Thursday, 30 October 2014

Drowning, not waving!

Tomorrow, Connected Educator Month draws to a close and the Unconnected Educator is a little more connected.  To be honest, I haven't been able to keep up with the starter kete, try as I might.  With a new job to prepare for (in a school which seems to be more connected than the one I'm leaving), a shift of city to organise, three classes of boys to prepare for NCEA - yes, they're all just excuses.

So what progress have I made on my 7 embarrassing admissions from the start of the month?
1. The Nokia brick is gone.  My students have asked if we can throw it from our first floor window to see what sustains more damage: the phone or the concrete below.  I've bought an iPhone and I'm in serious 'like' (my husband tells me it's wrong to 'love' a phone).  I've used it in class.  Now that the boys are over the fact the brick is dead, we can actually use the phone as a tool.  Today we checked out the veracity of a facebook claim by referencing it against news websites, I've recorded speeches for moderation and I can get my work emails courtesy of an app.  I don't miss the brick.
2 and 3. My school issued laptop has been well-used to work through the #cenz14 starter kete tasks.  I've been into the land of the google doc, visited lots of edublogs, tweeted, sat in on a webinar.  Next, I'm going to try and take a dip in the POND.
4. Interactive whiteboard has been used - but only for re-visiting films in preparation for NCEA visual text exam.  Oops.
5. I've stopped playing Candy Crush on the iPad.  Now that I've got a decent phone, my two boys have taken over the iPad.  Oh, and I've got Candy Crush on the phone.  And Pet Rescue Saga.  And a Smurf Village.  
6. My work environment is still not a vision of 21st century learning - but that was hardly going to change during #cenz14 when I seemed to be the only person at school who a) knew about it or b) was zealous about it.  A couple of my students found me on twitter and have started following - apparently I'm boring because every tweet is to do with #cenz14.
7. I now have a bit of understanding about web 2.0 and I'm determined to become a connected educator.

Back to my metaphor from my first post - am I still the teaching equivalent of a Nokia brick?  Reliable but with limited capablities?  No.  I'm now an iPhone (probably a really early model - like a 3 - definitely not a 4, 5 or 6!), fresh out of the box, with so much capability to be explored.  Just like an iPhone, I won't be able to do everything at once.  I'll need to download things, connect, sign up for things.  And just like an iPhone is no good unless someone learns how to use all that it can offer, I also will need to learn all that this connected education world can offer. 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Unconnected Educator Logs On...

What does it mean to be a connected educator?  That's what my aim is to discover.  I am a totally unconnected educator.  To put into perspective my utter lack of connection, consider the following points (some of which are almost too embarrassing to admit):
  1. I still use a Nokia brick.  My students tell me not to drop it for fear I put a hole in the floor.
  2. The only computer I have is my school issued laptop. 
  3. I learnt to type on a manual typewriter and see my laptop as an upgraded version of that.
  4. I have an interactive whiteboard in my classroom.  It’s used for viewing visual text and to put up notes (because my students can’t read my handwriting on the board).  If I’m feeling really adventurous, we might play a word game on it.
  5. We have an iPad at home.  I use it to play Candy Crush.
  6. I work in a school that doesn’t have reliable wifi.  When students want to email things to me, they use their own data
  7. Until yesterday, I didn’t know what web 2.0 was.
So why am I attempting to become connected?  Because I’m really worried I’m being left behind.  I know – I’m years behind already – but if I don’t start now, I’ll just be lagging further and further behind.  I have a friend in Christchurch who is an eQueen - @paulinehendog.  She’s quite inspiring.  Then @paulinehendog introduced me to the equally inspiring @annekenn.  These women are passionate, connected educators and, once I was done being daunted, I figured I was younger than both of them so had no reason not to try and become a citizen of the digital world.

What have I done so far?  Firstly, I signed up for Twitter last week at the behest of @paulinehendog.  She talked me through it all on the phone, urging me to take care choosing a name and that I should consider it as carefully as naming my own child.  I instantly started following @paulinehendog and @annekenn and then trawled through everyone they were following.

And that’s where I found #cenz14.  Brutal honesty – I had no idea what the hashtag was even about!  I’ve sat through my first webinar (mildly bewildered), made a couple of tweets (even using a hashtag) and signed up to the #cenz14 starter kete for eVirgins like myself. Then, as I watched the launch of #blogsync last night, I thought I had nothing to contribute.  But, actually, I’ve decided to contribute anyway.  If I’m going to become a connected educator, I can’t just lurk.  I need to act.  I need to become a learner to remain an effective educator.  Otherwise, I risk becoming just like my Nokia brick – still capable of doing the basic job, but with limited capabilities and not the model my students want or need.