Saturday, October 25, 2008

Innovation Literacy defines "Innovation" as something new or different.  It defines "literacy" as "being knowledgeable in a particular subject or field."  (Notice, I used 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!