Unit 6: World Wide Technology Leadership

Before beginning this blog, I wanted to peek at my classmate’s blogs to see who/what they have picked as a positive note to end on.  I have a feeling that my positive may be a bit different, but it is a direction that I am headed in for the fall and have already begun moving towards by procuring equipment, etc.

I found Krista’s post extremely well representative of my views regarding the iPad roll in L.A. and how “unplanned” it was.  I found myself shaking my head at the county not thinking that their students could not bypass the security systems they have set out – come on – you are have just handed these out to high school students who are digital natives!  The programs to block all unwanted materials viewed were not developed by digital natives, rather digital immigrants.  A native is going to find their way around the system much, much faster.  I also wondered why YouTube???  But, I can understand why we just use it for so much currently like uploading vlogs, etc… that my students have created during PBL and Innovative Deeper learning.

Going back to my first paragraph, I am a big proponent of Virtual Reality in the classroom.  This could be because of the subject I teach – it really lends itself well to science at all levels.  I found Scott’s and Adam’s blogs to be quite interesting as they showcased all levels of VR that can be used in the classroom.  I will let you pop over to their sites to read about the difference between each as there is no sense in re-writing what has already been done so well.

Instead, I will focus on the benefits of VR in the classroom and explain the experience that led me to bring this into my class.  However, I am only one teacher, and I feel that many teachers could benefit from the use of VR in their classrooms.  Ashley McCann elaborated on how the immersive nature of virtual reality can enhance our students learning.

I believe that there is a place in education for gamification and that VR can help bring together problem-solving, deeper learning and gamification into one package while allowing students to be curious.  Using a game based system can give students who need immediate feedback to keep them on track engaged (such as earning badges, etc…).   It also has the ability to take students places that we would never, as educators are able to take them by opening up the world to digital field trips or investigations that would be too costly to explore or simply unavailable such as layers of the body systems.

I have had the experience of using VR at the University of Saskatoon during Science on Stage Canada, 2018.  I met Dr. Sean Maw who is a professor at the College of Engineering.  He is using VR in one of his first year engineering classes to have his students build a bridge that will be able to handle a truck carrying a force across it (you can increase the weight of your truck the more confident you are – Newtons).  I was so captivated by this experience that I visited Innovation Place in September to discuss the possibility of bringing this technology into my classroom – but to use it in a bit of a different way.  Besides being able to build bridges, etc… I want my students to build the chassis of a car and then have another program (not developed yet) send the design to our 3D printers.  The idea is that the students can build, test and walk around their cars first before during the creative process, then send it to be physically built, tested, and ran against others.  I have begun to collect equipment, we will see how long it takes my dream to become a reality.  I have a number of students who would benefit greatly from this and I feel that it would level the playing field in my room, meaning that inclusivity may be achieved through the use of this tool.  Would this tool entice our poor attendees to come to school more often? Will VR allow for all types of learners?  Kinesthetic, Visual, Spatial, Aural? I feel that my creative leadership style lends itself well towards using VR.  Have a look at the following video and see what you think – are you hooked?

Note – I did get to experience space in VR – it was UNREAL!!!

Take a look at the difference it made in a school in Tennessee.

Let me know what you think!  I would love to hear your feedback as I learn from everyone and there are many of you who have already ventured where I intend to go.

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3 am Musings – Major Project Update (4/4)

It’s 3:00 am, and I can’t sleep.  In fact, I woke up thinking about my major project and how it has begun to stitch itself together like a fine quilt and unravel like a loved blanket all at the same time.  Has this ever happened to you?  Gah!!!  This is how progress is made, small steps I keep reminding myself, even if things do not happen within our allotted semester time, any small step forward is a success.

