Online security: A duty of care?

So in putting together my website for assignment 3 i have found myself battling the idea of cyber safety and what our responsibilities are as teachers. Obviously from a Professional Standards perspective we have a duty of care to not put our students in harms way and that clearly extends to any online environment we put the students in. However,  wanting to put a forum component in my unit unit design, I am unsure how to ensure my students are safe and that the forum can not be targeted by individuals who represent a risk to students safety.

Having done several hours of searching, I am still unsure of how we can minimise these risks. I did manage to find what looked to be a Education Victoria based server but was unable to gain access without a Victorian registration. As frustrating as this was, it is a good sign as at least some thought had been given to students cyber safety. However, i remain frustrated that i could not find anything from either a Queensland or federal level.
In building my unit for assessment 3, I have settled on the simple and commonly used Proboards forum host, but in reality I am uncomfortable rolling this out to an actual class.

I am  interested to hear other’s thoughts. Are we required to provided such safety measures to our students? I believe absolutely we should be. Is there an education based forum host that is available for Queensland teacher to utilise?


Blogs only work if….

Hey Guys,

So this may seem glaringly obvious, but blogs only seem to be effective if people actually engage with you. Apart from me taking it personally that people find my post irrelevant or boring, this certainly highlights a limitation of their use as part of our pedagogy.

So as teachers, what can we do to minimise this as I tend to believe the students who are either socially isolated or ICT illiterate could be significantly disadvantaged with heavy use of such technologies?

Do we as teacher subscribe to our students’ blogs? Or would that likely curtail  their use?
Would we allocate students with blogs they must subscribe to and contribute to? Or should we provide students with options or choices so that they are not crucial to completing a learning experience?

This only reinforces my belief that ICT’s should only be in place to enhance learning, and not become inseparable from it.

Again, thoughts guys…


Choices or confusion?

So having submitted assignment 1, I was out on my long run that is usually 30 odd k long and last between 2 and 2 hours 15. Yes it is a long time out on the road and I inevitably got pondering my unit outline and how I could have done things differently. My unit design called for use of online surveys, a couple of online forums and an online journal but by the time i finished the assignment I found that I had used a Google program for each and every aspect of the unit.
Initially I felt that was somewhat of a cop out on my part as I had a great list of potential platforms for each these components, yet I felt that i had somehow sold short my hypothetical students and limited their exposure to varying ICTs. However, as the K’s clicked by I somehow justified this to myself my arguing that the purpose of my unit was a health aspect of HPE, and not to develop ICT competency. ICT’s, after all are purely an addition resource to achieving a learning outcome. A few more K’s later and I concluded it was fine to use the one platform as it offered students a great level of consistency and transportability of their work and their ideas, yet minimising the amount of new technologies they needed to master and thus maximising their engagement in the actual content of the learning activities.
To reassure myself of my conclusion i drew comparisons with my own experience and what I love doing more than anything else: running. A 2 month block of training actually aligns itself very nicely with a unit of work. Prior to a training block I have very clear goals of the result I want and everything i do on the road or in the gym is focused on that goal, or learning outcome. Next i decide on how i will do it, in what order, how i will track it, and how accessible it is to others who need to see it. So it turns out that I used only two technologies to do all that, and not a single pen or paper is involved. I have a spreadsheet that I do all my planning on that I can easily upload onto a page called Trainning Peaks that both my coach and I can access live. My family can even access it and see where I am planning on being on any given morning or afternoon. All my actual training is recorded through my Garmin watch (another piece of incredible technology) that then uploads all the data and metrics every evening as soon as I walk through the front door.
So all this may seem long winded, but it demonstrates what I think ICT should be doing, and that is making complex and difficult tasks easier. In the long run they should be aiding our students learning, not being the focus of it. After all , how many people do ICTing as a vocation? And many many people use ICT’s to aid their vocation?

