Four Skills to Teach Students In the First Five Days of School

I read a great article last week from MindShift. It was titled the same as this blog post. I decided to summarize it here, and cover four of the main points. Please feel free to check out the whole article! It’s amazing.

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  1. Power Researching
    • “My job used to be to give you the information, now my job is to teach you how to find the information.” –Alan November
  2. Meaningful Contributions
    • “You can make meaningful contributions to the world, no matter how old you are.” –Katrina Schwartz
    • “The best teachers were kids who had really struggled with the material and really understand what it’s like to learn…Sometimes teachers suffer from knowing too much. The material they teach is easy to them and it can be hard to empathize with the stumbles of a new learner. Kids who have struggled with the material understand the pitfalls and can often explain them in ways other kids will understand.” –Alan November
  3. Ask Them About Their Passions
    • In a computer science class November taught, the most resistant student ended up building a massive database of resources for people with disabilities in her town. She couldn’t finish it by the end of the year, so she came in during the summer to complete the work. “That’s the difference when students define their own problems with intrinsic motivation,” November said. They care so much they’re begging for the computer lab to stay open during the summer.
  4. Build A Learning Ecology
    • “I think teachers should demonstrate how they learn in the first five days,” November said. Typically we demonstrate what we already know and have learned. That has to change. We have to teach students to learn to learn.”
    • If Twitter is such an important tool for educators, why keep it from students who also want to know how to connect and build a network? “We should teach them to follow the best minds in the world on whatever their passion is,” November said.

 

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Google Upping the Ante in Online Education with Google Classroom

Google-ClassroomGoogle +, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Hangouts, Google Communities — Which of these savvy, trendy Google tools do you use in your classroom? I have become somewhat of a fan boy of Google for Education (don’t tell my iPhone, or iPad…or MacBook Pro). These tools provide easy collaboration and friendly, intuitive design interfaces, both on the computer and mobile. And now, Google is introducing Classroom, coming in August 2014!!

Daily Genius just published a sneak peek at the new Google Classroom. And it looks awesome! Google basically designed a virtual classroom for teachers and their students to digitally gather in one place and use all of those awesome Google tools in “one cohesive online environment”. I am excited about this.

Here’s to hoping one of my future graduate classes (in educational technology) experiments and uses Google Classroom!

 

Rediscovering Wikipedia for Education (Week 7: Wikis and learning)

wikipedia1I must say I was not aware of the power of Wikipedia until this week. I was very familiar with Wikipedia before, but not so familiar with it’s use for education. I found myself on a digital journey of rediscovering Wikipedia through Schweder and Wissick’s “The Power of Wikis” from the Journal of Special Education and the DMLcentral article on Wadewitz. Schweder and Wissick’s article was a nice, light read. It was a good transition into Losh’s article about Adrianne Wadewitz, How to Use Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool: Adrianne Wadewitz.

Schweder and Wissick break down educational wikis into four categories and provided some great examples of each (which I also listed a few that they mentioned):

  1. collaboration
  2. sharing
  3. organization
  4. instruction

I liked this article because it was short, sweet, and to the point. It gave a brief description of each category, showcasing specific wikis, which provided to be great resources that I listed a few of them above. The category that caught my eye was organization and their shout-out to “techies”. Schweder and Wissick say that “as ‘techies,’ we are constantly bookmarking Web sites that we think might be useful to us now and in the future” and that “we also like to share information with others that we find.” It’s as if they were describing me. I am always bookmarking and saving websites – I even started a links page in this blog that I just renamed “My edtech Toolbox“. I just might have to create my own wiki to collect and share web sites and links!

