Resistance…

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All I have to do is dive in

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Thankfully I don’t feel as isolated from technology as I used to. Before taking my first Ed. Tech. class, I was feeling left behind and somewhat lost.  There has always been a  resistance to my embracing technology. I was one of the last to use the internet, email, and even a cell phone.  This resistance comes from a number of different beliefs: I like to keep things simple, I like to have face to face human interactions, and also – fear of the unknown.

Since my previous Ed. Tech. class,  I have noticed a new confidence around technology that I feel good about. I have a small, but growing sense of wonder and curiosity. I am happy to say that Andres words this week are with me as I try to ‘have fun’ with this class.

Goal number one for me this semester is to try to relax and to overcome the intimidating feelings I have around technology (… like trying not to compare myself with others , and learning how to use Twitter). Goal number two is to understand more about blended learning, which I’m sure will come about in assignment number one. Finally, my third goal will be to try to maintain a balance between home and school and University.

Thanks to Kyle for suggesting my first look at blended learning .

I am on my journey to trade in resistance for persistence.

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I can do this!

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You can find me on Twitter @angelaswitzer5

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Unplugging is NOT necessary!

Above is the opening we created for our debate (Nicole, Tayler, and I).

Our side of the debate this week argues that it is not necessary to unplug from the internet. There is a vast amount of information at our finger tips that can enrich our lives. Do you need to know how to get to a specific address? – just  “google” it. You could maybe even look at the street view so you can safely arrive at your destination. Do you want to check with the Mayo clinic about certain symptoms you are having and decide how to proceed? Just google it. You can find a community of like- minded people to discuss any topic you desire. Your family physician can double check possible drug interactions before they choose which medication to prescribe you. Google calendar can help you put your mind at ease by remembering dates and times, so you don’t need to worry. You can book your airline tickets on ‘google flights’. If a part on your lawn mower breaks – you can order it on amazon and have it delivered to your house in a few weeks. If you are looking for the perfect mate, you can specify your wishes to the minutest detail so you end up with a great match. This online technology class would not be possible if it weren’t for the internet. Can you imagine having car trouble on the highway with no cell phone? Worse yet – can you imagine going back to a time when there were no cell phones at all?

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Can you imagine not being able to look up an address on google maps? Think for a moment what it would be like to go back in time when there was no Skype to have a video chat with far away loved ones. The list of benefits is endless. These are some of the many reasons we argued that there is no need to unplug!
Tim O’Reilly,  owner of a global internet operating system claims that The internet connects humans to everything! Our plugging in is an extension of ourselves. You can take a look at the first 15 minutes of this Youtube video if you like.

The other side of our debate brought up the idea that people who are on technology might have a tendency to be ‘lonely’.  One article they posted points to the fact that people need to become better listeners, engage in communication, and practice conversation.  Our side would say that you don’t have to unplug in order to be able to do these things. It’s all about balance and choices – just like with everything.

The other side also suggested that being plugged in might lead to loneliness. I believe that is a matter of perspective.  I think people need to find a way of being comfortable and happy with themselves instead of looking for substantiation and affirmation from others.  Or – as the video they suggested says “measuring their self worth with numbers of followers and likes”.
When we ended up with this topic on the first night of class, I felt disappointed because I thought I was very much on the other side of this debate. As we got into it, I realized how much I value technology and would be very disappointed to go back to a time with no cell phones or computers.

There is a great article called “The Disconnectionists by Nathan Jurgenson .  He would suggest that our opponents might say that being connected to technology represents “dangerous desire, an unhealthy pleasure, an addictive toxin to re regulated and medicated”. They might argue that when plugging in we repress our “true selves.  We disagree – being connected in a balanced way enhances our realities and gives us opportunities to become our “best selves”.

Summary of Learning, EC&I 830, Spring 2016

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Here is the link to the summary of learning that Nicole and I made for EC&I 830. We used Imovie to create the video.  We used cue cards to express our learning as the weeks went by, then added music as the finishing touch.  The format was inspired by a scene in the movie “Love Actually”.

