Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Have Fun with the JibJab Tool for Christmas

It's been awhile since I worked on my blog. I need to get into the routine of it again. Maybe that will be a New Year's resolution. So one way to get it going again is by recommending tools for the classroom and showcasing JibJib that one of the staff made up of some Credenda staff. It's fun and easy to use.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

I have a paid account, which didn't cost much, but you can do a number of activities for free. The students in a classroom could have some fun with this and get themselves ready for the Christmas cheer. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Synchronizing with Google Apps

I've been using Google Calndar Sync for awhile and it's worked really well for me, but a few weeks ago, I struck out to try the new version of Google Apps Sync. I must say, in the few weeks I have been using it, I'm impressed.

Let me start by elaborating on the old standby, but true Google Calendar Sync. I'm still using my Treo 700 Palm smartphone. It be a little outdated, but I'm staunchly rebellious when it comes to parting with a great operating system like Palm, knowing there is really nothing out there quite like it., But I digress. I synchronize my smartphone daily with my Outlook, but I have reserved Outlook for ISP email. So I have my smartphone synchronizing with a few different email addresses, one of which is a Gmail account. So I like synchronizing my calendar from Outlook to my Gmail account. The Google Calendar Sync works great for this. However, it does come with a few warnings. I generally have it syncing only one direction, but you can easily come up with duplicate entries and that can be a headache getting rid of these.

So when I came across the Google Apps Sync recently, I was interested because I had tried them before, but with less than happy results. This time my experience was completely different. This is a great tool. The first thing I noticed was that all my folders that I created for storing my emails automatically were created on my computer after it synchronized with my Google Email. That was was very helpful. In addition, I can go offline and still read emails on my computer, because they were downloaded as well. We don't have an Exchange server at work, but with this app, I'm wondering why we would need it. Google Apps Sync provides everything we would have had with Exchange.

I found this short video online describing how it works in a little more detail. Check it out.





Here's the link for the App: Google App Sync. One thing to note is that it requires a Google Apps Premier Edition or Education Edition account. At Credenda, we have the Education Edition account, so it works for all of out staff and site teachers, who have a Credenda.net email account.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Let me leave you with this at the close of the school year!

It's been a great school year. We have met so many new faces, experienced so many new things, learned so many new outcomes. In the end, our lives are better and enriched by working together, studying together, learning together. It really is about the human side of everything. That being said, I leave you with this video that speaks to our human side. Loving each other and caring about one another. We have promoted the idea of "Being the Change you Want to See" and I want us to continue with that theme as we go into summer break, new jobs, new schools, and more. Have a great summer. I'll look at posting some stories over the summer.

Monday, May 31, 2010

It really sucks to be hacked!!!!

Yesterday, I arrive at work for 8AM and am sitting down for a cup of tea, my morning usual, when I receive a phone call from a former eTeacher asking whether I'm okay. I reply that I'm fine. She goes on to say, she received an email from my GMail account saying I was stranded in Wales after being mugged. I raced to my computer and try to log on to my account with no success. Someone had hacked my account and was using it for their own personal scam. As a computer guy, who takes tremendous precautions with my accounts and using the Internet, I was frustrated.

I immediately go to where Gmail directs you to reset your password, and receive an email at my alternate email account saying my password is reset and am able to log in. I frantically begin to email all 839 of my contacts that I'm sorry for any inconvenience, but am unable to because I have maxed my limit for emails as the hacker had already sent the maximum amount of emails and I couldn't send anymore. In hindsight, I needed to go through my account settings and change all forwarding information that was being redirected to the hackers email. So when I reset my password, I didn't think about the hacker getting an email that the password was changed at the same time. So while I was logged on, the hacker entered my account and changed the password on me again logging me out of my session. I go back to Gmail to reset my password. I get back in and am looking for the forwarding information. I delete that incident. What I didn't realize is there is a second place to go to change the password recovery information. The hacker had changed things there too. This is one of things he/she changed. They had the mail being forwarded to another Yahoo account.



In addition, they had the inserted their mobile number under the Accounts and Import Tab, Change Account Settings. They changed my personal security question as well.



