Monday, March 31, 2008

digital citizenship, and more internet responsibility

Digital citizenship combines responsibility with technology. We are supposed to be teaching our students to be responsible learners and use these tools such as computers, cameras, ipods, etc. with a mature sense of accountability. Now it is a hard task to begin the reversal process, and I do think it is a reversal process for many people because our students have been using these technologies for such a long time already, but it is an important task nonetheless.

Students have had to do a lot of the 'playing' around on the Internet alone, and most times without supervision. This leads to them having to maybe fall on their faces and get into a bit of trouble before they realize how it all works. Part of me is saying "maybe that is not such a bad thing, because practical experience is sometimes the best action plan", but the other part of me is saying "this is no way to keep them safe!"

So what do we do? Responsibility, of any sort, is a difficult thing to teach students! It has been something that we have likely struggled with a lot over the years and still continue to struggle with. When it comes to Internet responsibility and technological responsibility, it becomes an even more difficult task.

Relating this to my previous post, I have been still in the mode of "how" and still come up short of answers. I have had the whole Easter break to think about it and it still is baffling. There are so many ideas, and so many things to consider. I would LOVE for our committee to become that like-minded group of individuals that need to discuss this - maybe a virtual meeting? ha ha. But back to business - we are meeting this week (a few of us teachers in my school) to discuss and come up with a few answers and possible solutions to my previous post. I am quite ready to resolve this - or at least get a good start on it. I am one of those people that can not leave this sitting to stew for too long - and part of it may be that I am the computer teacher and school computer administrator so students always ask me about "why" things. I will absolutely post what comes of it, how we did it, and if we have any documents made up from the meeting I will be sure to send them on to you.

Digital citizenship may actually be defined through this type of meetings and rantings. Maybe like some had said at our meeting, that we need to realize that digital citizenship is ever changing. But what I do know is that this is a bit frustrating, confusing, exciting and overwhelming!

Our staff is wonderful here and we are likely to come up with something great, as long as we can keep some personal opinions out of the mix, and think about the better of the students, school and education we are giving them.

I will keep you posted!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Teaching internet responsibility/safety.....HOW?

I find it difficult sometimes to come up with answers and solutions to problems that are re-occurring and are in the "grey"areas. Such as Internet usage, items viewed on Internet, using online tools, etc. It is difficult to control all students within the school as far as the content that they view on a computer, since we do not have person to sit on the server computer and view what everyone is doing at all times.

We have content filters and Internet use policies put in place for a reason, but if students can get around them - and believe me they can and do get around them - what is a suitable consequence for doing so? Or for another example, what if a student is going onto a blocked website, during a spare? Or students are doing it behind our backs and we hear about it second hand from other teachers or students?

These are very real issues that we face in schools today. I know that we are supposed to be teaching them Internet safety and responsibility, but it is difficult to instill these ideals into our students since they can go home and do almost anything they like on their home computers. (Not all, but I am giving a generalization. It is wonderful if parents are involved in what their kids are doing on the Internet, but that percentage is quite low.) If we are to be the rulers of the Internet usage in our schools then we need a united front, across the grades, across the schools and division.

I believe that we need to have some monitoring going on. It has reached a point (at least here in my school), that students who have spares are using the Internet tools such as Youtube, Google Video, etc. as a means of entertainment, by looking up people getting hurt, getting in fights, or other inappropriate items that are not school appropriate. Who is monitoring them in the library if they are on a spare and are doing those things? The librarian cannot be held responsible for being a supervisor if there are other students in there, or if she is busy. What if these students on spare look up these things and a younger elementary student sees this inappropriate content?? I think students need to understand that Youtube and other items are to be used as educational tools, for research or multimedia, not to be used for inappropriate items. They should only be used under direct teacher supervision, where the residing teacher can monitor the way that students are using it, tell/show them how to use it and guide them to use it properly. Maybe students on spares need a new venue instead of the library, maybe they need a study hall where the computers are off limits unless there is a teacher in the room....maybe that won't work either....

Maybe we need to involve the students in a dialogue about these issues and concerns. They need to realize that items that may (or may not) be acceptable at home, are not necessarily acceptable in school, and that we need to discuss why there is a difference. Maybe bracing them for the 'real' world and situations that they could get themselves in in say a workplace and inappropriate things being viewed; how would that affect their work? would help them to understand the severity of the situation and get them to take it seriously. Right now, I think the student body is thinking of us as dictators who have power and are using it to make them unhappy, but obviously this is the real idea and we need to discuss these things with them, show them the reasoning, so that there is a mutual understanding between the staff and the students.

