Category Archives: ECI833

MULTI-TASKING OR MULTI FOCUSED DISTRACTION

 

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Hello ECI 833,

I can remember those days when I used to boast with everyone that I was a multitasker and I can be productive at multiple things at a time, but in reality, I was a far cry from being productive. Multitasking appears to be an exceptional idea to get a lot of things done at a time. We think that we are so productive while performing multiple tasks, but all we are doing is just getting distracted and becoming less productive. Research has revealed that our brains are not competent to manage numerous tasks as we presume or believe we can

When I clicked the link of the video “Single-tasking is the New Multitasking,” I watched it may be for 30 seconds and was listening to the rest it while opening multiple other tabs. Few of those tabs were study related, a few about this week’s presentation which I was working on and a few socializing sites. When the video was speaking about what I was doing, I couldn’t stop laughing at myself! The video was not only funny but extremely truthful and applicable. Talking about multitasking, while I was doing all of the above things while watching the video….. Oops sorry listening to that video, I was also having a peek on the news channel on my television.

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However, once the video stated narrating what I was doing, I paused all my other work/distraction and concentrated on it, and this time I saw the complete video. I couldn’t agree more to the fact that my mind is so preoccupied with so many things which were not allowing me to fully appreciated the video’s actual message. It didn’t take me long to realize again that is tough for me to focus on only one particular task at a time. The fact that, I am always multitasking in my life has significantly affected both on my productivity and, and this scenario answers the first question that Internet is a productivity tool which has provided a platform for me to work on multiple things but it has also created an endless series of distractions. I am productive to an extent, but in the same way, I am stuck in an infinite loop where I hop from one task to another. I agree to the fact that the internet is a productive tool, but in the same way, it also creates an endless series of distractions. When Amy C., Amy B., Kyle, and Colette discussed the advantages and disadvantages of online productivity tools I couldn’t agree more that these tools are meant to help us in many ways,  the Article by Nick Davis further substantiate that they make us perform tasks faster, helps us to focus on multiple tasks, which ultimately turn us into more efficient multi-taskers. 

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The Internet has certainly created a world of ‘multitaskers’ there is no doubt about that. Today, we are so fortunate that we have access to so much information, ideas, and the credit goes to the internet and numerous other technological tools. I think that no digital tool or technology is fundamentally evil and If someone wants to misuse it, they can, and they will find ways and numerous other reasons to make it as a hurdle for their achievements, but the same platform can be used positively in many ways. Kayla said it right in her blog post that there needs to be a balance. We cannot over-rely on the internet, but we also shouldn’t underutilize it.

Finally, I do believe that the Internet definitely makes us multi-task but having said that it is up to us to make is as a Friend or Foe.

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A few thoughts that you won’t believe are going to change your life! #Clickbait

When contemplating if the internet is really a productivity tool, the first thing that comes to mind is the world of education prior to the advent of computers and the internet.  Prior to computers and the internet, knowledge was primarily contained in book form or in the minds of teachers through their education and experience. Students were exposed to limited sources of information based on the diversity of their school libraries and the teachers they had in their environment.  Deciphering and interpreting information was done using specific methods that were taught and there were not many choices in how students work was to be done.  I see in my mind, a student sitting at table using a pencil and a paper to write their interpretations of what is written in books that are sprawled around his workspace.

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Today, students do not even consider using books when trying to kind information for an assignment.  When asking my students to find some information, their first instinct is to retrieve their smartphones or a computer and start a search using a service like Google. After exploring a few sites related to the topic and starting to grasp the idea of the concept, it’s time to open some type of productivity application like Google Docs or Microsoft Word and start writing.  (In some cases, copying and pasting directly from a website.)  In the midst of this workflow, the attention of a student is immediately being pulled in a myriad of different directions by online advertisers, clever attention-grabbing headlines and carefully constructed media architectures.

In the TED Talk performed by Tristan Harris, the methods used by large internet companies to get and retain the attention of internet users are exposed. As time advances, the fight for attention is becoming increasingly competitive and methods are becoming increasingly sophisticated.  So be clear, these internet-based companies aren’t vying only for the attention of students, they are vying for the attention of everyone.  From my personal experience, they seem to be winning when looking at my iPhone usage statistics from the past week.

