Smartphone Street

This week, we are asked to reflect upon a quote from Postman: “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”

When I first started thinking about this prompt, and reflecting on Joe, Kyla, Michael and Sam‘s presentation on AV technology, my mind instantly went to engagement, which is a hot topic in education right now. Like Adam and Scott mentioned in their blog posts this week, I also thought about the “utopia” that Sesame Street portrays of what learning is about. On Sesame Street everyone loves learning, loves each other, and are ultimately engaged and connecting to learning in the beautiful world around them. It’s fun!

via GIPHY

There have been many educational TV shows that I remember watching over the years – sometimes in school, sometimes at home. Bill Nye the Science guy, Popular Mechanics for Kids, and Degrassi (the original of course!) were some of my favorite TV shows, that I definitely can say I learned a lot from. I still to this day incorporate Degrassi episodes into my Health & Wellness classes as they cover real life, teenage health issues in a captivating and honest way. Many of these shows – and other educational TV, do show school and learning as a positive thing, and “gives teachers the chance to stimulate each child’s learning process with a combination of pictures, sounds and attention grabbing media”, as described in our reading this week on the importance of AV technology.

But as I started to dive further into our prompt and think about “the grander implications of the current array of AV technologies, such as apps and interactive educational shows, when we think about the format of schooling? How do personalized devices and tools like YouTube (Khan Academy, Crash Course, etc) change the way we might think about school,” I realized that this is so much bigger than technology increasing engagement in our classrooms. Technology is actually changing what our classrooms are – and will be.

Is physically going to school going to remain important? Obviously my answer is yes it should, but to others this may be no longer be if they can get everything they need online, through smartphones, educational TV, etc. Apps like Google Classroom have made it easier for students to catch up when they miss school – but on the flipside, have also made it easier to miss. Opportunities for remote learning are definite pros of AV technology, and I can speak from experience how powerful my classes with Alec have been in which Zoom has been the technology that has brought us all together to learn, and contribute simultaneously from different places. But is the ability to learn remotely a pro for elementary and high school aged learners? Are more distance education programs going to pop up and begin to change the traditional way of school? And how about for students who struggle with transiency, social skills, or perhaps mental health or addiction issues – could these distance education programs supported through AV technology  help them further their education in a way traditional school currently may not be?

I’m not sure what exactly what the answers to these questions are, or what these implications mean. As I think about a push for BYOD – are we actually pushing for smartphones/the internet/apps to be our teachers? If my student is struggling to understand math the way I explain it, and I suggest they go on Khan Academy and they understand it better… how does that change the role of school in that student or family’s minds? How does that change the relationship between the student and teacher? Are teachers actually still needed face to face? Or at all?

I’ve shared this TED talk before in this past blog post, and I cannot stop watching it, or getting behind the ideas Rita Pierson presents. Relationships matter.

 

I truly feel that the relationships we build with students have far more impact on their learning than any engaging technology can have. We need to continue to build relationships with our students and technology – by purposeful, authentic, and genuine use that enhances the learning experience. Apps like SeeSaw, do a great job of building relationships and connections between home and school in an engaging way. In this ever-changing technological world, we need to strive to build these relationships as well as meaningfully teach students about what it means to be a good digital citizen. If you’ve ever read anything of mine, I know I sound like a broken record, but digital citizenship should be at the forefront of our smartphone using (and sometimes abusing) students.

I really like what Jana said in her post this week:

“In this digital age, changing the way we think about school means shifting our view of teaching and learning from something that takes place within four walls to something that extends beyond them.”

The technology at our students fingertips is powerful – we need to teach students to harness that power for good. The relationships that we create with students are even more powerful – it is these relationships that build the foundations for students to take a step beyond the four walls schooling traditionally presents.

Smartphone Street

This week, we are asked to reflect upon a quote from Postman: “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”

When I first started thinking about this prompt, and reflecting on Joe, Kyla, Michael and Sam‘s presentation on AV technology, my mind instantly went to engagement, which is a hot topic in education right now. Like Adam and Scott mentioned in their blog posts this week, I also thought about the “utopia” that Sesame Street portrays of what learning is about. On Sesame Street everyone loves learning, loves each other, and are ultimately engaged and connecting to learning in the beautiful world around them. It’s fun!

via GIPHY

There have been many educational TV shows that I remember watching over the years – sometimes in school, sometimes at home. Bill Nye the Science guy, Popular Mechanics for Kids, and Degrassi (the original of course!) were some of my favorite TV shows, that I definitely can say I learned a lot from. I still to this day incorporate Degrassi episodes into my Health & Wellness classes as they cover real life, teenage health issues in a captivating and honest way. Many of these shows – and other educational TV, do show school and learning as a positive thing, and “gives teachers the chance to stimulate each child’s learning process with a combination of pictures, sounds and attention grabbing media”, as described in our reading this week on the importance of AV technology.

