Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bona fide Googlefied.

After a very non-scientific sampling of various hosted wikis (pbwiki, Wikispaces amongst the larger services, the former JotSpot, to name a few), and extensive reading about the merits of various wikis (free and hosted, vs. every other possible permutation), I decided to go with Google Sites. The decision to stay with Google was mainly because I wanted the most shiny, sparkly, simple wysiwyg interface and a fairly painless user experience, as this tool is targeted at group collaboration amongst users with varying degrees of tech savyness. However, I am a little bit concerned about the 'Googlefication' of my life. How did I get sucked in to the apparent black hole that is Google? Is this a good thing?

It all started in Asia, where Friendster had been hot for a little while, and was still going strong... I don't know if Orkut had been on the scene yet, otherwise I might have been over there (who am I kidding - I don't speak enough Portuguese). Unhappy with (shudder) my uni hotmail account (I know, I am still repenting) and its mass of daily spam, when all of a sudden, there was a hot new trend (soooo Hong Kong, la - something new every five minutes). Somebdy new somebody from LA that worked for somebody and just happened to maybe be able to get you an account - maybe - for this new thing... google email. Gmail. That was the beginning of the end...

Due to a pre-existing Google id, I began using Google Calendar to track professional development activities for our schools, boards, and professionals. My colleague and I use Google Docs for our planning and collaboration - it works well enough for our needs. Google Maps allows me to track lodging, schools, school boards, visits, etc. With our Francophone counterparts, we have begun to use Google Groups - in French. With approximately 15 people working in the Francophone sector as agent de développement, they represent a region of Quebec, and therefore, do not travel as much as we do (the two of us in the Anglo sector are responsible for the entire province). So Google Sites is the latest in a long line of Google-adoption, and I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

A question that springs to mind though - should I be varying my tools a bit more? I have long thought of kicking my (long dormant) space on the web back into gear, and using it as an online portfolio/CV of sorts. If that were the case, I would consider WordPress as my blogging tool. Obviously, by using all hosted tools that are targeted to the masses, I am missing out on some features. If I were able to host, free & open source would be the to go. For the moment though, I am looking at hosted tools. So, am I putting all my eggs into one basket by over relying too heavily on Google tools?* Am I being shortsighted? Any thoughts?

*Despite some of the changes, I still perfer Flickr over Picasa, though!

J'écoute: Je m'appelle Geraldine, de l'album L'enfant assassin des mouches, par Jean-Claude Vannier

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

NANS: evaluating the 5 years of the strategy / SIAA rende-compte: Journée avec Janosz

Wow... what a mind boggling day! We are in the midst of a three day meeting for NANS, and the ADMD, DR, CIMD, and Evaluation team are all on hand! We've got Michel Janosz with us (funny, I recently met with Doug McCall from Canadian Association for School Health and he was mentioning him...) today and tomorrow, and it has been fascinating examining what has taken place, and what is yet to come...... All sorts of big (as in, evaluation of a province wide strategy that is being implemented in TWO different linguistic sectors... ah, good times) evaluation questions are percolating. Should be a busy day tomorrow!

ADMD: Agent de développent en milieu défavorisé
DR: Direction Régional
CIMD: Comité d'intervention en milieu défavorisé
Milieu défavorisé: Disadvantaged areas

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The impact of mobility among Aboriginal students (from the CCL)

The high-school completion rate for Aboriginal students continues to fall well short of the Canadian average. Recent research has highlighted student mobility as a major barrier to successful high-school completion. Low completion rates among Aboriginal students in families who move more frequently point to the need for greater school support for these students. 
In Quebec, we have a variety of Aboriginal populations in our various public schools. In some cases, these populations will comprise 40% or more of the population. This brief article has an interesting discussion of the impact of mobility on student perserverance. 

Monday, November 05, 2007

Collaborative tools to assist in developing a professional learning community.... the search begins!

I have been racking my brain trying to come up with a solution for how to work collaboratively with my partner at work. What are the most efficient tools and processes out there? What are people using day to day that works for them? This post is intended as a kind of 'thinking out loud' exercise, to capture potential leads and traces.

Our needs:

We work in the office, but also at a distance. We (will) have laptops, but, our telephones are land lines, located in the office. We travel frequently, to joint meetings so far... We will be working on projects independent of each other, but there will be times where we will need to review each other's work or collaborate on work. We have a lot of information to assimilate about the diverse clientele we serve. We need to understand the impact of various stakeholders on the clientele we serve. Our solutions should be research-based. We are two people in a linguistic minority, who are part of a larger team of 16, part of the linguistic majority. So, where do we begin? :)

Some initial thoughts...

An inspirational video to start!

I am not sure if my colleague has had a chance to try out this browser yet. I like it because of the strong developer community. Still some bugs and memory leakage, but, I think worth it overall.