The above image illustrates where I didn't update my information quickly enough when I would get back into my account. So every time I reset the password, the hacker was being notified by text message and at the secondary email address. I've since researched that it is important to insert your mobile number in this place in the event that an individual does breach your account and change the password, it alerts you immediately and you may prevent what happened to me.

Upon being blocked out completely, I was unable to access this blog, because it was linked to my Gmail account. I then went to the FBI site and filed a complaint with the information I had retrieved from the account forwarding. I had written down the email address. I then sent an email to the hacker from another Gmail account I created just for them informing them that I had contacted the FBI.

I tried to call Google, but every thing was closed for Memorial Day. Trying to find a contact phone number for Google was difficult. I finally found it on some forum. After some digging around I found a link at Gmail for resetting your password that sent an email to my primary email account and I got into my account, changed all the forwarding information to my own. When the hacker tried again, I received the email that they had reset the password instead of them receiving it this time. In the meantime, when I finally got into my account the hacker had deleted all my contacts and every email for 5 years.

That was frustrating. Another frustration is Gmail asking for when you created the account. If you cannot answer the question, you cannot report the account as being compromised. The only way you find out when your account was created is by your first few emails, if you kept them.

Here's the message that was sent out, so you are aware. It's not new. After searching, I have found that it has been used since January of this year.

"I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my fam and I came down here to Wales,United Kingdom for a short vacation unfortunately we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us. We've been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in less than few hours from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills, I'm freaked out at the moment."

When any of my contacts responded, they received this response:

"Glad you replied back.All i need is a quick loan of $1,300 to sort out the hotel bills cos the authorities have already make arrangement for our return tickets and I thought about having it wired to my bank account but i can't find a branch of my financial institution anywhere close,There's a Western Union money transfer service very close to Heath row Airport(that's where we're flying from).I can receive it there within minutes right after you have wired the cash to my name. you can send it from any western union outlet around you. Here are the details needed to get it to me Name: (My Name) Location:Cardiff Wales United Kingdom As soon as it has been done, kindly get back to me with the MTCN confirmation number"

How did this happen you might ask? I recently was at my Wilkes University graduation in Pennsylvania, and accessed my Gmail on the hotel wireless, which was unsecure. Two days ago, I received notification from Gmail, that someone was tampering with my account, and was I in the vicinity of any of the following IP addresses. I looked them over, and thought. They were just checking to see if I had accessed the account from another locale. I shrugged it off, thinking it probably was okay. That was my second mistake. I really needed to pay attention to that warning. The first mistake was using an unsecure network. As I type this blog from a hotel room in Saskatchewan, I am hardwired, because the network is unsecure here as well. I'm taking no chances.

I want to thank all the concerned friends that called my from as far away as Columbus, Ohio to check that I was okay. Greatly appreciated.

On a positive note, I finished my Master of Science in Education degree with Wilkes University. That will always be a highlight, despite the hacking experience. Hopefully folks will be warned and take the necessary precautions to prevent this from happening to them. I thought I was cautious, but obviously not enough. I take comfort that I'm not the only computer guy, who has been hacked. If you want, take the time to read the blog (Gmail and Google Apps Account) from another individual who was hacked. He gives some great recommendations, which I've already began to implement.

On another positive note, I want to leave you with another powerful video by Ken Robinson at TedTalks. You may remember the talk he gave about Schools killing Creativity. This is a follow-up called "Bring on the Learning Revolution." Absolutely great!



Enjoy!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Digital Learners! Real Learning!

This past week has been hectic with everything needing to get done at the office. But it's the evening class I'm teaching that is really making all the hustle and bustle worthwhile. As I am preparing the materials, I find myself scanning through oodles of videos that I can embed into my lesson. There is so much out there. I'm teaching a class called "Supporting Language Instruction" for Teacher (Education) Assistants. The students are getting a lot of technology thrown at them, but they are getting it. Some will say at the beginning, "I don't get it." But I work with them on Elluminate Live, either by desktop sharing, or application sharing, and it is so cool seeing people succeed in using the technology and learning.

