EDTECH 504: Emerging Theories Reflection

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How do you view education, and what is at stake for manifesting that view in the “Three”?  For students, if their view is not clouded by negative experiences or environmental influences, they generally view education as means to an end, or a way to improve their level of knowledge and abilities.  In this case, students accept the personal investment of time and money to help them achieve their goal.  Teachers, who truly desire to teach, view education as a way of making information and learning experiences relevant to their students.  Their manifestation is in the time spent to organize content for their students, and in many places if the institutional goals are not met in the performance of the students, they risk their livelihood.  Administrators tend to view education as a system for transferring or building knowledge in a mass collection of students.  They manifest this by building curriculum around learning theories and they risk public scrutiny or job loss if their direction does not produce desired results.  Even in traditional educational environments, these three have struggled to maintain a harmony among their views and manifestations because of the many variables.  Now, considering the impact of how technology is changing the playing field, these three have even a greater struggle to find harmony.

As a result of advances in technology, many emerging educational theories are attempting to point out the effects of shifts in sociological and psychological factors in the process of education.  These shifts are especially present in online or virtual environments.  The Transactional Distance Theory attempts to account for the gap in clarity or understanding that can exists between students and teachers in a virtual environment, especially referring to learner independence and teacher engagement as key factors for narrowing or bridging that gap (Gokool-Ramdoo, 2008).  Another theory, Connectivism, portrays the vast amounts of interconnected knowledge as a sort of chaos that can be accessed and harnessed by individual learners in real time to not only achieve a task, but also analyze information for current relevance, because knowledge and information are constantly changing (Siemens, 2005).  The changing medium for delivering and interacting in educational environments has also brought considerable attention to the epistemological and methodological understandings.  To further explore this, the terminology, technological pedagogy of content knowledge (TPCK), was developed to account for effective and non-effective ways for implementing a systematic online approach to education.  TPCK has identified several flaws simply due to environmental shifts, and the protocols that exists in the old environment, do not necessarily work effectively in the new one (Angeli and Valanides, 2009).

So as I consider the Three along with all this information for learning theory, I must reflect on what this means to education.  First, I will start with my current primary role, teacher, which definitely has a changed from a deliverer of content to more of a facilitator of activities designed to produce challenges for the students, which produce understanding and skills, which can be applied to lifelong learning.  I have a secondary role, student, in the Master’s of Educational Technology program, which from the beginning has been adapting my understanding of how I can problem solve with technology tools in order to achieve my learning tasks.  Though my students are not as far along in the education continuum, and therefore need certain content delivered to them, I still have a need and desire to introduce them to challenges where they engage with technology tools, for I understand this will mark so much of their future education. Finally, administrator is a role I have not had, and based on experience is one that I desire very little.  However, I have come away with a greater appreciation for the decision making process that they undertake, because the decisions are tied into big budgets that they have to give an account for not only in purchases, but also in results of students’ performances in system wide implementations.

References:

Gokool-Ramdoo, S. (2008). Beyond the theoretical impasse: Extending the applications of transactional distance education theory. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(3). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/541

Siemens, G. (2005, April 5). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Elearnspace. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Angeli, C., & Valanides, N. (2009). Epistemological and methodological issues for the conceptualization, development, and assessment of ICT–TPCK: Advances in technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK). Computers & Education, 52(1), 154–168. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.07.006

Popcorn Maker | Mozilla Popcorn

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Popcorn Maker | Mozilla Popcorn.

This is not quite ready, but EDTECH faculty recommended this and it looks like it will be revolutionary to web content.

I will definitely check it out more when it is ready.

Learning Theories and Moral Dilemmas

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I’m the kind of guy that instead of watching a movie for it’s entertainment value, or for the quality, I sometimes get bogged down in analyzing the ideas promoted in the plot or by the characters, I might consider if the movie has an agenda that I agree with or not, or sometimes I walk away offended by faulty arguments.  In some ways I am thankful for this tendency, but at times I consider it a curse.  The times that I am burdened most by this characteristic is when I have trouble articulating why some ideas of a movie are a  struggle for me to accept.  My wife probably bears more of the burden as she tries to hear what I’m thinking, but eventually we both get tired of trying to figure it out and we just go on living.  This introduction is intended to set the stage for talking about educational theories, which are causing a similar reaction.  I will go on, not knowing if I can clearly identify where the dilemma exists. 

