Thursday, 31 December 2015

Legally Shareable Music - Free Music Archives

Find at least one website that provides teachers with digital materials for your discpline area that are copyright free and able to be legally shared. You might like to check out www.copyright.org.au, or the Creative Commons licensing system to help you be sure.

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As an Education Technology Coach, I support a lot of my students in making films using iMovie. iMovie comes with a set bunch of songs, sounds and jingles that can be used within the film. However, after a few films, students seem to continue to choose the same song, making it a little bit repetitive as a teacher.

One of my favourite resources is Free Music Archive. It has thousands of songs that can be legally downloaded and are Creative Commons licensed. Students can search songs by artists and genres but also by mood to help the music best fit the theme of the film.  This also allows me the opportunity to teach students how to properly credit the artists of the songs at the end of their films.

Available at: http://freemusicarchive.org/

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Potential Problems

Post to your blog: From the five potential problems listed on pp 214-216 in Roblyer, which may have the most impact on your classroom and students and why? How will you ensure you address these concerns in your lesson planning in your assignment and in the future?

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Potential Problems:
1. Accessing Sites with Inappropriate Material 
2. Safety and Privacy Issues for students 
3. Fraud on the Internet
4. Computer viruses and hacking
5. Copyright and Plagiarism 

Out of the 5 potential problems, 3 of the hit home most for me. Digital citizenship is something that our school needs to address more explicitly and we are currently looking at a whole school approach and developing a curriculum to meet our community needs that we hope to roll out next academic school year. This is going to take a lot of conversations and perspectives before we get it the way we want.

There is so much content online that at some point students are likely to access sites with inappropriate material on them. As teachers, we should be directing our students towards sites we approve of through web quests or other online activities. It would be good as a class to generate some good sites for searching for information on instead of just typing into Google. Students also need to learn what sites have valid information and which ones should not be there starting point for research (ie. Wikipedia). Students also need to be taught how to search. This means how to use keywords and use advanced search functions to narrow their search to get the information they actually want to find.

The safety of students is always a high priority for any school. It is more difficult to keep students safe online in a digital world that is difficult to navigate at times. Students need to learn how to use the internet safely and keep their information private. Students should be taught what information is appropriate to give online, how to create and keep safe passwords, what environments are safe to communicate with other people online and what to do if cyberbullying takes place (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 215). Again, education is important.

There are so many instances when students plagiarise others' work unknowingly. Students need to be taught from an early age that you can't just copy someone else' s work. This starts with learning how to take notes, how to reference others' work and also how to check that you haven't accidentally copied someone's work using sites that prevent plagiarism (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 216).

I think with all three of the issues bolded, it is important to take a proactive approach and be open and honest with students by opening the lines of communication. Students need to be taught how to navigate their digital presence online in a safe manner. Teachers should also use teachable moments as they arrive. Therefore teachers should not just get mad and scold a student for finding something inappropriate online but rather, use it to show how the situation could have been avoided and what steps could be taken in the future.

References
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Sixth Edition].

Another issue - restricted internet access


Another issue related to Internet use – particularly in schools – is the restricted nature of Internet access. We have seen why this would be considered necessary, but it also stifles the ability of both teachers and students to access the resources they need. What are you able to access at your school or institution – or not? Does this work? What does this mean for an educational institution where many students have internet capable smart phones? Does this mean restrictions should be relaxed and better supervision should be utilise
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We are able to access most websites that I would need as a teacher. However, social media sites are blocked including Twitter and FaceBook. While I don't mind FaceBook being blocked, I use Twitter quite a bit for educational purposes. I often am reading articles or sharing my own work with other educators. However, there is a way around it - mobile devices. If I have my iPhone on me and I don't connect to the school wifi, I can still access Twitter and use it on campus. This is not ideal because I would rather be able to read things from my laptop more easily with larger font but it is a work around.

This mimics what are students are doing too. With the rise of mobile devices and unlimited data, students don't need the school network to connect to the internet. Does this mean we should abandon it? I don't think so. For our younger students especially, it is important that we have firewalls,  security and safety measures in place until they understand the internet better and have more knowledge about being a digital citizenship. We don't allow cell phones in the classroom, so students shouldn't be viewing things from their mobile devices during the school day (specifically at the primary school). However, as students become older they are going to make their own choices and have more non-class time in their day that they can access social media sites from their mobile devices. The important thing is that we as educators have done our do diligence to educate students so they are prepared to make appropriate choices and act in a mature manner online.


Distance Education: Does it have a place in schools?

Ae there elements of distance education approaches that could be incorporated into your assignment? Which students and in what context would the lesson be suitable for? What about a blended model?
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Distance education is often approached with mixed feelings with it being a good solution for some students to access learning from anywhere at anytime or an excuse for procrastination. As someone who is taking a distance education Masters degree, I see the value in distance education and am making it work for me living in Singapore and working full time.
There are also instances where distance education is useful for our students. Some students travel for competitive sports and take online classes or are homeschooled. But is there a place for distance education in a typical school with classes every day? 

I believe the answer is yes - if students have access to resources at home and if planned out appropriately. Flipped classroom learning or blended learning environments allows students to learn content at home while using class time to explore problems and answer questions, taking the learning deeper. It uses a combination of online learning and in-person experiences (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 207). 
This type of learning is something we are currently trialling for professional development with teachers. We have created a 10 week course where teachers are exposed to different technologies each week with tasks to complete. The weekly tasks are posted on a blog and class discussions take place through Edmodo. Teachers also have a blog of their own to share their learning and reflect on their practice. The course can be done completely online but there are 2 drop in sessions where participants can work through the course or use the time to ask questions of the two technology coaches leading the sessions and plan for how to integrate these tools into their classroom.

References
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Sixth Edition].

