Bates and blogs

Hello everyone and welcome back!

Oh, hello there!
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So this week we were given a prompt based off last week’s reading of one of Bates’ chapters. The chapter discussed the pedagogical differences between different forms of media; including the whens, hows, and all the ways we can/should be using them. Alec and Katia asked us to consider our own experiences learning from digital resources, and what our preferences are when it comes to using digital resources in our classrooms.

I found the chapter to be quite interesting in the sense that it did a really good job of breaking down the conventional and typical ways we often use media in our classrooms. Having a good understanding of when, why and how we should be using certain forms of media is not only important for us as teachers, but it’s critical in making our lessons as effective and engaging as possible for our students.

In our readings, we focused on text, audio and video. In each section, Bates discusses the pros and cons of each media, including when and how we should be applying these things in our classrooms.

I decided to focus my time today on Blogging because I feel as though it is an excellent platform to bring in a lot of creativity in the way that we present information to our audiences.

I’d like everyone to take a look at my classmate Amy’s blog, as she made a great effort to implement some of Bates’ theories into practice with her post this week.

Now, the great thing about blogging is that you really don’t have to limit yourself to writing. The beauty of our blogs is that we can reach out and extend our arms to lengths we typically wouldn’t be able to reach in a more traditional form of text. Amy for example, broke everything down using the classic VLOG format. Here, she can use her voice, expression and personality to really get through to her viewers. The added visual component of actually being able to see the person speak in a sense “humanizes” and personifies the words we would typically just read. Here, we’re not only transmitting thoughts and ideas; we’re also getting a sense of the author’s emotions, passions and personality, something that is typically extremely difficult (or simply impossible) to portray through text alone.

Okay, when I said “humanize”, I didn’t quite mean this…
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Sure enough, as Bates briefly mentions in his chapter, there are definitely limitations to blogging. For one, a blog can’t be too lengthy or technically wordy, otherwise it starts to tread on “academic article” territory; which can’t be considered a blog anymore. But one of the true beauties of blogging is that it allows us to choose a voice that our audience will hear us in; we’re not confined to using our academic or professional voice per se; we can have a little fun with it by bringing in our personality into the realm.

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This particular element to blogging is what truly captures my attention. I find that being able to express myself in a more relaxed tone, allows me to behave a lot more like the way I would in real life (including in my classroom). I like to have fun. I like to be sarcastic, joke around and not take things too serious.

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As much as I’d like to behave that way all the time, I can’t. I mean, you can’t really pour jokes into an academic essay; but you sure can do that in a blog! But why do I care so much about this? Well, I’m receptive to this type of writing and approach to teaching, and I know that a lot of other people are too (including my actual class). Yes, there’s a time and place for everything, but I’ve found that every now and then, it’s okay to have a little fun with the way you talk, address and teach others.

I’ve been using blogs in my classroom for the past two years. I’d say I’ve had some successes, but I’m still in the midst of trying to really capitalize on the benefits of using this platform in my classroom. I’ve been teaching my students techniques in which they can use their voices in new and exciting ways to communicate ideas to others. For instance, we are currently experimenting with vlogging and using other forms of media to reinforce what they are trying to say with their writing (and how they express themselves).

I use a lot of my own examples to guide them. As most of you have noticed, I really enjoy a good ol’ GIF. Using sites such as GIPHY, I can typically find some sort of fun “moving image” that I can embed into my posts to either highlight some sort of idea or emotion I’m trying to convey through my writing. I mean, it’s one way to (literally) illustrate your ideas and make your writing stronger; and if it’s used properly, it can have some seriously impactful effects on the way we learn and communicate. I also find that it’s a good way to break down all the reading and give my audience some sort of comedic relief or entertaining factor. In my students’ case, they love finding relevant GIFS for their own blog posts because it adds a level of customization that renders their work more unique and personalized. Here, they are learning ways in which they can express ideas using something other than their voice and writing. And since they are sharing their blogs with their classmates, it makes reading their blogs a lot more fun for their audience. Not only that, we can find all sorts of imagery that is relatable to all sorts of people. So why not use pop culture to our advantage?

