I have been teaching the IB diploma Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS) course for almost ten years now. It is probably one of the most demanding IB diploma courses in terms of lesson preparation and delivery as technology moves so fast giving rise to new ethical issues and social challenges. Each year the range of online resources and tools become more powerful and sophisticated and I rarely delivery the same lesson twice. For example, this year the ethical discussions focus more on the pirating of eBooks, the introduction of the newspaper pay-wall to ensure high-quality news and the controversial airport security weapon – the body scanner. These replace the ‘so-last year’ issues of music piracy, gaming addiction, the wonders of citizen journalism and biometric information embedded in RFID chips in passports. In our ITGS classes, we are constantly connecting to new tools and resources to extend our learning and this year we are taking the next step by connecting with other ITGS students. I will working alongside my friend and colleague, Julie Lindsay from BISS, as we team up our two Grade 11 classes. Our intention is to work together to develop and co-deliver the course, have our students communicate and collaborate with each other, encourage participation from ITGS schools around the world, as well as documenting our journey along the way. Our journey has begun! It is a journey that will explore the challenges of learning in the 21st century. Our vision is for our students will become ‘connected learners’; students who can seamlessly move between our physical classrooms and our evolving ITGS cyber-school and beyond.
If you would like to learn more about our ITGS cyber-class, please visit:
insideITGS.net – our blog that aims to document our journey
insideITGS.ning - our global network that allows classrooms to connect, communicate and collaborate
insideITGS.wikispaces.com – our wiki of resources that we will build on the way
In her latest post in our blog, Julie writes:
“The Challenge with Connecting is finding the right tools to facilitate efficient connections AND adopting behaviors for connected learning. Participants in online learning communities need to realize that the learning and therefore the connecting does not stop once the face-to-face class has ended.”
Some questions to ponder:
- Are your students ‘connected learners’?
- What online learning communities do you participate in?
- How connected are you for learning?
We’ve just had the annual MacBook rollout with 150 Middle and High school students picking up new laptops – the majority of which are new to WAB and more importantly, new to Mac. As usual, all the students wanted to do was to get the MacBook home and start to play. Our goal was to persuade them to stay for an additional 20+ minutes of instructional orientation so that they can hit the ground running on the first day back.
This is my third annual rollout and we pretty much know what we need to impart. Here is our essential list:
- Getting connected to the Internet at home. After all, our students really want to get connected to Facebook 24/7 and even though it’s blocked here, we are pretty sure they’ll find a way to get through!
- WAB Online resources, specifically WAB online email and Moodle which is our virtual learning environment. Students need to know the lingo such as ‘enrollment key’ as many teacher will have the Moodle courses ready to go from lesson 1.
- Mac 101 – a crash course on how to use the Mac – a quick tour of the dock, finder and spotlight – and for the PC users, how to ‘right-click’. Organisation – not always a strong point with students – however as a 1:1 school with very few paper resources, students need to learn from day 1 how to make folders and store files appropriately so we feel 5 minutes investment of time to demonstrate is crucial.
- Backup – we encourage all students to buy external hard drives and use Time Machine. We also use the mantra ‘Back up before your pack-up’ using Dropbox, a USB memory stick or the very least, email the document to themselves!
- And finally and new this year, the introduction of Evernote, which takes the pain out of backing up as it automatically syncs to the cloud and helps with organisation with notebooks (folders) and tagging.
All this in 20 minutes….
We also added a word of warning to parents about losing their child to the world of cyberspace. Last year our advice was to remove the power cable – after two hours the battery would be empty and there would be a good chance of some sleep! This year, this is not the case as the battery life is probably longer than a night’s sleep – so our advice to parents is to have all communication devices out of the bedroom and on the dining room table overnight! Good luck with that one….