A List for Learning

Any day now, there are many educators that will be starting Additional Qualification courses over the summer.  There are a couple of things that will be certain to happen during these courses.

  • Some sort of goofy ice-breaking, get-to-know-ya activity.  This activity will definitely take up at least the first hour of any course.  They are a necessity since you’ll be learning with others in a concentrated period of time;
  • What’s your Twitter handle?  Any AQ leader worth their muster will be gathering these names and/or encouraging those who are not online learning to do so.  Then, there’s the mandatory “Hello World” Twitter message followed by “Is this thing on?” and then often little more.

The challenge with additional qualification courses lies in generating value after the course has ended.  This value comes from professional relationships or professional conversations after the last day.  Having taken a large number of these courses, I was bad with that.  At the time, working in groups was a necessary activity since the presentations that you did in for class required group work.  But, once the class was over, that was it.  We departed; often never to see each other again.  I was an out of towner, taking the courses in London and Toronto so it wasn’t even like I could car pool with a co-learner.  When it was over, it was over.

I was recently reminded of this by @pmcash.  We took the Data Processing Specialist course at the University of Western Ontario more years ago than either of us will admit.  I just received a message from Peter that he had found an assignment of mine.


I hope that he hangs on to it so that I can take a look at it.  It will affirm how far we’ve come!  If you know Peter, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he was about the only person I can remember from those courses.  As computer science teachers, our paths have crossed a few times over the years but the rest of the class – sadly, I don’t remember.

Back to the current AQ course.  Your instructor will have asked for your Twitter ID.  For some, that will be as far as it goes.  Why don’t you take it further?

Follow everyone in your class.  For the duration of the course, use that as a way to share resources and enhance your learning.  How do you keep track?  Put them into a Twitter List.  I’ve mentioned the concept of a Twitter List before.  Particularly if you’re a regular Twitter user, it’s the best way to keep track of the conversation.  Put them all into a list and then follow the postings to the list in your Twitter browser.  What a great way to share the learning (and the load) of your class!  Hopefully, all will find it so useful that the sharing continues after the course.

It’s also an immediate way to monitor any back channel that you’ve got going during those hours of presentations that typically form the core of these courses.  Of course, your AQ course supports BYOD and connectivity and encourages a back channel – right?

But the learning and connections shouldn’t stop there.  There will come a time when the course ends and summer enjoyment ramps up.  Keep the list alive.  If your learning is good enough for the AQ course, it should be even better when September returns and you’re all back in your classrooms – maybe even teaching that subject or that grade level for the first time.  Share your resources and ideas – don’t do what Peter and I did and leave it until years later, if at all.  To our defence, we weren’t preparing to be 21st Century teachers!  The concept wasn’t even conceived of at the time.  It would be completely different if we were in Prof. Walsh’s class now.

But you are!  The greatest gift and learning that you may walk away with from your course is your own Instant Personal Learning Network that extends far beyond your few weeks in the summer.

Registration is Open!

The Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee annually hosts a one day symposium highlighting some of the very best initiatives happening in the school districts in Southwestern Ontario.  This year’s event will be held at the Lamplighter Inn in London, Ontario on December 6.

Check out the list of offerings for this year’s symposium.

  • You Got Your F2F In My LMS (Derek Stenton, LKDSB)
  • Chromebooks in the Classroom (Mark Carbone, Ron Millar and Jamie Reaburn Weir, WRDSB)
  • Parent / Teacher Communication Made Easy (Doug Sadler, WECDSB)
  • Big Ideas, Little People (Janet Martin and Cheryl Leis, WRDSB)
  • ThinkPads to iPads (Catherine Montreuil and Theresa Harrietha, BGCDSB)
  • Digital Human Library (Leigh Cassel, AMDSB)
  • iPads:  The Magic Window for Learning in a Grade 3-4 Class (Michelle Cordy,TVDSB)
  • Going Paperless (Travis Allen)
  • Conversation with Gary Stager
  • Are We Getting IT Right? (Brian Englefield, BHNCDSB)
  • Literature Circles 2.0 (Carey Eldridge, LKDSB)
  • Blend It Like Beckham (Rose Burton Spohn, eLearning Ontario)
  • iPads 1 to 1 (Paul Hatala, HWDSB)
  • Increasing Student Interactivity – Our Journey Beyond the Interactive Whiteboard (Chris Knight, GECDSB)
  • OSAPAC Updates (Danuta Woloszynowicz, SMCDSB)
  • What’s Your Favourite App? (Diana Doctor, AMDSB)

The day also features two keynote addresses.  Travis Allen will begin the day highlighting his iSchool initiative and Gary Stager shares The Best Educational Ideas in the World: Adventures on the Frontiers of Learning.

The registration flyer can be downloaded by clicking here.  (PDF File)  The Western RCAC’s new website is located here.


Nimble Classrooms

For a great read, check out “How Will Classrooms Change With the Use of Computers?

One of the quotes really resonated with me.

“It’s going to be more about teachers having nimble classrooms.”

To me, this means a number of things and many teachers are embracing it already although they may not have considered their classes “nimble”.

I’m seeing:

  • No need for a traditional computer lab which conveys the notion that computers are a distinct subject;
  • Portable computers that are invited into the learning environment at the point of instruction;
  • Engaging students in learning activities that are truly different – not just the same old stuff transposed to a computer;
  • Considering smart phones, tablets, etc. as just another computer;
  • Conversations within and without the classroom with teacher as guide not as the dispenser of information;
  • Creating new content to address expectations where the old content just doesn’t cut it;
  • Students confident in their abilities so that they become the experts and geniuses in a subject area;
  • A blend of face to face and online learning experiences becoming the norm;
  • A classroom that can be reorganized on a moment’s notice as required;
  • Traditional literature pieces replaced by multimedia including podcasts, videos, broadcasts, hangouts;
  • Classrooms complete with a suite of tools where students elect to use the most appropriate one;
  • Students not only using the technology but can describe critically why they choose to use it;
  • This point intentionally left blank – if a classroom is truly nimble, this list should never be complete.

What does “nimble classroom” mean to you?