<![CDATA[Jake Main's EdTech Website - EDCI 569]]>Fri, 05 Feb 2016 06:56:50 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Summary of Learning News Report:  " The Three C's of Educational Reform: Common Sense, Collaboration and Caring." EDCI 569 - Winter 2015]]>Thu, 09 Apr 2015 21:58:30 GMThttp://jsmain.weebly.com/edci-569/summary-of-learning-news-report-the-three-cs-of-educational-reform-common-sense-collaboration-and-caring-edci-569-winter-2015When I set out to craft this assignment, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fantastic advice and perspectives that were shared as a class throughout the term.  

As I filtered through my notes and re-watched each of the screencasts, I found myself gravitating to and thinking a lot about two or three of the big topics that really spoke to me.  I absolutely loved the way Alec summarized our final online lesson and I took a lot away from the advice he provided. Even more than that, I saw he was genuine in his willingness to open himself up to the world, make himself available, and saw how he used social media to share his ideas and invite collaboration.  

Of all the fantastic guest educators we had come to class, I would have to say that I enjoyed Dave Cormier's talk the most.  I have probably watched the screencast about half a dozen times. His perspectives and philosophies really spoke to the way I want to teach, and his humour was fantastic.  

The other guest that really resonated with me, was Alan Levine.  Despite the fact I didn't reference him in my final Summary of Learning assignment, I took a lot away from his lesson on Digital Storytelling. In fact, I used his 5 card deck and Pecha Flikr ideas in my own class to help my students with their creativity and writing.  (Click here to read up on how I used his ideas along with Google Slides with my class.)

I am grateful for all the great innovators and thinkers we were introduced to this term and I really enjoyed completing my Summary of Learning Assignment.  My final project was a labour of love, as I got to relive my days as a news reporter, by putting together the audio clips in a news story / feature format.

Here is a downloadable audio file version of the News Report as well as a link to it on my Sound Cloud file.

Link to Sound Cloud File
Thank you to Alec, all the amazing guests and my incredible TIEGRAD classmates for a fantastic Winter term in EDCI 569!
<![CDATA[Getting the Kids Involved - EDCI 569 Blog Post #12 - April 2, 2015]]>Thu, 09 Apr 2015 20:44:25 GMThttp://jsmain.weebly.com/edci-569/getting-the-kids-iinvolved-edci-569-blog-post-12-april-2-2015After months of preparation and research, and weeks of procrastination and relaxation (thank you Spring Break!), I was finally able to introduce my class to both Google Apps for Education this week.   
My initial hope was to get them up and running on Google Classroom, but after careful consideration, I decided to begin with Google Drive, Docs, Slides and gmail first.  In retrospect, this was a good decisions, since to my surprise, most of the students were not familiar with using the web-based tools.  The flip side of this was they were familiar with saving items to the school's network, so understanding Google Drive was simple and straightforward, they had a good handle on Microsoft Word, so Google Docs was a breeze and nearly all had existing email accounts, so 3 of 4 of the apps ended up taking little to know time to introduce and explain.  

Google Slides was the last app to tackle, so I saved that for another day.  Luckily, I was planning a creative writing lesson on that day, so Google slides gave me a perfect chance to put my own spin on Alan Levine's  5 card Flikr stories. I started by scanning Google Images (another go to Google App) and came up with the following 5 images.  (Alan uses Flikr, but I wanted to demonstrate how to embed images and text into Google Slides.)

Many of my grade sevens had never used Power Point, so Google Slides was a bit of a steeper learning curve, but after a few examples and bringing students up to play with the applications' tools, they caught on.  

The most encouraging part of the exercise, was seeing the students buy in and get excited about writing.  Each worked feverishly on their stories and they are fired up about getting to choose their own images next time out.  

