You Can Teach Old Dogs New Tricks – Blog 6

During my master’s program I have had to do a lot of reading.  One of the messages that continue to come across in all of the readings is the need for students to collaborate.   The other message that has become loud and clear is the need to work and participate within a collective (Thomas & Brown, 2011).  Through working in a collective it allows you access to more information that others may possess.  Even though I have seen those messages time and time again, it took seeing it in action to fully see how useful these concepts could be.  In saying this, my final blog for this course is a thank-you to the students in this class.  As a collective, I not only learned a lot, but through your work, you ended up providing me with many ideas that I could take back to my classroom and to the teachers in my school.  In order to be a technological leader I know that it is my responsibility to have a vision of where I want to go and an idea of the technologies available and how to use them. 

Of all of the classes that I have taken during my masters program, this one ended up providing me my “ah ha” moment in regards to application of these ideas into the classroom.  I started to see how I could adapt the technologies already being used by students and use them for educational purposes.  This not only got my students excited about learning, but me as well.   The work they are doing is being done collaboratively and their knowledge is becoming part of a collective. 

In the ten previous courses I took, I read all the materials and acknowledged that collaboration led to improved student learning, but it took this class to make all the pieces fit together.  I felt like the collaboration between the students in this class actually worked.  This gave me an opportunity to see successful collaboration in action, which allowed me to see the visible benefits.  Taking some of these ideas to my classes, I have seen how the collaboration between students, has led to better learning experiences for them, and given them opportunities to share their knowledge with their peers.  I have been able to witness play in action when it comes to technology use.  The students are engaged, questioning their peers and wanting to learn more.  This has become a case where I can not only see, but understand how the knowledge of the collective and working collaboratively can benefit learning for both adults and students. 


Berning, A. (2010, August 7). Technology for Educational Leaders. Retrieved from

Carey, J. (2012, November 21). Teaching with smartphones. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Seattle, WA: Create Space.

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Letting Students be the Leaders – Blog 5

Last year our division began to allow student owned devices to be used in the schools.  The problem with bringing devices into the school setting is there are not many teachers out there that know how the technology can be used effectively in the class or they have a fear of the technology itself.  In our school this led to students using their devices for personal rather than educational uses.  Over the course of last year these handheld devices become a distraction for the students and a management issue for the teachers. 

 To try to help combat this issue with personal devices, I started a project with my Computer class.  Not only was I trying to find a way to get them to be the leaders for technology in the school, but I was trying to find a way to engage them in their learning, because I understand that using technology can lead to improved student learning.   I decided to have the students be the researchers and teachers of the technologies they use.  The project was set out so that the students had to teach others in the class not only how to use the technology, but they had to show how it could be integrated into their other subjects. 

 I try to keep myself updated on new technologies, but find it difficult to keep up with everything.  Having the students take the lead provided me with a way that students could work within their own context.  Thomas & Brown (2011), state that students learn best when working within their own environment (p. 79).   By having students work with technologies that they are familiar with it achieves this goal.  I believe that this also fits into the idea of ‘play’ that helps allow for experimentation and learning.  Students spend a great deal of their personal time with these technologies,  Allowing students to work with these technologies in school would surely seem like play to them. 

 Students were truly excited about teaching their classmates, and especially me how to use some of these technologies.  Each group of students discovered multiple ways that their technology could be used within the classroom.  Each of their ideas fit well within the subject area and curriculum.  By doing this project students gained capacity.  They now have the capability to discuss with their teacher how a project can be differentiated in a way that they can use the technologies that they have at their disposal.   I am looking forward to their next set of presentation on a new set of technologies.  My hope is that their teachers will give up some control and let the students be the leaders in regards to the technology.   


Curtis, P. (2005, September 13). Report reveals teachers’ fear of classroom technology. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Grunwald and Associates. (2010). Educators, technology and 21st century skills: Dispelling five myths. Retrieved from

Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Seattle, WA: Create Space.

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Is Someone Watching You? – Blog 4

I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues the other day about privacy.  We were discussing how things have changed over the years.  The availability of technology definitely has some positives, but along with those comes what I believe to be one of the most significant negatives, personal privacy.  It seems that not that long ago as a teacher you could live a life outside of the school without worrying about everyone in the community knowing what you are doing, because it can end up on the Internet.  I am not saying that people were not aware in the past, but with the advent of technology more people, including our students are conscious of our behaviors outside of school.  The vast use of social networking has led to an atmosphere set out by George Orwell in his book 1984.  I find myself wondering if ‘Big Brother’ is watching me.

