Thursday, July 1, 2010

Education Technology Weekly Reading Responses

Should all teachers be encouraged to create online activities for students within traditional classrooms? Please explain

The head of The Virtual High School, Bruce Droste explains that students are not allowed to take their entire course load online. He says students should still attend traditional classes because they still “need to know how to act face-to-face with one another” (November, 2010, p. 87). I feel that the same argument could be made for not allowing students to take their entire course load in the traditional class setting. Communicating professionally and courteously via email and video conferences is an essential skill that our student will undoubtedly use in their futures, so why don’t we include training in these area in our educational standards? November predicts that today’s high school students will be required to participate in an online learning environment at some point in their lives and they “will need to learn how to manage their learning with people who are not sitting next to them in a classroom” (2010, p. 85). I believe we would be doing our nation’s high schools students a disservice by not providing them the opportunity to explore the nearly endless educational opportunities that exist through online collaboration.
The evidence shows that online learning “does not blunt our inborn need to socialize …if anything, the Internet facilitates the need to socialize like not other tool we’ve ever had” (November, 2010, p. 87). Students working in online classroom have proved to be more insightful with their responses to teacher question because they have more time to compose their thoughts and they do not have to fear open mockery from their classmates by taking risks and expressing their true thoughts. Many students in online courses also feel stronger connections to their teachers and their peers because of the inherent collaborative nature of the Internet (November, 2010)
Finally, in some cases with online courses the parents get more involved in their child’s learning than with traditional coursework (November, 2010, p. 90). I believe this happens for two reasons, one, most of the learning is going on right under the parent’s roof, and two, this is new technology that the parent’s have never had access to and it’s hard not to be curious about what their child is experiencing.
So yes, I do think that all teachers should at least be encouraged to start integrating online learning into their curriculum. The advanced skills they learn and the benefits they receive from online learning are prominent and I think it would serve to better our public school system.

Envision the role of social networking in 21st century learning environments. Write a brief description of this vision.

Many sentiments expressed by Richardson in his book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts (2010) reminds me of the learning communities that George Siemens describes with his theory of connectivism, in which the “possession” of knowledge is not as important as having the skills to quickly access knowledge from other locations, whether they be a website, another person, or better yet a group of people. What he calls the “pipe,” is the channel through which knowledge is passed, and in contemporary society students that understand and utilize these pipes effectively will be successful
It’s important to note that these pipes don’t only benefit our students. They can be invaluable to any teachers who are looking to improve their craft or perhaps more importantly trying to solve a difficult problem. By connecting with online communities of educators that are eager and willing to help our teachers can experience professional development on a daily basis.
So what I see taking place in this century is a public school system that is utilizes online communication to create new relationships while strengthening the old relationships between teacher and students, teacher and administrators, and administrators and communities.
For students, learning and collaboration can now take place anywhere at anytime. Students can constantly be thinking about and researching their interests. Whenever they have a “light bulb” moment they can instantly share it with their peers and their teachers, and a conversation can begin that helps the individual flesh out their ideas.
For teachers, students can subscribe to a specific “tag” in their Google Reader accounts and the teacher can use their Diigo account to constantly bombard their students with new interesting information (Richardson, 2010). Whether or not the student takes the time to look at it all is up to them, but I think this type of connection will create stronger working relationships between student and teacher. If the teacher acknowledges a students personal interest and then tags a bunch of website that are relevant to that interest the student will know that the teacher has been listening.
The same type of connections can be utilized to foster better relationships between school and the communities they work in. If a school is dealing with a serious issue such as drug possession on school ground, the school could quickly communicate not only the problem but also give parents tips about how to address the issue with their children.
To put it simply, the world could be a more beautiful place if online communication is used appropriately.

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