Here is the link to the slide show the students and I put together in class.  Next week the students will to create their own slides with their own images and share them with students in another class, who will then need to create their own digital stories based on the images provided!
<![CDATA[GAFE Gaffe and Google Goodies. (EDCI 569 Blog Post #11) March 29th, 2015.]]>Mon, 30 Mar 2015 06:38:19 GMThttp://jsmain.weebly.com/edci-569/gafe-gaffe-and-google-goodies-edci-569-blog-post-march-29th-2015I intended to continue to write about my success with learning Google Apps for Education this week, but after finding out that I missed the boat on the Gafe Summit this past weekend at Mulgrave Secondary, I was so upset, that I decided to go a different route and try out some new Google tricks that I came across on "The Gooru's" website that I stumbled upon while following the #gafesummit hashtag.  

According to "the Gooru", there are 12 simple tricks that we should all know about, so I decided to give them a whirl.  This is what I found out.

Trick #1: Google Comparisons If you want to compare two similar items, simple type the two items into the Google search bar and separate them with "vs".  (Ex: Big Mac vs Baconator)

Being a victim of horrible taste in vehicles, I immediate went for the classic AMC Pacer vs Ford Pinto matchup, and guess what??? It didn't work! UGH!!

Maybe the cars were too awesome and not even Google could draw a comparison, or maybe they were simply too old.  So I tried something a little more along my pay scale if I were looking to compare new cars, and looked at the Nissan Micra and the Mitsubishi Mirage.  Again, nice dice.  The comparison tool, just doesn't work with Google.ca.

So far the "Gooru's" suggestions are 0 for 1.  Let's see if the next one works...
Trick #2: Google Define.  The idea behind this one is simple, type "define:" and then the word, and Google should give me a definition.  For this one, I was looking for clarity on a word I heard a lot when I was younger.

Bingo!...we have a winner. It worked!  The "Gooru" is back to even. Let's see how it does with trick #3.
Trick #3: Google with Quotations and get exactly what you are looking for!  I love the sounds of this trick, because so often I need to look through dozen of search results until I find one that suits my needs.  

I knew exactly what I wanted to know...
...unfortunately, not even the mighty minds behind Google know what Spray Cheese is, so I went to option #2 ... What exactly is Michael Stipe singing in "What's the Frequency Kenneth"?  Interestingly enough on this request, the quotations actually hindered my search, but in the end, I did find the answer I was looking for...kind of. (Leave me a comment below if you have any idea what the lyrics are supposed to mean.)  
Tricks #4 & 5: Flights and Purchases. If you type in "My Flights" or "My Purchases" Google can apparently give you a list of your latest transactions or flights. Because I don't register my flights or purchases through any Google tracking apps, nothing came up...but at least Google recognized that.  I'll say the jury is still out on these ones. 
Trick #6: This but not that.  The "Gooru" says that if we type in a search term and want to narrow it down by eliminating some possible results from coming up, you can place a minus symbol " - " after the search term.  Cool!  Sounds very practical...only problem, didn't work.  

I went back to my tragic fascination with horrible cars and tried to get more information on the Gremlin.  What came up, despite placing the -movie after the search term, you guessed it, Gizmo and all his creepy little Green cousins, from the 1984 classic film.  
Back to the drawing board.  This time I would try it with pinto -car . I was positive it would return images and information about horses...but again no.  Just more information and images of Ford's terrible little mistake.  On a positive note, at least horses did appear in the search result this time out.  I'll classify this trick as another swing and a miss.
Trick #7: Find what you can't remember.  As one of those people who can't shake off not knowing the answer to a question or the name of a song, this trick, if it works, could become a go to option when in need.  To accomplished this, all you need to do is place quotations around your search and replace the missing word(s) with asterisks "*".

Ex: "Where's the * ?"  (1984 Wendy's Burger Commercial) * <-Click to link to the left to see the commercial*
Trick #7 worked flawlessly every time.  Nice!!

Trick #8: Movie and Actors.  So you have a favourite actor and you can't remember if you've seen all of their movies.  Simply type "Movies with ........ " and include the actor or actress's name and you should get a list of their filmography.  

