Todd’s Blog

A New Type Of Encounter Turns Into Collaboration
March 3, 2008, 3:14 am
Filed under: ECI 831

My wife was working on report cards on my laptop when she announced that this thing popped up and the computer was “ringing”. Because I have Skype set to sign me in automatically, I discovered that fellow classmate Dave Bircher was “calling”. Dave used to teach in my area, and I have known him for some time. Not wanting to interrupt my wife, I quickly answered Dave through the chat area and we set up a time to visit through Skype.

Later that after noon I began my first internet phone call. I must say I found it neat that I could talk to someone through the computer, just like a phone. Dave and I chatted, catching up on things then our conversation led to our current class. He had a question about configuring his blog. I logged into my blog, he into his, and presto we were working together to come up with a solution. It took no time at all, and we turned to some questions I had. Soon we came to the conclusion we weren’t going to get any reading done if we kept talking, so we said our goodbyes.

It was an interesting way to get kick-started working on a quiet, yet incredibly windy Sunday. Dave and I agreed to “chat” again. It was a small collaboration, but it was a beginning of something I’d never done before. Maybe we’ll find something else to collaborate on. Maybe we’ll just visit. Ain’t technology grand. I can’t wait to get others onto this!

It’s My One Month Anniversary!
March 3, 2008, 12:44 am
Filed under: Personal

It has been a month since I took over as vice-principal of my school. As I have worked in this class, I have often heard David Jakes name mentioned. It led me to go back and reread his responses in my blog regarding administration. My first reactions were full of gratefulness for him taking the time to connect with me and offer his support. Reading through his lists, I realized how helpful his comments were. So much so I have printed them off and placed a copy on my desk. They are good reminders of how I need to approach situations. Some I have handled well, others I need to learn to listen and reflect before I respond. I can already think of one situation where I “jumped the gun” a little and it will lead to extra work on my part as I explain myself to the person I spoke to. Nothing of a serious nature, but nonetheless I wouldn’t have to explain myself had I heeded David’s words – “When making a decision, you have to consider how it impacts everyone. Classroom teachers make decisions and it impacts kids. When making decisions on an admin level, think deeply about all the impacts, everywhere, that your decision will have.” David’s words were also echoed in other posts of support with advice. It really brings to the forefront the entity known as a ‘social network’. I never really knew such a thing existed, and here are people from all over the continent reaching out to me. It really is overpowering. As I think back on my first month, I am grateful for the support, I have enjoyed the position to date (with all the helpful words from my “network”), and I look forward the challenges coming. This position is a temporary one, giving me a unique prospective to see if I was interested. Though it is only one month, I feel this is something I’m going to like and with the support of the world, “my network”, I know I am up to the challenge.  Thanks to everyone who has offered support to me and to those I’m sure will offer support in the future.

I Have A Network?!
February 28, 2008, 6:40 pm
Filed under: ECI 831

I don’t know if I can put my finger on it, but there was something about Dean Shareski’s presentation that just put me at ease. Maybe it was the manner in which he spoke. Maybe it was it the things he spoke about I could relate to it more on a personal level, about things that I could more easily relate to. I don’t know. I just found that the things he said made sense. One thing that stuck out was when he asked how people were in our networks. Panic struck me as I thought…”I don’t have anyone in my network!” Then as he talked about some of his projects and letting others in his network help him get things together, I realized “I think I do have a network!” Sure, I don’t have a network anything like his, but I do know people. I realized this as I stopped and talked to people at Showcase this past few days. But as Dean talked about all these people around the world he has contact with, I began to see I too have people like this available to me. People in this class would be there if I asked. People like David Jakes, who have posted on my blog, would be there if I needed. As was mentioned in our Skype session last night, there are so many good people out there.

I can’t put my finger on it, but Dean’s presentation just seemed to put my mind at ease and I think I finally feel like I’ll be okay. The overwhelming feelings are still there, but I understand I’m not alone.

Sharon Peters
February 19, 2008, 5:52 pm
Filed under: ECI 831

It is absolutely amazing the network that exists out there. Before this class I used to think I was fairly technologically saavy. You know, up with what’s going on in technology. Boy, was I wrong. Sharon introduced us to a culture of collaboration and social networking like nothing I’ve ever seen. There are so many experts, or enthusiasts out there. So many ways to stay in touch and learn. Yet, how do you keep up? The answer came in a blog I read (and know I can’t find it!) about how others do it. The answer was connections. The social network a person develops can expand their circle of knowledge. You don’t have to be everywhere doing everything. You just need a network. Someone will find something you need, or know someone who can help you. It’s mindboggling.

