Month: January 2020

Collaboration is KEY!!!

As an educator I find that there is nothing more important than collaboration. Firstly, I have learned more from talking with other teachers, than I did in any course or class I have been in. Not to say there is not a place or time for course work, as there are important academic elements and theories that educators need to know. However, for the practical implementation and pedagogical development, I have found COLLABORATION IS KEY.

I am very fortunate to share an office space with my colleagues. This leads to many impromptu meetings and collaboration sessions. And more importantly the rambling brain work of creating amazing things that could be done in our school. Not only does collaboration give you the space to develop ideas and be creative, it is also a great sounding board and provides a committee for problem solving. I have spent many a lunch hour proposing issues and getting incredible feedback and ideas for solutions. I have found that the community of teachers/colleagues you surround yourself with is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to becoming an effective educator.

Now although I benefit from a supportive group in the building, there are many ways to develop a collaborative community outside of your school building. For example, participating in social media with fellow professionals, or building relationships through educational endeavors.

This week in class, we participated in an Ed Camp – where we were able to meet in small groups and discuss topics of interest. I spent the time in a group discussing blended learning and online learning environments. From this discussion we elaborated on how the U-Connect program works and some of the challenges and barriers we face.

The recurring theme was the idea that students don’t have the skills to navigate online education when they enter school and that success rates in online learning could be better. After some discussion, the U-Connect teachers came up with an idea to create a 2 credit course that teachers all the practical skills required to be successful in an online education program. If we had not had the opportunity to collaborate and discuss blended learning with a larger group of teachers, we would have never developed the idea to prepare students for online education in an independent course.

COLLABORATION IS KEY. Period. The end. It allows educators an opportunity to become better professionals and better educators. It also allows programs to change and adapt for the needs of their students.

Images retrieved from the public domain Pixabay.

THAT’S GREAT … BUT ________?

After all of the articles that I have read so far, I keep coming to the same conclusion:


Now let me explain a little bit, I have found that academic articles analyze and critique the educational system that we currently have (which is great) and then they propose solutions or ideal situations where all of our wildest dreams come true. (and yes, as an educator I do dream about my classroom and courses.)  Then reality hits me square in the face and I think (or shout in my head), how the heck am I going to implement that idea? Or even worse, that would be great … but what would (students, school district, parents, etc.) say.


SERIOUSLY? I know this seems like a small barrier to face as an educator, but I am finding that this is my first thought to why I could or could not use a certain technology in the classroom.


For example, Future Technology Infrastructures for Learning, the authors discuss the transition of educational technology. Specifically, there are 4 generations of educational technology:

  • CONTROL = basic technology use
  • INTEGRATION = enterprise systems
  • OWNERSHIP = fragmentation and diversification
  • STRUCTURE = distributed and digitally shaped technology

They continue to discuss the steps and struggles educators face as they start to shift their pedagogical practices.  Siemins, Gasevic and Dawson state that “knowledge revolution is rapidly transitioning into a learning revolution.” (p. 203) Traditionally learning has been controlled by teachers, and now we are attempting to provide learning opportunities where students have more influence.  This isn’t a bad thing, it just means that educators need to be given the TIME, RESOURCES & SUPPORT to implement these ideals.


To summarize, I don’t disagree with the aspirations to revolutionize education and learning, however I just think the timeline is a little unrealistic. It’s GREAT to want students to take ownership their education BUT what about students who are not motivated/don’t care about school?   It’s GREAT that there are so many digital technologies available BUT do teachers and students have the skills to use them effectively? Or will the school district support the use of those technologies. It’s GREAT to educate student teachers on new and innovative digital platforms and pedagogies BUT will their school have the resources to integrate them in the classroom?



Siemens, G., Gašević, D., & Dawson, S. (2015). Preparing for the Digital University: A Review of the History and Current State of Distance, Blended, and Online Learning. Retrieved from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website:

Data Privacy & Awareness

The digital world is everywhere and there is little student or teacher can do to avoid engaging in it.

