13 goes into 3?

I’ve been teaching an undergrad class at the University of Regina each and every semester since the summer of 2007. Semester classes last 13 weeks. Last spring I taught it during intercession which lasted 6 weeks. That was real challenge. Beginning Monday, I’ll be teaching this course over 3 weeks. I’ve already resigned myself that this won’t be the same course. It can’t be. 13 doesn’t go into 3 very easily.
My major themes always include the following concepts:

  • Learning is social and connected
  • Learning is personal and self-directed
  • Learning is shared and transparent
  • Learning is rich in content and diversity

These concepts for the most part are not discovered and realized in one or two classes. They must be experienced. The first three concepts often take students several weeks before they start to understand them. You can have a look at my course and see how I’m planning to meet these objectives. The idea of learning being social and connected is the most challenging as the building of a learning community requires trust and time to develop. This is where you come in.

I’ve never really pushed twitter on my students but I’ll be asking them to give it a go in this class since I feel it’s likely the fastest way to beging developing a personal learning network.  What I’d like to do is connect them with you within the first week. While I could easily give them some lists and sites to explore on their own,  I’d like to give them the names of educators who will be looking out for them specifically.  By June 1, you should find their names here. If you’d be so kind as to follow them back and make some informal connection with them on twitter, you may be the spark in setting some young teachers on to personal learning networks.

So if you’re willing, please fill in this form and make a connection with some pre-service teachers for the month of June. Thank you in advance.

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

As I wrap up another term teaching at the University of Regina, I’m once again grateful for the way a host of people, (known to some as a PLN) are so willing to support my students and me in our learning.

Earlier this semester I sent out a call for teachers and as usual, they responding wonderfully. I had each of my students working with great teachers around the globe on various projects and instructional practices. From what I’ve seen thus far it’s been a wonderful learning experience.

One of my goals in this class was to help my students gain a deeper understanding of connections and get to know other educators on a personal level. I asked a few of them to allow themselves to be interviewed by my students.

Beth Still, Lee Kolbert, Carolyn Foote, Michelle Bourgeois, Chris Harbeck, Jan Smith, Alan Levine, Jeff Utecht, Maria Knee, Diana Laufenberg, Allanah King, Clarence Fisher, Lisa Parisi, Rodd Lucier, Scott S. Floyd, Kathy Cassidy, Meredith Stewart, Silvia Tolisano, Chris Betcher, Chris Craft, Vicki Davis, Julie Lindsay, Brian Crosby and Jerry Swiatek

These folks took valuable time out of their schedules to answer any and all questions my students fired at them.There is lots to learn from these people.

Inside our NING,  we’ve had some excellent discussions. Unfortunately, most of the came during the latter half of the term and in particular a really juicy one on “Detoxing Students from Grades“.  It was evident from this discussion that many of my students had had great success with the current grading system. After all, they are in education largely because of good grades, why change things? That said, most recognized the flaws in the current system but like any good discussion, offered some excellent counterpoints and were truly engaged in meaningful dialoge. I suddenly realized it might be wise to invite the author of the post, Joe Bower in to defend and agitate the conversation even more. One Direct Message in Twitter and the deal was done.

As has been the case in previous classes I bring in a variety of speakers to share their expertise. This class was largely asynchronous but I did offer some live sessions which we recorded. Karl Fisch, Jeff Utecht, Zoe Branigan-Pipe, Liz Kolb did fabulous jobs sharing the stuff they’re involved with.

Finally, many of you commented on their blogs, engaged with them in twitter and shared ideas with me that supported our learning.

How did anyone do this before the internet?

Have Students, Will Outsource

Amber and Dani

I'll be teaching a new session of advanced computers and technology with pre-service teachers at the University of Regina from January to April. In previous introductory courses I've had my students become mentors for classrooms around this world. The chance for my students to connect with great teachers and becoming involved in classrooms in a variety of ways is often the most powerful learning they experience.

For the upcoming term I'd like to offer my students a chance to take that experience a little bit deeper. Instead of randomly posting to blogs or occasionally Skyping into classrooms, I'd like teachers to suggest a project, or teaching opportunity for my students to explore. 

The project might be a chance to teach a short series of lessons, build some tutorials, create some podcasts or videos. These are some suggestions but generally the idea would be for a group of my students, either pairs or threes would create or make something for you and your students. I"m open to other ideas but want my students to be involved in creating something of value using technology and working with/for a real classroom teacher.  Even if you have a thread of an idea but aren't quite sure exactly how it might work, I'd still like to have you apply. I'll do my best to work with you to narrow down what might work.

I've been so blessed to have many great teachers who have participated with this over the years. If you're one of those, I'd love to have you join again. I'll likely take about 15 or so classrooms. 

I would ask my students to contact you by the end of January to establish the nitty gritty of the project and work with you over the next few weeks with projects completed by the end of March or first week in April. 

Interested? If so, fill out this form. If you have more questions, email me shareski at gmail.com. If you think others might be interested, forward this, tweet it or send them my way.


Timeline of Productivity and Stupidity

The following took place on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009. All events are true.


5:24 QIK recorded of me parking at the U of R. (stupid, but I was trying to figure out why the alert to twitter wasn’t working, I guess it worked)
6:25 Email from a student who said she was sick and wondered what I could do so she could participate. (Our online classes are held in Elluminate but since this was a f2f class I didn’t create a session for tonight)
6:28 Started a Ustream broadcast and sent her the link and my other student who is in Malaysia.(Productive. Didn’t plan to do this but I suppose a teachable moment)
6:30 Class begins. I demo ustream and qik to students and have the stay there to keep Chelsey and Eric company in the chat.
7:15 Join with Alec’s class and watch Ben Hazzard’s excellent presentation on SmartBoards.
8:05 Students explore Smartboards I move my computer over to one of the Boards, use the video feature in Elluminate to show the board and students to the 2 students viewing virtually. (productive)
8:55 Class ends.
9:12 Wait for Alec to finish with students. Stuck my nose in their conversation and offered some suggestions.
9:18 Tweeted out my impatience (stupid but effective, students talking to Alec had their laptop open and conveyed my frustrations to Alec)
9:55 Need gas, the gas station near the University was closed I started driving west and got a little lost, fired up GPS enabled Google Maps on the iphone and found my way to a gas station. (productive)
10:05 Qik recorded my ordering at the drive thru. (really stupid)