Friday, September 5, 2008

Connie Finney and Moodle

Yesterday, I had two appointments in my calendar. One was a chapel service recognizing a college professor who teaches pre-service teachers at a local educational establishment. Her name is Connie Finney. Connie, this past spring, decided to take a sabbatical. And she decided to take the sabbatical with us at Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES in the department of Professional Development. This seemed like a very logical place to take a sabbatical, especially with all the talk now in New York State about a p-16 initiative. Connie is also the kind of person who would feel bad for not preparing her students to be not only ready for the educational challenges of today but future, undiscovered challenges for students of all levels. You should see what Connie's students say about her. While Connie was with us she really embraced technology. She even went as far as to have her own professional development offering for the Houghton College community called “Google, Gadgets and God.” Yesterday, Connie was being recognized for her excellence in teaching, which, unfortunately, I can’t find mention of on the Houghton College website. I did find Connie’s faculty profile page. Connie is a professor and from what I saw yesterday, she is good at it. She spoke with candor and grace. Like an artist it is not always what you paint, sometimes it is the dark areas or things you don’t paint that are very powerful. Connie is to speaking as Frederic Church is to the art world. It was her pauses and her “blank space” that made what she was saying so powerful. She showed me that she thinks in three dimensions. Connie’s award is beyond well deserved. The second thing that I had on my calendar was a Moodle Focus Group meeting. I was part of the meeting and a representative of the professional development department. Moodle is open-source software. I have heard people say that one of the big concerns with open-source software is that there is really no one to call if things go wrong. I was at a training last year, at the beginning of school, and I mentioned teaching on-line. And this one teacher was brave enough to say that, teaching on-line scares me to death. She was concerned that she would loose her job to someone teaching the same thing she was teaching but on-line. And my retort was, “What if you became the expert on-line teacher?” The teacher went on to say, “but I don’t know how to do that.” This is where the tool, and in this case Moodle, and professional development comes in. Some schools are requiring students to take an on-line course before they graduate. There are also schools requiring students to do some kind of community serve before they graduate. I think, and it may exist now, that students may eventually be required to combine entrepreneurship with some kind of web commerce. Why can’t we require students to make some kind of profit using the Internet? The web is becoming more and more ubiquitous now that the end user’s device is in their pocket in the form of a cell phone. Should some type of web commerce or business be a requirement for students to graduate? Why can’t a web business be a type of internship? I know I have mentioned this before, but wouldn’t teaching students web commerce teach students how to fish and not just give them the fish? I have digressed again on my own personal little tangent. My point is let’s empower people. Whether its teachers teaching with Moodle or students having their own web based entrepreneurial endeavor. Knowledge is not just power, but knowledge can empower.