(click on the link below to see our Summary of Learning)

 

https://vimeo.com/home/myvideos

[Song Credits:    “We’re Going to be Friends”  by The White Stripes, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”  by Billy Joel, “I Won’t Back Down”  by Tom Petty, “Stressed Out”  by Twenty One Pilots, “Don’t Worry Be Happy”  by Bobby McFerrin, “Fly By Night”  by Chilliwack, “Doin’ It Right”  by April Wine, “A Hard Days Night”  by The Beatles, “With A Little Help From My Friends”  by The Beatles.]

 

This class has been an interesting experience from beginning to end.  I was intimidated and nervous about taking a technology class because of my lack of technological experience.  I have learned many important things from the debates, and from my classmates.  Most importantly, for me, this class has resulted in a miraculous change for the better.  Somehow, I have gained strength and confidence that was not there before.  I think there are many reasons for this –  including the constructive feedback from peers, as well as the actual ‘doing’ (practicing).  I have realized that technology does not have to be scary, but just like everything else, if you practice – you will get better.  I know that this change will benefit me and therefore in turn, will benefit my students.  I am grateful to have taken this class.

I would like to thank Nicole Putz for being  a wonderful partner on this project.  I would like to thank Alec and Katia for facilitating this class, and for their support and encouragement.  I would also like to thank my classmates for their inspiration and encouragement along this ‘technology journey’.

🙂

all good

angela

ps

here are the words that went into my part of our project:
What Have I Learned?

if someone said i would take a technology class at university
i would have said “…no way!”

not because i don’t respect and appreciate technology
but because i am intimidated by it

once decided
i know that jumping off a cliff is always scary

this class seems to have a supportive community
…people willing to share and encourage

this is no different
than anything else that must be PRACTICED before it can be strengthened

create a blog – check
(sounds quick and easy…. but it wasn’t ! 🙂

worried about being successful with the logistics of the first “zoom room”
relieved that it went smoothly (impressive… and exhausting)

settling in to the flow of climbing this mountain
steep learning curve – onward and upward

Carol Dweck sums up my present relationship with technology
NOT YET  🙂

two blog posts this week
learning lots

a few people responded to me last week…
Yay !!

Nature Disorder – interesting !
it speaks to some conflicted feelings I have about screen time vs outside time

still a bit nervous about zoom sessions
worried in advance about how our debate will go

added an actual you tube video to a blog yesterday
Yay !!

a neighbor came over for technology help
and guess what? ….
ihelped her…..ME !

gaining a bit of confidence  🙂

more screen time than I have ever experienced
my eyes are burning

continuing to learn a lot of interesting things
trying not to feel guilty about my previous lack of participation in technology

trying not to be stressed….
but sometimes, compfight and wordpress don’t work for me

feel less intimidated and more willing to experiment with technology
need to encourage the same thing for my students

students really need to hear from me about digital citizenship
i am going to be a better role model from now on
digital footprint…
takes some work – but seems important and well worth it
posts, blog, plug-ins, hashtag, URL, hyperlink, meme …
i feel like I am learning another language
as I build confidence …
technology is not my enemy anymore

zoom sessions …
no longer intimidate me

debates have been relevant and informative
i learned how to download a Youtube video to my desktop

i learned how to use a program called Audacity
then, convert it to an
mp3 and import it into another program
i learned how to covert a file to a different format
and to use software like Vimeo and Powtoon

i have already used
some of the many classroom suggestions from my classmates

it has been interesting to reflect on the weekly topics
then formulate my opinion and blog about it
last week’s debate
pushed a few buttons  🙂

group work for debate has been great…
lots of beneficial collaboration

so many important things
for a classroom teacher
to consider …

i am really starting to understand how technology can be beneficial
in more ways than I knew

I AM GRATEFUL !  🙂

 

 

 

 

Who Owns Our Education Soul Anyway?

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This debate topic did not engage me at first glance.  I am one who likes to stay far away from the ‘politics’ of things.  When the debaters brought up their points this week – I realized that this topic is not something ‘out there’ … but  right in our ‘own backyard’.  I had not thought about the fact that vending machines in schools promote certain companies products. Then there are the textbooks and the laptops…

According to Andrea Peterson, “Google is tracking students as it sells more products  to schools…”.  In the US (and here too) schools have Chromebooks “cheap laptops that run Google software.  The company offers ‘free word processing and other software to schools.’  One of the problems is that Google tracks students and uses that information to ‘sell targeted ads’.  Another problem is that “because of the arrangement between Google and many public schools, parents often can’t keep the company from collecting their children’s data…”.  I also thought this is interesting : “Google only considers some services part of it’s education suite — such as Gmail, Calendar, Google Docs–but not others such as Search, Maps, Youtube, and Google News.  So if students are logged into their educational account and use Google New to find stories for a report or watches a history video on Youtube, Google can use that activity to build a profile about them and serve them advertisements outside its educational products”.