Ohhh, why not?
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But it doesn’t stop there. The blog is great because not only can we use all these different types of media to transmit our ideas to our audience, but it allows us to be creative in the way we blend all of these types of resources as a collective whole. In a blog, we can embed videos, photos, GIFS (moving pictures), audio, files, etc. in ways that complement each other. You want the reader to feel some sort of emotion through your writing? Well, you can reinforce it by embedding a song to play at the beginning of your post to “set the mood” for your post. I know I’m playing up the whole “emotional” and “human” end of the stick right now, but sometimes these relatable elements are what make writing more accessible for others.

What is most important about our reading however is that there’s a time and place for all of these tools, and we definitely need to take into consideration when and how we’re using these tools for our lessons. As Amy discusses in her VLOG, are our students’ needs being met by using these tools? Who are we leaving out? Are these tools accessible to everyone inside AND outside of school? These questions will never cease to be the most important.

When I initially started blogging with my class, we were simply writing weekly posts. There was very little exchange between students, and the format was rather dull. As I started blogging in my EC&I 830 class however, I started to realize the strength this tool has when we start incorporating visuals, videos, GIFS and documents to our posts. In teaching these things to my students, I’ve started to notice a lot more enthusiasm and eagerness on my students’ behalf. Kids want to share when they are given more tools to express themselves. By allowing our students to experiment with all of these mediums, we are allowing different types of learners to gain new ways to communicate and express themselves. As long as they are being taught when and how to use these tools to maximize their impact on their audiences, they can tap into a very interesting, fun, personalized and unique way of sharing with one another.

I’m wondering if any of you are doing blogs with their classrooms right now? What are some things you’ve noticed that students particularly enjoy about the process? Are they being provided with various forms of digital tools and resources to build and create unique content? What blog sites have worked best for you? What are some issues you’ve come across? How do you feel about learning how to use these tools first? And last but not least, what are some tips you would suggest for teachers who are wanting to try out bogging in their class?
Thanks for reading everyone, and I look forward to hearing back from you!

Have a great week!

Dre

Screencastin’ ain’t that easy

Hello everyone and WELCOME!

For this week’s blog prompt, we were asked to choose and review a content creating tool that we have never used before. I chose to review Screencastify because I have always wanted to try a screencasting app, but never really had a good reason to go out of my way to try one until now.

So…What is it?
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What is Screencastify? Screencastify is an app that allows you to record everything that is happening on your screen. The program allows you to record audio so that you can narrate and describe what you are doing as it’s happening in real-time.

I was initially drawn to this tool when I watched some of Katia Hilderbrandt’s video tutorials she posted on our Google Community page for some FAQ’s about WordPress. I found her narration extremely helpful, especially when you’re trying to navigate through a website.

So before I move on, I wanted to mention that I recorded a lengthy video review of Screencastify using the app itself. Unfortunately, due to some technical difficulties, I wasn’t able to convert the file under a different format, completely tearing my dreams of starting my first “Vlog” type of response for my blog. Anyway, here’s the written form, which will have to do for now!

So upset
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First impressions

PROS

Woo hoo!
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Alright, the app is easy to use. I mean, you install it and it’s ready to go, so it really can’t get easier than that! The menus are straight-forward and user-friendly. There are a few settings you can mess around with; overall, a very simple-to-use application that anyone can use.

Secondly, I really liked the video and audio quality. It’s not GREAT, but it’s usable and I think having a feature to record your audio in real-time as you’re navigating your mouse across the screen is an excellent tool. The app also features the ability to record video through your webcam. So not only are you able to talk, but people are able to see YOU too. Pretty cool, especially once you get the hang of doing all of these at once.

Thirdly, once I finished recording the video, I liked that you could save the file onto your desktop OR to your Google Drive. Having access to your files on any device using cloud-based storage is the way to go these days… if this DIDN’T have this feature, I’d be upset.

