Why do we need an AUP?

I have been teaching in a blended learning format for several years. I still remember how some students called me as the “techie” English teacher. I have always made it a point to incorporate the use of information technology in my classes.

In terms of teaching through an online learning platform, I started with Moodle. I still remember all the conversations I had with Alfredo Papaseit (the school librarian at that time) who introduced it to the faculty. I remember long hours of setting all the rights and how the program sort of paused when no one in the IT department remembered to press the button to refresh the server after a power interruption that happened after school hours or over the weekend. Moodle has a lot of features that may be overwhelming if an educator is new to the online teaching club. It is a grand learning platform that is suitable for higher education and for big universities.

My second stop was Schoology and Course Director (the older brother of Google Classroom). I was happier using Schoology because it had a similar interface with Facebook. Then, the idea of flipped classroom came and teachers had too many different virtual classrooms and students needed to remember too many passwords and too many shortcuts. It was during this time when I tried Google Classroom, too. It did not have as many features as Schoology, but was only clicks away for a school using Google Suite. Soon after, a group of students proposed that the faculty chooses only one to avoid confusion and to be able to monitor their progress better. Few months later, it became a requirement for teachers to run Google Classroom side-by-side onsite classes. I still remember how we were made to stay outside our physical teaching areas, away from our students, to mimic an “online session.” That was the school’s online class rehearsal.

Early in March 2020, I got to apply my online teaching skills to respond to a real demand when schools were made to suspend classes. I came across new issues though. I came to wonder how my former experience was smooth and productive. I did not receive ridiculous alibis from students (e.g., cannot open PDF files because they are unsupported and cannot open any Google Form because the page says “This site cannot be reached”) and other rude and weird online learning scenarios. I asked myself What am I missing? The answer is a question which is the title of this post. Freaking out with the world when COVID-19 hit, I forgot to share with the school administration the need to have a clear and fair policy laid out. These expectations were presented when I had those online class rehearsals. These policies are absolutely essential.

Scholastic says that having a technology policy is valuable “to harness this [referring to the Internet] powerful tool so that it is effective and safe for student use.” I love how Scholastic listed the components every school IT policy should include. They also provided examples.

Kajeet in their article entitled Why Acceptable Use Policies are Critical for Education highlighted how an agreement supports students’ safety online. They have two main big ideas to stress the importance of an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) – “protecting students” and “providing students.” They mentioned a student-centered approach and shared links to other AUP materials.

School administrators may need to see the bigger picture though. Now that online teaching and learning has taken the front seat as the world continues to fight off an unprecedented health and economic pandemic, how to keep the whole school population safe must be a heavy load on their shoulders. The Internet Society in 2017 defined Key considerations for policy makers. They identified “five priorities for Internet and education.” These are infrastructure and access, vision and policy, content and devices, capacity, and inclusion.

Of course, there are institutions that have gone ahead of this game. No one needs to reinvent the wheel. From my online teaching experience, I am fully aware that these policies are imperative. Administrators and support teams must find time to collaborate and establish one for their community. Schools must continue to cater to their learners’ needs far beyond the sharing of class codes, modules, activities, and materials. Students must also learn, grow, and become responsible digital citizens.

Google Certified Educator Level 1

I took the three-hour online Level 1 exam on Friday, May 8th. I did not expect receiving a very prompt response. The Google for Education team must have been working doubly hard these days. In less than 48 hours after a very comprehensive examination experience, I got the results. With God’s mercy and Google’s guidance, I passed.

If teachers are familiar with when, how, and why they use different apps in Google Suite as educators who incorporate the use of information technology in an onsite or blended learning environment, they are more than ready to take the Level 1 test to be Google Certified Educators. The whole examination is a thorough evaluation of a teacher’s use and understanding of applications in Google Suite like (1) Gmail, (2) Drive, (3) Classroom, (4) Calendar, (5) Chrome, (6) Sites, (7) Tasks, (8) Translate, (9) Docs, (10) Sheets, (11) Forms, (12) Slides, (13) Meet, (14) Groups, and (15) YouTube. The exam has questions on the most recent version of these applications; making the three-year certification logical and supportive of professional development. The test has two parts of teaching scenarios: multiple choice and application. Three hours is fair amount of time to work on all given questions.    

Every candidate signs a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Agreeing or signing it is part of the preliminary questions test takers have to answer right after they open the exam account Google sets. Via Gmail, Google sends relevant information and a quick, helpful overview to be ready for the exam which applicants should take no later than seven days after forwarding payment of US $10 for Level 1. It has been a shared advice not to forward payment if one does not feel confident to complete the exam within a week. Forwarding my payment pushed me to have a go and I am happy I did.