As advertised, it works!  (Skip Bio-Dome, go with either Encino Man or Son in Law if your craving some Pauly Shore...buuuudy!)
Trick #9: Hours of Operation.  This seems like a slam dunk.  Simply type in "Hours of Operation" and the name of the establishment, and voilà...when that business is open.   Google even gives you the nearest location and a map.  Well played!
Trick #10: Getting the weather.  Now most of us would just look out the window, but if you find yourself in solitary confinement or in a room with no windows...just type in "weather", and Google gives you the local weather conditions.  The "Gooru's" tips are on a roll, the last three tricks worked every time.
Trick #11: Getting the news.  Lets say you are visiting a relative out of town and need to know what's going on back home.  The "Gooru" says that if we type "News" and then the name of a specific city or town, it will give us only relevant news from that area.  This too works! 
Trick #12: Translating.  Usually I just type in Google Translate and go to that page, however, the "Gooru" says that I can skip that whole process by simply putting the word "translate" in front of any text I want.  
What do you know??? After a questionable start, it appears "Gooru" does know what it is talking about.  Now, not all the applications worked directly through the Google Search window, but most did, and even those that didn't still gave you similar results, so all in all, I would say the tricks are well worth the try.  
<![CDATA["Technology in teaching is evolutionary, not revolutionary." EDCI 569 - Blog Post #10.]]>Sat, 14 Mar 2015 22:05:05 GMThttp://jsmain.weebly.com/edci-569/technology-in-teaching-is-evolutionary-not-revolutionary-edci-569-blog-post-10
I have wanted to re-watch and write about this video for a couple of weeks ago now, ever since I originally came across it on Twitter.  I am not going to blow anyone's mind with some new fandangled educational philosophy or pedagogical approach, but I do want to share my opinion on some of what Derek Muller presents in this video, and flush out what I believe are the key elements of what he shares.  

Before I gave my thoughts though, I wanted to find out more about Muller and why he spoke so passionately about this topic ...so I dug a little deeper (aka, google searched him).  Aside from being an energetic and engaging presenter (something he has parlayed into a job on TV in Australia), he is a former Vancouver resident, a Queens Graduate and has his PhD from the University of Sydney in Australia in physics education research.  He did his Doctorate studies on the keys to effective educational science videos and presented his findings at TEDxSydney in 2012.  As part of his research, he started up a very successful YouTube channel called Veritasium which has nearly 2.3 million subscribers!  

So for this he video lays out how technology has promised to change the face of education ever since the dawn of motion pictures.  Muller goes on to describe how technology has come and gone over the past 100 years, and nothing has really changed the face of education in a revolutionary way, because the way we deliver education hasn't changed.  He talks about the imminence of computer programs that can give learners all the information and lessons they need to get the sort of education that was taught last century.  Muller suggests that if all teachers do is deliver information, than they are indeed obsolete.  He goes on to say that while technology has given people better access to knowledge, and the forms of presenting the information (eg. film, radio, video discs, interactive computer animation) have improved, there is no proof that one method is really any better than another.  

Okay, it may seem counter-intuitive to suggest that programs like Khan Academy, BrainPop and other interactive forms of media aren't superior to textbooks with pictures, but he argues that "so long as the content is equivalent between the two treatments, the learning outcomes are the same with different media."  In other words, it doesn't really matter how good the content and visuals are if the knowledge isn't sinking in.  Hmmmm...that kinda makes sense, doesn't it?  In his own words he says, "what limits learning is what happens inside the students' head...that is where the important part of learning takes place."  So no matter how good the delivery or message, true learning only happens when students are able to make sense of it.  