ICT really is embedded in what we do…

So life has been a little crazy over the last month, but we box on…
Having let EDC3100 slip over the past few weeks as I have had to juggle 3 other subjects, been away competing and experienced significant relationship challenges I found myself stressing about this subject, and this damn Blog. As is often the case, i put aside what was more difficult and focused on what I was familiar with. However having submitted 4 assessments in 2 weeks I accepted that i had to turn and face this task and it was then that i had the stark realisation that by simply engaging in my other courses and making good use of my resources it turns out that i was engaging in many ICT’s without even consciously doing so. I suppose the point I am trying to make is two fold.

Firstly, ICT’s really can be very powerful tools in communication, research, and presentation.  I think it is no coincidence that when the chips are down we turn to what we know works best. 2 years ago when i started studying I literally had no idea what an ICT was, and by the beginning of this year, i knew it was part of our curriculum but I was very keen to know what Chris Dann’s definition of it was so that I could align my thinking.  Having a huge tidy up in my study earlier this week the comment was made by my son, “Daddy you said you were doing uni work, why aren’t you on your computer?” It was at this point it dawned on me that almost my entire academic life is spent in front of this laptop whether it being using email, studydesk, Work, Powerpoint, WordPress, Googlechrome, youtube, Wikipedia (admit it, we all check it out if we’re not sure), Eduroam, Gmail or any of the many databases i frequent. It would appear by engaging in the world around me and being prepared to have ago I am actually ICT competent. Is this not the outcome we want for our own students?

Secondly, should we be viewing ICT as something new? Or, should we be actually viewing it as just another way to achieve our goals? In designing units and lessons, should we be making ICT a priority, or should we actually be demonstrating it enormous power but still leaving students with choices as to how they will engage with technology? As someone who approaches their studies with slightly less orthodox methods, I believe our pedagogy must embrace ICT so students learn it’s power and the associated skills, but I also believe that we need to design content that still has the scope to be differentiated for these students who struggle with ICT’s.

Thoughts guys? Very keen to hear them 🙂

3 weeks of false starts and we are away…

So we are now in week 4 and only now am I starting to get traction. As the purpose of EDS3100 is to explore the uses and potential and usefulness of ICT in education I decided to throw myself into it and embrace it as much as possible.
To be honest, I have struggled. I have not struggled with the content, but rather the mode of delivery. The first step of this digital experience was to rely entire on my Studydesk and just work through the content provided in a logical and thorough manner, not just in EDS3100, but in all 4 of my courses this semester.
A few things that have made an impression on:

  • The digital age that we find ourselves in provides so many opportunities to access resources and a seemingly endless number of ways to engage with the world and those around us. I have a question about Assignment 1 so I am faced with wading through masses of material on the studydesk in the hope to find what I need, I can email one of the staff, I can ask the question on the Forum, I can do internet search, or I could post the question here. This all sounds wonderful, but what I have discovered is that you are dependent on not only other people engaging with you, but the right people engaging.
  • The quality of personal relationships you build with your peers is far less.
  • There is a very real risk of getting the wrong information.
  • Although this may better cater for types of learners, it certainly makes it more difficult for others.
  • My other 3 courses, 2 education and 1 humanities, heavily rely on ICT and I am left wondering whether or not in our haste to embrace this technology are we diluting those courses real purpose or are we genuinely making them more relevant, meaningful and accessible. I just don’t know

One thing is for sure though, ICT is here to stay so if I want to keep moving forward with what is genuinely important, I better get on board whether I like it or not.  Sometimes it’s a matter of picking your battles and recognising what you can change and what you can’t. Swimming against the tide is ok and certainly has nobility to it, but there comes a time that you need to swim with the tide so as not to ultimately drown.

First blog post

So this is my very first blog post. I have never been a fan of ‘Blogs’, but then again I have never really had anything to do with one before. So it would seem EDC3100 has forced my hand.
I find that my personal journey as an athlete has provided me with many tools and skills that i utilise in my own education and I also find my own children provide so much in the the way of both inspiration and practical experience.
Lets just see how this pans out. Those who know me will laugh when they see this, and thats ok. Learning is a journey that should have no end, so please post away with comments and replies whether you’re a friend, family or fellow student… 🙂