Saturday, October 27, 2012

Online Communicating...Be Careful!

Last night was my school's Fun Fair. It was a long day but very fulfilling. I got to see students whom I taught many years ago. I see many of them on Facebook so when we were hugging, we commented that it was great seeing each other in person. Oh my, some even had their own children!

I posted about the Fun Fair on Facebook after I came home. Students who saw me replied that is was great seeing me (Mrs. Ahuna) too. Sometimes I forget that I have past students as friends because I block many of them and they usually do not reply to my posts. I once posted that I was frustrated with my class and that I was seriously thinking about a career change. This was an OMG time for me...those students came out of hiding and responded and responded. I did feel appreciated and loved, but I also felt embarrassed. I learned a lesson that day.

When we were introduced to Google+, I thought that this was the answer to adding students. Since it has the Circles features, I saw that I could arrange all my students into different circles. Then when I want to gripe, they do not have to see it. Unfortunately, Google+ has not reached the masses yet. It will be a great tool for me when it does take off.

Until that happens, my rule will remain. My students can only request for me to be their friend after I am not their teacher anymore. Since I've switched to being a resource teacher, I teach all grades. Some of my last year students asked me why I didn't accept their friend request. I told them...because I'm still your teacher. I get groans from them, but my rule stands. "I'm your teacher," I tell them, "not your friend."

Since I block many of my students from my wall, I do not see everything they are doing. When I have the time, I visit their individual walls to check on them. It's obvious though, that they don't block my posts from their walls. After that one post a few years ago, I know I have to be careful.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stranger to Friend

I was introduced to the Tech Cadre by a stranger visiting my school at the beginning of the school year.  I didn't sign up with this cadre until the Fall Break that D.O.E. schools just came off of. Since then, my school email has been receiving so much mail, I almost regretted joining this cadre.

That was how I felt, until today...

I was having problems with a wireless router up in one of our buildings. The laptops detected it, it had a strong signal to it, but the laptops couldn't connect to it. I tried all that I knew how to do. Then, I thought...I'll post my problem to the Tech Cadre! Boy, did I get a response.  And, immediately, I might add. My next thought was...are people just sitting at their computers waiting to respond? I mean, I got lengthy emails from others giving me suggestions on what to check and I even got one that scolded me for using that type of router. The best was that the help I was getting was beyond me. I told a friend out of frustration, "Why can't someone just offer to come and help me."

I finally went back to my classroom. I checked my email, and I couldn't believe what I read. A somewhat stranger (after all, he is a teacher) wrote, "If you stay till after 3:30, I can come and help you tomorrow." I looked at the sender; the tech person was from Wheeler. You see, my school is in Kaneohe and Wheeler is in Wahiawa. I quickly responded, "I would gladly wait for you. Do you live in Kaneohe? I wouldn't want you to come out of your way, but I appreciate the gesture." It was late, so I left work right after that.

The thought lingered in my mind. I thought, do I know this person, is this person just being nice, is this for real? When my friend came over to exercise, I told her about this. She teased me, "Is he a forgotten, long, lost boyfriend?" I laughed, "No way; my memory is not that bad!" We got so curious; we googled him. I saw what he looked like (Wheeler had their teacher's pictures posted). I came to the conclusion that I didn't know this person. I figured, if he really comes to help me, I better have something to thank him. I worked my crafty magic, created a pencil out of Rolo and a Hersey Kiss (idea from Pinterest), and attached a tag that read, "Mahalo for your kindess!"

When I returned to school this morning, I got another email from him. He responded that he did indeed live in Kaneohe, his niece and nephew attended my school in the early 2000s, and this would give him an excuse to leave his school early. Well, what would you guess? At 3:30, he arrived at my school.

We introduced ourselves, and I did remember having his niece as a student but not his nephew. I quickly learned that this guy was not only kind, he was so into this stuff.  He showed me an app that detects wireless systems. In the short time he was there, I was learning a whole lot. I took him up to the building where the wireless router was. The app showed the wireless router. He worked his magic and 'tada', the laptops connected to router. I now know what the "magic trick"is so I can perform it the next time I have the same problem. I also now have the app on my smart phone.

So I am thankful that I did join this Tech Cadre and now I don't regret joining. It worked for me...there's wireless in D building and I made a friend today.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Change is Good

Today I had a workshop for the evaluation program the Windward District is piloting. I brought my iPad and wireless keyboard to take notes. I noticed that besides the instructor, I was the only one who used a technological tool. However, this is not what surprised me. What did? I felt extremely comfortable using these wonderful tools.

I can tell you I received my iPad for Mother's Day 2012. I use it a lot around my home to do all sorts of stuff, but I rarely take it on the go. When I was getting ready to leave this morning, I thought of packing my laptop. Too big...I didn't want to lug that to my workshop. I immediately changed my thinking and put my iPad in my bag (along with the wireless keyboard).

My how I've changed! Since being in the OTEC program, it has become second nature for me to turn to my laptop to do all my assignments. I compose and read on my computer, so I use very little paper and ink. I know this is natural for an online program but little did I know it would change the way I do things outside of school. The way I see it is as long as my iPad is charged and I have it, I will not need a notebook.

Change is good right? I think so...I'll still keep my notebooks handy for the day that technology doesn't work. We all know that happens now and then.

Wondering about the workshop? Well, that was a big change for an online student...and the topic...let's just say that I was glad it was over when it was done.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Online Collaboration

Collaborating online is new for me. I'm simply amazed with all the tools that make this task possible. I am a social person so I am surprised that I am surviving. Why is that?

I think it is because the tools that allow for online collaborating is only missing the face-to-face aspect. I can still talk, share and be myself. I'm learning to communicate more clearly because no one can see my facial expressions. Agreeing is always easy to express, but if I disagree with something, I have to voice it. I can say that it's been a smooth experience thus far.

To accomplish Week 7's assignment, create a one-page web page with the focus on Web Based Content, we communicated through email to get our group together. We agreed to meet on Skype. During this Skype session, we got to know each other a little better, we decided on our focus, we agreed on what we each would do before our next meeting, we created a Google Doc to keep our ideas together, and we set the day and time for our next meeting. Whew!

During our next Skype session, we looked at all the ideas that were on our Google Doc. Yes, everyone did their homework! We chose the articles we wanted to use, we shared the websites we found, we created a Weebly page that we all could access, we decided who would do what, and we set our next Skype day and time. Yes!

I've come to realize that the online collaborative tools that are available are wonderful and reliable. However, these tools are nothing without the people who are using them. Through this journey, I've also come to appreciate my classmates. They, too, are wonderful and reliable. 

Thank you, Ty and Amy, my current partners, and all the other wonderful people I've worked with. It's because of all of you that I am surviving this online journey. It is my wish to meet each and every one of you in person. Until then, continue being the wonderful and reliable people that you are.