Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Technologies

When introducing new technologies there are two basic outcomes.  People can embrace the new technology and expermiment with it to learn all of the basics, or the indiduals can be intimidated by it and avoid using it.  Sometimes this avoidance is simply a lack of motivation and willingness to try new things.

I have experienced both.  I had a teacher, who co-teaches with me in a special-ed science class, who resisted learning the new technology I was introducing to the students.  Although, it was her job to help the students and help me modify a lesson, she upright refused to learn it.  Then when we started using the technology, many of the students were frustrated and only I could help them.  She was overwhelmed and we butted heads for the remainder of the year because I felt she wasn't doing her job, while she may have thought I was asking a lot of her.  Fortunately, she was not the only special-ed teacher I work with and my other teacher acted as a mediator and helped her acclimate to the software.

Now this year, we are working together again and she has embraced learning the technology and has been a real help in getting me to recognize where my directions need to be clearer, or how to break down an assignment so that the students do not become frustrated.

Dr. John Keller presents the "Motivational ARCS Design Process."  ARCS stands for Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction.  What I took from the various information from his website, is that everyone is motivated in different ways, and as an educator, I must find ways to motivate my students as well as my co-workers, and understand that not everyone is motivated the same way.  With this in mind, I took what I learned last year from the situation and what my other co-teacher told me, and I made my resistant co-teacher a more important part of the design in the class, and not simply a facilitator.  I asked her how she might go about it.  I gave her much more lead time to experiment with the software so that she could help the students more.  This has lead to a better work environment, and the students are getting more out of it too.

Motivation is a powerful tool but it has to be understood that it is not a "uni-tasking" tool.  Motivation has to be able to work in many different ways and for different people this motivation will be different.  Being able to have a broader view of this helps exponentially.  Our working relationship is better, our relationship with our students is better, and the students are learning more and enjoying it more.

ARCS Design Process

  • Knowing and identifying the elements of human motivation,
  • Analyzing audience characteristics to determine motivational requirements,
  • Identifying characteristics of instructional materials and processes that stimulate motivation,
  • Selecting appropriate motivational tactics, and
  • Applying and evaluating appropriate tactics.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Just a couple decades ago, education was about students learning from a teacher and the students needed the teacher/expert to learn.  (Otherwise a library was a resource but knowledge of how to use the library was an obstacle.)  With the advent of the internet and the acceleration of the power of the personal computer, the gap was closed between learner and the information.  These resources also opened up more connections to these learners than was offered traditionally.  This transition is aligned with Dr. Siemens theory of Connectivism. 

"In connectivism, the starting point for learning occurs when knowledge is actuated through the process of a learner connecting to and feeding information into a learning community.  Siemens (2004) states, "A community is the clustering of similar areas of interest that allows for  interaction, sharing, dialoguing, and thinking together." (Kop & Hill, 2008).

With this in mind I have now recognized that I have learned more in my online learning than any other learning experience.  I have collected resources for future use, understand how learning experiences can start and continue into the future through blogging and utilizing social networks.  And even find value in resources as simple as emails from credible resources such as NSTA, ISTE, NEA, and more.

Kop & Hill talk about whether this theory is even a theory, "...or vestige of the past?"  Whether it meets the qualifications of a learning theory, the idea needs to be looked at.  From the beginning of time, technology has been about bringing us closer and being able to go further, faster.  Weapons and fire helped us have the ability to travel further because we had more energy and over time it helped develop our brains.  Skipping forward thousands of years, laungae and the printing press helped spread knowlege to more people and just those who had access and the money.  Transportation connected us to other parts of the world and did it at ever increasing rates to make it possible to make round trips to just about anywhere in a reasonable amount of time.

Eventually electronic technology helped us complete various tasks in a way that better, faster, and cheaper.  But it wasn't until the internet when this power was connected.  Now people are connected, information is at our beck and call, and these machines can do things together by being connected to each other.

With changing times, we are connected to each other in different means.  Our needs change with time too.  This necessitates an evolving understanding of education, because school is supposed to prepare your to work in the future.  We have to realize that the jobs of the future are no longer the jobs of the past or even present.

What this means to me is that I do not necessarily have to know everything about everything, but I do need to know where to go or what to do if I do not know something.  This is connectivism and being connected to the best resources and have them at your fingertips is what is needed in today's society, and is becoming the foundation of commerce.

Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(3), 1–13.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Module 3 - Collaboration

"Do you believe that humans have a basic instinct to “interact and work as a group,” as Rheingold proposed in his discussion of the evolution of Wikipedia as a collectively developed encyclopedia? How can technology facilitate collaboration among learners based on constructivist principles?"

