Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Starting a Technology Collaborative

Grass Roots

The past three weeks I've had meetings in my classroom with a few people on my staff who are interested in using technology in education. All I did was email the entire staff to see who would be into being part of a grass roots team of people talking about what we do and can be doing to enhance learning in our school. After three weeks of meeting our number has grown to about 10 people. One of those people is our Principal! He came in the door last week and I was a bit shocked! We are not an official committee and we weren't having an official type of meeting and I have no status other than classroom teacher. It's great to see that teachers are interested in helping students learn and that they are willing to give up a lunch hour each week to meet to discuss ideas.


Photo Credit: tbone_sandwich via Compfight cc

Connections

In our first meeting we got to know each other better. We discussed our background, if any, with technology. I set up Google Apps for Education accounts for those that did not have them and reset passwords for others. I am lucky to be an admin on our Google Apps for Education at Regina Public Schools. I can give students, administrators, teachers and interns accounts very quickly. We found that some of our members were using Google Apps in other schools but not in this one. We identified that we had a variety of levels of knowledge and that we all shared one important thing. We are passionate educators who aren't afraid to share and to learn new things. One of our members teaches in another school in the afternoon so she joins us via Google Hangouts. We shared our minutes document and kept notes on what we were talking about. We've kept this document up each week and are following a bit of the style that we see in the document we've been using in our EC&I 831 class at the U of R. We are learning to collaborate on the minutes and learning how to connect with phones, tablets and laptops.

I created a Google Group, a Google + community and a blog on Blogger for our Tech collaborative to start the process of sharing ideas and building interest in what we are doing. I hope that these connections will be the beginning of something great at our school!

Learning Together

The biggest goal for our team is to learn how to collaborate and share with each other using technology. We are learning together how to use web based tools to communicate and collaborate with each other. Through hands on experimentation we are learning how easy it is to work together. The next step is to take what we have learned and use it with students. I have set up a few classes with Google Accounts already. My goal is to have our entire team become admins so that we can work to set up accounts for more teachers and students. Many keyboards would make light work of entering all of our students into the system! If we can hit a critical mass this year with teachers and students collaborating with each other I would be so excited.

Making Better Use of Our Tools

We've also been sharing which tools work well for us when communicating and collaborating with students. We are lucky to have a growing population of students bringing their own technology into the classroom. There has long been the complaint that we can't involve more technology in our classrooms because of the shortage of shared resources. We've been discussing the shift towards BYOD and how we can easily facilitate ways for students to use their devices in a positive manner in our classes.

So it's a beginning. I'm glad I took a leadership role in getting this team put together. I hope that it will grow and that the collaboration will continue. We are learning together and working together. Hopefully in doing so we will encourage the same from our students. If you've been in a school that's been working towards better using technology in the classroom and on staff feel free to share some ideas with me. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Crowdsourcing Funding, Design, Ideas & Education

Crowdsourcing is becoming more and more prevalent now that people can easily connect with each other easily through the internet. 

Funding

Maybe you have an idea but don't have the capitol to fund it. Crowdsourcing is becoming a popular way of finding the money you need to make a project go forward. 

Rylan Grayston of Peachy Printer is an inventor from Yorkton Saskatchewan who is using crowd sourced funding through Kickstarter to fund further development of his $100 3D Printer.


Design

Perhaps you have an idea but need the expertise of many people to be able to build a better design for your project. Graham Hill the, the creator of Treehugger.com, is also the creator of the LifeEdited apartment in New York City. He explains the apartment and his use of crowdsourced design in the following video:

Ideas & Education

If you're an educator you might have ideas or be short on ideas... who knows? Whether you're looking to learn or looking to share, you can become more connected in a number of ways. My EC&I 831 Class at the University of Regina uses Google + Communities and a Blog Hub as a way of connecting students together. Signing up for edConnectr is a way for teachers to get involved with other like minded people. It seems to me that this centralized hub lets people pose questions and help others to become better connected educators. There are so many resources at our finger tips these days that it can all be a bit overwhelming from time to time. edConnectr seeks to pair individuals with like minded people with the same interests to ease the beginning of sharing. The ability to crowdsource information in a direct and meaningful way may take us to very good sharing and learning opportunities.

Conclusion

So why am I talking about crowdsourcing? It's happening all around us in a variety of ways and is beginning to shape the human experience. Can we even begin to imagine how this type of interaction could solve some of the largest problems we face? I am beginning to think that crowdsourcing could in fact influence the classes that I teach. Becoming a connected teacher I have started using services like edConnectr, Twitter, Google + Communities, EduBlogs, and Blogger. I'm beginning to think of what I can do to crowdsource for my classroom. What if funding, design, ideas & education all came from the world, flowing into classrooms everywhere, fuelling the human potential from a very early age? It's wonderful to have become a part of a much more interesting and open world.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Extreme Happiness

I was so fortunate to shake hands with Aleksander Gamme from Norway at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. This guy cross country skied unsupported to the South Pole and back to the coast along with Cas and Jonesy... but you'll have to watch Crossing the Ice to get the full story. This is how he felt after opening one of the caches he had left behind on his way to the South Pole. On his return to the coast of Antarctica he finds his cache and... well I'll let you take a look. You don't need to speak Norwegian to understand this feeling:


Maybe I didn't feel this good when I drove away from the festival after having met so many amazing people and hearing so many wonderful stories... but I was in that zone! More later...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Inspiration

I'm on my way to the Banff Mountain Film Festival! It's time for inspiration, connecting with friends and making new ones. I'm surrounded by positivity and outdoorsy awesomeness. A long drive gives you a good amount of time to contemplate a great many things. 

It's been a busy week. I have connected all my students with blogs and remind 101. I started a teacher technology club at my school and now I'm going to see some of the most interesting people in the world. What a week. I'm now working on a new post showing how my outdoor programs use technology when we are planning trips and when we are in the field.