We've incorporated using a Wikispace as a place for the students to create a page of resources for themselves to use later and share with other para-professionals. I really hope that the wiki can be a site where it can remain evergreen and current for each other. But it can be a challenge for learners (adult), who have used very little technology to learn about create links, or embedding favourite videos from TedTalk or TeacherTube.

Here's a sample of video that I watched this week from TedTalk that I really liked. I liked it so much that I sent out a mass email (which I rarely do) to teachers all across Saskatchewan about the need for math curriculums needing a makeover. In Saskatchewan, the trend is to move towards making math more of a real life experience, rather than the prescriptive, problem-solving, formula driven math of the past.



This young teacher really captures the reality that math needs to become more real for students. Part of making it more real, is using technology to enhance the experience for students. I was challenged by this video, because it stressed how we have busied ourselves with trying to bring students from point A to point B. This is not only for math, but many subject areas. We've taught know the facts, but missed the boat by not stressing the point of experiencing the facts. As I write this, I'm reminded of Bloom's revised taxonomy, which shifts away from the knowledge focus to the understanding all the way to the creating emphasis.



This blog was abruptly interrupted due to some technological issues with Firefox. Funny how, I'm trying to promote the use of technology and sometimes the technology doesn't support me with my claims. :) For whatever reason, javascript won't work with certain applets in Firefox 3.6.3 and Windows 7. Thinking of making the switch to Google Chrome. So back to the technical issues, I couldn't embed the taxonomy image into the blog, because the insert image applet wouldn't work on my home laptop, so I'm finishing this off at the office. What's the lesson here? Well, this is real life. Sometimes things don't work right with technology, but we don't abandon it. We find ways to make it work for us. Unfortunately, our students encounter huge technical issues in their remote communities. Last night for example, two students experienced a thunderstorm that caused them to get booted from their live classroom because Internet kept fluctuating. Frustrating for them, but they didn't give up. We worked through it and learned lots in the process. That being said, I leave you with another little gem for a video that promotes the use of digital learning.



Well, that's my thoughts and ramblings for this week.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Searching and Sharing Made Interesting and Easy


A couple of weeks ago, I was introduced to a couple of great Web 2.0 tools that I think would be great in a classroom and might make a teacher's life a little easier and maybe a student's interest level increase.

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for search engines that make web searching a little more interesting than text based links. But I'm also looking for time savers when it comes to finding web pages. I really like this new tool called SpaceTime 3D. Those of you who have used Cooliris will know what I am talking about. Cooliris gives you the ability to search for photos from either Google images or Yahoo images galleries and present them in 3D format. You can move your mouse over the photos and scroll through a list with one click, rather than having to go each page and view an image individually. It's a great add-on in Firefox and a great resource for searching images fast and easy, but I digress.

I did a quick search for Credenda Virtual in the SpaceTime and this is what came up for an image. What this search engine does is loads a number of pages in sequence that the searcher can scroll through without having to go to each page individually.


To get a larger view, just click on the above image. But this hopefully gives you an idea of the potential of a tool like this. Now a drawback might be bandwidth issues. Because it pre-loads the web pages in the background it does use up more bandwidth.

Another feature SpaceTime 3D offers is a separate browser that can be downloaded and used outside of Firefox, IE, or Safari. With this browser, you can save your searches and go back and forth between stacked search windows.

I see how youth are attracted to images and I think that this search engine may increase the levels of engagement for students. For myself, I really get tired of browsing through pages of searches to find what I am looking for. I've used add-on tools like SearchPreview in Firefox, because I want to see a snapshot of what the search list has found so I don't have to visit one page at a time and which can be a huge time-waster. So this is one tool that was shared with me recently, that I thought be of some value in our classroom.

The other Web 2.0 tool is LiveBinder. Wow. What a great tool! I recently completed a digital portfolio for myself and this tool really impressed me and worked well at placing all my webpages, videos, and resources that I have created in Wikispaces, Ning, LinkedIn in one hosted environment. Imagine a tool that will allow your students to work in groups and create different media resources that they can place in one location and share with other group members or with the teacher.

