Monday, February 23, 2009

Week 3, Thing #5: Flickr

Autumn Ride !
Originally uploaded by Ming chai
Originally from Pennsylvania, I miss the autumn colors of the Northeast. This photo which I found by searching "autumn" on Flickr reminded me of this season's beauty and provides a wonderful escape on those rainy Juneau days. All I have to do is imagine myself on that bicycle and begin pedaling!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Week 1, Thing #2: Blog

7 1/2 Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners: When I read over these habits, I immediately think about how the arts help foster many of these in our students. I feel very fortunate to have had the arts as an integral part of my life and owe them for developing in me these lifelong learning habits: viewing problems as challenges, creating your own learning toolbox and remembering to play! My biggest challenge is using technology to my advantage. I've definitely started on the road, but hope to learn more through this class and share what I've learned with others, an opportunity to develop Habit #7: teach/mentor others.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Final Reflection: Chapter 9

"If we want to engage students in our classrooms, we must start looking at the social Web as an educational tool and not something to fear...If we continue to fight them, I'm afraid it is a battle we will lose" (184). In many ways, I believe the prediction that Jeff Utecht makes in his article "Creators in the Classroom," reprinted in Chapter 9 of our text, Web 2.0: New School, New Tools, has already come true. As an educational system we have already lost the battle. As a nation, we are facing a student drop-out rate of epidemic proportions. Instruction is changing because it has to change. Our students demand that we adapt, because the traditional rewards of good grades just doesn't cut it anymore. Our students demand meaningful and challenging real-world applications. Jeff Utecht recommends that schools take note of the gaming business and capitalize on the "five elements of the video game experience that makes it both compelling and instructionally potent" (185). They are:
  • Responsiveness
  • Convert-able and convers-able rewards (increasing levels of skill)
  • Personal investment
  • Identity building
  • Dependabitiliy
Another educational idea listed in the chapter comes from the successes of companies like Amazon and eBay who utilize intelligent Web-based software to make recommendations and provide immediate feedback to its users. Instead of recommending books based upon the purchase results of buyers who also bought the same book, this educational software would make recommendations for other lessons, sites, and resources based upon what has helped other student learn similar content. When I witness the kinds of online interim assessments that are now available to educators, which make very specific individual recommendations based upon student data, I don't think we are too far from "harnessing the collective intelligence of education data" (178).

Reflection: Chapter 7

From my perspective, ensuring online safety and security for students is the most troubling aspect of using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. Because the internet promotes open usage, it's often difficult to find the right balance between control vs. access. Our school district has an acceptable use policy, but it needs to also address the fact that "students are now contributors as well as consumers of information online (and) school have to define their manner of participation and their rights and responsibilities concerning new technologies" (144).

David Warlick suggests these four steps when revising an acceptable use policy:
  • establish goals for the use of read/write Web tools
  • identify specific uses of read/write Web application that the school supports
  • identify activities that are not acceptable and could compromise student's safety
  • provide documents that serve as instructional resources and code of ethics to guide student use of technology.
I also found the Cyber Awareness Survey and the Student and Teacher Information Code of Ethics to be useful and applicable for the library. I liked the headings provided in the Code of Ethics: Seek Truth and Express It, Minimize Harm, Be Accoutable, and Respect Informationa and Its Infrastructure. In particular, these bullets listed under Seek Truth and Express It were very powerful and hopefully compelling to students:
  • Tell the story of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
  • Give voice to the voiceless. Official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid. (147).
Filtering and blocking are ongoing issues at our school. There are some wonderfully educational movies on YouTube, but our school district blocks it because this site also contains inappropriate material. Our textbook lists some alternatives to help work around this problem and suggests placing Web 2.0 tools on intranets so that they are behind district firewalls. I'm not quite sure how this works, but would like to explore the concept further. Even though it "limits students to collaborating only with oungsters who are already in close proximity, it provides access to new tools and security" (156).

Our text also suggests pointing staff and parents to GetNetWise for its Online Safety Guide and other internet safety resources. Another great resource was listed on Vacuous Digressions' blog, referencing a movie he recommends sharing with students about how accessible their online information is to the rest of the world. It's called Think Before You Post on TeacherTube.

To help combat the attitude that "availability means permission" this Fair(y) Use Tale on TeacherTube is a very entertaining way of teaching copyright law and fair use to students.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Reflection: Chapter 2

I am fascinated by brain-compatible learning and teach this subject at UAS for students in the Elementary MAT program, as well as the summer Arts Institute for Alaskan teachers interested in integrating the arts into their teaching practice. So when I read chapter two of Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools, which focused on student learning, I was thrilled to see the link they made between Web 2.0 tools and brain-compatible principles of learning. Here are some of the principles they listed on pages 37 & 38 that resonated with me as a teacher:
  • brain is a parallel processor
  • learning engages the whole physiology
  • search for meaning is innate and comes through patterning
  • emotions are critical to patterning
  • brain process whole and parts simultaneously
  • learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception, conscious and unconscious processes;
  • brain understands best when facts are embedded in natural, spatial memory
  • learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat
  • each brain is unique
What kinds of teaching philosophies incorporate these principles? According to our text, constructivism, project-based learning, connectivism and the integration of new technologies support brain-compatible learning which seek in-depth and meaningful learning. I was also pleased to see a newly revised Bloom's Taxonomy to acknowledge the need for more engaged learning focused on student-based outcomes and what a student can DO, rather than learning objectives based upon what a student knows.

Reflection: Chapter 1

According to our textbook, Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools, "the shift to Web 2.0 tools can have a profound effect on schools and learning, causing a transformation in thinking. This will happen because the tools promote creativity, collaboration, and communication" (21).

Becoming a Web 2.0 Library means engaging in a dynamic process that's interactive and creative. These tools embody brain-compatible principles of learning and features "interconnectedness, immediacy, interactivity, communications, and community" (24.). The user plays an active role in shaping the school library environment, its resources and how those resources are disseminated, shared and tailored to individual needs. It's not just about using technology for technology sake, but rather using it as a tool to foster "greater creativity, artistry and play" (p. 12).

I particularly appreciated this chapter's emphasis on 21st Century Skills (19) and how the integration of Web 2.0 tools can help foster these necessary skills for the future:
  • Digital-Age Literacy
  • Inventive Thinking
  • Effective Communication
  • High Productivity