Got the lowdown on the DECS eTeacher program from our district eTeacher, Kay Clifford from Blackforest PS at our bi-termly district ICT meeting. Basically, there is one eTeacher in every district in South Australia, released for a day a week for two years. Their mission – the planning of “e-events” using the web based platforms of Centra and Moodle. Interestingly both are closed environments and only one is open source. Kay is part of a group of 4 eTeachers working on unit/event called "What a Load of Rubbish.” After planning the e-event, in the next term, the eTeachers work within their districts. Initially, the eTeachers work in groups to produce mini-events that are trialled within the eTeachers' own schools. Kay shared with us the planning (paper) proforma of the unit of work, which I recognised as a template from my involvement in a Quality Teacher Program in 2001 called “RBL and the Internet.” Assessment of the e-events was a hurdle the participants had to negotiate, but in the end, it was decided that would be the classroom teacher's responsibility. Kay also talked about the use of Google Earth as a way for the students to examine each others' local environment as part of the unit of work. She then showed us the unit of work on the Moodle site with activities, polls, quizzes etc. Kay then showed us how Centra works from the organiser's end but it's only limited to 20 participants at one time so it will be interesting to see how the e-events can be implemented. I did apply for this position but Kay was the winning applicant. After seeing what's involved, I think that the Grant is the better deal for me as I think that allows me to explore the big picture about the future of technology within our education system with greater freedom. Using prescribed tools to produce units of work isn't what I would have wanted to do in that role anyway, but it will be interesting to see how the e-events unfold.
I love the American term, giving a “shout out” so I just have to give a shout out to Al Upton and the MiniLegends who I saw in action today down at Glenelg Primary School. Al is one of the best teachers here locally pushing the edtech envelope and seeing his kids getting into their blogging today was excellent and gets me to resolve to get it up and running with my class for the second half of the year. Thanks for letting me have a “Captain Cook” today.
Great to see you pleased with getting the research grant in terms of allowing you to accomplish your goals and explore what’s out there … with the freedom you seek. We need people like you delving into what can and will be. I haven’t given up on the e-Teacher initiative by any means. I still see it as an exciting venture into ‘the big picture about the future of technology within our education system’. The fact that it is DECS based and uses ‘grass roots’ teachers of eclectic interests, strengths and weaknesses gives it both a systemic validity and a realness I want to find out more about.
It was wonderful to have you visit yesterday. Thankyou for your kind words. The kids were excited to have others show interest in their blogs. They wanted to see your blog (unfortunately it’s edublogs and filtered) so I’ll save a copy and show them next week. Perhaps I’ll soon get the opportunity to shout you a beer or similar soon.