 In all it kind of scare me. Building these networks takes time. Time has generally never scared me until now. How do I keep up these networks? It’s like keeping friends. Can a larger social network be maintained and built in a time of work, extra-curricular, family, and other responsibilities? I certainly see the value of all of this. When I read about Kim’s social networking, she is flying all around the web. She strikes me as a Social Networking guru. Any tricks to share?

Back amongst the living
February 11, 2008, 3:31 am
Filed under: Personal

What a loooong week. I’ve been knocked down with a bout of pneumonia. Got very little done, missed school and class this week. Just today I finally felt like I had enough strength to sit down at a computer and try and get caught up. I checked my Google Reader only to find I was behind 52 blog posts. One week! After browsing through a few, I see I have lots to comment on. I’ve also looked at the google docs notes by Kyle. Interesting. I can see a use for this when groups a collaborating on research (in fact I have an opportunity to use it right away). I started listening to the session with George Seimens, but apparently won;t have time to finish today. Interruptions by family and ill staff members (as VP it’s my job to find subs – seems like others are going down with cold and flu like symptoms) will keep me from getting done today. Luckily I think I have a quiet week ahead so I’ll have to burry myself in front of the computer. One week. Look at how fast technology piles up in one week. Leads me to question it’s no wonder teachers get frustrated and feel they don’t have enough time. All it takes are a couple of sick days, and you can spend the next 2 weeks trying to catch up. I remember reading a post that someone essentially said teachers make excuses that they are too busy. From where I’m sitting right now, I will definitely be challenging that thought. For now, it’s off too bed. No sense getting overtired and sick again. I can’t afford another missed day.

“We participate, therefore we are”
February 1, 2008, 3:50 am
Filed under: ECI 831

As I read through the article Minds on Fire I found myself attracted to an early statement. “The social view of learning says, “We participate, therefore we are.” It reminded me of something I’ve heard many times over in the education field. We learn more by doing than listening. This concept is nothing new; it just is being used today in reference to the internet. So why the resistance to use it? We’ve been told for years as educators that we need to get students actively involved in their learning. Don’t the internet and the Web 2.0 tools provide that opportunity? Yet there is so much resistance? Teachers don’t want to use the internet because, as Walter states in his blog,  “Let’s face it – most teachers are creatures of habit. Once they find a good thing, they will continue to use it until they retire.”  Many teachers are intimidated by the computer and use of the many tools of the web. They don’t know a lot about it, don’t have the time to learn it, and even if they did the students would know more than they do. So what! As Brown and Adler make reference to, understanding is socially constructed. So let the students know more! Let the power of the internet guide them to learning. I admit it is a stretch, but with a little guidance teachers can be shown how to let the students learn. This is where support is required from the division. That support needs to come in the form of time to allow learning, and tech support (hardware/software/educational). I finish with a quote from Brown and Adler’s article. One which I think shows the need for educators to get on board with the concept of social learning: 

“In the twentieth century, the dominant approach to education focused on helping students to build stocks of knowledge and cognitive skills that could be deployed later in appropriate situations. This approach to education worked well in a relatively stable, slowly changing world in which careers typically lasted a lifetime. But the twenty-first century is quite different.”

History of Educational Technology
January 30, 2008, 3:15 am
Filed under: ECI 831 | Tags:

There were so many things discussed tonight. I really found a lot of value in what Rick presented, but a couple of statements stuck out in my mind. (1) The past provides understanding of the future and (2) the idea of collective constructivism – moving from learning to social learning. There is so much value in what technology has to offer, if only used properly and if the drivers of the technology are allowed to run with it. This is where I don’t see present educational leaders that run our school divisions learning from the past. Blocking sites has to be the best example of a poor practice. As I mentioned, teachers are the best filter a school can have yet YouTube is blocked by our school division. YouTube has so many valuable things to use a teaching tools. If technology is a practical solution to a problem then why are we being blocked from, and slowed down in the use of technology.

There were many side discussions regarding people’s perceptions of the use of technology – Dan’s comment that those of us that use technology are going to put ourselves out of a job is ludicrous. Does anyone that takes classes like this feel like they are the converted already being told why technology is important? There are so many educators, administrators, superintendents, and directors that need to hear, learn, and embrace the philosophies we are learning about because we already KNOW of their importance. Look at where technology has been, where it is at, and where it is going. We can’t sit back and watch because it will pass by before we know it. We can learn from our history. Hopefully some learn before it’s too late.

Late Reflections
January 29, 2008, 4:09 am
Filed under: ECI 831 | Tags:

I can’t believe I made it! It has almost been a week since we were lead through a day of Darren Kuropatwa. I have always had an interest in technology and how it can be applied to the classroom. Though I knew I wasn’t really doing what technology can do justice, I felt I was slowly finding ways to have students use technology to enhance their learning. After seeing Darren’s presentation, I realized I am on the road though only really at the beginning of the journey. I have only really begun to touch the iceberg of what is possible.

