Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Tech Tips for Attending an Online Conference - #ISTEsla20 Prep

     At the start of June I posted about this summer's ISTE Summer Learning Academy being held from July 13-31.  The countdown is now on and with the sessions starting next week I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for attending an online conference.

ISTE, MVSD, Mountain View School Division, Kirsten Thompson, Coordinator of ICT, online pedagogy PD 
ISTE Summer Learning Academy Social Media Graphic. (2020). 
Uploaded by Kirsten Thompson. Available online at:

My first expeirence with online conferences was 8 years ago when I began tuning into EduCon that streamed out of Philadelphia.  I attended via their virtual options for two years and later became even more familiar with online professional development as I completed my M.Ed via distance.

Through these expierences I have picked up on some "tips and tricks" which I feel helps make participation in these learning environments easier and helps to ensure participants get the most out of their PD.

1 ) Get on Twitter/Get Your Tweets Organized
- If you are not on Twitter, make yourself an account and get familiar with hashtags! Here is a prep guide if you are a beginner
- Figure out the hashtags for your specific sessions (if they have one). The official hashtag is #ISTEsla20 
- Determine if you will be using tools like TweetDeck or not, which is an organizational tool (personal preference).
* Twitter is not mandatory to participate in  but it definitely opens up more learning experiences for you :)

2 ) Clear Your Schedule!
- Let people know you are at a conference (it doesn't matter that you are in your PJs while doing it). Twitter conversations and live streams go so quickly and it can be easy to miss something if you are chatting on the phone, having people drop in, etc.
- Devote the same attention to it as you would an in-person conference, this will ensure you get the most out of the sessions you are participating in

3 ) Get Organized!
- I'm the kind of person that needs to take notes as I go in order to retain information so get you device/paper and pens/word document ready!
* If you are taking notes on your computer, save as you go! If your network is anything like mine, once you have live stream, twitter and a word document open it may freeze.

4 ) Get Familiar With the Platforms!
- ISTE has sent out their introductory email to registered participants (check your spam/junk folder if you can't find it) with all of the need-to-know information to get started.
- I am pleased to see that they will be using the BrightSpace platform to deliver their content as this is the platform MB Ed has implemented as a replacement to the BlackBoard platform used for distance learning at the High School level; this is a great opportunity to see the platform from the "learner" view.
- You can also download the BrightSpace app (Pulse) for access on-the-go!

5 ) Give Yourself Time! Have Fun
- There is so much information available during this time and it can get chaotic if you are trying to participate in Twitter conversations while taking notes, while eating an sandwich, etc. Conference material is available for review until the fall so take a break and come back when you're ready.
- You know yourself best so only participate in as many sessions as you can handle. Give yourself enough time to participate in meaningful Twitter and community conversations so you can really get the most out of the experience.

Let me know if you will be participating in #ISTEsla20 I'm trying to set up conversations with those in my current PLN!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

ICT Team Overview

     Today marks the formal completion of my first year as Coordinator of ICT in Mountain View School Division.  What year to make this shift!  I had A LOT of hesitancy about leaving the classroom environment as I loved my Ste Rose family and was already missing "my kids" (Grs 7-12) while on maternity leave.  With that being said, this is easily my dream position and couldn't be happier with this stage in my career.

     Much of this positivity has stemmed from the fact that my ICT Team is amazing, like utterly fantastic.  Any question I had about PowerSchool, equipment specs, device inventory, infrastructure capability, etc they knew the answer immediately or found it for me.  They operated behind the scenes (reporting to work all through the pandemic) ensuring our network could support our remote learning and at-home work functionality.  I don't know where I'd be without these individuals!

     I put together a brief overview of some of our big projects in 2019/2020 which I'll share below.  You can select the white arrow on the right-hand side of the post to scroll through a series of photos.

#TechTipTuesday - Off For The Summer

    Every Tuesday I share a Tech Tip on our social media pages to assist our staff in their use of technology as it relates to their role.