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Instructional Tools for Teaching

Post to the forum an example of each of the five different instructional software functions using examples from your teaching discipline area. The five areas are outlined in this chapter, and on pg 82 there are some links provided where you might find examples. Include a sentence or two about why the example you have listed is a good example of each type of software.
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For the purpose of this blog post, I will choose teaching software for a Primary Junior Years classroom. 

Drill and Practice 
A drill and practice software allows students to have rapid fire of questions with instant feedback if they are correct or not (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 81). This could include things like flashcards and multiplication practice. One website that is good for this is IXL. For example IXL for Primary 5 mathematics focuses on developing math facts and skills. Immediately after students submit their answer, they get the feedback of whether the answer is correct or incorrect. If it is correct, they are able to move on to the next question immediately. If it is incorrect, the students has the opportunity to review the question and their answer as well as view the explanation of how to solve the problem before moving on. Students can complete a great deal of questions in a short amount of time to build their basic math facts and skills.

IXL is available at: https://ixl.com/


Tutorial 
A tutorial provides students with instructions on how to do a specific task or skill. The students learns independently form the teacher(Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 81).. Khan Academy is a good example of tutorials. There are so many online courses and resources for students to work through at their own pace to develop their understanding of a concept or explore a new topic of interest. Students progress individually based on their understanding of the lessons.

Khan Academy is available at: https://www.khanacademy.org/ 

Simulation 
A simulation teaches students the process of how something is done in a way that mimics how the experience would be life in reality (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 90). In Year 5, students learn about ancient civilisations, specifically Egypt. The Mummy Maker simulation walks students through how the mummification process works. As students go through it, students are required to do the different steps, experiencing what it would be like to mummify a body in the times of ancient civilisations.

Mummy Maker Simulation is available at: http://discoverykids.com/games/mummy-maker/


Instructional Game 
An instructional game is a game that uses game features and rules for educational purposes (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 93). There is the challenge of game elements such as points, leaderboards and badges that are highly engaging for students. An example of instructional games is typing.com. Students learn to type through a game situation where they are awarded badges for completing levels and their is a scoreboard. Students learn the proper finger placement for typing while engaging in fun, levelled game that continues to challenge students by building on skills from previous levels.

Typing.com is available at: www.typing.com


Problem Solving 
Problem solving technology resources are challenging and help to develop specific skills. These skills do not always have to be content based but could also be thinking skills (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 100). An example of problem solving is Portal. Portal is a game where a character has two portals to make it through to the end of the level. The player needs to strategise how to use the two portals and where to place them in order to complete the level. The game is based on logic and reasoning to be successful in completing each level. While not made specifically for a content area, it can be linked to mathematics and physics with angles and is highly engaging for students.

Portal is available at: http://portal.wecreatestuff.com/portal.php 


References
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Sixth Edition].

Monday, 28 December 2015

Lesson Planning with Technology

Post to your blog your thoughts about lesson planning with technology. For those of you who have been teaching (either as a teacher or as a student on Prac) post your thoughts about what is the most difficult about planning a lesson and if there are any resources you might like to share (don't forget to pop them in the wiki!). If you haven't taught before, post your thoughts about what concerns you the most at this point - as a beginner. This post will be a good one for sharing ideas, collaborating and helping each other. Lesson planning takes a little while to get used to when you are starting out on your teaching career.
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There are so many things to consider when creating a lesson plan. Everything from classroom management, learning spaces, resources, questioning, prior knowledge, various abilities in a class  and more need to be considered in order to conduct an effective lesson for students. It can be challenging as a new teacher as how you teach will not be the same as your teaching partner often. Thus, you may need to take a different spin on things.

When I'm planning a lesson or learning engagement, I use backwards by design so I know where I want my students to know by the end. From there I think of how I'm going to grab their attention at the beginning and provoke their ideas about a topic.

As I begin to plan the lesson, I only use technology if it makes sense in a lesson. Sometimes it's better to use paper and pencil, drama or hands on building and that's okay too. As I plan the lesson and think of integrating a technology tool I think about how it would change the learning experience for the students. Does it enhance the learning engagement? Does it make the teaching more effective? Doe sit make the learning more engaging and effective? Are there

The most challenging part about lesson planning is finding the best tools to use to teach the curriculum. There are so many resources available to teachers but it can be very time consuming to look at each one before choosing. There are also so many ways to teach the same lesson so it's about choosing the right tools for the job that will best support your students. It is very important to me that when I do integrate a technology tool that I have tried it out before I allow my students to use it. It is important that I have some knowledge about it so I can problem solve with my students as they use it. I also feel it is important to vet it to make sure it truly fits the need of a lesson.

One of the ways I decide on if the technology integration of a resource would be effective is by looking at the SAMR model.

image from: http://cdno2.gettingsmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/SAMR_model.png

While some technology tools enhance the experience, the goal of technology integration in a lesson is to transform the learning. For me, when I'm using technology in the classroom, I am for modification or redefinition of the learning experience.

Resources for lessoning planning in general:
- For IB teachers, the Online Curriculum Community (OCC) provides lots of work samples, unit plans and lessons.
- The Teacher's Corner
- ReadWriteThink
- TES lesson plans
- Lucy Caukin's Readers and Writers Workshop books
- Edutopia

Saturday, 26 December 2015

ICT in the Curriculum

Post to your blog your ideas about your software choices in relation to your discipline area and which part of the curriculum you will focus on. This might be a little tricky for those of you who have not spent a lot of time in the classroom yet, but if you spend some time looking at the curriculum document, you should be able to find an area of the curriculum that will be appropriate for you to use in this assignment.
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As the Education Technology Coach at my school, technology is my discipline. It is my role to support teachers and students in using technology in authentic and meaningful ways. Thus, for this course, I will focus on the transdisiplinary learning in a primary classroom using the International Baccelaureate programme. 

With the IB, there is no set curriculum, rather it is a framework of learning. Within our school we have a scope and sequence for the various subjects that is integrated into the units of inquiry. Our school has no specific ICT curriculum. Rather, the units integrate technology where appropriate. 

