Blog Post 5 – Breaking the Digital Divide

Breaking the Digital Divide – HELPS

What is the digital divide? As a parent I see the digital divide exemplified in a variety of ways in our Education system.

First, I wonder what kind of educational technology options are available for my kids in their school. For example, I have two children and one has a SMARTboard in their classroom and one does not. In this case, the digital divide would refer to the “hardware” that one classroom has over the other. Hardware could refer to SMARTboards, iPads, mobile leanring devices and carts of laptops. However, the digital divide is not just about the “hardware” that you see in the schools. It is what my kids are “doing” with the hardware that is important. Although there is a SMARTboard in my son’s classroom, it is not being ysed to engage the students and encourage them to think critically. Instead, it is being used as a VCR. As a result, the hardware and how the teacher “uses” the technology are equally important.

Breaking the digital divide is dependent on other factors than who has the most computer “hardware”. It is also dependent on the leadership of your child’s school and the vision and culture at the school. What kinds of ways does the adminsitration team promote educational leadership in the school? Does your principal have a blog? Do they use twitter? Does your school promote classroom blogs? Is there evidence of a partnership between what goes on at school and what goes on at home? Are there opportunities for you as a parent to learn about digital citizenship? Are there parent sessions or online courses at your school to help you understand about educational technology?

Finally, digital divide also refers to the opportunities your child has to complete their education in a “personalized” way. Digital options include online courses like those offered through HELPS and GlobalEd. Students would have the opportunity to add or enrich to their education by “bridging” face to face leanring enviornments and online environments. More details can be found at: www.GlobalEd.ca

In the next posts I will cover some issues regarding being a parent and the invasion of “social media”.
Thank you,

Verena Roberts BEd, MA, TESL, MET – in progress
CEO- Chief Education Officer, www.GlobalEd.ca

Blog Post 4 – OpenSource vs LMS

What does Open Source mean? What does LMS mean?

A LMS is a Learning Management System. It is the software used by a school district, maintained by a school district server, to store data, information and online courses. Most BC school districts use a Moodle LMS, but there are others like Blackboard and Desire2Learn.
LMS is a contained, secure system controlled by a school district.

In the last few weeks there has been a big debate about what open source means and what opportunities it can mean for the future of education. Open source can mean two things. It can mean open resources that can be found “freely” on the web. It can also mean open  online courses that use blogs, wikis and other “networks” for students to openly complete their work.

Harvard and MIT have recently joined forces to create EdX which will offer free online course to anyone using open sources. These course will be undergraduate level courses. Although you will receive no credits unless you are are Harvard or MIT student, you could take classes from MIT and Harvard professors and learn with a wide variety of students from around the world.

These  open online courses are also known as MOOC course – Massive Open Online Courses and have been offered for the last fours years on a variety of topics for undergraduate and graduate students. Like http://www.#change11.com

I am working on creating a “miniMOOC” for a K-12 audience students this summer. It is called #DigiFoot12 . It will be based on Digital identity and is encouraging students, parents and teachers to participate together in a free open environment.The website is: http://minidigitalfootprint.wordpress.com/

I encourage you to learn more about “open sources” and where “open learning” can take you.

Verena Roberts BEd, MA, TESL, MET – in progress
CEO- Chief Education Officer, www.GlobalEd.ca

Blog Post 3 – eBooks

How are eBooks influencing my child at school?

An eBook is any electronic book that can be read on a piece of computer hardware. This could include any eBook that could be read on a tablet, iPad, computer, laptop or any mobile device.

These are some of the advantages eBooks for parents:

1. You can read them anywhere on almost any device. If your child, “forgets their book at school” you can access the eBook and they have no excuse not to complete their reading homework.

2.Sometimes your child’s reading can be “tracked” by the teacher using software through the eBook. eBooks can make it difficult to lie about doing your reading.

3.eBooks can be written by teachers. If you have an amazing teacher who has already written a lot of their own course content, you can encourage them to create their own eBook and then you can access it from home for your child.

4. eBooks are more solid and are not as likely to become lost. How many times have your children lost pieces of paper that have come home from school? eBooks would offer students an opportunity to get rid of paper and use online resources.

5. eBooks are faster to make and often have more current, up to date content and information. What is the publishing date of your child’s current textbook?

6. eBooks are cheaper to buy and make. School districts could offer eBooks as alternatives and you would not be responsible to pay a “rental fee” for textbooks. Nor would you  be responsible for lost textbooks.

7. eBooks are searchable. Your child can look up quotes and details much more easily than using a regular book. This should reduce plagiarism as there is no reason not to quote and present direct source information.

8. Many eBooks are free. The Project Gutenburg offers a wide variety of classic books online – for free!

9.eBooks can read aloud to you. If your child is having problems reading, then they can have teh text read to them. Reading aloud would also helps with diction and pronunciation.

