Cart and Horses, Chickens and Eggs

I came across this great post that makes a great follow up to the Warlick article I mentioned in a previous post. I agree that the digital shift in education starts with pedagogy, but that shift is more effective and quicker when coupled with technology. I have come across many teachers who are not afraid of pedagogical shift, but terrified of the technological shift. Can you do one without the other? Are we putting the cart before the horse by putting a SMART Board in every room?

I can see both sides of the issue in this chicken and egg debate. However, I think if schools and school boards provide a secure wireless infrastructure, access to technology (an available variety, as opposed to mandatory and uniform) and focus professional learning around 21st century pedagogy, the demand from teachers for the web apps and tech tools will go a long way toward ensuring money is not wasted on the newest, “greatest” tech flavour of the day.

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Skype and Google Docs

I’m sick.

I have the flu. And given the current state of affairs it wouldn’t be prudent for me to share my germs with my colleagues, even though I had some important meetings to attend. So this week I have had numerous opportunities to connect collaborate without leaving the warmth of my sickbed, thanks to Skype and Google Docs.

I have been able to join into the meetings by connecting through Skype and simultaneously working on a Google doc with the group. By using video Skype, I felt like I was right there with my workmates. The Google Docs made me feel like an active participant, not just an onlooker. In one meeting, we used a doc for collaborative minutes on the agenda and in  another meeting we created a common session plan. Using both apps made for a great experience and has helped me stay on top of my work. I’m sure using one or the other would have been fine, but would not have been nearly as productive as using both.

It also looks like teachers are using Skype in their class for kids who are staying home sick.

The caution behind this process is that it could potentially be another way to get more out of workers/students when they should really be resting. Our society values productivity so much that we often expect people to sacrifice their time and health for their job. As cool as my experiences have been this past week, this definitely seems like a place where we should heed Thamus’ warning.

However, it will be interesting to see if a by-product of the H1N1 outbreak is an increase use of collaborative technologies.