From this point, he goes into an explanation of how to make science videos more effective, which again makes sense, given the fact he received his PhD for research on that very topic.  But the best and most impactful message from his video comes when he starts to discuss the role of the educator.  Muller says, "the fundamental role of the teacher is not to deliver information, it is to guide the social process of learning. The job of the teacher is to inspire, to challenge, [and] excite their students to want to learn."  Then he wraps ups this incredibly well-crafted and presented video with these gems of advice:

  • "Technology in teaching is best characterized as an evolution, not a revolution." (Sounds like a wicked bumper sticker or t-shirt to me!)
  • "The foundation of education is still based on the social interaction between teachers and students.  For as transformative as each new technology seems to be, what really matters is making a learner think in a social environment, with other learners and a caring teacher." (Dude nails it!!! Education is not top down! It is an experience that is very individualized, social and collaborative. The key ingredients being: a willing and inspired student and a nurturing, resourceful and flexible educator.) 

If it isn't obvious already, I love Muller's message and medium! I wholeheartedly agree that as a tool, a well-designed and researched video can be an excellent way to engage students in the learning process.  (One of my absolute favourites are John and Hank Green's "Crash Course" video series...yes the same John Green who wrote "The Fault in Our Stars." )  

**Check out the video, and let me know what you think in the comments box below.  I have linked a lot of the different sites or videos strewn throughout the text, so feel free to click on any of the blue highlighted text to learn more.**
<![CDATA["Like Fish to Water".  EDCI 569 - PLP Update on Google Classroom. March 8th, 2015.]]>Mon, 09 Mar 2015 03:22:49 GMThttp://jsmain.weebly.com/edci-569/like-fish-to-water-edci-569-plp-update-on-google-classroom-march-8th-2015After my crash course last week, I decided to discuss how Google Classroom was working for some of my co-workers who were also launching it this term in their class.  I had a good talk with another Seventh Grade Teacher Mrs. Bhamra who told me that the class had taken to Google Classroom "like fish to water", and she hasn’t had a single student tell her that they can’t find their work because it is all shared on the Google Drive. She told me that if she could convince the school (or students) to buy Chrome Books then she’d move to a completely paperless classroom.  I would say that is a fairly resounding endorsement.  She did say though, that there were some issues with using Google slides on the i-Pads, but other than that she is really happy with the platform.

I don’t have access to i-Pads in my class at this time, but I wanted to get my students working collaboratively by using Google Docs and Google Drive, so I spent a good chunk of my weekend, setting up their Google IDs. I could have had the students set them up, but this way, I know the IDs are done correctly and they are ready to go for class on Monday.  Students from each of the two classes I teach are working with partners in the other class, so by using Google Docs they can save work to the Drive and their partner can pick up where they left off when they get to my class. The other big benefit to getting them up and running sooner than later is that the Google Apps for Education tools will be familiar to them, when I introduce them to Google Classroom later this term.

While setting up the student accounts was time consuming, it was pretty simple and straightforward, just took time to input all the students’ information, IDs and passwords.  Here are a couple of the screen shots from the process.

<![CDATA[Notes from Google Classroom Training Sessions 1 - 5 - Personal Learning Project - February 22, 2015]]>Mon, 23 Feb 2015 04:39:14 GMThttp://jsmain.weebly.com/edci-569/notes-from-google-classroom-training-sessions-1-5-personal-learning-project-february-22-2015
Introduction to Google Classroom:

·      Google Classroom weaves together: Google Docs, Drive and Gmail

·      When the teacher creates a new assignment in Google Docs and a folder is automatically generated in Google Drive, with a subfolder for each student.

·      Teachers can create individual, group or whole class assignments

·      Students submit their assignments through Google Docs

·      Teachers can easily track if students have submitted work

·      Teachers can make corrections, add comments and return the assignments to the students
Creating a Classroom:

·      Once logged in to Google Classroom, you can add a class easily by clicking the + symbol in the upper right hand corner of the page.

·      Choose the class name and the section (Ex: Socials 7 – Division 11)

·      Teacher can also add a resource page that includes location, teacher email, and materials.  (add documents, videos or links by clicking the “add materials”.)
Inviting students to class: 

·      Choose the class you would like

·      Click the “student” tab, then choose the student you want to add and click the “Invite” button. (Can access students through contacts as well *IF they have been added to your contacts already)

·      You can create groups within your class (save as group -> save)

·      Students can add themselves to a class by using a “Class Code” (can emailed or posted to Classroom stream)

·      Delete a student by clicking the box next to their name, and choose “Remove”.

