Monday, June 15, 2015

Imagine a world without

2015 has been an interesting year in Alberta, with a downturn in the economy and political upheaval. With first the uncertainty of the spring and then a significant change in government in May, everyone in education, including the Education Society has faced challenges. For, one of our main challenges is funding, which we have traditionally received in the spring through grants. 

Over the past 18 years, the Provincial Team has exemplified leadership in educational technology. The website has always been a manifestation of the professional development work of the Team. Our January 14, 2015 Blog called Should auld websites be forgot…. captured many of the changes in the website that have occurred over the years, aligned with our professional development focus, projects and programs. Resources have been gathered based on teacher requests, websites have been developed, adapted and updated with advances in educational technology. A most recent example is the “Create” website that grew out of the Web 2.0 site, when our fieldwork indicated a need for the identification of student tools and apps for knowledge creation.

And that brings us to the 2015-2016 school year, where a lack of funding will limit the size and the activities of the Provincial Team. Most significantly, the Provincial Team Teachers will be returning to their districts, to continue their careers in educational technology there.   With much regret, the professional development services offered by the Education Society will be curtailed for this school year. 

So how does the Society face this major challenge?  As Winston Churchill said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

In the 2015-2016 school year, with limited staff, our primary focus will be the maintenance of the portal and its many sites. With over 50,000 visits per month from educators and their students [resulting in 450,000+ page views and over 5,000,000 hits monthly], we have a great opportunity and responsibility to nurture this highly valued resource. Please stay connected with us through our twitter feed, blog and news on the website.  

We would love to hear from you…..

Monday, June 8, 2015

Imagine a world before Google. was there! is 18 years old. Imagine a world before Google [1998]. was there! Collectively, the Provincial Team members, the many educators who have participated as TELUS Learning Connection Teacher-Leaders and Video Conferencing Leads, the Board of Directors (and the organizations they represent) and the many affiliated stakeholder groups working with us have accomplished great deeds in supporting learning and teaching with technology. Many of those early Teacher-Leaders have become leaders in school communities and districts, and within Alberta Education itself. [A great piece of research on this: The Impact of the Cascade Model on Leadership Development in Alberta, June 2012

Think of how significantly the world of educational technology has changed in the last 18 years. In 1997, the Internet was in its infancy with an estimated 100,000 websites on the “web”. There was no broadband, no DSL, no SuperNet - mainly dial-up for most Albertans [broadband was introduced to the world in 1997; wi-fi came along in 1999]. Can you remember the very first time you watched a video live on the ‘Net and how painful that was? Not only because of buffering issues but also because the average CRT monitor was 640x480 pixels. We used to search with Webcrawler, Altavista and Lycos.There were no smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, netbooks or flat-screen monitors. Laptops were high-end purchases.  Storage on USB sticks or in `the cloud’? My goodness - how about portable hard drives, cd-roms, 3.5” disks; that’s what we depended on for back-up in 1997. 

Through Netscape Navigator and other early browsers, we were introduced to Web.2.0, not knowing the previous edition would become known as Web 1.0. Consider some of the many terms you probably use, but never could have imagined back in 1997: phishing, podcast, tweet, selfie, hashtag, gig, cookies, e-book, trolling, defrag, pdf, png, megapixel, malware, app, chrome, touch screen, phablet, QR codes. 

More importantly, there was the teaching and learning with technology. 
" We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn." [Peter Drucker]. 

Over the years, there have been many descriptors for the ways and means of technology infusion into classroom practice: One to One, Adaptive Learning, Digital Literacy, Digital Citizenship, BYOD, the flipped classroom, virtual learning, asynchronous learning, blended learning, inclusive learning, Content Management Systems [CMS], Learning Management Systems [LMS], MOOCs, Differentiated Learning, Wikis, M-Learning, PBL, webinars, Makerspaces, Augmented Reality, learning analytics, wearable technologies - to name a few. 

Reflecting on our practice with pedagogical theories such as Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, TPACK, Constructivism, and the SAMR model for transformational teaching has helped us grow. As we have worked to determine the best ways to use technology, we have known that is always about student-centred learning. has continuously provided significant support for student-centred learning, most recently in two large multi-year, multi-district projects: Digital Literacy and BYOD. These two video clips provide a flavour of the impact of those projects and the difference has made. 

What is in the future for next year? Watch for our next blog.