About Me

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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Partnership Meetings in Haiti from Oct. 9-18: Building Educational and Leadership Capacity

Plans for my October trip to Haiti are now in place:

Oct. 9-12 Meetings in Cap-Haitien including:
-with Justin Metelus, director of the Ministry of Education for the north, as we discuss developing on-line learning for principals and teachers
-with Thelus Wilson, who helped coordinate the May 2013 Laurier service-learning trip, as we discuss the next group of teachers to be involved in service-learning opportunities in Cap
-with a new partnering organization Projects for Haiti (click here to find out more) and its directors who are flying from Florida to discuss how we can support each other
-with Dr. Fenol Metellus, the rector of the Public University of the North at Cap-Haitien, as we discuss developing on-line learning for students and an English Language Institute
-a number of other deans and presidents of universities who have expressed interest in establishing partnerships with Laurier

On Saturday, October 12, we will be providing a day of training on using smartphones to access educational resources for Haitian principals and lead teachers. This is being facilitated by Rob McBride, an executive from BlackBerry, and Jhonel Morvan, an agent of the Ontario Ministry of Education. Three different workshops will be provided to those who have been participating in the Digital Mentoring Project or who have been identified as key leaders in the north.

From Oct. 13-18, I will be involved in teaching a Master of Education course near Port au Prince for Laurel University, North Carolina. Jhonel and I will co-teach this course which has a focus on supervision for school leaders. Rob will join us for two days as he gives presentations on the use of smartphones and tablets for educational purposes.

During this second part of the trip, I will also be meeting with a variety of school principals and university officials from Port au Prince as we discuss future working relationships.

I am quite hopeful that the partnership meetings we have been engaged in over the past two years in the north will bear some fruit on this trip as we are able to demonstrate what on-line learning can look like for educators and educational institutions in the north of Haiti. The key in this process is developing a sustainable, professional model with local buy-in.

I keep holding on to the Haitian proverb, piti piti ti pay pay, zwazo fe niche - little by little, straw by straw, the bird builds its nest. It seems that the nest is being built.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A good news story about BlackBerry (or how does a smartphone help a principal in Haiti?)

There has been a lot of negative press about BlackBerry lately as they struggle to compete with the Apples and Androids of the smartphone world. Here are two reminders of some pretty incredible ways in which BlackBerry has made a positive impact, and will continue to make an impact, on one part of the world - Haiti:

1. We have distributed more than 100 BlackBerry smartphones in Haiti. Many of these have been donated by individuals in Ontario but BlackBerry has also donated approximately 25. These phones have helped principals connect with each other (and other educational leaders in North America) through the Digital Mentoring Project. As well, the phones have made a significant impact on the ability of principals to access resources. An upcoming book chapter and journal article provide a number of examples of this - stay tuned!

2. A director from BlackBerry will be traveling with me to Haiti in October and will be providing training for principals and teachers on how to use smartphones to access on-line educational resources and to engage in professional networks. This director is traveling on his own time and money to support the work we have been doing in Haiti. He is passionate about BlackBerry and equally passionate about Haiti (20 years ago he lived and worked for an extensive time in Haiti). His knowledge of Creole/Kreyol and of the smartphone market will be a significant support to our work in Haiti.

So, every time I hear a negative commentary or forecast about BlackBerry, I am immediately reminded that this is a company which has made a significant impact on our community, and in lesser-known ways, a significant impact in Haiti.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What do we mean by open and on-line education for Haiti?

For more than a year, I have been engaged in discussions with various partners in Haiti, Canada, and the US as we discuss establishing open, on-line education for Haiti. The reasons for developing open, on-line learning are fairly clear and I'll touch on this further in a future blog post.

But what do we mean by open, on-line learning?

By open, we mean that we want to create resources that are available for any teacher or school administrator in Haiti (and beyond). If an educator has access to a computer (or smartphone) with an internet connection, he or she could view the resources which are available. Open also means that educators (whether in Haiti or elsewhere) can create resources which they think would be beneficial for all. In other words, open to create and open to access ... at no cost or remuneration.

By on-line, we mean that  the resources would be organized into topics and available via an internet connection. We are currently working on developing a learning management system (LMS) where these resources will be available for educators. A LMS is like a depository of resources but it is also active since it provides opportunities for discussions. During our October trip, we will be meeting with the various partners and unveiling a trial version of the LMS. We have registered a domain name for our LMS (to be unveiled shortly) where people can check out a variety of resources and teaching modules.

Teaching modules will focus on a specific topic (e.g. how to use math manipulatives in primary school classrooms, how to support teacher professional development, how to develop a budget for a school, etc.). They may include a short video featuring a Haitian educator as well as a discussion forum where educators can ask questions or respond to others.

It is my belief that having open, on-line education is an excellent supplement to the various teaching and leadership workshops and resources which are being developed and initiated in Haiti. Stay tuned for more exciting details on open, on-line education for Haiti!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Next Steps for the Digital Mentoring Project and Haiti School Leadership

Plans are well underway for our October 9-18 trip to the Cap-Haitien and Port au Prince area. A team from Laurier, which for the first time will include an executive from BlackBerry, will be in Haiti from Oct. 9-18. Here's what we will be doing:

Oct. 9-13 Cap-Haitien

a) Meetings with Justin Metelus, the Director of the Ministry of Education for the north, as well as various university presidents and deans as we discuss open,on-line learning and the development of the Digital Mentoring Project.
b) School leadership workshops including a full day workshop on using smartphones in effective ways, especially for educational purposes. I am delighted that two grad students from the University of Florida, who have been doing ground-breaking teacher development work in Cap-Haitien, will be joining us for part of this time.
c) Planning for the WLU May 2014 service-learning trip.

Oct. 13-18 Fermathe (Port au Prince area)

a) Teaching a Master of Education course for 40 Haitian school leaders.
b) Workshops on use of smartphones and educational applications.
c) Partnership meetings discussing how to expand Laurier's work in Haiti, particularly regarding open, on-ling learning and development of the Digital Mentoring Project.

I am delighted that Jhonel Morvan (Ontario Ministry of Education and lecturer at WLU) will be partnering with me again in this work.

Once again, I will use this blog to provide updates on the work while we are in Haiti. For up-to-the minute updates, please consider following me on twitter (@drstevesider) or use the hashtag: #laurierhaiti