ed tech

Adventures of ECMP 355 (Summary of Learning)

I’m not sure one post or one video can explain all that I’ve learned this semester, but I worked with Brooke Stewart on creating a video or two where we tried to fully summarize what we have learned on this journey that is ECMP 355! Rural internet limitations means that we had to break up our summary of learning into two parts: the first being a Powtoon video where we go on a journey about learning about technology and the second, we reflect on a few things we couldn’t include in our Powtoon including coding, cyberbullying and a topic that is special to us- technology and rural schools.

 

I sincerely hope you enjoy our videos as much as I enjoyed creating them with my friend and neighbor Brooke!

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Technology Integration

Tech is everywhere. We engage with technology everyday as consumers, whether by using our an app on our phone or on the job. It is clear this is the 21st Century. Just how can technology benefit schools, students and educators?

Education technology is a wonderful thing, it can open up a whole new world to students who live in extremely rural areas (like I do) and it allows them to broaden their experiences when life is not limited by locale. 12158666264_61c44094fa This can be done via virtual tours such as this one of the Louvre or via linking classrooms via video conferencing. Students in smaller schools may also be able to access classes that otherwise might not be offered.

Photo Credit: Wayne Stadler Photography Flickr via Compfight cc

Another way that education technology is a wonderful thing is that teachers can utilize technology to encourage student voice and promote democracy in the classroom. Students who are introverts can be encouraged to use their voice via technologies such as Flipgrid or Mentimeter or through a platform such as blogging or Twitter where they might be more comfortable rather than speaking in front of classmates. Students can also give teachers feedback on lessons, topics and classroom activities. And for other students, technology can provide a real audience for them to share their ideas and practice their writing skills. Blog platforms such as Edublogs can provide a safe environment in which these students can blog about topics and hone their writing skills with real-life applications.

Technology can also streamline instruction. To quote Alec Couros, “if you can google it, why teach it?” Instead of focusing on information overload, teachers can focus on teaching skills such as writing, digital citizenship, branding and other 21st Century skills that may help them in college and career readiness. Our students should be becoming critical thinkers, engaged in asking questions and making their world a better place instead of focusing solely on the memorization of dates and names that they might forget after the next test (dates and names are important, but it shouldn’t be the only thing on our students’ minds).

We can all agree that technology is a good thing, however; there are a few things to consider before we jump in feet first. We must consider student access to devices if our classroom is “bring your own device,” some students cannot afford a smart phone or tablet or computer and making your classroom BYOD might create some issues.

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How much is too much? Can too much technology be a bad thing? According to Science Daily, writing notes by hand might make learning easier and the information might be absorbed better than if those notes were typed. We as educators need to find a balance between technology and regular classroom instruction.

Photo Credit: DawMatt Flickr via Compfight cc

We should seek to pick and choose types of technology that fit our classroom and school environments instead going overboard and adopting things wholesale. What works in one classroom may not work in another. This is especially true right now when many educators and administrators are concerned over budget cuts and what kind of impact those budget cuts might have upon our schools.

Overall, there are many advantages to integrating technology into our classrooms, but there are many things to consider before we jump in feet first. Technology integration should be smooth with students in mind.

Google’s My Maps

I was browsing Feedly and came across a blurb from freetech4teachers.com that made my social studies- lovin’ heart flutter! 

Yep, Google’s My Maps. It isn’t a tool I’ve tried yet (I just stumbled across it) but being able to add multi media to specific places on a map to tell a story or highlight a piece of history opens up a whole world of possibility! 

I can’t wait to try out this tech tool in my future classroom! 

Online Learning (So Far)

As of today, my tools still haven’t arrived and so I can’t post about my first encounter with a push graver or the difficulties of tool control. I decided to look at what I’ve learned so far and how learning online has affected it.

Online learning has its own difficulties, its own pros and cons and I believe I’ve learned a bit about acquiring information from the internet this early in the game. So here is the break down of the pros and cons of online learning according to little ol’ me.

Pros

  • Information is easy to access. I do a majority of my searching on my phone and so I’ve learned about engraving while on the road home from Calgary (my husband was driving, I promise!) and in the pasture while feeding cows.

  • Information is available 24/7. I do not need to work around office hours or someone else’s schedule, I can find information on my time (unless participating in a webcast or something similar).

  • There is a lot of information out there. Bucket-loads. Just about as much information as I could want.

  • There are a lot of different sources for information. Thanks to these various sources, people with different learning styles can learn the same information.

  • There are communities available, no matter where you live. I live so far in the middle of nowhere that most of the road signs are handmade. I’m not kidding. It is hard for me to take classes without driving long hours. The internet makes it easier for me to build my personal learning network (for both education and engraving). I can join a forum for engraving, follow awesome educators on Twitter and read blogs about both. I can ask questions and someone just might answer them.

    billiard-balls

Cons

  • Information can be somewhat scattered. Since there are many sources (and different opinions), my introduction to hand engraving was not laid out like a textbook. I had to actively search for information based on context and I had check out different sources to verify that information. I’m not sure if I’ve really absorbed most of the information I’ve read (I bookmarked just about everything so I can find it again).

  • There might be conflicting information. Thanks to all those handy-dandy sources, I’ve run into conflicting information that I’ve needed to research more. For example, some engravers refer to the flat graver as the wiggle tool. I was thinking they were two different tools until more research led to the conclusion that they are the same thing.

  • The quality of information might vary. Just as the information might be conflicting, the information quality is not guaranteed as it might be from taking a class from a master or purchasing a good instruction manual. Someone posting on a forum might be as green as me, but they might think what they are writing is correct when it might not be. I do not have enough knowledge to be a good judge myself, so I must research thoroughly before I leap.

  • Information about certain topics might be difficult to locate. For example, I can easily find videos about engraving scrolls and letters and working with the wiggle tool, but I am finding it difficult to locate information on how to design scroll work. In this case the internet can only take me so far and I may have to purchase a book or DVD with this information.

How does this look in the classroom?

The application of this experiment is easily transferable to real-world classroom scenarios. Students may find it difficult to locate sources related to their topic or they may need to assess their source by checking it with another, reliable source. Source assessment is an integral part of digital citizenship and one students in the 21st Century must learn. Now that I’ve had a taste of online learning, I can better help my students when they are struggling with issues similar to the ones I’ve encountered the last few weeks.

I can also teach skills that will help students be successful when it comes to online learning. Those skills could include:

  • source assessment

  • organization

  • note taking

  • citing sources

  • compiling sources

Overall, I am excited to continue learning using internet sources and I’ll overjoyed when my tools decide to arrive so I can apply the knowledge I am accumulating. I am ready to embrace being a connected educator and I want to bring my social studies classroom (my future classroom, that is) out of the stone age and embrace the 21st century. I want to create a portfolio (or toolbox, if you will) that will help me set up my class when I do get that full-time teaching job.

Until next time, keep learning!

Robbi