From this perspective, the curriculum is often taught using technology for teaching and learning. My focus though, is teaching transferable skills using technology. For example, communication skills like viewing and presenting are taught through the use of technology. Students construct visuals using technology tools such as Google Drawing, Pixlr or Paper 53 that convey meaning to an audience. Students need to use design elements and principles as they create their visuals. Another example is having students choose the most appropriate technology tool to show their understanding and demonstrate their knowledge. Sometimes that might be a Google Document, other times it might be using iMovie to create a video or Piktochart to demonstrate their statistics in a visual. 

With the IB, there are 6 overarching elements of ICT in the Primary Years Programme: Creating, Collaborating, Organizing, Becoming Digital Citizens, Investigating and Communicating. Through these, students develop their skills to become digital learners using technology tools as one of many resources in their learning journey. 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Transforming Classrooms with New Technologies

Post to your blog your thoughts about the issues raised in this article and how they might impact on your first assignment and it's aims.

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Technology in the classroom has changed substantially over time. Once upon a time, computers were not affordable for the average school to have in each classroom. The computer took up a good chunk of space in the room and had limited functionality. Nowadays, many schools have computers in every classroom, some enough for every student or a BYOD programme adopted so that technology can be integrated on a daily basis.

As a teacher that uses technology on a daily basis to enhance the education experience, it is hard to imagine it being challenging for teachers to find educational uses for computers when they were first being introduced into the classroom (Bigum, 2012, p. 18). For me, trying to find the best way to transform technology for education is something I enjoy doing. I like trying to find new ways to use the tools I have to make learning different and engaging for students. Back when computers were first being introduced this may have been more of a struggle with dedicated teachers still trying to lead the way.

I love being able to introduce new technologies into my classroom. Often I just show my students and just let them explore it. They will often be able to grasp how to use the tool faster and better than I would be able to show them if I was to lead a directed lesson. Because my students are now proficient with a number of technology tools, it is easy for them to transfer their knowledge between technology tools until it is 'domesticated' as part of the class (Bigum, 2012, p. 22).

As an Education Technology Coach, I am often approached by teachers wanting to buy the 'new big thing'. For me, it is important that our school doesn't just jump on board with purchasing things to 'keep up with the Jones'. Rather, take the time to trial it, see what the pros and cons are before purchasing and rolling out to the whole school. This helps to slow the cycle. It is important to note how a new piece of technology will change the experience of what already exists with a focus on how is it going to improve teaching and learning (Bigum, 2012, p.26).

I believe technology is enhancing the way I teach in my classroom. From a productivity and organisational standpoint, I find myself feeling that technology has supported me in developing these areas. From a teaching standpoint, I have access to resources and information that I would not be able to access without technology. I can engage my students by showing them other parts of the world giving them first hand references instead of just a text to read. Students can also access information easily, share and connect with other students. My students are able to collaborate in school and from home on assignments using a variety of technology tools and resources. Having had access to so much technology for educational purposes, I would find it challenging to move to a system that did not embrace technology. Technology has allowed me to better my teaching practice so that my students have the best possible learning experience.

References
Bigum, C. (2012). Schools and Computers: Tales of a Digital Romance. Transformative Approaches to New Technologies and Student Diversity in Futures Oriented Classrooms. L. Rowan and C. Bigum, Springer Netherlands: 15-28.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Connectivism

Connectivism is a relatively new learning theory that looks at how knowledge is constructed through technology, people and communities (Starkey, 2012,p.26). Knowledge is built through connections between information. This information requires people to make the connections and uses the technology to do this. With connectivism, knowledge is always growing as more connections are made. 

Image from: https://journeysintechnology.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/connectivism.png


References


Starkey, L., (2012). Teaching and learning in the digital age. Oxon: Routledge

Monday, 21 December 2015

Learning Theories & Technology Tools

Many of the resources I use fit with the approach to learning I strive for in the classroom: constructivist. This doesn't mean that other theories are not at play but I try to provide an educational environment where students are constructing their own learning.

Here are 3 examples of technology tools I am considering for my assignment: 

Laptop (Macbook Pro) 

In my class, students use MacBook Pro laptops throughout the course of the day as this gives them access to a productivity suite (Google Apps for Education) and creativity suite (Apple Creativity Suite). In the primary school, the school provides the laptops allowing for consistency. As an IB school, we do a lot of inquiry learning. Students inquire and share their learning through various digital platforms. Through these personal inquiries, the discovery learning theory is present as students will construct their own meaning and are ‘more likely to understand and remember’ through independent inquiry (Roblyer & Doering, p. 43). As they research, they are able to construct their understanding through a constructivist approach.

BrainPop

I use BrainPop as introduction videos, tutorials and provocations. After watching the video, students often generate questions to inquire further into or reflect on what they already know to make meaning. I use it as a constructivist approach to learning whereby students will use the video to provoke where they would like to guide their inquiries as they co-create the curriculum of learning. As students use this as a starting point and direct their own learning from here, the learning is student-centered (Bellflower, 2012, p.26).

Available at: https://www.brainpop.com/


Google Slides

I really try to promote collaborate work and Google Slides is one of the tools that allow me to do this. Often my students choose a topic of interest, research and then share their learning through developing a presentation to share with the rest of the class ( a constructivist approach to learning)(Roblyer & Doering, p. 50). Within Google Slides, students can use a variety of Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences to demonstrate their understanding through pictures, images, videos and text (Roblyer & Doering, p. 50).

Available online with Google account at https://www.google.ca/slides/about/

References
Bellflower, J. V. (2012, January 1). The effectiveness of traditional and 21st century teaching tools on students' science learning. ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, PO Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Retrieved from http://gateway.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:dissertation&res_dat=xri:pqm&rft_dat=xri:pqdiss:3490048

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Sixth Edition].

