Archive for the 'Blogs' Category

Technology is Magic. Stop Thinking in 19th & 20th Century Metaphors Already! #edcmooc

Our relative view of the magic

Arthur C. Clarke’s third law states that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Don’t you think someone born 300 years ago would think this is magic?

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How about someone alive 30 years ago (including myself). Wouldn’t I think this is magic?

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For nerdy little me… it’s this dream come true:

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When I watched the films from this week’s resources: A Day Made of Glass & Productivity Vision of the Future, Clarke’s law repeated in my mind. Glass becomes a tool that people use to access information, view entertainment & learn. The other thing that struck me was how incredibly antiseptic & affluent both views of the future were.

As we are fixed in our time and reality, technology that is unfamiliar may seem like magic to us, but because we live in times where things are changing rapidly and imagining the future and it’s technology is a normal part of our culture. Thinking about my relative understanding of technology as magic got me to think about my own education and understanding of how things have developed even in my lifetime. I decided to create a timeline of my own education and compare it to the development of technology in that time. It’s in rainbow colors because I was a child of the 80’s.

My Digital Timeline

Click to view in full size

So just by looking at this timeline that spans over forty years, claims made that technology pundits that technology is developing and advancing at a more rapid speed. The ways and tools that we can use to learn and whom we can learn with has expanded even in my lifetime.

Will Technology Replace Teachers?

Many science fiction depictions of both utopia & dystopia paint a view of the future in which humans have been replaced by technology. Similarly, I’ve seen this question come out of several discussions in the #edcmooc class: Will technology make the teacher obsolete? As is evidenced in numerous forum posts, tweets from students in this class. The act of making order out of the chaos of a learning experience with so many people and so many learning tools has required guidance, the human kind. If not from a facilitator, from the other students. We still need teachers and guides. Every learner is different and how the learn best is unique. Can we assume that technology will devise a mechanism, automaton or script functions like a combination Yoda & “Electric Grandmother.”

I think what’s more likely, is that learners are learning how to adapt to use the tools and technology for learning to their best advantage. We learn to use tools online that help us filter and use content. Here are a few tools, some of which were new to me before I took this course. But here’s the thing… no tool is perfect. Again, it’s all about diving in and finding out what works for you.

Twitter Feed → Tweetchat, TweetDeck, Paper.li

Content Curation (Bookmarks) → Scoop.it, Storify, PearlTrees – pearl trees provides a visual map of what you’re curating or sites your saving online.

Blogs → Quadblogging (to connect and reach your audience) edutopia article on

Stop Using the Classroom Metaphor to Describe the Online Learning Experience!

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I know that metaphors are powerful in explaining and introducing the strange and foreign to the natives. But is it just me or am I the only one who’s tired of hearing this metaphor used to describe online learning. Perhaps my irritation and other’s indicate the obsolete nature of the metaphor. This bothers me just as much as my last boss insisting on using the logo below to indicate a phone contact for an audience of 20 somethings:

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Here’s why we’re not in a classroom anymore:

  1. You might be sitting at a desk but not looking out a window wishing that the teacher would stop droning on and on
  2. You don’t have to have your attention fixed only on the teacher. In fact the other students can provide just as much information and knowledge as the teacher
  3. You’re not learning from a text book that has gum stuck to the cover or doodles from the previous owner anymore; texts and media are available online

I could go on…. but most importantly, when you’re learning online you expect to be able to share, re-mix, create content. Like these kids:

Notes from the TCC – Learning Times Conference Day 1

TCC Worldwide Online Conference is a virtual conference for online educators. The global team that puts this conference together has proven yet again that it is possible to effectively run a virtual conference. Each year their preparation and translation of face to face activities into rich virtual experiences improves. I highly recommend this conference to anyone in education who wishes to glean from the pioneering experience of those in online distance learning. For the next few days, I will try to include my notes from the talks, papers, experiences and demonstrations that I thought were most valuable.

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PAPER: Videoblogging in Education: The new wave of interactive educational television

Rebecca Meeder, Educational Technology, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, USA,

This was an excellent presentation/sharing. Rebecca Meeder provided a terrific introduction into the world of video blogging and how educators from elementary, secondary and higher education.

Importance of Video Blogging- Rise in educators who are using this medium.

<My note: students are using this medium to interact and communicate with each other>

Some Questions for Research

  • How does video blogging influence students with diverse background?
  • Connect learning in and outside of the classroom

Some resources with data:

  • Cofield, J.L. “Effectiveness of streaming video in web based instruction”
  • Sawa, S.K. Online vs. traditional: A comparative analysis of student grads in an online and traditional f2f environment
  • Le Blanc, G. Student and faculty survey reveals attitudes to streaming video.