Adding details to the Classroom:

·      Announcements can be added by clicking onto the Text Box below the banner and tabs.  (Announcements can be sent to multiple classes by clicking on the drop-down menu in the Lower Right Hand corner.)

·      Students can also add comments to the class  stream (teacher still has the ability to delete any posts)

·      Assignments can easily be added by clicking on the Assignment. Fill in the name, a short description and a due date. (You can attach a link, file or video)  Click “Post” when you are done **As with Announcement, the assignment can be added to multiple classes.**

·      If you post a Google Drive File, you need to choose if the file is a view only file or if it can be edited.
Changing the Appearance / Settings and Users:

·      To change the classroom page theme…click “Change class theme” in lower right hand corner of the banner and you can choose from one of the available options or choose a picture of your own.

·      Go to the HOME SCREEN and find the class. Click on the 3 verticle dots next to the existing class name and choose “Rename”.
To Email the Class or Selected Students:

·      Click “Students” Tab – Find the student / Group and click the envelope icon …create your email and click “send”.
<![CDATA[Krispie and Chewy’s online chat on the effectiveness of Google Classroom as an educational management tool. (EDCI 569 - Blog Post #9 - February 17, 2015)]]>Wed, 18 Feb 2015 04:29:34 GMThttp://jsmain.weebly.com/edci-569/-krispie-and-chewys-online-chat-on-the-effectiveness-of-google-classroom-as-an-educational-management-tool-edci-569-blog-post-9-february-17-2015With my transition away from Guitar and towards Google, my first stop was an online chat with our resident TIEgrad Google Classroom guru Keith Rispin.

Keith was kind enough to peel himself away from his adoring masses (aka his family) to bestow knowledge upon me in our Q & A session on Monday night. 

My questions were many. His answers were thoughtful, helpful and greatly appreciated.

Here is a quick recap of how the conversation played out. (Not directly quoted.)

[Keith assumed his online moniker of “Krispie”, while I played the role of “Chewy”.]

Chewy: How long have you been using Google Classroom?

Krispie: Officially, I have been using it since January, once our district got approval in regards to FOIPA, but I’ve been playing around with it since it was launched in November.

Chewy: How have you found it as a classroom management tool?

Krispie: It is fairly simple still, and Edmodo is probably better developed at this point, but given the fact it will be able to integrate with all the Google Applications and Apps for Education, it will eventually be a better platform.

Chewy: I have looked at it a bit, but have yet to play with it extensively.  I looks very similar to a class website.

Krispie: It can definitely replace a classroom website, but right now it doesn’t have a lot of the “library” type features that allows it to host and store a number of videos or assignments.  Some of my co-workers use it alongside their class websites.  They use the Google Classroom as the student – teacher – information sharing interface and the website as a linkable resource.

Chewy: Couldn’t someone just use a class website and Google Drive in the same way?

Krispie: You could, but it can replace a class website and Classroom is built over top of the Drive, so it’s better.  Regardless of the class the student is taking, all of their assignments are automatically saved to their drive, and they can access of their classes directly through Google Classroom, so it is more efficient and or organized.

Chewy: How was the uptake on learning how to use the platform?

Krispie: Provided you’re not a Luddite, it’s pretty simple to use if you are familiar with Google Drive.

Chewy: From what I’ve seen, it looks pretty slick.  I’m just worried that if I try to introduce it now, it would complicate things in my class, so maybe it’s best that I hold off using it in my class until next year.

Krispie: From a students’ perspective, they will catch on easily, so it would be better to introduce it sooner than later.  Maybe you can introduce it next term with a few fun assignments so that both you and the students get a chance to use it and become more familiar with how it works.

