Thursday, 30 April 2009

Video Marking

I really like this idea gleaned through Stephen Downes “OLDaily”

Video Marking – a teacher describes how he uses screen recording software to record himself marking this students work and then students can use his video response as feedback.

What a great way to give constructive & specific feedback to a student. They can literally ‘sit alongside’ their teacher (not in real time) as they mark their work, see and hear their discussion, comments & recommendations. Of course their work has to be submitted digitally for this to work effectively. The article mentions that the teacher is using Camtasia to record their feedback but Jing which is free would work just as well.

Another great strategy for our eteachers.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Learning for Leadership

Today we had our first “Learning for Leadership” VC. eMentors are facilitating a programme of workshops throughout the year for ePrincipals to support us in our leadership role. Today’s topic was ‘Difficult Conversations’ focussing on the preparation and strategies for conversations which are necessary but have the potential to be difficult.

It was great to get together with our Mahi Tahi team and focus on specific professional learning topics beyond the daily nuts & bolts of our work. We had lots of opportunities to discuss & share examples from our personal experience and to learn from each other. Thanks Sue, Maurie, Grey & Chris for your excellent work as eMentors.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Students Personal Laptops at School for eLearning

At the end of last term elearning students from one of our schools asked for support in being able to use their own laptops at school. What impressed me about these students was that they not only presented their problem but put forward some possible solutions. All too often we here problems & request for fixes but obviously these students had thought through the issues and been proactive about what to do next.

“We have been using our personal laptops during our VC classes and study periods to take notes, contact our teachers, download and submit assignments. Up until now (just over a year) we have been doing this very successfully without question, but recently we were pulled up for using the school's network for this this because our Cybersafety Agreement doesn't allow external devices to communicate on the network, and we've been prohibited from connecting to network, which includes internet access.

The school's concerns are that computers which are not officially setup by the technicians may cause a virus to propagate on the network and cause costly problems, and that this may become a serious issue as laptops for elearning become increasingly popular.”

I believe that schools need to address this so students can use their own computers at school and there are schools, such as Whangaparoa College, who are doing this successfully. It is definitely something that will be more & more important in the future (along with the use of cellphones & other devices). When many schools are struggling to make technology available in schools it would make sense to allow students who have them to be able to use their own laptops. Schools I have talked to have said that it is on their radar screen but they have put it in the too hard basket until there is more pressure from student demand. I understand that schools need to maintain a secure network but there are ways to work around this.

The following are the proposals these students have made:

- Students are encouraged to take advantage of personal technology to improve their learning.

- The Cybersafety Agreement is amended to allow the use of external devices on the school’s network on the condition that acceptable measures are taken on behalf of the user to ensure the safety of the school’s network. This may involve occasional audits to ensure antivirus programs are installed and updated regularly if appropriate.

- A procedure is put in place to regularly review the use of the school network with external devices, and as the use of personal technology in learning develops with the growth of elearning, the school’s network is adapted to accommodate needs.

The use of teacher laptops is directly relevant to this argument & teacher laptops are now ubiquitous and seen as necessary. These also are a potential security risks to school networks with teacher laptops if procedures similar to those mentioned above are not followed. I know many teacher laptops that have been used at home in risky ways, have peer to peer software on them & used by teachers children for all sorts of things….. Come on schools, work with your students & communities to remove these barriers.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Farewell Angela


Today we farewell Angela Gattung, Principal of Inglewood High School. Angela has been leading the TaraNet Principal’s Group for the last three years and has been a vital force in our group. As one of the last two remaining foundation Principals in TaraNet she has maintained our cohesiveness & direction in the face of a changing educational environment and with a clear sense of our vision & goals for the good of all TaraNet schools & students. Thanks Angela for all the support you have given me over the years and your contributions to TaraNet :-)

Friday, 3 April 2009

Broadband – the Last Mile

The blue line is the Telecom Fibre Optic Network – the icons are our schools.

With recent announcements about the investment in Broadband infrastructure & MOE funding for schools infrastructure there has been much discussion recently regarding the equity of access to broadband for our rural schools. There are a great number of our school’s in Taranaki sitting on this fibre network. How can we afford to go the ‘last mile’ & tap into it, who is going to pay for the substantial costs involved in making it available. Cities and large towns will have the numbers to justify Telcos investing in bringing fibre online – what about the rest of rural New Zealand?

Thursday, 2 April 2009

JIng Screencast

I have blogged about Jing before. It is such a handy little tool for me to use quickly & effectively when i am working with my eteachers from a distance.

Little questions like “How do i upload my graded assignments to Moodle?” or “How do i backup my Outlook so i don’t lose all my mail?”

Can be responded to in minutes by recording the process in Jing on your own laptop, then upload & send the link to the person you are helping.

Easy Peasy!