This past week, I had the opportunity to work with a large group of educators on moving forward with Google Apps and Digital Portfolios within the school division. The hope is that through this process and diving in altogether, we will have the opportunity to share best practices throughout the division while also tapping into the knowledge that exists throughout the world. I am extremely excited about this initiative. Take the chance to read about the project and the pedagogy behind it: Our Digital Portfolio Project.
Also this week, I had the opportunity to visit Spruce Grove Composite High School and they are planning to put all of their class resources on one wiki for their entire school. With this resource being totally open, it will not only be a way for their students to get information, but also for anyone in the world to tap into this as well. Learning should be open and transparent and it is great to watch SGCHS setting up a resource to embody this. You can check out the wiki as it unfolds here: Panther Pages. It is a work in progress, but as educators, we have to get past the notion that we have to have all information up before we go public. If we stuck by that thought, we would never be able to finish anything! Learning is continuous and the process should mirror that!
This week, I have found some great articles that I wanted to share with all of you:
1. Up hill both ways in a snow storm – My good friend Cale Birk, wrote essentially a rebuttal to the “Inside the Entitlement Generation” post that was essentially a ” scathing account of the younger generation of today.” Ultimately Cale decides to take the “optimist” approach and look for the good things that are in our youth today and I would 100% agree with him:
In my opinion, our students of today are as intelligent and motivated as students at this age have ever been. I would also say that students are much more well-rounded than I ever was–they are more socially responsible, more globally aware, and more tolerant than any generation before them. When graduates cross our stage at commencements, I absolutely marvel at how involved they are in their academics, the arts, athletics, the school, and community issues. I wish I went through high school with the same verve and alacrity that our students do.
This article discusses the importance in believing in our students, and in reality, we can look at them as “entitled” but what does that help? Chris Wejr also wrote a post on the same topic, and to me, these are the kind of educators that we need in schools. I know both Cale and Chris personally and they are very real about the work and challenges that we have to do, but they both approach education in the way that it is the positive relationships that we have with our students that makes the biggest impact on the work that we do. I encourage you to read all of the articles linked in this post.
2. 10 Reasons to Trash Word for Google Docs – Jeff Utecht, an educator located in Bangkok, has a great blog that I have only come across recently (although I read it for a long time that first night!), and in it, he shares how he feels the use of Google Docs is advantageous over Word. Personally, I have not used Word for a long time as I find Google Docs much easier, and I am glad that this suite of tools is available to all of our students and staff in Parkland School Division as it really serves the work that we are trying to do with students. Here is an excerpt from his post:
10. Because it’s the future
We’re headed into a fully web-based world. Even Microsoft is working to make Word fully online in a few years…see I told you they were old school. Get a jump on the future and get use to working on the web now so you’re not playing catch up later.
The one major reason that Jeff did leave out (although it is implied continuously) is that it is just faster. If you have a stable Internet connection, Google Docs just makes it easier to do things in the classroom. We could all use more time right?
3. Cybersafety: Do fear and exaggeration increase risk? – Sylvia Martinez shares an excellent presentation about some of the misconceptions that are out in the public regarding Internet safety and cyberbullying which actually lead to more of the behaviour. Yes, there are some threats, but are they as bad as they are made out in the media? Here is what Sylvia writes about the presentation:
Be sure to view this slideshow all the way to the end, where Larry gives examples of “positive norming” as an alternative to fear-based messages about cybersafety and cyberbullying. Positive norming is when facts are presented about what most people do – and most people do not bully or engage in risky online behavior. Focusing on behavior that is NOT the norm makes it seem like it’s more prevalent than it actually is.
Please take a look at the presentation and feel free to use it as you see fit: