Before offering any commentary on chapters 3, 4, and 5, I'd just like to offer some general commentary about the significance of what we are thinking about in this process.
We are working within an educational system that was designed and left relatively unchanged since the late 19th century. The American educational model was designed mainly to meet the labor needs of an industrializing society; general knowledge, basic math, simple literacy, working with others, the responsibilities of citizenship. And it was there to separate in some sort of objective manner, those who were to move into the lowest paying service jobs, those who would make a middle class living in some sort of factory or mining environment, and those few who would go to college.
Even with the boom in college enrollment created by the GI Bill after WWII, less than 24% of Americans went to college until the early 1990's. Now, as we all know, the expectation is that ALL high school graduates go to college. I believe the pain we feel in this system is a product of using a 19th century model for a 21st century goal.
Education needs not just a paradigm shift, it needs a revolution. My hope is that rather than for us to think in terms of adapting digital technology to the outdated model, we leverage this opportunity to re-think and re-tool all the old assumptions, policies, and practices.
A bit lofty? Maybe even naive. Sure, I get that, but if people like us with the advantages we have at this school don't do it, who will?
Of course, I could be wrong...
Interesting point Wyatt! I think it is time to start re-shaping our teaching practices by using these technology resources that we have available nowadays, and that most of our students feel really comfortable using. It is going to take some time and commitment from our side to look at the different ways we can approach this change, but definitely it will benefit students' learning tremendously if it is done in the right way. Our students will still need us to guide them in the process and teach them how to conduct an effective search for instance, but with this, we will also teach them how to approach knowledge in a more independent manner.
One of the highlights for me on chapter 3 was how the use of online communication may play a critical role in developing our communication styles, and our ability to engage with others in order to promote higher order cognitive skills.
On chapter 4, the use of mobile technology is revolutionizing second language learning, and I have personally witnessed this change. Students are moving from the use of the traditional flash cards to the more interactive vocabulary games and activities they can find on different websites and on their mobile devices. Applications where they can record their voices and have a teacher with them all the time modeling and guiding them in their pronunciation practices. Our challenge here as teachers is to make sure all students have access to these types of helpful tools, and most importantly to make sure they match their different learning needs and styles.
Chapter 5 talks about the importance that students are taught how to interpret visual representations effectively. As educators, we need to help students develop visual literacies that allow them to survive and communicate in a highly complex world. They need to be able to build their own visual representations, such as diagrams, tables, or graphs that can aid their conceptual understanding.
Exactly Oscar. In Social Studies we are increasingly seeing the ability to interpret and analyze images tested on all fronts. Interestingly when I drilled down in the data from last year's WHAP exam, I found that although my students exceeded the national average in every metric, the weakest was "image based analysis." In a digital environment, it's easy for me to adapt my curriculum on the fly by tapping into the wealth of images available in the web and include them into my lesson cycle. This agility is one of the great promises of e-learning.
I am a trekie so I have to use this time to compare the one to many and the many to many forms of communication mentioned in chp.3 p.35. with that of the Borg race in Star Trek. This race has a collective conscious and I would not be surprised that we will one day evolve to live in a collective where all of our knowledge and thoughts are shared simultaneously. I have to say that it is true about individuals with social anxiety are more successful interacting in a virtual classroom where they know that their input will be heard and not be drowned out by the louder more boisterous student in the same class second paragraph p. 35 It will also be interesting how the inevitable evolution of the English language will progress as a result of the virtual use of the language. p. 45
I think it is extremely exciting to use online text books, because the book comes alive with video clips and animations that allow the student to learn difficult concepts bullets on p.49 As a former English language learner I too would have benefitted from the use of phonics as I learned the new language.
P.51 Collaboration is facilitated in a digital world where there is no need to physically gather people, making collaboration more efficient.
iPads and Kindles are beneficial tools to supplement the human contact of a teacher, making the learning experience a richer one.
I like the potential benefits for students with ADD and ASD outlined on p.63
Chp. 5 makes a point that we need to make sure our students are prepared to function in a technologically advanced world where communication is instant and can lead to higher productivity. Obviously it should be a mixture of pedagogical strategies and understand that there is not only one type of literacy.
Chapter 3, p. 34, last paragraph discusses ..."Blogs have become a very popular way of producing digital text and illustrate learners' tendency to blend the personal with the public..." "This...is often considered to be beneficial given that it allows greater freedom of expression, opportunities for collaboration, discussion and reflection: all indicative of higher levels of cognitive processing..."
