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The Trials of a ‘Rookie’ Blogger

Wow . . . the tools!

I really enjoyed the discussion from my class tonight. It was very interesting, and more successful (I might add). Ironic that the topic was about all the tools available to us in the world of technology and the class switched from Adobe Connect (which had some difficulties last week) to Eluminate Live as its presentation platform. This platform was much more successful; unfortunately for me, I was just familiarizing myself with Adobe . . . and they switched on me!! I’ll figure it out . . . I hope! From a presentation point of view, Eluminate was significantly better. This is reflective of tonight’s theme . . . there are so many tools that can do many of the same things, you just need to find the one that best suits your needs. You might not find the right tool the first time . . . or second time . . . third time . . . fourth time . . . but somewhere out there, you will find it.

One pressing issue came to mind throughout the entire session, one that was not mentioned, but one that I find applicable to my situation. TIME!! In listening to the discussions and reading the on-going postings, I came to the forgone conclusion that I have been living in a technological bubble!! 99% of the tools presented to us were ones I have never heard of . . . the ones I have heard of were the ones I discovered last week (because I was told about them!!). Everyone seemed to have some experience with these tools, knew the links, have incorporated them into the classes they teach, or use them in their everyday lives! I found myself wondering where they found the time.

I know that time is a pressing issue in everyone’s life and I am not asking anyone to play a violin for me, or offer me ‘some cheese with my wine’ (I hope I don’t sound like I am whining, I am just a bit overwhelmed!) . I know that my classmates have jobs, families, and extra-curricular responsibilities, yet they are much more in the ‘technological loop’ than I am! If I am not teaching, marking assignments, planning for classes, coaching school sports, attending School Community Counsel meetings, staff meetings, administration meetings . . . running my kids to and from the rink, planning hockey practices, traveling to minor hockey games or tournaments, watching gymnastics classes . . . or even sitting down to spend 10 minutes talking with my wife about our day (and I haven’t even mentioned sitting down to eat . . .or going to bed at a decent hour to catch a few hours sleep each night), where do they (or did they) find the time to learn about these technologies and how they work…to take the necessary time to incorporate them into their everyday teachings and personal lives? I am excited about the possibilities of the technological tools discussed, but I feel at a bit of a loss. A loss in the fact that I am not sure of what all the technologies can do for me (and my classes), and much like the ‘Adobe / Eluminate’ scenario with this class, which one(s) are best suited for my classes!! And if I found the ‘perfect’ technology and was confident enough in my abilities to use it in a classroom setting, would I have access to the technologies my students need? Our computer lab is very rarely not in use. Finding a spare computer (at any given moment) at our school is like finding a needle in a hay-stack!! And if I was lucky enough to have access to the computers needed, would I be able to dip and dive through all the Divisional ‘Red-Tape’ of Firewalls, Pop-up blockers, and permission slips. How many parents are going to worry that their child is potentially being exposed to the ‘Big Bad Internet World’ and all its predators?!

I agree that technology is the wave of the future . . . no, it is the present. I might be naive or even somewhat pessimistic, but from a public school perspective, I think there is a long way to go.

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3 Responses to “Wow . . . the tools!”

  1. You have my complete sympathy about the time issue. One reason I get the time to do these things – like commenting on blogs ;^) – is that I have a *very* supportive spouse. Or at least tolerant. I’m also lucky enough to be in a school that provides unfettered access to computers and to all the good sites like YouTube.

    I learned the tools a little bit at a time, sometimes by trying them myself, but often by reading other blogs and using their knowledge. There’s a lot of knowledge being freely shared. Find the right sources of information and you’re on your way. Now you just have to make time to read the blogs! ;^)

  2. I see your point. I enjoy learning about and using these tools. I find I learn a little at a time and I find that I retain even more if I utilize such tools. That is sometimes an issue. I thought I was doing well to learn the Iwork and Ilife tools. Web 2.0 has presented me with a host of new tools to think about and use.

    One of my concerns as an administrator is for teachers like you who are trying to juggle and balance their life. Technology is only one of many initiatives being pushed in schools. One of the comments I hear from many teachers is that they need time to learn and use these new tools. Realistically, not everyone goes home and twitters, blogs or reads online. (In fact many that I work with do not even know what these tools are). I feel strongly that the time has come for change in school because for the most part schools are still functioning under the industrial model. I don’t feel that we can just wait for educators to be inspired to learn new technology or instructional strategies.

    However, I struggle with how this can be done. I ponder over the question of how I can encourage and support teachers in their use of new tools. I know that just giving more prep time or more inservice sessions is not the answer.

    When I lived in Minnesota, we had to renew our teaching certificates every five years and we had to complete a fair bit of professional development in order to renew. There were different strands that we had to show evidence of PD in. I think that is where I learned about good PD and the importance of it. Perhaps our profession needs to think about this. After all if dentist or doctors did things the same say as they did thirty year ago, they would be out of business. The other aspect that I thought was good in MN was that there were more than seven steps on the salary grid. You could complete fifteen credits and move up a bit on the salary grid. I even worked in one school that had merit pay. My salary wasn’t that great and so this incentive was huge for me then. I managed to get a nice cheque that was very welcome over the summer.

  3. The brightest people blogging say to take your time in the beginning. Let your comfort grow. Don’t try to swallow too much at once. Find a couple tools, maybe it’s RSS or blogging, get your feet wet. Become really comfortable, and then move to something new. As you read edu-blogs you will hear about many fancy tools and ideas, you will not effectively manage your time if you try to learn everything, because there is too much.

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