But as I started to dive further into our prompt and think about “the grander implications of the current array of AV technologies, such as apps and interactive educational shows, when we think about the format of schooling? How do personalized devices and tools like YouTube (Khan Academy, Crash Course, etc) change the way we might think about school,” I realized that this is so much bigger than technology increasing engagement in our classrooms. Technology is actually changing what our classrooms are – and will be.

Is physically going to school going to remain important? Obviously my answer is yes it should, but to others this may be no longer be if they can get everything they need online, through smartphones, educational TV, etc. Apps like Google Classroom have made it easier for students to catch up when they miss school – but on the flipside, have also made it easier to miss. Opportunities for remote learning are definite pros of AV technology, and I can speak from experience how powerful my classes with Alec have been in which Zoom has been the technology that has brought us all together to learn, and contribute simultaneously from different places. But is the ability to learn remotely a pro for elementary and high school aged learners? Are more distance education programs going to pop up and begin to change the traditional way of school? And how about for students who struggle with transiency, social skills, or perhaps mental health or addiction issues – could these distance education programs supported through AV technology  help them further their education in a way traditional school currently may not be?

I’m not sure what exactly what the answers to these questions are, or what these implications mean. As I think about a push for BYOD – are we actually pushing for smartphones/the internet/apps to be our teachers? If my student is struggling to understand math the way I explain it, and I suggest they go on Khan Academy and they understand it better… how does that change the role of school in that student or family’s minds? How does that change the relationship between the student and teacher? Are teachers actually still needed face to face? Or at all?

I’ve shared this TED talk before in this past blog post, and I cannot stop watching it, or getting behind the ideas Rita Pierson presents. Relationships matter.

 

I truly feel that the relationships we build with students have far more impact on their learning than any engaging technology can have. We need to continue to build relationships with our students and technology – by purposeful, authentic, and genuine use that enhances the learning experience. Apps like SeeSaw, do a great job of building relationships and connections between home and school in an engaging way. In this ever-changing technological world, we need to strive to build these relationships as well as meaningfully teach students about what it means to be a good digital citizen. If you’ve ever read anything of mine, I know I sound like a broken record, but digital citizenship should be at the forefront of our smartphone using (and sometimes abusing) students.

I really like what Jana said in her post this week:

“In this digital age, changing the way we think about school means shifting our view of teaching and learning from something that takes place within four walls to something that extends beyond them.”

The technology at our students fingertips is powerful – we need to teach students to harness that power for good. The relationships that we create with students are even more powerful – it is these relationships that build the foundations for students to take a step beyond the four walls schooling traditionally presents.

THE SESAME WAY

Image Via Ethics Alarms

Hello ECI833,

As a student and a teacher, I have always been inspired by the quote “Education is not the answer to the question. Education is the means to the answer to all questions.” I have been fortunate to see the shift from the traditional idea of schooling, where I sat in front of a teacher in a room seeing her lecturing to the students who were sitting in a well-organized row, to a whole different format of online education. But now, we must acknowledge the fact that the educational landscape is forever changed and thanks to the various formats of technology. Talking about Sesame Street who knew that today in our class we will be discussing Sesame Street? and the value of educational TV shows? At least I didn’t.

Let me start by applauding our classmates Michael, Joe, Sam, and Kyla M for their excellent and well-organized presentation. I must say that they really took us back in time and brought us back. Today we touch base on the history of audio/visual technology and its Impact on education. We witnessed how we transcended from blackboard based instructional setup to technology-based education. As educators in this digital age, we have access to various technological devices to aid our instruction. Integration of technology into the classroom has definitely changed how we teach and how our students learn. However, before the progression of technology within schools, many us learned through watching educational television shows. The notion of promoting education via television was one of the best things which had happened and sesame street is a good example of it.

A television show like “Sesame Street,” introduced what I call a “unique way of learning” in those days and I must say that it definitely posed challenges to educators and school, just like how the current culture of smartphones and the push towards BYOD are posing challenges to us and I think this is exactly what the Postman meant when he wrote “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if the school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”. The whole idea behind watching educational television shows was so that our children might learn while being entertained and Even today we make use of educational videos in our classrooms which is both educative and entertaining to aid our instruction but never to replace formal education. In a way, I think that even though Sesame Street was a change that was really required I do think that it undermines the traditional idea of how students learn at school.