Due to the heavy amount of research that I have done with learning theory, I have dug deeper, and perhaps this, more than anything, has caused core beliefs to be shaken.  I don’t mind being in this situation and I don’t even mind admitting that doubts appear.  When I read about learning theory within the context of education, I tend to lean more toward constructivist theories and I like much of what I have read about Connectivism.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, education can’t stand alone, but it is tied into your world view.  I’m not referring to educate others to a specific world view, I am merely pointing out how difficult it would be to teach something that is contrary to your own world view.  I became aware of this possibility when I was reading one of the resources with quotes like this: “Hence, in connectivism, there is no real concept of transferring knowledge, making knowledge, or building knowledge. Rather, the activities we undertake when we conduct practices in order to learn are more like growing or developing ourselves and our society in certain (connected) ways“(Downes, 2007).  In an education setting, this is practical and acceptable to me, but beyond education, I feel this contradicts my belief of universal truths, which live above what humanity can establish.  Besides, when networks within a society are based on norms, popular belief, or manipulation of popular belief, history has proved that that can be detrimental, especially when the norms and beliefs are based on false information or faulty reasoning.  I suppose one of the arguments with Connectivism is that the network has now become global and the diversity of input will help to balance the ideologies of the network, but for me that is not enough of a guarantee to stop enough people from rallying around a false belief and create their own network of knowledge.

By no means do I feel that my knowledge and understanding are complete.  I have experienced enough shifts in my own beliefs, even at the core, to know that I am not finished in obtaining knowledge and understanding.  Nor do I believe that humanity has or will have all the answers to life’s riddles, therefore, how much stock can I put in a human network of ideas.  However, there are many practical ideas and teaching within Connectivism as an educational theory.  George Siemens in his article, “A Learning Theory for the Digital Age”, provides many rich nuggets which argue for the need to adapt education to a society  that is changing according to what technology provides us, in terms of information acquisition, and the way we interact through technology.  “The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe. Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today. A real challenge for any learning theory is to actuate known knowledge at the point of application. When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses” (Siemens, 2007) .  The best example I have for this is from personal experience.  Even in recent years, some teachers have argued for the need of a printed and high quality dictionary in the classroom, perhaps they think it is important to teach dictionary look-up skills too.  I don’t doubt that there is benefit in learning that, but in today’s learning economy, I believe this is one of the skills that can mostly be replaced by knowing how to access technology for the purpose of understanding or completing a task.

Constructivism and Connectivism are connected and they both have strong links into the Cultural Historical Activity Theory.  My understanding of these theories appear in my teaching strategies.  I understand that the world has changed since I was a K-12 student, and education has to adapt to those changes.  I also have experienced these theories first hand when I was able to obtain knowledge through technology tools so that I could accomplish certain tasks.  Just do a “How to” search on the Internet to find most anything you need to know how to do.  I also recognize that the wealth of information available was provided by someone and somewhere out there, so I have seen the positive benefit of networked knowledge and interaction with technology tools.   As you can see, I subscribe to these theories, just not 100%, and it is difficult to know how much percentage I am willing to concede, but it is likely above 90%.  I know it gets a little gray in my mind sometimes, so eventually I just have to walk away and continue living life.

 Reference:

EdTech 541: The RISKS of the Internet

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Google Presentation taken by Jink Screenshot

Some people choose to have nothing to do with the Internet because they the think the risks are too high, that someone will seek them out, use their information inappropriately, or try to hack into their private life.  We can call these people a virtual hermit.  Why a “virtual” hermit? Because it would be hard for even the most stringent hermit to keep his name out of some sort of virtual database.  Bank accounts, credit card accounts, service accounts, and even governmental records on citizens are kept in virtual safes.  So as the rest of the world forges ahead with Internet activity, what can the virtual hermit expect from his lack virtual participation. The problem with this approach is that it will become more difficult to function, much less compete, in the world without some sort of virtual identity.

