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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Online Connections Course gets a Cool Cat Teacher Award




Sometimes I just want to reach through the Internet and give a super big High-Five, hug, and "yahoo" all at once.

This is how I felt when I read about Jennifer Dorman's class that she has developed called Online Connections.

I also want to give a high five to the administration that had the vision (and trust) to give her the reigns for developing such a class.

(I believe that teachers should be enmeshed in curricular decisions and in fact that will do a lot to prevent waste and promote improvement. As a whole, I believe that education has a lot of decision makers who couldn't hold down a class much less teach anything. But that is another blog post.)

Jennifer says:

The class is called Online Connections and the focus of it is loosely centered around the notion that technology has changed the way people learn and work and that we must expose our students to the reality of this changing world. For a techie and former social studies teacher who often felt somewhat constrained by curriculum, this is like going to teacher heaven.


Now, take a look at her outline:

I created essential questions and enduring understandings for the course and posted them on the class wiki. While these statements make a lot of sense to me, I have been challenged by how to make them clear and meaningful for my students (who I will only see for 22 school days!).
  • I created a partnership with a class at the Korea International School,
  • generated a learners toolbox that students will use to review Web 2.0 applications and how they can be harnessed to learn and create products of value,
  • aggregated various news feeds to help students gain a more global perspective,
  • put together resources to help students construct understanding of copyright and online safety,
  • and am in the process of developing what I hope will be a Quadrant D


I challenge you to go to her blog and read more! So, this is why I created a Cool Cat Teacher Award for her work. (Who knows I may give more in the future?)

1) She partnered with a school in another country.

2) She created a learners toolbox full of some great tools, along with a class wiki to pull it all together.

3) She harnessed the power of RSS to customize information from the Internet. (She used Grazr like we did for Horizon.)

4) She addresses digital citizenship. (See Copyright Information and Online Safety from her wiki.)

5) Her purpose is to create a shift in their thinking and perception backed up by valid research-based methods of teaching and a desire for excellence backed up with a purpose for participation and global awareness.

6) She makes no excuses. (She only has 22 class days but is full of optimism and can-do attitude.)

Her wiki has blown me away and I've got ideas for how I'm going to revamp my wiki! And I love her inclusion of Derek Wenmoth's Four C's of participation in online communities.



One of my purposes in blogging this year is to share what great teachers like Jennifer are planning and doing! Great job! (If you know of one, let me know.)

Congratulations, Jennifer! You've done an outstanding job getting this course together, let me know how it goes.

And a word to administrators out there -- empower a teacher to develop a course like this! I would argue that such a course will do more to benefit the future of students than any other course that could be offered.

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