Jump Start Your 14-15 Professional Learning

As your school year schedule settles in and your thoughts drift to incorporating professional learning, there are many great opportunities happening in Ontario.

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OSSEMOOC  launches a mini course series (“mini-moocs”) this week featuring a presentation by Brenda Sherry and Peter LeBlanc on Wednesday Sept. 24th. Details are [here].

Perhaps attending an Ed Camp is on your list to experience.  Never been to an Ed Camp?   Check out these Ed Camp related  blog posts by  Donna Miller Fry  to get a good sense of what to expect.

EdCampBarrie

Ed Camp Barrie, one of several Ed Camps in Ontario this year,  is running on Saturday September 27th.  Registration and other details are available at the  EdCamp Barrie web site.  If you can’t attend in person and are interested in participating as a virtual learner follow the  #edcampbarrie  Twitter stream and watch for details about  live-streaming of select sessions.

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A little farther down the road, plan to attend  Bring It Together 2014, the jointly offered Ed Tech conference offered by ECOO and OASBO ICT.  The conference is running November 5th-7th.

Enjoy your professional learning journey.

~Mark

 

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Just in time I.T. Support

One of the highlights of last week for me  was kicking off  our Tuesday ITS teams meetings.  The room was filled with great people, energy, enthusiasm and anticipation.   We kicked off our meeting with a “state of the universe” with our Google Apps (GAFE) environment.

ONgafesummitIn the big picture – all good:  things are working well,  great adoption during our first year,  synergy for change,  excitement about Google Classroom … and the list goes on.

We started to talk about goals for this year  which led to discussion about the need to further develop our support model.  Sounds easy.   Seems traditional.   We want users to feel well supported and offer timely assistance as needed.

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Then it happened, THE  disruptive question:  Where is this all going?  Then more questions:  On what timeline?  What can we stop doing?   How do we improve ‘this’?  How do we solve ‘that’?

The  broad strokes answer is we are going to the cloud where we have anytime  anywhere access,  device agnostic functionality and no dependancy on any particular  OS.  At what rate?  With what feature set?  With what issues?  — the bottom line is no one  really  knows.  Things are changing more rapidly than ever before  — and certainly faster than traditional support mechanisms can be designed, learned,  documented,  workshopped and  people can be ready to answer help desk tickets with tiered support levels can be put in place.  In my view,  this journey is much more like building the plane while you are  flying it.   Support in this rapidly changing state might mean best effort or we are researching — a far cry from the comfort of a more traditional and methodical approach.

Finally someone stated “but we haven’t functioned or learned in this ‘just in time’ mode before.”  BINGO! – it is new and and feels uncomfortable,  really uncomfortable.  IT staff are supposed to know all the answers.   Yet, I believe  being in this is the new fluid “technology existence”  is the new norm.

I emphasized a few key points to help the conversation end in a good place.  The bottom line:  the smartest person in the room IS the room.  This type of scenario is a great chance for an IT department to play, learn together, collaborate and share — ultimately put themselves and their learning out there to give students and staff the opportunity to use the latest tools to support learning.

The Smartest Person in the Room

     Image from: chdairiesdiary.wordpress.com

I hope that our user community appreciates the balance of risk taking and just in time learning to offer great technology enabled learning environments.

~Mark

 

 

 

Meet the Teacher Night Tech Slam

At this point in my life I find myself with one university graduate and one in first year and on the way.  It has certainly been a long time since I attended an elementary school meet the teacher night.

In a  recent summer conversation with WRDSB teacher  Alison Bullock,  my interest in the parent  aspect of  school year startup was rekindled.  Alison was enthusiastically sharing about her plans to provide parents attending with a fast paced “tech slam” – a quick tour through many of the different online services students would be using in their learning journey with her.  I approached Alison about attending meet the teacher night,  and I was thrilled that she readily agreed.

On parent night evening, I arrived at portable 4 to find an energized room of parents and students.  Students were eagerly leading parents to their seating area.

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On the top of each desk was a  QR Code  that linked to a personalized welcome video for each parent.  Students were visibly excited to show their parent(s) how to access the video and have them watch it.

Now it was time for the tech slam.

Wow – actioned packed, filled with key learning statements and clearly highlighted  the connected learner robust technology enabled approach to be used in the classroom.

Casual conversation with parents afterwords showed excitement and interest  about the  approach to learning their child would participate in.

If I had elementary school aged children,  this is the type of classroom learning experience I would want them to have.

Related Resources:

Follow Alison’s class on Twitter: ESTP4.

~Mark

WRDSB Libraries on the Go

Our new library system at WRDSB comes mobile ready.  The free  ILS  app (iOS and Android) is easy to download and set up.  iOS users should note that the iPhone version of the app is also used on the iPad so the search settings in the app store may need adjusting to locate that app on an iPad.

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Once the app is downloaded, launch it, choose the Waterloo Region District School Board from the school board list. Next,   press the  ‘choose library’ icon to select your school library and set it as the default.

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As an example,  I choose the  Huron Heights SS  library and set it to my default library.

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This is a sample search result based on “world war 2”.

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Now you are ready for searching on the go. Happy inquiring!

~Mark

A Perspective on “RESET”

There is something about the start of a new school year that seems to put me an a place of  both  wondering & reflection.   In some ways,  the start of the school year is in effect the pressing of the big  ‘RESET‘ button  — everything starts fresh with new:  timetables, class groupings,  introductions,  friendships,  experiences,  chances to make a difference …    Well,  the list could go on and on,  but you get the picture:   opportunity and hope.    Hold that thought.

This weekend I attended a memorial service and left feeling inspired. Why?  The service  was very personalized with music performed by family members and the stories about what was important in their Dad’s life.   Then it happened — the part that really stayed with me.  A few key elements of  their  father’s life were highlighted as “lessons learned”.

And there it was – underscored, wait, make that underscored:  the importance of reflecting.   The  “lessons learned”  in this case applied to both school and life in general.  Paraphrasing in my own words now,  the lessons focused on relationships, boundless learning,  growing without limits, the importance of sewing seeds to nurture encouragement, and,  to share.

Without doubt,  this is a  powerful  message,  and so appropriate for the beginning of a school year.

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Photo credit: my own

What new perspectives will you bring to the 14/15 school year?  How will you foster and role model boundless learning,  positive relationships,  sowing seeds and sharing?   What  impact will your actions have on the opportunities and hopes of those around you?

Recommended Related  Reading:   Who are you leaving out?   by  Donna Miller Fry.

~Mark