Course 2 Project Reflection — Holden the 21st century man?

Course 2 project … arrives

The hard part:

Irony. The creation of this project was not the difficult part. I had wonderful partners, who were collaborators and bought into the project. A dream. The tough part is this reflective blog. I find this interesting.

Worthy of a discussion, and maybe another time, but I have a resistance to blogging this project. I am pleased that the rest of this project was great, and working with teammates, Cheryl Hordenchuk, and Kristin Bond.

The easy part:

Location — Cheryl and I are both employed by ACS where we sometimes work together-ish, more similar to having a conversation about curricular tasks. Rarely do we have the opportunity work together on a project? We are both curriculum nerds, appreciating a solid unit and the great add-ons, worksheets, organizers to go with it. Kristin Bond, a former colleague currently in CfBT Brunei, has a similar passion for curriculum and is currently working on her masters in learning and technology. Both of these women are skilled in curriculum and creative thinking and regularly push themselves to create and deliver the best units for student learning. I felt lucky.

Working with an outsider, who is geographically not present and is educating in a different environment at the moment, is fully present when we were unit planning, collaborating and posing thoughtful questions. Her perspective, because she wasn’t physically IN the meeting with us, was more honest and trusted. Cheryl and my discussion were nuanced and would understand what the other meant, simultaneously typing our unit. Kristin would make us pause and ask us a question for clarity, providing us with the chance to understand our purpose for our designed task. Missing the nuances was a good thing, giving us an opportunity to see the clarity in our communication, and how others not privy to our conversations could perceive it. This caused me to reflect further about communication online and often the tone that may be received incorrectly because the author did not take the time to consider how someone else may interpret their short quip.

The reflective part:

Our project was creating a unit to help students learn about and reflect on digital footprint and citizenship. Using my current text, The Catcher in the Rye, I am reading with my students, Cheryl, Kristin and I decided to bring Holden Caulfield into the 21st century, determining what would his digital footprint be. With a Facebook page and a Twitter account, how would Holden (re)present himself? Is he socially responsible with media?

When writing this unit, the lens of a student was key for us. When thinking about students gathering prior knowledge, it was us who had build knowledge to match those of our students. The students’ fluency with tweets supersedes Cheryl and mine; Kristin supported us with laughter about our inadequacies, affirming that we had to build on an assumption of technology of the students. There is a need to be a bit cautious designing a unit where you are not the expert. The students are. Are they “digital natives”? (again, another time). We agreed that this was a fair assumption that they are. We also agreed that we had to up our game. Entering into a world of recognizable language, but not the proficiency in it. Oh, the irony.

One of the reoccurring questions was where are we on the SAMR spectrum. Relating back to ourselves in high school (maybe the 90’s, give or take a few years), would we have done a similar unit? No – cell phones were just coming available, and they were more of a mobile unit versus a pocket cell, let alone a smartphone. In our high school days, we would

have penned a journal by Holden, or wrote letters to show a developing character. We certainly would not have tweeted. Only birds back in those days tweeted. We felt safe that we were at least transforming the task, where “tech allows for significant task redesign” (Schrock) There is a shift from the traditional character development tasks, transforming them into a deep look at who Holden is and what would he like and do, his views on certain 21st-century social norms. Our new task would have the student making connections in the real world with their fictional character, exploring themselves at the same time. The transformation for us was a tad different, though, where we are at the top of the spectrum with Redefinition, creating a new task that is previously inconceivable, to non-tweeters like us ☺.

A great experience and unit.
The unit planned will make its debut in September of this year.

 

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Talk the talk. Walk the Walk.

Family values of the 21st century = Digital citizenship.

 

Family values have shifted to incorporate the right and wrong of the modern and technological world. Or at least, we hope they have. In fear that technology has grown and enveloped the world too quickly, there is concern that older generations are left on the fringe, and do not understand the implications personal devices can hold.

Think of this analogy:

a son/daughter with a phone: a son/daughter exposed to their first girlfriend or boyfriend, and are beyond their first kiss.

