The Digital Skills Gap – is Higher Ed falling behind?

“Digital technology is an ally for higher education” —Professor Mary McAleese, Teaching and Learning in Irish Higher Education (2015) Most educators today possess the digital skills needed to function in academic life. There’s the basics—managing email, using the Learning Management System (LMS), uploading papers to plagiarism checkers among others. Yet some faculty still struggle with […]

via Higher Ed’s Digital Skills Gap: Faculty & Students — Online Learning Insights

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Ice Days in North Carolina

My Northern roots used to rise up during these North Carolina winters to complain about the closing of school at the slightest flurry. I was one of the ne’er-do-wells that sneered at the slow driving, snowflake avoiding, scared drivers when there was even a threat of snow. But, six years of living here has made me realize the importance of school closing in a temperate climate in anticipation of a winter storm.

There really is a serious issue with putting buses on the road in sub zero temperatures in a state that isn’t used to winter weather. Brining the roads prior to a storm – spraying a salt solution on the roads – is effective. But not much can help the black ice that forms the moment the temps rise above 32 degrees during the day and then the temps plummet again at night.

While I don’t miss all that snow or extended cold weather, sometimes I feel as if it’s even more dangerous here in the Mid South. Drivers are afraid of snow and ice. Most folks don’t have the right clothing or ice scrapers and many have no idea how to drive on ice or snow.

So thank you, Wake County Public Schools for using good judgement, taking the unnecessary criticism, and having a sense of humor on your Twitter feed. Level heads certainly prevail.

Snow or Ice Day? I’m just grateful for the chance to sit quietly, get my work done, converse with colleagues and join in on Twitter chats from wherever I happen to be. Snowmaggedon 2018 appears to be over. Looking forward to 55 degrees on Monday. Bring on Spring! #snowmageddon18 #southernsnow #loveNC

Fixing the Flash Issue in Chrome

Have you been wondering why sites just show up blank when you try to open them in Chrome? With the development of HTML 5 and the vulnerability of Flash, this has become a real problem.

So what’s the solution?

Click on the favicon in the URL search bar and “allow flash” for that site! Simple fix!

Allow flash in Chrome

 

 

Beyond the Edge

I admit it. I feel as if I am struggling to keep up. After 4 weeks of the start of the school year, I am only now beginning to feel as if I can surface for air. My desk is still a mess, there are laptops that need to be assigned, iPads that need formatting and lots of emails and phone calls to return.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling. Every teacher in a traditional model school feels like this as the new year starts. There are new names of staff and students. There are new challenges with curriculum changes, policy changes, room changes. What worked last year either doesn’t work with this year’s group of students or staff, or it just needs to be freshened up to engage the learner.

So, why is it like this every year? Why does it seem particularly more difficult THIS year?

Age is one reason. The older I get, the less energy I feel I have for change. Demands of those above me affect it too. The new software, new hardware, new curriculum, new initiatives, new email, new… just fill in the blank. Change gets harder every year. So why do I feel the need to change what I’m doing or how I’m doing it? Because I am beginning to realize that no matter how much I do, there will always be more to do.

There. I said it. I’m not keeping up. I have been on the cutting edge of things for the last few years. But now I believe I may have gone beyond the edge. Past that point of wanting to know the latest and greatest. Mostly because the technology changes so fast. Probably because I’m realizing that I want to enjoy things outside of work.

So what do I do?

I reinvent myself again. We all need to do that. We need to realize that what might have been important last year is not quite as important this year. Or that what was important then, but was not addressed, has become most important now. Heavy stuff.

I am not going to do less at my job. I’m just not going to take it home quite so much. I’m going to find those things that I used to do that brought me joy while still doing my job well. I’m going to try to multitask less and focus on what matters more. Simple to say, but not so easy to do.

If you’re struggling as I am, take heart that you’re not alone. There is no one final solution for anyone. We are ever evolving and ever reinventing ourselves. Thankfully.

Let me know how you plan to reinvent yourself this year. And most certainly let me know if you have ideas for how I can reinvent myself to be more productive and stay on the right side of the edge!

Is it Teacher Burnout?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
“superwoman” by hans van den berg is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While I like to think that I am superhuman and can go on little sleep, work multiple jobs and manage to tend adequately to my family, that just isn’t so. I TRY to make that so. But in reality, I find myself frazzled and stressed. Yes, I believe it might be Teacher Burnout.

