WRDSB has recently introduced the ‘BackPack’ option for secondary school students. This web site provides a mechanism for students to access their Board computer file storage from home. The login process is active directory compliant.
The user interface is simple to use, providing icons for file the typical management functions: uploads, downloads, rename, add folder etc.
The solution is based on java based open source code. Future plans will add functionality for all students. Many thanks to the WRDSB ITS staff who worked on this project to support student learning.
While participating on the OTF21C panel discussion this past week, an interesting point came up. Since the discussion, I have been thinking about this: What is your online orientation?
1. Are you offline, and you choose when to go online?
2. Are you online, and you choose when to go offline?
Please leave a comment, or connect via Twitter or Google+
Today I had the pleasure of tuning in to a webcast presentation by Alan Levine about digital story telling resources. I ideas were great and the chat window was action packed with comments, ideas and positive feedback. I wanted to share a list of a few of the resources that were highlighted.
This is a great set of tools to support digital story telling. Visit Alan’s blog and wiki to get the full story and lots of good ideas. Everyone has a story to tell. Give one of these great tools a spin today then do something fun. innovative and engaging with your students!
Thank you to Sheryl and the PLP Network team for setting up this learning opportunity with Alan.
Alan’s 50 ways
Bitstrips for School (licensed for use for Ontario publicly funded schools by OSAPAC)
I came across this post today via Twitter from @pmcash.
The article covers the use of social media tools with in Australian schools. Based on the article, the general approach seems to be cautious about allowing access. Concerns raised include safety, teacher awareness of how to use the tools and online relationships between teachers and students.
In my Board (WRDSB), we have been making great strides in moving forward with the use of social media tools. Facebook and Twitter (and other tools too) are open for use to support curriculum delivery. These tools offer incredible opportunities to connect, collaborate and access real world information and events in real time. Teachers are finding many exciting uses for these technologies within the classroom.
Currently, teachers are using Facebook for:
- fan pages to distribute classroom resources to students (& parents), raise awareness of issues etc.
- study and enrichment groups
- online writing (poetry, character analysis, debates/discussion re current events etc.)
- opportunities to share student work (within groups)
- online galleries (artwork, student created music and videos etc.)
- teacher feedback and peer review
- ‘ask a question’ homework groups
- casual writing for learning second languages
- teaching digital citizenship in a real world context
It is critical that staff and students understand the importance of having their privacy and security settings set up appropriately. This must be part of the education process.
In terms of staff/student relationships in this environment, it is business as usual in many respects. Any online relationship must follow the same professional conduct as any situation whether it is in the classroom, on the playground, on a school trip or in an extra curricular situation. Relationships must be kept at the professional level. No one should put themselves in a risky situation.
These social media tools are powerful — we need to leverage their power to support curricular delivery, while educating staff/students about appropriate use and maintaining the required professionalism within these environments.
Up next: Demonstrating Twitter to our Trustee group on March 7th.
The last month seems to have blasted by in absolute warp speed. I feel like I have been immersed in a number of great opportunities and events: Educon, OSLA, Brock Tech Ed Day and OTF session. At the same time my usual patterns of participation in Twitter, PLP etc. have been out of routine. I wanted to take the time to capture of few thoughts even though these events are somewhat in the past.
I really enjoyed being involved in the OSLA Web 2.0 Faceoff presentation. In a true fashion, this entire event was planned online. The group did not actually meet until the setup session the evening prior to the event!
Hosted by Anita Brooks Kirkland, and modelled after a hockey format, 2 Web 2.0 teams led by team captains: Zoe Branigan-Pipe and Doug Peterson, supported by players: Rick Budding, Diana Maliszewski, Roger Nevin, Colleen Rampelt. During the first two periods team presented effective Web. 2.0 tools with details of how they linked to our curriculum.
I enjoyed the the opportunity to work with Carol Koechlin; analyzing the Web 2.0 play. During the playoff, the teams challenged each other to find best curriculum fits for new Web 2.0 tools.
Play by play action was captured by Top Tweep: Becky Rouse. I captured the live Twitter stream into an archive.
Check out the team resources at OSLA Hockey Faceoff. Special thanks to Technical Director Diane Bédard.
