website summarized seven of the nine effective teaching strategies and identified a number of tools which could be utilized to support the integration of each strategy. 

    For the 2013-2014 school year, Leanne and I have decided to provide professional development opportunities for interested Regina Catholic Schools teachers looking to integrate technology into effective teaching practice.  Over the next few months we will be offering a series a Teaching with Technology workshops which will focus on technology as a tool for reinforcing effective teaching strategies.  Our intent is to also develop a community of learners to support each other, and to reflect on our practice through a blog on the Educational Technology Moodle Course page.  

    As participants in this PD, teachers will…
    1.       Reflect on the role of technology to support the nine research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Examples of tools and implementation strategies will be shared as part of the session
    2.       Explore, plan and implement a technology tool to support an instructional strategy or outcome. The model will support selecting, evaluating, and reflecting on the teacher’s plan.
    3.       Share the successes, challenges, and implementation of the strategy or additional technology integration as a community of learners through a series of blog posts and reflections.  Our intention is to build a professional learning community interested in education technology to support improved teaching and learning that can model reflective practice.  

    Workshop participants will have time to explore different technology tools and select one to apply to their teaching.  We will guide teachers through a model to prepare for and reflect on the effectiveness of the tool to support learning in the classroom.  And, most importantly, the teacher participants in this PD will share their learning and support themselves and others with improving teaching through technology.  Ultimately, we would like to showcase these projects as part of a technology fair or "unconference"in the Fall of 2014.
    Over the next few weeks I intend to blog about the process involved in creating and implementing this professional development opportunity.  Related posts will be tagged "Major Digital Project" and "Teaching with Technology".  Resources related to my project will be uploaded to the "Major Digital Project" section of my blog.  Feedback related to the website or project as a whole is greatly appreciated.


    Monday, 7 October 2013

    Tweaking My Blog

    This past week my EC&I 831 course had the great fortune of hearing Sue Waters present "An Introduction to Blogging."  As a novice blogger, I listened with great interest as Sue provided tip after tip aimed at making each of us better bloggers.  Over the course of this week I revisited the notes I had taken and began to implement  many of the suggestions Sue had recommended.  Here is a summary of what I have managed to accomplish:

    1. Failure to Link
    Sue's first suggestion of providing hyperlinks wherever possible is a key benefit for using blogs.  I had been attempting to provide some hyperlinks in my posts, but Sue's example demonstrated for me the types of links I should be including.  People reading my blog should be able to easily explore the topics I am writing about, and hyperlinks provide that ease of access.  I am now making an attempt to include more hyperlinks in my posts.

    2. Failure to Connect
    In describing the blogging cycle, Sue suggested that people may be good at publishing posts.  However, she noted that effective blogging is about more than just publishing posts. A slide she included summed it up well: "Blogging isn't publishing.  It's about social learning."
     As part of the cycle, I should be reading and reflecting on the posts of others, and then commenting on those posts.  Having connected and engaged in dialogue with others, I should then return to my blog to continue my publishing.  This week I have made an effort to read the posts of fellow colleagues, and to comment on a few.

    Sue also mentioned the importance of including an "About Me" page on a blog.  As a result, I now have a dedicated "About Me" page which includes a brief summary about me and contact info for each of my social network profiles.  I also took the time to update my profile descriptions with Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  I also made it easier to follow me on Twitter by including a "Recent Tweets" gadget on my blog.

    Enjoying "the process" while  tweaking my blog
    3. Reading Online
    Sue provided a number of hints for improving the reading experience of visitors to the blog.  I have kept my theme pretty plain, so my blog did not require any radical changes.  However, I did agree with Sue's suggestions of using interesting titles and the incorporation of images as attention grabbing techniques.  These are two things I will continue to incorporate into future posts.

    Sue also recommend that effective workflow should be about "working smarter, not harder."  She suggested the following workflow pattern:
    •  Visit the EC&I Blog Hub
    • Select a post of interest
    • Comment on the post
    • When leaving a comment ensure that the notification option for follow-up comments has been selected
    Sue also recommended the use of Flipboard as a curation tool for EC&I 831 content.  I have been a big fan of Flipboard for the past couple of years, but I had never taken the time to set-up an account and create my own magazines.  After hearing Sue speak, I created an account and began curating my own magazine content this week.

    4. Focusing Too Much on Readers
    The final point Sue made is that bloggers sometimes focus too much on what they think readers want to see.  She recommends that blogging should be primarily about enjoying the process.  This is something that I am starting to embrace.

    Sue ended presentation by providing us with a wealth of links for effective blogging practice, and directed us towards some exemplar blogs.
    Accomplishments This Week
    • Created About Me section for my blog
    • Updated and expanded my profile for Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn
    • Increased my use of images and hyperlinks in my posts
    • Continued reading, commenting, and sharing of resources
    • Chose a final project and began work toward the presentation