Monday, September 20, 2010

The Law and Making Websites Accessible to Users with Disabilities

Distributing copies of the Canadian Charter of...Image via Wikipedia
About 3 million Canadians have disabilities that make it difficult to access sites and information on the Internet, be it from government sites or private sector sites. And this week one such Canadian, Donna Jodhan - a blind Toronto accessibility consultant, is taking the federal government to court because their websites are not accessible to blind and partially-sighted Internet users.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ontario Premier says "Allow Cell Phones in Class"

Chargepod is a 6-way charging device that allo...Image via WikipediaPremier Dalton McGuinty has come out saying school boards should be open to the idea of allowing students to use cellphones in the classroom...and I suspect most Ontarians will immediately consider this a bad idea.

This is the same reaction many US school districts and educators had when contemplating the notion, but you now have a surprising number of teachers advocating the use of cell phones. And some of it may be a result of the inevitabel, if you can't beat them join them, but nonetheless there are a number of articles, sites, and networks regularly exchanging ideas on how to integrate cellphones into classroom planing and learning activities.

Education Week, a leading education publication in the US, has regular articles and webinars on cell phones as classroom learning tools, quite often accompanied with real classroom / teacher examples of their use.

There are now text books on cell phone use in education, e.g. Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education, Teaching With the Tools Kids Really Use: Learning With Web and Mobile...just do an Amazon search and you'll be surprised.

Many progressive universities now have centres for the study of interactive technology in education, which include research into mobile technology and learning. And Classroom 2.0, the largest professional social network for teachers with over 30, 000 members, has a group called Cell Phones in Education.

It's definitely worthwhile at least exploring the option...

Overview of the Full Day Kindergarten Initiative in Ontario

Shockingly diverse kindergarten group in ParisImage via WikipediaThe Ontario Ministry of Education just released another news item today regarding the Full Day Kindergarten initiative, More Early Childhood Educators Ready For The Classroom. Today's news focuses on the push to integrate more early childhood educators (ECEs) into classrooms to meet the "growing demand for ECEs" as Ontario phases in full-day kindergarten over the next five years.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Using Technology for Classroom Assessments

Some schools in the States are using a computer program called mClass Reading 3D to record student responses to reading exercises, determine their strengths and weaknesses, and use these assessments to helo target their instruction.

This is actually being used by primary grade teachers, kindergarten through second grade, with the hope of providing the teacher with more informed instruction time and less time labouring through the assessment and planning process. Along with providing quicker student-centred data for classroom activity development, it can also be a tool for parents to use at home.

But the infrastructure necessary to successfully push and maintain this type of classroom-level technology is something which most boards / districts are far from having. The following is a description of a program which introduced this technology:
Each teacher will get a netbook, which displays reading exercises for students to complete. As they give their answers, the teacher takes notes on how the child responds, and the computer records which answers were correct and incorrect.

It then determines what tasks the student does proficiently and which tasks need to be reviewed with the teacher.
- Education Week

Definitely not a fiscal reality for our board.