The exam will need to access the web camera. I took time to set my camera before the test schedule. Google needed me to grant them permission to turn it on during the whole duration of the exam. The camera served as my proctor. I linked my phone mobile data to my laptop. I made sure I had credits more than enough to keep the Internet connection running for three hours. I chose non-peak hours. I was online from 2200H to 0100H when the majority goes to bed. I made sure my laptop was fully charged. I locked myself in the bedroom to avoid distractions. I emptied my bladder before the exam started to avoid the need to go to the bathroom (consider doing the same especially when your body responds in such a way whenever you get anxious). I kept myself focused during the whole duration and used the given time wisely. I highly recommend keeping track and budgeting time really well. In fact, I came across a challenging scenario. It was taking me some time to figure it out. So, I skipped and went back to it when I reviewed my output before clicking the final “Submit” button and the page went saying “Validating your exam” which I waited to load for five minutes and closed when it was not showing anything. Well, the page also assured me that my answers were already recorded; that I would only need to wait for Google‘s email for the exam results. 

The examination made me realize that there are still a lot more to learn in Google Suite. The challenge to complete steps accurately and to find the right buttons made me forget about the camera and about the fact that I was taking a test. If you have used Google Suite apps in teaching, consider taking this self-assessment opportunity. It would surely be one of those rare tests you would find enjoyable.

Fact or Fiction about COVID-19

Homeroom Thinking Exercise Teaching & Learning with Dr. JellSoL

Students have to learn how to evaluate online information they access and peruse for different reasons. This activity is a quick exercise supporting two PSHS Learner’s Profile Attributes: being Inquirers and Thinkers.

Students all stand in the middle of the classroom. Before reading the statements from WHO and Vox below, the homeroom teacher chooses the side where students have to move if they think the statement read is a fact or the opposite side if it is fiction.  The homeroom teacher reads the statements twice.  After s/he reads the statement the second time, s/he says “Fact or Fiction” to signal the students to make a choice and move to the side reflecting their response. The class is given 30 seconds to decide. Staying in the middle to say “maybe” is not permitted. Before stating the answer, the homeroom teacher reads the explanation. Students move back to the center area to get ready for the next statement.

(1) FACT: Cold weather and snow cannot kill the new coronavirus. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.

(2) FICTION: The novel coronavirus sickness is caused by 5G. One premise is that 5G technology can weaken the immune system and make the common cold more virulent. Another promotes the idea that the 5G technology itself is causing the symptoms that have been attributed to the novel coronavirus. One version of the theory pushes the idea that the technology absorbs oxygen in the lungs, which “causes coronavirus.” That idea has been flagged false by a UK-based third-party fact-checker, called Full Fact that works with Facebook. There’s no evidence that 5G impacts the immune system, and no proof that it has any link to the novel coronavirus.

(3) FICTION: There’s a plot to “exterminate” people infected with the new coronavirusSome individuals have floated the claim that China sought permission from the country’s Supreme Court to kill people infected with the novel coronavirus. Several fact-checkers, including Snopes, have determined these reports to be false and to have originated from a website with several “red flags.”

(4) FACT: Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus diseaseTaking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

(5) FACT: The new coronavirus cannot be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any country reporting COVID-19 casesEven though the new coronavirus can stay on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (depending on the type of surface), it is very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures.

(6) FICTION: Scientists have proven that humans got the novel coronavirus from eating batsBuzzFeed reported that a prominent video about the novel coronavirus in Hindi that’s attracted more than 13 million amplified the claim that eating bats caused the coronavirus outbreak. There is no evidence that eating bats caused the coronavirus outbreak. Jonathan Epstein, a veterinarian and an epidemiologist EcoHealth Alliance, told Vox earlier this month that it’s “still not known” whether this outbreak started with bats at an animal market.

(7) FICTION: Scientists predicted the virus will kill 65 million people. “We modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction,” the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said in a statement. “We are not predicting that the nCoV-2019 outbreak will kill 65 million people.”

(8) FICTION: China built a biological weapon that was leaked from a lab in Wuhan. Experts have told the Washington Post that there’s no evidence to support it. The lab itself said in a statement that misinformation had “caused severe damage to our researchers who have been dedicated to working on the front line, and seriously interrupted the emergency research we are doing during the epidemic.”

(9) FACT: The new coronavirus cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.

(10) FICTION: Chinese spies smuggled the virus out of CanadaSocial media posts are pushing the unproven premise that the novel coronavirus found in Wuhan was smuggled from a lab in Canada as part of China’s clandestine quest for a bioweapon, a theory debunked by Politifact. It’s a theory that seems to be somewhat related to the Wuhan lab conspiracy.

(11) FICTION: Hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirusHand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

(12) FICTION: Ultraviolet disinfection lamp can kill the new coronavirusUV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

(13) FICTION: A coronavirus vaccine already exists. While researchers in several countries are working to develop a vaccine, no such vaccine has yet been developed, according to FactCheck.org and Politifact. But this has not stopped people from going online and claiming otherwise.

(14) FICTION: There were 100,000 confirmed cases in JanuaryMany popular posts on social platforms spread statistics that served to scare people with numbers that do not match the official count. Some of these posts cite medical workers in Wuhan, without evidence. At least eight people have been arrested by the Chinese government for spreading hoaxes, according to reporting from the Poynter Institute in January. When trying to figure out the scale of the virus’s spread, it’s worth looking to reputable, official sources, such as the WHO.