The freedom and accessibility to everything and anything through personal devices now are unlimited. What seems innocent may not be – to a child or a parent. So… who is helping parents to help children understand digital citizenship?

Parents knowledge on the good ‘ol topics of value and responsibility around sex, drugs and alcohol is not equivalent to those of digital citizenship. And if I remember correctly, back in the day, there weren’t many parents who relished the ‘sex talk.’ This talk was often left in the hands of the schools to complete, and then, the awkward teenage silence can brew between child and parent. Nowadays, things are different. Not only can children learn about sex, drugs, and alcohol online, they are much more savvy on their devices than their parents. Mike Ribble, in his article “Passport to Digital Citizenship” suggests that the education provided to the students regarding digital citizenship must also be given to our teachers and parent alike. True statement. I like it.

“There needs to be a common language between our school and home” about digital

citizenship that talks the talk, and also walks the walk. If parents and teachers share the message and model the behavior, they might be able to reach the “95% of US teens [who] use the internet” (Wexler, Taylor).

When reading and seeing the numbers on the graphics in the PBS article, ““What are teens doing online?”” by Wexler and Taylor, I have changed my perspective of whose job it is to have these conversations with students. Children are less mobile than years past, and but the trouble and threat level is just as high, researched by Danah Boyd, principal researcher, Microsoft. If this is the case, ‘stranger danger’ becomes more of a concept and the look-fors are different.

These conversations, which I believed were once in the family value structure, have morphed to encompass teachers, parents, coaches, counsellors, and other trusted adults of the children to ensure the value and safety while engaging with the Internet. These serious conversations require action, and the conversations need to happen frequently. The more people to pass the message, the stronger and more united the message becomes.

 

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Unchartered Waters

(Shaking my head)

I am feeling confronted with a problem that I should be addressing in my classroom and with my students, but I don’t know how to answer.   The bubble of international teaching protects us from some copyright issues. The further away from a source, geographically, the easier it seems to be less concerned with the copyright issue – or so it seems.

Does distance or culture change the response to copyright laws? What if you are in a country that culturally believes that by copying, borrowing, or plagiarizing another’s work is in fact, honoring another’s intelligence? It is hard to educate a culture on “plagiarism” and copyright when remix and knock-offs, from intellect to clothing, is a part of their belief and educational, and economical, system. In Wesley Fryer’s article, “Copyright questions and answers about iTunes, Podcasts, and Fair Use,” I was lost. Lost in the… ‘maybe this’, and ‘10% of that’, and ‘technically no’ – how is it all kept straight with the gray areas of copyright law. The exceptions and the different possible interpretations feel like a needle in the haystack to find the right answer, but difficult to determine if it is the needle. The one thing that did make sense is Fryer affirming that “the issues are important, and we need to have more conversations in our schools about them” – this part is valid. Clear. Undeniable.

Students, in our international bubble, are becoming global citizens, connecting and constructing their knowledge and world through networks and digital domains. As an educator, helping students to be critical of their knowledge, and understanding what authentic construction of knowledge looks like, might be where a teacher shows their age. Are they riding the tech wave or swallowed by it? An educator’s understanding of digital rights and responsibilities, as well as what it looks like in practice, needs to be solid or it puts them “wading through unchartered waters” (Tolisano). Educators have a responsibility “to become familiar, observe and model for their students” (Tolisano).  Led Zepplin and others have paved a path of remix, and it seems that with technology or not, there has been many others swimming in unchartered waters.  We have many ‘greats’ and ‘legends’ due to unchartered water.

I know I am in unchartered water.

I am learning and each stage I reach, I feel that I have just missed the boat. I understand what I must, but know that my original worksheets with appropriate and sometimes funny images are not always properly cited, and I do not always give credit where credit is due. I need to be a role model for having a positive digital footprint, and not be a knock off or remix myself.

(Shaking my head)

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Down the rabbit hole…

Hmmm … ok … procrastination and interest—I Google myself and see what pops up.

