CURIOSITY + EDUCATION = CURIOSEDY!

Here it is. My final project. Long before I heard the word ‘COETAIL’, I had an idea about learning. What if there could be a website with the sole purpose of celebrating and promoting curiosity in learning. A place where students could share their curiosities, innovations and creativity to a potential global audience. A place where teachers from all around the world could place their student’s work; giving the work a legacy. A place where student work can have a life after the unit is over; to be  a resource for other students and to share ideas and build upon other students’ understandings. Welcome to CURIOSEDY.

This is an idea born 4 years ago and will hopefully continue and flourish for many more to come. Curiosedy is a website where all work is created by students There is no learning taught by an adult. All ideas, teaching and ideas are derived from the minds of students; their curiosities. The purpose is to hopefully inspire students to join and contribute their innovative thinking, creativity and curiosities. A place for other educators to work together to build a database of high quality, real-world student learning driven by curiosity!

In terms of technology, this has been a roller coaster of 5 courses. From the beginnings with google sites to actual web building through Go Daddy to finally landing on WordPress, and learning about youtube, Imovie, and twitter! From being overwhelmed, to feelings of drowning and moments of technical euphoria, this has been an educational roller coaster. I thank you for this opportunity and look forward to your thoughts.

GOALS FOR THE PROJECT:

My goals for this project was to use technology as a tool to demonstrate and present student understanding in more creative and innovative ways. Secondly, to demonstrate the power of technology as a tool for students and teachers to share their understandings and promote global instruction and collaboration of ideas and student knowledge.

TECHNOLOGY TOOLS:

In terms of technology, I used WordPress as the web site platform in conjunction with youtube. In terms of student work, alot of Imovie was used as well as several different video and animation making apps such as adobe voice. I also used collaborative tools such as padlets.

THE HOOK:

The project was introduced to the students by asking them, “What has always happened to their work at the end of a unit?” Their answer, “My parents put it on the fridge for a couple of days and then it goes in the trash!” I then asked, “What if your work could last a lifetime? What if, your work could inspire other students or teach other students? That is what Curiosedy is about.” That hooked them or at least hooked a few at the start and then as students put work up on curiosedy, other students began to want to. Students loved the idea of being able to teach others and not have their work simply end up in the waste bin.

OUTCOME:

this is hard to say about whether I reached my goals or the outcome because this project goes way beyond Coetail. I believe this idea is in its infancy stages and so to be able to state whether it has attained its goals is unrealistic. I think the fact that students want to produce work to appear on Curiosedy and are excited to create tutorials to help other students does speak to meeting some of the outcomes. Also, Curiosedy is not entirely based on technology. Technology actually plays a small role (but critical role) compared to the design of learning behind Curiosedy. The philosophy behind Curiosedy is based on an approach to teaching and learning I created called SIMPLE. I created this website during my time in Coetail as a way to clarify how the teaching and learning happen and what is the foundation which produces the products and student understanding displayed and shared through Curiosedy.

REDEFINITION (https://sites.google.com/a/msad60.org/technology-is-learning/samr-model)

 Redefintion         
Computer technology allows for new tasks that were previously inconceivable. 
A classroom is asked to create a documentary video answering an essential question related to important concepts. Teams of students take on different subtopics and collaborate to create one final product.  Teams are expected to contact outside sources for information.
 At this level, common classroom tasks and computer technology exist not as ends but as supports for student centered learning.  Students learn content and skills in support of important concepts as they pursue the challenge of creating a  professional quality video.  Collaboration becomes necessary and technology allows such communications to occur.  Questions and discussion are increasingly student generated.
I believe the work on Curiosedy has reached the redefinition stage because the technology exists as support for student learning. The videos created by students will be a resource for future generations of learners. The technology also allows students to teach the concepts more efficiently through animation, imagery and voice. Also, things like padlets on math challenges allow students opportunity to share their thinking, build off other student thinking and share understandings with a global audience.