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As we explored the pros and the cons of productivity sweets in the group presentation this past week, I came to the realization that in many cases, productivity is associated with computers.  We cannot deny that computers have the ability to make many tasks related to ‘knowledge work’ more efficient.  I still remember writing draft after draft of an assignment by hand before committing to taking out the pen and paper and constructing the final draft of my work to be handed in to the teacher.  Today, using a computerized word processor, more time can be devoted to style and content rather than physically writing and formatting assignments.  Imagine the time saved when using modern spreadsheets with integrated formulas as opposed to good old tabulation sheets and a manual calculator.  Group work has gotten much more effective with the advent of e-mail, video conferencing and tools like Google docs.

With all the advantages of productivity tools associated to the internet and computers, it’s easy to assume that we can always “do more with less” as mentioned in the suggested reading: The state of productivity suites in the workpklace.  However, in the mist of all the distractions that are forwarded by our connected world, we must stay vigilant in reminding ourselves that productivity don’t always have to be associated with computers and the internet.  The good old “hipster pda” can be a very effective tool to stay organized in everyday tasks.

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As David Allen extols in his book: Getting Things Done, productivity is more associated to a mindset and a philosophy than the availability of productivity tools. All the tools in the world are useless unless they are properly used and effectively integrated into the various workflows that compose our “working” environments.  Certain tools like DF Tube and uBlock Origin can provide a certain amount of relief to the distractions of internet life, but I’m of the opinion that good digital citizenship and education are the key to reducing the influence of internet advertising and less than honest headlines on the lives of the future generation.

Our attention is very valuable and companies like Google make profit by exploiting it.  Specifically, in the case of Google, their productivity tools are a fantastic hook into the ecosystem, once they have your attention, all of their auxiliary services can now compete for time.  Being conscious of this situation is the first step towards helping people focus and be truly productive.

THE SESAME WAY

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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.

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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.

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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.

A MAGIC TURTLE CALLED LOGO……

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Hello ECI833!

This week class was one of the most memorable class for me and thanks to the magic turtle which took me back to my primary and secondary schooling, undergraduate days and refreshed my old memories of coding. Before taking up mathematics as a major in my masters, I was a computer science student in my undergraduate days and coding was all I used to do for those three years of study and thanks to the magic turtle which laid a strong foundation for me. For those who are not familiar with the magic turtle called Logo, its simple and I bet you would learn this in maybe 30 minutes. It is all about giving a command to the turtle who incidentally carries a pen to move around and draw whatever you wish to draw. You can make the turtle move forward, backward and turn left or right. This adorable turtle is so obedient that it traces out all the moves you want it to make and there you go by the end of the steps you have your desired image or shapes on the computer screen.

I still can remember my school days when I was 10 or 11 years old and that was when I was introduced to Logo and boy! I was so excited. I was not excited because I was about to learn to code but I was excited just to see a turtle on my computer screen and the fact that it could move according to my wish was a mind-blowing experience and maybe I can’t express those feelings in words. I could make it move up and down, to right and left and trace line along its movement. Once I was quite comfortable with making the turtle move according to my wish, I started drawing objects, I learned various functions and procedures and by no time and without my knowledge I was introduced to the world of computer science and mathematics. The real meaning of discovery learning or constructivism was introduced to me by Logo and Today I hold a

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bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a master’s degree in Mathematics and heading towards another master’s degree in Education. After my school days, I never used logo again but the value I learned out of it was the foundation for my further studies. I learned to model things to reality and developed problem-solving skills; eventually moved up to various mathematical concepts. I was introduced to the world of geometry and Arithmetic with a best possible way and maybe the theoretical ways of explaining the same concept would have turned out to be a disaster for me.

I couldn’t agree more with my classmate Daniel when he states in his blog post that Logo programming language is an excellent framework for learning “how to think” in the world of problem-solving. I believe that the Logo philosophy of education is best described as Constructivism and the best way for discovery learning. For a child, it’s the best tool where they learn by modeling reality which is both exciting and appealing. It enhances their mathematical skills and deepens understanding, creative thinking. Constructive play can be rightly introduced by the process of tracing lines, painting, creating blocks and objects. The best part is that the child does not have to think about creating things but as they learn to use it, they create and discover and Thus Constructive learning happens which directly relates to Papert’s theory of constructionism. The Constructionist learning says that it happens when learners construct mental models to understand the world around them and that was how I learned mathematics and was introduced to the world of numbers. My imagination grew and so did my interest towards participation in project-based learning. I learned to make connections and the best part was, for learning the basics of mathematics I never had to listen to lectures and the credit goes to Seymour Papert, Thank you.

