Well said: “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it”.

In reading this blog post on Betchablog, Education + Technology + Ideas http://chrisbetcher.com/2011/05/you-dont-have-to-like-it/ I realized I share many similar views about teaching and technology as the blogger, Chris. I love the main point that he makes stating that technology in schools is not a new thing yet teachers make excuses not to use it in their teaching practice. This is an issue that I feel can not be overlooked anymore.

As Chris mentions in his post, teachers continue to struggle with technology saying it’s too hard. As much as I want teachers to stop making excuses I can relate with this struggle; so it’s easier said than done. One reason why I struggled with technology in teaching is that in my practice teaching in teacher’s college (which I only took last year), I was given little opportunity to integrate technology into my lessons. In addition since I was so overwhelmed with just learning how to teach, I didn’t take the initative to learn myself. That is until now, as I am making the effort to familarize myself of the kinds of technology I can potentially use when I start teaching. I few things that I look for in deciding whether or not a certain teachnology would be suitable to use in a classroom are easy to implement, effective, child friendly and engaging software and tools. Another reason why I think, (and I’m going to generalize here), not enough teachers use technology in their teaching is that they didn’t grow up with it, so they don’t see how children are missing out and/or they just are overwhelmed with the idea so they just stick to what they know. But I do not want to be one of those teachers who isn’t trying to keep up with today’s digital era and I agree with Chris in his post as he states:

There are children in those classrooms every day who deserve the best education we can offer them, and it is completely unfair if that education is less than it should be because someone wants to pick and choose which aspects of their job they feel are important.  No child should have to put up with out of date learning experience just because their close-to-retirement teacher is “taxiing to the hangar”. (chrisbetcha.com)

I think what teachers just need to remember is that everyday our students are changing, and evolving physically, mentally, emotionally etc, as is everything else in our world, especially technology. So why resist it? Why make teaching more difficult for yourself as you sit there and wonder at the end of the day why your students aren’t paying attention, or excited to be in class. With that said, this blog relates to an article I read recently called Engage me or Enrage me by Marc Pensky, that talks about how we must change the way we teach to keep our students engaged in their learning at school. In the article Pensky makes an excellent point that has stuck with me “Students certainly don’t have short attention spans for their games, movies, music, or Internet surfing. More and more they just don’t tolerate the old ways- and they are enraged that wer are not doing better by them”.

Something I want anyone reading this post to take away is that educators need to provide our students with the most up to date learning as possible. What better way to do this then with the use of technology. We, as educators don’t have to be experts and use technology for every lesson in every subject area, but try and do it for the children. As Chris states in his blog: You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it!



Who’s the expert really? (critiquing Wiki)

Over the course of a couple weeks I have learned a great deal about something I’ve been newly introduced to; an effective communication and collaboration tool: Wiki. Not only have I been using the platform to interact with others who are taking the online course I am, I have been reading articles discussing it, which has lead me here, wanting to reflect and share with you what I’ve learned and think about the Wiki platform thus far. As a side note, after graduating teacher’s college may 2010 I thought I’d never want to reflect on anything ever again as the whole year I had to keep a reflective journal…but then I realized (ironic- reflecting again), I would not have learned half of what I did without this to consolidate my learning. So here I am, this time more open minded to the idea of sharing my thoughts and reflecting once again, this time with fellow bloggers.

Let me start off by saying that for the most part I enjoy using Wiki. Although I was a little confused when I first logged into Wiki, because there is no direct navigation of where to find the information, I just used some of my prior knowledge internet sites to figure out how to navigate between the pages. Some people may not care for the lack of direct navigation, but I see it as a positive element as it allows a person to be able to explore the pages (all the pages all link together anyways).

Wiki has some great features such as they are quick to use because the processes of reading and editing are combined. This is key, being a time savor. Who doesn’t  need that?! The editing feature I find interesting is a page can have multiple editors. For example, for an assignment I had to complete, each of us in the course put our information on the same page, and to do so used an “edit” button, which then allowed whoever was uploading their assignment to potentially add or change whatever text, videos etc that were there. Hopefully neither of these things would happen, as the purpose of using the wiki page was to showcase our work, not tamper with others work. This neat feature  though the more I thought about it is also a negative feature. Students can potentially edit each others work- accidentally deleting another students work while adding in their own.