SHARING WITH COLLEAGUES:

The realization with sharing is that the website is only worth sharing when there is enough student work to share. It takes a lot of time to produce the student work. Sharing is very personal and methodical for me. It is not about simply linking it to a blog post or tweeting it out. It is about slowly building a base of like minded passionate educators who see a purpose to Curiosedy and see potential in the idea. I have begun to share it through Twitter by tweeting student work that gets posted.

GREATEST LEARNING

1.Word press is incredible…complicated, causes hair loss, but is incredible.

2. Technology gives life to student learning. Student understandings become legacies of understandings, to be used as a resource for generations.

After 5 courses…

I thought for my “interest based” post option for course 5, I would share some of my final reflections through my Coetail voyage.

REFLECTION 1:

Technology is a very powerful tool for collaboration and offering students opportunity to access global thinking and to share ideas globally. This is the big positive I have gained from my Coetail experience and is the basis of my final project

REFLECTION 2:

Technology is only effective in education and student learning when it has purpose. There is a lot of technology in the classroom with little purpose and is simply technological “busy” work (ex: substitution). It takes time and skill to infuse technology which has purpose

REFLECTION 3:

I am starting to see some benefits to the use of social media as a way to share ideas and to market oneself. I still find it very difficult to sift through all the social media to find actual nuggets of true value and authentic interaction. I still get overwhelmed with uselessness. However, the nuggets I do find are truly valuable and the opportunity to access would not have existed without technology.

REFLECTION 4:

I find we treat technology as a novelty It’s like a world of links! We overuse it. I have always felt that more is not better. If we can say it in fewer words…that is better. Just because I have access to all this technology does not mean I have to use it or that other people want to hear about it. We are losing our ability to share what is truly important and are rather just providing all of it. We feel the need to hyperlink everything, to show the world what we know. The following says it all!

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Look forward to sharing my final project with you!

 

 

Community engagement

  • TWEETS7
  • FOLLOWING23
  • FOLLOWERS4
  • Here it is! The moment I was most apprehensive about. The aspect of technology, which I have been most resistant and reluctant to pursue. Whether it was due to concern over privacy, the extent of my digital footprint, the overwhelmingness of who should be in my PLC, what exactly is a PLC and once joined, how constant the bombardment of tweets, notifications and the like is? After 5 courses, I am still very hesitant about “putting myself out there”. I still feel that a lot of the PLC components are trivial and not very substantive. That said, I am also trying to see the positive aspects, hence creating a twitter account. I have tweeted a few times and participated in one school twitter chat. I have chosen to follow a few people who I see as being knowledgeable in the area of curiosity in education. I have also chosen to follow some peers. I still keep my life very private and look at Twitter as a chance to carefully grow a community of educators with similar passions.
  • One of the main reasons I started a twitter account was based on advice provided by a fellow Coetailer, who argued that I need to start seeing the power of these technological outlets as effective ways to get my ideas out there and to advertise my course 5 project for example. So, I will continue to grow my followers and use twitter to help me build a community of people who are passionate about curiosity, creativity and innovation in education. However, it will grow slowly.
  • This may not seem like a lot to many people, but considering I still have a Nokia phone and discovered predictive texting about 4 years ago, This personal growth is fairly monumental.

HERE ARE SOME UPDATES OF MY COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND BUILDING OF MY PLC:

I participated in an online chat through twitter at my school:

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I started with following 6 people and now I am following 27. It takes me awhile to choose who to follow.

I started with 4 followers and now I have 10.

I have also began tweeting updates and student work on Curiosedy to my twitter

Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 4.09.33 PM

. I added social media buttons on Curiosedy in order to begin trying to promote the site and build a community of like-minded students/teachers

Final Project Update

One of the biggest questions I had during this course (and still do) is how can we use technology in the classroom in a way that enhances learning rather than simply using technology to simply use technology. How can technology be an effective learning tool? My final course 5 project is hopefully an answer to that question or at least a glimpse into the possibilities of how technology can be used to improve student understanding. One of the realizations I have made during this course is how technology has opened the door to the powers of collaboration and student sharing of ideas to a global audience. No longer is learning limited to the 4 walls of a classroom, but rather has the possibility of reaching all corners of the globe. I believe this is where the power of technology has its greatest possible effect. We need to be using technology to share student thinking, creativity and innovation. Not only sharing, but use the technology in a way which allows students to teach each other, share ideas and further their understandings. I am excited about how my final project is trying to address these possibilities.

