I have so many things on the go at the moment.
- ICT Pedagogical Licence advanced
- Facilitator for the CIC course
- WHS unit for year 11’s
- Joomla website for school
- Staff PD
- Smart Classroom Mentor
- Junior business class
- Trying to stay healthy and unstressed
My priority at the moment is to ensure my WHS unit continues to go as planned. Although we started really well, the last two weeks we are back to our technical access issues with blackboard again. In the past 3wks (10days), half of those days my students could not access blackboard successfully. Our morning tea download speed, while most students were outside eating, was down to 95kps. Unbelievable!
Although I have factored this problem into my learning design by duplicating all content on the school server, the communication tools in blackboard (wikis, blogs, discussions, chats) are often inaccessible to all but one or two. This creates tension among the students. They are really enjoying the course but draw the line at watching a white page load for 7 minutes! All I can do is sympathize and ask them to use the learning materials on the server while they wait for blackboard to load. However sometimes this just times out which has them frustrated.
The lesson by lesson design would work perfectly in the real world, however because of the communication tools access problem, students have had to jump around the lessons to keep working. When we have access to blackboard, I have had students go back and catch up on items they have missed. To get around some of the problems I have had them enter their content in a word.doc ready to paste online when the time arises. This will mean that some of their entries will be on the same day however a wider time frame. It will be necessary for them to include a date for earlier entries in that case.
The training room activities are very slow to load. It seems no more than 2 students can access the tests at the one time. I have been told that the new upgrade to Blackboard over the holidays is causing many of these problems however our school has had them before. Hopefully we will have days when students can get onto them and complete all activities on the one day. I will need to extend the time frame for completion. We may start a new unit while finishing off the old.
I have yet to set a time for our teleconference with Candace. I am waiting on an email for her reply. I have a chat lined up with Toby, our computer programmer next week. This week I plan for students to work in small groups on a WHS problem in the chat room. Their initial chat was awkward for them. Colleagues have told me this is quite normal and will improve with practice and familiarity.
The CIC course is very time consuming however I am enjoying it immensely and learning so much. I am working with a very experienced facilitator who is very organized and teaching me the practical skills of online facilitation. It is much harder than you would imagine. Dealing with fellow teachers requires a lot of tact. I have run 2 teleconferences in the mornings which are great in one way as I am fresh and keen however the other morning I awoke at 2am and could not get back to sleep. I tossed and turned and worried that I would sleep through my alarm. The conference went really well and I made so much more sense of the indicators than I did when I was doing my licence. There are many tools in Blackboard I have just started to learn about. The finer points can be very tricky.
The ICT Pedagogical licence advanced community is full of very busy people. I am amazed at all the work some people take on over and above their normal class workload. This can include an array of extracurricular activities involving students to PD of staff. Some schools have great support ICT networks within their school. I am really is amazed. The course is also very time consuming. I am on track with everything. The template I made in exe 1.4 is excellent. It is making the process extremely simple. There is no programming for me to do, just content to add. I have all the pages pre-made with headers so I can cut and paste paragraphs of information from the blackboard course to the html.
I am plugging along with the school Joomla website. Joomla takes time to master. Yes it is just another CMS but they all have their idiosyncrasies. It takes so long to do things. Very difficult concept for others to understand just how long it takes to first find the content, edit it and add it to the webpage to look good. Very slow tedious work. At least I have the front page looking good. Easily 30hours went into that. Design hours just seem to add up and then of course the thought process doesn’t count either.
The staff PD is coming along slowly. I am waiting for an opportunity to speak to all staff at a Thursday afternoon staff meeting. Hopefully then we can timetable some afternoons for small groups to work on suggested topics. I am upkeeping the blackboard site with current information regarding the licence process. I would really like to see more staff using it on a regular basis to access discussions. I would like to see this move more quickly.
My work as a Smart Classroom Mentor has been defined. I am to develop content on two webpages. However before that happens I need to become familiar with all that is available through the Learning Place and that takes time. This task is impossible to do at school. It is far too slow and frustrating. If I do work at school I just find myself coming home to complete things I cannot do at school. The internet is far too slow. If I am to master what is available, I need to be able to maximize my time online. That means working at home on exetel. The only way I can cope.
I will be taking a new junior business class. Just found out on Wednesday. The content is a little undefined. Possibly similar to last years class. I will take over the class from the teacher who took my classes while I was ill. That is sad for her because I can only imagine she has spent time preparing for this role and has work materials organized and prepared. Anyway I cannot do anything about that.
Healthwise I am feeling ok. I still tire easily. When I don’t sleep well I pay for it. My hip is going along ok at the moment but I want to increase my exercise to get back to some state of fitness. It was really nice this weekend to have a change in the weather. Spring is just around the corner. At last. This year I want to enjoy it.