Technology and digital media are altering the meaning of the current format of schooling and creating new challenges for teaching and learning. The concept of AV technologies and open education has revolutionized the field of education; it has replaced the traditional classroom and made education accessible to all. Personalized devices and tools like YouTube, Khan Academy have further enriched the notion of educational technology and has significantly changed the educational landscape. The article Advantages challenges encountered and attitude of teachers in utilizing multimedia in the classroom provided by the presentation team showcases as the best example of the advantages of technology and challenges encountered by teachers. There is no doubt that technology is a very helpful tool for learning and it is also important for us as educators to adapt our teaching practices and integrate the available technology so that the core idea of our profession is best served.  Hamming said it right in her blog post that we cannot be lazy teachers anymore and we should always keep an eye to what is new. Technology is here to stay and we have no other choice than shake hands with it and get the most out of it in a positive and a productive way.

Gif Via Giphy

Education today is drastically evolving and so are our students. Today’s children are budding up in a digital world and technological tools have integrated as a prominent part of our youth and it offers an ocean of resources for both students and teachers in learning and interactivity, there is no doubt that student and teachers benefit using them but in the same way it poses some concerns too. What are your thoughts and concerns about educational technology? and do you think Technology Will Replace Teachers?

In this constantly changing and evolving of teaching and learning, educators are always on the run from traditional schooling to a new means of education model. As teachers, we are constantly exposed to new means of instruction, the new rights ways and wrong, new device, and new technology is always eager to teach the teachers and in most circumstances, I believe it is for good.

Gif Via Giphy

 

My Thoughts on Sesame Street and Traditional Teaching

Before I begin, I just want to say I was a HUGE fan of Sesame Street and I loved watching it as a kid. I remember watching it every afternoon as I went to kindergarten in the morning. I feel like I did not realize how much learning was going on when I was watching it. I have always wondered why I was soooooo smart………JUST KIDDING HAHA!!!!

Here is the quote that we were asked to reflect on this week:

“…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents” This quote can be found in the following article:  Learning in the Age of Television, Neil Postman 

Neil Postman, who was an educational theorist, raises a valid point about the way in which our children could be educated during their school career. I believe that educators should use a variety of instructional strategies and methods in their classroom as all children learn in different ways. To me, one way of teaching is no better than the other. It totally depends on the learner as  one child may learn completely different from the other.

I think the main point Postman is trying to make here is that traditional ways of teaching is not the only way to teach. I feel like he was trying to make other educators aware that learning can be fun, just like the in the show Sesame Street! Back then however, I think it would be very difficult for teachers to change their “traditional” ways of teaching as that’s all they knew. In saying that, I don’t think Postman wanted the educators to change their ways completely, but just to recognize that all learners won’t necessarily learn the same way.

Even back then when technology and resources were sparse, Postman still believed that education could be fun by using a variety of instructional methods and materials. I think Brooke is on point when she states that “today’s technology capabilities are likely beyond what Postman imagined for education in 1985 but many of the positive implications of AV technology remain relevant.” I definitely think  now a days teachers understand that the traditional ways of teaching is not the only option for teaching. Many educators, including myself, are much more open to inquiry learning, using technology, incorporating manipulative, as well using audio visuals as we just learned all about.

A great article was posted this week called The Importance of Audio Visual Technology in Education. As we know from the wonderful presentation this past week by Michael, Joe, Sam, and Kyla M , using audio-visual  resources can benefit our learners in many ways. It states that a“ wide selection of AV tools make teaching and learning a rich and enjoyable experience, inspire learners with creative and innovative multimedia activities and will also save time in lesson preparation. The ability to share this information will eventually create a ‘global curriculum’”. In saying that, light shines on the fact that educators are continuing to and be open to using a variety of teaching methods in the classroom rather than just the old ways.

I thought it might be fun to interview my parents on their thoughts about Sesame Street. I read them the quote provided … “We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents”. Here is what they responded ….

Mother (who is a teacher)
– I put it on because it made learning fun at home
-you can find a balance of using  teaching methods in the classroom
-you can maintain interest level when it’s fun
– education is not always fun, sometimes you just need to teach something
-people have great memories about it

Dad
-wanted us to watch it because it was educational
– enjoyed watching it himself
– always liked to ask questions about what was going on

In the end, I believe that both traditional ways and modern ways of teaching are important in order for a child to be successful in school.

