Module 5 Digital Citizenship-EDTC 6431

Reflection Module 5

Learning with Technology EDTC 6431

Digital Citizenship

This week we explored digital citizenship through two divergent types of technological intervention.  One was a website about digital citizenship, called DigitalCitizenship.org, which offered: tools, tips and resources on how to promote responsible digital citizenship.  The other, CreativeCommons.org, encouraged use of ideas, materials and works by others to “Share, Remix, Reuse —Legally”.  Both websites offered a different approach to promote digital citizenship emphasizing that everyone should be a responsible internet user.  We also had the opportunity to read many articles and watch a supporting PBS documentary that underlined the possible dangers of an unsupervised internet user and the motivation for wanting to teach children to become accountable digital citizens.

Throughout this week, many discussions centered on the visceral emotion that is felt when sensitive subject matter is introduced; cyber-bullying and proper netiquette are two of these sensitive subjects. Being a responsible digital citizen is important for not only the safety of children but also for the safety of you.  In order to teach this, I believe that, we are going to have to start in the elementary years.  Much like the social citizenship lessons children learn in the elementary years, digital citizenship should be focused on in order for children to learn the respect and responsibility needed for their online playground.  Children need to learn with the tools necessary for these new technologies and total digital immersion they are sure to face in their future.  I discovered an additional website, CommonSenseMedia.org, that offered a link expressly for educators, there are also sections for parent reviews (for movies, books, games, websites, music etc.) parental advice (by grade and by topic) and community discussions!  In the educator section I was amazed by the amount of supportive information and curriculum set up to help promote digital citizenship.  The parent portion would be a great jumping off point for sharing information and encouraging participation at home to build skills for a safer environment for students.  This could help encourage parents to be more actively involved with their children and to development their computer “savviness” at a younger age.  I think that I will re-visit this site as well as the DigitalCitizenship.org site often as I take off into this new world of teaching technology.

I also wanted to reflect on the emotional and palpable tension that was encountered throughout our discussions this week. I enjoyed my classmate’s perspectives; I really feel that we, as teachers, have an opportunity and a challenge to face when teaching digital citizenship.  Many people were cautioning being too involved with proper netiquette and that it is the responsibility of the parents.  While I agree that there needs to be a balance of home/school supervision, I think that a cooperative focus in the classroom could be very beneficial for encouraging both the student and the parents to come to some sort of cohesive idea of what digital citizenship is. I located ans article, “She Used to Be Pretty”: Schoolyard Bullying Goes Online, about cyber-bullying, online communication and online harassment which paraphrased Nancy Willard’s  article  An Educator’s Guide to Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats. The focus of the piece is “when teens operate anonymously behind screen names, they perceive themselves as invisible and untouchable. And when they don’t directly experience the damage online bullying does to their victims, teens feel little empathy.” What a frightening thought. Later in the article she says girls  “…are now considered the ‘power users’ of online communication tools and then that ‘this kind of power needs to be tempered with ethics training.”  I was struck by the basic yet chilling truth of this statement.  Why are we not teaching this important skill of ethics and the internet?

Additionally, I thought the idea that was offered for peer education for students and teachers was great.  I encountered a video that shared one youth’s change from internet junkie to teaching rights, guidelines and responsibilities to younger children. This Edutopia.org video offered an inspirational way to look at how older students could be inspiring to younger children.

Lastly, I want to express my amazement for CreativeCommons.org.  This is a site where you can learn about copyright laws and engage with a community that is willing to share their creations and ideas at different levels for consumption and creative manipulation. This website demonstrates what it truly means to be a responsible digital citizen. I think this will make collaboration, creativity and sharing of materials so much more accessible and current.  This tool could encourage creation of ideas, which might have been too much work in the past, to become the reality of the future.  I am excited to explore this tool more for myself in the future for lesson plans and curriculum development.

Overall, I really enjoyed this week’s module.  I think anytime that I see people discussing passionately and feeling so thoroughly about a topic I am forced to look closer.  I think that this week I was able to see the necessity of constant engagement and creation of new material to promote responsible citizenship whether it be digital or not. I see it as another opportunity to lead by example and or teach by example.  As Theodore Roosevelt said, “The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight.”  I think he was onto something, don’t you?