 

 

 

Turtle Power! From fd 100 to logic

As I dove into the world of Logo, I asked myself where this was when I was a young person learning about computers.  I had many flashbacks of the days when I spent hours upon hours demystifying the world of BASIC on my old Pentium 100 PC.  The instant gratification of modifying code and seeing the result or my work kept me engaged and wanting to try the next challenge, exercise after exercise.  This cycle of learning simple concepts and instantly applying them to real world situations is akin to the same cycle I try to use in my science classes.  Upon the mastery of one concept, another is explored, and the loop continues.  This continuous pattern of stacking bits of knowledge one by one into a larger bank of knowledge though first-hand experience and practice is exactly how the learning philosophy of constructionism is intended to work.

Proposed by Seymour Papert, constructionism is:

“The word constructionism is a mnemonic for two aspects of the theory os science education underlying this project. From constructivist theories of psychology we take a view of learning as a reconstruction rather than as a transmission of knowledge. Then we extend the idea of manipulative materials to the idea that learning is most effective when part of an activity the learner experiences as constructing a meaningful product.”

To me, the use of the Logo programming language is an excellent framework for learning “how to think” in the world of problem solving. Although the applications to the world of science and mathematics is quite evident, I would affirm that there acquired skills could translate quite well to other aspects of childhood d development.  With the world of media constantly bombarding the minds of the youth of today, their minds are carefully molded in very linear ways though various media like movies, youtube videos and videogames.  A large portion of videogames released today guide kids though a journey that is set by a storyline provided by the game developer. The chance for developing creativity and letting kids explore their potential is quite limited in the context of these types of media.

However, there seems to be a renewed interest over the past few years in developing new media opportunities for kids to explore a more creative side while also stimulating their minds.  Here are a few examples that I find provide the same type of experience that we see in the Logo programming language:

  • Minecraft: A virtual world released in 2011 by Mojang, this game provides kids a virtual world where almost anything is possible.  Being that there are no specific goals, it allows the players to decide how to play the game.  With millions of players around the world in almost unlimited game modes, amazing things have been accomplished with this game.
  • Lego Mindstorms: Given the direct link with Seymour Papert, it’s not surprising Lego Mindstorms resemble Logo.  The use of these programable building brick with the traditional Lego building platform, kids and adults can build and test new ideas in the concrete world.

As of the past few years in Saskatchewan, there has been a big push for including some aspect of coding in our classrooms.  I welcome these initiatives as I find it fills a big hole in childhood development.  As a species, we have always been striving to develop tools to improve our live with what we have around us.  By allowing kids to play in a world where they can develop their own tools and their own knowledge using creativity and play, we are ensuring the flourishment of a generation that is adept at problem solving.

In addition to the aspect of coding, I would argue we must allow our students to also more openly explore the world of arts and making though the maker movement.  Interfacing with the real world is as important as interfacing with the virtual world.  I cannot thank my parents enough for allowing me to take apart and experiment with toys, electronics and everyday items.  It opened up in me a whole new world and a whole new way of thinking that has proven quite fruitful in my profession and my passions that are my hobbies.  Thanks Seymour!

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LEARNING THEORIES: MY CHANGING TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

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Hello ECI833,

I am a Mathematics teacher and have always been fascinated, proud of my profession and I must say that my teaching philosophy has changed significantly in many stages since I began teaching in 2010. For this week’s blog post we were given a task to analyze the knowledge and learning to underpin our own teaching philosophy and classroom practice; These theories are Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Connectivism, and Constructivism. According to academics, scholars and instructive experts, fruitful education takes place through a practice of investigation in the classroom because learning can take place in many ways. Even though academics or scholars may not always agree with each other’s methodology of how effective learning can take place, they all comprehend that explicit teaching needs to be considered and enabled in order for effective learning to take place.

