Thursday, 22 September 2011

Cloud Expert First Meeting

The first meetings were on Thursday 15th September and Monday 19th September. Having tweaked the funding to allow for thirty two teachers to be in my Expert Group, I decided to run with two groups of sixteen. All teachers, ranging from an Early Years specialist in a Primary School of twenty five pupils to the E-Learning Co-ordinator of a large High School, arrived keen and eager to get started.
The level of discussion and debate during both days was fantastic and ranged round many areas, but mostly focused on how Google Apps for Education was going to be used back in their own schools. The willingness of everyone to share great ideas and practice was wonderful to see. It has reminded me why teachers can be such wonderful people to work with!
Examples of Sites were already emerging during each session, and several have been created since. I think I can quite confidently predict many more than 10 sites each being created and shared by July 2012.
There was a quiet level of panic at the mention of the Qualified Individual Exams. I have asked that everyone should aim to have completed them by Easter. The good news is that three people have already asked for codes to get them started.
It was a real privilege to work with such an enthusiastic group of teachers. It was a bit like those wonderful but infrequent times as a teacher when you have a group of pupils who have all chosen to do what you have offered and want to be with you. I learned so much from each group and have a great feeling of excitement about what we might be able to achieve this year - Game On!!!   

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Visitors and Residents

I've always had some issues with the idea of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants proposed by Marc Prensky. Although it seemed a very neat way to describe users in the 21st Century, I never felt it was as clear cut as many who jumped to use his description.
My love of exploring ICT came from my Mum - not a Digital Native by any stretch of the imagination! As a teacher in a Special School, she used to bring home her new Apple in its carry bag and simply play with it to find out how she might use it with her pupils.
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 That enquiry led, learner focused approach has benefited me enormously, and I would also not describe myself as a Digital Native in Prensky's terms. Bennett, et al., 2008, proposed 'It may be that there is as much variation within the digital native generation as between the generations.'

So, it was with great interest that I read 'Visitors and Residents: A New Typology for Online Engagement' by David S. White and Alison Le Cornu 
This concept sits much more comfortably with my own experiences and those that I have seen within the many schools I have now worked in. Have a read and see what you think? I'm going to mull it over a bit more myself as I only came across the article yesterday, but it seemed like a great article to share.

Sue Bennett, Karl Maton and Lisa Kervin, 2008. “The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence,” British Journal of Educational Technology, volume 39, number 5, pp. 775–786.

Cloud Educator Accounts

Well, it took me slightly longer than I thought, but I have finally given out 32 Cloud Educator Google Apps Accounts to my Expert group yesterday. I thought it would be a fairly straight forward exercise until I really thought it through.
To enable all my Expert teachers to be able to take the Google Qualified Individual Tests they really need access to an Administrators account. The idea of having 32 Administrators in one domain is a bit daunting to say the least. I spent quite a lot of time trying think of guidelines for the group. I ended up with about five pointers and a general rule - if in doubt, ask!
Most of the group have already been into their accounts. The first group meet on Thursday 15th and the second on Monday 19th. I'm really looking forward to getting this all up and running.
I'm hoping to use some kind of video conferencing on a regular basis to keep in contact with everyone. But more about that in a later post I think!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Babies to get their own tablet computers
What do you think?
Personally, I think that it is an interesting idea as my daughter (aged 4) quite often tells my that my iPad belongs to her and that she sometimes lets me use it.
On the other hand she uses it for maybe five minutes a day, along side lots of other play.
Balance, I think, is the key!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Some Summer Thinking

It would be great to think that the Norfolk Cloud Educator Programme could look a bit deeper at how technology can support and enhance learning.
Kathy Schrock produced this lovely diagram showing how Google Tools can support Bloom's Revised Taxonomy.