(15) FACT: Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people infected with the new coronavirusThermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus. However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.

(16) FICTION: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can kill the new coronavirusSpraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth).

(17) FICTION: Pets at home can spread the new coronavirusThere is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets.

(18) FACT: Vaccines against pneumonia cannot protect you against the new coronavirusVaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine.

(19) FACT: Rinsing your nose with saline cannot help prevent infection with the new coronavirusThere is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus. There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold.

(20) FICTION: A teen on TikTok is the first case in CanadaTikTok appears to have deleted the original viral video which had over 4.1 million views, but a similar video, posted by the same user, showed a teen alleging a classmate had contracted the virus remained up as of February 20. That morning, the company said it released a feature directing users to trusted sources of information, like the WHO, when they search for coronavirus-related content.

(21) FICTION: The Chinese government built a hospital overnightIt’s worth noting that the Chinese state media has also been spreading false information. As BuzzFeed News first pointed out, two state media outlets — Global Times and People’s Daily — circulated an image of a newly constructed building and claimed it was a hospital in Wuhan that was constructed in just 16 hours. In fact, the building in the image was an apartment building more than 600 miles away. This is just one example of how the Chinese government and state-backed organizations have used false or misleading information to portray the outbreak being under control.

(22) FACT: Eating garlic cannot help prevent infection with the new coronavirusGarlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.

(23) FACT: Older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are more vulnerable to become severely ill with the new coronavirusWHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus; for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

(24) FICTION: Antibiotics are effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirusThe new COVID-19 is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

(25) FICTION: There are specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirusTo date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials.

References

Ghaffary, S., & Heilweil, R. (2020). Facebook doubles down on removing coronavirus conspiracy theories. Vox. https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/1/31/21115589/coronavirus-wuhan-china-myths-hoaxes-facebook-social-media-tiktok-twitter-wechat

WHO. (2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

Sample Singing – Time to Say Goodbye

JellSoL modeled how classical singing sounds like.  Collaborating with the Music teacher, both teachers thought that students could relate well with Time to Say Goodbye or Con Te Partiro considering that Marcelito Pomoy, one of the Filipino champions in Got Talent, sang this song.  JellSoL performed three times in front of ninth graders.  The video is a collage of two out of three recordings.  The third one had data privacy issues.  The dubbed audio is a combination of all three performances.

Con Te Partiro was first performed by Andrea Bocelli in 1995.  It is an Italian song with music by Francesco Sartori and lyrics by Lucio Quarantotto.  Here is a copy of the lyrics for your reference:

Quando sono solo
Sogno all’orizzonte
E mancan le parole
Sì lo so che non c’è luce
In una stanza quando manca il sole
Se non ci sei tu con me, con me
Su le finestre
Mostra a tutti il mio cuore
Che hai acceso
Chiudi dentro me
La luce che
Hai incontrato per strada
Time to say goodbye
Paesi che non ho mai
Veduto e vissuto con te
Adesso sì li vivrò
Con te partirò
Su navi per mari
Che, io lo so
No, no, non esistono più
It’s time to say goodbye
Quando sei lontana
Sogno all’orizzonte
E mancan le parole
E io sì lo so
Che sei con me, con me
Tu mia luna tu sei qui con me
Mio sole tu sei qui con me
con me, con me, con me
Time to say goodbye
Paesi che non ho mai
Veduto e vissuto con te
Adesso sì li vivrò
Con te partirò
Su navi per mari
Che, io lo so
No, no, non esistono più
Con te io li rivivrò
Con te partirò
Su navi per mari
Che, io lo so
No, no, non esistono più
Con te io li rivivrò
Con te partirò
No, no, non esistono più
Io con te

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The Kindred Chronicles

Kindred

by D. A. Chan (Xlibris, June 2015)

The wind is right… It is not I who choose my destiny or calling… The wind has always known.

No words were spoken; none was necessary.

What once was a love that rebelled against a greater force and a greater call, was now a restful and nourishing love, a love at peace in the midst of the coming war.

Fire could never burn the scent of death.

If we are to prevent war… we must find the resolve to make the dreadful choices.

Yes you are more skilled than I… But your heart is as black as your blades… There is no compassion, or mercy, or empathy in your dance.  All you are is an embodiment of pride that leads to hatred and spite.

Why suffer to let live those who will eventually become a cancer to progress?

Mice living with snakes will always live in fear.  Would you not show compassion to the prey by urging the snake to strike sooner?

For every sunset, there will always be a new dawn.

But I know what it is like to have your dreams denied, your hopes crushed in the unfeeling fist of ignorance, your love spurned by the very people you hope to serve.

For as long as you hold on to the past, you bar the future from entering the present.

You are the loud death for every joyous moment that has died within my soul.

Why must there always be more questions than answers?

Why must death always visit the innocent?

… you may have weathered the throes of war and marched through valleys of death, but nothing is as terrifying as giving your daughter away in marriage.