EC&I 831


I’m at the end of another grad class and with this class it’s the end of my Master’s program. I’ve enjoyed the challenges, research and discussions associated with all of my classes. I’ve had to read articles with words I didn’t understand and had to read with a dictionary on one side of me. I’ve read articles that confirmed ideas I had about teaching and I’ve read articles that made me question some of my teaching practices. With every class I’ve learned about myself, my colleagues and developed my philosophy of teaching.

For my last class my instructor has posted questions for us to think about and reflect on. At the beginning of the class we had to think about where we were on our learning curve but the funny part is every time I embrace a new experience I’m right back to the bottom of the curve.

What new understandings of the role of educational technology to support learning have you gained, acted on or perhaps strengthened?

I’ve been searching for articles, websites and blog posts that describe the integration of technology in subject areas. I’m looking for exemplars, case studies and information about the impact technology integration has on both the student and the teacher. I’ve been scouring state and provincial education sites to look for guidance on what other groups are preparing for their teachers as the teachers tackle the ISTE standards for themselves and the students. I’ve been reading information on the State of Florida’s education site, looking at the Province of Manitoba’s Curriculum Navigator and checking out the Galileo site. I want to be able to ‘show’ teachers what technology integration looks like.

Technology in Our Class.

What has had the most influence on your horizon of understanding?

My network continues to have the most influence on me. My network has expanded once again through the use of digital technology in this grad class. I’ve connected with more teachers in Regina Public Schools, I’ve chatted with teachers around the province through email and comments regarding the challenged they are facing in their schools and I’ve received great feedback on my blog posts. The network that I’ve already been working with provides with links and blogs to provoke thinking, my network offers me support and my networks expands my knowledge. When I’m lacking an understanding about a concept or theory I can approach my network, ask a question and receive information through blog comments, emails or Twitter posts. My belief in George Siemen’s Connectivity Theory is demonstrated by the support from my Web network.
What new questions have emerged for you?

There are questions that I continue to think about. What is stopping teachers from integrating technology? How can I convince teachers that technology integration isn’t difficult? But as to new questions I’m thinking about how Regina Public Schools can create technology integration , resource pages along  with links to outcomes and indicators that will allow teachers to integrate technology into their everyday teaching. I wonder how I can make a difference and help teachers overcome whatever barrier is stopping them to integrate technology into lessons. I often think where our school division will be in five years or ten years and what changes will occur.

Digital World.

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Curriculum, pedagogies and practice with ICT in the information age

Nicola Yelland, Chapter 14: page 225

Critical Issues in Early Childhood Education
Edited by Nicola Yelland

This is an reflection that I wrote for a previous class that has relevance to the discussions that I’ve been having with colleagues and supervisors in my school division.

I connected with the challenges that educators are having integrating technology into their classrooms. Yelland comments on the concerns being raised about the amount of time young children spend on computers and whether that time is time well spent. The concerns are not support by research or data. In fact, research is showing that home use of computers support learning. In Jackie Marsh’s article Digikids: Young children, popular culture and media she finds that research supports computer use. On page 189 Marsh quotes “The relationship between literacy learning and computer-game playing is complex, but nevertheless significant” (Gee, 2003; and Pahl, 2005). Many people who object to computer use are focused on violent games, inappropriate web sites and questionable content but are not using research to support their beliefs. I believe as educators we need to teach students responsible use of  computers, software and the internet because we see the value of computers for students. I recently read a blog post about filtering of internet in school and how we as teachers need to teach our students what sites they are to use in school and what sites aren’t appropriate. Will Richardson, who wrote the blog post, thought that filtering was a form of classroom management so that teachers didn’t have to teach responsible use. 

Yelland’s article also looked at the value of ‘authentic activities’ that students can experience using computers and the internet. In my own case, my students have gone on virtual field trips around North America, dissected a frog, examined and commented on art in museums, visited Auschwitz and collaborated with students around the world. My students also have personal blogs which allow them to post their writing on-line and have an authentic audience to provide feedback. I find it hard to understand that people could not see the value in the experiences students have using technology. Students become excited when they have visitors to their blogs that read their writing or leaving comments. The visitors or their audience provide motivation to continue writing and posting to their blogs but perhaps the biggest factor is that students begin to want to write ‘for’ their audience. Students become better descriptive writers who become more aware of the mechanics of their writing so that they can provide their audience with interesting blog articles to read.  The goal is that the blogs can provide authentic audiences, rich discussions, feedback and interactions for the reader and the writer.

On page 226 Yelland states “Children are exposed to computers and a vast range of new technologies in every aspect of their lives. It is impossible for any of us to avoid technologies since they are integratal to everything we do.” Leonie Rowan and Eileen Honan in the article Literaily lost: the quest for quality literary agendas in early childhood education explores the various types of literacies that young children engage in. Young children are already participating in “media literacy, computer literacy, technological literacy, visual literacy or emotional literacy” (page 195). If young children are already exposed to these various literacies why wouldn’t we as educators embrace these opportunities to build upon them as we teach the children? Yelland continues this thought “If schools ignore this (the prevalent use of technology in our society) they cease to be relevant to life in the twenty-first century “(page 226).