Some of the features include:

  • View URL links within a binder page
  • Upload Word docs, or PDF's that are embedded in the a page
  • Create tabs and subtabs for organizing information
  • Upload media: Quicktime, SWF, and more into a page
  • Use it for classroom presentations
  • Build a library of resources for students to access
  • Create group projects to share with other group members

Here's a quick overview of LiveBinders for Teachers.



Once you've created your LiveBinder, you can share it our by email, Twitter, Facebook, or embed it like I'm doing here. Check it out.



Pretty cool, Eh? Can you tell I'm Canadian? Hope you enjoy this quick tour in my LiveBinder. It's just a smattering of some of the work I have done in the past year, and work I continue to do. Check it out.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Social Networks - Friends or Not?

I deactivated my Facebook account about eight weeks ago, and I don't miss it. Really, at first I was checking it every spare hour I had, but I got to the place that I really started to dislike it. A lot of it centred around privacy issues for me. I'm sure we have all heard stories of people losing their jobs because of pictures being posted or comments being made that were inappropriate. While I was not worried about anything being posted without my permission or that might be compromising, because my life is pretty quiet (almost boring), I disliked having to read other people's news feeds that was full of swearing or silly comments.

Initially when the fad started I added everybody I knew. People I hadn't seen or heard from for years were adding me. I never talked to them even after they became my Facebook friends, but they were on list. That's all that matter. But eventually I started filtering out people I didn't want on my friends list. Apparently deleting them from your list is called a Facebook slam. However, the intention was not to slam anybody, but just bring my list down to a realistic number of people I wanted as friends.

But even after that people were tagging photos they posted of me and writing silly comments that I got tired of. So I made the plunge to deactivate the account to see how I might survive without it. I have done very well without it. I really don't miss it all.

I have concerns about how young people are using it today. I realize that it is pretty hard to ban the use of Facebook in schools when almost every student is carrying a cellphone that they can use to access Facebook. But I find it a huge time waster. I have seen young people sit in front of the computer screen going through photos after photos, writing comments, chatting online for hours. It clearly has become a major social network for students to use to communicate with one another. But clearly, they need to learn about how much information to post about themselves and how they need to interact with one another. Just like we used to spend time teaching our own children and our students about how to speak to one another politely and courteously, we need to teach our students about social networking etiquette. Here's a couple of links about determining how to use a social network like Facebook; Social Networking Etiquette or The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette.

Recently, I had a conversation with a number of educators about whether or not they added their students to their Facebook friends list. The overwhelming consensus was "absolutely no way!" And I agree.

Call me old fashion, but let's put this into context. Remember the time before computers and MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, did we engage in social activities with our students? Did we go to the weekend party they were at and hang out with them? We didn't have email, or SMS, or Facebook, but did we send them Valentine cards in the mail, or write personal letters to them telling them about what we were doing in our lives, or share our photo albums with them. We didn't do any of that stuff, because it would have seemed weird and inappropriate.

So my question is how does the new trend of social networks and technology make it acceptable. I know teachers who have students as their friends in Facebook and use it to post assignments. But in a case like this, I would want a separate account that was just a teacher profile. But most students don't take the time to create two profiles, and I'm not sure I want to see all the stuff they put on their profiles. I think that is the parents job to see what their children are doing online.

While the majority of teachers are trustworthy, I think friending students on Facebook is risky and weird. I wouldn't recommend it. While I don't want to sound paranoid, I do think there is potential for both teachers or students to get into trouble by what gets posted. Everybody, who is friends with that person, sees what is said about them, to them.

Reputations are on the line. Kids innocence needs to be protected. I wouldn't do it. There are other resources like Ning, EduBlog, Wikispace to use with students.

However, I was introduced by Greg Limperis, founder of the Technology Integration in Education to LinkedIn. This site is makes it's distinction from Facebook by being a professional network. It's a place to collaborate with people in the same line of work or share similar interests with one another. I certainly haven't figured out all the ins and outs about it's advantages and disadvantages. But my first impression is that it's not in the same category as Facebook. So I'm going to try it for awhile.