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As stated above I was fascinated about a teaching profession and when I left the university to become a teacher, I was excited and fully energized with a goal to guide my students in the path of a new learning experience. I was in an assumption that students would be naturally motivated as I was, and they would be learning in different ways. I thought that Inquiry and equitability will be the base of my teaching practice where I will design an experiential learning strategy and my students will be benefitted with a new breeze of the learning experience. I believe that my teaching practice would reflect the theories of Cognitivism and Behaviorism. But my thoughts and dreams were short-lived, just like Haiming states in her blog post, I noticed that every student construct knowledge from both their experience and their interaction in the social environment. It didn’t take me long to realized that my students came to my class with different personalities and background, where I had to act more than a teacher. Teaching was not the only the task I had to perform and sometimes I had to act in multiple roles. The lack of real classroom experience affected me because I started

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teaching straight out of university and my approach to instruction was very organized. Every topic and chapter for the day involved a precise method which was encompassed with instruction, an activity, and an assignment. Even though I started my career with a thought if inquiry-based learning principle, I slowly realized that I was basically following a traditional practice and this did not prove to be effective. As I progressed gradually in my career, I adopted new and distinct teaching strategies which would fit the need of the individual student and I witnessed that my teaching had transitioned from Cognitivism and Behaviourism to constructivism and connectivism. I started to realize that my students were understanding the concept in a much clearer way. I used to plan every chapter and each topic in such a way where every student had multiple ways to learn each topic. Mathematics class is considered one of the boring and disliked session and the more I talk to my students about math, the more I used to hear these words: “I don’t like math, because math problems have only one answer. I’m really bad at math how can I get better but things turned around and the same math session became an interactive journey of a learning experience.

Finally, with everything that being said, I feel that I might change my teaching philosophy and classroom practice again and I also feel that for every educator instructional practice is never constant and we can’t help but change and teaching can never be constant. There is no one singular learning theory that outperforms the other; each theory has a place, and each theory has its advantages and disadvantages just like not every child learns in the same way, and not every class will be taught in the same way and what are your thoughts about this? and what learning theory do you think finds best for your classroom environment? And will it be constant for every year?

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Learning Theories and Me

Evaluating my own teaching philosophy is one of the exercises I undertake every few years.  Prompted by this past EC&I 833 class and the required readings from Ertmer, Siemens and ACRLog, I embarked, once again, in a state of deep reflection on my craft as a teacher and the approaches I use to help my students progress in their academic work.

I feel very much in line with Adam’s descriptionof how his teaching incorporates elements from each of the main theories explored in the previous readings:

“As an educator, I see value in a number of different aspects of each of these theories. My teaching philosophy has some qualities of each of these four theories, which would make my theory of learning a bit of a mutt, I suppose. Each theory has a quality that speaks to the diverse population of learners that are in our education system. To say that one is better than the other for me would be hypocritical as I utilize pieces of each theory in my practice at some point throughout the year.”

Despite having difficulty associating with a specific teaching philosophy such as Behaviourism, Cognitivisim, Constructivisim or Connectivisim, I must say I associate more closely with Constructivism. The following idea by Ertmer and Newby resonates with me as it parallels in my mind the world of building knowledge using the scientific method:

“Constructivists do not deny the existence of the real world but contend that what we know of the world stems from our own interpretations of our experiences. Humans create meaning as opposed to acquiring it. Since there are many possible meanings to glean from any experience, we cannot achieve a predetermined, “correct” meaning.”

Our minds are in constant evolution and as we gain experience with life, we gather more data that we use to interpret the world around us.  Even with many people having similar datasets established by similar life experiences, I find it is often the case that conflict can arise as different people build their meaning in different ways.

At the beginning of my teaching career, I was extremely preoccupied with making sure subject matter was retained by my students. I would try to transfer knowledge any which way I could without giving much thought on how I was accomplishing the task or even evaluating the possible effectiveness of my pedagogy. Recently, I worry much less on content and subject matter and more on helping my students develop skills that will allow them to “build” better interpretations of the world.  Logic, curiousness, critical thinking, work ethic and openness to new ideas are all characteristics that I try to convey to my students.  I believe that by having these tools, it doesn’t matter what my students retain as information in their mind, they will be able to build whatever knowledge they need given the variety of situations in life they will meet in the world beyond their school years.  This way of thinking is perhaps more appropriate for mature high school students.  I cannot say if it would translate well to early childhood learning as all of my teaching experience is with high school students.  This is a subject I would love to discuss further with my classmates.

