In our class today we had the opportunity to video conference with principal Ian Landy from Powell River. The experience for me was completely new to me as I have only ever done Skype or Facetime calls one on one. Having lived abroad for a year, I definitely have already experienced the benefits of video calls. Prior to moving to France, I was doing interviews for my job via Skype. Once I arrived in France I would regularly Facetime my family in Canada and now that I’m back in Canada, I regularly Facetime my family in France.
I was apprehensive at first about the capabilities of video conferencing in such a large group with 31 students and 2 professors in the group. We used Blue Jeans for our video conference. The technology worked very well though and we were able to learn so much from Mr Landy. He was even able to show us tons of resources on his computer while also talking us through them. I was also super impressed that he was able to hear individual questions that were being asked and that the computer could focus in on whoever was asking the question. One of the students in our class mentioned that she had actually taken classes like this in high school as they didn’t have enough teachers in her rural community, which is super neat.
I think this can be a really valuable resource to teachers in classrooms. One of my goals, when I am teaching, is to have class “pen-pals” with another class either in Quebec or in France. The purpose of this would be for my students to practice their written French and for them to think about another community somewhere outside of their own. It would be fantastic if at some point (with the correct consent forms signed by guardians) to be able to video conference with our pen pals. Overall I was really impressed with this technology and hope to be able to use it again soon.
The information that Ian Landy passed onto was so interesting. I found what he had to say about ePortfolios super informative. I had heard about ePortfolios a few times throughout my degree so far but not to this extent. Prior to his lecture, they had seemed like a ton of work and very difficult to manoeuvre but Ian had a way of breaking it down and showing us what it would look like that made it seem so manageable. I really resonated with what he had to say about abolishing report cards and tests and formal grading. As a student who consistently had Bs throughout middle school and high school (and 3s in elementary school), I really related to what he said about there being such a variance on what a B could look like. I have a sister who is designated as gifted and has consistently had straight As and 100% averages throughout her entire school career and I have never been able to stop comparing myself. I resonated with what Ian said about removing the comparison with grades and percentages.
I also loved what he had to say about taking a sample of the student’s work in September and then continuing to take samples throughout the year to measure progress. This seems like a much more attainable and realistic way to measure progress in comparison to test scores. This way of assessment also removes the stress on teachers of having to complete 20+ report cards all at the end of the term, as ePortfolios are an ongoing form of assessment. Another benefit that Ian described is that ePortoflios are a different view of the child than solely that of what they can do on paper. In an ePortolio, videos and pictures can be added and students and teachers can collaborate on what goes into their portfolio.
I really hope (maybe even when I begin my career in 2-3 years) ePortfolios will be much more prevalent in all schools.