Friday, February 27, 2009

Course Reflection

I feel like I am back in university again! As much as I hate 'having' to do work, it really has been an enjoyable course. I've gone from coming into this class wondering if I can even learn this stuff or will I ever want to use it to spending hours learning the little things about blogging because I wanted to. I still have the same concern as I had in the beginning, such as I only want to use technology when it adds something relevant to the lesson and not for the sake of adding technology. After taking the course I feel better equipped to make those informed decisions.

In the beginning I said I wanted to use this course to learn new technologies and to see if I can apply it to make changes in the world. I have found areas whereby I can implement this with my environment class for enhanced and useful learning that will not only help their learning, but make a difference in the world and have effects reaching way beyond the classroom. I am nervous about how effective I will be as a teacher, but very excited to give it a try and let the potential unfold. ... Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reflection # 4: What are the implications for teaching and learning

After reading Adopt and Adapt and Living and learning with new media I can say that I agree with a lot of it, but as always I have concerns and hesitations. I should point out that I liked Adopt and Adapt so much, I also used this as the blog of my choice selection, nevertheless, I will try not to repeat much from that post.

Both articles discuss a shift in the way education ought to be viewed. The recurring theme is use more technology, but use it with a different teaching style. A style whereby the class is working collaboratively on building something and don't limit it to just your class. Make your classroom 'flat' and collaborate with others around the world.

Students should have more say in their education and help guide it. Teachers and schools should listen to them.
"Adults who stand on the other side of a generation gap can see these new practices as mystifying and, at times, threatening to existing social norms and educational standards. Although we do not believe that youth hold all the answers, we feel that it is crucial to listen carefully to them and learn from their experiences of growing up in a changing media ecology."

The MacArthur report talks a lot about students on social networking sites and using that for education. I believe those sites have potential to be used for this, but I have to say I mainly use Facebook to update and get updates from friends and family. I find myself on the computer more now than ever before and that's the part I don't like, so although I support furthering the use of technology, I would hate to see an already less active generation of kids spend even more time in front of a screen.

The MacArthur report also stated:
"Rather than thinking of public education as a burden that schools must shoulder on their own, what would it mean to think of public education as a responsibility of a more distributed network of people and institutions? And rather than assuming that education is primarily about preparing for jobs and careers, what would it mean to think of education as a process of guiding kids’ participation in public life more generally, a public life that includes social, recreational, and civic engagement?"

Now, this I love! This is where I can see technology really helping. Too often now the quality of education is based on what district or country you live in. Are you in a 'good' school or 'bad' one? This has the potential to level the playing fields and give children in poor and/or isolated areas the chance for higher levels of education; that is of course assuming a system is in place to make sure even these areas have the technology available. For me learning is important, but if that isn't turned into useful action then what's the point. The world needs a lot of help and if this 21st century style of learning can help solve those problems, I'm all for it.

Blog of my Choice 4

Green Panthers

Wow, how cocky is this guy, picking his own blog as the blog of his choice? Well the truth is since taking this course I have learned a lot about blogging and have spent numerous hours applying it to the Green Panthers blog. I've added posts, gadgets, videos, etc. In the past I had a colleague do all this work for me and it feels great to finally know how to do it myself. I should say that I didn't automatically chose this blog. In fact, I read numerous blogs for several hours before making this decision. However, many of the other blogs related to 21 century learning and making your classroom flat seemed to repeat the same thing. This was all new to me a few weeks ago, but I already wrote about it a few times since then and wanted something new. Then it hit me, I love updating the Green Panthers blog, I get more joy out of working on that blog then reading other blogs (no offense people, I just have never been a big fan of reading), and now I can say I am proud of my work, so yeah, it is the blog of my choice!

Oh, for those who are asking what this blog is all about, well it's a catalog of all the environmental activities taking place at the International School Bangkok. If you check it out, please leave a comment.

Blog of my Choice 3


21st-century schools need 21st-century technology.

I enjoyed reading the Edutopia blog called Adopt and Adapt: Shaping Tech for the Classroom by Marc Prenskybecause it gives you a good perspective on where you are in using technology. I have only been teaching for 10 years and most of the early years were strictly PE, thus, I hardly had much to do with a chalkboard or even an overhead. My start on computers involved using documents and hotmail and even developing a website one time, but really had no idea what I was doing. Then along came Outlook and organized my life in a big way. Further down the road I learned PowerPoint and that became useful for presentations although looking back, my early PPTs were not much more exciting than the overheads with the bullet points. Reading this article made me realize that even though I have learned new technologies and applied them, I am basically still doing old things in old ways. It hasn’t changed my way of teaching, just gave me a new different device to do the same thing.

As I read further, I was relieved to see that I didn’t completely fail to adapt and I have recently started to use do some old things in new ways. Much of this is outside of education, such as downloading music and videos. However, in school I use a lot of video, but I also have students make videos. I am also running a blog for the environmental group and although this is new to me, and at the moment is nothing more than a place to catch up on what has been done, I hope to soon adapt it to enhance student learning.