5 mins…10 mins…15 mins later…

I have progressed from self-interest to now stepping all over people’s personal moments in

The Rabbit Hole to Wonderland by krazykez

just a few clicks. I jumped from checking where I ‘pop up’, to a rabbit’s hole of many other options (more fun options) to seek and explore. I felt like I was trespassing through the lives of some friends and acquaintances, and even family. Then, ‘hey—why is my picture on your Facebook?’ I continue to investigate, read some comments, and I discover that my entire life story was revealed. Someone, an old acquaintance posted ‘how is Bobbi doing anyway?’ Innocently, and probably naively, a family member explained, in three paragraphs, the past two years of my life. I exposed. I was plastered on her wall for all people that I do and don’t know to see. Okay, maybe I was not plastered but there is a niggling feeling because I know didn’t consent to share all my information—maybe, violated? Vulnerable?

Boom. Tables turned in a minute. I was just ‘creeping’ on other people’s pages, and linking to other acquaintances, happily gathering updates. It no longer felt like I was trespassing. I felt shame for my trolling. But I felt betrayed.

In Susan Lucas’ article, “Job Hunting? Take a closer look at your Facebook page, ” she reminds people of the information posted is always public. There may not be any intention from you, but with our digital age and ideas, pictures, and events posted, whether it is through Facebook or a company website, YOU are out there.

Luckily, I guess, I have tried to fend off Facebook. I have held out, only until recently, to have an FB account. I have learned that it does not mean my information still is not out there. I have had people query my name, received an update, either through events or school postings, discovering where I am and how to contact me. Some ghosts from the past have appeared and made contact. Again, appearing with mixed feelings. I was ‘found’ when I didn’t know if I wanted to be found.

Interestingly, years ago, when I was first dating my husband, we were to meet his dad and wife for dinner. I was suppressing my nervousness by knowing I had an in with the commonality of running. However, to my surprise, after the pleasantries were completed and we sat down with tea, my father-in-law began to rattle some of my running times, splits and overall in events. He was peppering me with questions about training and events…I was in shock and awe. I think I sputtered a few responses, mouth agape, and with his big bellowing laugh, he declares “I Googled you!”

Shock. Now, what?

I quickly tried to recap anything that I had online. I felt somewhat safe because I had not yet entered the world of Facebook or other social media. But, obviously, there is information about me out there. My father-in-law’s laughter lingered for longer than the actual 45 seconds. I was thinking – I am judged. Did he think I am fast or slow? Did he like me or not??

 

Provided by Pew Research Center

Lucas’ article throws a caution to adults, maybe less nimble in the social media world than teens. This is what leads to Amanda Lenhart’s data that illustrates the differences between “parent and teen attitudes towards and experiences with online advertising, and third party access to a teen’s personal information.”  I think phrase of concern is “third party access to a teen’s personal information.” The cautionary tale becomes greater and more immediate, knowing that social media usage, posting private information – pictures, name, school, friends – has been on the rise,  over the past 6 years by 20-30%. Yikes!

 

Privacy. This may be an urban myth in a few years.

Labeled for reuse by XPRIZE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Slacking

I want to discuss one word with you. Slack. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines slack in the following ways:


adjective \ˈslak\

: not stretched or held in a tight position

: not busy : lacking the expected or desired activity

: doing something poorly because you are not putting enough care or effort into it


I want to add a third definition:

noun
3. student-centered LMS for a 21st century educational context

slackThe Slack application has been around since late 2013 and is essentially a messaging app for teams. Here is a video that gives a brief overview of how it works:

YouTube Preview Image

In April 2015, Mathias Elmose posted his thoughts on the app known as Slack on his blog. Up until recently, Slack has mostly been associated with business platforms, but Elmose is promoting its use for education. In my previous blog post, I mentioned how “technology needs to serve a need and not the other way around.” Elmose believes that Slack can do just this – that will be able to “support learning by default.”

