My first MOOC!

I should start by clarifying that I have not suddenly developed a propensity for bovine vocal outbursts, but rather have signed up for my first Massive Open Online Course. 

I am doing a 6 week course titled Design and Development of Educational Technology, run by MITx on the edX platform. My significant other rolled her eyes (subtly) when I asked/told her I was doing something else, reminding me sweetly that I have a Masters thesis sitting on the back-burner, but I guess I’m a sucker for opportunities to engage with the new. This course apparently requires 4 to 6 hours a week, so I will just have to see how it goes. It ends with me doing a pitch about an edtech idea to show what I have learned, and I already have a genius plan (if I do say so myself) to make tracking students’ skills easier. I won’t reveal all now, as I know industry spies read my blog. Just kidding, I will explain it all later (in a password-encrypted, fire-proof, armour-plated document that only I have access to). 

The amazing thing about MOOCs is that, in the main, they are free. If you would like a verified certificate of completion for this one you can make a donation, but if you don’t you can still do all the work, resulting in a certificate based on the organisation’s Honour Code. There appears to be over a thousand people enrolled, from all over the world, and it is exciting! I even managed to get my Dad (software developer and ex-teacher) signed up.

If you are interested, take a listen to the course leader Eric Klopfer introducing the course:
I will keep you updated on progress. Here’s hoping I can be one of the 10% who complete this type of course. You can hold me accountable, that will help keep me motivated!

Calm waters?

Two weeks ago we had two Professional Development days, including the first International Big Day Out. The cameras were out in full force and here is a visual summary of the day: ISB’s Big Day Out. I have played it in slow motion and on a big screen, but I guess I am always behind someone’s big head. Oh well, my day will come.

Related to the day that is big and outside, one of my favourite bloggers, David Didau, updated the world that his professional relationship with Independent Thinking Ltd was over. I had hoped Didau would be one of the visiting facilitators, as I enjoy reading his work, but he was not part of the team, and now I understand why. If you are interested in the intricacies of the world of education consulting, or would just like to be witness to the power of a public platform, take a look here. Needless to say, my understanding of the ITL operation now has an added dimension.

So, one week we were developing professionally, the next I was in the UK with the inaugural ELD Intensive/Pre-Intermediate trip to London (fantastic initiative), and this week we have two days dedicated to meeting with parents to discuss progress so far. The result of this maelstrom of activity has been a neglected blog, but today I hold up my hands and slow the rushing water to a mere swift moving current, just long enough to broadcast a brief update.

The most exciting development of the last two weeks has been making the time for all of my English students to set up their blogs. My Grade 7 and Grade 9 classes now have blogs on the Blogger platform, and the Grade 9s have started the process of writing posts and commenting on each other’s writing. This is a new phase for everyone, and I feel invigorated by the sense of sharing my fresh learning with my classes, and learning from them too. There is a blog post bubbling under the surface in which I will explain why we are blogging, but I would like to do it justice, and that will take time and research. Watch this space!

In Grade 9 we are transitioning from the unit on poetry into one on short stories. Today we read The Right Kind of House by Henry Slezar (read it here, it is excellent). The focus over the next few days will be on the technique of Foreshadowing, and this unit overall will require both analytical and creative writing. It is going to be a fun course, and I look forward to getting my teeth stuck into it.

The Grade 7s are hard at work, writing the draft versions of their paragraphs on conflict and the adventure genre, using their selected novels as evidence. The pace has picked up over the last week, and I am getting a good idea of who manages their time well, and who needs support in developing strategies to meet deadlines. The final version is due next Thursday (just in case anyone needed reminding).

ELD Advanced have also been busy creating content, conferencing with me when necessary, and finalising the draft version of the biography assignment. The class is a happy, productive one, which makes the course flow very well and keeps me happy and productive!

I said I’d keep it brief, and there it is. I look forward to meeting parents on Thursday and Friday, and will carve out time to write updates about our blogging and the Tech Tank (which will meet again in the first week after the October break). Let two weeks not passeth before I writeth again!