Virtual Learning in a Crisis

Virtual Learning in a Crisis

Disclosure: The following thoughts/reflections are not necessary the views of ISB or its community It has been a few weeks since we were in a virtual school situation here in Bangkok. Although the flood water continues to slowly move South into Bangkok our school has reopened with no immediate threat to flooding in sight if at all. SOME RIGHTS RESERVED BY MITH17 Some rights reserved by mith17The school was closed for a week, along with all schools in the Bangkok area, by the Ministry of Education. ISB is lucky in did not get hit by the floods. Not all International Schools were as lucky.I have done presentations throughout Asia on preparing for school closure as it seems they follow me where ever I am in the world. Saudi Arabia with terrorism, Shanghai with Typhoons, Bangkok with riots and flooding, and even Washington State with snow and earthquakes. Depending on the situation many times schools try to move into an virtual school situation. Here are some things that no matter why the school closes seem to be factors in having a successful virtual school experience.Blended Classrooms to Virtual Classroom is an easy Transition  Those teachers who use technology on a daily basis in a blended classroom environment have the best success when it comes time for virtual school. The technology is already in place and more importantly the students know where to go to find information and what the expectations are. The students and educators who struggle the most are those who have to try and set up the technology at the last minute….it just doesn’t work. Virtual work isn’t Homework Virtual work is different than homework and both educators and students need to understand this. Many teachers not being trained as online educators have a hard time understanding what kind of work can be done other than just “busy work” or homework type of assignments. Creating lessons that are interactive, that are deeper in meaning then what educators are use to giving online is PD time worth spending. Videos are Good Students like videos. They really like videos that their teachers have taken the time to make. Quick 3 to 5 minute videos (no longer then 10 minutes at the most) seem to always get high marks for students. A good YouTube video isn’t bad, but there’s something about a teachers touch that kids still enjoy. Preparing Students for the Future   Lastly I think every school should follow the...

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The Next Chapter

Earlier this week I handed in my resignation letter to my Head of School, Dr. Gerrtiz. It’s funny the two responses I’ve been getting. Those who know me well and understand the international teaching world knew this was probably coming soon. I mean I’ve been here for four years…in Jeff’s world that is an eternity. In fact these four years are the longest I’ve held a job at the same institution ever….as in….ever in my life. I want to get lost by Xabier.M   Those who don’t know me very well or the way international teaching works are wondering why I would resign from a job that I’m perfectly happy at during a time when educators are being let go left and right in the States. I have to say that’s a good question….a really good question. The answer is I’m ready for something new….something different…..as I wrote about four years ago after resigning from Shanghai American School and eventually ending up at ISB. But this time I think my something different won’t includie working full time in a school. Not ruling out any options at this point but there are so many things I want to do that don’t include working full time in a school. There are so many teachers, so many students around the world that need support in the changes that are happening in education because of technology that I’m finding my passion leading me in that direction more and more. The COETAIL program that was started at ISB and has now spread through the Asia region continues to grow. Currently there are about 125 educators enrolled in the program in 5 different cohorts. With e-mails coming in almost daily now of people asking how they can join, I want to be able to support these teachers and their students. If you take the rough estimate class size of 20 (class sizes are typically smaller at International Schools) then we’re effecting the education of some 2,500 students. That excites me and I want to dedicate more time to the program and to the teachers in it. Google Apps in schools continues to take off as well around the world. I believe at this moment in time it’s the best set of tools out there for educational institutions and organizations as a whole. I want to help them learn the full potential of these collaborative tools. There...

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10 Reasons to Trash Word for Google Docs

A blog post I wrote to High School Students. As I’ve been helping students get going with their gmail accounts and blogs over the past couple of weeks I’ve been joking about the “old school” e-mail systems that some of you still use. Hotmail, Yahoo…and seriously….AOL…come on….. But there is another old school tool that I think has seen its best days behind it. Microsoft Word….oh how we loved you back in the day when you were really the only word processing program we needed. But times are changing and it’s time to move on to new and better tools. Google Docs is a very powerful alternative to Word. Here are 10 reasons to consider using Google Docs the next time you need to do some writing. 1. No more corrupt files Nothing worse than staying up all night to finish an assignment only to quickly drag it to your flash drive and turn up at school with a file that won’t open on a teacher’s computer. With Google Docs access to your file is only a click away and you never have to worry about your file their corrupt. 2. No more corrupt USB Keys Of course if your file is not corrupt then it’s your USB Key that fails you when you need it most. Using Google Docs as an online storage locker means never having to worry about a corrupt or even lost USB key again. Simple download the documents you need when you get to school. With 1GB of space you can store a weeks worth of work easily. 3. .doc .docx who cares! Nothing worse than having a file you can’t open or giving someone a file they can’t open. With Google Docs simply share the link to your file on the Internet. If they have a web browser and an internet connect they can view the document. 4. Work Collaboratively By far the best feature of Google Docs. Work collaboratively with others in your class. Missing a day because of IASAS? No problem! Have a friend take notes in Google Docs during class and simply share the notes with you. Just don’t forget to return the favor. 5. Share and Share a Like Simply create documents to share with team members, club members, or anyone else you need to. No more worrying about the latest versions of the document or how many times you’ve revised. Allowing everyone to work on the same...

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Virtual Bulletin Board

At ISB we’ve struggled over the past couple of years in defining our web spaces. Although we’ve been getting better at using the “Core 3” (Moodle, Google Apps, WordPress) we still need to define spaces based on purpose and audience.  One thing I’m focusing on this year is creating what I’m calling a Virtual Bulletin Board for our high school students. A place where they can find and post announcements in whatever format they choose.  Here’s the site: http://inside.isb.ac.th/high Audience: High School Students at ISB Purpose: To get announcements out to students, information from the office, campus updates Once we have defined the audience and purpose we can then start to create and mold how the site will work. I know there are probably better bulletin board systems out there than a blog….but I’m committed to showing teachers and students just how flexible the WordPress platform can be. The platform of WordPress is so dynamic, so powerful and so customizable that really your imagination is the limit. If you have clicked on the link above to the bulletin board site you’ll be thinking to yourself “it still looks like a blog to me” and you’re right…it does for now and probably will for awhile yet.  Steps to making it a virtual bulletin board. Step 1: Every school computer in the high school has this page as its default start page for every browser. So we are forcing eyes on the page to begin with. It becomes crucial that we spend this year gaining the trust of students and showing them this is the place for them to come for information. Next year we roll out 1:1 in the high school where we will no longer control the home page of the browser. We need to get this right or we’ll loose them. Step 2: We have created the “quick link” section that links students to all the other applications they need in the high school. Step 3. Work with the high school administration to push announcements and updates to students on the site. Step 4: Train students to post things to the site Step 4 is what I’m most excited about and I think shows the true power of WordPress and going with a blogging platform. My idea is that we’ll have students post announcements on their own blogs (every student already has one) and then have them tag the announcement with the word ”hsannouncement”. Using the AutoBlog plugin I’ll then grad the RSS...

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