I read about new and amazing ways to engage students through digital medias and watch as other teachers integrate programs and technology flawlessly. Then I decided to start a Masters program in Educational technology in the hopes that my skill set would grow and I would feel more comfortable and able to integrate technology in my own classroom.


Now to back track a bit, I rely heavily on digital technologies because I would at a distance learning school, where students attend part time (Mondays and Tuesdays) and work online for the remainder of the week.  My courses are entirely on an online platform, so students can access content, activities and assignments. That all sounds good on paper, but I continue to struggle with integrated digital technology use beyond an online textbook and typed written assignment.

So, when I see other educators using technology in creative ways, or I find a new app or program I always think of how I could use it in my own classroom.


Just when I think I have figured it all out, BAM! Data privacy issues.

Part of me wants to say “Who cares” students have already given access to so much of their personal information through social media platforms and other online things I don’t fully understand.


Then the other more practical and reasonable voice in my head speaks up and tells me that data privacy does matter.  Students seem to be so engaged with the digital world, but I can’t assume that they okay with using certain programs and technology just because I think it will fit perfectly into my lesson.

Our school and district make sure that they use programs whose information is stored on Canadian servers. (I think I said that right, but please don’t quote me). Either way – student and teacher’s private information is safe. But there are so many things out there that would be perfect to use for education.


Caines and Glass found that “if students want to participate in standard educational activities, they often have little opportunity for real choice or consent around what data is collected.” And it got me thinking, how often do I give students an opportunity to “opt out” of educational activities? Or even more importantly, how often do I consider the privacy of students’ data before planning a lesson?

So, where does that leave me? First, I could offer students to opt out, but not really honor their decision. (Which I don’t think will work in my favor.) Second, I could give students choice in how they participate in learning. (Which the stubborn part of me does not want to have to make a back up plan. It sounds like more work.) Or third, I could become more educated on data privacy issues, and teach my students to be more aware of why data protection is important and applicable to them.


When students become more educated on how their data is collected and used, they are more able to protect themselves. Their increased digital literacy can only help them in the future.

Caines, A., & Glass, E. (2019, Fall). Education before Regulation: Empowering Students to Question Their Data Privacy. EDUCAUSE Review, 54(4). Retrieved from

Open Educational Resources, just one of the things I didn’t know.

Open educational resources sound fantastic. So why are there not more widely available? 

Evidently, there are many open resources out in the academic world, I just have never known where or how to look for them. (Until I was shown in post-secondary classes). And to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I am an expert yet. When reading about these vast resources available to academics and educators I was expecting to see sites that I already use. However, that was not the case – so apparently, I have been doing this whole thing wrong for a while.  

But this revelation, got me thinking … what about high school students? I know that I teach my students to properly cite any sources that they use. And I expect them to give at the very least a list of sources where they found their information. But I don’t know if I have spent any time showing students where to find and how to use open resources.  

Despite these resources being widely available, I feel they are still restricted (unintentionally) to the academic world. Even the articles I looked at this week are all directed at post-secondary education, academics and individuals inquiring about specific information.  

Not to say there is not a place for open educational resources for the everyday, I just haven’t seen it in practice. (That could just be my ignorance to the use of open educational resources, and not a true reflection of their use in the average life of a teacher).  

Maybe the bigger question is why hadn’t I heard of open educational resources outside of the academic world? Or taking a step further and asking how we can make these resources well known and commonly used.  The first thing to look at would be what barriers are in place and how we can remove them.  (Which I’m sorry to say I do not have an answer for.) The second would be to promote the use of open educational resources in K-12 education. The more students are informed about the information that is out there, the more likely they are to use it.   

The more open educational resources are used, the more efficient and effective they will become. Or at least that is the trend I have noticed in the educational world. Take social media for an example, what started as a neat idea to implement in the academic world, has grown to be a highly used and effective source of professional development.  

Maybe it will just take some time to spread the use of open educational resources. Or maybe it’s just me, an out of touch educator who will now begin to learn the use of open education resources in the classroom.