Mountain View School Division, MVSD, Kirsten Thompson, Microsoft Certified Trainer , online instruction, teacher wellbeing
Summer Holiday Tips. (2020). Uploaded by Kirsten Thompson. Available online at: http://fishbowlteaching.blogspot.com/ 
Today is the LAST day of the 2019/2020 school year in Manitoba and it was one for the history books!  As we wrap up the year, and I wrap up our regularly scheduled posting calendar on our social media pages, I wanted to focus our last "Tech Tip" on summer holidays.  Teachers tend to have their "teacher brain" on non-stop but if there was ever a time to step back from your job and take some time for yourself it would be this summer!  

While we continue to operate within a pandemic-world we know that there are no guarentees.  Any carefully developed plans we make for the 2020/2021 school year could change multiple times.  In Manitoba we know that updated information affecting schools is scheduled to be shared on August 1st.  With that in mind, I strongly encourage all staff to fully relax this July: don't think about your classroom, don't stress over "what ifs", don't develop full plans for options that we can't guarentee.. just relax.

I recommend turning on your automatic replies on your email indicating that you are in holiday. (I'll include a tutorial below for those who operate within Outlook)

If you previously had your work email on your Smart Phone or personal devices consider removing it for the summer.  Alternatively, you can go into your settings and disable all notifcations for the summer.

Finally, engage in activities that bring you joy.  That may be camping or outdoor activities, physical exercise, reading for pleasure, hobbies, or simply sleeping in or binging that TV series you have saved.  Find something that works for you!

I'll continue to post with moderate frequency on the blog and social media over the summer months but for those that are "tuning out" until the fall; Happy Summer!

Monday, June 29, 2020


Every Monday I share a different ed tech quote on our Thompson Classroom social media pages for our staff to consider.  

This week's Mantra is:
Mountain View School Division, MVSD, Kirsten Thompson, Microsoft Certified Trainer , online instruction,
Ed Tech Quote. (2020). Uploaded by Kirsten Thompson. Available online at: http://fishbowlteaching.blogspot.com/ 
Through the month of June I have been encouraging all staff to reflect on the learning opportunities awarded to them through the experience of Covid-19.  (Some tools to facilitate this reflection include the Year End Tech Checklist & the Self-Reflection rubric).  This increase in tech usage has fast-tracked the use of educational technology for many of our staff; our direct Office 365 stats show just how big of a jump this is. 

Whether you consider yourself to be a "tech person" or not my hope would be that all staff have been introduced to some tech features/tools/practices that they would want to continue this use in their future practice.  I also feel the need to advocate for the active preparation for the potential of another suspension of classes.  In my mind, the continuation of tech practices would assist in the transition if our ability to offer face-to-face options were to change.  

What is one feature/tools/practice that you want to continue moving forward?  For me, I know that our ICT team will continue to utilize video meetings in an effort to reduce travel.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Covid-19 Podcast Discussions

     While the past four months have drastically cut down on my meeting and conference plans (still mourning the loss of ConnectED and Riding the Wave face-to-face events) it did signicantly increase my ability to converse with some amazing educators from across Manitoba and Saskatchewan.  I consider myself pretty lucky to have some wonderfully creative educators in my social circle who are using podcasts to share, connect, and educate. 

     As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and resulting suspension of classes, there has been a lot of conversations to be had when it comes to the impact this event is having on education as we know it.  The following episodes provided an opportunity to discuss:
- how various MB school divisions responded to the suspension of classes
- our experiences reporting from home
- what tech inequalities are present and the impact they have on educational programming

     I have linked to these conversations below and encourage you to listen and share your thoughts in the comment box below.  Each of these podcasts are from MB content creators and it is well worth your time to check out the other episodes available in their queue.

