Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Lab Reflections

You’re NEVER too old to learn! Whether you’re in the classroom, working an assembly line, or somewhere in between, it’s all about how we handle the frustration that surrounds our efforts in learning something new. Based on my experience in the business world, I am often amazed at how different people handle new routines. We’re all creatures of habit, and some find it difficult to adjust…regardless of age. Learning a new technology is good exercise for the brain and forces us to push in a new direction. If my body didn’t get daily exercise, my muscles would begin to weaken. Our brains need stimulation and activity to function as well. The opportunities with technology provide that stimulation which will enhance new skills. Over the years I’ve watch people deliberately avoid technology, even when they had all kinds of support from fellow co-workers and management, and as a result they make the personal decision to become expendable. How can we expect young people to embrace new technology (as well as being receptive to positive change) when their peers choose to downplay the incredible potential use of these new technologies? Part of being a teacher is leading by example...putting forth your best effort and then some giving just a little more.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Week Three Responses

As I was reading “The Technology Enthusiasts’ Argument”, I was particularly drawn to the comment that as a society we are more likely to interact more with people outside our community than our own locale. The changes in technology have opened a window to the other side of the world…one which we want to look into, but yet often are hesitant to let others see our side, something of a one-way mirror. In order to fully understand what is happening on the other side of the mirror, it’s important that we have a better understanding of other cultures. What is considered as important and valuable in our society could be seen as insignificant and useless to another people. How will we recognize these differences? Will we perceive this cultural divide with an attitude of superiority? And how can we extrapolate both the visual and obscured content without rushing to judgment? As an educator I must always be on the lookout for ways to provide avenues for other perspectives to thought and opinions. This is but one more reason as to why personal reflection should be essential in my daily routine.

Technology can engage young brains in a robust manner, allowing them to work on realistic tasks or pushing them deep into atypical worlds. One of the biggest changes in the past ten years is how we all tend to learn content by Googling and then ponder how we are going to apply this information. This approach is often a statement about how nothing is taken for granted, and everything has to be experienced first-hand. While this may seem true today, we all have to realize that there isn’t enough time in the day to “do it all”…hence setting time aside to determine what is most important to us.

The Advance Search Google exercise was a little reminder about using all the tools which are at our discretion. All too often we fumble around looking for information and the content and assignment was time well spent!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week Two Responses

In reflection of “Rethinking Education”, a long time ago I came to the conclusion that education was more than a classroom with four walls, students, desks, a teacher and a lesson. Rather it is LIFE itself and how each of us goes about this concept of “learning”. As much as we all want to be comfortable with whom we are, we can never be still. Technology does not have its sights set on schools, but the classroom has its sight on technology. If traditional schools cannot adapt to the concept of change, they have outlived their purpose and need to join dinosaurs in the world of the extinct. However, if they embrace new concepts and provoke fresh thought, they will be one their way to igniting a renewed passion for learning within all of society.

As a teacher I hold an ongoing enthusiasm to find ways to inspire those around me, not only within the confines of a classroom but throughout my community, to expand their individual and collective education by pushing our capacity to discover. Learning takes place as much, if not more, outside the classroom….we simply need to be aware of the world around us. While advancements in technology can cause some unsettledness amongst teachers, it should not be viewed as a threat. If I was asked to conduct brain surgery, I would think twice before scrubbing up. Likewise, if a student asked me for input about the latest tech tool, I may not be in a position to confidently respond. But I could (and will) encourage more interest and intrigue on the part of my student to begin searching for the answer, which would then allow them to become the teacher and I the student.