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Thoughtful Leader: Managing, Leading and Engaging

Fisher’s (2009) work about leadership was a thought-provoking read that allowed me to be reflective of how I lead as well as how others lead me.
One of the clearest things that came out of the article was the need of a clear vision at all times. A leader needs to be able to effectively identify and communicate this to their followers. In order for engagement, the followers need to ‘buy-in’ to the vision and truly understand all aspects of it before they are effectively able to live and breathe it. This is so important for the success of an organization. In order to
Another point that resonated with me was the need to motivate others. There are so many different ways of motivating people but in my opinion, empowering people to take lead in align with the vision and values of the organisation creates the most effective outcomes. This can be scary for a leader as they have to trust in the their followers and release some sense of control. This bottom-up approach allows those involved to gain a sense of self worth and contribution to the organisation.
The importance of managing alone will never be successful. In conjunction to managing, a leader needs to lead using both these skillsets intertwined to eliminate any disconnect. It was also noted of the consistency between these two needed.

I loved that note about leadership being personal. Recently I heard someone say that in leadership sometimes you just have to do something because it has to get done. For me, this is not personal at all. I think if you can’t justify why this is needing to be done and the true purpose and impact of what you are doing then perhaps this isn’t the best route. A leader needs to stay focused on what they are trying to achieve and have a deeper understanding of why they are doing it as it aligns to the vision.
Reference
Fisher, J. (2009). The Thoughtful Leader. Review Ontario Leadership Framework, Ontario Ministry of Education. (Dr. Fisher has kindly provided permission to use this resource). Click here to access

Friday, 18 December 2015

Affordances with Technology

With so many software and hardware resources available for education, it is important to be able to navigate through them and choose the right tool for a given job. Any task can be done many ways with many tools, but some resources may be a better fit for the learning outcome students are trying to achieve. As educators, this can be a challenging task of sifting through the clutter.

According to Bower (2008), there are a number of different affordances for educational systems. Below are some for some resources:

- iMovie - Media affordances as it allows for audio, visuals, video, and text to create a video product.
- GarageBand - The media affordance allows for the creation of music.
- Google Docs - The usability is easy for collaboration, it can allow for media usage within the documents and the sharing functions all for access-control affordances.

The complete list of affordances are:
- Media affordances
- Spatial affordances
- Temporal affordances
- Navigation affordances
- Emphasis affordances
- Synthesis affordances
- Access-control affordances
- Technical affordances
- Usability
- Aesthetics
- Reliability

By using these affordances, an educator can think critically about the use of a tool and why it is a good choice for a specific task.

References

Bower, M. (2008). Affordance analysis – matching learning tasks with learning technologies, Educational Media International, 45(1), 3-15. DOI: 10.1080/09523980701847115

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Issues Raised, Research and Needs in Educational Technology

As educators, our goal is to improve student learning inside the classroom using the tools and resources available to use. Technology is enviably becoming more present in our daily lives and education system. However, Cox (2013, p. 85) argues that the effectiveness of using the devices for learning still requires more research.

Cox (2013, p.85) suggests that more research should be done to look at the differences between formal and informal uses of technology for learning and the difference between them. One of the resources becoming more and more popular is the use of technology in the formal setting of a classroom. What was once only accessible in higher education, has made its way down into primary school classes (Cox, p.88)

Due to the high rate of changing technology, research struggles to keep up with the rate of change. There are so many new technology tools and resources becoming available for teachers and students every year that there is no way to properly conduct research on the effectiveness for every one.

In addition to the change of technology tools, the role of teachers and learners continues to evolve. Through 21st century learning, teachers are transitioning more towards the role of a facilitator as students are able to construct their own learning more readily with access to the internet through their devices. Teaching has changed from a directed model towards a constructivist approach with technology supporting this movement (Roblyer & Doering, p. 46).

As technology continues to evolve, so does the research to determine if integrating technology actually enhances the eduational experience. Cox (2012) argues this point stating that it is difficult to know if the technology improves learning. There is no doubt that technology enhances student engagement by using tools that students use in their informal settings but does it actual show significant improvement in the learning.

With the rise of mobile devices and social media, technology can be taken with you anywhere with learning able to happen anytime. This has changed the way the classroom looks and this transformation requires more research to better understand it and how to most effectively use technology to enhance learning. Teachers are no longer teacher technology as a stand alone tool but rather a tool that is used in a way to support and enhance the student learning (Voogt, Knezek, Coz, Knezek, & ten Brummelhuis, 2013, p. 5)

In addition, the training of teachers should be looked at to ensure how we teach teachers to integrate technology is the most effective method for student growth. 

As technology continues to advance, researchers and educators should continue to ask ourselves 'What does this mean for our education system? What does this mean for learning? What does this mean for student growth?' As we keep the student learning at the core of our thoughts as we navigate the newest realms of technology, there is much research still to be done.

References

Cox, M.J. (2013), Formal to informal learning with IT: research challenges and issues for e-learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29: 85–105. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00483.x

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Sixth Edition].

Voogt, J., Knezek, G., Cox, M., Knezek, D. and ten Brummelhuis, A. (2013), Under which conditions does ICT have a positive effect on teaching and learning? A Call to Action. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29: 4–14. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00453.x

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Critical Alternative: Leadership & Gender

Critical Alternative: Leadership assumes able-bodied male.  Need to reveal gendered culture-centric assumptions. 
As a female in international education, I look to the hierarchy of my own school and other schools in my area. Time and time again I see a few females in the roles of senior leadership. In my school, we have 1 female out of 5 senior leadership members. It is very unbalanced. If you move a few steps down the hierarchy to middle leadership (year group coordinators, subject coordinators, etc), you will find an even number of males and females in leadership positions if not more females slightly. While this middle management tilt may be due to generally more females in the education field, there seems to be a glass ceiling effect that makes it challenging for females to move beyond to senior leadership. 
As an Education Technology Coach, I also very few females represented in these roles. Primarily technology roles are dominated by males. I am the first female ever in the technology role in my school and work with 3 other males. 
While I firmly believe the best person for the job should get a position, schools should be cognizant of what messages are perceived by others when looking at leadership teams. What does it say to your students when no females are in technology leadership positions? What does it say to parents and staff when all senior leadership consists of males? How does having different genders on a leadership team impact the perspectives brought to the table of discussions? 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Building Community, Building Capacity

In an interview with Jenny Lewis from New South Wales, Australia, Jenny states that good leadership is "bringing the place together and having a core focus". In essence, creating a community that people want to belong to. Cultivating a positive school community isn't always easy but is worth every ounce of effort.