References:

Edutopia, (Release Date 5/27/2009), Digital Youth Portrait: Virginia, Edutopia, retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/digital-generation-profile-virginia-video

Noonan, Kaley (July 2007) “She Used to Be Pretty”: Schoolyard Harassment Goes Online, Edutopia Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/she-used-to-be-pretty

Willard M.S., J. D., Nancy (April 2007), Educator’s Guide to Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats

Retrieved from http://www.cyberbully.org/cyberbully/docs/cbcteducator.pdf

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Critical Thinking, Problem Solving & Decision Making- EDTC6431

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making

Module 4 Reflection

EDTC-6431

This week focused on interesting articles and tools having to do with critical thinking, problem solving and decision making.  I have really enjoyed the conversations/discussions with everyone this week as we all seem to be feeling more comfortable sharing and responding to one another.  I thought the tools WolframAlpha.com and Bubbl.us that we explored this week seemed like something I could add to my educator “toolbox” for future use.  The articles that we read provided great interpretations and in depth thought about technology in real life: concept mapping, project based learning and problem solving.  I think for reflection purposes I would like to focus on two of the topics from this week that made the biggest impression on me; project based learning and critical thinking.

I love the idea of project based learning (PBL) as it seems to have many of the “hands on” aspects of teaching that I hope to embrace for the future.  I was slightly taken aback with some of the conversations this week that it was too much work for the teacher or that the teacher doesn’t really participate in teaching while the project is going on. I have to say that I disagree with both thoughts.  Although there might be a lot of front-loaded work in getting the project organized and developed I don’t think PBL just lets the students free to learn all on their own.  I think through all the videos and evidence that I explored this week that teacher input, direction and guidance is very current throughout the entire process of PBL.

I found an additional article and video on Edutopia, Why Teach with Project-Based Learning?: Providing Students With a Well-Rounded Classroom Experience, that exhibited teacher involvement in all aspects of PLB.  Here, not only are the teachers in the thick of it with the students the entire project but they are engaging students and encouraging them to think further and deeper than they might without the guidance of the teacher, thus developing their critical thinking skills.  I find it even more amazing that this type of learning can happen in more than one class congruently.  For example, what students might be doing in physics might also be part of their health and fitness class.  Teachers are encouraged to work with one another developing lessons that flow from subject to subject broadening students interest in, understanding and knowledge of a subject.  It seems that PBL can reach multiple learning levels and styles.  PBL addresses the idea that the student can be a “manager and director” of what  they want to learn with a teacher there to escort them in the right direction and to help them think critically. 

Critical thinking, it seems, is the key to PBL and to becoming a lifelong learner.  You can look up the definition for critical thinking in many places and come up with something similar to this one from yourdictionary.com “The term critical thinking refers to the thought processes used to evaluate information and the practice of using such conclusions to guide behavior. The process of critical thinking is associated with accuracy, logic, depth, fairness, credibility, and intellectual clarity. The word “critical” is not used to imply negativity or pessimism, however. Critical thinking merely means that one must not automatically accept the validity of the information he or she is given.”  Through the PBL model the student is forced to think critically- to question the validity of information. The student is challenged to find information on their own or with a partner and ask additional questions.  The student is encouraged to not take the information at face value and learn it as traditional classroom have offered in the past but to question and research and process on a deeper level.  This week we explored a great tool to accompany the critical thinking process.  Bubbl.us is a tool for concept mapping.  To evaluate the way a main idea or subject is connected or related to another idea or subject is another way of developing critical thinking.  The relationship between ideas and concepts is a very powerful way of seeing the complexity and legitimacy of a given idea. Additionally, through class discussions two other tools were shared that offer a different way to create documents for idea connection and concept mapping; wordle.net and kidspiration.com

We also explored WolframAlpha.com an astounding website that provides instant answers to questions ranging from science to history, nutrition to geography and just about everything in between .  While many intriguing and well versed discussions occurred about this tool I am still perplexed as to the realistic application in the classroom.  I am left wondering if it will truly be a tool for teaching or more for research on the part of the teacher.  Although I think WolframAlpha .com could be useful to explain logical steps to a problem or provide additional information to an already researched project, I would hesitate to introduce this tool to students without clear and concise guidelines of its use.