The issue of website reliability goes hand in hand with discussion about academic honesty. The practice to putting false information into circulation has been around for hundreds of years, and the internet is simply another conduit for phony information and half-truths to gain access to into credible academia. Anyone can create a website and make it appear to be authentic, and search engines are not responsible for validating information. Providing a Web Page Credibility Checklist to my students and discussing the guidelines would be a good way to promote critical thinking skills. Likewise it is important for them to be concerned about their intentional or inadvertent contributions to bogus websites.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reflection: Growing Up Online

How does this video impact my thinking about technology's role in the lives of young learners?
After watching the PBS documentary “Growing Up Online”, I recall many instances of keeping a close eye on how my son used the internet in his teens over 10 years ago. The temptations are just as immense as they were back then, but it is important to provide guidance and provide discussion on what are appropriate and acceptable behaviors. The strides in technology can extend learning and open doors beyond the classroom, providing great opportunities for social interaction and personal improvement. However, as a society we must understand the hazard of addiction. The video is a stark reminder of how the internet can be misused and abused. It truly has been, currently is, and always will be the new “Wild West”.
As a parent, educator and citizen, I have concerns about the safety and well-being of every young person. Youth have always been fascinated and intrigued by the unknown, and the current state of technology simply places our anxiety in another perspective. As was noted in the video, the internet provides young people with another way of trying on different identities. But while these private worlds are artificial and fake, they have an element of danger.

What will I do differently as a future teacher as a direct result of this new thinking?
As an educator, it is important that I encourage both awareness and discussion of the dangers in misusing these new technologies. This involves careful assessment of the current psychological state of those students I am having discussions with. Young people mature at different rates, and some will grasp the concepts while others will not fully understand what is being addressed. Think of telling a child not to touch a hot stove, only to see them attempt to do so after you turn your back. Children like to explore and find out for themselves, and the internet is no different. In my opinion it’s not a question of whether our youth can survive without it, but rather how they will flourish within the realm of it.
There is also the issue of using the internet as a shortcut to learning. Within the video there was an example of students using Sparkbooks in place of reading the assigned book, and this represents an opportunity for conversations about personal responsibility and being accountable for one’s actions both in and out of the classroom. As a teacher, I intend to set aside time to have those discussions with my students in both a group setting as well as one-to-one.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 2 Exit Blog

Each day provides a new opportunity, not just for learning, but for discovery as well. Learning is for content which has been identified, organized and delivered to the student. Discovery is for everyone…regardless of one’s status in education. The concept of “Discovery” is all about opening the door to finding new ways to distribute good information to others. Upon being turned on to “delicious”, I feel like a young child waiting in line to ride their first carnival ride. And after experiencing the thrill and adventure, I want to do it again….

The world of technology is full of opportunity and discovery…some of it known and some not yet known. What a great time in life to be fully engaged in education!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Defining Technology

Define technology. What does the word mean to me?
Technology is about communication, a two-way street to exploring and developing new ideas, concepts, and ways of looking at things from another perspective. It is not just a two-dimensional concept, but a multi-dimensional way of thought. Technology can be very simple or quite complex…whatever the mind can imagine!

Describe technology integration. What does it look like in a classroom?
Technology integration is looking at all the tools available to me, and using them to the full extent to which I am capable of. It is not simply being comfortable with the tools afforded to me, but being challenged to push it to the limit. It should involve using all of the senses….not just sight and sound. It’s a touchy, feely way of finding out what we are really capable of.

Friday, September 10, 2010

First week reflections

It's been quite a week...and I'm lovin' it! It has been 36 years since I was a full-time student, and times have changed considerably...especially when it comes to technology in the classroom. I remember those days at Madison with lecture halls of 250+ students and one professor standing in the front and lecturing.

Occasionally he would scribble some notes on the chalkboard and refer to a citation inside a textbook. Nowadays it's all about SMARTboards, PowerPoint, engaged dialogue and questions, E-mail, D2L, active participation, feedback and so much more.

I completed my initial Digital Autobiography using ANIMOTO. I kept the first one rather simple, and will now begin to experiment more with it in the days ahead. This is cool stuff, and I see great potential for using this concept in the classroom environment. Like all new things, there was a bit of hesitation on my part.....but this is an exciting time to live and to try new things...all the more reason to RUN into the water diving head-first rather than dangling my toes in the shallow water.

Once I completed the task I said to myself, "What a fantastic way to communicate with other people, not to mention young people in the classroom!" If I can't embrace something like this, how can I expect my students to try new things? Hmmmm........

So what's next?