Food for thought

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” _Bill Gates

Bill is on to something here… I believe that we, as educators, have a responsibility to use technology as a teaching tool. We must first learn how to use it, then teach our students appropriate ways to use technology in their educational journey.

This quote is very telling to my current endeavors, as I have been working on an IWB (Interactive White Board) lesson for class. We recorded ourselves teaching the IWB lesson to several classmates and are now in the editing phase. It’s a (dare I say, painful) process to watch ourselves on video, but it’s a tremendous opportunity from which to grow. I am seeing how I teach, what I need to change, and what I like. I also am getting a “student’s view” of myself, how I express myself and explain lessons, as well as how I interact with the IWB. Through this experience I was able to download the SMART software on my laptop and dabble in IWB lessons. It’s a bit overwhelming at times because the SMART software seems to provide endless opportunities. I have only begun to learn how to operate and navigate this software, but I am excited to explore more and see what I can create. I look forward to the times in student teaching that I will be able to actively engage students in the lesson by using technology, and the IWB.

Times are changing and technology is transforming the classroom. So long are the days of endless worksheets, copying notes from the chalkboard or overhead projector, or going to the “computer” class elective to play “Oregon Trail”. The availability of technology in the classroom has replaced these antiquated ways of teaching and learning. With this digital evolution, I too must evolve in my own learning and teaching methods, and I feel that this class is a catalyst for such change.

Infographics-what?

A few weeks ago we did a project on a Web 2.0 tool called infographics.  Before this class, I had never heard this term “infographic”, but to my surprise I did have previous experience with them.  You know those posters on Pinterest that display information beautifully in a poster-like format?  Well, that would be an infographic!  By visually representation data in an organized way, you may display a select amount of information that is aesthetically appealing with a functional purpose.  For this assignment we needed to create an infographic that we would use to help teachers understand how to better communicate with families.  I used piktochart to create mine; a user friendly site that made my infographic possible.  If I create another infographic I would likely use this website again.  I was able to login using my Google email and access my previously saved pieces.  Additionally, I could download my infographic and even link it to the website…..I still need to work on embedding though.

Effective Communication with Families Infographic

Have any of you tried to make infographics before?  What do you think of Piktochart as a infographic website?

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.