I hope to add to some of the educational discussions that come up in this network. I'm really not interested in sharing with the world what I'm eating today, or what I'm watching on TV this very moment, but I am interested in participating in dialogues about how do we improve learning standards in our classrooms, or how to integrate 21st Century technology with our learning outcomes. These are the things that excite me. That being said, I really enjoyed this video called, Learning to Change - Changing to Learn. I hope you like it too. I think is has some important things to say to us as educators, parents, and students.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Can we motivate students? Or do they have to be self-motivated?

We’ve all had those students in our classroom that we just couldn’t get motivated for all the effort we tried. Whether it was using a rewards system with lots of extrinsic motivation, short of literally going and picking the student up from home and bringing them to school, it seemed like everything we did failed to produced long-term results. One school where I worked paid the students $25.00 per month for perfect attendance. The students clearly learned you go to school, no matter if you learn anything or not, you get paid. The reward system clearly didn’t work, and students were no more motivated by extrinsic means than they were when they began school. In fact, they may have been less motivated. So how do we tap into a students’ own intrinsic motivation? How do we kick start it if extrinsic motivation doesn’t work? This is where the constructivist in me shows itself. I believe that technology can and will aid in tapping into a students’ intrinsic motivation by engaging their creativity.

Recently, I had the good fortune of getting a pre-released copy of Daniel Pink’s new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, which is coming out in January. Although this book was written for corporate America in mind, there are some tremendous applications for students and teachers. But the research is really solid and supports my premise that extrinsic motivation does not work. Prior to reading this book, I could tell you qualitatively from my experience that motivation is something that a person possesses for them self. I cannot force a student to be motivated to do something. Motivation seems to have to come from a person’s own volition. If I force a person to do something, it’s not their motivation that is responding. It may be fear or compliance, but the moment I withdraw the external pressure, that person will in all probability cease to do what they were doing. The same goes for using rewards on students. The reward becomes a form of bribery that replaces the intrinsic motivation of doing a task for the sake of the task itself or from the mere pleasure from accomplishing the task. We’ve probably all heard the frustrated parent in the shopping centre telling the screaming child that if they stop crying they would get an ice cream later. It worked for the moment, but the child was no closer to not putting up a fuss in the future. In fact, they only came to expect something extra in subsequent outings. We see this example and say we would never do this, but whenever posed with the similar situation or a classroom with students crawling up the walls, we are tempted to try these tactics, because they produce short-term results. But this does not mean we have tapped into the intrinsic motivation of the student and helped them on the road to learning.

Schools and the corporate world has been dangling carrots and sticks in front of students and workers for years with the hope that it would “improve performance, increase productivity, and encourage excellence” by rewarding the good and punishing the bad (Pink, 2009, p. 17). Despite the evidence that in most cases it doesn’t produce lasting, real results, our schools keep doing it right along with the corporate world. No Child Left Behind is perfect example of placing huge pressure on schools to produce results through strict compliance to standards for accountability purposes, yet our student results show little or no evidence of improvement, because we have not tapped into the intrinsic motivation of the child.

Pink shares some fascinating research in 1969 where individuals were placed into two groups: one group received a reward, the other received no reward. Each group was given puzzle pieces and asked to construct according to the drawings provided showing three configurations. The group that received the reward was told they would be paid for each successful puzzle, while the other group was simply asked to construct the puzzles. Both were given a time limit of eight minutes. The researchers were testing the hypothesis; Give me a reward, and I’ll work harder. What surprised them was that over a period of time, the group that received the payment actually took longer to perform the task than the group that received no payment. The researchers were surprised to learn that the reward actually had a negative impact on the subjects. What it did tell them was the individuals who received no payment drew from a greater sense of innate creativity and drive for facing and exploring a challenge (Pink, 2009, pp. 5-8). Further research has since been done with different variations with similar results. When people are rewarded for their performance, they are less creative and even more stressed to accomplish the task. Even more importantly, when the rewards are taken away, an apathy set in where the individuals had little or no motivation to do the work or task given. Pink goes on to say that after 128 experiments in 1999, the conclusion was that “tangible rewards tend to have a substantially negative effect on intrinsic motivation (2009, p.35).” Furthermore, when the “focus is short-term and opts for controlling people’s behaviour, (2009, p.35) there is long-term damage.