On page 227 Yelland questions the new curriculum “there has been an increasing recognition that curriculum decision-making needs to take note of children’s out-of-school experiences and build upon them.” I agree that these questions need to be asked and educators need to be the ones to make changes in their classroom. I also think there should be changes made in teacher education programs that weave technology use throughout the content classes to show pre-service teachers how use technology in the classroom. Yelland quotes Dede who has “called on educators to ‘reshape children’s learning experience in and out of school to prepare them for a future quite different from the immedate past. Meeting this challenge involves teaching new skills, not simply teaching old skills better” (2002, p.178).

These are questions that the articles raised:

1. We can’t avoid technology in our lives so why do we want children to avoid technology in schools?

2.  Why is using technology relevant in the twenty-first century?

3. Why doesn’t provincial curricula recognize the value of technology? Does the curricula give teachers any incentive to integrate technology into subject areas?

4. How do you use technology in your teaching/school?

5. What type of technology use do you feel has the most value to students?

6. We can’t avoid technology in our lives so why do we want children to avoid technology in school?

7. Why is using technology relevant in the twenty-first century?

8. What future are we preparing our students/children for?

9. Why doesn’t provincial curricula recognize the value of technology?

10. Does the curricula give teachers any incentive to integrate technology into subject areas?

11. Why do educators have to prove that use of technology is beneficial to students?

    Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have a prep when Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach of the Powerful Learning Practice was hosting a session on “Evaluating Digital Resources.” Once again I fired up Elluminate and logged in for a session. There were a few people I recognized attending the online session including Alec Couros. Alec is one of my former professors at the University of Regina and introduced me to many of the online tools, groups and collaborators that I work with now.

    The session was hosted by Nussbaum-Beach but the presenter was Ira Socol. Socol posed the question “How do we know something is true?” He then discussed news stories that have been published before the information has been checked and questioned. His example was the New York Times Airbus A380 story that was published but contradicted information from a story the Times had published two weeks earlier. Socol  discussed the old way of establish information: look at the author’s credentials, the publisher’s authority and whether the library or school distributed the text. The reason the old way is no longer as relevant is that by the time text is published there has already been changes in the information presented.

    squidoo.com

    Society now looks at information in a much different way. They don’t look for information authority but at perceived authority. Our students may look at an author’s reputation, what someone else recommends, if there is previous experience with the source, who the author and site are associated with and the findability of the information. Most of our students are most impressed by the findability of information or which information had the most hits on Google. The students are equating most hits with the best quality as a way to rate information.

    Socol posed discussion questions;

    How do your students “know” something is true?

    Is it the same way the you (teachers) “know”?

    Is it the same way your Board of Education “knows”?

    What is true is that students don’t “know” what is true. My example is that earlier this week as my students were researching wonders of the world, one of my students showed me a picture of The Great Wall of China as a water slide. I questioned whether the picture was real or fake. The student hadn’t thought anything about it other than how cool that would be. I sent them back to check. As Socol states we need to teach our students to ask questions and train them in “information intelligence.” We want to ask our students to find the information in other places to verify it is reliable information. We want students to look through the site’s information and question whether the other things the source says are believable. Students also need to know what the author’s perspective is to understand if there is a bias behind the information. According to Socol the  most important technique we can use when we’re teaching our students to evaluate digital resources is to demand of our students “Show me why you think this is true.”

    Last week I had my Tweetdeck open when I saw a tweet by Mrs. Durff which mentioned Sharon Peters discussing EBB (Education Beyond Borders) on Thursday night. Right away I became excited because I am going to be working with EBB this summer in Kenya. I had heard about EBB about two years ago when Sharon Peters had been a guest with Alec Couros for my EC&I 831 class and she discussed her interest in global education/collaboration. Then about five weeks ago Sharon had posted information on the Global Education Collaborative about applying to join EBB in Africa this summer. I spoke to my husband about the opportunity, emailed Noble Kelly, sent in my application, had a Skpe interview then found out last weekend that I will joining a team in Kenya.

    I rsvp’d for the online interview and discussion then plugged in for my Elluminate session on Thursday night. The forum for the discussion was: The Future of Education: Charting the Course of Teaching and Learning in a Networked World. Welcome to the Future of Education interview series and discussion community.