“Howard Rheingold: Way-New Collaboration”

As a science person, I believe the basic nature of most organisms is to fend for oneself and survival of the fittest.  However, after time goes by, some organisms can find ways that collaborating and cooperating is better in the end.  As humans, we have not seen to many examples where collaboration has a better benefit than doing what is best for  oneself.  Howard Rheingold makes mention of the "Split Game" where two individuals who do not know each other are in different rooms and are given a problem.  They are given $100 and one individual decides how to split the money.  The other individual has the choice to either accept the offer, or if it is denied, no one gets the money.  The only time the offer was accepted was when the offer was as close to 50/50 as possible.  Howard Rheingold mentioned that it is to no benefit to deny even the $1 against getting $0 but this is what happens.

 Fortunately, we are now finding that we have the ability to truly collaborate and see the advantages of those working together for a single final result.  One great example is Wikipedia.  This site has multiple collaborators bringing information together for the good of all users, and there is no specific benefit to the individual.  But the one problem is that the people who offer to participate are individuals who are willing to volunteer, and these people are the minority.  If we can find a way to reward the individuals in some way or have the community receive a benefit that the individual would be proud of, then there will be a drive to collaborate.  But until then, I feel that the average human, especially Americans, are more willing to do for oneself rather than the greater good of the group.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Conversations of Learning Theory.

(After reviewing following Blogs, I posted...)

Education was put in place to help our citizens become productive members of society.  To be able to work, have a family, and provide a benefit to the town (Which in turn is a benefit to one's family again).  However, we now must question what the previous statement means in today's and the future's environment.  

Today's public schools still base performance on very basic skills that they compare to everyone in the state and or nation.  We are steadily falling behind the world in academic skills, but what does this mean.  Whatever the answer is, what we are doing and how we are measuring it, is flawed.  We need to take a good look at what we are doing. (And even better focus on who "We" will be).  I agree with Bill Kerr and that "...we need big change."

I think we need to focus on helping our students become productive members of society, but during this process, respect how students learn.  Once the students are able to learn the new information they will be capable of greater things, and we leave the burden of job skill preparation (for at least a 9-5 job) to the employer.  As educators we were taken out of the loop once mainstreaming occurred.  Because all students were meant to be in the mainstreamed, specialization (whether advanced or modified) was lost.  We were basically told to ignore that students are individuals and learn in different ways and are capable of different things.  This does not mean that these students do not need basic skills, or that we shouldthrow out anything they do not like or enjoy.  We just need to use our education as educators and emphasize what is necessary, and if it is not, minimize our time and effort towards the topic or skill, or maybe even eliminate it.  

However, as I mentioned before, "We," is the main question.  Educators are taken out of the mix and we are at the mercy of state and federal guidelines.  I feel that these guidelines are based on minimal or basic level skills and because of the penalties that come with these guidelines we have to meet them whether we agree with them or not.

As mentioned before, I do not know what the answer is but "...we need big change."  I think at a minimum we need to trust and respect our qualified educators who are in the front lines of education and give them latitude they need to get their students to learn.  We need to understand that our school, our classroom, our students, our personel, are all unique.  Even from year to year.

As a person of science, I agree that we should use the scientific method to solve any problem.  After identifying the problem, we must produce a hypothesis (which will become a theory with collaborative data, even if never a law).  Bill Kerr's blog goes on to discuss that there are postitive and negative critisims of most if not all theories, but we should not abandon or accept and particular theory.  I agree, I feel that we need to stay abreast of all the idea, and "evolve."

Karl Kapp's blog is listed to show an example of a different style of a lesson and how to construct it rather that simple teaching and testing of knowledge.

FOR THE CONVERSATION:  What is the best theory? Why?  What were your experiences as educators having the knowledge of these theories when teaching a lesson?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Module 1

"What are your beliefs about how people learn best? What is the purpose of learning theory in educational technology?"

 My beliefs of how people learn best is when they have multiple ways to learn and multiple ways to demonstrate their knowledge.  As I have gone through education myself as a students and now a teacher, I have noticed more and more of a diminished effort to learn with what is given.  Students are more apathetic and demand more differentiation.  Without attention to this students tend to give up or care less.  When the instructor offers various examples, various methods of teaching, as well as various ways to demonstrate the students' knowledge, there is a greater acceptance of information.

I feel that learning theory plays a part in educational technology by providing a foundation of the various ways students can learn and the instructor can use this knowledge to find and utilize resources that offer the multiple styles of learning.