What does this mean for students and schools? We need to be careful not to use extrinsic motivation in drawing out our students to learn. In fact, research seems to show us that we need to really tap into our students intrinsic motivation, which according to Pink is “the drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing, which is essential for high levels of creativity (2009, P. 43).” Our students need to be challenged, but not necessarily from a perspective that they comply by doing a prescribed task that we have given them. Instead, we need to engage our students in the learning process by getting them to exercise their creativity. Often times, this means that it is less teacher directed, and more student initiated or determined. Self-determination theory (SDT) suggests that intrinsic motivation loves to learn and know, and accomplish things, and experience stimulation that produces mastery in particular subject areas (Peterson & Seligman, 2004, pp. 165-166). Further to this, Pink says that “human beings have an innate drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to each other. And when this drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives (2009, p. 67).” From a constructivist perspective that embraces SDT, we need to be conscientious and aware that students, deep inside their brain and under what may appear as apathy, is a love for learning, but it needs to be fostered and encourage in the right environment. As teachers, we need to create a safe place to learn that promotes the positive.

Students have been confined to performing limiting tasks in schools that restrict their creativity. For years, they have been assigned the standard paragraph or essay writing exercise that when given the choice to do something different, they often resort back to what they are familiar with and find less risky. This needs to change for our students. If we are going to see our students intrinsically motivated about learning and better prepared for the workplace, we need to let them express themselves creatively. They need to be able to do so with some freedom. Times are changing. The workplace is demanding that individuals be able to think more creatively. Pink states that during the 20th Century, most work was algorithmic, which was very organized, prescribed, and layered in what was to be done. This approach is very much dependent on extrinsic motivation. However, in the 21st Century, more workplaces are encouraging a heuristic focus that allows for more freedom and interpretation and does not respond very well to extrinsic motivation (2009, pp. 25-26). Think about the implications for our students. We need to do less algorithmic work with them such as memorization and following a textbook and allow more interpretation and self discovery from our students.

This is where the technology comes into play. Think of the potential for students when given choice to create freely as an expression of themselves, how liberating and self-motivating this can be. Imagine with me the potential of connecting with a student on a level of engagement that has brain synapses firing wildly because of the learning and stimulation that is taking place. Sadly, most classrooms do not connect on this level, but they really need to for the sake of the students. There are a number of ways that this can be accomplished. Let us take a standard piece of literature for example, Hamlet. A typical approach to this Shakespearean play is to read the individual acts and complete review questions. Sometimes there is some class discussion about themes and the language used. An essay is assigned to discuss the role of the protagonist and antagonist in the play. At the end, everyone sits in their seats watching the Mel Gibson version of Hamlet on DVD. Students fumble through the play wondering how this is going to help them be better prepared for post-secondary education or the workplace. Yet, the play is rich in themes that relate to everyday life, but rarely do we see the creative expressions of students touch on these themes. Instead of giving students the prescribed lists of questions, we need to give students choices using technology to express themselves. Maybe one of the choices is to create a short digital video using Lego to re-enact a key scene. This is no small feat reconstructing a scene with Lego, but it comes with a challenge. For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-HW8xk0N3g Maybe it’s not Lego, but modeling clay, or sticks, or digitally created figurines. Even this needs to be a choice for the students. The teacher may need to brainstorm with the students about ideas. Maybe they use PhotoStory made up with still shots that are put together. Students could use Animoto to make a music video version of a scene like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_xPPrTkV30 . Once the students have finished their project, they can post them on a Wikispace and review each other’s digital short movies like this site, http://hamletremixed.wikispaces.com/ . The main purpose of this is not to create a fun assignment, but something challenging, rewarding, and fulfilling. The students need to think about what they are contributing to the world at large with a project such as theirs. How are they helping others? What can they share in their creative product that teaches others about themselves? There needs to be meaning attached to what the students do that adds to the creativity.