I believe that learning happens when educators provides experiences that connectedlearninginfogive learners opportunities to engage meaningfully in activities that promote peer interaction. This brings into the forefront two learning theories – constructivism and connectivism. Both of these theories help to engage learners in a 21st century learning landscape – one that takes the teacher off the stage and encourages digital networking. (Click on the graphic to see it better)

A little more on the theories:
Social constructivism holds the belief that reality is constructed through human activity, that knowledge is a human product which is socially and culturally constructed, and that learning is a social process.
Connectivism suggests that “the most important result of a learning situation is the ability of the learner to make connections between distinct ideas using social capital and the affordances of digital networks.”

Slack is an interactive environment where you can post, comment, and share ideas. Elmose believes that “it is collaboration” and it will help to shift from teacher-centered to a student-centered learning context – it will help to build a community of learning in the classroom. These communities of learning are necessary to promote opportunities for students to take owner-ship of their learning.

The current learning landscape still holds the instructor as the transmitter of information and the teacher of skills. However, Jody Donovan, in her blog, states that:

“students are not passive receptacles to be filled with information, instead, they are active learners. Being a member of a learning community means engaging in reciprocal learning activities, soaking in new ideas and sharing perspectives and experiences to make meaning of the information. Learning happens through discussion, reflection, collaborative teamwork, and most importantly, taking initiative and responsibility to listen, question, and think critically within the community of fellow learners.”

It is crucial for the 21st century teaching and learning context to build in such facets that this type of peer learning can be supported and thus engage students to become active learners, to reach out to their peers, and to initiate their own learning paths. Elmose sees Slack as a vehicle to do just this, and I have to say that this idea is definitely a promising one.


On a side note…here is an infographic that posits what the educational technology landscape will look like in 2020 and 2030. A quote I found especially intriguing from it is: “65% of today’s grade school kids will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet.” The-Future-of-Education-Technology-Infographic

(click on the graphic to see it more clearly) 

 

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Finally…Course 1Final Project

As I look over this final course 1 project, my English 10 unit, I wonder… thorough enough? more attachments? less attachments?  How can anyone see the tech integration?  Do I need to bold it or over emphasis it? Does it seem natural enough or is it forced?  Where am I in the SAMR spectrum?

Too many questions.  I took a deep breath and convinced myself that I can always write more and unsure when I would stop.

So …I am stopping.

I have shown the technology I have used, and have liked using the resources, text types, and performance tasks.  I am hoping it comes across authentic and not forced.

I have been teaching this unit and thinking about methods to integrate and use technology more meaningfully in my classroom.  I am in the last two weeks, where the final performance task is being introduced when back from spring break (now recognized as TMN–the much needed– break ).

My unit is based on society and self, and how one affects the other.  The base text is All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque.  For those who haven’t read it, it is a soldiers perspective of WWI.  A heavy text but many ways to connect beyond the war.  My teaching partner and I use concepts when teaching and  are often large to grasp, forcing the students to think big and look in many places for collective answers, including themselves.

To help put things in perspective, we had a class blog for the students to respond weekly on a choice of questions, quotations, and images.  This seems a bit like a replacement method of writing, but it was for the purpose to relax the rigour of a formal literary analysis and see if technology, and relaxed yet formal style of the blog, help the students provide more personal connections and depth to their writing.  Students responded weekly, posting their response, and then were required to comment on another students blog. I found interesting the ability to write with flow and voice was more apparent with the blog.  Smoother flow of writing produced than that of a literary response paragraph — pen to paper.  Some students claim that they did spend some more time in the planning, but there is something about the freedom in a blog that allowed many students to explore and risk a bit more in their writing.

A requirement for the class was for every post they made, they had to comment on a classmates post.   The cool thing were some of the comments they wrote to each other, with a bit of an online dialogue about ideas and content.  Pretty neat.  I also commented on the their posts, online, giving feedback for their writing and content — seemed to go much quicker than pen to paper for me too.  I couldn’t pick apart the grammar and sentence structure, I focused on the ideas, connections, flow and voice of paper — a good method for everyone.

With one performance task to go, I am already looking forward to reflecting and tweaking this unit with the more that I read and discover with this course.

 

 

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Fancy New Tools

Edutopia’s article, “Shaping Tech for the Classroom”, took me on a tangent. I was reading the article and connecting it to topics I have already discussed – specifically the use of the SAMR model to aid in using technology more effectively in a classroom…and I am ready to admit that I fall under the “doing old things in new ways” category, but most of my colleagues would admit to this, too. This island we inhabit is full and we all help each other to find fancy new tools where we move our content from one place to another and get our students to move their conversations from one space to another.  I am hereby declaring that I am ready to learn how to make technology work for me and to work for the students – to have it be a mechanism through which effective learning can take place.

lmsThis line of thought brought me to the idea of a Learning Management System (LMS). Essentially, an LMS is used to manage, track, and deliver courses and training programs in both the education and business world. The eLearning Industry points out that e-Learning is a 50 billion dollar industry and that number could double within a year. They also project that by the year 2019, about half of all college classes in the states will be eLearning based. Theses numbers show that there are systematic changes taking place in education in order to contend with a shifting 21st century economy and culture.  Many schools have already made the move to an LMS…but, I wonder, is this really the direction schools should be taking? (if you are interested, here is an infographic that shows the top 20 LMS software)

As I was looking at some of the different LMS platforms I started to wonder about the process of choosing one. How does an institution decide on which platform to use? I can see cost being a major issue…but what else? Another infographic highlights and expands on more variables that would come into play: ease of use, customizations, support available, and suitability for the environment. There are also open source LMS’ that are free of cost. Watch this short video on one such example – Moodle. It is one of the most widely used LMS’ on the free market:

YouTube Preview Image

Moodle has lots of bells and whistles and to the naked eye it looks like a fancy tool that could help create an effective learning environment.

But, there is something missing here…and that is the most critical
aspect of all: learning.

Is an LMS the BEST way that we can help someone learn?

lms 3In the performance management sector there must be a value delivered, and the same should go in education. An LMS is just one system of learning…we need to know it is going to provide value, rather than buy it and then just hope it provides value.

An LMS can house all of the content of a program, people tend to like them once they learn the ins and outs, and they help to brand an organization. However, just because we like what they can do, does not get us off the hook for finding out if it is going to help someone learn. Before integrating any technology an analysis on the process of learning, the people, the environment and the content to be delivered needs to take place. If after the analysis it is decided that an LMS will serve the needs of the context and provide value, fantastic. I think that organizations can get fooled into thinking that they can shape their context around an LMS, but in reality this just usually isn’t the case.

This also brings me around to the question of should an LMS be used at all? Do they help or hinder the learning environment?
Let’s think about games for a moment. A game without rules would equal chaos, a game with rules gives structure and goals, but a game with too many rules is rigid and can decrease creativity. We need to be careful that the technology we are implementing at a system level is not killing students curiosity and their ability to interact with the broader online community. The technology needs to serve a need and not the other way around. A quick example of this is how the US used technology to try and solve the issue of writing in space by creating a million-dollar pen, whereas the Russians just used a pencil. I think you get my point.

penpencilYes, there is a need for a systematic shift to take place in education….but is using an LMS helping to support that shift?

I am not sure – but, I would like to make a suggestion:

That we shift the acronym from LMS to SML. That we see the introduction of technology into education as systems to manage the learning that is happening… to manage how it is developed… to manage how it is delivered. An LMS is designed to create a structured approach, it establishes a template. The problem with this is that “my” structure might not match “your” structure or someone else’s structure because not everyone teaches or learns the same way. Inherent in the education system is the idea of the variety of teaching and learning practices, but an LMS seeks to add consistency to that practice. This is not always a negative – consistency is needed in an educational context in areas such as assessment. However, you don’t want every course looking relatively the same. 21st century learning is about creating deliverables that are not only relevant and engaging for today’s student population, but also allow them to explore, think, and create. The template structure that an LMS provides does not seem like the most effective tool to provide a rich and flexible learning context.