Academic tools
To facilitate research citation. From their site:
Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work — in the web browser itself.
Tools for collaboration


A collaborative online tool from the makers of Basecamp. Clean interface, free option.

An online whiteboard. From their site:

Simple and easy online multi user whiteboard, start skrbl, give out your URL & start working together. Sketch, text, share files, upload pictures all in one common shared space.
Project Management:
A project management and collaboration tool. From their site:
Basecamp solves this problem by providing tools tailored to improve the communication between people working together on a project.
A customer relations manager. From their site:
When you use Highrise, contacts and communication history can be shared across your entire company.

* List of Web 2.0 resources from Solution Watch

Ok... so, this post will be edited, as I add more potential leads. I am feeling slightly overwhelmed!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

LEARN Quebec

... has launched their new site! The 'Leading English Education and Resource Network' is a varied resource, full of information for teachers, administrators, parents and students. Check out the introduction video to get a better idea of what they do.

LEARN Video:

Sunday, November 05, 2006

SAEE : Policy Watch : Promoting Teacher Quality

SAEE : Policy Watch : Promoting Teacher Quality: "Promoting Teacher Quality
Katherine Wagner, Fall 2002

New research clearly correlates what teachers know and do with student learning. The value-added studies of Sanders and other researchers have been able to isolate teacher effects, independent of external variables such as socioeconomic status of students. With this new knowledge, student achievement can no longer be explained simply as a result of student and/or school characteristics. This has resulted in a heightened interest in teacher quality. "

Analyzing Change in Education

Analyzing Change in Education:

"Analyzing Change in Education (ACE) is a national education survey project launched in January 2005 as a research initiative of the Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education.

The initial phase of the ACE project was a baseline survey of over 4,000 Canadian parents and teachers on a wide range of education issues conducted in June 2005. A preliminary report published in November 2005 formed the basis of a series of stakeholder dialogues across Canada. A final edition of the report was released January 2006.

The raw survey data has been archived for access by other researchers upon application.

Further analysis of this data and sub-reports of a regional and topical nature are anticipated as well as follow-up surveys."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Check out the section on teacher quality

Labour Relations in Public Education - from the website
The mission of the Labour Relations in Public Education Resource Centre is to offer research and analysis of labour-management issues which impact public education.

Its on-line library contains links to a wide range of resources classified by topic and format. Brief abstracts will assist in selecting the most useful material. The resources are regularly updated to offer an international perspective on emerging developments and models of interest for the Canadian context.
The Teacher Quality section of this website has a lot of articles and links related to the situation of teachers in the classroom - from accountability to school reform. Though the website is intended for an audience of people involved with education labour issues, it has a lot of relevant content for consultants, researchers, and others in the field of education.

Labour Relations in Public Education
Teacher Quality Links

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Lots of Links from the Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education

Lot of links to do with Excellence... in education!

So what is the Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education? Aside from collecting links to relevant articles and current research, they offer memberships and publish a newsletter. In there words, here's what they do:
The Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education (SAEE) provides non-partisan education research and information to policy-makers, education partners and the public. Our mission is to develop new Canadian knowledge on school improvement and foster the understanding of its use... Our mission is to develop new Canadian knowledge on school improvement and foster the understanding of its use.
A sample of some of the publications that are offered include:

Accountability for Learning: How teachers and school leaders can take charge
The book contains six chapters. The first four are directed specifically at teachers, the fifth offers advice for school districts, and the sixth addresses policymakers on how to construct coherent, bottom-up accountability systems.

Accountability for Learning encourages teachers to develop student-centred, more holistic accountability practices, focusing on the four-step process of observation, reflection, synthesis, and replication of effective teaching practices.
Technology: Wired for learning
Tracking the trends by Katherine Wagner

To most Canadians, the introduction of technology to schools over the last decade has meant the acquisition of hardware - both computers and infrastructure.

However, the view that a computer in front of every child is the only measure of the successful integration of technology into K-12 education is rapidly fading in the face of research, further innovations and a growing recognition that simply tacking technology onto existing school systems and practices is not an effective approach.
New Flexibility for School Success (Reflects the new Community Learning Centres initiative in Quebec)
Innovators in education are now thinking 'outside the box' of centralized district policies and contracts which stifle creative solutions. Decentralization gives community partners the power and flexibility to develop high performance schools.

Flexibility means building-level decisions to improve student achievement. It means collaboration to combine community services in new ways... Flexibility means new choices in learning environments for students, parents and teachers.
These are just a few of the types of publications that they have on offer. There are a number of free articles, book reviews, links, and so forth that are also helpful in leading the user to further resources. I was impressed with the depth of offerings, and will definitely be returning to this site.

Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education
Accountability for Learning book
Technology: Wired for learning
New Flexibility for School Success

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