Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blog Post #10

An Open Letter to Educators- Morgan Bayda's blog post about her experiences in a university setting. She supplements her post with a video by Dan Brown (a former university student). In his video Dan makes the case that if universities don't make a change then they will become obsolete. I don't think anyone who has attended a university can claim a different experience than Morgan's. I found that my first two years had more lectures than my upper level classes which tended to be more interactive.

I think this video is a perfect example of why we need universities. What I saw was a video by a college dropout who blamed his education or lack thereof on his college not himself. He proceeded to give us a history of learning, from the viewpoint of a college dropout mind you, and a prediction of the future. In any other era this "information" would be marginalized. Thanks to technology, however, mr. Brown has an audience. This in my opinion is the number one problem with the digital age: lack of integrity. Who is Dan Brown? What are his qualifications for delivering this history/prediction lesson?

In a world where everyone has a stage how do you determine fact from opinion? What Dan delivered was an opinion. Does he make some relevant points? Sure. Is he in a position to shape minds on higher educations future? NO. If your going to a university to learn how to do a specific job, your in the wrong place, find a trade school.
Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home- A blog post by John Spencer, an educator in Phoenix, AZ. Mr Spencer shares a story about an altercation with his school's instructional interventionist over allowing his kids to take pencils home. She claims that studies show that kids who take pencils home score lower on standardized tests, therefore, don't let them take the pencils home and they'll do better on the tests. I think that this is a story that far to many teachers are familiar with in some form or fashion. It seems rather ridiculous that research would indicate something so silly. It's even worse that an instructor would recommend the result which defy logic.
What is My Sentence?- I hope that when my time is up "I searched, found, lived, and taught truth to all who would listen."

Am I Better Today Than I Was Yesterday?- I pride myself on being my toughest critic. It feels like I progress one day and then regress the next. I'm good about learning from my mistakes and those of others, but, my stubbornness sometimes limits my progress.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blog Post #9

What I've Learned this Year- A blog post by Mr. McClung, a teacher in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This post is a reflection on his first year teaching. He begins by reminding us that our lessons should be student or audience focused. He urges us to be flexible. Don't set your expectations so high that a minor blip derails your days plans. He stresses the value of good communication with your students and coworkers. As first year teachers I'm sure we will lean heavily on our fellow teachers. He suggests that we "be reasonable", and states that "our job as teachers is to simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again". Two final suggestions that he makes are to continue learning and to not be afraid of technology.

I really enjoyed Mr. McClung's blog post. Anytime someone in your profession shares their experiences you should try to learn from them.  What I learned from Mr. McClung was the underlying theme of his suggestions, ATTITUDE. Lessons won't always go the way you plan them, co-workers won't always see things the way you see them, and students won't always achieve what you hoped they would. The attitude that you bring to the table will make or break your year. So, Focus on your students, Be flexible, Set realistic expectations, Be a good communicator, Be reasonable, Continue learning, and Embrace technology!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Additional Assignment #2

How Kids Teach Themselves- A presentation by Dr. Sugata Mitra about the results of his experiments in countries around the world. Dr. Mitra gives children computers and the internet and charges them with learning seemingly impossible subjects in languages foreign to their own. I was impressed by the resilience of the children and their ability to learn without structured curriculum or even guidance. I believe that, in most cases, people do have the ability to learn anything if they are motivated, especially the young. I'm amazed, however, that they can teach themselves. Apparently the only items necessary to learn are access to information and desire. In a lot of cases that information comes from the teacher, in this case it's Google. Google, and the internet in general, replace the teacher in these experiments, and are very effective.

I personally learn what I'm interested in, and what is necessary. Learning to become an instructor requires that I go to class and therefore have an instructor. In general my instructors set goals for what I'll learn, provide instruction (in various forms), and then test me to determine my proficiency.  As a supplement to this instruction I also do a good deal of web searching, to further enhance my understanding.

The most important idea that I took from watching this video is that my work as a teacher does not have to be limited to my classroom. There are kids all around the world that I may have access to and I can dedicate some of my time to making a difference in some of the poorest areas of the world.

Blog Post #8

This is How We Dream Pt.1 & 2- These videos are a presentation by Dr. Richard E. Miller. Dr. Miller teaches writing courses at Rutgers University and has written several books. In his most recent book Writing at the End of the World, Dr. Miller addresses several questions including "what do the humanities have to offer the twenty-first century?", and "does it make sense to go on writing in a world full of books that none reads?". He seems very dedicated to discovering what form literature will inhabit in the future and how will our styles of writing and publishing change.

In these videos Dr. Miller presents the changes our forms of communication are experiencing and will experience. Today, for the first time, a single person can communicate with anyone around the globe in a fraction of a second using the internet and digital technologies. So, what does thin mean for our existing forms of communication? It means that they will have to adapt to fit into new moulds. For centuries, predating the Great Library of Alexandria, libraries were the center of knowledge to their communities. According to Dr. Miller, those days are over. The new "library" has an unlimited supply of each book or article or map. The new "library" also more effectively facilitates exchange, among people from all parts of the world.

Dr. Miller's purpose for this presentation is to give a glimpse into the future of humanities. In other words, we've already seen the differences in the "place" people will go to acquire information, so what type of information will they be seeking. Fortunately, Dr. Miller provides the answer. Documents in the future will not be limited by paper, therefore, text and pictures alone will be inadequate. These new documents will be an assembly of audio clips, video clips, maps, and real time charts, with traditional text and pictures all merged into one file. They will be inviting and informative, a collaboration of all the available data for a given subject.

I personally am not prepared to write with multimedia (not far from it though). My students, after a few instructions, will be. This style is perfect for today's student. I believe it will breathe life into outdated forms of instruction.