 

 

Technology, Sesame Street, and School

What is the traditional idea of school nowadays? To me, when I think of traditional schooling a few things come to mind: all straight rows, no technology, writing notes off of the chalkboard, mad minutes in math, big booklets about nouns, verbs, adjectives, and tons and tons of tests. Instead of viewing Sesame Street as undermining traditional schooling, we should view it as a positive step forward. It helped bridge some cultural gaps and made learning engaging. I can still recall a song I learned in grade 1 about vowels…. “A, E, I O, U… sometimes Y, oh me oh my, these are vowels and they are fun, each word has at least one!” This is incredible that I can still remember it and it helped me throughout my elementary years when spelling words and understanding what vowels are. On a website Bright Horizons, there is an article that supports music in child development. Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words. Dancing to music helps children build motor skills while allowing them to practice self-expression. For children and adults, music helps strengthen memory skills.

Why wouldn’t we as educators want to reach as many students as we can? The website also highlights that music isn’t just about academic intelligence but it ignites the development of children socially, emotionally, linguistically, as well as creates a sense of readiness for school. Sesame Street was viewed as parents as a way out of educating their children. Rather they could use Sesame Street as a method of engaging their children in the learning process. In addition, Postman talked about how, “anything worth learning can take the form on an entertainment, and ought to”. No matter the classroom, school, or students we are teaching, as long as we can engage them, that is where the best learning can take place.

Now what is the importance of AV in schools?

Far too often people who are not in the ‘education world’, will critique teachers who allow phones or “too much” technology. But just as the article The importance of audio visual technology in education states, “…AV creates a stimulating and interactive environment which is more conducive to learning”. Another reason we should expose students to AV in schools is because it is extremely relevant in their futures. Perhaps they want to engage in a business venture, become an engineer, or even work as a broadcaster. This is supported in the article through the statement “…There will be an increasing need for employees to possess higher level IT skills to cope with the demand for producing more innovative IT products”. We as teachers are at the forefront. We can empower students to become future leaders with technology by teaching our students and learning alongside them with the use of AV! AV in school cannot be what we may remember in our schooling. Teachers rolling out the TV cart for an educational video or wheeling out the overhead projector. We have the power to lead and show students a variety of technological apps and resources to help benefit their learning. Thea article also states that “Not exposing children to different forms of technology is depriving them of vital learning opportunities that could benefit them in later life for example through increased career opportunities. AV lessons should not just consist of children working in pairs on a PowerPoint presentation or rewriting a piece of work using Word, ICT should be challenging, exciting and fun.” This statement couldn’t ring more true to me.

Elizabeth Hartnell-Young, formulated a study about ‘How Mobile Phones Help Learning in Secondary Schools’. The results demonstrated students could be more imaginative and phones could be used for photography classes, recording science experiments, or even just recording yourself reading so students could analyze their own reading abilities or share with peers who were absent. I think we need to come to realized that phones can be used as an educational resource in our classrooms. There are always going to be downfalls or downsides to using technology, but if we teach our students in an informative and engaging way, they will be able to make good choices when it comes to tech use. We will never be able to monitor their music choices, if they go on social media, etc. But what if we include social media in our classes. That has the opportunity to engage students and make learning relevant!

As far as the format of schooling, there are more opportunities for students to take online classes throughout high school. There are a few reasons I support this. To begin, students who are independent have the opportunity to work a pace that is pleasant for them and for others, perhaps they are an elite athlete and usually miss school for games, tournaments, or practices. This is a flexible learning space for them to engage in. Even in this class, it demonstrates that we can use technology and meet online while still benefiting from engaging in learning opportunities with our peers. Having zoom breakout rooms allows for those small group interactions that can be built into classroom discussions. Therefore, for those who do not enjoy speaking in front often larger group, have the opportunity to share their voice through smaller breakout groups.

Sesame Street: All learning should be as engaging!

As a child, I do not remember watching much TV but I do remember watching snippets of Sesame Street and being enthralled with it. Shows like Sesame Street, Barney, and Mr. Dress Up were shows that hooked children and parents because of their educational offerings.

Melanie shared in her blog post the ultimate goals of Sesame Street. She shared from the book “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street” that Sesame Street was created and geared towards young children and preparing them for school. The goal of Sesame Street was to “create a children’s television show that would master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them.” I think this quote is very interesting as it shows how writers and parents knew that AV right from the beginning would be addictive to children so they began looking for ways to use this as an educational tool while still allowing it to be entertaining for children.

sesame street muppets GIF by HBO

Giphy

When we were children audiovisual technology was really just beginning to make its way into homes. As Postman states, parents had less guilt allowing TV to seep into their homes when it was educational and they knew that it would teach their children something. Sesame Street was known to be engaging, educational and geared towards preparing young children for Elementary School. Parents were happy to let their children spend time watching TV as they felt that it was, in fact, helping to educate them as they were watching TV.