After reading the article Wide Open Spaces Wiki’s Ready or Not by Brian Lamb, I was left with these thoughts: How can we distinguish scholars updating Wiki pages from hackers trying to sabotage it? Who’s really the expert and are we really reading their work? As a start to answer my questions I liked what Brian Lamb wrote in his article Wiki’s Ready or Not, Wiki relies on the community rather than the technology to enforce order. I always think it’s worth taking the risk & trust people until they give me reason not to. That motto can be applied to the use of Wiki pages too.​

Then I started thinking about how since platforms like Wiki can be changed by anyone, everyone can potentially be an expert on a subject. So in regards to teaching, it is important that we teach students to filter and sort through information so they know what is good, reliable and valid information. And how can we do this? One way is to give children exposure to the internet and then the teacher would act as the facilitator in guiding children to learn ‘portable skills’ which include critical thinking, making connections between ideas and knowing how to keep on learning- as mentioned in the article How to Bring Our Schools out of the 20th Century by Claudia Walllis. Expose to the internet can be done by teaching media literacy. I love teaching media literacy because since it is a subject area more often than not students are curious about they are more actively engaged in learning about the media and technology that surrounds their lives.

In using Wiki it’s nice being able to share my hard work with others and in return see theirs, as I mentioned above. In my opinion, Wiki would be a great tool for teachers to integrate into their classrooms because the most common pedagogical application of wikis in education is to support writing instruction. With that said, it can be used in multiple ways such as a space to showcase students written work, projects, or simply used as a bulletin board or agenda for the class. This way parents could just ask their child to log in and see what’s going on too. I’m sure there are so many other uses, please feel free to share 🙂

Are smartboards as good as they look?

As part of an assignment for an online course I was instructed to find a blog with some element of educational technology that I find to be interesting and then to write a review. To conduct my search I used google, and then to narrow my search I used the tabs at the top, went to new and then selected blogs. Thanks to my professor Shawn for showing me this feature (who knew it existed), it definately narrowed the search. I thought from there picking a blog would be a piece of cake. Boy was I wrong. Despite the fact that hundreds of teachers blog, many of them solely talk about their teaching experiences (always good don’t get me wrong) but where were the blogs that connected to other literature or useful information I could use in my own teaching. After days of going from one blog site to the next I finally stumbled across one that caught my eye!

Check out the blog for yourself: http://fnoschese.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/the-2-interactive-whiteboard/

The blog, just as a quick recap in case you don’t have the time to read over the lengthy post, outlines that even though this teacher knows how to use a smartboard, and has even been told he’s the best at using it, he questions whether or not it raises student achievement. To support his thoughts he includes a Washington post article that talks about the idea.

I found this blog particularly interesting as I’ve always heard how great smartboards are. I’ve never had the opportunity to create my own lesson using one, but have seen them in action when I was in teacher’s college. I think back to when I saw a smartboard for the first time, I was in such awe with the touch screen as the professor outlined how they work that I didn’t even notice myself that the class was still doing what old ways of teaching are being criticied for, sitting still and listening to the teacher talk. This is exactly what this blog touched on. Who needs a $2000 interactive whiteboard, when you can create your own interactive whiteboards, using different materials that allows for more student participation and interaction among the students for a small price of $2 each.

The author of this blog makes a great point stating that “I use technology with my students, but only when the pedagogy demands the technology”. I agree, in that not every lesson is suitable to incorporate technology. I know there are many great things that come from using technology in the classroom- it helps make learning more fun, relavent and current. But is there cooperative learning and participation from all the students? And is differentiated learning possible? We as educators can not always assume that by adding in a tool of technology will necessarily make the learning more meaningful for our students. A figure of speech that I’ve heard many times throughout my life, in different situations just popped into my head: Anything is good in moderation. With that said, I will embrace experimenting with different technologies to use with my students (when I get my own classroom- hopefully sooner rather than later) but keeping in mind to have a balance or variety of different teaching methods and educational tools.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more postings soon 🙂