@1-8, The Beginning…

For me the course has ended with a good start…! All throughout the course, I have felt the power of networking and collaborating. It has been a great beginning for me to be able to collate (and add some new) resources. The course also provided with an opportunity to invest time and thinking in starting to develop a professional footprint for myself. I knew I could use Google but then again the ‘depth’ of Google as a professional tool was fully realized during this course. I never had the opportunity to setup a blog for myself or even setup the Google Reader! Thanks to Dana and Gary for these great sessions, much appreciate.

I struggled a bit with my final project because of the uniqueness of my area of expertise, but I still managed to keep the focus on the curricular ‘understandings’ and ‘essential questions’. I used the example of iPads in the 2nd grade classroom and how those had been used to spark imagination and with developing characters. The next step would be to use the iPad with the focus on building an understanding of the character.

UBD project

 

@1-7, NETs for Teachers

 

I am not a proponent of mandating anything, even the NETs standards, either for students or teachers. Teachers should feel convinced about using technology as just another tool as part of their classroom, and not be using it because it is something to be showcased as evidence of professional growth. Yes, from an administrative perspective I do understand the need of some parameters to help chart an individual’s growth plan, but I don’t know if NETs needs to be one of those. If we are agreeing that a laptop or ipad or a calculator or an ipod are just another tool that can used to leverage the learning, then is there a ‘special’ need to highlight their use (or the opposite)? And what about respect for individual teacher styles or what about balance or respect for teachers judgment about whether/ when or not to use technology? I certainly wouldn’t want technology infused lessons simply because of the pressure that it is one of the things linked to the professional report card.

I am all for dialogues and discussions. Sharing and celebrations can be (maybe) mandated, and those I feel would be of much more significance. That would certainly help with people ‘wanting’ (with the willingness factor) to embrace the use of technology.

It is about respecting individual’s intrinsic values (not necessarily tech), providing a nurturing environment with a commitment to self-growth.

@1-6, To be or not to be?

NETs – To be or not to be?

Random thoughts-

  • Standards provide the ‘safety nets’ to practice and play within
  • The big question is – are the standards the guiding force or driving force?
  • It’s a fine line when the focus shifts from the content standards to tech standards. What’s the focus – subject specific learnings or the learning of the tech tool?
  • If tech resources are available anytime, anywhere, then is there a need to be teaching-to tech standards? Aren’t the tech tools a medium to help students learn about – creativity, collaboration, communication, social skills, problem solving
  • Does it matter who’s teaching the tech skills – c’room teacher, tech teacher or both? isn’t it limiting?

@1-5,Collaborative projects

 

Building up further on using Voicethread as a tool to collaborate with schools around the world, here is something that I plan to work on soon. This is a collaborative project with the Burke school and another school in Japan.

Goal is to do a small share on Voicethread about what they kids have for lunch?  Kids would draw or construct (on or off computer) a picture of what they have for lunch.

If it is a drawing the teacher would either scan or take a photo of it and post it on Voicethread.  The kids would narrate the parts and then kids in other places would ask questions or make connections.

This project is in planning stage and could tie in to either the KG unit about ‘Myself’ or First grade unit about “

Another example – As part of the Grade 4 Peace Unit – students will use Skype to collaborate with an NGO in Central America.

 

A couple resources for collaborative literacy projects for Grade 1 and 2 http://www.literacy.uconn.edu/k2apply.htm#gr1

http://www.iearn.org/

iEarn  iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) is the world’s largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

 

Technology has made learning free from the clutches of time zones and distances. Evidence is right here, right now with one of our colleagues being able to attend the class via Skype!

In the recent past we used Skype at school to help lil’ first graders connect with their teacher who was not on campus for the first few weeks of school. The power of that connection between the kids and their homeroom teacher was evident when she stepped in school the first day!, they just got along together as if they had been meeting every day. Technology brought together and helped strengthen their bond as she used Skype sessions to read books and she even addressed the parents at back-to-school night, wow!

Elementary school kids are using blogs to document and share their learnings with parents and others in the community. Evidence of their child’s learning is just a click away, and it’s the child’s sense of ownership that needs to be celebratedJ

Another great example of how use of technology helped bridge distances – 4 year olds connecting with a ‘Fireman’ in the US via a live Skype session, and he spoke about his life and adventures . All this was part of their unit on ‘Role plays’

One last example – KG – the 5 year olds get really excited around the time when finally, after days of waiting, the eggs in the incubators start to hatch. The families, smiles, counting of the chicks, naming the chicks – all part of learnings, and the kids can’t stop talking. We connected a webcam and had the eggs + chicks + hatching+ celebrations live feed on to the school’s website. And now the kids were connecting with grandparents and other family members and talking about their experiences. Technology made the experiences come liveJ

@1-4, Speed geek

I chose to work with Voice Thread, not because it’s new to me but because I am so awed by the potential of this tool that it never fails to keep me engaged and motivated. The power of voicethread is such that it can be applied to various content areas, with varied age groups and for variety of purposes – assessment, reflection, sharing, visual thinking and more.