So with Keith’s advice still fresh in my mind, the next obvious step is to start playing with the program and learn its functionality.  From there, I will need to consider how I could integrate Google Classroom into my classroom between now and the end of the school year. 

Personal Note: It was fantastic to be able to pick Keith’s brain about how he’s been able to use it to help keep his class better organized and to hear about what potential hurdles I may face in introducing Google Classroom to my students.  There are a few other teachers that I work with who have also recently begun to use Google Classroom for assignments, so I will touch base with them as well over the next couple of weeks to see how they feel about the platform.

<![CDATA[The Pitfalls of Standardized Testing - EDCI 569 Blog Post #8 - February 15, 2015]]>Sun, 15 Feb 2015 20:55:45 GMThttp://jsmain.weebly.com/edci-569/the-pitfalls-of-standardized-testing-edci-569-blog-post-8-february-15-2015But Mr. Main, we haven’t done this in class before, I don’t know what to do.”

Heartbreaking. Guilt-ridden. Frustrated.

Last week I stood in front of 27 young faces, who universally bemoaned needing to write the government-mandated Foundation Skills Assessments.  I stood up, bit my lip and told them “everyone across the province needs to write the test, so just hunker down and do your best.”  As soon as the words left my lips, I felt the guilt wash over me.  I was asking them to write an assessment that I had no faith in, and worse yet, I didn’t believe they should write.

Like champions, my students ploughed through the pages of reading comprehension, writing and math exercises.  I wanted desperately to guide each of them through their challenges, and give them the support they requested, but knew I could only clarify.  Frustrated, I began ask myself…How was this benefitting them or the relationship I have been trying so hard to carve out with each of them?  I immediately began to think back to the article I had read earlier in the week about another standardized test called “PISA” (Programme for International Student Assessment) that was being used by over 85 nations across the world.  Could I be misguided in my disgust with standardized testing?  Was I letting pride and personal pride get in the way of sound educational practice and data collection? 

With more questions than answers, I decided to re-watch the PISA boss, Andreas Scheicher’s TED Talks video and tried to better understand why he felt that we should “Use Data to Build Better Schools” and how PISA fits into that equation. 

Here’s a Coles’ Notes version of what he says:

Current Education System:

Better degrees don’t automatically translate into better skills, jobs or lives.

Too many unemployed university graduates and employers saying they cannot find the people with the skills they need

How PISA works:

Assesses how 15 year olds can use what they know in novel situations

His recommendations based on his most current data:

·      Invest resources where they can make the greatest difference

·      Place the best Principals in the toughest schools

·      Most talented teachers into the most challenging classes

·      Improve the quality of educators by:

o   Carefully recruiting

o   Providing effective teacher training

o   Providing collaborative working environments

o   Providing intelligent pathways for teachers to grow in their careers

It’s tough to argue with any of the recommendations for teachers, but how do standardized tests fit into this formula? With that in mind I again referred back to the original story I read. 

The second educational expert who appeared along with Schleicher in the newspaper article was Yong Zhao, and I remember him saying in a recent interview that standardized testing is not good assessment.  So I went to his website and found the following post that he wrote on PISA, and the fact that Shanghai may abandon PISA, despite the fact that according to data provided by the assessment, Shanghai is one of the top performers in the world.

In his posting Zhao reports that educational officials in the Chinese metropolis are considering opting out because the test results mask the fact that schools need to “follow sound educational principles, respect principles of students’ physical and psychological development, and lay a solid foundation for students’ lifelong development.” 

Zhao criticizes PISA scores as focusing solely on test scores at the expense of other aspects of education, that are in his words “much more important.”  His posting cites another method of assessment called the “green evaluation” that takes into account not only test scores, but also motivation, engagement, physical fitness and student-teacher relations.  This “green evaluation” sounds like a much more logical and balanced way to assess a student's overall progress. (I will need to reserve judgement until I look at it a little more closely.)

