Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Keep Connected

I didn't realize how easy it is to get lost on your own computer! I have spent hours just browsing around those sites.  I think I have bookmarked most of them - I just hope I remember where I put them in my folders!  I don't trust the Private Note site!  Right - the note "blows up" like something out of MI?  It is retrievable somehow - so never write anything you don't want others to read!  That's what I tell my kids when they are texting!

I thought it was ironic that the Yuguma site was making a case for their collaboration model.  There is so much competition out there that these site are having to get a "commercial" in somehow in order for the consumer to switch users.  Interesting how the "market" takes on TV-like model of advertising although the consumer is the one who has to choose the site to view.  We are no longer sitting back and subject to whatever the programmers want us to watch.  We are in control of what sites we visit online.  I do see the advertisements on my Yahoo, etc. but I really don't pay much attention to them and I am only on that page for a few seconds.  I wonder what the marketing analysts are predicting for the future?  

I never considered collaboration as being structured or fluid.  It makes sense.  Structured collaboration is found in education all the time.  We are not used to giving students the control or relying on spontaneous interactions to occur.  In thinking about our 2025 classroom, I am inclined to believe that the learning we engage in will be more discovery, spontaneous, and developed over time (as Yuguma points out).  Just the few hours I have spent "surfing" the site in our assignment has caused me to think creatively, expand my knowledge and start to link resources for future use.  I can't imagine what you could do with a collection of "students" in a particular area!

I also liked the idea of collaboration on Yuguma as following our natural working pattern.  Not interrupting the flow of work or ideas.  I think that works for some, but not for others.  Not everyone is comfortable being on their own to explore, learn and grow.  There are people who prefer the structure, direction, and list of requirements to check off!  There is nothing wrong with that thinking, it's just different than mine!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Simulation & Gaming

This section of reading and exploring just blows my mind.  I feel like I could spend all day exploring online and never really get a handle on how much information is available.  My first instinct is to try and organize all this information.  For example, where should I store the website mathway.com for math help for my teenagers?  How can I use earthalbum.com in my Psychology class next term? My mind just keep thinking of all the possibilities, yet, I don't even know all the possibilities.  How can I keep myself in a learning environment where I will be exposed to technology continuously?  My brain hurts! :)

I also am concerned about our college graduates.  They are, for the most part, being educated by professors who prefer lecture and test-taking to exploring and simulation!  Will these new educational leaders develop the same practices in their students?  How can we change the educational system to imbed technology into the core without leaving our humanity behind?  I believe that's the essence of this class and our Educational Leadership degree?  My perspective is changing and I have more questions then I have answers.  But, I also have more hope and motivation to keep exploring the answers to my questions and making changes in my circle of influence.

My other concern is for the development of our children.  They are growing up as "screen manipulators" and not merely "screen watchers" (as I grew up).  This brings so many questions in regards to development; socially, mentally, culturally, and even physically.  Will we be prepared in education to meet this type of student whom we can't even identify yet?  I am inclined to believe that we will evolve slowly as in the past and most likely miss some opportunities along the way?  

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Trends" to Where?

Virtual worlds, wireless everything, personal handheld computers +, and more user-created content then ever!  Our world is truly changing right before our eyes.  What I find interesting is that there are still people I know who don't even have a connection to the internet at their home, they are not "blogging," not on MySpace, and don't even have an email!  They have a computer which allows them to type school work and play a few games, but that's about it!  And this is a home with a college-age and high school-age children, able to afford internet, educated, hardworking parents, etc.....  What is the deal?  When we read about "trends" and are exposed to this new world of tech options, it is almost impossible for me to imagine that not everyone would choose to "plug in."  Yes, a choice, not to use internet in daily life!  I wonder why not and what will those students choose in the future.  They obviously have to go to the library, etc. for some school information, so they know it's out there!

I also agreed completely with the 32 trends affecting distance education.  The trend to emphasize "competency instead of just completion."  In my opinion, this will take more time for teachers and professors to develop learner-centered teaching opportunities.  And, not everyone is on board for this kind of shift.  There are a healthy number of educators who like things just the way they are.  They have their class outlines done, their test masters completed, and their lecture notes all organized.  I don't think this type of educator is going to want to re-create their class with project-based learning, learner-centered activities, or engage students more frequently!  Until these type of educators are out of the system, we can expect small shifts at best.  

Life-long learning is another "trend" that was highlighted.  I said this in the previous blog, but I do think it's kind of funny that this term is so popular.  We act like it is a new phenomenon!  Sure, my generation wasn't molded into the assembly line.  We have had plenty of encouragement to be whatever we want to dream to be.  Learning is life-long.  I guess the difference now is that the learning needs to be focused for career longevity, functionality in the world, and communicating socially.  I still believe there will be many people who will continue to mail their payments, dial their house phone, and go to the library to check out a book.  Society doesn't change that quickly.

The other sections on computer ethics brings up so many unanswered questions.  We will "learn by doing" as we go along.  We cannot possibly calculate all the possible ways technology will foster crime, ownership issues, privacy issues, fair distribution, or human values.  What is a little unsettling about this is the speed in which technology is changing.  Will we be blind-sided by ethical issues because there was no time to react to the problem before it became a problem - a global problem!   