I have also realized through this course, that the use of technology has to be a part of a bigger change. Simply adding technology or using certain technological features in isolation is not the answer. Technology must be used in conjunction with other aspects of learning, teaching and the overall picture of education in order to have its greatest impacts. In my final project, technology plays a part, but is not the only part or the largest part. Technology combined with looking at the design of learning, researching curiosity, reflecting on feedback practices and analyzing assessments are all integral parts to creating a project or idea with the goals of seeing past the deadlines of Coetail and there specific requirements, to a much larger purpose.

Coetail Final project

My final project for course 5 will be a website based on curiosity and how we can foster curiosity in the classroom. The website is about providing students with ample opportunities in the classroom to be curious about their learning and then using technology as the tool to put their learning together and then be able to share their understanding globally. I see technology as the tool to share understanding, to be able to see what other students are doing with knowledge, to see other questions they are answering or curiosities they are pursuing. The technology is not the tool which is allowing students to better understand necessarily. It is the tool which enables global sharing of knowledge, and that is powerful.

It is a great project idea because I am passionate about curiosity and the desperate need for a lot more of it in schools and education in general. I love the fact that it will push my boundaries of technology as I will have to become technically more proficient in WordPress and will have to learn about how students can use the technology to best share their learning. I think because the end goal will be publishing student work, I predict that the level of pride in student work will increase and therefore their effort in learning the content as well as in presenting it will also increase.

I do not see a particular shift in my own pedagogy as this project reinforces my beliefs in learning being about satisfying our natural curiosities about our world and being able to pursue our own curiosities and use the content to answer our own questions. This project is simply the platform to promote the student work and to allow them through technology, a chance to share globally.

I will be designing the website but the students will be providing the content using technology. I am very excited.

Legacies of Learning

I think one of the most powerful aspects of technology in the classroom and with student learning is the ability to offer a student the chance to share their learning with a global audience and to have their learning product withstand time. With the help of technology, students have the opportunity to create legacies of learning; products to be shared with other learners and which can be built upon and improved. In my math and science class, technology is used to support the development of theses “legacies of learning”. I want students to understand that they are teachers, innovators and creative artists and that they need to share these with a larger global population. In math class, students create tutorial videos based on what they understand at the conceptual level. They become teachers, creating videos to help other students. In both math and science class, students engage in inquiry-based projects where they are using the knowledge learned in class to answer a personally relevant question. We use technology to help students show the path they took to answer their question. Students create short documentaries, tracing their steps and showing the work they did to answer their question. These videos become models for other students to watch and understand the expectations and how they can use knowledge. They also become possible starting points for new students to build off the ideas of another student and improve the idea.

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In my class, we use technology for these wonderful purposes but also balance this with paper and pencil thinking, storyboarding, whiteboard collaboration and sketches of ideas before using the technology. The use of technology without a front end load of time spent on thinking about how to use it, what I want to say, how will I say it and how can I use technology to deepen understanding, will only end up with technology impeding learning rather than helping.

We need teachers more than ever!