I think it is astounding how much money some companies are investing to provide their products to schools. In their article How Corporations Are Helping To Solve The Education Crisis, Schiller and Arena give some specific examples.  In the Us, big corporations are giving millions to support education., but these authors remind us that there should be a “role beyond just providing money.  Vice president of Microsoft Worldwide Eduction, Anthony Salcito says that they “need to bring a culture of sustainability to the process of transforming education.”

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Let’s talk a little about the Pearson Company. I naively thought that having textbooks online for students to access at home was a good thing. I know that the school pays for access and that each student has their own password. What I did not realize – is how Pearson gets paid at many different steps. (thanks to Justine and Tyler for finding this video).

According to Alan Singer, Pearson is a multinational company that makes more than a billion dollars a year. He says that “In education, (Pearson) is involved in curriculum and materials development, and public policy development. That is scary to me.
I agree with Jeremy, who points out that “when our school boards invest a huge chunk of their budget to companies like Pearson, the goal isn’t student success, so much as it is the need for classroom/school/division accountability in the eyes of whatever higher power that calls the shots/holds the purse strings, and the ongoing goal of using data as a means to make classrooms/schools/divisions run more efficiently.

Audrey Waters  (who refers to herself as a ‘troublemaker’), bring ups some good points.  She reminds us that partnerships between corporations and schools have been around for a long time.  It was also interesting to hear her say that schools are always on the ‘hotseat’ and blamed for ‘what’s wrong with the education system’.  It has been bothering me for a long time – how our society does not ‘invest‘ in education, so teachers end up feeling like they are not valued (in many ways).

Again,  a debate to broaden my knowledge.

all good

Social Media and Loss of Childhood Innocence

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I just watched the Sext Up video.  It was informative, disturbing and depressing.  It reminded me that exposure to sexual content is much easier now than when I was a child. In elementary school, there used to be ‘playground talk’ where people shared all their sexual knowledge(limited as it usually was), and some boys even shared their access to Penthouse and Playboy magazines.  But that was the extent of it (as far as I know).

It is so unfortunate that children are feeling pressure to be ‘sexy’ and feel the need to play that role.  As a grade three teacher, I see young girls wearing clothes that I wish they wouldn’t. Rebecca Sweat notes this in her article What Happened to Childhood? where she says that “…designers have simply shrunk teenage styles to fit younger girls.”

I think that the ‘sexualization’ of children has been happening for a long time (for example JonBenet Ramsey). But the internet makes it so easy now for young people to access whatever they might be looking for. Music videos and clothing are designed to interest youth and make them want to have ‘sex appeal’. The ease of access to pornography on the internet has young men and young women looking for and expecting sex to look a certain way.

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I know it ages me, but as much as I am coming to appreciate the internet and the amazing things it can offer, I yearn for the simplicity of the good old days (from my vantage point). It seems that children now have an immense amount of pressure to look and act in certain ways. Not to say that this has changed immensely, but internet access has definitively not helped. Imagine that a Lingerie company in France is making garments for girls as young as four.  Does this not encourage child pornography?  Does this not encourage young girls to be thinking and dressing inappropriately for their age?

This debate is charged with emotion for many people. Especially those of us with our own children. How can we protect them from the inappropriate things they have access to on the internet?  I know that we can educate children to make wise decisions, but there are so many temptations and at some point, peers become more influential than parents.

Right now, I know a seventeen year old who thinks that because of freedom of expression, and showing her comfort with her own sexuality, that it is okay to be sending naked pictures to people. What this class has showed about our digital imprint being permanent,  makes me sad because I care about this girl, and for the many young people who seem to be doing this kind of thing indiscriminately.
Does this make me narrow minded? – maybe some would say so – but I wish they had the wisdom to make better choices.

The Equity Debate

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The words equality and equity are often used interchangeably.  Some might argue that equity is everyone getting the ‘same’ and another might say that it is making sure individuals get what they ‘need’ so as to equalize the playing field.  Naturally there are conflicting opinions in the area of technology as well.  Is technology equal or equitable in our world?

