Hello Once Again,
In a professional level I have used wikis and nings once again in a very limited way.
About 3 ago I subscribed to http://guidetoinnovation.ning.com/ Guide to Innovation Ning. I explore this Ning at times to review Eluminate sessions that have occurred as many of them occur during my work time, however having the opportunity to review them in my own time is excellent professional learning related to my own needs and interests. I shared this site with teachers at my school back in 2010 and they decided to join as well. However, that is where it stayed. Following on from this, a former colleague set up a Ning just for our staff to encourage staff to explore Nings. It started off ok, a few ideas came up, but then that teacher left and the Ning is now non existent!!
Following on from that, as I was working at my current school in a greater capacity, I was invited to join the Wiki for teachers in the zone or area to connect me with ICT educators in my area. It was great, after our 3 monthly (Termly) meetings, minutes went up, resources and links to presentations from that meeting were up and a list of contacts for me to connect with.
The other Ning I follow is ‘Classroom 2.0’ the amount of wonderful professional reading, sites, links etc is huge!! Everyday in my inbox there is something new and exciting. To the point I was getting so much that I had to modify my receiving of notifications as it was filling up my inbox!
Then along came ICON- (Integrated Catholic Online Network) along came ICON coaches. They also set up Wikis, again a place to connect, share etc. Again further info about current thinking, links to presentations from previous meetings/sessions. A central location for finding info.
There is great fear in the ‘online collaborative spaces’ for some educators.
I do like the use of youtube videos to explain what these new web 2.0 tools are as teachers are very visual learners, and the explanations are great in simple terms to put into context what these tools are and how they can be used.
Again the point I keep referring to is technology and Web 2.0 are tools, they do not replace the teaching, they are meant to enhance teaching and learning for teachers and students. However there is some learning by teachers that does need to be done. There also needs to be more self directed learning by staff, gone are the days that PL is all one way presenter lead. Professional learning should be about the learner wanting to learn, explore, ‘dip the toe in’ just as we expect the students to.
As an ICT leader I find most of my learning comes from my own direction, interest and research. Waiting for others to teach me is not how I best learn. I am curious by nature and have found a wealth of information to assist me right there on the Internet. Just as I expect my students to do, I do as well!! I have not waited till Professional Learning is ‘given’ to me, however it is great to attend PL to reiterate I am on the right path!!
Google Sites/Google Apps:
I have had a look at the information about Google Sites: I can see loads of potential for schools, the main being collaborative and cloud based. Schools tend to have most documents located on school servers ( required for security and privacy) however, there are times when co-teachers, level teachers etc are required to complete a document. Currently at my school this is done via email or hard copy print out.
A colleague and I have trialled Google Apps with our Learning Support staff to document their observations while working with certain students in our school. The Learning support staff have all been gifted an iPad with an iTunes card and a contract to say they are to locate/source apps that they feel will assist the students they are working with. They are to also record their observations/activities completed after each session. Trying to find time in the busy day to do this recording has proved difficult hence the decision to try web based Google Apps. LS staff can then use their iPad to document their observations etc which can then be added to the school server at the end of the week or month or term as Google Docs is able to be exported as a word doc. The trial is continuing and next term after our winter break I will sit down with the LS staff to review this process.
Also I have gone ahead and subscribed our school to Google Apps for Education and am hoping the experience of the Learning Support Staff will give the rest of the staff some feedback about how using this type of Web tool can support teaching.
Another reason for going ahead with Google Apps for Ed is due to a student in the upper primary class not having any Microsoft programs on their home computer so is having difficulty completing any work at home or creating any work to share at school. This student is currently using Google Docs/Apps, however due to the age limit being 13 and over, I do not want this student to be using Google at school as they are under the age based on the terms and conditions of Google.
It is one area that schools will continually face as more and more families at home use alternatives to MS Office, however as schools we need to have other alternatives or tools that students can use so not to to impact negatively on their learning. It is the learning NOT the tool that should be the focus!!
Will reflect back here once we have looked at this as a school/staff/students!!
Should be interesting 🙂