Things that are going well:

  • All of the grades that are using Google Classroom are LOVING it!  They are asking me to use it more than my school blog now….. Maybe my blog might become obsolete?  I hope not, I like my blog as it allows parents easy access to see what their students are up to daily.  And whatever, it is my blog,,, so I will keep it!
  • I have learned that the current grade 8’s from the elementary school in Lumsden are already connected to Google Classroom and their teacher is using it all the time!  This will make it easier for me once they come to grade 10 (or earlier depending on my course load next year).
  • There is a way to transfer G-Suite from a student email to their personal email before graduation – BUT who is going to teach this to the students?  Whose job is this? Does this mean the school owns the students work and the student doesn’t?  So many more questions!!

Things that are not going well:

  • Because I am not an administrator for our school divisions G-Suite I cannot access the administrator reports for my Classrooms.  This may be because I am using my personal Gmail account.  Big No No – I know!  But everything I don’t consider my personal email account mine, all of my school info is in there.  This is an issue I am now working on.
  • My students have used their personal email accounts as well because they were having issues signing in with their school emails.  I have never, nor will I ever contact a student via Google Classroom and I delete my classroom students immediately after the class is done.  However, this is still an issue.  So – while my intentions are good, I am bending a lot of rules.

AS my project begins to come together, I am left with so many questions, maybe more than when I began?  But this is entirely part of the learning process, and I am okay with that.  I don’t think that Kristen and Stephen are expecting these projects to be entirely finished at the outset of this class, some of our projects will be an ongoing passion project that may take a bit longer than the four months we have together in this course for our leadership styles to percolate within our projects.  Mine will take just a bit longer, I feel that I will need a full school year to collect data (at this point I feel that it will have to be qualitatively done) in order to present it to my division.  I do not want to go to them with a weak case, as they are so pro one other LMS usage.  You know what?  I am okay with that, I will keep on using my Google Classroom – however, I will have students use their own school emails making sure that I am protected.  AND now we are back to the original question that began this whole thing…who is going to tell them and give them (the students) the time to transfer their educational portfolios over to their own accounts????

Unit 5: Flexible, Equitable, Achievable?

At the provincial level, the Ministry of Education within the Government of Saskatchewan recognized the need for allowing all of our students to become digitally competent citizens.  Image result for government of saskatchewanThe Millenials that consume our classrooms each day are digital natives, just because they have been born into this era does not necessarily mean that they know how to properly or safely use the vastness that is this technology. 

The Technology in Education Framework states that “not only is technology vital the learner…it allows for creativity, flexibility and allows for a greater reach in educational opportunities” (p1).  I have chosen to focus this units blog on the view that our provincial stakeholders took at using digital technology to enhance equity in learning for all in Saskatchewan.  How can technology allow for this to happen?  Just as Dylan stated in his blog, growing up in a larger center can cause one to wear blinders, not realizing that not everyone had access to the internet or computers in their schools – or even being in a larger center being forced to only take the courses offered at your school when you could have been taking courses offered at the DLC (understanding there is a financial undertaking here too, which may further resect some out).

Personally, I am a huge proponent of using technology in the classroom to enhance lessons.  In fact, I have gone away from using textbooks in my classes entirely.  Technology has the ability to allow for learning for all, students can be working on multiple levels at the same time.   But, using technology in the classroom also means that I am responsible for teaching the appropriate use of student-based technology.  Just because these Millenials have the world at their fingertips, does not necessarily mean that they know how to use it safely and in an acceptable manner.  Should educators have to shoulder this responsibility entirely?  NO.  There needs to be some responsibility with their parents/guardians too.  However, considering that our students are spending the majority of their waking hours in school, we have a responsibility to do our part if we are expecting our students to use technology in our systems. 

I realize that not all schools are equipped with enough computers for all students, therefore our students are using their own cell phones for classes. By allowing students to use their own devices, we are inviting in distractions which have to be managed.  Great – yet another thing for our classroom teachers to try to manage.  Or is it?  I caution those who are quick to complain about this.  Recently Ontario has decided to ban cell phones in classes beginning at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  I am curious how this will pan out.  I understand that concern about the distractions, but a student can be just as distracted while on a laptop as they can be on a phone.  I understand that they are faster on their phones with the distractions, however, distractions are always there.  I am concerned that this ban will narrow the educational experience to those in remote areas who do not have access to technology that those in larger centers do.   My other concern with this is:  What if it pans out well, although Saskatchewan believes that technology enhances equity and learning for all, will we follow suit and ban cell phones in our classrooms?  Will this then become inequitable for remote areas?  How will our classrooms adjust to still function within the government mandates?