    I joined in to listen to Steve Hargadon talk with Sharon Peters and Noble Kelly about “Education Beyond Borders.”” Education Beyond Borders is a non-profit NGO devoted to closing the education divide through teacher professional development and community education. EBB is focused on advancing and supporting the movement for educators and advocates for education to do our part in supporting our colleagues and their students in disadvantaged regions here at home and around the world.”
    I was fascinated to listen to Sharon talk about her experiences traveling to South Africa and Kenya to facilitate teacher workshops. Sharon and Noble both spoke about EBB’s mission of engaging, educating and empowering the educators of the countries that they work in. EBB is a collaborative group that base the workshops on the identified needs of the country. EBB projects are designed to build capacity with the project participants first as teachers then as facilitators. EBB focuses on building self-sustainability over a four-year series of workshops.
    As Noble shared
    “Education is a collaborative effort lasting a lifetime; our learning model is designed to connect global ‘best practices’ to those at the local level who can build their capacity and in doing so, change their communities and ours.”
    In Kenya there is limited computer access and limited resources. One difficulty is that most schools lack electricity which makes it difficult to have computers. The model of instruction is very teacher centered and there is a lack of professional development. EBB works with the Ministry of Education and the local teachers to develop workshops that expand the teaching repertoire, introduce new methodologies and learning theories while working with the Kenyan curricula. EBB also assists the Kenyan teachers in developing their own professional learning communities (PLCs) to share knowledge. Nings have begun to be used for PLC communications. This year it’s expected that during the three weeks we will be in Kenya we work with approximately 190 primary and secondary teachers. We will also be working with 12 Kenyan facilitators and developing their skills.
    There were 42 educators attending the Elluminate session. Some of the attendees were former or current team members like me while many other people were interested in the work that EBB is doing in Africa. The evening was a good start in my learning curve. During the presentation I wrote on the chat that I was at the bottom of a very steep learning curve and that is so true. I’ve got so much to learn and get organized in what seems like a short time but I can’t wait to get started!
    For an archived recording of the session you can check out the following links:
    Full Elluminate: https://sas.elluminate.com/p.jnlp?psid=2010-03-11.1450.M.9E9FE58134BE68C…
    Portable Audio: http://audio.edtechlive.com/foe/peterskelly.mp3
    Chat Log: http://audio.edtechlive.com/foe/peterskelly.rtf

    Last night was my first foray in Second Life. My EC&I 831 class from the University of Regina toured Second Life last night with the help of tour guide Kirk Kezema from the University of Saskatchewan. The first challenge was to create an account and an identity in Second Life. I am Global Chesnokov. Now, if you don’t know how this works you are allowed to choose your first name then there are choices for your last name. I chose Global because at the time I had the tv on the Global television network and their logo/name was on the screen. Next I had to choose what I looked like. Unfortunately I made the same choice as two other people in my class so we had triplets wandering cyberland last night. I could only tell it was me when I read my name above my head. If I was going to do this again I would personalize my identity. I now had to install the Second Life program to my computer. Well, my school MacBook wasn’t letting me do much and the browsers weren’t recognizing the Second Life url for my tour. I tried on my PC at home. I installed the program then the flashing blox came up telling me that my video cards were too old to support the program. Finally, I used my husband’s brand new HP laptop with a 17″ screen. He said I could use it for the class and then he was uninstalling Second Life. He couldn’t imagine what sort of educational value playing a game could be.

    Okay, so now I’m in Second Life and I’m teleporting to our meetng place which is the EECM Meeting Hall. We meet in a virtual lecture hall and are asked to sit down. Sounds easy right? Guess again. We looked like a group of kindergarten students trying to form a circle. It was truly sad. Finally our leader was able to organize the virtual world neophytes and explain what would happen on our tour. We visited the University of Saskatchewan’s virtual world,The Discovery Channel’s Learning Centre and had an opportunity to speak to one of their staff members, and finally the Space & Flight Museum. We didn’t visit the University of Ohio’s virtual world but I found a introductory video on YouTube. We lost people on the tour, we had to learn to walk straight and follow our guide and others kept sitting down at unexpected moments.

    I can see how there could be opportunities to use a virtual world in a middle years classroom. I think it would be interesting to visit The Discovery Channel’s Learning Centre to participate in some of their programming. During a Science unit I would like to take my students to the Space & Flight Museum. My husband asked how I would keep track of my students and I answered that it would be like any other field trip when I would do head counts. It does open up some interesting possibilities for classroom use.

    So who out there is a Second Life resident? Why and how do you use the your virtual world? How does anyone think a virtual world could be utilized in a classroom? I’m interested because I see the possibilities but I’m sure there are others like my husband who can’t imagine any educational value.

    Last week Dean Shareski spoke to our EC&I 831 class about his journey to connected learning. He said he’s lucky that he’s been able to work with other teachers and administrators who “get it.” You all know what I mean. The colleagues who value new ideas and start imagining how they can make use of these ideas in their teaching. It’s great when you connect with someone who shares your vision for integrating technology into teaching and is willing to work with you. My journey to connected learning is now progressing and I feel fortunate to have connected with so many educators who share the same vision.

    Dean also shared his “Five Big Ideas” for enjoying the journey to connected learning and teaching.

    1. Get Personal & Selfish: Decide that you want to learn new technologies for you.

    2. Develop a Professional Learning Community on Steroids: Have a networked PLC, Use an RSS reader to keep connected to relevant blogs, Compile a Delicious network, join Twitter and blog.

    3. Consider Your Comm-post Rating: Find a balance between commenting and posting, comment more than you post. This blog from Intrepid Classroom has some good commenting guidelines.

    4. Have Fun!

    5. Share Everything!