It’s the End of the World As We Know It

Will education as we know it change because of technology? Where and how will you be teaching in 5, 10, 15 years time?

As I read this prompt this week about whether education as we know it will change because of technology, the song “It’s the end of the world as we know it” by R.E.M. (yeah, I’m an 80s girl) kept playing through my mind.

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Is it really the end of the world as I know it? Is technology and education and the face of teaching changing so much that there will be a huge difference in what education looks like in the near future? And how do I fit into that change (whatever it is?)? Am I up to the challenge? Will I even be teaching? I mean really, where WILL I be in 5, 10, or 15 years? As an international teacher, that’s always a question I’m asked (especially at interviews when the administrator is testing the waters to see if I have “staying power” and would be a good match at their school) as it’s kind of our nature to move around and experience new countries and cultures. But the bigger question is HOW will I be teaching in 5, 10, or 15 years? Do I “feel fine” because of all the changes that I see taking place every day in my own current school?

Photo Credit: flickr photo shared by JAM Project under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

I’m beginning to teach a PBL unit with two of my colleagues and was asked yesterday if I could put together a quick screencast of how to search for CC images and then cite them correctly. I know how to tell the kids to do it (old-fashioned “lecture” method), and I could put together a PPT to show them the steps (still old-fashioned), but creating a screencast is currently beyond me right now. Now don’t get me wrong – I WANT to learn how to do that. But I’m also currently serving on multiple committees, bombarded with new families wanting to enroll their kids at my school, calling current families to see if their kids will return next year, and getting things organized for the summer for someone else to take over the admissions office.

The BIG Question:

So what do I do? I’m not a complete tech. idiot. I have a personal blog I started 10 years ago. I learned about Skype before many of my friends. I had WhatsApp downloaded to my phone before it was even a blip on most people’s radar. I earned my Master’s of Library Science ENTIRELY online – and I graduated back in 2007! I mean, I taught UWM-Milwaukee about what a real distance learner is – most of their distance ed. students lived several hours away or in a nearby state. I was their first overseas/international student.

Photo Credit: T. Roth personal photo

Photo Credit: T. Roth personal photo

But am I ready to re-enter the library next year and really get my tech. on? And while I’m busy learning about all the new cool tech. that is continually being introduced and invented, am I really spending my time learning about what will stick around or am I wasting my time on passing fancies and ideas that are currently cool and slick but may not be around for very long? As I get older and my brain gets foggier, I feel I need to focus on what I CAN do, what will benefit my students, and what will incorporate tech. that is really going to get students motivated and engaged and learning.

So I wonder sometimes – are all these apps that keep coming out the new “in” thing? Which ones will have staying power? Which ones should I learn about and become an “expert” in using? What do I do in a school that has one-to-one laptops but very few tablets/iPads? Do we need those things? I know there are all kinds of amazing extensions to use with Chrome (yeah, keeping up with all the news ones that keep coming out is so hard!). I’ve introduced some to my own daughter who was quite impressed with what I knew. But she thinks I’m an idiot usually because I’m old and don’t understand anything. Impressing her is sometimes not so hard.

Photo Credit: T. Roth personal photo

Photo Credit: T. Roth personal photo of my Chrome Extensions

MOOCs and Badges

Two of the topics we were to read about this week were MOOCs and Badges. I feel a real connection with the idea of MOOCs for two reasons: I’m currently enrolled in COETAIL, which is a type of MOOC, and as I previously mentioned, I earned my MLIS entirely online. But neither of these MOOCs are free – I paid good money for my MLIS and our COETAIL courses aren’t exactly inexpensive, either. But because of my personality, if I am taking a course that I paid for, I tend to take it much more seriously than a course I’m taking for free. There’s more at stake with a paid course (in my opinion). I want to do well because I don’t want to waste my hard-earned money. But then on the flip side, if I were to choose a course I really want to take because it truly interests me, I would be invested whether I paid for it or not.

Photo Credit: flickr photo shared by mathplourde under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Which then leads to my next point – we need to find ways to get students invested in their own learning. And although I know there are pros and cons to badges, the idea behind it has merit. Starting next week, our seniors are taking their IB exams. They are TOTALLY invested in these because the better they do on their exams, the higher the score they get, which in turn can help them with university credit. They are SO invested in these exams (even though they are not personally paying for them). But these are our seniors – they are old enough to see the benefit of doing well on their exams. What about 10-year-olds? How do we get them invested in their learning? They are no longer so little that they are excited to go to school. But they aren’t old enough to really see the big picture.