This narrow focus on achieving elevated test scores to postulate improved academic performance has plagued the United States since the introduction of their “No Child Left Behind” policy.  The program, which does exactly the opposite of what it claims, has not only stranded students in test-focussed purgatory, but is now leading some top educators across the United States to reconsider and sometimes abandon their roles in the public system.

While I don’t believe that our Canadian education system is perfect, I am thankful that Canadian educators are not faced with the “Drill ‘em and kill ‘em” (the words of Stacie Starr in the above news story) atmosphere facing our neighbours to the South. I agree with Zhao and I’m not an advocate for standardized testing. I believe there needs to be a more holistic, student-centered focus on educational assessment.  Assessment should account for not only the academic, but also the social, physical, emotional, psychological and critical abilities of the student.  As far as I’m aware the only way to assess all these aspects of a child is through a teacher and the relationship they build with that students, and there is no test that will ever replace that. 

<![CDATA[Reconciling Reality.  The truth about juggling parenthood, full-time teaching and trying to stay on top of Masters coursework. A response & reflection based on my original Personal Learning Project. (EDCI 569 - Blog Post #7 - February 14, 2015)]]>Sun, 15 Feb 2015 01:40:15 GMThttp://jsmain.weebly.com/edci-569/reconciling-reality-the-truth-about-juggling-parenthood-full-time-teaching-and-trying-to-stay-on-top-of-masters-coursework-a-response-reflection-based-on-my-original-personal-learning-project-edci-569-blog-post-7-february-14-2015At some point this week, I finally realized that I had too many bowling pins in the air, and I needed to do something, or risk failing epically with my juggling of life's demands.  So, as much as I was fired up to finally pick up my dusty old guitar and start strumming, it was the one project on my plate, that I could put off (again).  

So instead, I am turning my attention to a Personal Learning Project that is more closely aligned with my Literature Review for EDCI 515 and my Final Masters' project.  It certainly isn't as sexy as learning to play the guitar, and I hate to go back on my word to Bryan Jackson (I was planning to take his free introductory guitar course), it does make more sense to try to keep all my learning focussed in one area, so that I can maximize the little free time I have.

My focus for my new PLP is on how web-based educational platforms like Google Classroom, Weebly, Wordpress & Edublogs can be adopted into a classroom. I plan to further research which would be:

A) the most cost effective (in terms of time and maintenance

B) how each platform can integrate into the classroom and the new BC draft curriculum  
C) which delivers the best user experience, in terms of its functionality, add-ons and tools

With this information in hand, I can make suggestions as to how they could be integrated into the new BC Curriculum that is expected to be launched in the near future.

So while researching web-based educational resources isn't nearly as cool as learning to pick and strum a six-string, I think it will help me better manage my time and put together some valuable recommendations that could perhaps inspire someone else to choose one of the resources, and begin a Personal Learning journey of their own.

For reference, here's is a copy of my Overly Optimistic Original Blog Post from February 2nd, on learning how to play the guitar.

Jimi HendrixJimmy PageEric ClaptonEddie Van Halenthe Edge.  All fantastic guitar players.  Jake Main...not so much.

I can barely pick up a guitar let alone know where to place my fingers or know how to strum.  The closest thing I've come to a fret, is when I think I'm gonna be late for work.  I tried and failed miserably once when I set out to learn to play the guitar, but I'm hoping my second kick at the can is moderately more successful, and that I actually take a couple steps closer to realizing my lifelong dream of being able to sling my six string over my shoulder, and have it be more than just an ornament. 

For my personal learning project I have signed up for the Free Online Guitar Lessons available through Bryan Jackson's #IntroGuitar website as well as using YouTube tutorials to learning strumming, picking and finger placement techniques.  My first challenge will be to try to tune my guitar, which sounds more like a bellowing sea lion than a musical instrument at this point, so I am hoping to find some online resources to help me in my quest to get my guitar sounding more like a instrument for musical pleasure that a CIA torture device.  

Here are the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How's of my Project.

Who: Me, a wannabe rock star, with Edge-like aspiration, and the skills of a middle-aged tone-def imbecile.

