Changing Education Paradaigms

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This video was shown on a classmate’s learning log.  Instead of sharing it from his page, I looked for the video to embed on my page too.  It really takes our teaching profession to a higher level of thinking to our approach to education.

Ed Tech 501 Review up to week 10, Fall 2011

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This is a well written review of what we have accomplished in ED Tech 501 up to week 10 of the course, during Fall Semester 2011
EDTECH 501-4172/4173/4174 (FA11): Your Progress in this course!.

 

RSS Feeds for Education

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Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a relatively new concept for me.  Along with learning the ins and outs of RSS, I am also discovering that many people seem to be several steps ahead of me in utilizing this technology.  Often, I find myself trying to catch up mentally with others that have already passed the initial stages of understanding and application.  Furthermore, even when I seem to grasp the main purpose of RSS, I have had trouble making it relevant for me.  However, I recognize that I have not completely made the necessary mental transition to apply it to my professional and personal life.

Up until recently, I was a “wait for it to come to me” kind of guy, meaning that I never really looked for information.  I grew up where the television had set hours for hearing the news or watching the game, and there were not many readily available options for seeking information.  Even when I got a computer with internet, other than the occasional score check on the games and needing quick solutions, the only other information I read or watched on the internet was what friends recommended to me or what news flash I happen to catch.  I did not make frequent visits to any particular site.  For the most part I was happy to live this way because I felt like I still had control of how much time I spent on the computer and how much I felt obligated to read.

When I started my course in Introduction to Educational Technology, it changed my perspective in many ways.  First, I was suddenly needing to access a specific site on a regular basis to get important information regarding the course.  Second, my professor introduced me to many professional sites that have great educational tools and information, so I needed to return to these sites as well.  Later, I was required to do research, which led me to many places on the web, and often the information I found was also useful for my career.  Therefore, I quickly began to apply RSS feeds to help keep me up to date with information and correspondence.

For application of RSS, my professor asked me to consider the following 2 questions:

  • How might teachers use RSS in the classroom?

Many of my university colleagues have posted wonderful ideas for the application of RSS feeds with their students both in and out of the classroom.  In most cases these ideas already start with the premise that students have already set up their own blogs or have subscribed to a RSS receiver or reader.  In my particular case as an 8th grade teacher in Saudi Arabia, I would have to consider the possible challenge of students having to subscribe to online services to be able to interact in the best way possible.  This subscribing process can actually be  used to measure the student’s ability to follow step by step instructions.  However, from my experience, the initial set-up is not the most difficult factor, but it is the set-up of actions and other features within the online service.  Basically the students would need to be shown exactly what set-up to do or with which web-sites  they should subscribe.  After students are more familiar with it, they could personalize their settings and searches.

Another classroom approach is to use RSS feeds on the class web-site, or blog.  This would save students time from sifting through useless web information while trying to do an assignment.  It appears that Google Reader has two options for this.  One is to make a folder public and provide a link to that folder.  Another is to apply a setting to the shared folder that will automatically send any information to the location of your choice.

  • What other benefits might you gain from knowing how to use RSS?

Normally, I consider a problem and see if technology will provide the solution.  Even though RSS feeds are a really great tool, I have not yet experienced a problem in which the RSS feeds will help, but I also realize that I am adapting my ways of thinking to make this technology work to my advantage.  As of now, RSS feeds are a back-up for information, because I currently receive e-mails about important posts from my course.  However, I know that as information quantity increases the RSS will benefit me to narrowing my attention on more important data.

Once I practice more using this with my own studies as well as in teaching, I believe I will find many other creative uses for RSS.  It is an online feature that is very adaptable to your needs and objectives.  One of the biggest benefits is that it is online.  As mobile technology increases the RSS feeds will be available where and when you need them.  As display and demonstration technology increases, more students will become comfortable with this tool and it will better prepare them for the future.

This posts meets the AECT Standards in the following ways:

  1. 1.1.1.b Analyze instructional tasks, content, and context.
  2. 1.1.2.d Incorporate contemporary instructional technology processes in the development of interactive lessons that promote student learning.
  3. 2.0.7 Contribute to a professional portfolio by developing and selecting a variety of productions for inclusion in the portfolio.
  4. 2.4.2 Develop and prepare instructional materials and products for various distance education delivery technologies.
  5. 3.1.4* Provide accurate and prompt reference information and exhibit strong communication skills when responding to reference inquiries.
  6. 5.1.2* Apply knowledge of current trends and issues in the field of school media.

