Sunday, November 28, 2010

Life's For Sharing: Learning from ATLE10

I had an amazing three days earlier in November in Red Deer at the Alberta Technology Leaders in Education (ATLE) conference. The theme of the conference was "Designing our Technology Game Plan." Learning new innovations, understanding digital literacy and hearing what other school districts are moving forward with was quite interesting. Meeting new colleagues, and reaquainting with others I have seen in previous technology seminars was one highlight for me. The food was great, the prizes were incredible and the free-bees filled my bag.
All aside what made the three days incredible were the keynote speakers Dean Shareski,(@shareski), Alec Couros(@courosa), George Couros(@gcouros)and Leonard Niebo (@LNiebo). If you are not familiar with Twitter the names in parenthesis are the speakers' Twitter handles.
Each speaker, including all the speakers I attended have one thing in common. Sharing. I have attended a number of conferences on the topic of 21st Century Learning, and sharing is a major part of learning in education today. Each speaker offered their presentation to the participants, which years ago was unheard of. The ATLE website has links to the keynote's addresses which are very informative.
Twitter was used extensively during the conference to tweet out main ideas, resources and share thoughts. If you are on twitter and you wish to view some tweets from the conference, the hashtag is #atle10. Many in attendance have their own blogs, and I find reading other people's educational blogs a great source of Professional Development.
If you would like to comment on this post, leave your blog address, so that it can be shared. So to conclude this blog post titled "Life's for Sharing: Learning from ATLE10" I would like to add these YouTube videos called Life's for Sharing. T-Mobile has created a number of videos that demonstrate the power of the human spirit. The second video is a re-creation that was filmed in Canada and is great around Christmas time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teaching about Blogging: Need to Get Your Feet Wet

As an educational technologist, I usually present tools such as Blogger, Edublogs, Skype, etc. but don't really get to use them in a classroom. Today I visited a Grade 9 classroom and presented a lesson on blogging in the classroom. I began by discussing social networking, which got the kids intereseted, especially when talking about how cellphones can be used in the classroom. I showed the students examples of Edmodo, Blogger, Edublogs and Wikispaces. So far, so good. I then wanted them to participate, so I asked them to research practical uses for the classroom. The lesson kind of went downhill from here. To ask students to research about blogging didn't work. It would have been great if a blog was created with them. Some students did go ahead and create a blog or wiki account. I am not sure where it will go from there, but at least some had interest. I guess my point is that it is easy to present wonderful technology tools to a teacher or class, but if there isn't the purpose behind it, the presentation will fizzle. With all of the new innovations for education continuing to surface, it would be nice to be back in the classrooms, as long as students have access to technology. I did show the class a video about why students like to blog. I like it because it comes from the kids.
This YouTube link shows students top 10 reasons to blog in the classroom.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Get Hyped With Skype

Skype is an easy and free way for teachers and students to make connections beyond the walls of the classroom. Students can learn from other students, connect with other cultures, and enjoy authentic learning. Teachers can use Skype for professional development and share their materials online. I agree that Video Conferencing can be difficult because of the gathering up of the students and taking them to the conference room. But with Skype, all a teacher needs is a webcam that has a microphone. In some cases, Skype can help with inclusive education. Here is a link to a great story as an example.Here are my top 10 reasons to use Skype in the classroom:
1. Meeting your ePals face to face.
2. Talking to an expert that you may have studied about.
3. Collaborating with other classrooms on a project.
4. Teacher Professional Development.
5. Parent Meetings.
6. Inclusive Education.
7. Have a story read from the real author.
8. Locate teachers who are looking to collaborate.
9. Raise Global awareness.
10.Student Announcements.

Number 10 is easier with Bridgit, Eluminate or other webinar software. Our School District uses Bridgit software which is a SMART Technologies product.
If you are interested in using Skype, I have created some online tutorials which can be found on the TLC wiki, or on my YouTube channel.