As teachers we do have a responsibility in this problem.  If we are part of the social networking and post information we cannot be so naïve that we believe that it will remain private?  Even in the past people gossiped, the only difference now is that these people have a much larger forum.  The availability of technology with the combination of social media and lack of privacy is a dangerous combination.  From stories of robbers using Facebook to target homes, to teachers losing their job for postings on social networking sites.  How can we go about protecting ourselves?  Information about you can end up online via you, your friends, colleagues or someone in the general public.  In all of these situations you may have the perception that this information will remain private.  With all the issues lately with Facebook security settings we should not expect our information to be private.  Where does your responsibility come into play in these situations?  Are we allowing ourselves to be victims by not informing and protecting ourselves?


There is so much information being gathered about us through cell phones, e-mails, credit cards and photos, it makes me question if there is any such thing as privacy anymore or just different shades of it.    What are our rights to privacy? I do not believe students, teachers, or the general public have a true sense of how their lives are out there for all to see.  I know when I present information to students, I let them know that whatever they put out on the internet, their grandmother should be able to read or look at.  I believe teachers need to take the same approach, by making themselves aware of what they put out in cyberspace for all to see.


CBS (February 6, 2011). The Internet and our right to privacy. Retrieved from

Ibata, D. (2011, October 10). Ruling goes against Barrow teacher who lost job over facebook posting.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved from

Mello, J.P. (2010, September 10). Gang uses facebook to rob houses.  PC World. Retrieved from

Rogers, K. (2012, October 15). Facebook users raise privacy concerns as company tweaks security settings. The Guardian. Retrieved from

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A New Era of Etiquette – Blog 3

In the past few years I have noted a relationship between digital devices and etiquette or lack there off. I am a people watcher and when I go out for dinner I am often surprised at the number of families and couples that are seemingly ignoring each other in favor of engaging with their digital devices. Are we losing the ability to communicate effectively with one another or just the ability to communicate face-to-face?

This inappropriate behavior can not only be observed at dinner, but is now visible in all venues in society. I find students ignoring one another during lunch and recess breaks, people walking down the street, heads down, showing no awareness of their surroundings, teachers are more caught up in checking their e-mail than in working with students. It appears as if age is not a barrier to poor manners. What we were taught in our youth seems to have lost the importance that it once had in society. Is this an new era of digital manners or has the technology changed so quickly that etiquette has not caught up?

So what do we need to expect from people who are using digital devices? Wade (2012) in an article on smartphone use suggests that these technological distractions are a part of our lives now and that we need to purposefully engage with those around us. These devices provide a mired of distractions which allows our focus to easily wane.  In an ABC News (2012) interview with Dr. Genevieve Bell (Anthropologist) and Anna Post (Emily Post Institute) on cell phone etiquette they identify that people are getting frustrated with inappropriate cell phone use. Anna Post states that 92% of people want cell phone users to have better etiquette. This shows that we are definitely recognizing the bad etiquette of others, but often do not see it in our own actions. The problem comes down to that fact that it is not so much that the technology is the problem, but how we are using it.

If manners do need to catch up, then who has the responsibility for teaching users? Teachers? Parents? Or are users responsible for their own learning? This is a situation where the school and community need to work together in order to help develop digital etiquette in our students and children. No matter who has the responsibility, I think that there needs to be a significant change in behavior.


 ABC News (Producer). (2011, February 25). Cell phone etiquette getting worse for Americans [Video file]. Retrieved from

 Wade, A. (2012, May 26). Parents suffering iGuilt over smartphones. The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved from

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Web 2.0 Boundaries

Social software is one of the main components to web 2.0 technologies.  These technologies give users the ability to share, provide feedback and produce new learning together on an anytime anywhere basis (Alexander, 2006).  Using these web 2.0 tools will lead students to using 21st century skills that Alberta Education (2010) identifies as being necessary in order for learners to be successful.   The main question is how can we as educators take advantage of the students’ engagement with these technologies in order to help improve student learning?  As an administrator and teacher I can see the benefits of using these social technologies for engaging students.  At the same time the administrator in me is worried about the consequences that could be associated with web 2.0 tools.  Not only is much of the content blocked, but we also need to be aware of what is and is not acceptable according to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.  We also have a responsibility to engage students, but protect them at the same time.  As a teacher I know that students are already using these social tools to share, learn and communicate with one another (Tay, Lim, Lye, Ng, & Lim, 2011).  It would benefit educators to tap into this already utilized learning tool in order to present information and create new learning experiences for students.     


