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?

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.