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I agree with many of the points raised to defend how technology could lead to greater educational equity worldwide.  Sending a ‘digital classroom in a box‘ to areas in need is a great idea but it seems to be a ‘limited’ solution. A doctor visit via ‘robot‘ is fascinating and Ivar Mendez explains how this technology allows patients to receive medical diagnoses from afar.  Speaking to a doctor who is not physically present is better than not being able to see one at all.  Of course there are advantages and yet…

One thing I really love about this class, is how it makes me look at my beliefs – and challenge them.  This has been echoed  by my classmates already. I find that often I start off thinking one way – and then, with information that is placed before me, I can also agree with the other side and realize I am of ‘many minds’ about given topics.

I know that technology is not available to everyone and thus seems unfair, but when I listen to how Daphne Koller describes the benefits of free online education – I am swayed.  After all, which student would not benefit from opportunity for interactive learning and personal feedback. If the opportunities she describes (free online education, ongoing learning, and waves of innovation) are accessible to all – it sounds like a technological ‘utopia’.

Then…  I listen to videos and read articles talking about the ‘digital divide’.  I find myself persuaded to agree with how educational technology does not create equity.  Even when we do offer free education, often disadvantaged students may not even know what to do with it.  Also, the Matthew Effect points to the ‘tendency for early advantages to multiply over time. The article Educational Technology Isn’t Leveling the Playing Field, explains how children who struggle early often end up in a ‘dispiriting downward spiral’. Low-income neighborhood children are more likely to use computers for drill and practice, and rich background children are more likely to know how to ‘google’ information in order to make it work for them.

I watched an interesting TED Talk about the digital divide (see below).  In it, Aleph Molinari talks about an alternative to the ‘One Laptop Per Child‘ initiative. There has been a Learning Innovative Network created in Mexico that has created a ‘learning network’ (RIA) in a needy community, which he refers to as ‘urban acupuncture’.  The digital learning community sets up a space (out of entirely recycled materials) where they can meet the communication needs of the community.  They have human connections available to bridge the process.  They teach learners about a computer, the internet,  and software. They also provide the training to those that are doing the teaching. Molinari’s overall message it ‘let’s use human energy to make the world a better place’.

So, as seems to happen each week, I am left in the middle, (no definitive decision).  Actually, I think that is a good thing.  It attests to the fact that in these weekly debates, the teams are doing a good job of presenting their opposing arguments.  Well done classmates !

 

Digital Citizenship ?? Interesting.

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Until the debate last night, I had never before thought about the need for me to demonstrate good digital citizenship to my students.  I have been one of those people who was afraid to embrace technology.  I am also hesitant to do things that I am not good at – catch 22 – I know!

Juan Enriquez encourages us to think of our online presence as a digital tattoo. What a fascinating comparison.  The permanence, the bold statements that are visible to the world at a glance.  He reminds us that our digital information will outlive us.  The comparisons to Greek gods were enlightening: we will ‘roll’ with the ups and downs of what we post over the years, don’t look too far into the past of those you love, remember the purpose of all the little ‘pop ups’ that are there to distract us, don’t fall in love with your own reflection.  These are some of the many reasons that I have been resistant to engage in social media.

This class is my time machine into both the past and the future.  The technology education is allowing me to look at my skeptical, fearful past way of judging technology.  Somehow, it has managed to make a crack in my skepticism and is allowing a new perspective to emerge. The more I learn, the more confidence I gather, the more I am open to the possibility of change.  I am actually starting to see the potential in my becoming a better digital citizen.

I was a ‘technology’ ostrich with my head in the sand.  I thought that maybe I could just avoid social media forever – and no one would notice.  But,  this week’s debate rang loud and clear – that teachers must seek to help their students become good digital citizens.  The only way this can happen is for me to become one first !

In the article How to Teach Students to Build a Positive Online Identity, I was reminded that each and every time we post something online, we contribute to our online identity.  Students need to be made aware.  Most importantly, they need to realize that once something is posted, “students are no longer in control of who sees it, shares it, copies it, or uses it”.  These are some of the facts that have intimidated me from engaging in social media.  This article goes on to impress how important it is to create a positive digital identity.  Also how important it is to have this digital identity reflect one’s “authentic self”.