Horizon Report Tech Trend

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Recently, my web-classmates compiled a list of available technology to use in the classroom.  Each of the suggestions listed were aligned with one of six technology trends listed in the 2011 “Horizon Report”:  electronic books, mobiles, augmented reality, game-based learning, gesture-based computing, and learning analytics.  Among the list of technologies, one in particular captured my attention as a potential technology tool that would promote whole student involvement and assessment in real time.  The technology I chose to plan a lesson around was “Poll Everyone”.

Of course, when planning a lesson it is more practical to plan within the current line of study of the students.  I have an 8th grade class, with whom I am discussing details of a student novel version of “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare.  Normally, when I pose a question to the group, there are a few factors that will not allow me to see who is and is not comprehending.  Usually, there are a few students that are overly eager to answer the question, while several other students appear indifferent, or simply did not understand and won’t speak out.  So I began to explore the use of Poll Everyone, a web based service, which would allow me to use mobile technology, which most of the students carry.  This would allow multiple students to answer the questions and perhaps they would not feel intimidated in responding, for fear of being wrong in front of everyone.

Poll Everyone is a layered service, meaning that there are more features if you are willing and able to pay.  Basically, the free service allows you to pose a question to the group and display it on the class screen.  The students will be given sufficient time to search for the proper response.  Once they have their answer ready, they have instructions on the screen for how to send their response via their mobile.  The question can be multiple choice or open ended. As students respond to the question, the responses begin to appear on the screen.  Up to 30 responses are accepted.

As I was organizing the lesson, I learned many useful details about Poll Everyone.  For example, it is supported in many countries around the world, but there are several countries that cannot access the service due to mobile service agreements.  Fortunately, Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that supports the feature.  The free service offered by Poll Everyone has many limitations.  In order to access features such as response identity, additional responder space,  grade reporting, and response segmentation, a money subscription would be necessary.  They have plans for individual teachers for $50 and they will negotiate school-wide and district-wide plans as well.

This lesson plan called “Poll Everyone on Macbeth” gives an idea how this can be used in the classroom.

Ethics in Writing Assignments

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The previous video was made as part of an assignment to address the issue of plagiarism.  Throughout this assignment I found myself in a tug-a-war between the teacher perspective, taking a necessary stand against cheating, and the student perspective, the frustrating second guessing in order to avoid unintentional plagiarism.

I suppose that my perspective as a student is based on my values, which were established in me through my environment and moral compass.  When it comes to cheating, I don’t look at it as an option.  I’m not afraid of the consequences of getting caught because it never really crosses my mind to cheat in the first place.  Even in the high stakes of “No Child Left Behind” and how the student performance directly  affects my teacher rating, I have not considered trying to taint the results.  However, not all students think alike so I understand that protecting against plagiarism is very important, though it may be tedious at times.

As a teacher, my view point is also skewed by my environment.  Mostly I have worked with students in upper elementary and middle school and who are English language learners.  Many of these students really struggle in developing their own voice for written expression.  Due to this, I have intentionally tried to develop the assignments which make it very difficult for students to simply copy text, and yet the assignments usually aren’t very deep. None the less, I have those students that attempt to copy something and turn it in as their own.  It irks me to see this, but fortunately it doesn’t take me that long to spot it.  Most of the time I have no trouble accusing them of turning something in that they didn’t write, but I do have to proceed with caution by giving them options to re-do the assignment.

I find some of the statements about plagiarism to be threatening to my good intentions, especially when it comes to the ambiguous wording.  Statements such as “rewording the author content” is very confusing to me.  Obviously when I do research, I will read someone’s writing in order to collect enough information to give an account of the matter.  Once I began to piece my words together, I have to be careful that it doesn’t say too much of what the author has written.  I suppose I could just cite his or her work, as long as I don’t use too much of what the author has said.  I do recall in college, while taking a news media class, the professor showed us how to use the news feeds that came from the Associated Press.  Our job was to reword the news story so that it could be considered our own and presented as a radio news broadcast.  I don’t recall any references or citation required for this assignment.

I expect that over the next 2 years I will be researching and writing papers related to the field of education, especially educational technology.  I welcome the challenge to sharpen my writing skills and even my research skills.  With the help of useful internet technologies, citations will be much easier than previously, so I hope that lack of citation will be a non-issue for me.