I can see where earning Badges could really play into this. For example, our students all take Digital Citizenship classes at my school. I’ve talked about this in previous blogs so I won’t take a lot of time to explain the idea here. But I will incorporate how I think badges could really work with this course. Students are asked to do different activities to show their understanding of broad concepts such as privacy, censorship, multi-tasking, etc. If they were given the chance to earn badges that would then earn them privileges, I could see a lot of kids, at all ages, really getting into their learning. We already see this at our school with Rocket Math. Kids challenge themselves to get to the next math level because they want to earn another rocket and be recognized in front of their peers at the all-school assembly. Earning badges for learning skills and passing levels could really fit into this model. In fact, I’m going to propose this idea to our Tech. Integrationist and Elementary Principal to see if this is something that we could do.

Photo Credit: flickr photo shared by elfgoh under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

So maybe I am getting my tech. on. Maybe I can do that screencast. Maybe I do feel fine. Because I sure do feel invigorated to see whether we could get kids excited to learn about their role in Digital Citizenship.

6 thoughts on “It’s the End of the World As We Know It

  1. Profile photo of Suzy RamsdenSuzy Ramsden

    Hi Trina,

    Thank you for the blast from the past. I remember this well although I had already started teaching by then, so now, it’s nearly the end of my teaching. You raise some really interesting points about relevance versus trends for our students and what they need to be using technology wise. I also find it hard to keep up and find I have very little time to mess about and learn to use new apps and so came to the conclusion that I would take the lead from my students about what they want to learn to use. They are such digital natives that they are really motivated to learn to use new apps and often teach me. For me, the most important tools and platforms are those that enable them to work and problem solve collaboratively.

    I was reflecting on the really interesting question you raised around MOOCs and motivation. When I first started Coetail, one of my motivations was that I would receive credits, the other was that the learning would be challenging for me, but I would be doing it collaboratively. Early on in the Coetail course I hit a wall as far as receiving credits. By this time though, I was hooked into my learning and was enjoying the networking and collaborative learning too much to care because fundamentally, that was no longer my motivation. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are complex and I am very aware that although I am applying my learning in my classroom, my ” employment” does not depend on it.

    I like your ideas around badges, motivation and engagement. I have also been considering introducing badges as part of digital citizenship. Reading about badges has really opened up my thinking around them . I have become increasingly interested in using them as a way of documenting how students learn and the skills  they  bring to collaborative learning. We use the Learner Profile at our school and I sometimes think that the concepts are difficult for 6 and 7 year olds to understand. I like the idea of attaching badges to the Learner Profile continuum so that the students and others can see and appreciate skills and contributions that the students make both inside and outside school. They can add these to their eportfolios which move with them through the school. This could really be a visual way that they could see their learning pathway.  I like this article by Cathy N Davidson who talks about badges being a paradigm-shifting alternative to current forms of evaluation and credentialing. Good luck with your badging around digital citizenship. Let’s share what we do, badging will be my next holiday project.

    Thank you Trina for all the questions you raised, it made me do a lot of reflecting.

  2. Profile photo of Trina RothTrina Roth Post author

    Wow, Suzy, I’m honored you responded to my blog post. I do sometimes wonder if I’m only writing these for my cohort leader. I’m glad I was able to get your brain thinking and reflecting. And I would love to be in touch about upcoming badging projects. It won’t be until after the summer and the start of the new school year (2016/17) but as it’ll be my last course in COETAIL, I will be around and active.

    Thank you for letting me know how you see MOOCs working with regard to motivation. I hear you on how learning has to become intrinsic. That’s a skill that takes a lot of practice. As Malcolm Gladwell says, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. That’s a lot of hours for something that only has a personal gain. If only we could figure out a way to make intrinsic learning fun for kids…

    Again, thanks for your thoughts and for getting my brain waves going again, too. See you on the “flip” side…

    Trina

  3. Profile photo of Megan KuemmerlinMegan Kuemmerlin

    Trina,

    I love that your mind went to that song, mine as well. Thank you for your honest post. You brought up a lot of great questions, ones I am also asking myself. Reading about Badges I found the connection to Game Based Learning with rewards/points for accomplishing things. My one concern (which is so opposite from my competitive nature) is that it can be a deterring factor for the students that aren’t earning the badges. Are badges just replacing AR (link to renaissance.com)? Or taking it even further back, the Pizza Hut Book-It Stickers (will read for food!). I think they work for the motivated students, but for the non-motivated student, I’m not sure how motivating they will be.