The area where I struggle, and it seems where many struggle, is doing new things in new ways. I am learning how to use a wiki now and although that can be used to do old things in new ways, I hope to use it in a teaching and learning environment that is very different from what I am used to. The students will have much more control and ownership and we will build and learn together. I suspect I might even learn more from them. It will hopefully allow the students to be more creative and work collaboratively, which is something different from the standard model. In my PE classes I do a unit on multi-cultural games and the students become the teachers and I become a student. I take a lot of pleasure in watching them take control learn in a different way. However, I am comfortable letting go in that setting. Perhaps, it is my lack of confidence dealing with technology that holds me back from doing the same. However, my mind is made up and I will be taking the plunge!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blog of my Choice 2

I also really like It has articles about tools and ideas to help build a better future. Their content is very future oriented. One very cool article is about what Google is doing to help save energy in your own house by recording the powermeter on your computer to see when and where the energy is being used. How educational is that! Click the link to see the video.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Blog of my Choice

The blog of my choice is ECO GEEK

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I care about the environment. A big part of my life and career are dedicated to this cause. However, for many people, including myself at times, this can be a very depressing topic. There's a lot of grim news out there surrounding this topic, nevertheless, I like to focus on the positive side and look at solutions and action. Well this site does just that; except it is purely focused on technology and new gadgets. I find it really interesting to see all the new things that are out there being invented from a rechargeable battery covered with a solar panel and solar i phones to super fast electronic sports cars. I'm aware of a lot of the bigger changes happening since I follow this stuff a lot, but this site also has all kinds of little things going on too. It's the little everyday gadgets that I think many others might also be interested it. If a lot of these things catch on it will certainly make the world a more interesting place.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Reflection # 3: How are my thoughts changing?

Based on the readings of Messing Around, Bloom's new taxonomy and Connectivism: A Learning Theory For A Digitial Age

It's been a while since I did a course on Bloom's taxonomy in university. It's nice to see his model, although being modified, is standing the test of time and is as relevant today as in the past. The model starts with the lower forms of thinking such as remembering and understanding and moves into higher forms of thinking such as applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.
  • Remembering - Recognizing, listing, describing, identifying, retrieving, naming, locating, finding
  • Understanding - Interpreting, Summarizing, inferring, paraphrasing, classifying, comparing, explaining, exemplifying
  • Applying - Implementing, carrying out, using, executing
  • Analyzing - Comparing, organizing, deconstructing, Attributing, outlining, finding, structuring, integrating
  • Evaluating - Checking, hypothesizing, critiquing, Experimenting, judging, testing, Detecting, Monitoring
  • Creating - designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing, devising, making
Through a lot of the older models, knowledge has always been looked at as something intrinsic, newer models, such as Connectivism, are looking at learning through a collective group. I like this idea, but I still believe that learning through your own experiences are still the deepest form to learn. For example, chatting with a person half way around the world is nice, but cannot replace the experience of traveling to this place and experiencing it for yourself. Of course, one person cannot experience everything themselves so learning through experiences of others is also very effective.

It is also important to note that there is a shift in the needs of learning. In the past it was ideal for a person to know as much as he/she could. However, this is not as effective in today's digital world because knowledge is constantly changing. Today it is more important for people to know how to access knowledge rather than remember it themselves. I think a fine balance of both forms would be best.

Reflection # 1: My thoughts on Personal Learning Networks

I like the idea of learning networks, but I have to admit I am uncomfortable with the technology and how to use it with my class, but I want to learn because I think this is an empowering tool. After reading 'World WIthout Walls' I can certainly see the usefulness of having students learn through networks, but there are concerns as well. A quote from the blog states:

"I believe that is what educators must do now. We must engage with these new technologies and their potential to expand our own understanding and methods in this vastly different landscape. We must know for ourselves how to create, grow, and navigate these collaborative spaces in safe, effective, and ethical ways. And we must be able to model those shifts for our students and counsel them effectively when they run across problems with these tools."

World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others
How to teach when learning is everywhere.
by Will Richardson

I agree that we need to explore this technology to help move us forward. However, I sometimes feel we push technology too much because we want to find ways to use it, but it may not necessarily be helping the students learn. I think we are at the beginning stages and over time it will become more clear when it is apppropriate to use certain technologies in certain situations.

For a very long time our actions have been controlled by outside sources and it continues on today with media, government, corporations, etc controlling (or at least influencing) what we see, do and want. This is mainly because we live in a profit based society where the goal is to get ahead of everyone so you get richer (The Rat Race). This leaves us with a competitive society full of 'Have's' and 'Have not's'. As well, we usually get our information from media with their own political agenda and one sided story, but getting it from a collorative group with different perspectives opens the story up and can possible lead to more wide ranging opinions and can help spread the truth.

On a more positive side, I love the idea of the world being connected and working in a collaborative, instead of competitive, way. Using the internet people can work collaboratively to help solve problems and learn together.
I believe using the internet in a positive way can start whole movements of empowering people again to take control of society. It gives people a venue to meet and share ideas and opinions and I think training students to use these tools now in schools can have huge beneficial impacts in the future. In other words, it gives people a voice again.

Clarence Fisher is a Middle School teacher in Snow Lake, Manitoba, Canada. He joined our class via Skype video and gave us some insightful information. Clarence has been using PLN's with his students to collaborate with students outside of USA and Canada. He finds this very worthwhile, but admitted sometimes he had projects that completely failed and we should not be afraid of that. I personally found that reassuring as sometimes I hold my self back from using technology because I want everything to be successful and worry it might not work.

From reading Clarence's blog, REMOTE ACCESS "Are Ideas Contagious?", it shows the teacher centered model and how it is out dated. However, the newer model has ideas and input coming from various sources on a learning network I think this concept of collaborative engagement for ideas is more creative, student centered, and effective. Not only does it help the student expand and refine their idea, but the idea can now spread to other parts of the world. What a great way to help humanity.

Final thoughts:
  • Collaboration over competition
  • Learning networks empower