One of the responsibilities that go along with utilizing these technologies it to make sure that students are using them responsibly.  Teachers need to look at what digital citizenship is and make students aware of their rights and responsibilities while online.  I have noticed that students seem to have a misguided belief that they are not responsible for what they do online.  It is as if there is a belief that no one will know that they did it.  Students need to realize that when using social networking sites there information is held in the cloud and available to others.  Locking it down does not always mean that it cannot be accessed by others.  Just look at the recent issues with Facebook and messages sent privately being accessible to others for whom they were not intended (Rourke, 2012).  Trying to get students to see the importance of safety, security and responsibility could prove to be a difficult task, but one that is necessary in order to utilize these technologies effectively.

 Other Links: Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship


Alberta Education. (2010). Inspiring action on education.  Retrieved from

 Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning? Educause, 41(2), 32-44.

Rourke, M. (2012, 12 24). Facebook denies leak of users’ private messages. CBC News. Retrieved from

Tay, L.Y., Lim, C.P., Lye, S.Y., Ng, K.J., & Lim, S.K. (2011). Open-source learning management system and Web 2.0 online social software applications as learning platforms for an elementary school in Singapore. Learning, Media and Technology, 36(4), 349-365.

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Wanted: Professional Development

I have now been a teacher and administrator for 23 years. Over this time I have been heavily involved with technology in the school and have observed multiple changes in the use of technology in the classroom and how students learn. It is important to note that technology is not the new way that people learn, but a tool which allows people access to experts and vast amounts of information while giving them the ability to collaborate to create new learning. Technology has allowed people to connect without worry of time and location being factors.
Technology has changed rapidly in schools which has led to many issues including the ability to keep infrastructure updated, keeping staff trained all the while still trying to teach digital citizenship. The schools in our district have maintained their infrastructure, but I am still seeing that teachers do not have the ability to utilize the technology to engage students and help them learn. Thomas & Brown (2011) point out that 21st century learning is not happening in the classroom. In my view this is a valid point. For the most part technology is being used as an ineffective tool by the teachers mainly because they have not been educated on how to use technology effectively in order to engage the new learners.
Teacher training with regards to technology and 21st century learning is one of the concerns that face schools today. How can teachers be properly trained on how students learn and how technology can be used to help aid in this process? This is not an easy task with technology changing so rapidly and information coming into the schools at a snail’s pace. Professional development opportunities such as coaching and professional learning communities, which are researched based quality practices, have taken at least a decade to be seen as common practices within most schools. For example, Showers (1985) wrote an article called Teachers Coaching Teachers, which focuses on peer coaching. Twenty plus years later many school divisions in Alberta are beginning to focus on coaching as a promising practice for teacher learning. If we expect our teachers to adapt to the changes in learning and technology then they need to be given the information and training in a timely manner.

Showers, B. (1985). Teachers coaching teachers. Educational Leadership, Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Seattle, WA: Create Space.

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LMS: Friend or Foe

Learning management systems or “learning environments” as John Baker (2012) called them seem to be an all-encompassing way to house various technologies so that students, parents,  teachers and administrators can access them.  At the start of this presentation I did not have an in-depth knowledge of learning management systems (LMS), what they encompassed or what they could be used for.  After the presentation I saw a lot of potential from both an administrators and teachers point of view.  Unfortunately I also see potential obstacles that schools may face trying to put an LMS into action effectively.

 There are a number of issues that I see with the use of an LMS within a school.  Obviously there would be the cost associated with the technology, not only with the software itself, but with possible infrastructure upgrades needed to host this technology.  Bringing in a new initiative from my experience if not done properly with appropriate support can fall flat.  With regards to that, there needs to be training and support for all users.  From the teachers there would be a huge time commitment as they are the ones that are going to be responsible for producing the content and keeping it updated.  Unless this initiative came from the bottom up, I believe that it would be a struggle to move forward successfully, especially with the amount of work that I perceive being part of this project.   Another issue I see, is with the ability of an LMS to allow for necessary social contact.  Dunlap & Lowenthal (2009) state that one of the components missing from LMSs is the social interaction that gives the perception of a more human contact.  This social presence allows for connections to be made between students and faculty which leads to collaboration and allows for more purposeful communication. 