Don’t get me wrong, when you or your information are connected to the Internet, there are risks.  However, there are many benefits to having access to the Internet and for this reason it is used so widely, so much so, that everyday activities are being completed online.  If you don’t participate, you will be left behind (Free Press Org, 2009). None the less, you should be aware or your effect of your activity on the Internet as well as the dangers.  This acronym  “RISKS” will help you remember these important details about your risk management while you our online.

R is for Responsibility

Most institutes require student to sign some sort of Acceptable Use Policy in order to access the Internet or computer equipment in an organized learning environment.  In other words, the users are required to be responsible with the privileged of Internet access.  This refers to anything that is related to the intentional search and network bypass of digital material that is not appropriate for school or is contrary to school and social ethics.  The Kent School District has set up an Internet Safety & Cyber Citizenship page that not only advises about Cyber Citizenship, but also points out common online risks.

I is for Information

There is a debate about how much personal information should be used in online profiles.  This short video, “Privacy and Responsibility on the Internet: Who Should Control your Identity on the Web?” by the Carnegie Council will point out both sides of the debate.  Some argue for anonymity for safety purposes, while other argue for the efficiency of data transfer with secure online profiles.  Google is a proponent of the later, and here is their video about how to set up a secure profile using Google services.

If you are not certain about the security of your online profile, it is wise to limit the amount of personal information that you include in that profile.

S is for Seekers

The two primary features of the Internet are 1) it helps connect people, and 2) it is vast.  Because of these two features, there are a lot of people that try to connect with or get the attention of many people across the Internet.  The majority of these seekers come in the form of harmless advertisements or online acquaintances.  Unfortunately, there are seekers that don’t know you, but will try to make personal connections.  You may not know the motives of these seekers, but because of the uncertainty, it is recommended not to engage in online contact with that person.  Most social networks provide the option to decline a communication request, or to even expel an online contact if their behavior has become offensive or too personal.

Perhaps the type of seeker that gets the most attention and warning are the online predators.  Here is an interesting report called “1 in 7 Youth: The Statistics about Online Sexual Solicitations” by the Crimes Against Children Research Center.

KS is for Kinky Sharing

Perhaps the biggest risk that face online users is the one that they least expect.  Kinky is a word in general that means crazy or unacceptable; sharing refers to the way in which people can easily share online content and information with friends.  Together, these two words are a recipe for disaster.  It is quite common that someone wants to share either personal information about themselves with a friend, or even intimate photos of themselves, and they probably don’t intend to share it with other people.  Unfortunately, confidence has been betrayed many times in these circumstances and the unthinkable happens, many people have read or seen your private information.  Here is a basic rule that you should follow for posting any information online: if you will be embarrassed or ridiculed by these words or content, don’t post it.  This is not to say that friends can’t be trusted, or that those that share personal content without your consent shouldn’t be punished, but the most secure way of protecting your private content, is not to share it in the first place.

Also, be aware that some online places will make your correspondence available to the public, even when it is shared between two individuals.  Take for example the US Congressman and his Tweet Scandal.

References:

Video Free Press (2009, April 9) What is the “digital divide?” . Retrieved Oct. 22, 2012 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCIB_vXUptY

EdTech 504: Reflection of Annotated Bibliography

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This is the first time that I have completed an annotated bibliography.  Even though the reading and research was tedious, I found many interesting investigations in areas of personal and professional significance.  Each annotation seemed to flow through certain areas of experience and goals.  For example, the first half of my listed resources seemed to focus heavily on system wide technology integration in ways that I have not yet experienced.  Nonetheless, I have increased my professional knowledge base and have already implemented many strategies in technology integration, which is helping prepare me for the next stage of my career.  Of particular interest is a study done on mobile learning environments and the effective use of mobile learning tools (McAndrew, Taylor, and Clow, 2010).  Also, I am very interested to see how education will incorporate the use of virtual worlds, and there are two resources that take an early look at educational investigations and practices within the virtual world called Second Life (Minocha, Quang Tran, and Reeves, 2010) (Jamaludin and Elavarasen, 2011) .

