Friday, November 4, 2011

Software for School Computers

Here is some software that we have on our student school computers.image

Feedback from other educators: Which are your favourites, what software do other schools use?

Monday, October 24, 2011

What I Learned at CUEBC 2011 Conference

imageWhat an amazing, yet busy day at the recent CUEBC conference.  As a volunteer member of the executive, this is our largest event of the year.  We look forward to and dread the rush of the day.  So many conversations and so little time.

This year was overwhelmingly positive, well worth the effort.  How else can you be in a building with 400 like-minded educators learning, sharing and thinking.


  • Keynote David Warlick was outstanding.  Although I was in another part of the building during the keynote, the live webcast thanks to UpperSports made it possible to participate remotely.  Already there is an archive of the event!
  • Twitter continues to grow in terms of adoption and use.  When we first introduced twitter hashtags at a conference three years ago it was a small group who participated.  My estimate is there were 100+ educators active on twitter on Friday using the tag #CUEBC, enough that the tag become a trending topic on the live trendmap.
  • Great presenters – I managed to attend a few sessions and learned from other educators.
  • Sponsors have so much to offer! I know that other non-profit organizations hesitate when it comes to including sponsors but our decision on including them has always been that they offer something to our members.  Companies like Adobe provide teachers with tools that we use on a daily basis and bringing them to a conference allows our members time to ask questions and network.
  • Welcome to everyone who attended who are now members of CUEBC and also to our two new executive members!

Learning Links

Fabulous learning summary from CUEBC presenter Phil Macoun on his blog here.


If you were there or if you just followed the discussion on twitter post a comment on your insights.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Android for Education: first look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1


If you don’t already have a tablet computer, it is probably on your wish list.  Sales of these new types of computers has has exploded and continue to beat all expectations.  Apple’s iPad, the inventor of this type of computing is clearly the industry leader.  What I wanted to explore is if there are good reasons to look further than the iPad.  The Computer Using Educators of BC recently gave me the opportunity to find out!

I’m now equipped with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.  Early reports make this a remarkable device.  It has the best screen on the market, it is running the latest version of Google Android 3.1 Honeycomb and has the processor and speed to match.

Unpacking: what’s in the box

A surprisingly simple package included the bare necessities.  Just the tablet, power cords and a 4 page getting started guide.  It was an additional cost but a necessary one to purchase a screen protector ($19.99), folding portfolio case ($59.99) and a HD video connector ($29.99).  CUEBC bought the Galaxy Tab from BestBuy.


Measures to Compare?

Here are some of the metrics that I’d like to explore in the coming weeks to find out if Apple has finally met it’s match in the Samsung Tab.

  • Impact  - does the Samsung leave a positive impression?
  • Apps – does the Android market have the development community behind it? 
  • Communication – how is the device surfing the internet and connecting to a wide variety of social networks?
  • Performance – speed and ease of use?
  • Value – does the price match the product?


Interested in hearing from others, what features does the iPad have that make it irresistible for education?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Secrets to Student Success in Online Courses

imageThought I’d share some of the tips on ensuring student success in online courses.


  1. Blended instruction – we have adopted a program of online learning which blends face-to-face instruction with online connections.  Those personal connections in a classroom up the ante for student accountability and responsibility that this is a ‘real’ course and they can’t just let their work slide.  This also have the advantage of supervised testing.  There are times when teachers need to ensure that the work of students is their own and not just ‘tutor supported’. 
  2. Follow-up – as soon as a student misses an assignment or test deadline it is time to contact them.  Using an escalation approach from an email, to phone call to parent, to a phone call from the admin team lets the student know that we are concerned about them completing the course on time.
  3. Amazing teachers – can’t say enough about the fabulous educators who make every day engaging, relevant and interesting for students.  Kudos to you all!
  4. Use the best classroom tools available.  Our suite of tools includes: WebCT (soon to be Blackboard), email, Engrade gradebook and Elluminate Live for virtual meetings.
  5. Did I mention follow-up.  It is worth repeating that the more times a school reaches out to a student and parent the more likely they are to ensure their work is in order.

We are wrapping up our summer FastTrack online learning program and had another very successful year.

Friday, July 29, 2011

What I Learned This Week

BLC11Had an exciting return to work this week.  Returning from a half year personal leave to work was an interesting transition.  Here is the family blog from our travels to Asia.

Here are some of the great things I learned this week.

  1. A cell phone, just a regular (non-smartphone) can be a great learning tool.  One feature that I have on my phone is unlimited texting.  Using SMS I’ve now setup text to facebook status and twitter.  I learned how to do a google search via text and to check the weather.  Click on the linked words in the post to find the how-to sites that I used.
  2. Professional learning can and should occur everywhere.  Thanks to the amazing organizers at the Building Learning Communities 2011 Conference via webcasting.  The physical conference is taking place in Boston, USA and from my little office in Coquitlam, BC I watched the video webcasts and participated in the Twitter discussion by using the search term #BLC11.
  3. Early learners, as young as primary can be fully engaged with the internet and learning from afar.  Much of the insight was shared from the Building Learning Communities conference. I attended a great webcast from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano.  Check out her blog and twitter feed.

Have so many notes and links from the conference that it will probably take me all next week to explore the suggested websites.  My goal is to integrate many of the strategies in my classroom next year.

Now it is time for the long weekend and some biking at Sun Peaks!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: Tuned Out by Karen Hume

Tuned Out: Engaging the 21st Century LearnerKaren Hume has compiled a valuable resource for teachers. As teachers, we know that engaged students learn better. Sometimes we call this intuition, but really this is our professional training and experience that has tuned into improving learning for all our students. Student engagement and assessment for learning are the commonality between all teachers, no matter what the subject or grade level. Whether teachers are already using technology to engage their students or not, there is a point of entry for all teachers. Learning through modeling is a powerful way to teach. In this way, Karen Hume is a masterful teacher. Each section of the book is full of links to online activities for teachers to further their engagement with the content. “Tuned out” by Karen Hume is more than simply a printed book. It is designed so that the reader has a parallel experience with the online website. The website is a virtual staff room for teachers to both gather and share ideas. I would encourage readers to join the online professional learning community. The book has joined my personal library as a valuable asset to be kept near-at-hand.
Other books by Karen Hume: