Monday, March 7, 2011

My Final Summative Project

     Well, here it is.  The final blog?  No!  Those who know me, know you can't get me to shut up that easily.  Although, this may be my final blog for ICT class, it is not going to be my final blog.  I'm going to take this site in a new direction
                        the only problem is
                                                      I don't know which direction yet    : )

But for a final project in class, I decided to attempt to sum up my entire life in the education program at BU, focusing on the ICT portion of it, in less than 5 minutes.  (That's because gave me a 5 minute max.  lol)  I would just like to close by letting it be known, that these pictures were in fact referenced in my power point presentation, but it was cut off when videoized.
     Those that took the time to read and comment on my blog, I thank you, it was a lot of fun.
But a special thanks goes out to professor Nantais, Mike, thank you very much.  You walked me through both of my ICT classes and through a Math methods course.  These courses were the highlights of my 2 years in education and were among the most useful as well!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Our Final Visitor, Dr. Alec Couros

            Well, this was it, our final visitor in a series of excellent presenters in the field of ICT.  Dr. Alec Couros, an education technology professor at the University of Regina, found the time to visit us via elluminate (a skype-like program for those who are unfamiliar).  He shared with us his views on PLNs and PLEs (Personal Learning Networks / Environments), we took a look at the networked teacher, and we had a chance to discuss the various beneficial websites online.
            One thing I enjoyed was the idea that the students should also have the freedom to set up their own personal PLN/Es.  A great example was the following video which was shown to us.  It’s a video of a young lady who was using symbaloo to improve her PLE.

            Together with a nice round table about the programs we use and ideas to make them better, such as using screenr with twitter and using dropittome with dropbox, we had a fantastic visit with Dr. Couros.  Thank-you very much to him for taking time out of his schedule to say a few words to our class.  Especially just a few days after making one of the keynote speeches at our school for westcast recently. 

Mr. Darren Kuropatwa Comes To Town

1620  <---  link to teacher tube video

     The above linked video is what our class was opened with.  1620.  That's a pretty large number when put into most contexts, but this was the number that was calculated to determine how many tests the average student would write by the time they graduated high school.  Then the video ended asking a simple question...  "is there a better way?"

     Well, I agree with Mr. Kuropatwa getting outraged at having something like this broadcast across the net.  Is this in fact what people think of teachers?  Test giving machines?  Too bad it wasn't that easy, just assign some textbook work, hand out some tests, call it a day!  Wow... teachers have the easiest job in the world!

     Now, let's fastforward out of the 1900's view of teachers and step into something a little more current.  Today's classrooms are seeing fewer and fewer orderly rows, teachers talking, and tests being thrown at the students indiscriminately.  Students are starting to leave their seats, converse with one another, and are taking many different paths to achieve the same outcomes.  Isn't this a better way? 

     I think we have found a better way, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Kuropatwa for coming in and introducing us to some additional ideas out there.  A couple of these ideas that I will try and integrate in my classroom (when I get one) will be using flickr and its hotspots for some good collaboration assignments, and using youtube to publish a false video that the students would have to repair… a good  error analysis approach.

     One final note I’d like to throw in is a video we were introduced to, which along with some good moral applications also has many possible educational applications as well.  The video is great and I’d like to try to make something myself for a science style question… enjoy…

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Class Video ... "Filtering & Blocking the Internet in Schools"

For class recently, the students grouped up to do presentations on various internet related topics.  These were all very well done and help deepen my understanding of the cyber world.  However, one that stuck with me was Tiffany, Alanna and Dory‘s video on filtering and blocking of the internet in schools.  They really got me right off the hop with their intro, flashing many familiar “this site is blocked” type of screen shots.   In two of my student teaching placements (both in Brandon) I had to deal with the overly protected internet, and thus the loss of a large amount of the most helpful information around.  My eyes were finally opened in my last placement, in Dauphin, where there was a lot more freedom.  Social networking sites were still blocked out, but many of the sites (youtube immediately pops to mind) that made my job of presenting different views on one topic were accessible.
The funniest thing about the filtering of the internet, which the video points out with a great short clip, is how there is ways around the filters.  The funny part is, the students are more likely to find these loopholes than the teachers are.  The problem that arises is that now the students are going online unmonitored.  Most of the students, presenters we’ve had the pleasure of seeing in class, and myself feel that with the way world and the technology is progressing we have no choice now but to teach what it means to be responsible online.  We have to teach what it means to create a positive online presence.  We have to teach students how to keep themselves safe when online.  And we can’t do that if we don’t have access!
Lots of good quotes and comments that made me do lots of good thinking.  Great video Tiffany, Alanna, and Dory!

Friday, February 25, 2011

iPads... They suck... Well, Maybe They're OK... Well; How Much For One?...