Technology is simply the tool that facilitates and broadens the students understanding and learning and self-expression. As educators, we need to embrace technology. The opportunities are limitless for students with technology. It gives them the opportunity to connect with other students around the world and collaborate on projects using Ning or some other Web 2.0 tool. Pink in quoting Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, says, “creativity generally involves crossing the boundaries of domains (2006, p. 135).” Using technology in the classroom can definitely be a matter of crossing domains. Moving out of the traditional modality of using pen and paper to embracing technology in teaching can be a challenge. Often we used paper, such as worksheets, as a means of classroom control. Using technology to have the students write their papers on Microsoft Word just to replace paper isn’t necessarily crossing domains or being creative. We’re talking about really letting ourselves as teachers explore technology as a creative exercise for ourselves first, so that we can help the students get there. There’s no sense trying to lead students in using technology to tap into their intrinsic motivation, if we as educators are not prepared to go there. If we want students to engage in learning, then we as educators need to engage as well. Engagement leads to mastery, which is self-satisfying. This is what Csikszentmihalyi calls, ““autotelic experiences”, where the goal is self-fulfilling, and the activity is its own reward (Pink, 2009, p. 104).” As educators, we need to really encourage our students in embracing the creative dimension of their being. But how can we do this, if we are not prepared to embrace it for ourselves.

As much as technology can be a hurdle for everyone, we need to come up with fewer excuses and take on the challenge. Technology can allow students creativity to flow that further motivates them to pursue new challenges. The possibilities are limitless.

References:

Peterson, C, & Seligman, M. (2004). Character Strengths & Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pink, Daniel. (2006). A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future. Riverhead Books. New York, New York.

Pink, Daniel. (2009). Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. Riverhead Books. New York, New York.

Nelso2004. (2008, January 13) Lego Hamlet. Retrieved December 4, 2009 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-HW8xk0N3g

Pray4peace4ever. (2009, November, 08) William Shakespeare: Animoto Video. Retrieved December 4, 2009 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_xPPrTkV30

Monday, January 18, 2010

Credenda's Response to Haiti

It has been at least a month since I submitted a blog entry and it's time to do it. Especially in light of what has recently happened in Haiti. I don't know about you, but I watch the news with horror. I can't imagine the terror people felt watching their worlds come crashing down around them. Children left without parents. Schools and hospitals destroyed. The pictures over the news show tremendous devastation.

Many of us enjoy the luxuries of life in Canada. We have shelter and food. When the H1N1 virus hit, the government made the vaccine available to every citizen that wanted it. Granted there were some glitches, but in the end, we didn't end up on the streets sleep with the dead. I'm not trying to be morbid, but we need to be aware and face some of these harsh realities. But facing them is not enough if we are not moved to action.

As a virtual school and college, we want to do something. We talk about character with our students all the time. It's time to do something. The Canadian government has agreed to match dollar for dollar to the money that is donated to the Haiti Relief, if donated between January 12 and February 12, 2010. That has spurred us to do something similar with our students. We want to encourage our eStudents and faculty from both the high school and college to consider donating money to provide some relief to Haiti. We've agreed to match whatever our eStudents or faculty give from Credenda as well. So not only will a Credenda staff or student's financial donation be double by the federal government, Credenda will match it as well.

We are researching the best way to collect the funds from the staff and students. Some suggestions have been made about using PayPal, but more details will come out as we find out the best way to do this. There are a few sites I want you to check out that provide stories of hope.

The first site is a blog from Tom Vanderwell, at the orphanage called God's Littlest Angels. Tom is keeping the information current each day as new information comes out. I heard recently, that there are over 50,000 orphans in Haiti. Since this earthquake we don't know the numbers of orphans there are now. Some governments are considering passing bills that would allow for adoptions to be fast tracked.

Another site that is keeping the world informed and collecting money for Haiti is World Vision. World Vision has been around for a long time and has a great reputation for being accountable. We've worked with them in the past, and we will work with them during this crisis. We want to think of ways that we can do something to address the educational needs of the children. Since we are a virtual school, is there something we can do to assist in the delivery of education to children without schools. if you have any ideas, let us know. We are open to all kinds of suggestions.

Here's a video to watch:

video

We need to do something. Now is the time to act. Remember our motto this year is "Be the change you want to see."