Show me an LMS that is highly customizable for each classroom, yet still holds a sense of consistency for the institution and then we can talk.

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Engagement = Learning

Does engagement actually equal learning?

learningWhile perusing Flipboard this weekend, an article called “How to Determine if Student Engagement is Leading to Learning” caught my interest. Its main focus is how it is common to hear educators discuss the use of technology in both physical and virtual classrooms to engage students. The effectiveness of technology to increase learning is drawn from the 21st century student context. Put some technology in front of a student and they are sure to learn, right? After all, they love technology.

“In education, student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.”

(The Glossary of Education Reform, 2014, Student Engagement)

Students can be engaged in a class – collaboration, creativity and fun can all be evident – but how can you tell if learning is actually occurring? Where is the evidence? Students “can walk away from a lesson or activity having been very engaged but with very little in the form of new knowledge construction, conceptual mastery, or evidence of applied skills” (Sheninger, as cited in Mindshift, 2016).

It is critical that educators do not just use technology as a means of getting students to have more fun or think more positively about a lesson without designing the use of the technology to also enhance the learning process. Visible evidence is needed in order to justify the use of technology in an academic setting – both physical and virtual.

Using an instructional design model that is based around the integration of technology is one way to help ensure that the technology being implemented both engages the students, but also helps them to take away new knowledge and skills. One such model that is currently being advoSAMRcated for in the 21st century teaching and learning context is SAMR (Puentedura, 2006). This model provides four methods of incorporating technology into the design of a program. Each method is connected to an aspect of Bloom’s technology and moves from lower to higher order thinking. It is at the two higher levels that meaningful learning takes place, and being able to recognized these levels in one’s own design process is important.

So to correct my title…it should read:

Learning = Engagement + Design (meaningful technology integration)

References

The Glossary of Education Reform. (2014). Student engagement. Retrieved from https://edglossary.org/student-engagement/

Mindshift. (2016). How to determine if student engagement is leading to learning. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/01/14/how-to-determine-if-student-engagement-is-leading-to-learning/

Puentedura, R. (2006). A model for technology and transformation [pdf]. Retrieved from https://hippasus.com/resources/sweden2010/SAMR_TPCK_IntroToAdvancedPractice.pdf

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Connecting to Connectivism

Siemens (2004) discusses howordlew the theory of connectivitism has “learning as a process that occurs within nebulous environments…not entirely under the control of the individual,” and that learners establish personal knowledge networks of relevant information, resources and connections. This focus on creating communities of learning makes connectivism a popular learning theory to meet the needs of the 21st century learn er.

I mentioned Marc Prensky in my first blog post – his term ‘digital natives’ refers to a generation born in the digital age. They are ‘native speakers’ of the digital language – technology is integrated into their daily existence and so to negate it in the classroom would seem to be doing a disservice to their innate knowledge seeking ways. Digital natives “think differently from the rest of us. They develop hypertext minds. They leap around. It’s as though their cognitive structures are parallel, not sequential” (Prensky, 2001, p.4).digital natives

Traditional learning theories, such as cognitivism and constructivism are often used in the classroom, but these theories are from a time when “learning was not impacted through technology” (Siemens, 2004). Technology is not only changing how learners access information, it’s changing knowledge itself, “half of what we know today, didn’t exist ten years ago” (Siemens, 2004). With technology being a major force in the pace of knowledge building and learning, connectivism can help make the educational context more current and move the traditional theories into the digital age.

I think that too many educators fail to understand how technology is changing society. While hype words of web 2.0 , blogs, wikis, and podcasts are easy to ignore, the change agents driving these tools are not. web 20We communicate differently than we did even ten years ago. We use different tools for learning; we experience knowledge in different formats and at a different pace, and it is here, where knowledge growth exceeds our ability to cope, that new theories of knowledge and learning are needed (Siemens, 2006).