The Chipper Series & EDM310 for Dummies- Both of these videos were made to inform students new to EDM310 of what's expected of them and how to be successful in the class. I personally liked both videos. If I had to make a different video with the same goals, I think I would lean towards a reality style video. It would be Real Worldesque with a "confessional" (more of a VLog) that would have students talking about their impressions of the class or their assignment. At the end of the semester you could assemble the videos of each student to see how or if their impressions changed.

A Discussion on SmartBoards- This assignment involved reading two bloggers accounts of the wastefulness of purchasing Smartboards or IWBs (Interactive White Boards). I have to say that I thought both of their opinions were ignorant. Neither of these two visionaries were able to figure out the usefulness of the boards other than:
          1) As a means of replacing the mouse for control of the computer
          2) As a means to capture a screen shot in order to save your work
Really? Thats like saying iPhones are useless because all you can do is call people and listen to music. As far as I can tell the Smartboard is an extension of your computer, so it stands to reason that are tons of activities available for use on your Smartboard. What if you were to use Skype on your Smartboard and bring classes from across the world together for a lesson. Or, during these times of budget deficits you could arrange for a trainer at an aquarium or zoo to interact with your class so that they could experience the field trip that "just wasn't in the budget".

I searched for two sources that support the use of Smartboards but they were considerably harder to find. I guess there's truth to the saying "Everybody's a skeptic". The two sources I found:
          1) - A good
              resource for teachers looking to get more from their equipment.
          2) - Lists of
              different uses for Smartboards.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I chose Symbaloo to organize my infant PLN. I chose it because it's very easy to use and customize. In my webmix I have links to Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia for reference. I have links to the University of South Alabama and USA Football for school related activities. A couple of web magazines that I read, Time and Newsweek for national discussion, and for local news. I also have links to elearning Blog and Keeping Kids First, two blogs that I began following in EDM310, as well as my blog and the EDM 310 Blog.

I feel like the area where I need to improve the most is my Twitter network. I like using Symbaloo and could have utilized it years ago. Everything that I do on the web now will go through this program which should bring my organization and efficiency to a new level.

Blog Post #7

Randy Pausch Last Lecture- Great lecture from someone that all teachers should aspire to emulate. Dr. Pausch teaches because he wants to make a difference in the world. This has to be one of the best talks I've ever listened to for many reasons.  First, he gives an honest account of his life  including his successes and failures.  In each of his failures he finds the positive and perseveres. Each "brick wall" he notes, is only meant to keep out those who lack the determination to bust through it.

The second reason this talk was great was because he shares invaluable advice about how to approach your goals. He set goals for himself when he was young and attained them in one way or another as an adult. This focus and drive to achieve is contagious. When you see someone set a lofty goal and attain it, it builds confidence that all goals are attainable with hard work.

I also liked how Dr. Pausch didn't settle for teaching large groups of students. He searched for a way to give every one access to the skills that he developed. He went as far as to create a program that is widely available. He was passionate about making learning fun.

One thing that inspired me from a teaching stand point, is his willingness to think outside the box. Don't be afraid to try something new or embrace an untried method, it might revolutionize the way a student learns. This is very appropriate for EDM310 because the technologies that we are utilizing in class are not widely used in today's classroom.

The main point that I took from this lecture, though, is to never let an opportunity to inspire others pass you by. After receiving his grim news Dr. Pausch could have easily stayed home with his family, but he chose to have a positive impact on millions instead. We all need to be watchful for when that moment presents itself and choose to make a difference.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

C4T#2 Summary

eLearning Blog Don't Waste Your Time- This is a blog by David Hopkins. Mr. Hopkins is a learning technologist at Bournemouth University. His blog is a great resource for those interested in using technology in the learning process.

Presentation Twitter in the Classroom, What Next?- Mr. Hopkins provides a great slideshow as well as several links that explain twitter and its uses in education. I found each of these to be very useful. In my comment I told Mr. Hopkins that originally I was skeptical of Twitter. His links that he posted, however, provided some great ideas for using the technology. It can be used as a tool for continuing class discussion outside of school and as a tool to remind students about upcoming due dates.

Back to the Drawing Board: The 5Js- Mr. Hopkins discusses a recent article written for eLearn Magazine by Mary Burns. The topic of the article is How to Help Teachers Use Technology in the Classroom. Ms. Burns identifies several problems in the methods we currently use to train teachers to use technology. She introduces the 5Js:
                    Job Related- training focused on uses in the classroom
                    Just Enough- emphasize comfort not proficiency
                    Just In Time- teachers are provided with skills as they need them
                    Just In Case- teachers need a plan B
                    Just Try It- instructors supply pressure and support to motivate teachers
I remarked that all of these together would make a very successful training program. My favorite idea was to allow teachers the time to attempt to fix their problems before relying on tech support.

Mr. Hopkins blog is a very useful resource for teachers that are interested in implementing different technologies in their classrooms. Each of his posts provide an in depth discussion of different methods that may become mainstream techniques in the next few years.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

C4K Summary #1

Adriana's Blog- Adriana is an 8th grader in Missouri. She has a twin sister and 3 other sisters. She likes to play basketball but the most important things in her life are her family and grades. Her favorite subject is math and one area she needs to work on is organization.

The first post I commented on was her Learning Manifesto. In her learning manifesto, Adriana makes several promises to herself. These promises are intended to maker her a better student. I thought that her promises were all appropriate and would indeed make her a better student.

My second comment was on the post that Adriana titled "All About Me". Adriana has a very interesting background. She has a large family with two of her sisters being younger than her. I mentioned that I wished I had a bigger family. I also told her that, from her blog posts, it seemed like she was a great example to her sisters.