Another week begins….

So I have decided that I want to blog not only about my graduate course and technology but my evolution with it all. This thought began yesterday, when I was visiting good old Winston-Salem, NC (close to where I grew up). As I waited for a friend to arrive for our lunch date, I noticed myself checking my RSS feeds and blogs…and realized that I truly enjoyed blogs! It was interesting to see how in just a few short weeks ago (approximately three) I had gone from not knowing what RSS was to using one daily, not following or reading blogs except an occasional Pinterest one to now reading them several times a week, and struggling to keep up with the news to now hunting for new and useful teaching apps.

How did this change happen so quickly? Have I crossed over to another way of thinking about and using technology forever, or will I only maintain this attitude for the completion of this class? I wonder about these things, but only time will tell.

I have always thought it would be ‘cool’ (for lack of a better word) if I could maintain a resourceful teaching blog like this one:
Upcycled Education

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A Lego school?

Today is a day off from work, but that doesn’t mean it’s a day off from school work. I started my day off with a quick trip to Starbucks and hunkered down on my iPad to read my RSS feed. (I’m using the “Pulse” RSS app from the Apple App Store…it’s free and very user friendly!) One of my semester long assignments is to create and maintain and RSS feed. I already spend too much time on my computer or iPad so this assignment is actually a great way for me to be more productive…more “bang for my buck”, so to speak, when it comes to the time I spend browsing websites vs using an RSS feed. This app allows me to get all my news, headlines, social networking updates, and even my pop culture fix, in one spot. I also feel like I’m more in tune to the world, because it is so easy to get the news! There is no excuse for not knowing what is going on in our world with an easy to use app such as Pulse.

So one of the stories that caught my eye was this one: Lego school in Denmark

It’s a quick read about a new school Lego is opening in Denmark…no, it’s not to become a Lego builder, but they do claim to be engaging and promote learning through a creative lens. The article says, “The school will emphasize fun, creativity, and “playful engagement” to help make learning more enjoyable, but it will still follow a standard curriculum.” Sounds pretty good to me! I think it’s always beneficial to students when they are engaged and motivated to learn…if the Lego company can promote this idea through a school, even better!

I wonder how they will use creativity and fun to engage the students however. I also wonder if they will incorporate technology with their learning too. I think I’m going to investigate a bit more to see. Have any of you heard of this school? What are your thoughts on playful learning? Do you know of any schools like this that also use learning technology?

Technology: How and why should we use it?

“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.” _Nancy Kassebaum

Power Tools for Educators.  This is the name of the class for which I am creating this blog.  So what does it mean?  What are “power tools”?  How can these “power tools” be used in the classroom?  How can technology be a teaching and/or learning resource?  And, why should we as pre-service teachers learn about technology and use it in our classrooms?  These are the questions that I have been wondering about since I signed up for this class.

It has now been two weeks since class has begun, and as I muddle through the readings and online assignments, I have discovered a few answers to my questions. I am starting to understand the term “Power Tools” and all that it entails….techy gadgets and devices, apps, widgets,  RSS feeds, blogs, online portals, digital books, wikispaces, etc.  These are all resources that can enrich the learning experience and bring meaning to content that may otherwise remain matte.  Technology is being used in our graduate course more and more, so I am seeing through example how to incorporate these ideas into my own classroom in the future.  I am exploring, experimenting, discovering, and making mistakes left and right.  Yet, through this class I am learning more about the power tools I can use in my own classroom, how to use them, and the impact that technology’s presence has in the classroom.  I’m trying to keep my head above water learning the content but also about the new language and vocabulary that exists within the technology world.  Although I do not claim to be extremely tech-savvy before this class, I did feel that I was fairly ‘up-to-date’ with technology.  I had a Facebook, a twitter, a Pinterest page, a LinkedIn page, and several gmail addresses…but this is only scratching the surface when it comes to ways I can use technology.

There is so much more to discover:

  • Currently, I am still working on understanding the RSS feed and the things I want to follow.  What do I want to read? Who should I follow?  What can I follow?  There seems to be an infinite number of options, how do I select only a handful?
  • I am learning how to customize this blog.  I’ve had blogs before, but have never had one for academic purposes.  I wonder what should I share?  How much do I share?  What direction do I want my blog to go?  Should I be writing in academic language, or can I express myself with a relaxed style of writing?  Who is my audience?  And even down to the little things….what color font do I want?  Can I remember the CSS and coding I did back in undergrad for my web design class?

Obviously I have more I want to work on, but those are two of my priorities.  I find the internet to be an excellent resource with endless possibilities, but at the same time, it has endless possibilities!

Technology can be extremely inspiring, motivating, and enriching, while at the same time be overwhelming and extremely distracting.  

Through my journey in Power Tools, I hope to find the answers to all of my questions either in class or in my own explorations… More importantly though, I also must try to figure out where the line is between finding the proper resources and learning how to use all their features, and being completely distracted and lost in the deep sea of the World Wide Web and 2.0 Technologies.   Learning how to use it and why to use it, as pre-service teachers, is vital.

Curt Bonk, is the world that open?

Our first reading assignment was to read parts of Curtis J. Bonk’s book The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education.  This book was published in 2009, but he has since updated it with additional text.  As I read through the Postscripts,  I can only wonder if the world is truly as open as Bonk claims.

First, I would like to commend Bonk for his enthusiasm for learning and education.  Passion for learning is something that is vital to our existence as a human race.  How can we grow and develop if we do not learn more?  I appreciate his optimistic attitude for global learning in society.  However, I can’t help wonder if and how it this technology based learning has truly actualized in the way that he describes.  How many people are really using technology for the purposes that he claims?  Do people know to use technology properly in order to gain substantial and valuable knowledge?  There seems to be an infinite number of sources online, but how many of them are valid, informed, and innately helpful?

In an ideal world, I agree with Bonk’s Learner Rights and Responsibilities.  Yet, I do not see these rights always “crystallizing before my eyes” (Bonk, 2011, p. 4).  I would like to think that these rights are “inalienable rights for learners” (p. 4), but a large part of me realizes that we live in a world where ideal is not always real, that opportunities are hard to come by, and not everyone has rights, or even access, to education or technology.  I think of young women in places where female oppression is the norm, where women are struggling to even survive, where teen girls are married off to older men without a thought to education, and where being an educated woman is a threat to the society.  Bonk, where are these women’s “Learner’s Rights”?  How do these people fit into the “Learning Century” (p. 2) and the plethora of materials from which one may learn?

I think it is easy for our privileged, educated, “free” American culture to state claims on technology being a catalyst for learning, but when we consider it from a global perspective, is it the same?  Do all people truly have the same access to learning as Bonk writes?

 

Quotations from Bonk’s writing, “An Open Letter to Learners of This Planet”, A Postscript to the Summer 2011 Paperback Edition of The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Greetings

Blogging is not necessarily something new to me, however this blog is fresh off the press.  Per requirement for a graduate studies class in education, I have produced this blog site.  I will be writing about happenings in education, technology, and the dynamic relationship that exists within and between these two worlds.  As I journey through this class, I hope to bring a special education perspective, as I am working towards my MAT in Special Education.  I am ferociously passionate about this field and have an active desire to attain more knowledge.  Through my work in this course and others, I highly anticipate the day in which I become a productive and resourceful educator.

Until my next bit,

Beth