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!