This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It was another terrific week of reading and deeper thinking from the blogs of Ontario Educators. Here’s some of what I kept around to comment on for this post.  

If We Only Knew

Paul Cornies always challenges with the Quotes that he pulls from his Quoteflections blog.  In his post titled, “If We Only Knew”, it’s packed with great quotes.  This one really made me pause to think.

Doesn’t that speak volumes about how we should live our lives?  

How’s that for a classroom banner?

Check out the post for some other terrific thoughts.

3D Printing Technology in the Classroom: Year 2

As I indicated in my post yesterday, Heather Durnin is presenting at the Bring IT, Together Conference in a couple of ways describing the successes that she and her students are having with 3D printing.

It’s all really simple, actually.

Thanks, Heather Durnin

Well, this image makes the whole thing clear as mud to this 3D newbie.  I can’t help but be impressed with the successes that she shares in this post.  I can’t wait to visit her at the Minds on Media session to see it live.  

I’m stuck in the world of 2D printing and paper jams.

The Debate about Digital Literacy: Moral Panics, Contradictions and Assumptions

This is a newcomer to the Ontario Edublogger collection.  To be honest, I don’t know who the author is – she’s pretty anonymous when it comes to an online presence but nicely vocal.  I just know her as StepfordTO.  She was added to the form where I collect this information as a Parent/School Advocate.

In the latest post, she talks about her thoughts about Digital Literacy as a panelist at a Media Literacy conference.  The post is not an easy read – I think I’ve been through it four or five times and still get something new from it each time I do.

 My own anxiety as a parent has to do with what the anxious rhetoric surrounding digital literacy can lead us to do. And by us, I mean parents and schools and governments. One thing that it has led us to do is to spend a lot of money on technology for schools, even though the research to date has failed to show a significant impact (good or bad) on learning. I’m not opposed to technology in schools, but when the provincial government announces that it will be spending 150 million dollars to put iPads in classrooms, while it’s making cuts elsewhere in education, it gives me pause. 

I respect her having her opinion and expressing it in the post.  I certainly don’t agree with all of her assertions, though.  We really live in challenging times.  In the good ol’ days, we knew what curriculum was and what needs to be taught.  Technology, and understanding how students think, has opened all kinds of opportunities for the classroom.  I don’t know that anyone can see with 100% assuredly that we’re absolutely on the right path, but I’m positive that if we don’t, we do a disservice to our students for their future.

Are We Neglecting Relationships While Promoting Technology?

Bill Forrester asked some questions that have arisen from an implementation of 1:1 technology, with a real life experience.  It’s a good post and another worth some thinking and action.  Both Aviva Dunsiger and I checked in with some comments.  He closes the post with this question…

I would suggest that, if teachers are neglecting it, they’re missing the mark.  If we want to live in a world where technology is the driving force for all that we do, let’s just get rid of schools and stick every student in front of a screen tied to a Learning Management System.

I know that online teachers specifically reach out with ways to have students cultivate building relationships in their classes and I would hate to see a world where it’s one student, one computer and that’s education.  Technology should just be another tool in your arsenal.  You use it where it’s most appropriate and you don’t use it when it isn’t.  As I said in my reply to Bill, it reminds me of the old adage “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then everything looks like nails”.

I can see the worst happening though.  Teachers who are perfectly fluent with technology move it in and out as appropriate.  Those that are just learning can spend time making it work to the exclusion of other teaching.  Let’s point the finger clearly where it belongs – on an implementation plan that only focuses on the technology and just assumes that it’s going to work well.

Educational skyscrapers

Brandon Grasley started his post making an observation about buildings from the 1950s in today’s landscape.

We currently have that old building in Ontario. Let’s stop replacing broken tiles and repainting the paneling, and let’s talk about how to rebuild.

I had the opportunity to work with a superintendent once who had new school building as part of his portfolio.  There was a need to replace an ancient school and so he worked to rebuild.  I was fortunate to be part of the team that he amassed to bounce his ideas and vision off.  His guiding philosophy was that “You only get to build a new school every 100 years so let’s do the best we can”.  That doesn’t bode well for Brandon’s schools from the 1950s.  One distinct thing he had about discovery dealt with time capsules.  Why is it only when you tear down a building do you dig up a time capsule?  Over 100 years, that could be three or four generations of students!  Instead, the school was outfitted with visual time capsules in its discovery environment.

One of the things that modern schools require is a networking infrastructure that certainly wasn’t available in the 1950s.  Visit older schools and you’ll see them retrofitted for today’s classroom.  Now, this isn’t to second guess the original structures because, as Brandon notes, they’re built with the best available at the time.  Shouldn’t that apply today?  Build in the best that you have; both physically and pedagogically.  A few years or 50 years from now, you’ll be second guessing decisions but at the least, you get to reap the benefits of your decision in the present.

Thanks to all the bloggers above for continuing to push the discussion.  If we’re not having it, we’re not moving forward.  I hope that people aren’t waiting in their decisions for the perfect moment.  That moment will never come – we work in such a changing environment.

Check out the blog posts at the links above and the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers here.


OTR Links 10/31/2014

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