One aspect I find lacking in the many theories of learning I explored this week is teacher-student compatibility.  Teachers are individuals and students are also individuals all of which have their own personalities and character traits.  As much as I would love to believe that as a teacher, I can impact every student in profound and productive ways, I must acknowledge that some students are just not as compatible with my teaching style and my character traits as others.  Even if I try my very best with every student I have the privilege to teach, I must acknowledge that some students perform better in my classroom than others.  I have observed, over many years, students with which I don’t have a strong constructive relationship do very well with other teachers that simply have more compatible character traits.  As in life, not everyone that we encounter become our best friends. Certain pairs of people share special compatibilities that are very difficult to explain while others seem to be at constant odds.  This is not to say that work cannot be done to improve the functioning of incompatible student-teacher relationships, however, this could require the investment of a great deal of time and energy from all parties.  As my time and energy is becoming increasingly restrained in the current context if public education, I find myself unable properly and completely adapt to all my student’s needs.  It breaks my heart that I cannot give them all 100%, alas, we must teach in the world of reality and not in the world of theories.

The idea of Connectivism sparked much interest due to its context with educational technology.  As I’m progressing as a teacher in the years to come, I speculate that the idea of Connectivism will garner progressively a larger part of my practice.  With the quantity of knowledge always expanding and access to knowledge almost becoming ubiquitous due to technologies like the internet, our world is becoming smaller and cultivating the links within this world will become extremely important.

This week’s reflections were extremely difficult for me and I still don’t really know where I stand with regards to learning theories. This one really sent me in numerous directions and I still feel lost.  I hope my classmates will help me find the way this week.  I look forward to reading all your blogposts.

Stuck at S and A of the SAMR model

Technology has always been a big part of my life. Unlike many people, I’m not afraid of technology and I don’t have the classic love-hate relationship that is often mentioned when things don’t go as well as planned using tech.  Mostly having positive experiences with technology has shaped my personal opinion of it into an optimistic one.  Being raised on a dairy farm where manual labour and repetitive tasks were part of my daily life, technology often came to the rescue to liberate my time, my energy and on some occasions, my sanity.

It’s only natural that once I became a teacher, this same vision and approach towards technology became a focal point in my pedagogical practice.  As my career in education advances, things are consistently changing on many fronts. From societal changes to technological changes and changes to the demands of my profession, it has been increasingly difficult to keep up.  I feel like I’m consistently being asked to do more with less.  My time is becoming split between so many avenues that I feel like I’m part of a world record juggling act.

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In comes educational technology.  Being a science person, my perception of educational technology has always been focused on problems and solutions.  Here is a taste of a few situations from my past:

Problem: When I was a student in rural Saskatchewan, my small school didn’t have the resources available to provide its students with teachers that had the expertise to teach high school science and mathematics.

Solution: Distance education to the rescue!  Hindsight, my high school math and science experience was less than optimal.  My teacher was at the other end of a 128kbps ISDN videoconferencing link and our school internet connection was 56kbps.  There was a constant one second delay when interacting with the system and the rear projection big screen television provided such a low-resolution image that it was difficult to read the screen.  Did I mention that all our assignments had to be faxed as the internet was too slow and scanning technology was just too difficult to use to be practical?  This represents the tip of the iceberg of my distance education experience.  That being said, I had excellent teachers and we maximised the tools we had at our disposal to make the best of the situation.

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Problem:  I currently teach all the secondary sciences from grade 9 to grade 12 in French in Regina.  When I have to be absent from school, finding substitute teachers that have the qualifications to teach my subjects is near impossible.  Due to my involvement in teacher associations on the provincial and local level, I have to miss many days of school every semester.

Solution: Time being of the essence, my students have to continue learning when I’m not around. Preparing a chemistry class for a teacher that knows very little about chemistry can be at the best of times, extremely frustrating, tedious and time-consuming.  As a result, I often simply record my lessons with my smartphone, post them on the internet and assign classwork through e-mail or through other technological means.  As a result, I can gain certainty that my students are progressing, and the substitute teacher can concentrate on managing the classroom by assisting the students as needed.  This solution is not perfect but has proven to be extremely valuable to me.

Problem: I don’t think I’m the only teacher that will share the following feeling: I HATE spending so much time marking assessments.  I often have to write the same comments repeatedly and I find it tedious to manipulate copious amounts of paper.

Solution: Not having access to computers for every student, using electronic means of evaluation is often not a solution.  Last school year, I finally discovered Crowdmark. This software has totally changed my assessment practice and has not only proven to be valuable to me as a teacher, the students appreciate the system in that it provides them with the feedback they need to improve.  The idea is that one can take any type of assessment that uses pen and paper and use electronic means to complete the grading and the commenting of the assignments.  I’m not going to go into all the details, but this service has changed my teacher game in that I can spend less time manipulating paper and more time assessing the needs of my students all the while tailoring my pedagogy to more completely meet their needs.