CONS

THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING!
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Alright, so maybe I didn’t look hard enough, but I didn’t like that you couldn’t pause your recording. I know most people aren’t going to be pausing their video constantly, but I would have liked a feature that allowed me to briefly pause my screencast, rather than have me completely end the recording session altogether. The reason why I’m picking at this is because after I finished my first recording, I found that editing my video wasn’t so easy. This was partly due to the fact that my video-editing software doesn’t recognize the format it was initially saved as. I have ways around this (video converting sites such as http://www.online-convert.com for example), where I can convert files to other formats; but when you’re working with massive files, this process turns into a tedious and time-consuming process.

I think a simple editing tool would have been a great addition to this app. I’m not sure what the premium edition has to offer, but I couldn’t find any indication of this type of feature regardless of whether or not we were paying full price or not. Being able to quickly clip out and cut away parts that you may want to discard or edit out would be a dream come true for this type of software.

The framerate of the screencasts is decent, but definitely gets choppy, especially if you were to record some type of video or audio playing off your desktop. I wouldn’t use it to play videos through my screencast, but for simpler tasks, the program gets the job done just fine.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST! MY BIGGEST COMPLAINT!

This thing saves your videos and all, but it saves them under a weird “.webm” format that I had never seen before. As I mentioned earlier, this caused major problems. In a matter of fact, I had so much trouble trying to convert my video into a format that my video-editing software would recognize, that I flat-out gave up. I spent almost three hours trying to figure this out, until I reached a point of defeat. I looked for ways to save my files under a different format, but had no luck. As far as weaknesses go, THIS made my whole initial good impressions of Screencastify completely fade away! You should be able to select the format you save these files under, otherwise what’s the point? Again, if any of you know whether or not this is possible, please let me know, because…. Damn…

I’ve officially lost it…
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PEDAGOGICAL USES?

As for teaching purposes, I find Screencastify to be very useful, especially if we were to use it in a blended learning type of environment. Being able to record screencasts allows us to easily create content for tutorials and online lessons within minutes (especially if you figure out how to get past this file conversion roadblock).

I think I would definitely give Screencastify a shot, especially since I intended to bring these types of online teaching elements into my project prototype.

I urge anyone that has ever used this (or is fairly knowledgeable with it), to hit me up with some tips. I mean, CAN you save your videos in a different format, or are they always saved as .webm’s? Any suggestions will help!

Thanks for reading everyone and I hope you all have a great week!

Dre

Interview with the Google Classroom Guru

my head hurts…
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Social media has completely taken over my life. In a matter of fact, the reason why I’m submitting this blog entry on a Sunday night is because the past week in world politics has completely consumed my life. I’ve fallen into what the kids refer to as an “internet k-hole”, a “cyber” black-hole if you will… sucking my very existence into its tight grip.

You know it's going to get weird when you're dealing with Urban Dictionary.
You know it’s going to get weird when you’re dealing with Urban Dictionary.

All silliness aside however, I did realize that taking a break from all of this crazy talk is necessary, and what better way than to reflect on some LMS platforms? Honestly, I’m not being sarcastic here, I’m stoked to actually be talking about something else for once.

So stoked
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I decided to roll with Google Classroom. If you’re wondering why I chose this platform, I promise you the story ain’t that intriguing. My rationale here was rather simple actually. I’ve seen some of my coworkers use Classroom, so I thought to myself: “hey, why not?”

alright, let’s do it
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Of course, there are other great reasons I would want to use Google Classroom. For one, my entire school is connected through Google. All my students have Google accounts with personal email accounts and access to all of Google’s awesome arsenal of apps. This makes using Classroom a no-brainer, as I would eventually like to actually start using an LMS platform in my own classroom. So in a sense, this entire project is going to be a huge trial run for me. If this goes well, it’s easy enough to use, and I can see myself planning and posting things regularly; maybe I’ll end up making the transition!

