Celebrating Gibault Catholic High School

GCHS Logo

GCHS Logo

A good deal has already been written about the end of snow days at Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo, IL.

As it should be.

Certainly, kids should be kids, and they should go out and play in the snow.

I suspect, though, that even on elearning snow days, they will find the time.

The incentive toward greater student engagement and productivity while working in an elearning environment is certainly influenced by the deployment of effective online pedagogy aligned with Bill Pelz’s principles.

Productivity in particular, though, is probably most influenced by the simple pull of fun in the outdoors, or perhaps the pull of the sofa and a video game. For adolescents, in particular, knowing that you’re confined to a single space for a given time – the bells at school, the four walls of a few different classrooms – can demotivate. The current paradigm also doesn’t allow for high school students to start the process of making difficult choices such as the ones they will face in college or the work world – whether to put work before play, and how best to manage time.

Gibault’s move toward eteaching and elearning in virtual spaces on snow days represents a significant step toward fulfilling the potential of technology to transform teaching and learning to better suit the needs of a modern and highly mobile – and sometimes immobilized – world.

It should be celebrated, studied, and refined.

Gibault is helping its students  prepare for participation in a world which will require a high tech skill set as well as a  lifelong learner, work-on-the-go mindset.

It both acknowledges the motivational sway of flexible schedules and makes the most of the hardware and software available today, technology already the palms of so many hands and facilitating a paradigm shift toward anytime, anyplace learning in virtual spaces.

From the “Snow Day Simulation” rollout to actual full-on implementation, Gibault has proceeded thoughtfully, and initial signs of student and teacher buy in are apparent.

Soon, if not already, the rollout evaluation and the harder questions will come. What kinds of skills and content are being cultivated and delivered on those elearning snow days? How profound is the collaboration between peers in the virtual spaces deployed? To what degree is formative assessment, statistical sampling, and scaffolding happening in My Big Campus? Is there a philosophical framework for the whole enterprise, such as Pelz’s principles of effective online pedagogy?

But today, I celebrate Gibault Catholic High School for making important strides toward fulfilling the promise of technology, and toward preparing its students to compete in a global economy and a technology-infused society.

I celebrate the students of Gibault for seizing the opportunity their school has given them to learn WITH technology, and to view their computers, tablets, and smartphones as cognitive tools rather than as simple entertainment-delivery systems.

Just don’t forget to play in the snow some, too.

QR Code Adventures on the Small Screen

20140120-130742.jpgToday’s post expands on my previous link to Joe Dale’s thorough and thoughtful look at the trend toward QR Codes in the classroom.

QR codes are particularly relevant to those of us fortunate enough to work in 1:1 tablet teaching and learning environments. If you are among those, please proceed! If you prefer to go directly to my Explain Everything/YouTube video rather than to read, please simply scroll to the bottom of this post.

First, you don’t need a projector to make the most of this approach to active learning environments and potential differentiation. You can print your QR codes and supply each “pod” or group with its own QR code printout. Those codes could link to the same or different sites/activities, and they could link to some Google Forms for statistical sampling or self evaluation purposes. With regard to the latter, among the QR codes that live in a folder on my desktop are those that link to Google Forms allowing students to reflect on their class performance or to view samples of stellar student work from weeks or even years past. Responses on Google Forms are automatically compiled in tidy spreadsheets. This is a huge time saver!

If you’re like me and try to save yourself those trips to the copy machine (not to mention help save the planet through reduced paper use), then you will likely want to embed your QR codes into a Powerpoint or Keynote file. Kids can either get out of their seats and scan, or scan from practically wherever they are seated.

If you use DropBox to deliver assignments to your students, you can get the URL to that file simply enough. Click on a file in DropBox and the link to the right of that file. Click “Get Link” and, presto, you have the URL copied to your clipboard.

Next, head to any Web-based QR code generator if you’re on your laptop, or simply use your QR code reader on your iPad to generate a code. I use http://www.qrstuff.com/

Download the QR code generated, project, and you have just taken a small but significant step toward paperless, active teaching and learning environments. 

QR Coding the Classroom

ImageAt Educational Technology Today, I found a feed linking to a very helpful piece written by Joe Dale about various classroom applications for Quick Response (QR) codes. Download a free QR Reader to your tablet or smart phone and scan the QR image at left to explore some of the possibilities presented by Mr. Dale (or simply click HERE). I will follow this teaser post up with more detailed observations of my own from personal QR-coded classroom experiences, but I wanted to give Mr. Dale a cyber shout out for this very helpful contribution to the dialogue on active learning environments.

How is Technology Transforming Education

Happy New Year, and welcome back! I hope you’re settling into 2014 in a transformational mindset (or at the very least having enjoyed a peaceful end to the 2013 year)!

If you’re not, I hope you will consider watching  Sir Ken Robinson’s video below, which came across in the feed at my virtual newspaper, Educational Technology Today (I am offering free subscription in the New Year, which would be a great deal, except it is already free anyway).

My favorite quotes from Sir Ken Robinson’s talk is as follows:

“The tools themselves are creating cultural changes and possibilities which are really quite new. Our students are connected just with the people in the room around them, but with literally anybody on the planet they care to be connected to.”

Sir Robinson’s comments provide a link across time and space to my end-of-year post here at What’s Transforming Teaching and Learning? I wrote in December about paper.li and the potential of Twitter to link our students to the leading voices in their preferred fields of study. It may not be quite as easy to connect “with literally anybody” as Sir Robinson would suggest – not all of the leading voices post their thoughts in social media spaces or, if they do, they may not allow unfettered access to the virtual spaces that their thoughts inhabit.

With regard to his comments on creation, I only wish that Adobe wasn’t boosting CS prices to the point where schools are starting to have to consider free but inferior alternatives available in the marketplace.

Enjoy the video, and, again, thank you for visiting. I hope 2014 is all you wish it to be.

YouTube Synopsis:
Published on Dec 7, 2012

“Technology is changing the world rapidly, impacting the way students learn and opening new possibilities for educators. Take a look what Sir Ken Robinson had to say when asked about the role of technology in education.

Follow the series at http://adobe.ly/YT121R

How is technology is changing your classroom? Do you find that it is allowing for greater creatvitity? Join the conversation on Twitter using the #createnow hashtag and be sure to tag us at @adobeedu!”