Mountain View School Division, MVSD, Kirsten Thompson, Microsoft Certified Trainer, social media, podcast, edu tech podcast
Dial IT Up Apple Podcast Preview Screenshot. (2020). Uploaded by Kirsten Thompson. Available online at: https://fishbowlteaching.blogspot.com/

Mountain View School Division, MVSD, Kirsten Thompson, Microsoft Certified Trainer, social media, podcast, edu tech podcast
Shape of Education to Come Apple Podcast Preview Screenshot. (2020). Uploaded by Kirsten Thompson. Available online at: https://fishbowlteaching.blogspot.com/

Mountain View School Division, MVSD, Kirsten Thompson, Microsoft Certified Trainer, social media, podcast, edu tech podcast
BU CARES Research Connection Apple Podcast Preview Screenshot. (2020). Uploaded by Kirsten Thompson. Available online at: https://fishbowlteaching.blogspot.com/

A BIG thank you goes out to Rennie, Mike, Devin, Michelle, & Jackie for inviting me onto your platforms!

Follow Friday

     Every Friday I share what I believe to be a notable person/organization/school on our social media pages to assist our staff in the development of their online Personal Learning Network.

     This week I would like to highlight Brittany Washburn, an M.Ed graudate with a focus on technology education.  As someone who has a middle school and high school background I appreciate Brittany's perspective on introducing early years learners to technology.  Her social media feeds also share several tech tips that are designed to make the use of technology easier and more accessible to both students and teachers.

Mountain View School Division, MVSD, Kirsten Thompson, Microsoft Certified Trainer, social media, Twitter chats for educators, twitter for teachers
Follow Friday Brittany Washburn. (2020). Uploaded by Kirsten Thompson. Available online at: https://fishbowlteaching.blogspot.com/

Brittany can be found online at the following links:
- Technology Teaching Resources website
- Facebook
- Instagram
- Twitter
- Pinterest

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Student Data - ICT Considerations

As we reach the conclusion of the school year I am fielding many requests related to student data and the use of online tools.  

Understanding how data about our students' is collected, stored, and shared is an ongoing priority but is especially relevant this year when the introduction of many online tools (including our online learning platforms) progressed rapidly and without the opportunity for detailed staff education.

In an effort to provide clarification on the many levels of student data legislation and guidelines I have put together the following document that outlines the ICT Considerations of our governing student data documents.  This document is designed to be a "living document" that will continue to be updated based on further information and clarification as to the use of online tools and their implications on student data.

The collection of student data within Manitoba schools refers to the, “entire collection or repository or information and documentation compiled or obtained by the staff or a school or school division... relating to the education of the students” (2012, Manitoba Pupil File Guideline, pg. 1).   

While this is traditionally referred to as the formal “Cumulative Folder” it also encompasses any and all data collection used to compile the data that is later summarized within the “Cumulative Folder”.  This is sometimes referred to as the “working files” (2012, Manitoba Pupil File Guideline, pg. 39).  Both physical and electronic tools to compile and store student data are subject to the following privacy and security guidelines.  All student data is subject to the stipulations outlined in the Manitoba Schools Act. 

Mountain View School Division Procedures 
Each school division develops and adopts their own administrative procedures related to student records, confidential information, and information communication technology (ICT).  The following outlines MVSD procedures as it relates to the use of electronic tools

Section A – School Administration – Student Records 
B. Responsibility  
The responsibility of the Pupil File is subject to the following conditions:  
The division retains the custody and control of all recorded information that it generates or receives about the student  
Any record that any employee initiates about the student during employment with Mountain View School Division is divisional property and therefore subject to access by the Division and/or subpoena by court of law  
o A pupil file is subject to access and privacy provisions that apply to other personal information (FIPPA) and personal health information (PHIA) about any specific student 

C. 2. Access to School Records – External 
a. Mountain View School Division is responsible to ensure compliance with all requirements that govern access to information and protection of privacy, as that access applies to pupil files, irrespective of the source of the information 

C. 6. Retention/Destruction of Pupil Files  
The Division and/or its schools shall retain or destroy Pupil Files according to the retention and disposition guidelines established by Manitoba Education (Manitoba Pupil File Guidelines, revised edition of 2012.) Material culled from files must be destroyed in a manner that protects the privacy of the student.  
Copies, duplicates, and drafts that are destroyed do not need to be documented. Other material that is no longer relevant and is destroyed should be documented and the documentation passed on to the principal to be kept on file. 