This week was fun.  I became really excited about how, when and where I will be using these tools. I know that I am barely starting this whole process but I feel like with all the tools that we have learned about in this class that my “toolbox” is starting to fill up.  I think that each of these tools will help me to become a more successful teacher.  I do know that I hope use PBL to inspire creative and energized critical thinkers and hopefully thoughtful, future, members of society.

References:

Edutopia, (Release Date 2/28/2008), Why Teach with Project-Based Learning?: Providing Students With a Well-Rounded Classroom Experience, Edutopia, retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/project-learning-introduction

Research and Information Fluency -EDTC6431

Research and Information Fluency

Module 3 Reflection

EDTC-6431

I have really had a great week this week. I have found a better balance of time this session.  I learned about our new tools and explored these tools all while having great ongoing discussions which have been exciting.  Although, there seemed to be a rather large amount to get through this week, it all seemed to be seamlessly connected.  The online tools, twitter.com, diigo.com and citeUlike.org all offer another way to connect, share information and research to promote a new teaching opportunity. However, I am still unsure of the viability of some in the classroom.  Our readings provided the basic knowledge of these tools, insight into research for students and teachers and an in depth retrospective of technology over the last 20 years.

In the reading, Beyond the Book, the author explains how the superintendent, James Tenbusch, is teaching students to think critically, to become researchers and to focus on the bigger picture. “Students, more than just typing keywords into Google, learn how to come to an answer independently, using their own ideas about the lesson, subject, or debate at hand. According to Tenbusch, schools teach kids how to read, write, and add, but they generally don’t teach them how to speculate, hypothesize, and free associate.”  Tenbusch goes on to provided examples of how to get started and references to research sites and strategies finding multiple sources.  This article coincided nicely with our exploration of diigo, a tool used for social bookmarking, annotation, archiving and organizing.

I found diigo to be extremely user friendly.  diigo provides options for collecting, highlighting, storing and sharing information- all at the click of a button.  I even signed up for our class group page and have shared a few items of interest with the class.  I can see great value in this tool as I move forward and begin the collection process that will become part of my curriculum.  To be able to share this with other teachers and to be a part of groups of like-minded and engaged individuals while keeping a personal record of sites I have found useful ,as well as any notes about these sites, is incredible.  I feel like diigo offers what facebook, twitter, email, blogging, annotating and organizing site all offer separately but conveniently in one spot.   I am sold on this tool!

I also explored twitter and although I have signed up and become part of this classes twitter group I am not altogether sure I am convinced of the value in an elementary age setting.  I recognize that it could be a useful tool for sharing information among teachers but I have a hard time picturing the practicality in the class room itself.  However, I did like the ideas throughout our discussions this week of using for daily thoughts or updates for parents so that they could know what was happening in the class. When I signed up and began the exploration of twitter I found the constant spew of trivial tweets overwhelming and ridiculous but once I set up a group to follow it narrowed the number of tweets and focused my interests.  I think I have to give twitter more time, like I said in one of my tweets, the jury is still out.

I really enjoyed the video from Edutopia, Using Today’s Technology Tools to Study Yesterday’s, and valued the span of technological tools and hands on tools this school incorporated into this project.  It was amazing to see the teachers work as a collaborative team to expand the students’ knowledge.  Through the guidance of the teachers each group of students was able to present their own unique and working design.  The students seemed empowered by this project and genuinely involved in every group doing well as they competed for the best design.  I attached this additional video to show another example of project based learning from an elementary school in Waterville Washington.  The teacher, Diane Peterson says, “kids use their own personal level” when addressing the abilities of students with regards to art, science, technology and math.   They work together with local farmers and staff from the University of Washington to form relationships and integrate each individual’s knowledge through group work and shared technology.

Overall I found this week full of useful tools to explore more.  I am sure that I will continue to use diigo and will have to wait and see what the verdict is on twitter.  I think that information fluency is key, and, with diigo I found that fluency to be user friendly, easy to organize, re-visit, and annotate.  I think that the more tools and techniques we have for research and sharing tools with other teachers and students the better off we will all be.