10. eBooks offer a new “cool” way of reading and have reached a different “type” of reader.
According to theonlinemom.com, “There’s something I’m not sure is entirely replaceable about having a stack of inviting books, just waiting for your kids to grab,” said Eryn Garcia, mother of two young children. “But I’m an avid believer that you need to find what excites your child about reading. So I’m all for it.”

eBooks can be integrated into the regular classroom and into online courses. They are less expensive and offer more flexibility than regualr books.  Ask your child if they have read an eBook. What did they read it on, and what was it about?

Verena Roberts BEd, MA, TESL, MET – in progress
CEO- Chief Education Officer, www.GlobalEd.ca

Blog Post 2 – Personalized Learning Environment

Personalized Learning Environment – What Does That Mean?

Tonight I was able to attend my son’s Kindergarten concert. He goes to a Spanish Bilingual School that offers Kindergarten to Garde 4. There are six classes in each grade. So the Kindergarten concert looked like the School concerts that I remember when I was in school. The students each presented a song, dance or poem in Spanish. It was wonderful and the students were so excited to share their work.  At the beginning of the recital the principal announced to the parents, “It is a current mandate of the Board of Education to promote personalized learning. Each of the student has worked hard to present their learning to you tonight.” I wondered, what was personal about reciting a poem? My son did recite one line with two other little friends, but I was still at a loss as to how this was “personalized” learning.

According to wikipedia (my new best friend), “Personalized Learning is the tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments to meet the needs and aspirations of individual learners, often with extensive use of technology in the process.” Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personalized_learning. In fact, although most of the definitions suggest that technology has a part of the learning, personalized learning can “just” mean that the teaching is meeting the specific individual needs to every student.

I thought that was what was happening already in public education? Why would we need technology?

In fact, by offering integrated technology options in school, the teacher would be able to cater to a student’s individual needs in many more ways. For example, if your child was strong in Math, they would be able to use technology to complete enrichment activities and possibly courses. Online courses could be taken to ensure that your child was taking the correct level of Math, instead of being held back with everyone else.

Another popular trend is Flipped Learning. If a teacher is “flipping” a classroom, they are asking the students to watch videos about the lessons ahead of time, and spending the class time doing the assignments and homework. Flipping the classroom  is another example of Personalized Learning because by giving the content to the students ahead of time, the teacher can split the class into different groups and spend more time helping them undertsand their subject area.

These are just two examples of how technology can “personalize” a child’s learning. Start talking to your child about how their teachers are using technology to meet their individual leanring needs. What do they tell you?

Verena Roberts BEd, MA, TESL, MET – in progress
CEO- Chief Education Officer, www.GlobalEd.ca

Blog Post 1 – www.GlobalEd.ca and HELPS

I have been asked to write Blog posts about Educational Technology from a parent’s point of view.  These blog posts are being translated in Mandarin and used to advertise HELPS in the lower mainland BC. HELPS is a partner with http://www.GlobalEd.ca.

Blog Post 1 – HELPS

As a 21st Century parent, I often feel overwhelmed by the use of technology around me. iPads, iPhones, laptops, computers, mobile learning devices, SMARTboards, wii, PVR’s…there seems to be a name and a “thing” for everything. My biggest frustration stems from “social communication” which seems unending. How many times have you been asked to “like” a business on facebook or check out a “tweet” or “post” for more information. I still have not figured out a way to organize my emails, and now I am offered more options than ever before in gmail (Google+, images, videos,calendars, google.docs) I often stare in amazement as kids write text messages on their phones at lightening speed. I wonder if we can slow down, or am I always going to feel left behind?

I never liked being left behind, so I have decided to follow the crowd – at my speed. As I previously mentioned, there are too many “tech tools” out there to cover all of them. In the next few weeks, I plan on covering the major influences on my life as a 21st century parent. I will start with finding out what the major trends are in technology and if I see these trends are apparent in my children’s education. If not- I am going to figure out where I can find these trends in education today.

I will start by using the Google search engine to find the top Tech Trends of 2012.

According to the journal (Transforming Education through Technology Journal) the Top 5 Educational Technology Trends are:

1. Personalized Learning Environments
2. eBooks
3. Tablets and Mobile Devices
4. Open Source, not LMS (Eg Khan Academy)
5. Breaking the Digital Divide

In the next few weeks I am going to write about each of these “Educational Trends” and focus on how my children are being influenced (or not) by these trends. The first focus will be on, “Personalized Learning Environments”. Tune in for more….

Verena Roberts BEd, MA, TESL, MET – in progress
CEO- Chief Education Officer, www.GlobalEd.ca