 I do believe that there could be a lot of potential for this type of a product both from a teachers and administrators point of view.  As Dalsgaard (2006) points out, “universities primarily use LMS for administrative purposes, and that LMS so far have had limited impact on pedagogy”(Introduction, para. 1).  The ability to drill down into the data and track students experiencing difficulties would be essential for administrators.  With the ability to use the Analytics portion of this program, teachers and administrators can keep track of students’ performance in order to put interventions in place before it is too late.  As far as having a limited impact on pedagogy, I believe that a teacher would need to see how they could use an LMS system in order to improve their teaching.  For example, as John Baker (2012) pointed out in his presentation, teachers have the ability to link outcomes to specific questions, assignments or test items.  This would provide the teacher with a much more specific picture of how students are doing, where they require more support and what direction the teacher should be going in to help the students.  This type of a product could allow teachers to better structure their lesson in order to meet the students’ needs.  


 Baker, J. (2012, February).  D2L story and overview.  Speech presented for EDER 679.29 L06 Elluminate class, Calgary, Alberta

 Dalsgaard, C. (2006). Social software: E-learning beyond learning management systems. Eurpean Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning.

 Dunlap, J. & Lowenthal, P. (2009). Tweeting the Night Away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2), 129-135.

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Virtual Reality ≠ Virtual Work

After listening to guest speaker Marlene Brooks I feel myself left with a lot of questions about the use of virtual reality in education.  As an administrator I see many positives when it comes to using a medium that students are already accustomed to in order to engage them as learners.  As a teacher I see may possibilities of how I could incorporate this technology into my own teaching practices.  After having these positive thoughts reality sets in, a realization of all the work that goes along with teaching within a virtual environment.

 I understand that participation in virtual reality can engage students, allow them to construct knowledge and allow for opportunities to collaborate with others (Brooks, 2011; Stoerger, 2010), but from my point of view the negatives seem to outweigh the positives at this point and time.  Jin, Wen, & Gough, (2010) state that there are challenges trying to get formal learning to work effectively within virtual worlds (p.140).  From the administrative point of view I perceive a high cost in operating this type of an environment.  The infrastructure needs to be updated so that the computers can run these applications effectively and there needs to be enough bandwidth to allow all students access.  Another issue that is apparent to me is the time that it would take teachers to try to learn how to operate within these environments, not to mention the technical expertise it would take to build these worlds.  Stoerger (2010) states that using a virtual world will not necessarily affect the way that teachers are presenting the material (Introduction,  para. 3). My main focus as an administrator right now is just trying to get teachers to adapt to the basic technology that is out there and think about incorporating it into their daily practice.  Finally there is always the issue of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act looming over all educators heads.  It is our responsibility to protect the students information and privacy.

 As a teacher that is familiar with technology and comfortable using It, I can see the many possibilities that this technology holds.  I understand that we need to engage students by using technologies that they are already familiar with, but as Brooks (2012) pointed out in her presentation, there is a huge learning curve involved with this technology.  Additionally an added concern is the amount of time needed to not only produce this type of work, but to function effectively within a virtual environment.  I know from my own point of view, as well as that of my colleagues, the time just is not there with all of the other professional development requirements that are put upon us.  Brooks did point out that individuals could visit islands in virtual worlds.  I could see this as a way to start engaging in this type of environment without overwhelming myself.  Presently I see far too many challenges to immerse myself in this technology, but do see some possibilities for the future.  Unfortunately when you have challenges just getting teachers using the basic technologies, even thinking about moving to these more extravagant technologies would be reckless and irresponsible from an administrative point of view.


Brooks, M. (2012, February).  Design and development using second life for e-learning.  Speech presented for EDER 679.29 L06 Elluminate class, Calgary, Alberta

 Jin, L., Wen, Z., & Gough, N. (2010). Social virtual worlds for technology-enhanced learning on an augmented learning platform. Learning, Media and Technology, 35(2), 139-153.

 Stoerger. S. (2010). Creating a Virtual World Mindset: A Guide for First Time Second Life Teachers. The Journal of Distance Education, 24(3).

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Technology vs. The Teacher

After completing the readings from the first two weeks I am now starting to get a better idea of what e-learning is and what it encompasses.  It is understandable that I was somewhat confused about this topic as e-learning can be referred to using many different terms (Guri-Rosenlit & Gros, 2011, Confusing Terminology, para. 5; Canadian Council on Learning, 2009, p.13).  When I initially approached this course, I was pondering whether or not e-learning was the new way that computers were going to take over teaching jobs.  Ever since I started teaching I have been hearing how computers were going to replace teachers, yet it still has not come to fruition. 