References:

Moses, Alexandra R. (August 2008) Beyond the Book- a New Role for Your Students. Edutopia Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/student-web-research-technology-literacy

Edutopia. (Release Date 6/25/08)  Using Today’s Technology Tools to Study Yeasterday’s Edutopia, Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/ferryway-video

Edutopia, (Release Date 3/8/2005) Overview: Technology Empowers Student Fieldwork, Edutopia, Retrieved from  http://www.edutopia.org/toad-tracking

Creativity and Innovation- EDTC6431

Module 1 Reflection-

EDTC6431 Learning with Technology

As I started looking and reading over course materials for this class I had an overwhelming sense of drowning.  I know that I will study it, learn it and understand it… but the amount of information over my head on day one was enormous! But I began to see it as an opportunity, an opportunity to push myself and find new ways to succeed.  If my children can get this technology stuff, I guess I better so I can use it and teach it right? Deep breath…

Many of my classmates, in this my first college class in over 16 years, have been in school for a while now.  They have learned about technology as it became relevant in the classroom.  They are very involved in social networking and have developed many different groups to share information both academically and socially.  I have been volunteering in a classrooms: painting pictures, reading, singing, working on  projects, changing diapers, doing laundry, driving from one event to another, making copious pots of coffee and traveling a bit,  but not really keeping up with technology as much as I thought.  I really felt that I had some grasp on the technology that is available for social networking. After all, I have email, Facebook,  the internet to SKYPE  friends half  a world away.  I created a travel Blog and can look up all sorts of information for projects, recipes and hobbies.  However, this module illuminates the fact that new technology is evolving on a near daily basis.  I say bring it on!  I want to learn and I want to see the change in the technological world.  I want to adapt and be able to use the skills we are learning; admittedly it is going to take time.  I don’t want to be the “old lady student” but my age and time away from academia may dictate this to be the reality of what/who I am.  However steep the learning curve may be, I can begin to see the peak. Just yesterday I described the benefits and procedures for signing up for Google reader.  This from someone who before starting the course did not even know that Google reader existed

I found that while searching for information on each site, I gleaned a bit of knowledge whether, I found exactly what I was looking for or not.  I loved the comment from thirteen year old Mosea in the article, Kids Create–and Critique–Social Networks, that we read.  He says, “I didn’t learn from anywhere particularly, I just experimented“.  I think this is great and so simply put.  Without trying a student can learn as they search for support for an idea or knowledge about a subject.  I think that this is where I can see a tool like Ning.com working in a classroom.  This site serves as a very good tool to help connect people by setting up different groups for social networks and knowledge sharing.  Although I found it a bit choppy to locate what I was really looking for, I was able to eventually get some great information.  Moreover, along the way I was absorbing bits and pieces of information without even trying.

Another tool we explored was Edmodo.com.  I instantly like what this had to offer. With this tool a teacher could set up a social network with students, other teachers, or parents to communicate and  share information,  present assignments, or just give a quick update in a safe and controlled environment.  Essentially, adding a way to connect to a population of students with a tool that they can relate to and a format they are comfortable using.   It might take the teacher some to get used to, but I think the students would have an easy time adapting to many of the uses.

Additionally, I was inspired by the video we watched about the teachers and the work they are doing with students on Edutopia.org .  The presentation about “Engaging the Digital Generation” was enlightening to listen to.  I valued how teachers and parents were working together with the students to come up with creative and innovative ways to tell stories, share ideas and knowledge through technology.  The push to always improve upon something you have done was refreshing.  Edutopia.org was an easy site to navigate and one I will visit often for ideas and support with curriculum.

Lastly, I am still a bit confused about RSS.  I have read and re-read the article. 7 things you should know about… RSS, but I still find myself lost in all the computer jargon.  I get what it does and how to connect it to the pod-catcher but it is the idea of having to explain it to someone that scares me.

I see this course as an opportunity to share knowledge.  Some of these tools will be invaluable and some may not but all will help me to be successful. The idea of sitting in a lecture hall, completing assignments with paper and pen, then handing them in during a professor’s office hours is NO MORE.  Learning should be dynamic!  So having said that, I am headed to my computer to finish the next assignment that I will send electronically as part of a virtual classroom with colleagues I have only met on-line.  Whew!  This is a lot of change, but each day I am learning and getting more confident with the tools for Classroom 2.0; out with the title “old lady student” and in with the new “Techno-Savvy Grad Student”.  It‘s got a nice ring to it, don‘t you think?

I need my teachers to learn

References:

Weir, Laila. (5/27/2009) Kids Create — and Critique — on Social Networks. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/digital-generation-youth-network-literacy

Educase. (April  2007)  7 things you should know about RSS, Creative Commons.  Retrieved from http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/