Sesame Street had the goal to help children to love school or so we believed. How could children not love school if the school was going to be anything like Sesame Street? Sesame Street was highly entertaining with lots of singing, dancing, colors, characters fully engaging children in learning. This is how a school is and should be, correct? Postman begins to challenge the idea that schools are not engaging like Sesame Street and that Sesame Street may, in fact, undermine the ideas of traditional schooling.

Image result for traditional schooling

Photo Credit

Educational programming such as Sesame Street really did challenge the traditional approaches to teaching and learning. In many cases, the behaviorist learning theory was a prevalent approach to teaching during this era when Sesame Street was first introduced. They were now beginning to challenge the traditional schooling with an engaging program where children were learning and were entertained at the same time. This shows that children will, in fact, learn best when they are interested and engaged. These beginning days of AV meant that now the traditional teaching methods in schools were being challenged as students now had access to other ways of learning that was fully engaging and not just lectured on to them.

Schools then had the challenge of incorporating AV into the schools to keep up with this change. With Audio-Visual being a part of students lives at home in order students to be engaged in learning a teacher lecturing is not going to warrant their attention like the use of Audio-Visual will. Over the years with AV becoming so widespread and children having access to it at very young ages schools needed to begin to make this shift in using AV in teaching. We now know that there are many benefits of using AV technology in teaching and learning. Not only is it engaging for students but it also allows them to take their learning beyond the immediate classroom. It allows them to connect with and learn from others all over the world.

Image result for engaged students

Photo Credit

Students today use their devices non-stop. Some studies show that students spend upwards of four out of school hours a day on their devices. Although this may seem outrageous we have to realize that this is the reality for our children. So as teachers we have a responsibility to teach them how to properly engage with technology, teach them boundaries with technology and teach them how they can use technology to further their learning. Using technology in the classroom is highly engaging for students. As teachers, we need to use this to help engage students in the learning process. This engagement is beneficial to their learning experience and in return they are building on the technical skills that will help them be successful in the 21st century. This is a win, win in the classroom. As teachers, we need to push ourselves outside our comfort zones and overcome our uncertainties and barriers with technology to ensure that our students are highly engaged and practicing the skills that they most definitely will need in order to be successful in their futures.

 

The role of AV in the greater context of education

Although I do remember watching Sesame Street as a young child, I find it difficult to evaluate the impact it had on my relationship with the world of learning and school.  From my perspective as a parent and a teacher, watching Sesame Street with my kids has given me a totally new viewpoint related to media and education.  When evaluating the Postman quote : …We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.””, what immediately comes to mind is the term: control.

When watching polished media presentations like an episode of Sesame Street or any well produced educational content show for that matter, I can’t help but think how things would be different given certain elements of control were removed from the equation.

Control over content and delivery:  As a teacher in a publicly funded public education system, my obligation is to teach my courses based on curriculum established by the Ministry of Education of Saskatchewan.  I must make sure that my students achieve the outcomes set by the curriculum I have been assigned to teach.  (For those who work with older curricula that has yet to be renewed using the new framework, I’m referring to learning objectives.)  Although some teachers have the privilege of teaching curriculum that has been developed by themselves under the structure of a locally developed class, most teachers in my circles do not have that opportunity.  I can only imagine the experience I could offer my students if I could teach any outcome I desired at my own whim.

An educational television show like Sesame Street has the luxury or deciding what content it will be integrating into their narrative.  As the show is planned and produced, there are no restrictions on what can be added or removed from the final version of the show.  The final product is effectively a version of entertainment for kids in an educational context.  They do not have the restriction of needing to teach specific outcomes and making SURE their audience has demonstrated a sufficiently good understanding of that outcome to be successful.

On the front of content delivery, this is where teachers have the ability to make a difference in children’s lives. This is where the flexibility of a teachers shines, there are very little restrictions on how content can be delivered. A variety of frameworks can be used to involve students in their education.  Here are a few suggested in a blog post by Kelly Walsh

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The majority of these types of learning tools and approaches could never be utilized in a televised or video format.

I would akin a show like Sesame Street to a form of linear programming suggested by B.F. Skinner in p.40 of Education Technology Historical Developments.  The lack of reciprocal interaction between the learner and the “teacher” in this case represents a large weakness that must be overcome with how the content is delivered within the restrictions of the medium.  Compared to other educational television shows, Sesame Street seems to maximize the medium and makes it the class of the field in that particular type of programming. This might be a hint of what Postman is trying to convey.