Examples of Educational Video Blogging:

http://room132.com

Teacher gave weekly updates on what his students were doing in the classroom. Teacher shot from ‘nose-down’ to help students maintain their privacy.

http://speakingofhistory.blogspot.com/

Teacher has students to set up audio blogs where he podcasts on class materials. Students can comment on podcasts and interact. Note: this method can be applied to video blogs as well.

Privacy and Identity à Teacher made sure that students used pen names.

Http://bicycle-sidewalk.com/

Video blogging for ESL students in Japan. Uses videos from himself and other video bloggers to instruct students in English language… exposes the students to what English speakers sound like and also expose students to American culture.

Johnny Goldstein: http://jonnygoldstein.info/bx21

Another prominent video blogger. Taught over 100 Bronx highschool students how to video blog and share things from their varied perspectives.

http://www.youtube.com/user/mwesch

Mwesch (Mike Wesch). Had his students create video blogs… do an ethnography. They got a lot of responses from other on their experiences with video blogging.

Check out the video from this site “A vision of students.”

Good Practices for Video Blogging:

  1. Video length – average video length should be 5-7 minutes. Human attention span. <my note: also video size should be a consideration>
  2. Addressing Accessibility – Need to make sure video is available in a variety of formats (DVDs, or provide alternate way to access via library or school computer labs.) One teacher used subtitles in videos for some students
  3. Video blogs address differentiated learning styles: Auditory, Visual, Textual, Media Richness Theory (Need to learn more about this-> A variety of media works better for certain tasks than others). Some videoblogs can help students keep up with learning in class.
  4. Addressing multicultural education: Allows students to share different perspectives based on their own experience and background. Allows all participants to compare viewpoints and cultural perspectives.
  5. Identity vs. Privacy –
    1. Langhurst – Virtual Book Club discussed content in text communication/chat they can participate in active learning.
    2. Use Pen/Screen names so students can remain anonymous
    3. (Use consent forms)
    4. Comment moderation from teacher is necessary – view students comments before it is posted/ prevents flaming.
    5. Film students from nose down.
    6. Make posting optional (do not force)

Math-a-blogging

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So, I sort of lied. I have been blogging in another life. As part of a Math course I recently developed, I set up my own blog to explore many of the concepts in the Algebra course. It’s called Maththinker. Initially I set up the blog as an example for students of my course. Many of the course activities are designed around the blog as the goal is to teach teachers the importance of getting students to express their mathematical thinking in writing. Writing out the thought process of math helps reinforce the learning and also helps students develop a solid understanding of what they are learning. Blogs naturally present a great tool for achieving this.

In addition to the blogs, the course will help students practice developing their own electronic visuals for teaching using simple graphics in PowerPoint. I truly believe that developing visuals or even drawing out concepts helps reinforce learning just as writing does. Even though the students of this course are producing something that they can use in their classrooms, they are also using that visual-spatial muscle to think out problems and concepts. The illustrations also allow the students to enhance their reflections and descriptions of concepts in their blogs.

In addition, to encouraging math writing, the course also focusing on helping teachers develop their own ‘real life’ applications and examples of math concepts and stories. Students share their examples including their own illustrations or diagrams in their blogs. They are encouraged to respond and provide feedback on each other’s work in the blog comments.

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Here’s a screenshot from a quick slide show I developed that demonstrated the effect of changing variables in a quadratic equation. I used an applet available in the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives to create the graphs quickly and painlessly.

Working on this course also gave me the opportunity to re-learn some of my ‘rusty’ math. Imagine, I now remember what to do with a quadratic equation. In general, I feel like I’ve developed a greater appreciation of math and it’s applications.


2007 Statistics on Technology Users in the US

I’ve been looking for a better snapshot of what technology consumership look like. The Pew Institute released an interesting study which identified 10 different types of consumers of internet and technology. These types were determined by the possession, use and activity of technology assets (mobile devices, computers, cell phones, internet connection, etc.). At the top of the list “Omnivores” (8% of the surveyed) could be characterized by having a lot of gadgets and subscribing to many services. These individuals frequently participate on online social networking and expressing themselves via blogs, website authorship, etc. In contrast, the “Off the Network” people did not have cell phones or internet connectivity (15%)

These types were labeled as follows:

Elite Tech Users ( 31%)

  • Omnivores
  • Connectors
  • Lackluster Veterans
  • Productivity Enhancers

Middle of the Road Tech Users (20%)

  • Mobile Centrics
  • Connected But Hassled

Few Tech Assets (49%)

  • Inexperienced Experimenters
  • Light But Satisfied
  • Indifferents
  • Off the Network

More on technology and internet usage:

Why Susie Doesn’t Want to Go into IT

Well, the first thing I thought was… Susie doesn’t want to go into IT, because most IT jobs are being outsourced, but seriously, many girls are not considering careers in technology or are tuning out from subjects dealing with technology simply because they perceive the world of tech and computers as being the Realm of the Nerds (Not all girls feel this way; obviously I don’t). At least some of the literature on tech ed for females asserts that the nerd factor is a deterrent for female interest in tech, mathematics and science fields.

