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It’s OK To Play! February 27, 2008

Posted by Ed 831 Ken in Uncategorized.
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Dean Shareski indicated that using technology in the classroom does not always have a huge educational value, especially in the beginning.  From my experiences, he is bang on. He also emphasized that this is ok. The evolution of technology is in constant motion.  We will not get to the stage where technology is integrated effectively in classrooms unless we experience this play (experimentation) stage. We have to walk before we run.  There were many bumps and bruises along the way (ouch!).

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Spheres of Influence February 24, 2008

Posted by Ed 831 Ken in Uncategorized.
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As I reflected about Sharon’s presentation, I keep coming back to change implementation as my major sphere of influence.

When I was a teacher, for the most part I was in charge of the change that occurred in the classroom.  I didn’t feel like it was a process.  It was just a given in my classroom.  It is what I did.

As my career has evolved to an administrator, I realized that I have very little control over change in the classroom.  My job has become one where I try to establish the structures such that change can occur in a sustainable manner in the classroom.  It is a process.  Not everyone is at the same point on the change continuum.  Some people think that if everyone in not at the same place, it is a failure.  This is a myth.  Sharon mentioned that not all teachers are ready to welcome social networking with open arms.  She did not insult these teachers. She mentioned that they are not as far along in the process as others.  That is not a bad thing.  This is to be expected. 

As a technology teacher, this frustrated me.  But as I learn more and more about the theory of change, I appreciate that this is normal.  My job is to set up an environment in order to encourage the teachers to keep moving in the right direction.

Multiple Forms of Literacy February 20, 2008

Posted by Ed 831 Ken in Uncategorized.
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Sharon Peters touched on the topic of multiple forms of literacy.  In particular, video, audio and digital.  In the past, it wasn’t affordable or possible to pursue these types of literacy.  Times are changing and these forms of literacy are becoming more commonplace in society and schools.

We know that people learn in different ways.  Many students could benefit from experiencing multiple forms of literacy.

One potential problem is to know which type of literacy would be most appropriate in certain situations.  This is a frustration that many teachers find with technology.  Technology changes very quickly.  It seems we just learn one thing and it’s obsolete by the time we learn how to use it effectively in the classroom.  Over my years in technology, I think this frustration is lessening, but it is still present.

Having said that, I found the rapid evolution of technology a rewarding and fascinating part of the job (when I taught in the technology area).  I never felt like I was bored or “needed a change” because it was automatically built in to the technology area.

Enough rambling.  Back to the point (if I had one).  The journey of finding ways to incorporate these newer technologies into the classroom is every bit as important as the final product.  Experimentation (the class is the guinea pig) is a necessary step in the process.  It is the only way we will be able to harness the power of technology in a meaningful manner in the classroom.

The Audience Aspect of Blogging February 20, 2008

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 was at an technology in-service recently.  One of the topics concentrated on blogging and social networking.  A characteristic of blogging that enhanced its effectiveness was the audience.  Much like when students know their work will be displayed, they seem to take more pride in the finished product.  I’m not sure if this was planned when blogging began, but it is a wonderful unexpected outcome.  With blogging, the critical audience is always present.  Students get this, and seem to create more polished work, as a result.

Sharon spoke of this audience aspect of social networks.  The audience enhances the product.  We, as educators, need to recognize this and seize the opportunity to enhance the students’ work.

If A Picture is Worth 1000 Words February 10, 2008

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 If a Picture is  Worth 1000 Words 

This is a very powerful video about the impact technology can have in schools (and society for that matter).

 

I was the VP at a school where we had a similar student.  This particular student also had cancer.  I met the parents and some other relatives, saw pictures of the student, showed the pictures to the teacher, gave the student school material (agenda, t-shirt, gym shorts, etc.), and was in intermittent contact with the family.

 

I never met the student and the student was never spoken to by the school.  The student passed away a couple of months after enrolling in the school.

 

This type of communication using Skype (or a similar technology) would have been a positive experience for the sick child, as well as the class.  It would have given the child a sense of belonging to the school and class.

 

This is an example of how we can use technology in ways that would not be possible without the technology.

 

Alec commented in the blog posting about the dangers of filtering programs (like Skype).  If that was the case, this project would not have been possible.  I do agree, however, there must be some procedures in place to protect the safety of schools and children while using technology, yet still promoting the use of technology in positive manner.

Rick’s Presentation – Social Networking February 3, 2008

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Rick discussed how many approaches to using technology have come and gone with little fanfare. He indicated he felt that the social networking approaches were different. 

These social environments remind me of cooperative learning, yet not as structured as tradition coop learning environments. Are these social networks simply just an evolution of technology? 

Some examples of traditional non-technological educational strategies are lecture, research essay, presentation, and group work – just to name a few. 

In the technology world, those samples could relate to podcasts, website development, videos, and social networking. 

I’m not trying to oversimplify this evolution, nor am I trying to discredit its effect.  Social networking could be the beginning of a very powerful technological evolution. 

In the past, we used technology to do things.  Sometimes, it saved us time, sometimes not.  Technology was viewed simply as a tool.  With social networking, we are seeing technology being used to create a collaborative environment that was not possible before.  Technology is beginning to evolve from simply a tool to an imperative piece of society.

Constructivism vs. Connectivism February 3, 2008

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In the past I have read some of the work of Seymour Papert.  He discusses his vision of how computer use in education can alter how children learn.  He believes that learning with computers is more active compared with traditional classrooms.  Children become self-directed learners who construct knowledge based upon their experiences. Although I believe and have experienced successful constructive approaches in the classroom, I feel like the technology is evolving much too quickly.  The technology used to construct the knowledge is outdated, and one wonders if the knowledge gained could be enhanced with better technology.  The cycle continues with no end in sight. George Siemens suggests a slightly different approach.  In his article, he uses a metaphor of a pipe when he suggests that the organizational structures developed are more important than the programs that are developed.   The structures, which he refers to as the pipe, must be created to ensure the flow of knowledge.  As technology evolves, so must the organizational structures.  If not, knowledge will not be able to flow effectively. The organizations must adapt to the changing environments.  No single solution or procedure will work in every situation.  Instead of concentrating on these solutions or procedures, we should concentrate our energy on creating structures within our organizations which are adaptable.  Adaptable organizations will be able to create solutions that work in our rapidly changing world. 

He states “The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe.”

 I wonder if constructivism and connectivism have to morph together to produce a sustainable alternative to the evolution of technological change. 

Podcast – Siemens and Welch February 3, 2008

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In the podcast of Siemens and Wesch , (click here to here the podcast) a couple of topics stuck in my mind: They suggest that the willingness to experiment is the difference between students and staff.  If we don’t get staff onside, it will never happen.  This is an excellent point.  Often, we administrators mandate staff to do something (like use technology).  There is often little (if any) PD, incentives, or explanation on the merits of its use.  This is a huge problem in our educational sector.  It produces a lack of trust and slows the winds of change significantly. This leads into the second point in which they indicate that we should have a 10 year cycle for technological implementation.  This sounds excessive; however, sustainable change takes time.  Often we want immediate results.  We are then disappointed.  Instead of staying the course, we change direction.  The cycle begins again.  A 10 year cycle is very good advice.