One of my earlier blog posts I made some recommendations for settings for setting up groups for use in the K-12 environment. Since that post, the Facebook group function has changed and I wanted to share what I have learned so far.
The group function is still accessed from the main page in Facebook.
Select the ‘create group’ option.
Next, enter a name for your group, choose an icon from the drop down list and select the type (open, closed or secret). I recommend ‘closed’ for K-12.
Once the group is created, the new ‘header’ is displayed.
- the ‘post’ area is not visible by default, it must be selected
- document creation and editing has been added
- discussion areas within the groups have been removed
Note: groups created prior to this feature change continue to function the way they did.
Group settings are adjusted through the ‘edit’ and ‘settings’ options.
What Else is New?
- The new group function also provides the option of defining a group mailing list. In my example, I would name the mailing list after the group (email@example.com). Messages posted to this addresses are distributed to group members.
- Only Facebook friends may be added to a group. The email list option to invite group members has been removed.
- Invited friends are automatically added to the group. The former request/accept process has been removed.
- Group members can remove themselves from a group, but must request to rejoin as they can not be reinvited
- The group owner (administrator) may also remove group members
- The display of posts has also changed. When a group member posts on a group wall, the post also shows in your personal newsfeed (not wall). Friends in the group will also see the post in their newsfeed. The ability to see posts is also impacted by the ‘top news’ or ‘recent’ setting.
All in all, the new group function will work well for K-12 usage. I recommend that users set their security and privacy settings appropriate for professional conduct and interaction with students.
Thank you to @rebrouse and @rickbudd for working with me to test and document our learnings.
Happy collaborating in a social networking environment.
As I reflect about the Digital Footprint concept, I find my thinking about this changing over time. I am gravitating to relating to this notion in two components.
1. The ‘size’ of the digital footprint reflects how much your name is ‘out there’ – fairly easily to search, and shows in a variety of contexts (twitter, blogs, comments etc.) — a frequency factor of sorts.
2. Your digital legacy — the ‘quality’ of the foot print, the lasting impression of who you are, what you stand for and how you contributed to the online environment. What will people think about you based on being ‘googled’ or ‘binged’?
And now a question: What are your thoughts regarding this way of thinking about your digital footprint?
Further to my earlier blog post regarding my Adobe Connect ‘live teaching’ experience, I wanted to provide an update re my live audio testing sessions. With the help of a test group, we had participants ‘tune in’ from the same building as I was broadcasting, other school sites within our Board network and a couple of off site connections. For all connection types, we were able to improve audio quality.
Before the scheduled session each participant looked after two tasks:
1. check that their flash player was up to date, and complete the update if required and
2. complete this Online Audio Test.
Listeners found the greatest audio clarity when I used the USB Yeti microphone, which I purchased at the Apple store.
We also experimented with web cam settings to determine impact on the audio. With only one camera active, the fast image and slow image settings worked well. The high quality camera setting reduced audio quality (slight choppiness) but not overly disruptive. With multiple cameras active, the slow image setting produced the best overall results.
The test results were validated across the 2 test sessions using different locations and equipment for each session. I feel confident we can proceed with online teaching and our Canada Connections project.
A few days ago, I saw this tweet from @gcouros while reviewing the daily action from my PLN.
This certainly caught my attention, so I read the blog post and decided to participate.
Lets be straight up to begin. Administrators are busy people with many responsibilities to juggle. They can’ t ‘know everything’ – and they don’t need to. I do believe there a some critical elements that are attached to their role in terms school success and staff development that will make a key difference.
School Administrator To Do List
- walk the walk & talk the talk
- understand digital literacy and digital citizenship
- be familiar with, and understand the power of web 2.0 and social media tools
- establish a PLN (self directed, job embedded learning) and share the learnings with staff
- promote technology use as an embedded & key part of the learning process
- understand appropriate technology use, highlight/showcase it as a part of good teaching practice
- include technology use in the learning process as part of the teacher feedback and evaluation process
- require that staff learn about best technology integration strategies as part of ongoing PD/learning plans
- ensure that technology uses are well connected to Province/State and Board/District level priorities
- understand the role of technology in establishing and/or improving school and classroom community
- build a culture, not a ‘one of’ island
- embrace change
- be vocal: share, promote and connect with other administrators
- STAY THE COURSE!