That article lead me to another – Building and Keeping a Positive Digital Identity.  This article contains clear and concise steps that I will be able to use for myself and for my students in the future.  Here are the five essential questions one can keep in mind when creating a positive digital identity: 1) What information am I sharing? (if  you are unsure – don’t post it, check your online identity regularly, make sure your privacy settings are set properly). 2)How secure is it? (make strong passwords, lock devices and close apps when finished, lock your device when not in use). 3)Whom am I sharing it with? (I like the rule of thumb that if the info. is not fit for the front page of a newspaper – don’t share it, also be careful who you are sharing personal info. with, think about how others could potentially use your info., do not use ‘open networks’). 4)What am I leaving behind? (“assume your digital imprint lasts forever”,  and remember to ‘clear your cache’ regularly). 5)What are my rights? (review terms and conditions for devices and apps, be aware that some apps will claim ownership of your content if you use them).

Now that I have become aware of the what it means to be a good digital citizen, I can embark on a journey to bring it about for myself and for my future students.

I searched for a Ted Talk about digital citizenship and guess what I found…

 

To Google or Not to Google – That is the Question

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I totally agree with Nicole who said that this week’s blog responses feel ‘messy’.  I think that as teachers, we feel responsible to make sure that students ‘learn’ something in our classrooms.  The challenge – is to find the best ways to do that.

As Jeremy Black said in a blog this week “Basic skills need to be taught, learned, and memorized in order for a child to then later work upon this base to develop specialized skills that are specific to their interests and set goals.”

I appreciate Danielle’s reference to the “google effect” on critical thinking.

The idea that schools are stifling creativity and affecting problem solving and critical thinking, is an interesting concept.  The Ted talk referenced on Tuesday night where Ken Robinson talks about ‘killing creativity‘ is very funny and he makes some valid points. He goes so far as to say that ‘creativity is as important as literacy’.  Teachers must search for that ‘balance’ between imparting information, encouraging students to develop their own critical thinking skills, and encouraging them to find their own ‘path’ to success (whatever that might look like).

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What about the memorization piece? Are there benefits for our students?  William Klemm (professor of neuroscience) certainly believes that there are. He says that memorized facts always stay with you, and that we need to be able to access what is in our working memory to think and solve problems.  I believe there is some truth to this.

So, as you can see, I am very much of two minds on this topic.  I highly value the opportunities and mind expanding aspects of technology.  At the same time, I think it is necessary to put information into the brain for later use when needing to think critically and solve problems.  I think it is important to encourage curiosity in students. I want to try to teach kids ‘how’ to think, not ‘what’ to think. (I like the video that Andrew posted as an example of this)

That said, I think memorization for it’s own sake can often be meaningless.  Growing up, I learned mostly by memorization and often I had a lack of in-depth knowledge.  Countless hours were spent with mnemonic memory aids. (…just googled that for correct spelling :).  I would jam as much information into my brain as I could, spit it out on the test, and then maybe remember just a small portion of it.  I didn’t feel like I had the time to go deeper into ‘understanding’.  As a result – I always felt like I was cheating in a way and had the underlying feeling that I wasn’t really smart because I didn’t know the ‘stuff’ afterwards. I can’t remember who, but someone referred to a “false sense of confidence” in the debate on Tuesday night.  It is only later in my life (for example –  now…with this degree) that I am doing school ‘differently’. I am taking the time to dig deeper.

How’s that for ‘messy’ ?   🙂

all good

angela

 

Is Technology “Unhealthy”?

 

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Lots of interesting points were made this week in the third debate. One of the things that really struck me, was that young children are choosing screen time over spending time in nature. This is a very unfortunate because of all the benefits – such as running, jumping, skipping, and playing in the grass and breathing healthy fresh air.  It sounds basic, but children are not having these same opportunities when they are inside on their game systems and computer apps.  The article Technology-addicted kids and Nature Deficit Disorder talks about how children are developing a “wide range of physical, mental health and behavioral problems.” I have never heard of such a thing as ‘nature deficit disorder’ –  but it makes sense. This article goes on to mention the child obesity rates have more than doubled over the last 30 years.