The second half of my annotated bibliography focuses on observations that I have made in my content area and other educational domains  throughout my professional teaching career.  Whether the article addressed technology integration or not, I made a point to reflect on the significance of the findings as they relate to trends in educational technology and social and communication patterns among the modern student.   Since my content area is language development through literacy, writing, and oral exchanges, I found some resources that specifically addressed this area.  For example, using a literacy app to allow students to manipulate the text and images in ways that traditional literacy study is limited (Allington, 2011).  Also, the changes in technology and its affect on how students and teachers are interacting in society (Shum and Ferguson (2012) is something that we are currently witnessing in all areas of education.  A investigation into process of implementing a change in educational practices (Bourke and McGee, 2012) is also very significant, since many institutions are faced with a need for adaptation of curriculum and teaching strategies.

Additionally, during my teaching stint in the USA, I could not escape the subject of high-stakes testing and its effect on education.  One investigation drew considerable attention to the negative effect it has had on language development and teaching strategies, but in the process they reveal a complex dichotomy that exists between teacher training programs and the real world teaching experience.  (Stillman, Anderson, Fink, and Kurumada, 2011).    Also, during that time, the educational domain that I worked in was bilingual education.  One investigation revealed the benefit of connecting with students in their native language (Razfar, 2012), but it did not apply any  information for virtual learning environments, and the study was conducted in informal learning settings.  It seems at this point, research is somewhat limited with bilingual education in virtual settings.

I really liked the research and information that I found, which is based around the Cultural Historical Activity Theory.  Based on my personal and teaching experiences, the framework of this theory seems to make more sense when analyzing the cognition process, because we are inseparable from our environment and culture, and we learn to interact with the acceptable tools used within that culture.  Yet, technology has caused shifts in society which affect the way we interact and  education is either adapting or resisting those changes.

Annotated Bibliography: Cultural Historical Activity Theory

Reference:

  • McAndrew, P., Taylor, J., & Clow, D. (2010). Facing the Challenge in Evaluating Technology Use in Mobile Environments. Open learning, Vol. 25(No. 3), 233–249.
  • Minocha, S., Quang Tran, M., & Reeves, A. J. (2010). Conducting Empirical Research in Virtual Worlds: Experiences from two projects in Second Life. Journal of virtual world research, The Researcher’s Toolbox, 3(1).
  • Jamaludin, R., & Elavarasen, M. D. (2011). Second Life & Education. Centre for instructional technology & multimedia’s bulletin of instructional technology, 7–8.
  • Allington, D. (2011). Learning to Read in the 21st Century. Centre for research in education and educational technology: The Open University. Retrieved from http://www8.open.ac.uk/creet/main/projects
  • Shum, S. B., & Ferguson, R. (2012). Social Learning Analytics. Journal of educational technology & society, 15(3), 3–26.
  • Bourke, R., & McGee, A. (2012). The Challenge of Change: Using Activity Theory to Understand a Cultural Innovation. Journal of educational change, 13(2), 217–233. doi:10.1007/s10833-011-9179-5
  • Stillman, J., Anderson, L., Fink, L., & Kurumada, K. S. (2011). To Follow, Reject, or Flip the Script: Managing Instructional Tension in an Era of High-Stakes Accountability. Language arts, 89(1), 22–37.
  • Razfar, A. (2012). ¡Vamos a Jugar Counters! Learning Mathematics Through Funds of Knowledge, Play, and the Third Space. Bilingual research journal, 35(1), 53–75. doi:10.1080/15235882.2012.668868

EdTech 501: Voicethread, Opinion of Walled Gardens

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If I am understanding this assignment correctly, you should be able to not only view my Voicethread, but you can also make comments in it.  If the embed does not appear properly, follow this link:

EdTech 541: Walled Garden Reflection

8 TED Talks You Need to Share with Your Students

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8 TED Talks You Need to Share with Your Students.
This seems like a great resource for my classes.

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