Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back to School after H1N1

The doors are reopening at TCIS today. As the doors open to students all students will be screened for fever and staff will be diligently trying to make sure that there is not another outbreak. Everyone has high hopes that the doors will stay open.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Update: H1N1, Teaching, Moodle, and Children

When Saturday hit this week I was ready. All of the work to make teaching through our H1N1 school closure possible was taking a toll. I can enjoy the weekend now!

I now have online contact with approximately half of my students. Maybe a little more. This is a slight improvement from what I had 48 hours after school was shut down. They have been either logging in on Moodle and doing their work or emailing me and asking me what they are supposed to be doing. I tell them to log into Moodle and check out their assignments. So far so good. It will be interesting to have a conversation with the other half of my students and find out what happened to them. Was it that they ended up in places that did not have Internet access (highly unlikely in South Korea), was it that they were forced to travel with family, was it miscommunication about class expectations or misunderstanding. (I do not think I said 'Have a great vacation' as the school was being shut down.) I am eager to get the student perspective on this week.

As for my perspective I obviously have mixed feelings about being able to continue teaching, and parenting though this school closure. Technology is a double edged sword, and for me this has cut both ways.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

H1N1, Technology, Teaching, Parenting and Children

This past week my school was shut down by the Department of Health and the Department of Education in South Korea. Why? H1N1 is the answer, Swine Flu, in all of its glory slammed into my school like a ton of bricks.

There was a period of testing staff and students. Then there was rapid fire communication with staff, students, and parents. We were asked to go home but keep teaching from our homes if possible. We all went home to prepare our online materials.

Fortunately for me I am somewhat web savvy. I use Moodle to deliver my courses, and even though it is only the second week of the school year, my students are already used to using Moodle. The content is there. The instructions are there. The ability to dialogue and discuss topics is possible too. Pretty cool stuff.

What I have found interesting with this school shutdown is that only 1/3 of my students are maintaining participation online. Yes, some of them have the flu. Some may not have their computers with them. But attendance should basically be the same online as it is normally in class right? That does not appear to be the case with my 9th and 10th graders. I will push on and then review back at school with my students as needed when it opens again. This is an educational experience to have as a teacher.

The other side of the coin is that my wife , a teacher, and I are also parents of students at the same school that we teach at. We have two sons 8 and 10. The boys are high energy and do not like to sit still for very long. It has been challenging to try and keep teaching and parent at the same time. I can tell you teaching online while parenting is messy. The meals and snacks, quickly prepared between key strokes on the computer, end up all over the place because we find it hard to parent and keep our kids at the table due to maintaining our professional duties.

That seems bad, but what is worse is that we are also supposed to be homeschooling our children too. They need to keep up with the reading, writing and math they have been assigned. We love our children. We want them to learn and grow but they are inevitably short changed by the turn of events brought on by H1N1 Swine Flu. We can not take on all three roles very gracefully. Our kids will have to do their learning later.

If swine flu is on the move now it will end up getting worse as we move into the colder months in the northern hemisphere. We will likely have more school closure and miss more days in the class with students. With the technology available to the teacher though it is possible to keep teaching. But I am curious to see how well it will work out for teacher, student or school.

I personally am feeling rather tiered after 48 hours under the expectation to keep teaching and parenting and homeschooling. I might need a vacation when I get back to school. Or it just might feel like a vacation when I get back...whenever that is.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Learning for an Education or a Grade?

This article in the NY Times gives an overview of what is happening to students who have learned in K-12 that if they work hard they should get an A and then go to college where the expectation is that you will also demonstrate higher level thinking. This if food for thought if you are teaching in K-12. What are we setting students up for? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/education/18college.html?em

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Writing in the digital world

I came upon this website when it was reviewed by the BBC recently. I have been looking for something like this that I can use with my students. Even though the site is not geared towards students it reads well and should be usefull to the student who wants the info NOW! Let me know what you think of it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Online Classes

How will online classes on platforms like Moodle impact the environment that we know is optimal for student learning? This NY Times article suggests more of our classes will be taught online soon. 

Friday, January 30, 2009


Welcome to Beyond an Education. I am interested in exploring what an education is, why we work at it, what we get out of it, how it impacts us, and does education ever stop? Many of my questions have been asked a thousand times over but has anyone ever answered these questions sufficiently?