Monday, November 3, 2008


After looking at the reading topics for this past week on databases, spreadsheets, presentation software, etc., I realized that my automatic homepage "Apple.com" was my constant source of technology details and developments.  I have not changed my homepage since purchasing my MacBook, so Apple.com is daily before me as I start up my computer and begin my day.  I browse the latest Apple news, products, and comments even before I open my email or check the daily news events!  I am obsessed with iproducts!  I can't wait to switch to the iphone (when my current contract is up), and iwork, ilife, "i" anything is making daily life, learning, planning, and organizing second nature!  It is a little unsettling to think that my daily life is so depending on the "i" and without access to the internet sometimes (due to my home wireless limitations), I feel completely disconnected from my world (educationaly, professionally, and personally).  This sense of "plugged in" dependence concerns me...

On another note, I completely agree with the integration of applications, authentic experiences, and relevant context.  Doesn't this just make sense that we would use these tools to facilitate learning and support individualized exploration?  I sometimes feel like these kinds of ideas are held as innovative and "out of the box," when they should be common, everyday experiences.  We KNOW that every person learns differently.  We KNOW that prior experiences and knowledge play a foundational role in assimilating new information.  We KNOW that "one size doesn't fit all."  I feel like it just takes too much time, effort, and money to facilitate individualized learning and experiences, therefore, we settle for the mass format, streamlined learning and assessment, and running our population through the cattle-shoot of a P-16 system.

Technology will change the way we "educate" our society, just as the industrial revolution changed education in the past.  Pereiman said it well, "Our future is drastically different from our past, or anyone else's past."  I believe that throughout history, human beings have been challenged by many events that force change in the way we life life - whether it was a historical event, a natural disaster, a human tragedy, an industrial revolution, or a world-wide conflict.  Ongoing, life-long learning is really the reality of life.  Some choose to embrace it, pursue it, and develop it - some do not. 

I was especially struck by Dr. Faverty's idea of the future and personal education vouchers.  He points out that the future would value education as client-centered and market-driven.  Also, education would facilitate communication skills, employment desires, possible career changes as well as personal recreational skill development.  Wow!  What a concept!  Shouldn't education be doing that NOW???  Shouldn't we be "student-driven?"  Shouldn't we be facilitating a system of access to all successful school models???


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Innovation Literacy

Dictionary.com defines "Innovation" as something new or different.  It defines "literacy" as "being knowledgeable in a particular subject or field."  (Notice, I used Dictionary.com and not "Websters" - don't even know where my Webster's Dictionary is :) !)  

Throughout the readings and website browsing this week, I found myself constantly coming across these two terms-"Innovation" and "Literacy" (ie. Civic literacy, innovation skills, media literacy, creativity and innovation, etc.).  I thought to myself, "I wonder how one becomes literate in innovation?"  Dreaming up something new or different has never been easy for me.  I am much better at expanding, building upon, making better, an original idea.  My "thinking outside the box" usually means changing the color of the ribbon!  I have spent hours watching Professor Wesch's videos and class projects, YouTube creations on the newest technologies, and listening to the Duarte ppt. and I am amazed by the "something new" that I see and hear.  I also am writing down dozens of website references to "check out" for my own journey to be more tech savvy!  I want to put all of it to use NOW, but find myself with a desire to take notes with pen and paper because it feels safe and therapeutic.  It reminds me of where I have come from in my education and culture and how vastly different my children (and grandchildren) will view, use, play, and live with their technology.  

The Net Savvy reading painted a picture of "net generation learners" who are confident, comfortable, and trusting with technology and its' instantaneous, creative world.  Although I see myself as embracing technology, I have also been aware of my cautions and hesitations of the unknown future.  I think the more we can keep a pulse on the social habits and behavioral norms that the tech world is bringing to our culture, the better we will be able to respond to the changes in how we learn, teach, play, love, and build meaning.  Because technology changes are happening so fast on such a global level - the world has never experiences this kind of "revolution" before.  It's a little exciting, a little un-nerving, and a little breath-taking all at the same time! 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Learning through Projects

The "New Technology High School" video made the biggest impact on me this week.  Watching students learn through project-based themes renewed my faith in innovation!  Actually, project-based learning isn't a NEW way of learning - it's just a better way that takes a lot of teacher planning, connection strategies, and a commitment to engage and meet each student at their level of academic performance.  I especially liked the way the projects were designed to be student driven.  The students ask the questions and the teachers provide the guidance and support (ie. optional workshops on tech issues).  This helped keep the students engaged and responsible for their learning.  The presentation of the projects provide students with feedback (questions) from a panel which expand their critical thinking skills.  They are not memorizing information - but collaborating together to create a collection of independent and group thinking, analysis, and evaluation.  The students are also engaged in extra curricular activities including clubs, dances, sports, music.  This high school has created a "community of trust" in which students are responsible for their own learning.  This type of community fosters emotional intelligence and self-awareness in a safe environment designed to challenge students for 21st century learning!  Way to go!

