Common questions to technology integration
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That is a good question. There has never been so many choices in terms of the tools and strategies we use to integrate technology in the classroom. The range of choice provides powerful options for staff and students to enhance the classroom experience, but it can also feel overwhelming.
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This page addresses some of the questions staff typically have around technology integration. The answers are simply suggestions. Staff are encouraged to use their professional judgment when considering the use of technology. The most important consideration is whether the technology will enhance our classroom practice. In some cases the answer is 'no'.
The technology that we engage with in the classroom is increasingly based on online resources. The tools we use, the files we create and store, and our classroom communication takes advantage of 'cloud' services to create a central online class environment.
All staff and students have access to a Google for Education Account that allows the user to create, store, and organize files online. This is one of the most popular 'cloud' solutions and is available on most devices with an Internet connection. See our Google Apps for Education section for more information.
In addition to Google Drive, there are a number of tools that staff and students use online - and most of them allow sharing and collaboration. The list of tools is endless, but it is worth noting that many are featured and reviewed in 2TalkTech.
The issue with cloud-based resources is the storage of information and the privacy laws in Nova Scotia that create strict boundaries in the use of these interactive resources. The two pieces of legislation that guide our use of online resources are the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) and the Personal Information International Disclosure Protection Act (PIIDPA). Basically we have a duty to protect student personal information, which includes not disclosing or storing personal information outside of Canada. Unfortunately, many web-based interactive resources are stored outside of Canada.
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With the popularity of YouTube and other online video platforms, it has become easier to find and display high quality video resources. As with any online resource, however, there is a lot of content to sift through. It also relies on a fast connection speed and certain programs to run correctly. Regardless, the resources listed below offer a good start for teachers in the AVRSB to take advantage of multimedia
YouTube and TeacherTube have a range of videos created by both professionals and amatures. While it is not vetted content, teachers can use their best judgment. YouTube is available in most AVRSB schools.
There are many sites out there that can stream multimedia content to the classroom. A Google search is often the easiest way to find a specific resource, using your particular curriculum focus with words such as 'animation' or 'video'.
Social media is quickly becoming the communication vehicle of choice for students and parents, as you can communicate with large groups in any medium instantaneously. It is a powerful way to stay connected, but it also requires a great deal of responsibility because of its ability to reach users and leave a permanent digital footprint.
The use of social networks like Twitter and Facebook can be important tools as fewer students and parents are using email and many are use to information being delivered via these tools, rather than searching through a website. We are still bound by the privacy laws in Nova Scotia (PIIDPA/FOIPOP) in terms of storing personal information, but we do currently have exemptions for Twitter and Facebook. As a teacher, you should be aware of the Acceptable Use of Social Media by Employee guidelines.
We rely more on online communications than ever before, and social media has a lot of potential to reach your community. As a school, it is important to plan your communication strategy and find the most effective set of tools to reach your audience. Social media is very effective, but you don't want to have too many options that require updating on a constant basis. So, embedding social media feeds on your website is one way to keep your website updated while keeping your social media feed active and connected to subscribers.
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There is a world of interactive content available to students and teachers, and we have access to more devices than ever before to access these resources. However, finding and sharing good resources can consume a great deal of time if we aren't sure what we are looking for in the infinite possibilities of the Internet. Typically, we look for websites that provide reference material, lesson plans, games, simulations, multimedia, or interactive tools. Knowing what you are looking for is the first step in finding great resources.
Start with a search using terms like 'interactive', 'animations', or 'games' to specify the format of the resource. Match that term with 'education', 'classroom' or 'student' to give it an educational focus. Then add your specific curriculum or subject focus, even adding an approximate grade range. Of course, you will need to use your professional judgment to see if the results have a curriculum connection, are appropriate for students in terms of bias and privacy, and don't require a subscription or payment.
One strategy is to find a trustworthy site, like Common Sense Media's Graphite, that finds and rates resources for classroom use.
Once you have a collection of resources, the next step is to find a way to share with students.
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With millions of web pages going up every month, it is more important than ever to make a site that provides substance and engages the user. Students and parents have a growing expectation that schools and classrooms have a web presence, and teachers are seeing the benefit of blending the traditional and online classroom.
If you want to have an interactive presence on the web where students can collaborate and contribute, then you need to use a system like Moodle or Google Classroom. Teachers in Nova Scotia have access to an LMS through the Nova Scotia Virtual School.
The more traditional approach, when you don't need students to interact online, is to create a web page. There are a number of options available for teachers and students. The most recent option is the use of Google Sites, which is part of the Google Apps for Education package.
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