Teachers need to show a united front on this issue. We tend to get played against each other when it comes to this type of thing. If it is not in the handbook, or it is not a concrete policy, then we have mixed messages and the students pick up on that really quickly. If we can be consistent in our consequences and reasoning, then we put forth a united picture of a staff who all know what is going on. This is extremely important so that students see us as a team and not as the few "mean" teachers who kick them off all the time. We really do need to teach them some responsibility, safety, etiquette, and respect for others in this Internet superhighway. Talks must be had, and ideas must be shared. A consistent staff team is what will make this work, and it needs to be done soon.

Any thoughts? haha. I know I did not cover it all, I could not cover it all in one post, but I will try to get back to this and get more of the grit out of this type of confrontation. Maybe we can find some real answers that will work.....worth a shot!

As a side note, I just want to say that this post comes from a few different conversations that I have had with teachers in my school. We have been confronting this issue for the past week and are planning a meeting to come up with some ways to combat this issue and resolve it properly. Some ideas and notes are not just my thinking and are a combination of the both staff and myself. A lot of my options/ideas/solutions come from the many discussions we have had as a tech. committee and it just makes me want to say how much the dialogue sessions that we do have at our meetings is doing some good. It gives us a chance to see what everyone else has tried and how we can possibly use it in our own schools....thanks.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What is Web 2.0? How can we use it? How do I use it? Why should we all use it?

What is Web 2.0? How can we use it? How do I use it? Why should we all use it?

When I started on this committee, I thought I knew. I knew what blogs were, I had one once. I knew about youtube, facebook, and other general "well known" sites on the Internet. I considered myself fairly savvy when it came to computers and the Internet. Then I realized how much I have missed out on, the fads, the new things, and some of the old "tried, tested and true" sites. Since being on this committee, I have realized that no one person could be up to date in all that is out there and all that is to come. We can only project and predict into the future what will be coming out an hour, day, month or year from now.

I have also realized that trying to keep yourself informed via email, RSS, or another medium is a difficult task, but in order to be near the cutting edge of technology, we must do this. We will be left in the dust if we do not conform! We must get online, check things out and experience them if we are to be expected to teach these tools to others (staff, students, etc). I think there are many valuable items to be explored, and we are not even half way done our jobs. If we sit at home and take even 10-15 minutes a day to check things out, then we are floating onto the right paths of the Internet superhighway! Experience breeds knowledge and in order to be a teacher who has any knowledge at all in technology, it is obvious that we must get online and explore.

Daunting or not. We may just need to suck it up and try. Sure it's hard. Who ever said it was easy to find time, money, etc. to develop new skills and continue our life long learning? I know it's hard. I am living on my own, with no children yet, no one needing my attention when I get home from school, yet even then it is a motivational and procrastination nightmare to do these things. From the very beginning, I was excited to join this committee and find that my motivation is much higher as I find out how easy it actually is to do a lot of online activities.

My teaching has improved (I believe), and I am incorporating more and more technology based assignments into all my teaching areas. As a computer/IP and PAA teacher, it is easy for me to say that my assignments are program and web based, but when you look at all my other teaching areas, you may think it harder to incorporate technology....but you would be wrong. It is easier than you think. Not only can we discuss as a class, but we can find out what other students or classes around the globe think about the very topics we are discussing! How exciting for students to experience these sorts of things! Needing a wide range of teaching strategies to keep students engaged? Why not try computers? I bet you they will be overjoyed to get out of a textbook/note taking class to try some experiments online, collaborate and show you their skills in other areas, combining them with the subject at hand. It allows students the chance to build on skills and use their multiple intelligences that Gardner tells us about. Studies say that we should make more assignments open-ended, so why not allow students a chance to either create a video, powerpoint, audio-recorded interview, report, poster or whatever else they choose or enjoy? I do this a lot in my classes, and the marks show improvement, knowledge and happiness. The students are engaged and entranced when you allow them to enjoy their"Just do it"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

teachertube videos....obsessed much?

I know you may think I am obsessed with videos, but I think that there is no better way to get this information to my teachers or out into the world. If we can share by watching others, instead of reading a book on Web 2.0, then we are engaging ourselves in what we are supposed to be teaching our students.....right? Videos:

Introducing Web 2.0
The description from the website is as follows:
Today a new age is evolving. A newly formed conceptual age. An age and time when people collaborate to expand disciplines. A discipline is a developmental path for acquiring certain skills or competencies. In the past we have individually mastered our own proficiencies as we explored our world from one perspective, our own. Now with collaboration technologies individuals are enlightened by becoming more aware of by exposing knowledge to the outside world.