     Well, this is a video for anyone who thinks an iPad would be tough to learn how to use.  This video is of my son Cory, who's just shy of 2 years old.  He saw his Auntie Janie playing with her iPhone, and then saw his Daddy looking at pictures on his iTouch.  That was enough, he became an expert.  As a huge Toy Story fan, I had no choice to find some kind of app for him to play with.  I think he saw it twice before he decided he knew where it was and how to get at it.  This is one of the first few times he tried to find it on his own. 
     Now, backtracking a little bit, I shall give a quick blab about what I thought of the iPad. 

I didn't like it.  How's that?  Plain and simple enough?  I have a calendar that has important dates written on it.  Any assignments or information (phone numbers, email addresses, etc.) are stored on my laptop, desktop, and cell phone.  Most homework I do requires a word processor, so a keyboard is essential and I know how to type pretty well, so if I don't have the "bumpy" f and j keys I'll never know where my fingers are.  With my life being setup on other devices already, the iPad was nothing more that a large gaming device.

     Fast forward to my views today....

I've got a 2 year old (as of Feb 26, 2011) who can open it and find an interactive book with no troubles.  He read through (and by reads through, I  mean listens to) it and does the activities such as; colouring, singing, and games.  That's a great start!!   But, to make it even better for me, I have a 9 year old who came home from school with a load of math homework he didn't want to do (he's just learning the multiplication table now) and a test score he was not overly happy with.  2 minutes later, I had a math ninja app on the go... if he wants to kill those evil robotic animals, he has to power up with multiplication questions first!  We'll see how this goes over this coming week.

     Yes, i guess its safe to say that I'm starting to come around.  I'm starting to see the merits of having a nice device like this around the house.  It's just too bad that I won't have the opportunity to take it student teaching with me and see what kind of applications it'll have in the classroom... (insert sad, guilt the ICT prof, kinda face here).  I wouldn't mind seeing what kind of online textbooks are available for it (if anybody is aware of a good free online text book, let me know).  I may not be rushing out to the store to buy one, but it's safe to say, I'm a lot more keen on watching what the future holds for the iPad...  It would look good in my briefcase though.......

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Animoto Project & Praise To Dropbox

     So... here it is, my animoto video.

     This was an interesting project, and a lot of fun to use.  I really enjoyed how simplistic the animoto software was to use.  However, the true hero behind this project for me, was my friend dropbox!  As I sat in class, and all of the students were asked "did you remember to bring in the photos?"  It hit me.  I'm an idiot who didn't prepare any photos at all!  But, I somehow had enough sense to get on my cell phone, text my wife, tell her ask her to drop some photos from our home computer into dropbox, and WHAM!  My butt is saved, the assignment is completed, I look like a hero!

     For those of you who aren't familiar, I strongly urge you to check it out.  It's basically an online flash drive that you can access from any computer.  You can even share any folder of your choosing with one or more friends.  This can work out very conveniently when you have a group project to do, and google docs just ain't enough. 
     Dropbox even saved me from boredom when I was student teaching.  Was stuck at my pop's place for a month, nothing to do, no internet to access (yeah, I know... what is it?  the stone age?).  Luckily enough, the local McDonald's was a hot spot.  I got my wife to put a new movie in my folder once a week.  I probably would have gone nutz if not for that mental break.

But give it a shot... it could save your life someday too!

A Visit From George Couros

     On February 8, 2011, our class was priveleged enough to receive a visit from George Couros, a principal in Stony Plain Alberta.  He was able to take time out of his busy schedule to stop in and say hello to our classroom in Manitoba via Skype.  This method of contact with Mr. Couros was, simply put, all to appropriate.
     We were informed of how Mr. Couros likes to run his school by including large amounts of ICT.  Many of his students had access to laptops on a regular basis.  Many of his students communicated regularily on their blogs.  Social networking within his school was not looked down upon, but was rather encouraged.  We heard stories about his reaction to students getting around school safe guards, and stories about getting getting some good ICT minds to speak at his school.  There were plenty of good ideas shot around the room, such as identity days withing the school, and setting up alerts for becoming the first to hear if any new information about yourself was posted online.
     The session we had with Mr. Couros was a lot of fun, and very educational.  The only problem I had with this session was the realization at the end of it all...  that chances are I will not be teaching in a school that looks this openly on the internet and social networking.  Yes, I understand schools are moving in a positive direction to reach these levels, but most divisions I've worked with in the past are quite aways away. 
     I guess the silver lining I can take out of this is, at least there is evidence that some of our ICT goals are attainable.  Schools such as Mr. Couros' are essentially setting precedance, and making the fight for others a little easier.  When I do go out and find myself a job teaching.  If the school I'm at is not as technologically open as some examples I've seen.  I'll be keeping a close eye on schools such as Mr. Couros', and I will become a part of the fight for ICT.