Category Archives: Education

Where has the time gone?

Using Math XL - this student prefers using his Mac Air

Math XL Activity – this student prefers using his laptop

Amazing, it seems like it was just yesterday that I was writing a reflection piece about the end of a school year. Now, I am looking at the last week of classes before the holiday break. How time flies 🙂

I guess I know what my New Year’s Resolution will be this year – spend more time reflecting in this blog. One of the changes I have made since my last post was a redefinition of my ICT focus at my school. I have changed my department head title from Dept. Head of Educational Technology to Department Head of Learning Technologies.

I like the focus on learning rather than technology this semantic change evokes. Don’t get me wrong – I am still a big fan of educational technology, but I prefer the new focus. The new emphasis on learning reminds me of how the SAMR model highlights the transformative power of technology – to enable our students and ourselves to do things that were impossible just a few years ago. The student image in this post shows him working on his teacher designed lesson. The online software provides a wealth of content information, 24/7 access, interactive content, a connection to the electronic text book, his teacher, and so much more.

We are facing exciting times at my school. Our 1 to 1 program which is in its second year, expanding from the original Grade 5 classes (expanded to Grade six this year) to a larger scale next year. 1 to 1 technology access provides us with so many more options now that we don’t have to deal with booking lab time or laptop carts.

For those of you who are looking for a daily fix of Learning Technology ideas, please visit my site called Phil’s Learning Technology News. The content of this daily “paper” is generated by my Twitter feed.

Happy Holidays to you and yours,


End of Year Reflection

As you can see from the date on the side this blog, it has been quite sometime that I have written a post. Have you ever had one of those really busy years?

I just returned home from an interesting adventure from the middle of Canada in Winnipeg, heading east to the coast via the US to reach New Brunswick, NS, and PEI. A 10K journey there and back. A nice chance to unplug for a bit, do a bit of reading (Ken Robinson’s The Element if you have not read it yet), and travel half way across North America and back. Now it is time for some reflection, well a start at least in this blog format.

There was a lot going on in my School this past year: the first year of a 1 to 1 program for our Grade 5 students being expanded into Grade 6 next year, a big initiative to start the construction of a new Senior School modern learning facility (great classrooms and collaboration space) which began this summer, and a number of PD initiatives that I have been involved with to name a few.

I also decided to continue to tinker with my Grade 9 ICT Studies course. The inclusion of Edmodo to supplement the virtual learning space of Moodle was very popular with those two classes. This was my second year of experimenting with Google’s concept of 20% time to allow their folks to explore their passions. Some people are now calling this Genius Hour.

In my classes, I have called the process Independent Project time. The only condition, is students must somehow explore a passion or interest that in some fashion uses technology. Last year I had a student create a fifteen level game using Gamemaker, many students created amazing worlds using Photoshop, one student built his own computer. I was very pleased with the overall results as most students invested way more time and effort than I expected. Guess that is to be expected when one can pick their own area of interest.

The big change this year was that my students asked if they could do a team project if they desired. As I called the course component “independent project” – I laughed, but said why not as long as they could document what each team member was responsible for. Google Apps for Education worked so well for this. Not all of the students decided to work with a team but the group results were interesting. Some groups learned the hard way that not all their peers were so great with time management :-), but in the end the results were great.

One interesting result was that two projects from different sections of my course ended up using video to comment on the roles of young woman in the media. Maybe the Dove Real Beauty video I showed both classes earlier in the year to show how Photoshop can be used to manipulate reality planted a seed?

What do you think of their projects?




So Many Choices


My ICT Tools

It is an amazing time to be an educator in 2013! There are so many choices and decisions that we make on a daily basis, as we strive to prepare our students for their future. How times have changed from the days when I was a high school student. I had never even seen a computer until I entered university.



We live in disruptive times due to the exponential changes technology has had on society in general. Think about the dramatic changes in our phone service and dropping long distance rates over the past ten years. We can Skype or Google Hangout with friends, family and colleagues from around the world, almost for free. Education seems to be the last bastion of change in comparison to the fundamental changes occurring in all other areas of society. Moore’s Law which helps explain the rapidly increasing power of computers in conjunction with dramatic price drops continues to this day. The power of the computer in our “smart phones” is thousands of time more powerful and cheaper than the computers that helped send man to the moon back in 1969.

My school is in Year 1 of a One to One BYOD program, starting with the school’s Grade 5 students. It is hard for me at times to fathom the fantastic rate of change we face as educators and learners with the tools at our disposal. As I think back to the tools I had as a student, and compare that to the tools my students have – it is truly mind boggling.

Although my school is embarking on a 1 to 1 program, the reality is that many students in my High School are 3 and 4 devices to 1 learner. Many are fortunate to have a smart phone, a tablet, and a laptop. Moore’s law coming into play again. Just think, you can buy a Raspberry Pi computer and accessories for under a $100.00. In the past two years as we have opened up access to Wi-Fi to our students, so now there are times in my class that a student is sitting at a school PC, and is surrounded with their other tools – selecting the best tool to accomplish a given task.

The image I created for this post is the current ICT technologies I have at my disposal. As you can see I try to be device agnostic, a Windows 7 PC, iOS iPad 2, Android 2.2 phone, and the latest tool I am learning how to use – a Google Chromebook that has just become available in Canada.

As an educator, it is a challenging time to learn how to best prepare our students to take advantage of these powerful tools and to mitigate the negative aspects of technology. As with anything this important, we as educators and lifelong learners must make the time to become comfortable with these society changing tools, so that we can guide our students.

For our students, having access to ICT tools is not really that big of a deal. They have always been surrounded by technologies that give them access to the Internet and each other. What they need, is the guidance to leverage the power of the tools, to be able to thrive in our technological powered society.

A special thank you to all the teachers I had in school. They instilled in me a love of learning and critical the thinking skills necessary to prepare me for my future. I hope that I have paid it forward.