Major Project Update (3/4)

A quick update on my project!  I have been successfully implementing G-Suite in 3/5 classes (the other 2 are busy working on major projects, so not a lot of direct instruction time yet – but they have been accessing our Classroom sites).  So far, this means that all of my students have successfully signed up for the G-Suite sites and are accessing it!

Yay – one goal down!  HOWEVER – we did run into some roadblocks signing all of the students up…

  1. We could not use their school division accounts for all students – which wasn’t my goal anyway since they will lose their email addresses once graduated.  Most students used their own personal Gmail accounts or they made a new one. Not a big deal, no one complained about this.
  2. The only glitch now that I had access to their personal email accounts – would that put me at risk?  

Students had successfully downloaded Google Classroom and Google Docs to their phones and have been accessing the information that I have posted regularly.  I know this because of the good questions that I have been receiving from them about their assignments/projects.  I have also been able to monitor large collaborative projects and see the students working on them in real time.

Yay – Goal two achieved.

I have seen students begin to create their educational portfolios – especially my grade 12 students.  The students have been proud of their work!  They are beginning to realize that their work is THEIRS, it will not disappear on them.

Now – I need to access information from my school division and contact other school divisions in regards to using Google Drive with students personal accounts in order to create an educational portfolio.

One thing I need to figure out still is, HOW DO I COLLECT DATA?  Does this project require me to collect data or is the data being collected just by the amount of use that G-Suite is being used and accessed by the students?

I still have more to research, but this is a step in the right direction, and I have students on my side, now just to speak to other division as well as my own.

Major Project Part 2

Looking back at Part I of my project, I reflected one major point – the main one that I am aiming to answer in this class:

When you take a look at the Technology in Education Framework manual, page 2 lists sustainability as one of the guiding principals stating: “A technology-supported learning environment is strengthened by sound business and administrative practices, is sustainable in the long-term within available resources, evolves based on research and analysis of trends, and is supported by the Ministry, school divisions, and educational partners.” I question what is meant by long-term?  How long is long? How are our senior students being supported in the long term if their technology is being removed from them at graduation?  

So far, I have been able to achieve a few goals towards the above questions.  I have been able to get all of my students onto the G-Suit applications, meaning they are all on Google Drive and are all using Google Classroom.  This is a major step in the right direction. However, lots of my students needed to use their own personal Gmail accounts as only a few were able to use their pvsd email accounts, while most chose to not use them.  I also have all of my students regularly using both of these applications on their phones (if they have one). I know that my senior students are using Google Drive collaboratively as I am part of their groups and I see their progress in real time.  This is great as is has already accomplished what I wanted for the “Opportunity” portion of SWOT from part I.

As I am already into month 2 of this project, there have been new questions that have arose that I now need to look at:  Are there any privacy concerns by using Google Drive as my students are mostly using their own accounts? Are there any financial aspects to consider as Google Drive only offers 18 G of storage for free?  Also – I feel that I may need to shorten the length of time that I originally proposed to collect data from 3 months to a full 2 months. This will allow me time to evaluate the data properly and deconstruct everything that I have learned and need to continue to work on.

I know that Regina Public School Division uses Google Drive and Google Classroom exclusively as I have students who have recently transferred from their whom have taken on a leadership role amongst the student body (bonus for me).  I intend to reach out to some colleagues and speak to them about what they see as the pro’s and con’s of this cloud-based system as they have implemented it for far longer than I have.

In order to evaluate myself on this project, I am a bit unsure of how to go about collecting data.  All divisions like quantitative data, while this project will focus on qualitative data. I might have already begun collecting data inadvertently by the success of homework completed on time and quality of work completed with the three classes that I have chosen to focus on.

I am wondering if anyone has any ideas or suggestions of how to collect data for this type of a project?