    Issues aside, I love the autonomy and self-pacing it allows. Also, in reading 7 Things You Should Know About Badges (link to net.educause.edu) it mentioned that they will act as a credential, but asked the question if they will be accepted? My thinking right now is that they will just replace traditional forms of assessment/achievement, just a new term/way. All that being said, I love how they foster life long learning in a creative self-empowered way.

    As always, it was a pleasure reading your thinking.

    Megan

  4. Profile photo of Trina RothTrina Roth Post author

    Megan,
    So good to hear from you! Thanks for your insightful comments on my blog post. And I would DEFINITELY read for food – I already read for free, so how much better would/could that be?

    I continue to mull over the idea of badges, and I totally agree with you that they seem to work best for our motivated students. Unmotivated students don’t do the work anyway, so what would a badge mean? I could see students look at it in a defeatist manner – “I already don’t do well, so I won’t win any badges, so why bother?” But…on the flip side, maybe earning a badge is what would motivate some students. It’s not a bad idea…IF it works.

    The other thing the idea of badges make me think about is the idea of No Child Left Behind. Teachers in the U.S. teach to the test and are rewarded if their students do well. That’s kind of like a badge – they “earn” another year of teaching if their students do well. But what happens if a particular class just doesn’t? The teacher is then penalized, thus losing their “badge.” How fair is that?

    Argh…it’s not a clear-cut answer, is it?

    Trina

    1. Profile photo of YolandaYolanda

      I’d like to chime in here on the badge conversation. I also am struggling with the idea of it, for the same reasons y’all brought up. I was a very unmotivated student when I was in school. I really only started to do good work when I was in grad school, and that program was pass/fail. There were NO grades. This actually served to inspire me more than anything. Getting grades always made me feel like a failure. Being the LAST one in the class to master my times tables while everyone else got to go out to play wile I still struggled with the test still haunts me today. So I also wonder if those who struggle would feel like a lesser student in a badge system. However, there is a part of me that wonders about allowing students to follow their own path with badges. Like if a student wanted to take the X path and another wanted to take the Y path then we would both be getting different badges along the way. In Danieal’s blog post, she describes her classroom, “…select targets that they were interested in learning about and to add targets to their investigation process that they felt were aligned. Throughout the academic year students worked towards demonstrating proficiency on every target within their academic track, but at their pace, and in a manor that was appealing to them.” link to coetail.com What if those targets along the way were badges? Would that work for the students like me? I think it could. I think especially if I had a teacher who was a coach and cheerleader and guide maybe it could. I always felt like my teachers had given up on me, like I was just too stupid for them to bother with me. Teacher can be different, can support and guide rather than belittle. Maybe badges would work? Sigh. It is still something I struggle with in my head. But I can’t hide the fact that I like the idea of them. Yet I really do not like programs like AR (as mentioned above), are they different? Why do I like this idea?

  5. Profile photo of Trina RothTrina Roth Post author

    Yolanda,

    First I’d like to apologize for your teachers who held you in at recess to “force” you to learn your times tables (and whatever else they may have made you do). We have teachers at our school who do that and we’re really working with them to see that kids need the recess (as a stress release and a chance to get out and do something active) and that keeping them in during that time is actually not doing them any good; they’re not really learning. Now if it’s for poor behavior, that’s something different…

    What they’re struggling with, then, is how to get the kids to learn the concepts they’ve been trying to teach in class in a one-to-one situation. I could see how badges (and PBL!) could play a huge role, just like you said. Kids choose their own path (or project) and how they get to the end result is dependent upon them. This is a little trickier to do with the lower elementary grades, but can still be done. Maybe we do need to re-think how we’re teaching our kids and motivating them. Maybe, like you said, badges do have a place in the classroom. I don’t know if I’m fully on board with this idea, but I do think it bears some thought, especially at my school as we continue to move in the direction of PBL.

    So thanks for your thoughts and insight; your definitely gave me more food for thought.

    Trina

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