Control over audience:  I don’t pick my students and my students don’t pick me.  The teacher must make the best of the situation and do their very best to make sure EVERY student makes progress and makes positive strides in the right direction.  A television show has much more control over their audience.  Although they might want to, they don’t need to reach every child in every socio-economic background.  Television shows mold their programming to reach large groups in hopes of maximizing their viewership.  There is no need to worry about those kids that will fall between the cracks that inevitably appear in society and in many school systems.  If I had the freedom to teach to only the students that were interested in my content, my life as a teacher would be quite different.

Control over resources:  If I had the time, the financial resources, the technological resources and the human resources that are invested in making television programming, I can only dream of how amazing my classes would be!  Unfortunately, we as teachers have to live in a world of limitations, as much as I would love to use the latest and greatest the world of educational technology has to offer, schools have limited budgets and limited resources.  My school has 40 computers for 150 students, time is often lost trying to login to the machines that experience network problems and sometimes the internet is so slow that it becomes unusable.  As a result, I must weigh the pros and the cons of technology use and always do what is best with the resources that are at my disposal.  Reading the required articles: The pros of AV, The importance of audio visual technology in educationand Can you AV it at all?, I developed a sense of resentment and jealousy in that in these articles, ideal situations are presented that I will never be able to achieve in the context of a severely underfunded educational system where I’m always asked to do more with less.  I really hope that someday I will be asked to do more with more.

Control over expectations:  Television production companies don’t have to contend with the pressure of making sure that every student needs to achieve certain learning outcomes.  Production companies aren’t judged when Johnny Student is not achieving his potential.  They don’t have to contend with kids that have severe learning disabilities.  They don’t have to contend with students that have lived traumatic backgrounds that need emotional and psychological support.  The don’t have to contend with children that arrive in a new country and have to adapt and learn a whole new language and a vastly different culture.  All of these expectations that are placed on a formal educational system adds a whole new dimension to teaching concepts that are but a side thought when making a show like Sesame Street.

Control over the human connection: In the end, it doesn’t matter to which learning theory one adheres, one common factor in all theories of learning is the importance of teachers and the human connection they have the ability to cultivate over time.  Learning theories are useless without humans to facilitate them.

To me, the undermining of traditional schooling with the advent of AV technologies that have become ubiquitous such as smartphones, computers, YouTube and Apps is nothing but an evolutionary step in refocusing the place and the role traditional schooling has in our society.  Referring to Postman’s quote, with regards to Sesame Street, when looking uniquely at Sesame Street and the effectiveness of its methods related to the medium it exploits, the results are excellent.  However, we must always be aware that looking at specific technologies or educational practices by themselves does not make for success in education.  A larger perspective must be taken and a broader view of what is accomplished by these technologies must be analyzed to truly comprehend its place in the larger context of educational technologies and learning theories.

We cannot put all of our eggs in one basket when it comes to education, the world of education, like the world of technology is in constant evolution.  Continual adjustment, evaluation and the creation of new methods is a must to assure that we give learners what they need to contribute positively to society.

Learning to Read is as Easy as Eating Some Alphabet Soup

Source

In his 1985 article, Learning in the Age of Television, Neil Postman wrote “…We know how that ‘Sesame Street’ encourages children to love school only if school is like ‘Sesame Street.’ Which is to say, we now know that ‘Sesame Street’ undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents”. Postman is discussing the role that television had begun to play in the education of American children and how this audio-visual technology was reshaping parent and educator understanding of what learning could look like if they revamped what the traditional classroom setting looked like. 

For many of us, imagining what the traditional classroom looked like has something like this image imprinted in our minds: 

Related image

As Haiming describes in her blog post, the teacher is placed at the front of the room, students sit in rows of desks and there is little visual stimulation in the surroundings. This classroom is rooted in behaviourist learning theory in which the teacher transmits the knowledge to the student. This image did not align with what Sesame Street taught us to thinking about learning. 

Postman writes “In searching the literature of education, you will find it said by some that children will learn best when they are interested in what they are learning. You will find it said–Plato and Dewey emphasized this–that reason is best cultivated when it is rooted in robust emotional ground. You will even find some who say that learning is best facilitated by a loving and benign teacher. But no one has ever said or implied that significant learning is effectively, durably, and truthfully achieved when education is entertainment”. Postman is arguing that a shift in learning theory needed to occur at this point in history from behaviourist to constructivist and beyond to connectivism as it relates to modern education. The group presenting this week asked some important questions about how our class thought AV technology impacted learning. Some responses were that AV technologies created opportunities for connections with others, that auditory and visual concepts were closer to real life than text and therefore easier to understanding, AV appeals to different styles of learning and can evoke emotion which in turn activates prior knowledge to create meaning (possibly through digital storytelling, songs or podcasts, etc.), and that integrating AV was more engaging that traditional styles of teaching. Many of our class’ ideas aligned with Postman’s arguments. 

