The school I work at recently received a large state grant to develop an online curriculum that can meet the needs of at risk students. One of the positions needed is a person who has experience developing online courses with Moodle and has been a classroom teacher working with at risk students. The job will require recruiting and training 20 teachers, who will develop the curriculum content. The using the content develop an online curriculum that will help at risk and special ed students earn high school credits so they can graduate from high school. I meet all the requirements of the job and hope to be able to take on the position.
I also decided that developing this grant is a process which can be developed into a presentation at edtec conferences. Other educators would be interested in how the grant was developed and implemented. So to keep a record of the process I am going to blog about it.
Our school has a new curriculum director and she was hired just before school started. She is over seeing this grant and another as well as all the other responsibilities she has. So, it has not be easy to have a long conversation with her about all the questions I have about how developing this online curriculum will work. She has already hired a person who will help me (if I get the position) develop the Moodle end of this. He is not an educator and has no experience with Moodle. His experience is in databases and assessment design. He will help develop the assessment part of each course.
The grant group has started a Google Wave as a way to communicate about issues, meetings, and ideas. So far the group has found Wave very useful and will use it in the training process.
This blog will also be a way for me to work out ideas and questions I have.
Pete Reilly is an education blogger that I make sure I read as often as possible because he gets me thinking. His recent post titled An Inconvenient Truth was not about global warming, but about the disconnect between educational mission statements and how they are embodied in schools.
When the exective director of the school system I work in called together a group of teachers and supervisors to write a vision statement it was more about what we now do than a vision of where we want to be. The school system serves special ed students so developing 21 century work place skills was not something we thought about. Once the process was complete we all went back to doing our jobs pretty much the way we always have, not giving much thought to the process we went through. I can not tell you what our vision statement is.
The staff at the school are generally dedicated teachers who work with some very difficult students in isolated classrooms and it would be helpful if at least once a year we reviewed the vision statement that brought us together for a couple of weeks.
In case you don’t know, Mozilla is the parent of Firefox, Thunder Bird, and other free open source applications. Mozilla grew out of Netscape and Firefox is now the second most used browser (300 million users) after Internet Explorer.
In this talk at WordCampin San Francisco, Mozilla CEO John Lilly, talks about 7 insights and 2 problems in Mozilla.
Superior products matter
Without excellent experience and utility the rest is meaningless
Communication will happen every possible way, make sure it is reusable
Make it easy for you community to do the important things
Surprise is over rated, it is the opposite of engagement
Communities are not markets, members are citizens
The key is the art of figuring out whether and how to apply each of these ideas
Engaged citizens are noisy
At scale there are no maps
So what does this have to do with education? It has everything to do with education because the 18th century model no longer works and we need to look at what is working in the world of open source. Education, like American auto makers, is being forced to change and the transition will not be pretty. So watch John Lilly’s talk and see if you agree.
T.H.E. Journal reports that Texas is leaving the door open for schools to purchase electronic textbooks in addition to paper books.
While this change does not take education to the totally open and flexible iTunes purchasing model as some would prefer, it does provide significant flexibility to districts. In addition, it opens up the Texas market to a large number of companies that heretofore had no chance to compete. For the basal publishers that have owned the market, creativity and flexibility will, or at least should, become a new mantra.
There are already worrying signs that California is trying to go digital on a shoestring. Traditionally, publishers provide schools with a complete package: student textbooks, teacher’s guides with sample lessons and tests, and teacher training courses. In the emerging model, teachers must assemble their own package, combining e-books with free course “wikis” (shared online resources any user can update or revise), and networking with other teachers over the web to share best practices. It’s a new responsibility some would prefer to avoid.
The digital divide needs to be closed not just in hardware, but even more important in what to do with the hardware and software. Most teachers are not online in any significat way and and have never created a wiki or blog. Schools will have to open up their filtering and the 19th century modle of edcation will have to be scraped.
Have you ever been over whelmed by the number of Web 2.0 applications? I know I have, that is why The Best of Lists are helpful. By their nature Best of Lists are self limiting, but at least they narrow the list of Web 2.0 applications to a managable few.