What really got me going was the article about Adrianne Wadewitz. I was saddened to discover from her Wikipedian page that she passed away a few months ago. As tragic as this is, Wadewitz will always be remembered by her advocacy for adopting Wikipedia in education, fighting for feminism in Wikipedia, and from what I can gather, her amazing passion for education and life and her love of rock climbing. According to Losh, “[Wadewitz] helped write a helpful brochure from the Wikimedia Foundation on ‘How to Use Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool‘.” I also stumbled upon a video on my journey to rediscovering Wikipedia about “The Impact of Wikipedia” that features Wadewitz. I discovered a whole new world of Wikipedia. I never knew about Wiki awards, which very much resemble badging, and badging is a strong interest of mine. There are also userboxes that you can add to your Wikipedian page, that are used to give a sense of personality to a person. Check out Adrianne Wadewitz’s collection of userboxes on her page. I find all of this very interesting. Everything combined together could almost resemble a professional portfolio of accomplishments.

Back to Losh’s article on DMLcentral, I especially liked, and found most useful, Wadewitz’s examples of common mistakes that instructors make.

  • When asked to identify the most common mistakes instructors make when assigning students to contribute to Wikipedia, Wadewitz argued that “the biggest one is not understanding that the encyclopedia is made up of editors.”  While an “old-fashioned” reference work like Britannica can be approached naively as “just entries that you go to and read” without serious consequences, “the essence of Wikipedia is the community,” which means respecting “its efforts” and understanding how “a global group of editors” might “work collaboratively” and “to think about it ahead of time.”
  • When asked to identify common mistakes made on the side of instructors, she pointed out that “not taking enough time to design an assignment” could be a fatal error committed by novices, particularly those who are excited by the potential for participatory learning.  Diving right in and learning by trial and error “works for a lot of technology,” but “with Wikipedia you are engaging with a lot of people on the other end,” so you need to articulate feasible learning goals that respect existing community practices.

These are great takeaways from Wadewitz. I think these common mistakes illustrate just how knowledge building occurs in wikis — through collaboration over a network of global editors. And once an educator understands just how this happens, they will be able to create more well-rounded and engaging lessons for the students.

My only concern when it comes to group projects involving wikis is that only one person can edit a page at once. If that’s the case, how does the group communicate? Do they make a comment on the page and wait for a reply, which could come a few hours or days later? Do they use another Web 2.0 tool for communication purposes? I am not aware of any messaging service within wiki sites. What if more than one person wanted to make edits during the same time? I feel as if this would not be possible and therefore wikis would prove to be inefficient when real-time editing and group work is needed, and this is where Google Docs fills in the gap. Although Docs does not create a full-encompassing, web-hosted website, I guess tradeoffs come with everything. It even appears that the Google wiki does not allow simultaneous editing either.

As my blog post title hints, I have rediscovered Wikipedia. I was always aware of Wikipedia and used it on a regular basis for a quick reference or to look up information about a movie or an actor. But I have never considered its use for education. I must say what I have found is promising and I can’t wait to explore wikis and Wikipedia even further.

Week 5 – The Journey to Becoming a Networked Learner & Educator

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I would like to start this post off a little different. I absolutely loved the readings this week and want to list a few of my favorite one-liners.

“do-it-yourself professional development (DIYPD)” (Richardson 33)

“what we learn about how to interact with others online is just as important as what we learn about the topics at hand” (Richardson 35)

“Without sharing, there is no education.” [quoted from Brigham Young professor David Wiley, 2008] (Richardson 35)

“The people, conversations, and content that you’ll be immersing yourself in are distributed all over the web, glued together with the judicious use of links by the people you connect with.” (Richardson 36)

“serendipitous learning” (Richardson 37)

“planet-scale sharing” [as author Clay Shirkey (2010) calls it] (Richardson 38)

“What if you thought of Twitter as a place to share not just your life but the conversations and content that really make you think about whatever your passions are?” (Richardson 39)

“it’s not a race; no one is grading you, and everyone will travel a different path.” (Richardson 54)

“To teach is to model and to demonstrate. To learn is to practice and to reflect.” (Siemens [in quoting Stephen])

“An educator needs a point of existence online – a place to express herself and be discovered” (Siemens)

