Thursday, February 2, 2012

Blog Assignment 2

Dr. Strange's "Did You Know? 3.0"

In Dr. Strange's video, Did You Know, he outlines the changing job market, as well as the shifting technological climate that we, as future educators, must come to understand - and by understanding, help our students to be successful in the job market in years to come.

An increase in highly educated people from around the world will make lucrative fields in the U.S. much more competitive. In order to give our students the best chance of success, we must do our best in imparting the knowledge they will require to compete in our changing world.

Technology is also changing. In order to teach our students how best to use the advancements available to them when they enter the work force, we must keep up with these advancements, so that what we teach will be relevant.

In the end, we will all need to work together in order to best prepare our students for the challenges they will face.

Mathew Needleman's "Mr. Winkle Wakes"

In Mathew Needleman's video, Mr. Winkle Wakes, Rip Van Winkle awakens after sleeping for 100 years to find that the world has changed. After visiting a business, the amount of technology was too much for him to handle, and so he visited a hospital - but seeing all the technology in use there as well, he left. But upon finding a school, he became content - school was just the same as it was 100 years ago.

Mr. Winkle makes quite a point. As technology has advanced, so has the way we do things. Businesses run more efficiently, and medical science can reliably sustain life where, a century ago, it could not. It only makes sense that as our environment progresses, so should our methods of dealing with and shaping that environment. Why is it then that schools don't seem to be following the trail that medical science and business are following?

Perhaps it's simply a budget issue. State and local governments may not have the funding to add new technologies such as smart boards (or even reliable projectors) in every classroom. Or in light of these budget issues, perhaps teachers make do with what they have.

Or maybe the devices in the classroom aren't the problem at all. Maybe the basic teaching method should be revised. As things in our world become interactive, so too should the way students learn. Instead of sticking to the status quo, perhaps we should reevaluate classroom conditions as they change, and make alterations as necessary.

Sir Ken Robinson's "The Importance of Creativity"

Sir Ken Robinson's lecture, The Importance of Creativity, centers on the human mind - and our changing world. Although our world is changing, our definition of intelligence has not - too much emphasis is placed not on what each individual excels at, but on what it is perceived that one should excel. Our grading structure punishes students for being wrong, and that produces a fear of making mistakes... But without taking a chance to make mistakes, no original, useful, creative ideas would come about. Sir Robinson states that in this way, we are "Educating students out of creativity".

Everyone is unique, and we should celebrate and nurture those things that make us individuals - not try to override who people are to turn them into who we think they should be.

A Vision for 20th Century Learning

In this video, like many of the others, archaic teaching practices are addressed. Students are presented with information the same way they always have - by getting lectured, without participating in any real way. This video has a potential solution to the standard, passive type of learning we're used to seeing - a video game for learning.

I agree that this is a good idea - if properly executed, and with a greater level of teacher interaction than is implied in the video. To be successful, an education game should have 3 things:

1.) Production Value. Gaming consoles and computers are very powerful nowadays. The benchmark for graphics is very high - and so, in order to fully captivate the audience, education games should have decent graphics - if the in-game environment is too bland, students may find it boring.

2.) A goal. Many educational games of old consist of tasks to complete, but no real incentive for the student to complete them. By having some overarching theme, (such as 'Use algebra to save the queens life'... okay, maybe not the best example...), then interest can be maintained throughout the course of the game.

3.) Ease of use. Utility and function are important, but if the student can't figure out the controls, then the game will be a waste!

Video-game assisted learning is currently happening at the University of South Alabama. You can learn about Jaguarland, a part of the video-game 'Second Life', here.

Vicki Davis - "Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts"

Vicki Davis, the creator of the video 'Harness your students' Digital Smarts' is a teacher in a southern Georgia town, and is teaching her students how to be tech literate, self-starting learners, networked with those around them. Similar to EDM-310's structure, the students learn 'how to learn' by trial and error, collaboration, and by using resources online. They, like EDM-310, post their assignments to a blog, called DigiTeen - a resource that connects people from around the globe.

This is a great example of how successful an updated teaching curriculum can be. By utilizing modern technology, and having each student actively participate, lifelong learners are made. Instead of waiting to have information force fed to them, they will go out in search of knowledge instead - and so, their search for knowledge will never end.


  1. Excellent!
    I'm looking forward to your future posts.

  2. I'm the author of Mr. Winkle Wakes. A lot of people miss the point in the movie that there is a computer in the classroom Mr. Winkle visits, it's just not being used. While funding remains an issue for even simple things like paper towels and toilet paper in large urban districts, it's not simply about funding. Teachers tend to teach how they've been taught and since that usually hasn't included technology they don't know how to incorporate tech in their toolbox.

  3. Hi Mathew,
    It makes sense that teaching methods would be passed along as up-and-coming teachers learn the tools of their trade from educators who are used to a less technologically-centered classroom. I think so long as we acknowledge the necessity of technology in the modern classroom, we can break this cycle. I'm certainly going to try. Thanks for your comment!