As I familiarized myself with the history of educational technology though our assigned readings, I realized that my problem-solution approach to educational technology might be much to narrow.  This being my second educational technology graduate class, I must admit that my narrow views of the term “educational technology” have drastically expanded, over the past few months.  I expect this trend to continue during EC&I 833 as I participate and discuss with my fellow colleagues over the next few months.

Defining educational technology is a difficult task as it encompasses such a vast collection of concepts.  From hard-tech to soft-tech to high-tech and low-tech and everything in between, the application of technology in the context of education has been with us for centuries.  I can’t imagine being a teacher before the advent of the chalkboard or even the written word.  As a result, it can be easy to take for granted certain aspects of educational technology that we have today.

Neil Postman’s Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Changeresonated with me.  One idea he underlines is the technological inequality that exists within populations.  I have witnessed this first hand being a teacher in a school where we have the privilege of having a wide variety of students coming from numerous socio-economic situations.  As much as I want to believe technology is the “Great Equalizer”, the more I study educational technology, the more I’m able to see weaknesses in every approach to using technology in education.  I feel like I’m moving my perception of technology from the being an optimist to a more analytical realist.

The best I can do at this point in trying to define educational technology is as follows:

Educational technology: The exploitation of technology and technological methods to maximize pedagogical offerings for students, teachers and their communities in the context of education.

I know this definition is incomplete and has many holes. Perhaps at the end of EC&I 833, I’ll be able to fashion something more complete and more relevant to the state of the art.

MY THOUGHTS ON EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY

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Hello ECI833!

Most of us would probably agree to the fact that technology has revolutionized almost every area of life and education sector is no exception. when I reflect on Educational technology my words change and the advantages it has to offer, possibilities are limitless or maybe the sky is the limit.  I believe that technology has so much to offer especially in education and for an educator to get closer to our students and deliver the knowledge effectively and efficiently. This week when we were posed with a question to define educational technology; I was paused and overwhelmed because, how can I define something which is ever changing? Even as I type there is something new. Well, here is my best shot. I think Educational technology is a tool used to facilitate learning and aid in an instruction which will improve, enrich, enhance teaching and student understanding and performance.

I think most of us can undeniable agree that the major drift in the education today has one or the other means of entanglement with technology integration. As schools explore different ways to embed technology into the classroom, educators are trying different methods for effective incorporation that promotes student success and knowledge gain. Technology has provided us and students with many vibrant

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learning tools and these tools are the most adaptable learning tools in the history of education; where our students have immediate access to enormous amount of information which is both informative and collaborative. Technology incorporated in education has many advantages and serves multiple purposes. One of the vital and notable benefits of educational technology is that it improves overall access to education and Assistive technology has gone a step ahead and has become a boon for students with special needs and I believe that it is one of the best forms of assistance in today’s times which is the gift of technology.

I think it is pretty safe to say that digital world has arrived and will continue to flood every part of our lives in the future and education is no exception and as educators, this is the world that we should be preparing students for. Educational technology which is facilitated by direct use of technology or digital tools will be a likely game changer for educators to boost student learning and teaching moments in the

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classroom. Students who will be entering the future workforce will need various skills such as collaboration, tech knowledge, critical thinking, ingenuity, problem-solving etc. and as educators, it is our responsibility in getting them ready for the digital community and digital future. As discussed above Assistive technology will not only be a boon to those special students but has also modernized their system of education. Pritha Paul in her article How Disabled Students Benefit From Assistive Technology In Classrooms explains how technology has modernized the system of education for students with various disabilities, making it easier for them to keep up with academic curriculums and even compete with their peers in classrooms.

Amy Cross blog post reflects my own experience that my understanding of educational technology has definitely been shaped through my own experiences with technology both in my personal and professional life and I couldn’t agree more with her definition for educational technology. I completely agree with Amy and also believe that most of us have definitely experienced both the negative and positive sides of technology and having said that I think that no digital tool is fundamentally evil and every one of us might have a different opinion depending upon the positive and negative experience from the past but the same platform can be used positively, productively and powerfully in many ways.

Finally, I am quite curious to know your personal experience of how educational technology or integration of technology into your classroom has enriched your teaching and learning experience?  If your school is not using technology, why not? That’s all, for now, folks and thanks for stopping by!

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