Cyberbullying seems to be responsible for a lot of harm.  A London School of Economics report found cyberbullying to be even more prevalent that bullying that happens ‘face-to-face’. I have not had much personal experience with this, as I teach grade three.  As far as I am aware- there is not much cyberbullying at these early stages of schooling. (Let me know if you have had a different experience with this…).

The flip side of this debate brought to mind the idea that social media can motive people to get involved with others who encourage them to participate in things that will make them become more healthy. This could be true, but I think people who have the willpower to exercise in the first place, often don’t need the support of others. The concept of support for eating disorders on instagram is an unsettling one.  The nature of eating disorders is usually for sufferers to want support in the wrong direction.  They usually want people to get shocked by how thin they are becoming.  So I’m not sure a wide audience is the best thing for helping someone to improve an eating disorder.

I loved the article about the high school student who posted positive things about his classmates for a whole year.  To me – that is a fantastic use of social media 🙂  Especially, since there is evidence that Facebook and Social Media have been linked to depression. Just like everything else, things can be used either for good or for bad.  During our ‘zoom’ session this week, the concept of balance came up a number of times.  I think it is really an important thing to remember…  I found an interesting Ted Talk where a young woman speaks about her personal experience of being addicted to social media and her cell phone.

I think balance is the goal !

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Technology Debate

Does Technology in the Classroom Enhance Learning?

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Interesting debate topic, and interesting points made last week.  When I think of technology in the classroom, my own limited knowledge leads me to imagine rolling in the computer cart and having students explore an interesting website I have previously vetted (like Mathletics).  This first debate topic challenged me to expand my definition of ‘technology’.  This is not the first Master’s class where I have come to know multiple layers of meaning for words I thought I had known previously (such as sustainability, mobility, curriculum etc.).

Before this debate I had not thought about technology assisting students with learning disabilities.  Of course I have students use technology this way, but have never thought about what school would be like for those students if their assistive technology was not allowed in the classroom.  I was also struck by the information in the video presentation about the importance of the teacher being knowledgeable and comfortable with technology.  I believe this responsibility should be shared between the teacher and their employer. Personally, I need to get over my intimidation and make efforts to become more comfortable with technology.

http://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/02/5-ways-digital-tools-are-transforming-education-space

In Eric Sheninger’s twitter article, I appreciate his emphasis on the fact that giving students ownership of learning gives them ‘something to do’.  Through technology they can “… demonstrate conceptual mastery through the construction of new knowledge, as well as the acquisition and application of essential skill sets.”

Another point  that arose from the debate that I think brings value to technology in the classroom is how it facilitates differentiation.  In any given classroom, students vary in their academic levels, processing speeds, learning styles, interests etc.  What better way to meet learning needs than with technology?  That said, I repeat the emphasis that was placed on the need for ‘direct teacher instruction to maximize learning potential’.  Sam Carlson’s article points out that “…effective instruction… encourages development of higher-order thinking and information-reasoning skills among students, and socially constructed collaborative learning, all of which are increasingly required in today’s knowledge-based economy.”

I realize that Beland and Murphy’s article indicates that “The existing literature on the impact of technology in the classroom implies that the unstructured presence of technology has ambiguous impacts on student achievement”, but having taken statistics, I realize that results can be skewed in ‘specific’ directions.  I also know that technology is costly and that some believe it interferes with learning.  All things considered, I believe that when teachers are properly trained, and the school has access to ‘up to date’ technology,  it can be a window for students into endless potential.

I thought Sherry Turkle had an interesting point in her TED talk when she says that technology ‘may be taking us places we don’t want to go’.  She refers to our ‘development of human relationships’.  I don’t think that this is indicative when talking about the use of technology in the classroom, but it is interesting to think about in the bigger picture.

I can see the point that Valerie Strauss makes in her article about college students and how their performance is affected by multitasking (cell phones, laptops, etc).  After all, the software and hardware have been designed to distract.  I think it is a good idea for college students to use cell phones at breaks, and I’m not sure how to control laptop use since many use them for note taking.

I appreciate the ‘zoom room’ for how it allowed visual and audio communication for 39 people at once, last week.  So cool !

I would like to close by saying that I think that the possibilities of reaching students and contributing to their learning through technology is endless.  I would also like to thank  Ainsley for pointing out that interesting Ted talk with Andrew Essex.   What better way to inspire students learning than by offering incentives whereby they can get more access to technology.

Awesome!

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