Monday, August 9, 2010

How the Cloud Came Rolling in

The development of the web has no doubt placed more technology and information directly in the hands of individuals.The barriers to technological innovation keep lowering, and individuals need to turn less often to professional IT groups to help them develop solutions. Research labs, individual faculty, and staff have access to comparatively powerful technology tools that enable them to innovate.
Goldstein (2009)

I have been using the Cloud without even knowing, but mainly socially. It is only since the beginning of this year that I have really seen the use for education, and its not that I don't use technology, I just didn't know how much was out there.

A colleague approached me near the end of 2009 to ask advice about using Google Docs with her Science class and I had to admit, as the 'go to' technology help person, I couldn't help. Two babies in the space of two years had taken me away from the web2 changes, lucky for me (and my classes) I don't like not knowing, or at the very least knowing about,  and so began to investigate. One thing led to another and my school is now running a Sydney CEO pilot school for using Google Apps.

Not everyone is on board yet and I'm a little bit ashamed to admit that I am using the model of 'lay the table and they will come', but then, at the start of 2010 I was a Year Coordinator and have only recently become eLearning Coordinator. While my colleagues have always trusted me with their technology questions, being the pusher of cloud computing was outside my area of responsibility and I didn't want to step on any toes.

It is now half way through the school year and we have 320 Google Apps users out of a possible 480 (or so) College members. Use of Google Apps by a few teachers has encouraged many others to be interested, want to know what it is all about and to get involved. In September we are having a Professional Development Day that is dedicated to using technology in education for differentiation. The first session will be an introduction to Google Apps and will present what it can be used for as well as showcase how some KLAs are already using cloud computing, especially for differentiating the teaching and learning experience.

The second part if the day will be much more exciting as staff will have the opportunity to be hands on with their exploration, use, and implementation of everything the cloud.

My own experience, I feel, is limited, but I am willing to the students in my classes.

Goldstein, P (2009), The Tower, the Cloud, and the IT leader and workforce, in Katz, R (ed) (2009), The Tower and the Cloud: Higher Education in the Age of Cloud Computing, Educause 

Powell, J, Cloud computing – what is it and what does it mean for

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Aiming for the Sky

At my 7-10 boys' school we have a pretty good relationship with technology. Teachers have had school provided laptops for the past 8 years and we now have a situation of 1-1 across all year groups. We also have a projector and sound system in every general and most specialist classrrooms, most of which are interactive.

The challenge, now that teachers are students are familiar and comfortable with technology, is how to use it for best effect to improve teaching and learning. We have decided to do away with printed textbooks and exercise books in most Key Learning Areas (KLAs), but what now are the best methods to check, edit and mark student work as a means of assessment for learning?

This is where cloud technology becomes a useful tool. I saw the below video on a page about cloud computing, and since I love the show it resonated.

Instead of keeping everything secret on our our individual hard drives or USBs and giving it out like gold or cracked pepper, working  and learning in the cloud allows for collaboration. Making peers and teachers collaborators or viewers of a file takes away the fear that many of us (teachers and students) have about handing in draft, unfinished, or not good enough products.

The College has been granted permission by Sydney CEO to be a pilot school for use of Google Apps and hence they will be one of the cloud technology tools we will be using. Many KLAs have hit the ground running which has increased the interest of other staff members in utilising the technology.

Stay tuned...