Language Learning and Web 2.0:
This is a video that was posted by a teacher in Barcelona, Spain. He talks about blogs, wikis, podcasts, second life (what he calls Web 3.0), and many more. Really quite interresting to listen to. It may not be too 'crazy' for students, but it is nice for a teacher to listen to if you need to understand what, where, why we do these 'new' things and use Web 2.0 tools.

Monday, March 10, 2008

youtube, teachertube, and general wishes...

I have been poking around on quite a bit lately and have noticed that there are many valuable resources as far as watching general things, but the website called is an even more wonderful site for lessons. I have already found 4 that I am going to use in my classes. If you have not checked out then I really suggest you do, because it has really good videos for ALL teaching areas.

We are learning about Internet Safety in both Health 8 and I am doing a unit on it in Keyboarding 8. On, I have found 2 really good videos about Internet safety, and I intend on using them.

Now here is the real dilemma about finding wonderful things like this.....
We do not have a laptop, cart or extra projector in our school, making life that much harder. The computer lab is already always over-booked, as is the library, my CADD lab, and all other computers in the school. Having only one projector makes life a bit harder, but I know that even in our small school, it would be really handy to have at least one - even one - laptop cart with a projector that can be used in a mobile fashion throughout the school. (Maybe one for each wing of the school - high school/elementary, I am not sure) It would be lovely but the cost of that type of investment is something that is a bit staggering for a small school and budgeting is difficult for things like this.
Although, you would hope (it is rarely this way), that schools and school divisions should WANT to move towards this type of investment and just find the money - take it out of other areas that are dwindling, to increase the technology competency in the schools throughout the division. It would pay off in the end and I believe that since we are headed that way, shouldn't we want to be catching up to where other schools/divisions are already at? I mean comp. carts in Regina is awesome, but the smaller centers need to get their boost to catch up or we will be left in the dust......
Ah, the lovely ideals of a computer technology teacher trying to use their trade and invoke love of it into others.....our jobs will never be done :-)

"Just Keep On Truckin'"

PS - I was asked which 2 videos I liked for Internet Safety, so I thought I would just post them on here for you!!

Think Before You Post

Internet Safety

Also, If you want more, or do not like these, just type in "Internet Safety" in and lots come up. Lots are actually made by students, which is really great.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Slide Show

I have tried to make a slide show with pictures taken from the new camera. I tried to make them in
Rock You - which I personally found to take a very long time and ended up quitting before it was done because I got really frustrated - I had tried it previously and thought it was fine, but I had trouble this time, so I left it for now.

Bubble Share - it also took a long time to upload;

and I also made one with my personal favorite - SLIDE;
I really enjoyed SLIDE because you can change and edit so many things, making your slideshow really original and creative, to reflect your personality. I now found out that you can put a song it your slideshow, which was a tough feat in itself, but that make it that much more special of a site to use. It also did not take that long to load or make, it just took time to figure out exactly how you wanted it to look! :-)


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Vision of K-12 Students Today

A neat video I saw on the "Cool Cat Teacher Blog"

The YouTube description is as follows:
"This project was created to inspire teachers to use technology in engaging ways to help students develop higher level thinking skills. Equally important, it serves to motivate district level leaders to provide teachers with the tools and training to do so"

A Vision of K-12 Students Today

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Discovery Learning, DVD burning, Scanning

Since introducing Discovery Learning to my staff, I have had a few teachers comment to me that it is a really useful tool. In the sciences, it is extremely useful, since most of the videos we have in our school are quite old - and a few are outdated. These newer videos give a more recent perspective, clearer views and can keep the students engaged in the content much longer than older versions of videos. I believe that most teachers that are using it, have used it both for motivational sets as well as for full class sessions. There are still a few of the teachers who I am sure have not used it yet, but I do know that when I held my first PD session with all of my staff, that they were impressed, and it did some wonders to get them interested, but the next step will be to go to them individually and keep them interested, and to give them more ideas of how to integrate it into their subject areas. It is a process that will be on-going.

The consensus is that it is a successful venture to invest in, and it gets used quite frequently.

I just bought a new external DVD burner for the school, so when it comes time to burn these videos, we will be equipped to get it done. I just installed it yesterday, so we will see - hopefully all works well. I will keep you updated! :-)

I also just bought a new scanner and installed it yesterday as well. It works great. My next job will be to try and scan a book for a PowerPoint presentation - a teacher asked me if we could do that and I undertook it as my job to try for the first time....I will work on it tomorrow afternoon and will let you know how it goes!