CILO and Ed Tech – The Right Choice?

February 27, 2013

As we are utilizing our CILO time today, it is important for us to remember that as much as educational technology can be used to enhance and enable student learning, it also depends on the task as to whether it is the best choice or not…

Often, there may be excellent reason for utilizing educational technology, but just like anything else it can be used in a manner similar to “worksheet” learning.

The practice of putting kids on computers as purely a time for play or as something to keep them occupied for a while is simply not the best use of our instructional time. However, if it fits the right reasons it can be used very purposely and authentically.

Do not feel that it is expected that educational technology be used every time for every learning task. We, as the designer of learning, must make good choices about when and how it is utilized. We do not need to force the fit. I think the same thinking goes for if you are using any resource within the school, including volunteers, manipulatives or artifacts, rooms or spaces, books, or anything else. We should be able to justify the resources we use and make sure they are the best resources for the purpose.

When utilizing any resource, we are working to create curriculum built upon the understanding that all people learn best when they are doing tasks that are challenging and of interest to them. If we are using any resource, we can ask ourselves a few questions:

  1. What is the purpose of the learning task?
  2. How will I enable cognitive investment from my students?
  3. How can I implement an instructional style that is responsive, formative, and match with what our learners need?
  4. How do we make this learning task authentic and build upon our big picture learning?

If you are able to develop a good understanding of these questions when creating innovative learning opportunities, then you will know if educational technology (or any other resource) brings benefit to what the students need.

Work hard, learn tons!


Ed Tech and CILO

February 13, 2013

Good news, everyone! Mike and I have been working with our IT Department to set up the new laptops for our students to be able to use. In between meeting with grade groups for CILO planning, Mike is working on setting up an upstairs cart and a downstairs cart with laptops for students to be able to utilize in their classrooms for their learning.

As always, I am sure there will be some technical issues, but we will overcome them in the interest of excellent learning at Keeler School, and we will ensure that the educational technology will enhance learning through the worthwhile work we develop for them. It will be interesting to see how the access we are setting up for students will be used, and we will need to work to set up learning opportunities (using educational technology if needed) that are effective and admirable, and go beyond using them as toys or gaming machines.

This is an exciting time to be an educator, as we are going from CILO time right into Teachers’ Convention and all the learning that will go with that. I have signed up for some excellent pre-registered sessions and look forward to reconnecting with colleagues and attending our very own Mike MacKenzie’s presentation around the development of a Learning Commons philosophy. Please enjoy Thursday and Friday and I know we will all come back refreshed and read invigorated!

Work hard, learn tons!

Educational Technology and Worthwhile Work?

February 11, 2013

Interesting day last week. It  was the last hour on Friday afternoon, often a time when it is most difficult to create great learning opportunities for students, never mind the fact that we were working with 40 grade 2 students in the Learning Commons. They were excited and energetic, and Mike and I were sure we had lost our minds…

The school had just purchased a set of iPads with the intention utilize them to enhance student learning. We talked with the students and brought them in, then proceeded to collaboratively develop some good safety expectations for taking care of them, as the grade twos were the very first to utilize them.

All of a sudden, as we were getting ready to start on the task, one student blurted out “I wonder what games are on here…” At the moment I was minorly annoyed, but we continued to talk about utilizing comic life and photography to teach others in the school some of the safety and care expectations that we came up with. The students were very excited to get started and were on their way.

Now, just get to the end, it was fantastic and the kids were awesome for the end of a Friday afternoon. But over the last few days, I am now really pondering this comment made innocently by one of our Grade Twos.

Learning is supposed to be fun and engaging, but does that mean we just plunk a bunch of games onto an iPad and call it learning?

Learning is supposed to be exciting, but does that mean we need to learn physics through Angry birds?

Learning is supposed to be challenging and new, but does that mean we need an electronic toy or gadget to challenge our students?

Learning is supposed to be experimental in nature, what does that require an electronic device in order to happen?

What does learning need to look like when devices such as iPads, iPods and Laptops are readily available? How do we make sure students are doing worthwhile work, with or without educational technology enhancements?

These are all the questions I am playing with, especially as I consider in my mind the diversity of our students going from very highly able learners to students who have great difficulty understanding letter sound correspondences. Keeler School is only beginning to develop guidelines and understanding of how educational technology will be utilized in the  classroom and Learning Commons, and I have a feeling we are in for an interesting ride.

Stay tuned for further developments as we work hard at creating excellent learning opportunities and enhancing with educational technology. I think there will be some big learning the part of teachers, but on the part of our students as well since we hope to use educational technology in different ways than many students would use an iPad at home.

Knowing our amazing teachers, I have a feeling it’s going to be a wonderful experiment…

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