I also finished Professor Wesch's lecture and viewed a couple of his other lectures on YouTube.  WOW!  I can't even wrap my mind around the future of our world.  I am reminded of the first Star Wars movie where Yoda holds a meeting with the Jedi council in which members were seen and heard in hologram form.  I remember thinking how cool that was - impossible - but cool!  It is a little unsettling to think about holding group meetings (classes, etc.) as "holograms!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

I get it, but...

Well, I just finished reading the "Horizon" reports and I am left feeling a little conflicted! I especially liked the "2008" report since that paints a better picture of the present and very near future.

I get the fact that technology is changing our world, our culture, our educational system, our future generations' development. I agree that "technologically mediated communication is the norm" (Horizon, 2008 p. 5). All you have to do is spend some time in my home with two teenage girls to know that the "social operating system" is functioning at full speed!

I guess the "BUT" part of my mind goes back to my psychology questions about human behavior. Questions that probably cannot be answered now due to the fact that this is new territory that the human race has not seen before. With all the advances in video access/creation, global collaboration, broadband on the go, "mashups," pooling our intelligence through collective communities, and our evolving network of socializing, I still have some concerns about basic humanity....

I enjoy technology. I enjoy learning and using the latest, greatest technologies. I have always approached technology with curiosity and excitement. But, I wonder about the way our social lives will change. I wonder about my teenage girls and their "norm" in talking with their peers, communicating about assignment issues via email with their teachers, and their experiences with the world through technology. I wonder how it will change them. Will be positive, negative, or a little of both???

I also wonder about "credibility" issues. With access to search engines like Google, etc., what kind of information is at the top of those seach pages? Are these credible sources? Is this scholarly work? Is is valid, reliable, peer-reviewed? How did this particular "article" (or whatever) make it to the top of the first page? I hardly ever scroll to page 2, 3, 4, or 150,000!

I love the idea of "collective sharing and generation of knowledge." I just question the sources sometimes and the propensity for us to believe that if something is written (published) or seen on TV (you tube, blogs, myspace), then it must be valid (true or right or normal).

As Horizon follows the technology "metatrends" and "emerging technologies," I find myself keenly inerested in following the human development changes that are associated with all these technology changes that are here to stay!

Here are my experiences with these trends. Things I use in everyday life now!

Grassroots video found on: You Tube, Blogs, MySpace, Facebook, Cell Phones

Collaboration Webs found on: Wiki, Google Docs., iChat, Skype, Cell Phones, Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard

Monday, October 6, 2008

Constructivism & Project-Based Learning

Constructing one's own understanding of the world happens every day.  We take in information, judge it, file it, and make sense of the meaning as it pertains to us.  Traditionally, formal education has not allowed students such freedom with their learning.  My experience in elementary school through college was that information was given to me (usually through a teacher or textbook) and then I was required to memorize that information and be able to answer questions on a test pertaining to that information.  A lot of the information was not meaningful to me unless I was interested in it or it applied to my life in some way.  I was very good at memorizing information for the test, then discarding it afterwards.

The classes that had group work, practical application and essay writing, always appealed to me.  I can still recall information from these courses!  One of the reasons I chose Cal Poly SLO for my undergraduate and Masters degrees was because of the "learn by doing" philosophy written into the degree programs.  My lab classes and internship classes provided me with the necessary "troubleshooting" to test some of the textbook theories in the real world.  I gained significant skill sets working with groups of people and being "mentored" by my advisor and internship supervisor. 

Cooperative education was an emerging idea when I was in high school.  I can remember my high school history teacher rearranging our desks for collaboration and communication.  I was excited to experience this change and actually debate and discuss history with my peers.  It didn't last but a few weeks because our principal felt there was too much talking going on and students were "just messing around."   

In sociocultural theory, Vygotsky recognized the role of the teacher (skilled person) as a mentor whose primary responsibility is to draw the learner into his/her zone of development (what one already knows) and then guides him/her through PARTICIPATION to expand their capacity therefore guiding the transition from assistance to independent achievement.  Personal exploration and individual sense-making are key ingredients to this process.  Establishing connections with the learner is vital.  

Having taught some college courses myself, I use this model in my classroom.  I spend time figuring out where the student's knowledge base is, then I build activities to extend beyond that base using their prior knowledge.  The least effective aspect of my class is the weekly quiz in which they answer questions taken straight from their text reading. 

Being a psychology major and studying human behavior, I have always wondered why our educational system chooses to lecture to students (one-way communication).  This delivery system only meets a small percentage of students.  I just figured it was the most cost-effective way to educate since you can pack a large group of students in a lecture hall, hand out multiple-choice tests, and scantrons, then post grades on the computer.

I am very please to be part of a practicum degree program and to have a class that models this style of learning.  Based on our readings this week, the 21st century student, employee, and citizen needs to have multiple intelligences nurtured in his/her education.  Our past memorizing and test taking skill set will not be successful in this 21st century world!

Monday, September 29, 2008

My first blog!

This is a test of my first blog!