A school is a place that in most country children 'must'  attend for a given number of years. Teaches come to work each day and administration are expected to lead the school's vision forward. The focus of a school community should always be the teaching and learning of their students. But there are many approaches to take in doing this. I believe that a good leader leads through modelling best practice, enthusiasm for teaching and learning and building relationships.

A strong leader understands that at the heart of any community or organization lies the relationships it is built upon. Nurturing these positive relationships are essential to moving forward. Without people who feel comfortable and confident in a leader's ability, the battle to move forward likely will be short-lived. Building a community where people want to come together and support each other will help not only the students but teachers grow and learn together. As a leader, one of the challenging tasks is remaining positive and optimistic through every incident that occurs. However, positivity breeds more positivity and creating a community where these feelings thrive is essential.

The reason schools exist is the learning for students. A good educational leader must be enthusiastic and share a love of learning themselves. A leader support others in creating a welcoming and safe environment for the students to take risks in their learning and inquire. But the learning must not stop with the students. Every member of the community must see the value in up-skilling themselves and trying new things. Students need to see their teachers as role models who continue to learn as well. Further to this, learning needs to radiate farther to every member of the community as building capacity always for knowledge and growth. A good leader understands that by building capacity in all members of the school community whether parents, teachers, teaching assistant or administration, it promotes life-long learners and a community that values each member and their contributions.

In education, often leaders become restricted to an office, tied down with paperwork and 'putting out fires'. It is important for the educational leaders of our schools to stay true to the reasons they got into education and lead by example in the classroom and around the school. I love seeing administration in the classroom with the students leading learning and learning together. This view is so optimistic for the whole school community, especially our students. It shows our students that everyone is still learning and growing, that students and their learning is the number one priority in the school and that inspiring students through education is the responsibility of every member of the community.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Hardware in International Primary School


Armfield (2011, p.109) suggest that in many situations technology integration in the classroom is simply used for traditional activities. Yet, we need to be looking at how technology transforms the teaching and learning experience for our students and ourselves as teachers. 

Armfield (2011, p.111) also brings to light the idea of a community of practice in which all stakeholders are working towards the same goal. I think this is an important point with regards to technology integration. If the administration does not value the transformative aspects of technology in education, there won’t be budgeting for devices. If teachers don’t value technology in education, they won’t bring it into their classroom. If students don’t value it, they won’t engage with it. It really needs to be a part of the school’s mission and vision about creating a learning environment to meet individual needs using 21st-century tools and strategies to enhance learning. 

Armfield (2011, p.114) suggests further challenges such as teachers having little experience with technology and fearful of attempting to use it. Many teachers lack knowledge in how technology can support pedagogy and content to benefit their students. This is something that is very common in schools. It takes a lot to build ownership in learning as well as the confidence and courage to take risks in the classroom in front of students. 

Matzen & Edmunds (2007) suggests that just teaching technology tools in professional development is not good enough and teachers will not likely integrate into the classroom in a transformative way. However, if there is a student-centred approach to instructional strategies, then teachers are more likely to have a shift in their own instructional methods.

My role is to lead all of the professional development sessions for education technology. This includes creating surveys to understand staff needs and develop a professional development plan each term to meet these needs, deliver the sessions and reflect back on the success of them and where to go from there. Depending on the time of year and session topics, attendance can vary but I measure success in how teachers then take their learning and apply it in their classrooms or share their learning with others. I love when teachers come back and say they’ve tried something they learnt during a session in their classroom and can share their reflections on it. This also helps them consolidate their own learning and they can then support others who would like to try similar integration strategies in the future. Just like I would facilitate sessions with our students, our professional development sessions are all linked to at least one of the ICT in PYP skills that the International Baccalaureate outlines (2011). This allows teachers to also think about what transferable skills they are developing, similar to how we teach our students. 

During sessions, I believe it is important that it is hands-on for teachers and that they try things out. I always allow for time to explore so that teachers are constructing their own learning with technology (Matzen & Edmunds,2007). In addition, I model teaching the sessions in a way that I would teach my students to ensure that the learning is student centred (Matzen & Edmunds,2007). This also helps teachers integrate into their own classrooms as they often model what they have been shown during professional development sessions in their own class (Matzen & Edmunds,2007, p. 427).

I think that it needs to be a combination of ICT skills and learning new ways of teaching. This cannot just fall on the technology coach though - it needs to be supported by the administration and the curriculum coordinator to guide the way of teaching and learning. In order for teachers to incorporate technology into their lessons, they need to understand how to use the technology. Therefore, whenever we do EdTech PD at our school we always have a dual approach where we look at the technology tool and also look at applications of this in the classroom. From there, hopefully, we’ve sparked some ideas with teachers to help them use the tool to deliver or assess content in the future. We can also then have coaching sessions to support teachers in their planning and draw on some of the tools that would help them best deliver content without spending time ‘teaching’ them during these times. 

Professional development is ongoing as suggested in Armfield (2011, p. 115). Therefore, we cannot teach teachers everything there is to know about technology integration at once. There needs to be an ongoing commitment to professional development of best practice and technology integration at the school level to build this idea of community of practice. This will help teachers become more confident using technology in their classes and move beyond just teaching skills towards transformative learning.

In addition, as teachers become more confident using technology they should also spend more time reflecting on how they’ve used it and adapt to enhance their teaching. Similarly, as more professional development sessions are run, there needs to be reflection by the technology team to ensure the sessions meet the needs of the staff in a challenging and effective manner. 