I recently ran across this paper from California State University that addresses girls lack of interest in tech. According to the author’s research boys are more likely to be found working with computers than girls and parents of boys purchase computers for their children more than parents of girls? More, girls still tend to think of technology fields and subjects as more of a masculine domain. It seems to be a backward assumption, but statistics are telling us otherwise.

So what do we do to reverse this trend of girls’ lack of interest in science and tech?

I liked what this paper has to say about getting girls more engaged in technology projects, or simply that teachers and educators should appeal to what many girls are interested in their early adolescent and teen years like building relationships and social networks: “Technology production and broadcasing via blogs or podcasting, offers effective ways for girls to express themselves creatively.”

I can see or imagine the following activities:

  • A project that involves teaching girls how to code xml to set up their own podcasting site. They choose their own topics and decide to share about the things they are interested in.
  • Or how about learning simple javascript to build features on a topical webpage on crafts or the arts
  • Maybe developing a simple discussion forum for girls issues in a class
  • Girls can be engaged to start an anti-cyber-bullying campaign within their school
  • Girls become involved in building computers and servers for charity centers or even their own schools

More, I can see where the parents or educators who lead these activities need to structure them so that they are team dependent activities. Honestly, I think kids today have a leg up on understanding how to work more effectively in teams than we did. Perhaps all those reality T.V. shows that focus on team competition and activities are actually worth something. I’m not sure the Baby Boomer and Silent Generation teachers really understood how to teach team or group activities effectively. I remember having teachers that would avoid group learning because they really preferred sitting up in front of the classroom and lecturing.
Additional Resources for Getting Girls Engaged in Tech/Resources for Science Ed for Women:

My mind map for “Engaging Girls in Technology”

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Lifelong learning is important for 21st century living

I found this great piece on Nethack: 15 steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning

I thought that this list had some nice suggestions for keeping the passion for learning alive.

UNESCO characterizes 21st Century education as being education geared to developing  lifelong learners.  It’s no secret that these types of learners are usually the best innovators, problem solvers, etc. I suspect an indirect consequence of being a lifelong learner is that you are able to solve not only professional issues but personal ones as well. Well, at least we can only hope.

I started putting together a list of characteristics of lifelong learners. It’s not complete, but it’s a start.

Lifelong Learner Characteristics

  • Are insatiable knowledge seekers - they continually seek learning experiences or opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills
  • Are social learners – Lifelong learners learn both from and with others. The will take classes or look for social groups. They usually seek out acquaintances who are better or more knowledgeable in fields than they are
  • Don’t simply just take in information - they analyze, synthesize and or apply what they’ve learned
  • Are teachers themselves – lifelong learners usually openly share what they know because they understand that having open networks actually gives them more access to the information from others.
  • Never think of themselves as the ultimate expert in anything
Characteristics of Lifelong Learners - Click on the image to view a larger version

Characteristics of Lifelong Learners – Click on the image to view a larger version

 

Two little things

… that bother me.

#1 – Sesame Street (old version) rated unfit for children

There’s something about this that really just doesn’t sit right with me. Apparently, someone thinks that the early characters of Sesame Street are bad role models for their children. A bright blue googly-eyed impulsive monster who demolishes cookies and a cantankerous and scruffy old man with green fur who lives in a garbage can with his garbage. Come on people! These are probably the most beloved characters from Sesame Street’s Golden Age!

Can these studio executives, adults and parents be this obtuse and pudding-headed? We, and I’m speaking literally because I was one of the early generation who grew up with Sesame Street when Mr. Hooper manned the store – we loved those characters because of their faults.

What’s next will they deem Grover unfit for young viewers because he’s a classic ADHD case? Or will Big Bird be out because he’s addle-headed and slow?

#2 Ad spies in the blogosphere

I cannot really approve any comments unless I see that the commenter has a ‘real blog.’ Yes, I mean a real blog that doesn’t have a bunch of random gobblygook mashed together or a blog that doesn’t ‘smell’ like it’s being powered by a search generator or programmed spider. I’m thinking about those old Hammer movies from the sixties and seventies and the old beliefs about vampires. You should never invite them into your house… otherwise.

So if you’ve left a comment and were a real person and not an internet vampire and I didn’t approve it, I apologize but I cannot do so without prove that you’re not from the underworld of advertisement.

Vampire Circus

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