Section A – School Administration – Acceptable Use Procedure, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) 
A. Information and Communication Technology Guidelines  
While using the Internet and/or communicating electronically at school it is expected that students and staff will: 
2. Not reveal personal information about others, including their family name, address, picture, phone number and fax number (applies to both staff and students); 
4. Be ultimately responsible for their actions in accessing ICT;  
5. Respect the rights and privacy of other users of ICT; 
11. When using personal electronic communication devices, whether in school or elsewhere, it is expected this will occur in a manner which is respectful, safe, and legal. 
12. Accept consequences of inappropriate use of technology. 
B. Mountain View School Division’s Rights and Responsibilities 
1. Mountain View School Division reserves the right to monitor all activities involved in the use of computer technology.  
3. Mountain View School Division reserves the right to deny access of computer technology to any individual who violates these procedures. 

Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) Code of Professional Practice 
One of the responsibilities of all public school teachers in the province is adherence to the Code of Professional Practice. The Code of Professional Practice establishes the required standards of conduct for all members of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, whether acting in an employed position under a Collective Agreement, or acting in an appointed or elected position. A member’s professional behaviour must reflect the spirit as well as the letter of the Code.” 

The following outlines the MTS Code of Professional Practice as it relates to data collection: 
1. A Member’s first professional responsibility is to the Member’s students; 
2. Member acts with integrity and diligence in carrying out professional responsibilities; 
5. A Member respects the confidential nature of information concerning students and may give the information only to authorized personnel or agencies directly concerned with the individual student’s welfare; 

Information Included in FIPPA & PHIA 
The office of the Manitoba Ombudsman has confirmed, “Under FIPPA and PHIA, public bodies must ensure that personal information and personal health information is appropriately collected, used, disclosed, and destroyed in a manner that is consistent with the legislation. In order to ensure that the student information provided to these online companies will be protected, you may consider reviewing the company’s terms of service or privacy policy prior to entering into an arrangement.  A review of these documents could assist you in determining how much student information the company collects, how they will use and store the information, whether they intend on disclosing the information to any third parties, and when and how it will destroy any personal information it may collect from your students.  You may also want to consider whether the incorporation of these online tools are appropriate in relation to the school division’s current policies and procedures. 

Personal Health Information is rarely collected by individual educators but they regularly collect information covered under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).  This includes any records that collect: 
  • Student names 
  • Education results  
  • Student emails 
  • Personal views and opinions 

MTS Guiding Principals for ICT Implementation 
“Members should be protected against the risks inherent in the implementation of ICT in their schools and workplaces in respect of privacy, confidentiality and personal security. Appropriate training, safeguards, oversight and information should be provided on all aspects of ICT security protocol and conduct for all users.” 

ICT is an ever-evolving field with many programs/tools providing automated updates to features that are often out of the control of users.  Divisional ICT Teams are tasked with communicating information as it relates to appropriate use to Senior Admin and School Principals who are tasked with facilitating the capacity of their staff to understand how ICT affects their unique teaching scenario. 

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act 
The PIPEDA looks at how information is collected, stored, and shared electronically and provides guidelines related to the privacy and security of such documents.  At this time Manitoba does not require compliance with PIPEDA (although other provinces do) but it is considered good practice by organizations such as MAETL and ManACE to review the PIPEDA and adopt aspects that are manageable by individual organizations. 

Resources for Further Learning 
Government of Manitoba. (2020). FIPPA For Public Boards Resource Manual. 

Government of Manitoba. (2012). Manitoba Pupil File Guideline 

Government of Manitoba. (2020). Manitoba Schools Act 

Manitoba Teachers’ Society. (2017). Knowing the Code. MTS Code of Professional Practice 

Manitoba Teachers’ Society. (2020). MTS Guiding Principals for ICT Implementation 

Media Smarts. (2020). Young Canadians Speak Out: A Qualitative Research Project on Privacy 

MVSD. (2013). MVSD Administrative Procedures – Student Records. 

MVSD. (2015). MVSD Administrative Procedures – Acceptable Use Procedure, Information and 

Office of the Privacy Commission of Canada. (2020). The Personal Information Protection and