Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Blog Assignment 5
Dr. Scott McLeod is an educator at the University of Kentucky. He is a leading expert on technology in the classroom. In his post, Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?, he satirizes the position that the internet is not a useful tool in the educator's toolbox. While I agree that the internet is fantastic and should be used to the students' advantage, I will say that the student should be apprised of all facets of the internet, good and bad - all of the benefits and downfalls of the internet should be discussed, as appropriate (in tandem with content moderation) to ensure that nothing unsavory or irrelevant to the task at hand is viewed. As I said in a comment to Dr. McLeod's blog (which can be found here) there's so much information available now that learning is literally at our fingertips - and to keep students from utilizing this would be like holding water in front of a thirsty man, and not letting him drink.
Travis Allen's iSchool Initiative
Travis Allen is the creator of the iSchool Initiative, a collaboration of students dedicated to promoting the use of electronic tools to make education more efficient and less expensive. In his video The iSchool Initiative, he outlines just how useful an electronically-based curriculum can be. Using the iTouch, all the essential components of class such as books, learning tools (like globes and the periodic table), and interactivity can all be had using programs available on Apple's iTunes. This is a bold leap towards using technology in the classroom - and I'm all for it. Everything from homework assignments to lecture notes can be made available at any time.
However; unless the cost of the hardware is covered by the schools - and not the students and their families - some students may not have access to such hardware. Public Schools should not be cost-prohibitive for families near or below the poverty line - so to make it feasible, the hardware and all pertinent software (such as books and apps) should be provided for students (or, at the very least, subsidized).
The Virtual Choir
Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir, found here, is a wonderful melding of technology and art. Using video networking, 185 people from around the globe - without ever seeing each other - recorded 'Lux Aurumque'. This shows how useful technology can be - connecting people anyplace in the world as if they were standing right in front of each other. "It's a small world after all!" seems somewhat fitting - as connectivity advances, the distances between collaborators almost disappears.This bodes well for efficiency in information sharing and research in the future as well.
Kevin Roberts on Teaching in the 21st Century
In this video, Kevin Roberts outlines where he thinks education is headed - namely, towards teaching skills instead of facts and concepts. While I agree that the informational landscape is constantly changing, I disagree that teachers should relegate themselves to conveying life skills alone. Problem solving is a part of most areas of study - and those skills learned from various subjects can easily be applied to real-world applications. I think a more ideal approach would be to move towards facilitated learning (such as giving structured tasks, but leaving the detailed work up to the student) instead of a strict regimental teaching schedule, where facts and figures and other non-engaging datum are presented. By giving the student creative freedom in this way, more can potentially be learned as problems and issues present themselves as the student's complete their tasks.
A website recommended by Anthony Capps, Reading Rockets, contains a treasure trove of apps, television programming, and other resources for teachers who may need help promoting literacy in their classrooms. There are several teaching strategies on the website (found here) that can be incorporated into a lesson plan in order to help the students learn to read, comprehend, write, speak, and become more fluent with language.
There are also helpful apps on iTunes listed that would greatly help with literacy in the classroom. Applications such as Aesop's quest, Same Sound Spellbound, and Simplemind all help with memory, homophones, and idea recording (respectively) in order to help with reading and other literacy problems. Reading Rockets also airs on PBS as an entertaining way to help struggling students.