Will education change because of technology? Will the role of teachers and the classroom change with technology? Short answer; absolutely. I think before we can sit down and discuss exactly how technology will change, we need to begin with understanding the effects technology is and can have on the brain and learning. That is the future. The area of neuroscience, in particular, how the working parts of memory are reacting to information being delivered via technology. As Carr states, “The depth of our intelligence hinges on our ability to transfer information from working memory, the scratch pad of consciousness, to long-term memory, the mind’s filing system,” The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, 2011

Throughout history, there have been advances in technological tools, which have had great impacts on learning and the brain. For example, when the book was first introduced it required long, focused attention which promoted greater retention and deeper understanding. It is being argued that the internet is shifting away from focused attention and deeper understanding to a more rapid, shallow, broad scanning of information or , “the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources”. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Carr, 2011

If there are impacts which are starting to be uncovered and slowly understood, then the question regarding education could be, “how do we evolve with these changes?”  I think one way to evolve is to engage in dialogue using relevant, up to date information. For example, if the half-life of knowledge or, “ the time span from when knowledge is gained to when it becomes obsolete. Half of what is known today was not known 10 years ago. The amount of knowledge in the world has doubled in the past 10 years and is doubling every 18 months according to the American Society of Training and Documentation (ASTD). To combat the shrinking half-life of knowledge, organizations have been forced to develop new methods of deploying instruction.” Why are we reading resources from 2004 or even earlier? According to the half-life of knowledge as a by-product of the internet, then that resource is completely useless. To be able to intelligently discuss the future of education and technology and their integration, then we need resources on the cutting edge of that discussion.

Also, the argument that the classroom is becoming obsolete as well as the role of teachers, is not the right argument. The classroom is simply a structure. What happens in the classroom is the key. How we see learning, how we choose to engage students, assess students or try to make learning relevant are the real questions and issues. I think if a classroom has learning opportunities which are “(1) personalized; (2) safe and secure; (3) inquiry-based; (4) student-directed; (5) collaborative; (6) interdisciplinary; (7) rigorous and hands-on; (8) embodying a culture of excellence and high expectations; (9) environmentally conscious; (10) offering strong connections to the local community and business; (11) globally networked; and (12) setting the stage for lifelong learning”.Prakash Nair, 2011, then the classroom is fine. It works. I do see obvious challenges with large class sizes and small spaces, but I think the first change needs to be in the area of instructional design before we tear class walls down.

One of the most important roles we will have as teachers in the age of the internet is what Siemens states as the, “ know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed).” We need to teach children where to find the knowledge they need. It is like finding a needle in a haystack. We need to teach students how to filter through the incredible amount of irrelevant, useless information in order to discover the key pieces of information they do need. Once they find those key pieces, we then create opportunities to apply that knowledge to real-world issues and questions, which their answers or innovative solutions can then be shared globally. Teachers are more important than ever!

What about playing while we flip reverse instruction?

After reading articles about flipped classrooms, reverse instruction, gamification and play, I feel that these are all band-aids at best. My gut is telling me that the real issue is still being avoided. I think the real issue deals with critically looking at the standards and content we are being asked to teach the students and ask, “Is it relevant?” Is the content we are teaching still relevant to the needs of the students or should we be engaging in conversation about the standards and debating their relevancy? Perhaps an overhaul of the education system in terms of its’ goals for student learning is needed.

I challenge the idea of a flipped classroom or reverse instruction because I am constantly reading and hearing about how we as educators need to be lecturing less and have our students apply their understandings to tasks, which are relevant, challenging and real-world applicable. All flipped classrooms and reverse instruction seem to do is instead of make the students listen to lectures inside the classroom, they now have to spend extra time and listen to the lecture at home. Isn’t this just simple geography? In one of the articles, the teacher describes reverse instruction as, “instead of lecturing about polynomials and exponents during class time – and then giving his young charges 30 problems to work on at home – Fisch has flipped the sequence. He’s recorded his lectures on video and uploaded them to YouTube for his 28 students to watch at home. Then, in class, he works with students as they solve problems and experiment with the concepts.  Lectures at night, “homework” during the day. Call it the Fisch Flip.” https://connectedprincipals.com/archives/1534 We can call it whatever we want, but the students are still being lectured; just at home. If we focus our attention on questioning the relevancy of our current standards, and reducing the amount of content required to teach, could we not be able to combine some direct instruction with authentic application in one class?

