Teaching online

September 24, 2008 § Leave a comment

We’re piloting some online coursework using Moodle in my district.  It’s been over a year in the making, but after this week, we should have at least two teachers with at least two classes each online.

Now, this is by no means replacing the actual classroom part of the work, it’s just a way for these teachers to extend their discussions beyond the 50 minutes or so that they see their students each day.

We piloted a similar program when I was in NEISD, and it went really well.  It takes a special kind of teacher to commit to teaching online.  It’s certainly not easy, and it really eats into your “after work” time.  However, it’s also a great way to keep kids engaged and get them to learn even more about your subject.

We’re piloting it with three high school teachers at the moment, and I’m hoping to add one or two more in the spring.  Our secondary curriculum director would like to see it become more like a virtual high school so kids can take entire courses online, but that’s still a ways into the future.

I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going.

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Strike that

September 22, 2008 § Leave a comment

Last week I posted that our Superintendent was podcasting, albeit just in the place of her internal memo to employees each week.

On Friday, I got a text from my boss asking me to contact the Superintendent ASAP. It seems that she was ready to dive into podcasting for the community.

Her first podcast for the general public was recorded and Friday and posted this morning. It’s also linked on our district home page for the time being.

The next step is to get her blog up and running.

Whoa

September 22, 2008 § 1 Comment

I can’t say I’m surprised at who is running the Texas education system, but maybe it’s time everyone started paying attention.

Scott Floyd had a very interesting post from Texas Monthly about the Texas State Board of Education.  Like I said, I’m not surprised because of how conservative Texas is, but I wonder how many people know about these folks who are deciding what should and shouldn’t be taught in our classrooms.

With all of this talk of “Change” in this election cycle, maybe it’s time we started paying more attention to change at the local level as well.

Superintendents and web 2.0

September 17, 2008 § 1 Comment

The Superintendent for my district has been putting out a weekly newsletter forever.  Last year, she saw a couple of district that were using ipods and podcasts, and I casually mentioned to her that if she wanted, we could set up her newsletter as a podcast or blog.

Two weeks ago, she told my director to have me come help her set up a podcast, and last week, without any fanfare, we recorded and posted her podcast to her internal memo folder.  While it’s not available to the general public, it is available to every employee, which is well over 1000 people.

I did all of the editing and post production last week, and this week, she did about half of the editing with me looking over her shoulder.  Her goal is to do the whole thing on her own next week.

It’s so encouraging to have a Superintendent who can see the big picture, and understand that technology is such an integral part of the way kids live.  It’s encouraging that her entire focus is not test scores, but how we can bring the students along as people, as contributers to society.  It’s even bigger that she wants to learn these things on her own instead of relying on staff to do them for her, and just making it look like she’s tech savvy.

She really is.

And I’m really proud of her.

All of this just drives home that I made the right decision coming here, and the right decision staying here.

Yes, yes, I’m still here…

September 5, 2008 § 1 Comment

I took an extended break from edu-blogging because I haven’t had much to say on the current state of affairs, and because we’ve been really busy with beginning of the year stuff.

I have just a quick question for all of you out there in edu-blogger land: does your IT department fight you tooth and nail on getting anything changed?

We had a bunch of new software we knew we were going to need installed over the summer, and rather than take our suggestion of touching all the machines over the summer (with our help, of course), they decided to run everything through scripts.  Put a bandaide on it.  And guess what?  The scripts don’t work the way they’re supposed to and we’re having to (imagine this) TOUCH EVERY MACHINE.

I’m a little frustrated.  It’s causing our curriculum things to not go smoothly because the software we need isn’t installed, or isn’t installed properly, and when the teacher get upset, guess who they get upset with?  The people they see all the time – the people in my department.  Even though we have very little to do with software not working/not being installed.

In a perfect world, when I’m director, the two sides of the technology house would meet at least every other week to get a progress report from each other, offer suggestions, set priorities, etc.  Because what is a priority to the techie side of the house isn’t necessarily a priority on a campus.  Teachers are flexible, but only so far, then they break.

Changing course here…has anyone noticed that neither presidential candidate seems to be talking that much about education?  It worries me a little.

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