It’s easy to write this during my summer break, even though my calendar reminds me to “Do a Blog Post” every Monday year round. (Thanks, George Couros @gcouros for the challenge!) Writing during the school year when my double full-time job, multiple piano students, and online teaching are in full swing and the reality is definitely different.

Dr. Jenny Rankin’s First Aid for Teacher Burnout: How You Can Find Peace and Success. Taylor & Francis, 2016, provides strategies for dealing with burnout. In her book, Dr. Rankin provides some Teacher Burnout Statistics.

Teacher Burnout Statistics

The statistics listed are not current, but I can’t help but imagine that with the increased demands on teachers and administrators, that those numbers might actually be higher than Dr. Grant has communicated.

Attitude is a huge part of our burnout rate. It is a huge part of our overall health. A perfect example is my 89-year-old father. He has an incredible attitude. He rarely complains about anything, he is helpful and easy to get along with. He does things for others with a smile. But if you read his medical history and what he has “wrong” with him, you’d think he should be shouting at little children in the street and shaking his cane at every passerby! Not only does he treat everyone with respect, but he doesn’t even need a cane to go on his 3 or 4 mile walk every day!

So, how can we strive to keep ourselves sane in the ever burdened education world we live in? I believe starting with a simple, positive goal each day is helpful. The following are a few of my strategies:

  • Take a moment to reflect on why we do what we do, realizing that it’s not about the money or the fame but about lives of humans that we want to nurture and grow into productive citizens. (This includes the teachers you work with, too!)
  • Avoid the “toxic” people in your life. Find a way to remain friends, but avoid those gripe sessions that can be so prevalent especially towards the end of the year.
  • Practice your smile. Greeting people with a smile and a warm “Hello!” sets the tone for the following conversation and might even help someone change their day.

Finding time to indulge yourself, even if for a few moments at work, with something that brightens your day or lets you breathe is imperative. For me, going to bed earlier and using my lunch as a private reflection time help me. Oh, and not taking complaints and criticism personally. It’s easy to fall into that trap!

Breathe deeply. Do things purposefully. Encourage those around you to do the same things. You might be surprised at the results.

Think you might be suffering from burnout? Try taking this self-test: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_08.htm

Digital Learning Gaps in Higher Ed

“Digital technology is an ally for higher education” —Professor Mary McAleese, Teaching and Learning in Irish Higher Education (2015) Most educators today possess the digital skills needed to function in academic life. There’s the basics—managing email, using the Learning Management System (LMS), uploading papers to plagiarism checkers among others. Yet some faculty still struggle with […]

via Higher Ed’s Digital Skills Gap: Faculty

Three Cheers for Google Trainer Courses!

Well, I finally did it. I jumped into working on my Google Certification. I’ve been studying and using checklists of what I should know and be able to do. Wow! Is there ever a lot of stuff that I didn’t know I could do with the G Suite! Tips and tricks. Ideas and interesting features. Who knew?!?

Through this process, I also discovered the Google Certified Trainer courses. I am blown away by the amazing information provided by Google. The templates for developing training sessions, the ideas for using tools in the G Suite and the real focus on developing the best experience is amazing! It's So Great When Technology Works

I am excited to think about moving forward with my coaching role as an ITF (Instructional Technology Facilitator) in the upcoming school year. I have a much clearer picture of how my role should look as I integrate technology working WITH my teachers. (Look out staff!)

I sometimes find myself running out of time, or neglecting to follow up with the teacher after an integration lesson. The need for immediate feedback and opportunities to expand on the initial ideas are imperative. Flexibility is key, yet sometimes my role in dual jobs makes me less flexible than I need to be. That’s okay, though. Both jobs are important and somehow I need to find a way to meld them together in a more cohesive manner.

Overall, there is such a need to listen to those I work with. There is a huge importance in encouraging them to tell me what it is they really need and then fulfilling that training mission.

So starting today, my Technology Framework for Teacher Integration – my new title – has started taking shape. Meet the staff where they are and encourage them to grow with me while we keep the students at the center. The students are ultimately the focus. We are merely the lens.

Three cheers for Lifelong Learning and Google training!