Looking both ways before entering the new year.

 The new year has arrived and I’m spending time back in my hometown visiting family. It’s always nice to come home to take some time to just visit and catch up. It gives me time to do some reading and blogging and just reconnect with my family – dysfunctional as we are. As I drove home, a 6 hour trip, I was reflecting on all the things that have taken place during the past year and looking forward to where things might be going in 2008.

As I look back at 2007, I marvel at all that has happened since I began really blogging in January 2007. I mean, I’ve met and interacted with a whole variety of different educators and technologists from around the world. I’ve learned a great deal about what tools are available and some of the great things that are being done in classrooms all over the world. I’ve been able to interact and expand my knowledge of teaching and learning and the impact that the technological tools are having, or could have, on the classroom.

As an administrator, I find myself to be a somewhat oddity in this blogosphere ether that we inhabit. I’ve come across a few regular principal bloggers but the list isn’t very long. Ive also read many a blog where principals are one of the main stumbling blocks in getting technological tools into classrooms. As my last post indicated, I’ve come to realize that these tools will become necessary components of teaching and we need to become active in promoting use before someone else comes to tell us what and how to use them. As an administrator, I’d better be assisting my staff in working with these tools and looking at ways to help them become part of the teaching pedagogy in the school.

As I look forward to 2008, I see ever so unclearly that we need to reconceptualize the way we go about doing “school”. As the web grows and tools become more available, it will be necessary to decide what and where these tools will be used. I mean, just look at the tools available at go2web20.net and you’ll see that there are multiple sources available for anything that you wish to do. I spent a few days just surfing and checking out many of the sites that are listed on this site. Some I found to be very userfriendly while some just didn’t do what I wanted them to do so I looked for another tool.

The following is just a fraction of what is available.  I found MeeMix radio to be very good and have used it a few times. I thought Gorillaspot has some good potential for creating online video especially in my Communication Production Technology class. We may use this to create our online trailers that the students are suppose to do. I’ve also added the liveZuu widget to see how it might help. I’m not sold on it but will be taking a closer look. I thought the  was a good idea and would work in an office or classroom setting. I’m going to give it a try after Christmas with the first staff birthday.  I’m also giving meemi a try just because it sounds like something that a might work for a group project. Mind42 is a free online mindmapping site that looks like it has potential. I won’t really know until we give it a spin in class! Scribblink is an online whiteboard that I’m going to give a try. It sound like something that would be very useful when teaching a distance ed class. Converttube  provides a way to convert youtube and such videos to other formats. Storyofmylife looks like an interesting site especially with all this focus on storytelling. I haven’t really looked at it closely but it looks very inviting. Mygetgo is another online organizational site that allows you to add your information and content. Much the same to netvibes and pageflakes. I like the backgrounds and will fiddle a bit with the modules before I give a screenshot.

Whew. I really didn’t mean to go that far but I just get carried away when I see what is available for use on the net and I’m always weighing the benefits of what I look at with what I’m already using since recreating a new startpage or adding yet another site does take a great deal of time. Right now, my main focus as an administrator is having staff use various online applications on a regular basis so that they become use to the routine of checking for updates, information and email more than once a week!

Looking back on 2007, I see that education and educators have made progress in using the technology tools but we haven’t re-visualized school by including them in the day-to-day happenings of our classrooms and our lives. It’s not that we throw out all we are doing but we need to reflect on what is happening around us and explore how it can assist us in what we are doing. Banning, confiscating and outlawing technologies won’t stop their use while letting them drive how and what we do isn’t right either. One of my greatest worries for the upcoming year is that instead of educators adopting these tools and using them, they will be “required areas of study” and become the “essential learning tools” that teachers will be mandated to use, following the prescribed online curricula that will be supplied. We have an opportunity to be proactive innovators but our time is dwindling. It can’t be long before someone, probably an administrator, figures out it might be easier to track if curricula are being followed by tracking usage of recommended online sites through a database, using particular tools to demonstrate and show particular things and having students complete specific information sheets to determine comprehension.

Rest assured, that administrator will not be me.

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