Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Connected Learning Response

Connected Learning

In Response to the INTERESTS Section Above:

The link between a student's interest and their ultimate learning is clear. If a student has a genuine interest in the subject her or she is learning about then they will more likely than not apply themselves in locating interesting and unique information to augment their own. This interest leads to immersion and, if powerful enough ( a favorite past time or subject for example) the individual can enter the desired flow state of learning. The clearest example is my own, presently, on the topic of the game Weiqi. Given the tools of twitter, blogspot, google, and evernote, i have, with little need for guidance, found more information, and unique commentary than i had previously thought possible. The process was quick and enjoyable and i have little doubt a similar researching method could be used in a classroom setting. the caveat here being the legitimacy of the authors, who for the most part we must take on their own word for their expertise.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Google Form: Nitrogen Cycle (Self Check)

--- The Daunting Truth ---

Reflection #3: What Do You Think?

"[Instant] access to 2 billion potential teachers - and the sum of human knowledge - in their pockets."

Do I agree... yes, and the prospect of rethinking and creating a new system of education from scratch is daunting. The problem, as I see it, rests with determining what makes it into the new regime and how we transition effectively? The gathering of students in school once fostered our social skills from pre-school through to our post graduate lives, but now social media has largely taken up that mantle. Where the classical  novels and field day activities once fostered our imagination and team building skills; we now have 3-D movies, youtube, and complex MMO environments. But that still leaves us with the problem of what to teach , and how to do it? 

Reading, writing, and arithmetic have been the foundation stones of education for over a century, but now we can use computers to answer problems few of us could answer manually. Do we phase out the pen altogether in favor of typing and e-signatures, committing ourselves to a, tablet based, paperless future? The only thing I can say for certain is that what ever it's going to be, we'll be making a leap of faith. We're headed for, uncharted, stormy waters, but then again I've always enjoyed the lightning.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reflection #2: Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology (Chapters 2,3)

Here, we are presented with both sides of the technology in education argument; the proponents in chapter two and the skeptics in chapter three. The main argument, as I understand it from those in favor of the technology revolution is as follows. We live in a time when the sum total of knowledge, and the societal norms that under pin it, have changed the way it has become necessary to learn. We must embrace technology and the freedom of specialization that computers can provide, thusly, improving our own learning and enhancing the skills we already possess. The world has become a global marketplace of ready to access information and, where as once we needed to learn all we could in the classroom under the expertise of a trained teacher, we can now quite readily access training tools on the web. We can, in this context, call up a video to explain a difficult process, web chat with other students, and even take classes we would otherwise not be able to reach physically.

Furthermore, we can use interactive media to access the “flow” state of learning, where in the pupil becomes absorbed into the context of games and open to higher levels of critical thinking and problem solving in a non-stress environment. The goal is evident in that should we need to know something, we can now simply look it up and use it practically. He goes on to argue that the modern classroom is outmoded by our current capabilities and benefits from incorporating new technology.

The counter, as found in chapter three, felt somewhat weak in comparison. Granting that the tone felt biased, it did not seem logical. Just because some educational reforms in the past hav had minimal effect on learning does not mean to discount technology. Yes, moving from wax tablets to disposable pens made little difference save convenience, but smart boards and interactive labs (i.e.FlyLab) capture students attention in ways that have no precedent.

Yes, the cost analysis is valid, but with the direction the world is going I don't foresee a problem. Smart phones are as popular as ever and students are loading flash card apps and taking notes directly in them. We can even blog and tweet from them. I can't even imagine that classroom activities possible with this kind of connectivity.

Lastly, Niel Postman (p. 40) argues that the skills we need to learn most cannot be taught by computers. Truth be told he is partly right, however, that also makes him partly wrong. While true that there are many social skills and interpersonal skills we cannot learn from technology, social media has begun building a new set of skills – cyber life lessons. You learn the ropes of web life forums and communities, learn about privacy protection and banking, you even use critical thinking and team building skills in MMOs.

The arguments beg one final question: where do I hang my hat? I am a bit between the two sides here, but I will always lean towards computers. The thing is that I can see the down side of technology as well. Collins speaks about our educational systems working in a kind of internal balance and this shift will alter them. My concern is where the scales will calibrate themselves and what will we be trading away for more interactive technologies. I will admit here that I learned more about efficiency, chance, adaptability, and problem solving from logic puzzles than the classroom.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Reflection on the Book / Video

If one thing is perfectly clear, it is this; the technological world is evolving at a greater rate than our society, and it is the duty of our educators to bridge the gap, preparing the youth of the age for a better future. To this we will discuss the beginnings of the book, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology and the brief talk given by Scot McLeod to the teachers union.

McLeod's argument hinged on a socio-economic pitch, arguing that the reasoning behind our educational system in the U.S. has in large part, been rendered obsolete. The trade jobs that fueled our industry are being outsourced to countries where employees will work for lower wadges and the remaining jobs are becoming ultra competitive. The qualifications that once made one a desirable candidate for employment are no longer. The Bachelor's degree is now largely a stepping stone to a Masters, and even then the job outlook is only moderate.

But why is this..?

Never in the past have we had access to information at the speeds that we do and we are not teaching our students to handle this. We can video chat with other countries instantly, blog entire novels as serials, watch films online, and download an novel, music file, and image in seconds. Is this so bad? Our lives are no longer private for some because of what can be posted on any or all social media sites.  There numerous distractions around us and the sense of emediate gratification is everywhere -- can u wonder why our educational system is floundering?

The solution is rethinking the system to guide the development of the skills we now need. For the previous generation is was industry and now its a matter of refining technological skills. Incorporating practical knowledge and global awareness into the classroom. Customizing the learning process in such as way as to foster a growing society of critical thinkers. We can only do this by exposing students to varying media and applications of virtual society in a responsible context.       

I would argue that we should use the media and distractions of today to our advantage and connect to the students. Using games based on building higher order thinking skills, incorporating innovative presentation formats, and playing to the social strengths of today's youth we can, perhaps, gain some ground in the ange of technology and reclaim the minds of students everywhere.