In the Economist article, one teacher says, You can follow the progress of each child—where she started, how she progressed, where she got stuck and “unstuck” (as Ms Thordarson likes to put it). You can also view the progress of the entire class. And you could aggregate the information of all the classes taught by one teacher, of an entire school or even district, with data covering a whole year.” Sept 17, 2011. I would challenge this teacher and ask, “What if the time spent tracking progress on student work on Khan Academy was re-directed towards personally immersing oneself in the content she is asked to teach in order to explore the purpose and relevancy for teaching it? What if this teacher spent that time determining real-world applications for the content and then creating authentic tasks for the students to engage with in class?

I think technology has the power to be an incredible resource in learning, but only if we begin to critically examine what we are being asked to teach the students in terms of current relevance and future application. I will even go as far to say that in a world where my daughters are growing up amidst blogging, posting, spell check, grammar check and publishing, is learning about a compound sentence or even spelling relevant to her? Is this what she should be learning? Just saying this makes me want to throw up because deep down I totally believe it is important and how can spelling not be important. As I swallow my barf, I am at least trying to be open to looking at what knowledge is relevant despite how I may feel about it. What skills and understandings does the next generation really need? Once we focus in on what is important, we can then more effectively use technology to deepen our understandings.

What about time?

After reading articles on problem based learning, project based learning and challenged based learning, there is a shift towards more authentic and relevant learning for the student. The point of K-12 education is no longer simply the accumulation of knowledge but also the instruction of the skills needed to interact and handle that knowledge. Learning is being seen more as application rather than simple delivery and recall. These three approaches to learning want students to do something with the knowledge they gain through direct instruction, whether it be solving a real-world problem, inquiring and answering a personally meaningful question or attempting to create an innovative solution to a current real-world challenge. This is great news.

 

I think this line of thinking is pushing learning in the right direction and to keep the momentum moving in that direction, I wonder if these approaches need to be supported by an additional conversation. I think educators and administrators need to be talking about the amount of content or standards teachers are being asked to teach and whether all of that content is necessary. Perhaps discussions about prioritizing standards and looking at the content as something needing academic triage should be addressed. I only share this question because I believe that to be able to effectively perform project, problem or challenged based learning will require time and more time than is currently available for students and teachers in the classroom. How do we do this effectively if we are still operating within a standardized testing environment and where the majority of college requirements are based on academic tests, which are based primarily on content. Within these parameters, these learning approaches will only go so far before they plateau.

 

How does technology help? I think it helps by giving students access to knowledge and provides a lot of choice in how to present their understandings. However, the time saved in teaching some content is replaced by the time required to teach students how to navigate and filter through this incredible sea of knowledge. The ability to scan, and pull evidence off the internet, to filter essential information from the irrelevant is an extremely difficult skill to develop. Also, ideas like flipped classrooms, where students learn the content at home and then apply it in class are not ideal because research shows that direct instruction is still required for successful learning. Students need a solid knowledge base if they are to be able to create, be curious and innovate. How can one innovate or even be curious if they do not have a solid knowledge base? Yes, technology can be a great resource for building that base as long as it coincides with direct instruction from the teachers in the classroom, in real-time.

Course 5 project idea

The final project idea for course 5 is the building and designing of a website called The Creative Learning Exchange. The purpose is to offer students a place to share their learning with a global audience and place them in the role of educator to their global peers. It is also designed to be a depository of student work based on creativity, innovation, curiosity and imagination. A place where students can build off each other’s ideas and continuously move knowledge forward.

I like this project idea because it is trying to combine effective technology integration with the shift in education towards more real-world application and to answering, “what can students do with knowledge?” The challenge will be how to use technology in a way which enhances understanding rather than a tool which distracts and takes away from learning. I need to remember that the goal is always to foster innovative and critical thinking and not to be consumed by the ‘coolness’ of technology.

This project is time consuming because it is also working with redesigning curriculum and looking at how to design more relevant and purposeful learning for students and then seeing how the technology best fits. I think the creative learning exchange holds possibility for an effective blend between the two. I hope.