Larry Ferlazzo, an English teacher is Sacramento, CA is a blogger and Best of List developer who can help you cut through the Web 2.0 clutter to find some gems. Look on his sidebar for links to the Best Of pages.
As I was looking through my iTunes downloads I found this video from Edutopia about the Ariel Community Academy in Chicago. What interested me most about the video is that Sec. of Education Arne Duncan supported this school.
This is a quote from the principal’s web page.
Philosophy of Education: Our philosophy is congruent with the Experimentalist philosophy which views change as an ever-present process in a student’s learning experience. Experimentalism insists that curriculum is the subject matter of social experience and instruction is a problem solving, project-oriented process. The role of the teacher is to assist and advise the student, actively participating and contributing to their learning in order to expand and discover the society they live in and share experiences together. We believe that a child’s education at Ariel Community Academy should be based on current and up-to-date research that is supported by the best teaching and learning methods. Therefore, students should be aware of their own multiple intelligences and utilize a wide variety of abilities to demonstrate what they have learned.
The last sentence says to me that the end of high stakes standardized testing is at hand.
The 1:1 wireless laptop classroom is still in the process of being developed. Jake (IT) and I put a package together of 12 Lenovo netbooks, an HP for the teacher, a mimio capture system, and an LCD projector. The classroom has 12 special ed students who learn differently. At the present time there are 8 desktops in various stages of usefulness.
I have been working weekly in the classroom introducing different Web 2.0 tools to the students and the teacher. The students have epal email accounts, a Delicious account and the class has a wiki. The teacher is very excited about the laptops and is eager to learn about integrating technology into the curriculum. She will be going to the MassCUE Technology Leadership Symposium with myself, Jake and 3 other teaches. None of these teaches have been to an edtech conference. If their first exposure to several hundred educators excited about the changes technology can bring to education is anything like mine, their approach to teaching will be changed.
Well I did it, sent in my proposal for a workshop at the M.A.S.S Technology Conference. I have been telling everyone that will listen about Wikinomics and Here Comes Everybody and that these are two books educators need to read. So when the RFP for the conference showed up in my email I decided to go for it. I have had my own doubts about who am I to bring this to a superintendents convention, I am just a teacher. But, in the spirit of wikinomics anyone can contribute to the knowledge of the many.
I decided to use the power of the wikinomics concept to help me write the proposal and posted it on the edubloggescon.com wiki and asked for feedback, no one responded. It is mid-summer and many educators are taking time to relax and recharge for the next school year. I will keep the wiki page up and ask for feedback from educators who have read either book.
I just got (9/10) an email about the superintendents tech conference and I did not get chosen to present. Looking over the list of presenters it should be a conference worth going to, too bad I can’t. I plan to keep developing this topic because it is important that educators understand the “perfect storm” of changes that are happening due to technological changes that make it easier to share, peer create, and act globally.
I listened to two very interesting podcast today from Edtech Talk (they all seem to be interesting). Edtech Talk is part of the World Bridges Network, a collection of educational podcasts anyone can take part in, check their calendar for the latest daily podcast.
The first podcast is “Teachers Teaching Teachers # 98 – Learning to be unschooly” The conversation included teachers and students from around the world and its subject was triggered by a post on Youth Twitter by a South Korean student named Soojin. The term schooliness was coined by Clay Burell in his blog. The podcast discussion focused on how to use the Read/Write web to engage students in authentic learning and not as a fancy worksheet.
From elgg to DrupalThe second podcast, Teachers Teaching Teachers #99 – From elgg to Drupal, was very timely because I have been having a discussion with our executive director and curriculum director about developing a CMS. I have used Moodle for a couple of years, but it was installed on our ISP, which we no longer use. I have looked at Joomla, Drupal, and elgg, but don’t know much about any of them. Bill Fitzgerald from DrupalEd was in on the conversation and his advice for anyone wanting to implement a CMS is to write in one or two sentences the goal of the CMS. Dave Cormier advised to write a very detailed description of what several students would do in the course of a day using the technology. Dave is the teacher who helped developed “A partnership project helping Prince Edward Island students bring the past to life using tools of the future.” A Living Archives uses Drupal.
The good thing is that there are many quality choices for a school based CMS.