Our school is really good about providing time and resources for teachers to actually learn through technology. Our department has offered close to 30 sessions this year for teachers and are looking to expand that to an online course for new teachers to bring them up to basics as well as use 2 days if  staff professional development days and 2 Primary/ Secondary meetings to develop our new digital citizenship curriculum next year. Schools need to keep this commitment of giving teachers time if they want their teachers to use technology effectively (Armfield, 2011, p. 119). 

Lawless & Pellegrino (2007) suggest that most professional development is voluntary. This is very true in our school this year in terms of technology integration professional development. All 30 sessions are voluntary meaning that only those who are motivated and want to engage with these sessions, rather than those who really could benefit from sessions like this. This is another reason we are moving 4 mandatory staff professional development sessions next year. Effective technology integration is something that all staff need to work towards, hence the whole school approach by administration next year. 


References

Armfield, S. (2011). Technology leadership for school improvement Planning, designing, implementing and evaluating technology, pp. 109-128, 2011. in Technology and Leadership for School Improvement. Papa, R. (Ed) California :Sage 


International Baccalaureate. (2011).The role of ICT in PYP. UK: IB. 

Matzen, N. J., & Edmunds, J. A. (2007). Technology as a Catalyst for Change: The Role of Professional Development. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 39(4), 417-430.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

TPACK Framework

TPACK framework is a well-known framework in the education technology realm that connects technological, pedagogical and content knowledge.

Image from: http://www.tpack.org/
In my role of an educational technology coach, I believe that I sit mostly on technological/ pedagogical knowledge. I believe this is where I fall because I understand how to teach and good teaching practice and have to regularly stay up to date in education technology. However, I do not always know all of the curriculum in depth across the primary school. My role is to help teachers connect the content knowledge or their pedagogical content knowledge to the technological knowledge.

I believe that expanding to tech with tech-PACK helps to emphasize the technology knowledge needed to integrate technology as mentioned by Roblyer & Doering (2014, p. 53). However, it is important to remember that as a teaching leaving out the technology is okay when it doesn't make sense to use it. Thus, an important role of a teacher is to make conscious decision of when to include technology and when to just stick to content and pedagogy knowledge.

To do this, I plan with teachers on a given unit they are working on and provide suggestions for technology integration. From there, I may upskill the teachers in small groups or co-teach the lesson with my focus as technology and pedagogical knowledge and taking the lead from the homeroom teacher. This is what Koehler & Mishra (2009) would describe as “An understanding of how teaching and learning can change when particular technologies are used in particular ways. This includes knowing the pedagogical affordances and constraints of a range of technological tools as they relate to disciplinarily and developmentally appropriate pedagogical designs and strategies."

Whereas most homeroom teachers would be developing the technology from me, I develop my understanding of the content from them. From there, our knowledge is completed as TPACK. My role is really to help teachers to become confident integrating technology and providing them the knowledge and support to add this third component of knowledge to their teaching. I believe that supporting teachers in having all three types of knowledge is important before implementing technology into the classroom as they plan a unit/lesson. Adding the technological knowledge where appropriate in their units/ lessons allows them to provide a 21st century learning community for their students.

References 
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2008, March). Thinking creatively: Teachers as designers of technology, pedagogy and content (tpack). Keynote address at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), Las Vegas, NV, March 3-7.

Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching: International Edition, 6th Edition, Pearson.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Digital Immigrant or Native? Growth Mindset More Important

Evolution involves adapting to a surrounding to survive over time. In the education profession, it is similar as a teacher in a digital age. According to Marc Prensky (2001), digital immigrants are individuals who have not grown up in a digital age and have needed to adapt and adopt the new 'language' of technology'. Digital Natives are individuals who have grown up using technology. We can't expect the educational world to regress back to times without technology so it is up to both the 'digital immigrant' and 'digital native' to continue to evolve with their environment by embracing education with technology integration.

By that definition, I would be considered more on the digital native end of the spectrum with technology integrated into my schooling and experiences at times, though not fully.  Technology played a large role in my educational upbringing in university. My students therefore be digital natives as they have always grown up surrounded by technology with access to technology.

For me, I believe those labels don't belong in education. Rather I believe the focus should be more on growth mindset and the willingness to learn. No student or educator will ever know all there is when it comes to technology. It is important to have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mixed as an approach to learning.

Image from: http://carriekepple.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Growth-v-Fixed.jpg

A growth mindset as an educator allows you to be open-minded to new ideas and concepts. Educators with a growth mindset enjoy trying to challenge their thinking and push boundaries beyond their current knowledge. An educator with a growth mindset continues to problem solve with resiliency until they are able to come to a suitable solution. 'Not possible' is not the answer, rather an opportunity to try something new.

When we stop worrying about failing or looking silly for trying, we can allow ourselves the ability to explore a technology to understand it and find deeper and more meaningful uses of it within our classrooms.

Image from: https://chrishildrew.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/fixedgrowth-copy.jpg

For more thoughts on being willing to learn and eliminating the labels of digital native and immigrant,  please feel free to check out an earlier blog post here.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), p. 1-6. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/10748120110424816

When To Use Technology in the Classroom

Some days as a teacher you may use technology in almost all components of your classes, then other days not even touch it. When is too much? When is not enough? In my mind, why are we even asking these questions? If we focus on what is important, then those questions become irrelevant.

In my role as an education technology coach, my role is to support teachers in integrating technology into the classroom. Many would think I would advocate for getting more technology into the classroom but more doesn't mean better.

I always chuckle when I have a teacher that comes to asking for an opinion on an activity that they want to use technology with and I suggest a non-technology approach. To me, using technology should only be done when it makes sense, when it enhances the learning experience for our students and is authentic. We shouldn't force the use of technology in our classes just because we have it.