Guri-Rosenlit & Gros (2011), state that one of the expectations of e-learning is that the use of the technologies would magically transform the education system putting students at the center and giving them the ability to be creative problem solvers and high level thinkers (Introduction, para. 2).  Technology is not the big game changer that people perceived it to be.  Schools are having the same difficulties with information and communication technology.  All the money that is and has been directed into technology has not necessarily changed the way that individuals teach.  The way in which teachers use the technology is what will be the game changer.  Teachers, whether they are working online or in the class need to use the technology to help improve the learning experience for the students.   Technology is only one of the many tools that an educator can access to improve the overall learning experience.  Changes that occur need to be within the teachers’ pedagogy (Friesen & Lock, 2010).  Teachers need to understand how students learn today and take advantage of some of the technologies they regularly use in order to make the learning more meaningful.  I’m not sure what this would look like in an e-learning environment as I still am seeing the transformations of this within the school. Regardless of how things change, teachers will need to evolve along with technology in order to meet student needs. 


Canadian Council on Learning, (2009). State of E-learning in Canada.

 Friesen, S. & Lock, J.V. (2010). High performing districts in the application of 21st century learning technologies. College of Alberta School Superintendents.

 Grui-Rosenblit, S. & Gros, G. (2011). E-Learning: Confusing Terminology, Research Gaps and Inherent Challenges. The Journal of Distance Education, 25(1).

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The Importance of Digital Citizenship with the 21st Century Learner

The term digital citizenship seems to be popping up more and more these days in education.  What is digital citizenship and what does it have to do with education?  Ribble, Bailey and Ross define digital citizenship as “the norms of behavior with regard to technology use”(p.7).  We need to understand how students are using technology in their daily lives.  As an educational institution are we developing responsible users?  

Last year I was in a restaurant eating a meal with my wife.  As I was waiting for my meal, I observed two teens sharing a meal at a table nearby.  You would expect some conversation, but instead each of them held a PDA and spent the whole meal texting.  Not a word was spoken between them.  This behavior struck me as being extremely rude.  Since then I have witnessed the same type of behavior from not only teens, but from adults as well.  It seems that as technology is progressing, we as citizens appear to be digressing, at least in terms of understanding what appropriate and acceptable behavior is.  I believe that teens are showing this type of behavior towards others, because this is what they have grown up with.  No one has taught them any different.  Young adults do not appear to have a clear understanding of what is and is not acceptable when it comes to technology.  Adults on the other hand, should have a better understanding and should be the ones setting the example for the youth.

 In my observations since this event some of the worst offenders appear to be adults.  I have witnessed many adults participating in these same ill-mannered behaviors at many of the conferences I have attended.  While a presentation is going on they are texting, playing games, checking their e-mail or using online social websites.  At our schools these would be the same individuals that would be vocalizing their displeasure with the students about similar behaviors.  Our job as educators should be setting a good example for students, teaching them what is appropriate so that we can develop more responsible users.  From my observation this is not happening.  This leads me to believe that as an educational institution we are not doing our jobs effectively.  There are definitely some important pieces that are missing if both students and adults are acting irresponsibly when it comes to the use of technology.

It seems to having nothing to do with the curriculum as the ethical use of technology is one of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) outcomes that students should be dealing with in all divisions (Alberta Learning, 2000).  Alberta Education also have an agreement with Media Awareness Network that provides all Alberta teachers with resources that would help them teach these necessary skills.  So it leads me to believe that what must be happening is that these ICT outcomes are being neglected when teachers integrate technology into their subject areas.  As leaders we need to somehow show teachers the importance of developing digital citizenship in 21st century learners.  It is our responsibility to show students “appropriate and inappropriate uses of technology”(Ribble, Bailey & Ross. 2004, p.8).  Educating the students on appropriately using technology is our job and we need to make sure we are doing it effectively in order that we develop digitally responsible citizens.


Alberta. Alberta Learning. (2000). Information and communication technology. retrieved from

Ribble, M.S., Bailey, G.D., & Ross, T.W. (2004). Digital citizenship: Addressing appropriate technology behavior. Learning &Leading with Technology, 32(1). Retrieved from

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