I had a really nice time with the site techs on wednesday. I got a chance to speak to them in the morning and then participated in a few short presentations and did a few small group discussions in the afternoon. I found an energetic group of people, very open to ideas, receptive to mine (for whatever reason) and pretty passionate about learning.
Here’s a link to the synopsis i recorded today of the presentation. http://www.archive.org/details/OvercomingObstacles-PracticalProjectManagementInWebBasedEducation
There were several blogging projects running. Most on edublogs.org. That was a big surprise to me, as i hadn’t heard of very much of it happening on the island. I also heard of one other teacher who was using blogger. I had several people ask about what I would do for a ‘blogging project’ and my answer was the same. Don’t do a blogging project, if you have a writing project that blogging makes sense for… then go ahead and use a blog. Don’t focus your project on a technology.
Wikis vs. Blogging
Lots of wiki work going on as well. The department has a pro-level pbworks (once pbwiki) account and are using it for art projects to create an eportfolio. I’m not a big fan of using the word portfolio for this, as a portfolio does suggest portability and I”m not sure how these kids will ‘port’ the folios around… but still… nice wiki work. Here’s a link https://peistudentartloft.pbworks.com/. Had four conversations explaining to people that i think that blogging is far preferable to wikis… Blogging makes it easier for people to feel ownership over their work, and it doesn’t get crazy messy like a wiki. Wikis are good when the project implicitly involves stucture (like a cookbook)
I saw an impressive presentation about their new library system. They’ve done a nice job integrating Koha into their existing infrastructure and getting rid of their 1980′s era library system. Best conversation i had around this is that parents could, very soon, browse through their schools library at home with their kids looking for books. How cool is that. http://koha.org/
Other fun stuff
They are supporting a number of different tech projects (modules) but with a real focus on how they translate practically. They have some pretty serious podcasting gear that they are sending out to schools and setting them up using audacity (might even be overly complex for some, might be nice to offer two levels, a blue mic and the mini-soundboard they have) They have video planned for use with movie maker. They are using Alice for 3D and some lego robotics (planned for after the Alice) for some fun robotics stuff.
From the stuff i took in and saw, i was pretty impressed with the direction being taken. Technology… yes, but with a focus on what we are going to do with it. I left them with a suggestion of trying to create a community of practice user Yammer (or skype or something) to allow them to support each other. I saw two people sign up while i was there… i hope they do. It was a good group, and a good day.