The introduction of audio-visual technology began almost a century ago with tape recorders and overhead projectors and has evolved over time to include technologies such as iPads, smart projectors, robots and virtual reality devices being used in classrooms today. The importance of using AV technology in the classroom should not be underestimated and “there are two reasons for this; one, learning via AV creates a stimulating and interactive environment which is more conducive to learning; two, we live in an audio-visual age which means that having the skills to use AV equipment is integral to future employment prospects. Therefore exposure to AV technology in education is imperative”. AV technology has become important in the classroom in “facilitating improved productivity and student engagement, offering flexible applications that can create dynamic learning environments for wide-reaching audiences…technology also allows groups from all over the world to connect and collaborate in real-time” (Source).  In 2018, this information shouldn’t be surprising when we have statistics like these to suggest the relevance of AV technology in our lives. 

Today’s technology capabilities are likely beyond what Postman imagined for education in 1985 but many of the positive implications of AV technology remain relevant. If we think solely of our EC&I 833 course and the opportunities made available through Zoom which allows people to connect from various locations (Alec taught one class from Hong Kong last Winter semester!) for one common goal, it really is quite amazing! Further, if we think about how technology is being integrated into classrooms now through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs that integrate the culture of smartphones, the use of educational programs through Youtube, and the many applications used to connect classrooms globally, the implications for learning are vast. In my own practice, AV technology enhances learning by showing students content rather than simply having them read about it or listen to me teach about it. AV technology provides another lens and context through which students are able to make meaning of the world around them. As previously suggested, students can learn more when they are engaged and interested in what they are learning. Finally, the integration of AV technologies in today’s classrooms allow for 21st century learning to take place. 

The use of AV technologies in the classroom is conducive to understanding new literacies such as digital literacy. Pitts argues 

“all communication is multimodal, that writing alone is not enough for learning, and that all modalities are ‘equally significant for meaning and communication’ …In this context written language, then, is but one part of meaning making. Moreover, it is no longer the dominant part. A literate individual is no longer one who can simply read and write, but one who can place language within a broader context – a multimodal world. As information can be expressed through multiple modes, the ability to interpret and connect the multiple modes through a variety of literacies (e.g., print, digital) becomes essential”.

New epistemoligies in a digital age: Ways of knowing beyond text-based literacy in young adult leaners

In conclusion, AV technologies have the power to revolutionize learning in many contexts and make learning more engaging, empowering and connected. Teachers have a responsibility to use this information to transform their teaching and the role that traditional classroom models continue to play in modern classrooms. After all, according to author Malcolm Gladwell, “Sesame Street was built around a single breakthrough insight: that if you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them”. How are you holding your students attention? 

Logo Love

One of my favorite things about EC&I 833 so far has been all the blasts from the pasts we have experienced. Number Munchers, Oregon Trail, and almost anything you can imagine from my childhood that I am now able to explore on Classic Reload has been such an enjoyable experience to me. Although enjoyable…it has also been distracting! But the distraction, and the distraction specifically that Logo provided me this past week was actually much needed for my busy brain.

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Aside from my Computer Science 100 course in my first year of University, I have next to no experience with any type of coding. In fact when I actually hear someone talk about coding, I automatically get this feeling of it being “too techy” for me. But after working through a few quick exercises during class, I was thinking to myself that this was actually kind of fun. And… I was actually pretty good at it.

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I was happy when this was one of our blog prompts, as I found myself wanting to further play around with logo as I liked not only the challenge it provided me, but also the logical reasoning, patterns, and obvious connections to math I could see at work. Although I did not get through the entire exercise book, with time I feel confident I could. This is something that could definitely be beneficial to students (and me) regardless of whether or not they were actually specifically interested in coding.

As I began to read about Papert’s theory of constructionism, I could see how learning with Logo supports this learning theory (which I had never heard of!) As a math teacher, I see value in problem-based learning, and seek to create these authentic experiential learning experiences for my students. It can be hard though with the pressure of content to cover in a short amount of time as well as rising and varying needs within the classroom today. Often students need much more guidance than the student-centered approach of constructionism.

“Teaching ‘at’ students is replaced by assisting them to understand—and help one another to understand—problems in a hands-on way. The teacher’s role is not to be a lecturer but a facilitator who coaches students to attaining their own goals.” (Wikipedia)

The question that I am sure many math teachers can attest to hearing is “when will I ever use _______ in the real world?” I have always dreaded this question, as it is not always a clear answer, and a lot of the time, students will not ever actually apply the quadratic formula to anything in their life outside of math class. As a sports person, and also Phys. Ed teacher, I always try to explain it this way to students.