Chapter 4. p. 57, middle of third paragraph discusses "...51 percent of students still showed strong preference for relying on traditional printed texts, ... commenting, highlighiting and annotating non-linear texts remains difficult online."
Chapter 5, last sentence "...Using written texts online...represents just one aspect of digital literacy and learners need to be taught how to incorporate visual representations to support their learning activities and to work with multimodal representations beyond that of the written word."
I'm not sure what your point was here Lisa, but one of the great aspects of blogs is the asymmetrical nature of them. Kids can collaborate about content and strategies in a live, but not simultaneous conversation. I've seen them do great work in helping reinforce their own learning. This is especially helpful to people with crazy and differing schedules. It's the new study group. But again, like transitioning adults to the digital environment, even our digital natives need cajoling to use the resource.
One of the interview candidates today gave a great explanation of helping people (teachers and students) into the digital water by starting with an on-line warm up, a "do now", and then going to a traditional teaching modality. Later, one could add a digital exit ticket. Then, perhaps more and more of the lesson "lives" in a digital environment. I really like the idea of a transition like this, making digital the new normal and not making a dramatic deal about it.
Seriously Lisa, what was it about these quotes that caught you attention?
Good Morning Everyone! Thank you Wyatt and Oscar for your wonderful insight. Great food for thought. And now I am going to be honest--I had a difficult time with these chapters and I found myself getting annoyed with the book. I find the use of technology for teaching reading and for communicating to be cold and impersonal (i.e. we are having this conversation in an email instead of enjoying each other's company.) I accept that I am a dinosaur, but as wonderful as technology can be, it cannot replace our human relationships. Young children who learn to love reading do so because they learn to associate reading with love--that is to say from the time the adults in their lives have spent with them reading. Also, last evening the English Department interviewed 7 candidates. Each was asked "What makes a good teacher?" And without exception every single candidate answered the same way: it is the relationship teachers have with their students that makes them good teachers. I am no Mennonite, but I am concerned that we are putting our human connections at risk for the sake of, well, electronic devices and internet connections. I feel the author did not give enough time to the downside of the increased use of technology.
Not to pick nits Laura, but we are interacting through a blog, not email. :-)
I couldn't agree more with you, and your candidates, that learning happens because of relationships. But I don't think you've made the case that love and the digital environment are mutually exclusive. I'm sure there were classicists in the 15th century bemoaning the loss of oral tradition now that Gutenberg was printing his damned books!
May a suggest, with love and respect, that you think of the digital environment and merely a new delivery method. One that adds a realm of new possibilities for you to share your love of literature and your love for your students. They haven't replaced teachers just yet, nor will "they" when they see that a teacher is still required to help with context, with interpretation, with analysis, and yes, with love as well.
Speaking of developing higher order thinking skills (chapter three), I am wondering about using a cloud source such as Google Docs to throw up a document of some kind. Then maybe the assignment would be to have all the students access the doc, do a "Save as" to their own cloud account then edit and revise. This takes them all the way to evaluation first and then to analysis in Bloom's.
Then to extend it, the facilitator/teacher may ask the students to "share" the edited doc with a peer (in or out of the room, at the same time or different times). The two could then engage each other about their differing reasons for their edits, etc. Then they could even share out to an even wider group, maybe the entire class.
A last step might even be having a class wide collaboration to reach agreement on a final version, maybe that is then submitted for a grade.
Just some musings...
I found myself looking for a "like" button under some comments, which should tell you something about one way I like to communicate.
Wyatt, your comments reflect the attitude I sense in your department - which makes me really excited about the possibilities of 1:1 in your classrooms.
But, for many, the first step in that transformation will be using technology in a traditional teaching model, such as using digital books, requiring papers be submitted electronically, etc. Kind of like getting their feet wet before taking the plunge. But they will eventually dive in.
Chapter Three talks about the effects of social media in written communication and comprehension. "It is suggested that many individuals, especially those who may struggle in forming face-to-face communications, can form online interactions through emailing, text messaging and communications via social networking sites" (p 43).
I have noticed this among some people I know. The same people who could never put a paragraph together in school can freely express themselves via social media, without the constraints of grammar or spelling rules. In this instance, technology has opened up a new means of communication, which enhances the personal relationship.
Absolutely Dorothy, I've noticed the same trend as well. Some people, my 13 year old son among them, who are shy and introverted in person, but extroverted in digital media (gaming admittedly :-( We should not overlook differentiation as one of the tools of the digital environment.
Thanks for the kind words, we're doing the best we can!
Dr. R. Scott Allen: This forum is for those educators reading the e-generation book.