The diagram on her web page links to the various tools but goes no further.
An interesting task to set ourselves would be to provide concrete examples for each one over the coming year, making sure that teachers are clear about the pedagogy underlying the uses of Google Apps.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Huge interest in the Cloud Educator Programme

I have been completely overwhelmed by the interest in the Cloud Educator Programme. I was looking for 25 teachers, and from evidence from previous years, I wasn't very confident about being able to fill all the places.
On Friday evening I had received 49 applications!
Having tried out lots of different options, I've been able to fund an additional 7 places, taking us up to 32 Cloud Educators. This means that I will be running two groups rather than one, so I will need to confirm additional dates to all those selected.
It would be interesting to hear thoughts on why this has generated so much interest. I believe it is a whole range of reasons including huge interest in Google, money being offered to support at a time when there is not a lot around, schools realising the potential of working in the 'cloud' and being able to offer something that seems to have come at the right time!
I'd be really interested to hear anybody else's thoughts.

P.S. Another lesson learned - when I initially sent out the first couple of messages about the Programme on Twitter, I never thought to put Norfolk, UK. As a result, I've had to send an interesting reply to the lovely teacher who applied from Norfolk, Virginia, USA!!

Monday, 11 July 2011

So what happens on the Internet in 1 Minute

Thanks to @ZoeRoss19 for tweeting this link
I'm not quite sure just how accurate this information is, but it makes for some very interesting reading.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

To Blog or not to Blog?

Having only just started this blog for our new Cloud Educator Programme and I was very interested to read the views of Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of learning technology in the Faculty of Education at the University of Plymouth. He has a very interesting blog titled Learning with 'e's. In two recent postings he talked about Seven Reasons Teachers Should Blog and Reasons Teachers Don't Blog.   
Although most teachers are confident in front of their own pupils and maybe just as confident with staff from their own school, many become shrinking violets when asked to share their work any wider. Working in a school, particularly a small primary school can be quite isolating. One of the amazing things about a blog is you are never quite sure who will read and just what kind of response you will get back. Both of these aspects make blogging a fantastic tool for reflective practitioners. 
I am hoping that all of the Norfolk Cloud Educators will produce their own blog about their journey towards becoming a Cloud Educator and in the process help and support other teachers on the way.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Why Go Google?

Having spent the last few months becoming a Google Certified Trainer, I now think I've got a fairly good idea of what it can and cannot do. Google Apps for Education offers a set of tools that can be used from any internet enabled device. It is the same set of tools that any individual can sign up for, but Apps for Education provides a level of control and monitoring and will be free of advertisements.
Most people are familiar with GMail, but few are aware of the other great tools. Google Docs enables any user to create online documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms and drawings. What makes these things different is the ability to work simultaneously on a single file at the same time. The opportunities for collaborative working are endless!
Google Sites allows users to create their own website within a few minutes without any need for specialist technical knowledge.
Google Calendar is already being used by many schools. The ability to display and share any number of calendars to different audiences has already become an invaluable tool.
Whether you already have a learning platform, or you are thinking about using Google Apps on its own, the tools are quick and easy to understand and use.
In Norfolk we have rolled out over 132,000 Google Apps for Education Accounts through our 'nsix' (Norfolk Schools Internet Exchange) domain. All staff and students within schools who receive county broadband provision already have access to these tools.
The Advisory Services will be offering courses during the next academic year to support schools wanting to make the most of these tools, focusing on learning and teaching.  

Monday, 4 July 2011

Norfolk Cloud Educators Programme gets underway

After a lot of planning, the Norfolk Cloud Educator Programme has finally been released. The main focus of the Programme for this year will be developing the use of Google Apps for Education in learning and teaching. I am hoping to have a lot of interest from some of our great teachers out there. The MI Sheet with full information is available on the Norfolk Schools website. I have also posted the news on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you know anybody who might be interested, please pass on the information.
Because it is very close to the end of term, I have had to set the closing date for expressing an interest by Friday 15th July. I am aiming to let applicants know if they have been successful by the end of Monday 18th July.