“Persistent presence in the learning network is needed for the teacher to amplify, curate, aggregate, and filter content and to model critical thinking and cognitive attributes that reflect the needs of a discipline.” (Siemens)

Honorable Mentions: “link love” (39); “digital footprint” (41); “The weblog, or ‘blog,’ is the granddaddy of social media” (50); “Facebook is the eight-hundred-pound gorilla of social networking” (52)

Now that I have that out of my system, let’s take a look at what I see as the most important areas of professional development for educators to become 21st century educators. I believe one of the most important areas for educators will be the development of their own DIYPD, or do-it-yourself professional development, as mentioned in Richardson and Mancabelli’s Personal Learning Networks book. This term fascinated me and I wasn’t sure why at first, and then I realized that I have always been a “DIPYD-er”, at least in the sense that Richardson and Mancabelli talk about it. I grew up connected. From an early age, I remember sitting at the computer desk with my dad, waiting for the dial-up connection to stop buzzing and making weird noises. I wasn’t really sure what that meant, but I didn’t really care either. All I knew was that when it finished, I could log onto AIM with my super-old, cheesy screen-name, zboarderxl1. I think I was 7 or 8 at the time. That is when I began building my network of connections. That is when I became infatuated with the digital world. I consider AIM my gateway drug. I then got hooked on Xanga and MySpace, and eventually Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogger, and just about every other social media networking application out there. It is a crazy world of connections, and I believe the first step in 21st century DIYPD is being connected and building a vast network of quality connections.

Being connected is just the tip of the iceberg. Richardson and Mancabelli provide an awesome blueprint to maximizing your potential out of your “networked learning environment” (35).

  • Passion to learn
  • Sharing
  • Quality, not quantity
  • Well-developed sense of self-direction
  • Balance
  • Reflection
  • Face-to-face networks

Start with your passion. Whatever your passion is, there is someone else out there that shares it. It doesn’t matter if your passion isn’t your profession, start with it, and then go from there. And don’t forget to share along the way. A link here, a quote there, maybe a video or personal opinion, work your way up to blog posts! An important rule to remember when you began making connections is quality, not quantity. It’s all about the type of connections you make, now how many. Once you get started, you may find yourself lost in world of links and unlimited resources. SocialMediaThis is where a “well-developed sense of self-direction” come into play. You must learn how to navigate this ridiculous, confusing, dangerous, and endless digital world. That may sound daunting, but once you catch the hang of it, don’t forget balance. Balance is key. Turn everything off. Don’t let your smartphone become handcuffs. I know for me, I sometimes find myself held captive by those tiny, little red bubbles on my iPhone that tell me I have a notification. It won’t hurt “going dark” every now and then and enjoying grass and trees, and this thing called the outdoors! Next is reflection. Pretty basic, reflect on what you are learning. Are you learning? And last but not least, the digital world is nothing without your face-to-face networks. What’s the point of being connected to someone on the other side of the world if you can’t share that information with your co-workers or next door neighbors? That’s it. That’s Richardson and Mancabelli’s blueprint to networked learning environments.

For educators, I feel building a personal networked learning environment through DIPPY is absolute necessary to becoming an efficient 21st century educator. While building this networked learning environment, you will come across and use so many tools, you will start to lose track of user names and passwords. I would recommend mastering a select few of these tools. Pick out 2-3 tools and really dive into the nitty-gritty and understand exactly how they work. Understanding this will not only help you to develop a richer network, but it will also allow you to better understand your students, as they have already mastered most of these tools. networked-teacher1Before I move on, I want to reiterate Richardson and Mancabelli’s point that they mention several times. Do not jump right into using these tools in your classroom. Become familiar with them. This is so important because if you don’t necessarily understand key terms or functions, your students may leave you in the dust during assignments or even worst, students may become disengaged because of the lack of usability by their teacher leading the assignment.