There are definitely many benefits of being able to use technology in the classroom - access to information, connecting with others, supporting individual needs, motivation, etc. But the most important aspect of teaching should always remain the teaching and learning for student growth.

When I was a homeroom classroom teacher, I always loved assigning a final project with no limit on how it was presented. In doing so, it allowed the students to express themselves using the tools and resources they felt comfortable with. The final products were of higher quality and more diverse. Whether it was a bulletin board, a dramatic presentation, an online presentation of slides, video, art piece, or handwritten essay, the important thing was that the student felt they had ownership in how they chose to demonstrate their learning journey.

If we stop asking when is too much and not enough use of technology and start asking does it make sense to use technology for this learning experience, the technology integration will be more meaningful. In doing so, we are then able to provide our students with just another set of skills to add to their toolkit that they can draw upon when it is most appropriate.


Citizenship in a Digital Age

Digital literacy is about helping our students develop the skills and behaviours to be successful in a digital age. This includes supporting our students in how to find, access, and use information they find online, communicating through various digital medias, collaborating with others and making smart decisions while using technology that demonstrates being a good citizen. 
As technology becomes more accessible to the masses, digital tools provide educators and students with an unlimited amount of resources and access to information. Students need to be able to not only access the internet but be critically analyze what they discover, the source of information and its validity.

With Web 2.0, the user experience has gone from just consuming digital content to engaging and interacting with it. The ability to connect and collaborate with someone from across the globe has become easy with the various social media platforms. Through this, students can connect with experts to raise the quality of their work by getting information from the source. In doing so, students need to be aware of how their online communication really should not be that different from their offline communication. Respect, kindness and common sense should continue no matter if you blur the lines of communication to a virtual platform. 

Above all, we must continue to educate our students with how to be a good citizen with how to be a good digital citizen simply as an extension of citizenship. Our students should understand that the choices they make online will remain present for all to see in the future. The pictures they post give insight into the type of person they are and their identity that extends offline. As they continue to build their online relationships, they must think about how this impacts their lives on a greater scale. 

Perhaps calling referring to as 'digital citizenship' is too narrowing. Being a good person is being a good person. Rather, we are educating our students of how to be a good citizen in an increasingly more digitalized world. As we educate our students for an unknown tomorrow, we must provide them with the appropriate skills and behaviours that allow them to be successful in a digital age - not only online but in every day life as well. 

Image from: https://www.iste.org/explore/articledetail?articleid=192

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Digital Literacy

Digital literacy is helping our students develop the skills and behaviours to be successful in a digital age. This includes supporting our students in how to find, access, critically analyze, and use information they find online, communicating through various digital medias, collaborating with others and making smart decisions while using technology that demonstrates being a good citizen. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Using Technology to Enhance What We Want for Our Students

On page 30, question 6 states: " Educational technology historian Paul Saettler (1990) said "Computer information systems are not just objective recording devices. They also reflect concepts, hopes, beliefs, attitudes" (p. 539).

Post your thoughts about how you think these "concepts, hopes, beliefs, and attitudes" are reflected in our current approach to educational technology. What do you think our use of technology in schools is saying about what we want for our students and society?

Discuss the our past and current uses of technology education reflection.

___________

Paul Saettler (1990, p.539 as cited in Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p.30) suggests that "Computer information systems are not just objective recording devices. They also reflect concepts, hopes, beliefs, attitudes." Computers and technology have seen great development over time, which reflects how they are used within an educational setting. Computers in education has evolved from something explored by few in university settings to becoming mobile devices that are accessible to the masses. The importance of computer literacy skills began to evolve in the microcomputer era, suggesting the importance of developing skills and understanding of the technologies being used (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 7). From there, technology became a means of connecting with others through the internet era, while also having a plethora of technological resources available at your fingertips while investigating online for information. As technology further developed into the world of mobile devices, accessibility became more readily available (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 9). Most adolescents now have devices that they can use for educational or personal enjoyment. Because of this, learning could access more resources for learning in the forms of e-books, distance education and social networking. With all of this information and experts so accessible, the student needs to learn how to filter what they are viewing and critically analyses the information in a digital age.

The way we use technology in our schools now can vary from school to school, from country to country depending on the resources and philosophies of teaching. In my experience, technology is used as part of the teaching and learning process and should not be thought of as a separate component from it. Students now have the opportunity with Web 2.0 to not only read but also write and create what is online. Thus, technology provides students a means to showcase their individual creativity as they differentiate how they express their learning.

I believe technology is used in the classroom as a way to develop transdisciplinary skills that will last beyond the classroom and into the real world. The Internationale Baccalaureate suggests there are six ICT skills that should be included in the written, taught and assessed curriculum (ICT in the PYP, p.2). These include investigating, organizing, creating, communicating, collaborating and becoming a digital citizen. No longer is the focus on specific content but rather, how the content is obtained, used and manipulated to demonstrate, challenge and extend the learning of the students. Through the development of these skills, students develop their creative and critical thinking, allowing them to take their understanding of concepts to greater depth. Technology should be used in a purposeful and meaningful way to help students make connections, see things from different perspectives and be used as a means of reflection in their learning journey.

References 

Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching: International Edition, 6th Edition, Pearson.

The role of ICT in PYP. (2011). International Baccalaureate. UK: IB. 

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

As a teacher who received my qualifications in Canada and now working in an international school setting, my knowledge and experience with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers is limited. That being said, as I read through them, I can easily see where ICT weaves into these standards. In fact, I can feel it is possible to justify how almost all of the standards are linked through ICT in some way or form. Technology should be integrated throughout the curriculum, planning and assessment seamlessly, while not be seen as an extra burden.

For example, standard 1.5 suggests teachers "Differentiate teaching to meet specific needs of students across the full range of abilities." If I was having my students work on a piece of writing, I may have students use an online dictionary or thesaurus to enhance their vocabulary. I may also have students use Google documents to type their rough draft so that it is more convenient to have their peers and myself as the teacher comment/make suggestions for future development. I may allow my ESL students to use google translate to help them discover the words they are trying to say in English. For some other students with dyslexia, I may have them use a read-to-text programme so that they don't feel overwhelmed by the spelling and can focus on creating the story.