Connectivism addresses the speed with which knowledge and information are both being made and changing. Each piece of information or knowledge forms a connection to create a network – and as we explored in the week one readings, it is the networks in a community where the real connections are made and knowledge built.

Reading about connectivism this week (as well as the revised Bloom’s taxonomy) has been caused me to be again, reflective on my practice and how I use tech in the classroom, or what is more apparent — I am not as connected as I thought.  This has been information overload, realizing and processing new information, thinking how do I start to integrate it into my program design.  The challenge accepted.  I am off… to understand and apply my new knowledge, pondering the connections in my classroom design — baby steps.

References

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 2: Do they really think Differently? On the Horizon, 9(6), 1 – 6. doi: 10.1108/10748120110424843

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A theory for the digital age. Elearn Space. Retrieved from https://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Siemens, G. (2006). Connectivism: Learning Theory or the Past Time of the Self Amused? Retrieved from https://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism_self-amused.htm

 

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Becoming An Active Agent

wordle-learning3Although I have been a teacher for over a decade and I consider myself to be adequately tech savvy (in terms of its general use for classroom and every day activities), I have still not taken advantage of becoming a member of a learning community. This could be partly due to my lack of social media accounts, but also that I feel I do not have the time to give to being an active member of an online community. However, with that said, I am definitely willing to have my mind changed. The demands of 21st century teaching and learning require educational practices to be systemically altered. Students of today live in a world where digital technologies are common place and information is only a Google away.

I am a strong proponent of building communities of learning within a school. These communities have mostly come in the form of groups that can meet face-to-face. Of course, I search the Internet for resources, ideas, and strategies to bring into my classroom and to share with my colleagues, but I have not yet ventured into the vast networks of the likes of Twitter. I know I am about to find out just how much more I will gain from reaching out and connecting with people who can help support my personal and professional development. Let the journey down the rabbit hole begin!

Utecht (2010) discusses how being an active agent in an online learning community is critical to making one work.  He goes on to say that real learning and relationship building happens when participants are visible – connections are made through being visible and the more connections you make, the more personal and meaningful those connections and your overall learning will be.

Pweb2.0art of my teaching practice is developing a sense of community within my classroom. When students feel a part of something they are more likely to take risks, see mistakes as a learning experience, trust each other, and support each other. This sense of community that I build extends beyond the four walls of my class; I have a great rapport with my students. However, utilizing Web 2.0 tools to reach out to this same community of learners in a context they engage in every day could be that next level toward more  metacognitive learning. I look forward to developing the skills that will allow me to support students to stop being lurkers of content, but rather to aid them in joining in on educational conversations happening all around them. Utecht (2010) states that “before Web 2.0 was even a thought in our minds, the founding fathers of the Internet believed that it would be communities of prosumers that would power the Internet” (2). Giving students the skills to engage with the content on the Internet and to join learning communities of their own is something that will transfer into their real world context.

the concept of education of children. the generation of knowledge

I grew up in a time when the Internet didn’t exist – the type of learning students partake in today was not accessible to me. Although I now use the Internet in many facets of my professional life, the extension to my classroom is not as prominent as I wish it to be. These digital natives, a term coined by Mark Prensky (2001), interact with the world differently. Supporting their learning through tools that they are not only familiar with, but depend on for their daily existence can only help to motivate them to become more active in the learning process.

This is going to be an overwhelming process initially – so many cogs working at once. It will take some time to establish a routine within the learning communities I choose to join, but the benefits will be worth it. Applications such as an RSS reader and Buffer will help in this process. They will allow me to save time in searching for meaningful information, as well as allow me to frontload my contributions which will be filtered out magically in the background. Thus keeping my active agent status intact without constantly having to be connected – this is something I can definitely buy into.

References

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 2: Do they really think Differently? On the Horizon, 9(6), 1 – 6. doi: 10.1108/10748120110424843

Utecht, Jeff. (2010).  Reach:  Building Communities and Networks for Professional Development.  San Francisco, California.

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