I’m going to end with another blueprint, one outlined by Siemens in his Connectivism blog post,  “Teaching in Social and Technological Networks“. Here he outlines what it looks like to be an educator in these networked learning environments:

  • Amplifying
  • Curating
  • Wayfinding and socially-driven sensemaking
  • Aggregating
  • Filtering
  • Modelling
  • Persistent presence

By mastering these seven fundamentals, teachers will began to transform from “controlling” a class to “influencing” a class and their learning networks. This is another essential element in bridging the gap from 20th century teaching/learning and 21st century teaching/learning.

 

Siemens. Connectivism. Teaching in Social and Technological NetworksWordPress, 16 Feb. 2010. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=220&gt;.

Richardson, Will and Rob Mancabelli. Becoming a Networked Learner. Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education. Rosolina, Rachel. ed. New York. Solution Tree Press. 2011. 193554327X. pp. 33-57.

Week 4 – The New Ecology of Learning

5501637623_dd41e0b754The first two chapters (“Arc-of-Life Learning” and “A Tale of Two Cultures”) in Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown’s A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change brings to life a very fascinating view of a new ecology of learning. Brown and Thomas describe arc-of-life learning as fundamentally simple as play, questioning, and imagination. “This new type of learning…takes place without books, without teachers, and without classrooms, and it requires environments that are bounded yet provide complete freedom of action within those boundaries” (Thomas 18). Thomas and Brown indicate that this new culture of learning is made up of a framework comprised of two elements (19):

  1. A massive information network that provides almost unlimited access and resources to learn about anything.
  2. A bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with tings within those boundaries.

The notion of play, questioning, and imagination got me excited. I really enjoyed reading about arc-of-life learning. The section, “Teaching in a Galazy Far, Far Away”, in which it described Douglas Thomas’ course he taught reminded me a lot of my class I took last semester, Design Studio. Throughout the course of the semester, we developed a sort of “show-and-tell” aspect. At the beginning of each class, or sometimes in email the day before or day of, someone in the class would share a new technology or something “techy cool” that we read about or discovered. The just happened one day when someone brought something up that they read about. And then it snowballed from there. By the end of the semester, it was expected that we spent the first 30-45 minutes of each class discussing new technologies that we either read about online or heard about somewhere. This became my favorite part of the class, and I know others as well enjoyed this part. In fact, it was such a great addition that the professor decided to incorporate it into future Design Studio courses.

Another section that caught my interest was “Click Here to Start Learning”. This section discussed a 41-year-old Tom who was diagnosed with diabetes. He discovered an online website, Diabetes Daily. Tom used the forums and the community on Diabetes Daily to learn more about his diagnosis and more-so how to live with the disease, an aspect in which the doctor’s office falls short in helping with. This reminded me a lot of the Reddit communities, which I also mentioned in the Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age article via Diigo. The article quotes Karen Stephenson in saying, “Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge.” This is exactly how Tom learned how to live with diabetes, from stories and experiences of “thousands of people who visit the site every day to share” (Thomas 29). This is the same for Reddit. I actively contribute to and read many subreddits on Reddit. A subreddit is simply a custom-made sub-forum, or a special area of interest. Subreddits are easily defined and found by adding /r/**** to the end of http://www.Reddit.com. One of my favorite subreddits is edtech, or http://www.Reddit.com/r/edtech. It is both informative and entertaining as there is a subreddit for just about everything. (The Education subreddit has over 35,000 subscribers).

To finish, I just wanted to include a table that I created from the two different approaches Brown and Thomas talks about in the end of  “A Tale of Two Cultures”. I liked it so much, I wanted to see the information clearer and remember it easier, so I included it in this blog post for easy reference.

teaching-based approach learning-based approach
1. culture is the environment 1. culture emerges from the environment
2. classroom 2. learning environment
3. focuses on teaching us about the world 3. focuses on learning through engagement within the world
4. students must prove they received the information, that they “get it” 4. students must embrace what they don’t know, come up with better questions, and continue asking those questions in order to learn more and more; the goal is to take the world and make it part of who they are, to re-create it