The connected world is such a wonderful thing! As an educator, it keeps you in a constant state of excitement plus some trepidation thrown in.
The thoughts are always there….Will I try to implement this software in my classroom because I know it will work? Will I try this new Web 2.0 tool that I found on the net? Will I try & use this in my classroom with the chance that it will be an epic fail? And the answer is predominately YES!!
Currently our campus is going through a massive focus reshift as we no longer have any externally based assessments to teach to (the NSW School Certificate in particular). We are now moving into a realm of certification and this is going to be really exciting (for me at least) but there are some who will not be as excited to let go of years of emotional attachment to content & the way in which it is presented. We are trying to move our school to a healthy mix of Assessment of Learning & Assessment of Learning. In our rapidly changing classroom environment, I believe they both need to coexist for students to be able to learn at their best.
As we are all aware, IT Education needs both (learn to use the software so you can implement it into your classroom & the same for students). Our Year 9 students have classes in using their laptop that the DEC issued them term 1 as part of the Digital Education Revolution. These classes have been enormously successful as the devices have a massive amount of software on them, including the Adobe Design Premium Suite of software. The devices are in a ‘locked down’ environment (specified by the department) and that has more benefits than drawbacks (less troubleshooting time involved). This means that we can maximise the student usage of the devices in the classroom & minimise downtime for all concerned.
We are in a phase of restructuring with plans in place in 2012 for our refocus to kickstart in 2013. We are putting into place training for all of our year cohorts with the ideal situation being that they all receive an IT accreditation each of the 4 years that they attend our campus. Our staff are currently also in the training phase, with initially interested teachers being targeted with the idea of all staff being involved after the evaluation of the 2013 pilot program. Our students will all have globally-recognised IT skills & abilities that they can use to further their education or gain employment. And that for me, as an IT educator, is extremely gratifying.
At the heart of this new certification age is the use of Adobe Acrobat Pro X &, in particular, ePortfolios. As it is pre-installed onto the device, all content created on the device can be easily converted by Acrobat by the students, and then either submitted for assessment ( we use Moodle at our campus), or archived ready to be added to later or taken with them when they leave our campus. We extensively use Microsoft OneNote at our ca mpus and our students submit their notebooks for assessment each term by creating a PDF and submitting for content approval, a lso done in Acrobat with the use of Comments & stamps. The majority of the content is brought together in Acrobat and directions/instructions are put on each PDF, which speeds up availability of content.
Acrobat Pro X is the glue that binds our digitallly-based, paper-free, IT courses together.
I will keep you updated throughout the semester with how our students, staff & administrators are moving towards the next exciting phase of our journey.