As I listened to Darren go through his day, I noticed how fortunate he is and possibly why I struggle to even think about getting to  a higher level. Here are some things that stand out for me.

  1. Darren obviously has support of his school and board. Technology is provided and likely training as well. Though we have some technologies provided, we are left to develop and learn on our own. Yes, we have educational tech support, but one person is responsible for 13 schools. Availability is limited. Not a roadblock, but certainly a limitation.
  2. Darren is obviously an expert. More importantly he is an expert in one field, Math. So many of us are hired and expected to work as generalists. We are the Math, ELA, Science, Social Studies experts. Though we can do many great things, we can’t do it all. We have to pick and choose what we can do. I would love to have the time to do many of the things Darren does. I just worry that with the time it may take the next latest and greatest technological tools will have been developed. Did I mention I am a new administrator? Other things to be committed to!
  3. Family – I was very impressed to see what Darren has accomplished and still puts an emphasis on family. He makes time for his family and they are a priority for him. I couldn’t agree more. This too is important to me, but my family takes me away from the home and many miles on the road. I coach basketball for my oldest son’s team. Practices 2 nights a week, tournaments on Friday and Saturday. Son #2 plays hockey. One hour road trips are common. Throw in having to be there an hour before the game and 2 hours for a game….well 5 hours have just been eaten up. There’s also time for my wife and maybe even me? Some days there just aren’t enough hours in a day.

Now at the risk of sounding all gloom and doom, I still believe in the power of technology and how wonderful it is. I am so impressed by what Darren has done. It has inspired me to be able to do more in a new way. I just wonder how I can fit it all in. I believe Alec replied in an email to me to do what I can and choose to do what I can with technology. Great advice that I need to listen to. This past week has been a blur. Exam week, report cards, new adminstrator duties, cleaning out my classroom and moving into the office, and a basketball tournament 5 hours away. I apologize to my classmates for being neglectful this past week. I had to pick and choose what could be done and it has taken me until now to get here. Technology excites me and I can’t wait to continue to learn more. I thank Darren for what he has done and shares with us.

The Social Web
January 20, 2008, 12:02 am
Filed under: ECI 831

Implications of the social web? This is such a diverse question. There are so many ways that people can interact via the web. It can be personal, informational, instructional, educational, practical, or just down-right entertaining through blogs, wikis, online photo albums, or videos and podcasts. People can open themselves up to the world. They can seek help from anyone, anywhere. They can connect with family, friends anywhere in the world as there are no barriers. Being able to take advantage of a world of knowledge is tremendous.

With all of this at the fingertips of society, it would seem the positives far outweigh any negatives. Yet, there are still negatives. People are not always who they seem to be. Not everyone jumps into the internet pool for good. There are those that choose to be deceitful, cruel, malicious, and lurk on the dark side. All this signals is the need for common sense, education, and practicing good surfing habits. I believe the amount of knowledge that can be gained should be taken advantage of. With knowledge comes power and with power must come responsibility.

This is where education must come in. As an educational society we must find a way to educate our students on the value and wealth of knowledge available on the internet. This must be done in an manner that teaches our children “digital values”. Like the face to face world, there are rights and wrongs. The same applies to the digital world. Because so many parents today do not understand this digital world, it is up to those of us who can to guide our students to the appropriate use of the internet. Support in the educational community for this cause is necessary, but in a money-driven business will it happen? Not everyone in the positions of power believe in technology. How can we get them to see and invest in technology?

The implications to educators and schools has them on a fine line. We must prepare our students for the digital age. Digital ettiquette and proper use of the internet are tools we need to provide. We must watch that we don’t preach morals, yet need to provide them with as much knowledge and tools to enable them to be good digital citizens. Not everyone can do this. Add in the fact that the intenet and these social tools are growing at such an incredible rate, staying informative and up to date may seem a daunting task. It is a task that must be undertaken before it becomes too much like a wildfire out of control.

Personal Reflections – EC&I 831
January 17, 2008, 4:41 am
Filed under: ECI 831

January 16, 2008 – Part 2

Well, I just finished embedding my bio video into my wiki. I feel like I’m fairly technologically with it, and boy I struggled to get this done. I had little trouble using Windows Movie Maker to create the video. Who would have thought embedding would be so frustrating. Luckily I am not the type to give up easily. I am willing to experiment to continue to try until I get it right. I just kept trying things and used my favorite tech support – Google. This website – – shows how to do it in wikispaces. As soon as I read it I had my video embedded within a minute. Just shows, perserverence and determination can pay off. Google helps too!