When it comes to publishing their writing, I may have my students transform their writing into an animation, use blurb or flipsnack. Perhaps they would like to record their story as an audiobook and enhance it with images.

In terms of assessment their writing, I may use Video notes if they have created a digital story as a video, or a rubric through Google Sheets. I may use  Fluberoo or an online rubric.

This is just one example of how technology can be integrated into a learning experience that meets a standard. I could do the same for almost every other one as well when thinking of Assignment 1.

The ones that seemed to jump out at me as I read through them as the 'easiest' to connect to when focusing on Assignment 1 would be as follows with the ones the explicitly mention ICT as bold.

Standard 1: Know students and how they learn
1.5 Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities
1.6 Strategies to support full participation of students with disability

Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it
2.1 Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area
2.2 Content selection and organisation
2.3 Curriculum, assessment and reporting
2.6 Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
- Implement teaching strategies for using ICT to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students

Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
3.3 Use teaching strategies
3.4 Select and use resources
3.5 Use effective classroom communication
3.7 Engage parents/ carers in the educative process

Standard 4: Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments 
4.1 Support student participation
4.2 Manage classroom activities
4.3 Manage challenging behaviour
4.5 Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically
- Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant issues and the strategies available to support the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.
Standard 5 - Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
5.1 Assess student learning
5.2 Provide feedback to students on their learning

Standard 6 - Engage in professional learning
6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice
6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice
6.4 Apply professional learning and improve student learning

Standard 7-Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community
7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities

References 
Australian professional standards for teachers (2014). Australian institute for Teaching and Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.aitsl.edu.au/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/standards/list

Monday, 16 November 2015

Technology: One of Many Tools

Blog Prompt: One of the interviewees, Greg Whitby, claims that the focus on technology is a "waste of time". He says: "If you focus on the technology, you ignore the central problem and the central issue." What do you think he means by this, and to what extent do you agree? Why do you think we focus on the technology?
__________

As part of a podcast with Future Tense (Funnell, 2012), Greg Whitby suggests that you can't just focus on the technology when it comes to education. There is an abundance of technology within our reach with new advances and releases, such as the iPad Pro, becoming available to consumers each day. Our students have more access to technology than ever before and they can choose to interact with it even outside of school. Therefore, focusing on getting technology into the hands of the students isn't enough any more - the novelty of 'using technology in classrooms' has worn off. Beyond that, just teaching students how to use a particular technology tool doesn't promote the type of learning environments our students deserve to have. Rather, as educators, we need to be more cognizant of creating meaningful uses of technology integration to enhance the learning process. 

image from: http://www.alp100.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/bill-gates-tech-quote.png

As an educator, one aspect of my role is to focus on the providing the best teaching and learning to my students. As Bill Gates once said, "Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important." If they don't have a teacher who is able to use best practice in integrating that tool effectively into the curriculum and teaching then, the tool is not meaningful. Teachers continue to upskill their own technology abilities with the purpose of utilizing it within the curriculum when approach. Teachers need to not only be able to use and integrate technology but decipher when it is best to actually use technology and when another strategy or tool is more effective to achieve a specific learning outcome or experience. Teachers continue to write curriculum, teach content and assess their students choosing the right tools for each learning experience to provide students with a quality education. 

Image from: http://blog.williamferriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/9223386478_20cf5bb693_b.jpg

I would argue, that while technology is a tool, it is a powerful tool. It is a tool that can connect classes from across the globe to contrast and compare lifestyle, schooling and interests. It is a tool that can help students access information from various sources in a click of a button. It is a tool that can enhance the learning experience by allowing for experiences that were not possible in reality such as travelling to the bottom of the ocean to explore wildlife. It is a tool that can help students organize their lives through notes and calendars. It is a tool to communicate in a multitude of ways. It can be a tool to document learning and reflect on their educational experiences. Utilizing technology can help engage students while also developing social, self-management, thinking, and communicating skills. Students can create, collaborate, and curate as they develop transdisciplinary skills that can be drawn upon at any time to use. 

In a 21st century classroom, the technology still does not replace the teacher, hands-on learning, visual thinking and planning on paper or face-to-face interactions. But what it does achieve is creating an endless supply of learning opportunities for students to engage and experience if integrated in an appropriate manner.  

References

Funnell, A. (2012, Aug 19). 21st century education. Future Tense [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from: www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/21st-century-education/4197700#transcript 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Introduction to ESC515

Hi all,

My name is Emily MacLean and I'm currently an international educator working at Chatsworth International School in Singapore as the Education Technology Coach. This is my 3rd year at the school and I've just switched over from a Year 5 teacher into the edtech role in August. I've also worked in Beijing for a year and I'm originally from Oshawa, Ontario in Canada. 

I never thought I'd focus on technology as an educator but it sort of just fell in my lap. When I moved to Singapore, I had a 1-to-1 laptop class with students who knew way more about it than I did. I had no choice but to figure out how to use it and integrate technology in my classroom or get left behind by my students. A few years later, I'm now in the role supporting teachers integrate technology. My role consists of regularly leading professional development sessions for teachers, working one-on-one to build capacity and co-teaching in the classroom. I love the constant challenge of trying to find innovative ways to teach and creating solutions to problems. 

I feel fortunate to be able to use a variety of technologies in my school from iPads, laptops, iMacs, Interactive Whiteboards etc. I wouldn't say there is a specific tool I'm looking to learn more about throughout this course but rather how the tools can be used for various jobs across the curriculum and year groups and hearing how others effectively integrate technology. 

My Master of Education blog is available at: http://emilymacleanmed.blogspot.sg/
I will be using the hashtag #ESC515 with all my posts specific for this class. 

Looking forward to learning with everyone this term!