Its flexi menu of different styles of commenting (text, audio, video, and phone) makes it universally applicable.

The school now has a volume user license with credits, and it’s ready to go! In the past I have used it with third graders and Kindergarten kids.

The third grade project was used to get the students thinking about the ‘Human skeleton’ as part of their science unit. The KG project was a collaborative project with 2 other schools in the US and the theme was ‘Playgrounds around the world’

 

@1-3

There are umpteen tools available that could be embedded in a content area yet what is important is to identify the one that best suits the learning objective. The focus needs to be on the curricular outcome and then follows the technology. Technology immersion into the content could provide for untethered freedom and mobility for both students and teachers. It can also provide as a medium for self-paced and personalized education. I believe that seamless integration with technology tools can add depth and dimension to the academic program. Technology could help create a flexible learning environment where it is about engagement and not providing entertainment. Various examples of tech integration could be using the digital microscope to observe worms or using Wordle.net to create word clouds with words that describe a character from a story or using the video camera to make ‘peace’ movies or using Google earth to reinforce the concept of directions/ latitude/ longitude or using Photo story to make digital stories.

 

The focus needs to be on the process and not the end product.

@1-2

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article Connectivism: A learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens. Keep re-reading it and each time I find something that excites my thinking. What is most important to me is that it stays with learning as the prime focus and the trends in learning seem to be the very basis for need for revision to the Bloom’s taxonomy.  Learning is a verb, doing word and is recognized as non-stop and forever. The evolution of thinking trends is also learning. Learning is about collaboration and is also about feedback. Learning could be active or passive, experiential or via observations. Can the process of learning be tied to a timeline? To a benchmark? Or to a standard? Or to time and place? Does it stop with the moment? Is learning only that that can be assessed or quantified? Is the purpose of assessing learning larger than creating an environment for learning? Or is it about designing learning environments/ spaces which will foster itself and then again provide grounding for the next learning experience.  Does the learning stop with the completion of a ‘learning outcome’, and if that is the case then maybe the whole unit/ activity needs to be looked at with a fresh perspective. Learning is all about motivation and keeping the passion going, and finding avenues to foster itself.

Learners of today are capable, conscientious, concerned and optimistic, determined to succeed, and for this they need learning environments which nurture collaboration, cohesive synthesis, inquiry, need to stay connected and feed off from each other.

Hopes and more….

Having been in the field of educational technology for a while now, I have witnessed a huge change in people’s ‘perceptions’ and ‘expectations’ for the use of technology to leverage student learning. The conversations and thinking have gone through a paradigm shift, where the focus has moved from ‘developing the tech curriculum’ to ‘integrating within the tech curriculum’ to ‘immersing the tech curriculum within the content’ to the present day ‘facilitation’ model.

The variations and the forward thinking at each one of these stages needs to be celebrated coz’ it’s always Learning that has been the prime focus – either Learning of Technology, Learning for technology or Learning with technology.

I have enjoyed riding this wave of change in educational technology, while it has been an enriching experience yet there has always been a feeling of riding a roller coaster, never stopping, always prepping for ‘something new’ in this very dynamic field.

I am hoping for this course to provide an opportunity to be able to ‘reflect’ and ‘stop and think’ via dialogues and discussions during the course. I am also looking forward to hearing expectations of others which should bring in another realm of understandings for me. I believe that there’s always more to learn… conversations, collaborations and communication generate more avenues for understanding education and the purpose for education.

Another expectation from the course is to provide with an opportunity to collate both known and new web 2.0 resources to develop a PLN for myself.

Referring to Marc Prensky’s article, a part of me instantly wants to react to how he labels people – digital natives and digital immigrants, and then the value in doing so. And I can sense a mild negative undertone to one of those labels. Ought not the focus to be on celebrating ‘learning’, and that in both the (according to the author) eras, it is learning that is of prime focus. I also feel that the article has used some very exclusive assumptions about both the digital natives and immigrants. Also some of his ideas and concepts seem so archaic if one were to look at it from the lens of options/ collaborations/ creativity. His definitions of ‘legacy content’ and ‘future content ‘ are also knowledge based, whereas I feel what is important is not content but skills.