I always ask, how do I get bigger biceps? Or how do I get better at my basketball shot? Usually students answer I should workout, do some bicep curls, pushups, go to the gym to work on my shot at lunch, etc. Then I talk about how long or how often I would do that. I most likely they wouldn’t walk around doing bicep curls of various objects in my “real life.” I do these specific exercise movements because I am working on making that muscle bigger. In the same way I wouldn’t use the quadratic formula at home, I use it in math class  because it is growing my logical thinking, reasoning, pattern skills, etc – and essentially “growing my brain”.

By using a program like Logo in a math class to build mathematical skills in students is without a doubt beneficial. I can even see this being done as a 10 minutes a day type program for students to start of finish class off, or even as a “brain break” (Although it works their brain pretty hard without them knowing!) I found this beneficial for my own problem solving, reasoning and logical thinking skills as I often don’t challenge my brain in this same mathematical way anymore.

I think helping our students understand how problem solving and taking on challenges – both with and without technology – can benefit their learning is a hard task – but important. Letting go of the reins in our classroom and taking on a constructionist approach can be powerful for both students and teachers. I recently did an Escape Room activity in my math class in which I gave almost zero instructions. At first my students were asking me lots of questions, and “how should they write this down, etc” but within minutes they were figuring out how to solve the problem – not just how to answer the question how the teacher wanted. Fostering this type of authentic engagement of students in their own learning is critical – in school and real life!

Google Extensions

As a middle years teacher our students have access to Chromebook charts which is our main resource in regards to technology. By using the Chromebooks we access the following extensions: Google Read and Write, Google Drive, Google Classroom, and Google forms.

The ways I use Google Chrome extensions:

  1. Collaboration – the Grade 6-8 teachers at my school use Google drive folders to share weekly writing prompts and math bell work questions. Also, all of our staff members use Google Docs in a shared folder to update what is going on in and around the school. If a teacher is away their name goes into a table with the supervisions they need covered and people can go on docs to sign up to cover for the absent staff members. This is an easy way for everyone to see what is going on. Some teachers will also post resources(videos, PDF files, etc.) in regards to relevant content. For example, prior to Orange Shirt Day, there were multiple teachers sharing resources on the Google Docs page.Related image
  2. Input – our Vice Principal will use Google Forums to communicate any questions he would like answered. For example, we had a forum about how we want things communicated (ex: Google docs folder). As well, he asked our thoughts on Halloween. This is an effective way to collect information from staff members and allows them to have a voice in what is going on. I also use Google Forums with students so they can provide me with feedback. Sometimes I am very direct (Ex: What did you think of the Katepwa trip? What should I change or keep the same for next year? ) and sometimes I am indirect (Ex: What do you like or dislike about the classroom setup? My teaching?) This welcomes feedback from students and teachers which makes them feel like they have a voice. In addition, this becomes imperative when students or teachers are introverts or shy because they can type their answers in without having to speak up to share their opinions.
  3. Differentiation – Google Read and Write is another resource that is relied on heavily when looking at the different needs in a classroom(Google Read and Write).  “Computer technology has great potential for supporting instruction within the classroom” (Rog, 2014, p. 31). Many school divisions have recently discovered a useful piece of technology that has definite bonuses for students who struggle with reading and writing and benefit from the usage of technology. “Google Read&Write boosts reading and writing confidence for students with learning difficulties, dyslexia, or ELL/ESL through a range of powerful tools” (TextHelp, 2015).

Google Read&Write tools include:

  • speech to text,
  • highlighting,
  • word prediction

Google Read&Write is an interactive extension to Google Documents. The unique add – on reads on-screen text aloud so researching and checking written work makes many everyday tasks easier for students who need assistance when it comes to reading and writing. The add on is simple and user friendly as compared to its predecessor used in many school divisions – Kurzweil (https://www.texthelp.com/en-us)

  1. Google Classroom – It suppose is to facilitate paperless communication between teachers and students and streamline educational workflow. Classroom allows teachers to create classes, post assignments, organize folders, and view work in real-time. Sometimes students are fearful of asking help to edit their assignments. Whenever I use Google Classroom, I can do quick checks to see where the students are at in the assignment and I can help them through working off of my computer too. If students are working on a particular assignment and it is for homework, they have easy access to this at home. They just simply sign into their Google account and go to Google Classroom. This alleviates the “I forgot my homework at school”. This is also an organizational tool for me because this way, all of the students assignments are in one spot. I don’t have to go to my shared folder or have all students make a Grade 8 folder to share with me. It keeps the students and myself organized and on track.