What: Learning to play the acoustic guitar well enough, to amuse a couple of friends over drinks and a campfire.

Where: In the privacy of my home and likely in the garage or somewhere else, out of earshot of my innocent wife and children.

When: Most likely late at night, after the family has gone to bed, my students' papers are marked, my lesson planning is done, my weekly stack of scholarly articles are read, my blog posts are complete, and I have a moment to breathe.

Why: Because nothing is cooler than a guy who can play "More Than Words" followed by "Under the Bridge" and capped off with "Sweet Caroline."  To be brutally honest, while those are all good songs in their own right, the one song I really want to learn to play is "The Girl" by City and Colour.  From the first time I heard it, I knew it was the one song I needed to learn to play.  

How: With the fine tutelage of YouTube's finest, the wise words and guidance of Bryan Jackson's instructional videos and assignments, and any other online tutorials or apps I can track down.  If I get stuck I may even pick up the phone to consult my cousin, who used to play lead guitar in an Alternative Rock Band.

I'm trying to be realistic with my expectations, but my true inspiration for this is taking a tiny bit of time for myself in what is unquestionably the busiest time of my life, to do something I have always wanted to do.  I'm hoping it will be good for my brain, my self-confidence and the soul, as I struggle to sustain my sanity over the remainder of my Master's studies. ]]>
<![CDATA[Why Andreas Schleicher & Yong Zhao? Feb. 10, 2015             (Blog Post #6 - EDCI 569)]]>Sat, 14 Feb 2015 18:41:56 GMThttp://jsmain.weebly.com/edci-569/why-andreas-schleicher-yong-zhao-feb-10-2015-blog-post-6-edci-569In my previous blog I mentioned that I wanted to dig a little deeper into a couple of the key players mentioned in a story that I had read about, who spoke at a forum about the future of BC Education.

The author of the news article singled out two of the key speakers for their stances on the state of global education, and I was curious to know more about why the Ministry of Education would invite them to speak. What was the tie in?

 Andreas Schleicher:

 ·      Educational Surveyor and Statistician

 ·      Director of Education and Skills for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In nutshell the German born Schleicher heads up the OECD in Paris and they are responsible for creating and delivering a test that is designed to assess a 15 year old student’s ability in reading, math and science.  During his Ted Global talk in 2012, Schleicher claimed the test is not simply meant see what students can reproduce from their studies, but rather to extrapolate from what they know, and see how they apply that knowledge in novel situations.  The PISA is administered every three years, and was written by over 28-million teens worldwide.

 Yong Zhao:

 ·      Educational Expert, Author, Scholar & Speaker

 ·      Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership at the University of Oregon

Like Schleicher, Zhao is an advocate for Global Education and reforms to the current systems of education in many countries around the world.  Unlike Schleicher however, Professor Zhao is not in favour of standardized testing.  In an interview done last month with the New York State Association of Independent Schools, he said “Good assessment cannot be standardized, because each student is different, learns at different rates in different ways.” Zhao also suggested that educational leaders need to “stop trying to fix the past, and personalize education, abandoning traditional education. “  He went as far as saying that the “boutique education” being offered at progressive, non-traditional institutions like High Tech High in California, need to go from being the outliers, to being the norm.

Interesting that two educational experts with very different methods, yet similar goals were invited to speak to leaders from across our province about what BC schools should do in the future.  Both see the path to success in different lights, but both are on the same page that new graduates to be equipped with skills and abilities that will make them innovative, inventive, creative and indispensable in the future. It is good to see the province consult experts from outside our nation to help give our educational reforms a more global perspective and inject some fresh new ideas into a system that dramatically needs to be overhauled.

I will leave you with my two favourite quotes from each man, and some visuals of what each envisions as effective schools and school systems.

  “The test of truth in life is not whether we can remember what we learned in school, but whether we are prepared for change.” - Andreas Schleicher

  “Education doesn’t need to adapt, it needs to transform.” - Yong Zhao