Last Tuesday our class was fortunate enough to have George Couros Skype in. George is a principal in Alberta, and in particular is a principal who absolutely embraces technology. The use of computers and the internet for learning is very prominent within his school-early years students even use blogging as a tool to learn, share, and reflect! Very impressive if not amazing that this school is so on board with the technological movement and have the support of their parental community.
George’s presentation to our class was both refreshing and inspiring. It was so great to hear about a school that is using technology to their advantage and for the benefit of their students. Too often this is not the case and you hear (and experience) how schools and divisions block many sites that can prove to be beneficial to learning. At George’s school they prefer to allow students and teachers access to these sites and to focus on teaching students how to appropriately use the internet and social media. As part of this process students have an online presence and identity, using their first name, last initial and date of birth. Now many people would automatically think that it is not safe to use your real name online, especially for students. However this school believes that students need to become responsible digital citizens and need to realize that they can be held accountable for their online actions. This is fantastic! Schools spend so much time preparing their students to be good citizens, now with digital age I believe schools should also be preparing their students to be responsible and accountable digital citizens.
Blogging is an activity that the school does whole-heartedly-teachers, students, and even parents become part of the blogging process and the learning that is associated with the blogging. Students as young as grade three (I believe) participate in blogging for their classes. With blogging the classroom and learning is suddenly accessible anytime and anywhere. This is ideal for educators, as we want to encourage students to actively participate in their education and especially to participate outside of school hours.
I think it would be wonderful for our students if more schools would embrace technology the way George’s schools has. Students are using these technologies outside of school so we should using them in school to keep learning relevant and interesting for our students, as well as to prepare them for life outside of school. The world is becoming increasingly technologically advanced and shows no signs of slowing down its use of technology, so we as educators need to prepare students the best we can to be successful in this ever-changing world of technology. And to do this we need to be using technology as a means to teach and to reach our students.