Tuesday, February 8, 2011

RebelNet on a Snow Day

Last week's blizzard required the school district to close for two consecutive days. In the past, this kind of unexpected break in the middle of the week before conferences would make it difficult for many students and teachers to stay on track with their daily tasks. However, with more staff and students now familiar with RebelNet, getting access from home was easier than ever before.

We sent out a short survey (using Google Forms, both easy and free) to all staff in the district and students in grades 6-12. The survey simply asked if they used RebelNet at all during the snow days and if so, what prompted them to. Here are some of the results:

Of the 173 responses, 129 were from staff members and 44 were from students. That's more than half of staff members and about 1% of students with access to RebelNet. That's not a great sample, but the survey also included a place to submit comments and suggestions which together, gave us some strong insight into how they use RebelNet.

Of the staff members who responded, 83% accessed RebelNet during the snow days. Their primary reason for logging in was to check Google Mail. After that, over half of the staff members were also accessing Google Docs and Infinite Campus (for grades, reports, etc.). Only about 20% of these staff members used RebelNet to access files stored on the district network.

Of the students who responded, only 25% had accessed RebelNet during the snow days. The primary reason given for not accessing RebelNet was that they had no reason to. Some students mentioned that they did not have an available internet connection.

Probably the most helpful information gathered from this survey can be found in the comments and suggestions section by the students. One student commented, "I had no reason to use RebelNet. Have more teachers give work on-line for us to do at home."

Another student commented, "I love RebelNet. It makes it easy to talk to my teachers and my friends."

In order for students to learn how to utilize technology as a tool rather than just a distraction, they need to be given the opportunities to use it properly. What is stopping teachers from posting more assignments online? What is keeping students from being engaged inside and outside of the classroom? Feel free to post your comments here.

Who are you? Do you even care?

Photo by Hay Kranen

As technology grows day by day, methods of communication seem to become more advanced at the same time. Not only is it important to make your presence known in person, it is now equally important to make your presence known online. This leads me to my first question; who are you and do you even care? Of course you know who you are, but as we move forward to become digital citizens, we have a responsibility to inform the world as to who we are.

This idea is sometimes overwhelming to think about especially when most people are worried about privacy, and rightfully so. However, in terms of your web presence, you have the power to create the information that is displayed about your persona and offer up words of wisdom to someone seeking it. Think of it like this, a student sits in the back of his robotics class for the entire school year and never says one word to anyone. The student just sits there and blends in with the rest of his classmates. No one knows that this student is somewhat of an expert in robotics. The teacher and the rest of the class already have an impression of this student. They think the student is quiet, anti-social and has little to offer. If only the student was to speak up and talk about what he knows, he can be of more help to his classmates and the impression that the class has of him will ultimately change.

This is no different when it comes to your impression online. When we lay dormant, keep to ourselves and blend in with the rest of the web users, we withhold all of the information, knowledge and true potential we have to offer. If we don’t leave an impression of ourselves, someone else will do it for us. Think of all the endless possibilities life has when we are all connected sharing valuable information and ideas.

The internet is a scary place sometimes but it is just a tool, how we use it will determine its value to us. It is sort of like the rest of the world, if we want to change the way the internet works we need to start with that person in the mirror. We should make our presence known, offer our knowledge and ideas and learn from others who are doing the same. Give it a try, start a blog for yourself. See how easy it is here.


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