OTR Links 01/29/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Is it Time for Technology Use to Step Up and Deliver?

Man, it’s cold outside these days.  Today, just another Monday, was interesting reading on Twitter.  School Districts closed; individual schools closed, schools open, buses not running, … I think we hit every permutation in the province.

The problem with owning a dog who is part Husky is that there is no weather that generates an excuse for missing a morning dog walk.  We see elementary and secondary students waiting for the bus during our stroll.  The younger the student, the closer to the Michelin Man, they look.  The older students forfeit comfort for fashion.  No matter what; it’s still plain cold.  On the brutally cold days, do they really need to stand there waiting for the bus?

It brought back a faint memory of a conversation from my Superintendent from years ago when we were debating bringing Online Learning to our District.  That memory became very strong when I read this article. “Illinois School Drops Snow Days for E-Learning Days“.

Then it came back to me…one of the things in the PMI Chart that we had (on the P side) was having Online Learning available during snow days.  That way, students could still learn even though they weren’t physically in school.  I shared the article above online and Joe Sisco got back to me quickly.

I think that he nailed it.

You can’t pull something out of your hat just become today happens to be very cold or blizzardy.  Learning Online has to be part of the regular routine or it’s just not going to work.  It can’t be a one time, or a special activity for a particular reason.  It has to be part of the way that you do business.  That’s where the notion of a Blended Learning classroom pays off.

In Ontario, we are so fortunate to have eLearning Ontario and all the resources and content there waiting to be used.  But, even if you don’t go that route, a well crafted classroom wiki will serve as your own personal LMS.  My university classes are all taught using a wiki.  It’s private; but the students know that everything that we do is done electronically and stored there for them.  It works well should someone miss a class and I used to make them aware of articles or blogs that needed to be read for the next class.  Even after the course is over, the wiki stays functional for them.  It’s heart-warming to see students logging in after the course to dig out a handout or a technique that they remember from my class for use in their current class.

The benefits go far beyond the in vogue badge of honour “My class is paperless.”  It’s a significant change in the way things are done and are just as easily available during snow days.  Do students (and teachers) really need to brave the elements on the very worse of days?  Not if your class is online.

“But my kids don’t have internet access at home!”

Really?  Check the report from Young Canadians in a Wired World.

Please include attribution to http://mediasmarts.ca/ycww.

I’ll bet that there’s more than 1% sick on any given day!

“But online learning isn’t as good as face to face learning.”

That’s a nasty message that gets spread by people that don’t understand online learning at all.  In fact, Ontario offers full credits online with the same credit value as it does face to face.  Teachers of online courses learn how to engage students, make group work work, incorporate simulations and gaming, and all of the other things that you would see in a regular face to face classroom.  That whole discussion is worthy of thoughts on its own – here we’re just talking about a day or two.  In a blended learning classroom, it really is just an extension of the regular routine.

It’s getting increasingly difficult to find excuses any more.  In a fully functional blended learning environment, snow days could become just another day where the learning takes place in pyjamas.

OTR Links 01/28/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Yesterday, I wrote a post about influence on social media.  I had my tongue thoroughly planted in my cheek as I typed it and got some interesting reactions to it.   I do my social media stuff pretty much as a hobby.  I’m not trying to influence anyone; just sharing my thoughts at any given point in time.

Klout does try to assign a number that shows how influential someone might be.  It’s interesting reading to see how it’s done.  I suppose that if you were living and dying by the number, you would actively go ahead and work on your score.  Of course, you’d have to do something with it to give it some value.  Where, I’m at a loss – somehow I just don’t envision someone’s resume including a Klout score although I suppose a media savvy employer might check out the score if it was important to them.

In the replies, my friend Alfred Thompson made reference to the Teach 100.  I visited the site and the top 10 when I was there looked like this.


Now, Alfred and I have jokingly had many a conversation about Top # lists.  Often similar to a popularity contest, it’s not unusual to find a high ranking blog that hasn’t been updated for quite a while!  It is what it is.  But, like a train wreck, I had to see if I was there.

If you visit the site, you’ll see how they determine the score for the ranking, if you’re interested.  What I think would be of real interest in the classroom would be to have a discussion with students about what just goes into developing an online blogging presence.  For teachers, it’s a great way to discover new blogs to read based upon some criteria.
For a blogger, it’s an opportunity to bow your head when you finally find yours and see that you’re number 133 on the Teach 100.

To help put things in perspective, Seth Godin had an appropriate post on Saturday.
Measuring nothing (with great accuracy)

OTR Links 01/27/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.