Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Use SharePoint in the Class - Like a Ninja

If you hand in some math homework to your teacher, and then realize, "Oh no, I didn't finish question number 11!", what would you do? One option might be to simply leave class as if nothing was wrong. Then, go home, change into your ninja outfit, and use a grappling hook to get up onto the school roof at midnight. Then, drop in through the ventillation ducts, into your classroom, and replace incomplete homework with a completed copy.

Of course that wouldn't work, and could prove dangerous. Fortunately, there is a way for kids to update their homework even after they hand it in - like a SharePoint Ninja!

Now, I don't want to say kids should turn in their work late. Yes, I do look at the time and date kids hand in their work. But generally, if I don't have to chase them down for work, and if the students are not depending on updating their work after they hand it in, I am OK with that - sometimes. Other teachers might not be, but I figure it saves me a lot of effort from having to chase down students.

PS. Seriously, don't go trying to break into your school. It is against the law, and you will get hurt. It's not like you are an ACTUAL ninja.....unlike myself ;-).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Treat Teachers Like Google Engineers

I have a good job. I have a good medical and decent dental plan. Still, I look at Google engineers with envy. Deluxe cafeteria food. Video game consoles provided in lounges and even in hallways for play time. One building offers its employees a choice of stairs or a slide to get from one floor down to the next!

But what I envy most is that Google encourages its' engineers to spend 20% of their time on their own pet projects. It is called Innovation Time Off. What would happen if you gave that time to teachers?

Would I teach my computer class that day? Would I take the kids on field trips to the Inlet near our school, because I have a degree in biology, and my real strengths were environmental and evolutionary sciences. Would I become a PE teacher for a day? I used to be a competitive archer, and if I could manage to get some equipment together, perhaps I could introduce students to a sport they have never attempted. I wonder what I would teach them?

Could I collaborate with another teacher? What if I got together with the music teacher, and we used my computer lab and her music room, and created re-mixes of student recordings? Or, perhaps we could make animations with the student's compositions playing in the background.

I suppose the worry is that some teachers would take advantage of this time and just give the kids busy work so that they could mark and have more free time on the weekend. Perhaps some would actually do this. I wonder if the bosses at Google had the same worry at first. However, it was Innovation Time Off that led to the creation of Gmail and AdSense. Who knows what innovation will come next from Google? It is a safe bet though that something will be coming.

If teachers had Innovation Time Off, I bet it would really awaken the passion teachers have for teaching. I bet they would look forward to this day, and it would be a day of the best planned, most exciting lessons of the week. The students would look forward to it. This one day of the week could change everything.