Digital Agendas

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This fall marks the beginning of the end of our paper agendas for Junior High Students in our district.  Our current agendas are probably similar to what others have: a student handbook at the beginning covering school policies, the September to June Calendars for students to write in,  and a reference section at the back with math formulae, periodic table,  the map of Canada, etc.

In September a limited number of agendas will be available for purchase at the main office – they will not be handed out to every student on the first day of school.  The limited agendas will not include the section of school policies and procedures. The section on school policies and procedures will now be published to our school website and D2L homepage.   In 2012-2013 no paper agendas will be ordered.  Click here to link to my district’s press release.

How is this going to work?  D2L has the ability to take events from different courses and populate those items in a single  homepage calendar for each student.  For example, if I make an event for a math project, I can put it in the course calendar, and it will be pushed down to the individual calendar of the students who are enrolled in the course. D2L has a homepage widget called ‘Events’ which will organize what is coming up ‘Today’, ‘Tomorrow’, and ‘This week’.  This event box is front and centre when students log on to D2L.  The user’s individual calendar is a hybrid of course events pushed down from instructors and user-generated events.

Moving to digital agendas has some positives and some areas of concern.

Positives

1)   Digital agendas are never lost.  Lost agendas have been a real problem. D2L offers a “one stop shop” for events, content, and grades.

2)   Digital agendas are easily accessible D2L offers a traditional computer log-in as well as a mobile portal.  Students can access their calendar on their mobile devices and personal (or school) computers.

3)   Calendar events can be directly linked to course content.  For example, if a student has a science exam on Wednesday, that event can be linked to multiple sources of content – study sheets, youtube videos, practice questions, etc

4)   Parents will have consistent access.  No longer will it be the scenario of “Show me your agenda”, but parents have the ability to log-into their child’s account and track their child’s events.

Concerns

1)  With whom does responsibility lie?  With traditional agendas it is up to the student to record their appointments thus the majority of the responsibility lies with the student.  With digital agendas it is the instructor who will add events to the calendar.  Does this take away responsibility for student time management? Can it become a shared responsibility? How do we teach and model time management?

2)   Teachers must consistently use the calendar and events tools.  This relates to the above point.  Does a teacher creating the event take away from the student’s responsibility for his or her own learning?  That is a concern for my staff. Also, what if a teacher is not “pulling their weight”?  What expectations are placed on teachers to input their events?

3)   Digitala agendas cannot be used as a behavioral tool.  In the past paper agendas were used for parent communication, hall passes, bathroom monitoring, etc.  We will have to explore new ways of managing students as well as using our LMS for parent communication.

4)   Parents must be informed and guided through the transition.  Between school administration,  my AISI cohort, and myself a P.R. campaign will take place to inform and help parents transition to the digital agenda.

Have you been using digital agendas in your school?   I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

J.T.

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One thought on “Digital Agendas

  1. You know what I love most about this excellent post, Jeff? You didn’t mention that the digital agendas would save trees. You focused on what the initiative means to teachers, students, and parents. And in the end, isn’t that where the benefits have to be realized in order to save those trees? Nice.

    I do think that PD (professional development) and PD (parental development) are your two key challenges. It will take some time and effort, but this is a critical component that cannot be ignored. Cannot. This is a challenge for a good instructional designer. I think there is a really interesting project standing right in front of you!

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