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.