Sunday, November 16, 2008

Simulations and Gaming

WOW! How fun are some of these sites and pages? One of the first (albeit selfish) thoughts that came to mind was, "How come they didn't have this stuff when I was in high school?" (Or elementary school or junior high....) The holographic earth, the interactive maps and fun! One of the articles talked about the joy of learning and the importance of play -- these software applications certainly do make learning interactive, engaging, and fun.
As an educator, I think we tend to grimace ( I do sometimes) at the thought that our kids have to be entertained in order to learn something. But one of the authors pointed out that our kids are used to interfacing with their environment -- and perhaps we should look at it that way. The mathway site, for instance, what a great tool to allow kids to not only "interface" with the learning environment, but to also get additional help if needed.
Another very important concept that goes back to virtually all of our readings in this course deals with the idea of collaboration. I loved the Micro Worlds exercise where students were actively engaged with each other, their environment, and technology to (and I think this is KEY) to help students learn and teach curriculum content to other students.

Databases, Spreadsheets, and Presentation Software

I can't help but think that any student who had access to some of the very cool software applications we looked at on the apple site coupled with the right instructor or person showing them how to use that software effectively...well, wouldn't they feel like a kid in a candy store. Some of those applications are so cool! Many of them could really be used to help open the doorway to a new universe for a student -- a new way of seeing how information can be used to make something very visual, say, or very colorful or meaningful in a musical sense...or countless other ways. Software applications, databases, presentation software, spreadsheets -- these all, when used in a creative, integrative type of way, can make anything (or so it seems!) more engaging...which seemingly would help students make more connections and more meaning. The Tap Into Learning article pointed out that "knowledge is constructed uniquely and individually, in multiple ways, through a variety of authentic tools, resources, experiences and contexts." If that is true, and I would concur with researchers and educators who say it is, then technology and software apps can help students of any age construct, define, and redefine what it is that is meangingful.

Net Savvy

It blows my mind that preschoolers ages 2-5 are the largest group of new online users. Obviously what it means for these kids and future students to be net savvy is going to continue to evolve. AND what it means for the rest of us to be net savvy (as students and educational leaders) must continue to evolve. If we look at the ECAR study regarding undergrads and technology, one of the points made was that instructors/professors must continue to effectively integrate technology in order to enhance the educational experience and learning. Those preschoolers online now, by the time they are in classes, are going to demand that education teach them in a multimedia way. How can they not? They were born into the world of the internet. I think it is important also to keep in mind one of the points of the Net Savvy article -- that in Web 2.0, "participation becomes as important as consumption." We have to learn how to be participants in the collaborative, net savvy world and also teach our students and children how to be productive participants who collaborate to create meaningful information.

I Love Netvibes

I wanted to pass along how incredibly easy it is to set up your own Netvibes page. (Netvibes was in the Wesch video as you may recall.) It is easy, cool to use, and makes it very convenient to check your email(s), blog, wiki site, Facebook, etc. all from one page. Plus it has all kinds of fun, customizeable stuff...and you have a public page as well as a private page.

Human Learning

Working backwards a little bit here in an effort to make sure my Blog is reflective of all of the course readings and events. The topic for several weeks a go was Human Learning and the participatory culture of the 21st century. I find this participatory culture catching up to me -- via Faverty's class -- as I push my own personal envelope of what I have done in a technological sense and what is out there. In terms of human learning as it applies to technology -- I have learned, as a result of the content of this course, how to Wiki, Blog, Facebook, and set up my own Netvibes page. This will make me sound old and outdated, but those were just not things I did really, prior to this course and the content presented in it. It is exciting to see how our culture is pushing us to be more collaborative and participatory.

I think as educational leaders, we must pass that on. I liked, in Mayer and Moreno's paper regarding how students learn, the authors advocating for the use of technology based on theories about HOW students learn. Again, as leaders, we've got to get the research based theory on how students learn (and why they learn better using cognitive multimedia theory) across to our fellow educators.

On a different note, regarding Diplopedia -- I like that there are no anonymous contributors and the fact that, like Wiki, the premise behind sharing information is that there is a need to share and know. All of the readings thus far echo that sentiment - collaboration, knowledge sharing, enhancing what we know and how we know it, etc.

Monday, November 3, 2008

After this week's readings and viewing the second part of Wesch's video again, I am finally beginning to get a grasp on the bigger technology picture...even as it is ever changing. It is (finally) dawning on me that this is not an "if" thing or an even to what extent type of prospect -- it is more like this is the way it is, the way it is going to be, and you either get on the train or get flattened on the tracks.

Wesch's video (though it wasn't part of this week's readings) with his example of using different platforms and having the students collaborate on big projects along with the online readings for this week really reinforce the idea of collaboration and socilization. That students can (and do...more effectively) work together on projects that encourage participation, creativity, and result in student generated contact. Clearly with the advent of wireless and full roaming networks, it is all about access and we have to realize that access is available almost everywhere. When will schools join in and use this to their educational advantage? It struck me as I was reading that at many schools (including the site I am at) student-owned technology is "banned." iPods are banned, phones are banned -- and I agree to the extent that at this point, I am willing to bet that students are not using those devices for educational purposes - but isn't that the point -- that we, as leaders, should use the emerging technologies to get and keep students engaged in education? Aren't they probably better than most of us anyway at creating web-based content? It just seems like we have gotten to the point where we have to embrace it and incorporate it -- the world is shifting and education has to shift with it.

Of course, policy and ethics plays a tremendous role in the appropriate/fair/acceptable usage of technology -- and that too is part of the educational process.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Non-traditional technology in education link

Obviously the focus of our class discussions has been about enhancing and even changing education -- the delivery of it, the process of it, the way it is conceptualized for both educators and learners -- via technology; however, I have to add this to my post: one of our local school board members found himself in a rather ugly situation last evening (it appears he was the skipper of his own sinking ship in this particular case) and it was all caught on cell phone camera. when you least expect it. I know this is a loose connection to our class but fascinating nonetheless on so many educational levels. This particular board member is a very outspoken advocate of Prop 8. Last night there was a No on Prop 8 protest on one side of a street here in Bakersfield, and a Yes on Prop 8 protest on the other. Said Board member crosses the street, starts taking No on Prop 9 signs, is, not surprisingly, confronted by the No protestors...and then punches one of the protestors in the face and kicks him in the leg. Wow. Is that what we mean by dysfunctional board member behavior? And what kind of example is that for our students? If someone disagrees with you, cross the street, take their stuff, and punch them in the face.

Technology in education? Yes, all the way. Lets bring it, incorporate it, learn it, adapt to it, thrive because of it. But I think it is also important to remember common sense. I'm not implying that these are mutually exclusive...I'm just saying, there are many factors that contribute to student outcomes...including judgment-impaired board members.