So I started up a mock classroom just to get a feel for the whole thing. I immediately came to a roadblock as I had no idea how to invite other teachers to become moderators with me. As I skimmed through the site’s various tabs and menus, I found the navigation on the website to be a little confusing. To be fair however, I only looked for maybe thirty seconds. Anyway, luckily for me, my great coworker Scott, resident Google Classroom guru, was there to help me out!

To be honest, he’s the one that ended up showing me everything. So today, I’m going to be giving you a different type of review: it’s going to be based entirely off my coworker’s awesome walk-through.

First thing’s first, Scott is a huge advocator for Google Classroom. When I asked him what he found most compelling about the platform, his immediate response was that it’s using something that kids are already familiar with. “It’s not that it’s that innovative or that the kids really care for it, but it’s practical. I post an assignment, their phones start going off. They’re getting text notifications… I mean, they literally have no excuse NOT to do their assignments”

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Hm. Good point. I mean, as long as kids have a means to access their accounts (which he said all of them do), this doesn’t sound like a bad way to set up your classroom at all. See, having someone who actually uses this thing is a big selling point for me. This means I have someone to pester with questions when I run into problems 😉 , but it also means we can link-up and share our classrooms with one another. This means that I can go into his online classroom, and post assignments for his students. But why would I want to do that though? Well… It just so happens to be, that in our case, we actually teach each other’s classes. So really… NOT using this is actually kind of a bad call on my part. And sure enough, some of the kids in his class who haven’t completed assignments for me in the past have used the classic excuse that I hadn’t posted the assignment on their Google Classroom. Dang…they got me there….

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As Scott showed me more and more, I started to get a good sense of how you can integrate this tool in a classroom. Scott’s not doing anything that crazy, but the platform allows students a lot more freedom as to what format they submit their work in. He explained to me that many students prefer having a digital copy of their assignment as they would rather type out their work.

He also mentioned how creatively-inclined students have used Classroom to their advantage. Some students submit video responses, pdf files, PowerPoint presentations, audio files, and even digital artwork.

The platform itself is fairly easy and straight-forward. Although I did not get too much into customization, I know that you can get a lot fancier if you really want to. For simplicity’s sake, Scott keeps things simple. At the end of the day, you want to make things easier on yourself, and for practicality’s sake, this thing gets the job done.

Communication between home and school is simplified through the platform. Scott gives access to all parents and guardians to the Classroom site. He says it’s greatly improved student accountability, as students are able to keep track of assignments, due dates, school announcements, etc.

I found that the platform was capable of doing some interesting things I never really thought about doing online; including grading and keeping track of complete/incomplete student work. To be honest, those two are big selling points for me as it would get rid of so much physical clutter from all the assignments students would be handing in, and it would make planning and grading a lot easier when you’re on the go.

At the end of my walkthrough, I was definitely sold on using Google Classroom as Scott answered a lot of my questions and concerns. Posting assignments is a breeze; parents are always in the know of what’s going on in the classroom; students can access, complete and submit assignments from literally anywhere; and it’s using a service that my school and my students already heavily rely on.

The true testament to whether or not I’ll want to fully commit to the Google Classroom world will come once I start actually using the platform for my prototype, but as far as first impressions go, I’m definitely sold on at least trying it out.

If any of you use or have used Google Classroom, and have anything that they’d like to share about the platform, I’d be really interested in hearing about it. I’m all ears at this point and am definitely curious to seeing what it’ll be like to plan a course using an LMS platform. Wish me luck!

Dre

Let’s get this started!

Hello everyone and welcome back!

So today, I’m going to be talking a little about my course prototype project. As of right now, I’ve only got a couple of rough ideas, but I’m hoping that by reading more of your blogs and thinking out loud, I can perhaps come closer to a conclusive route.

Back to the ol’ drawing board
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I’ve paired up with my classmates and coworkers Jaymee and Roxanne. We decided to take the blended learning approach, applying it to middle years ELA (specifically grade 6).

Now, there’s a big reason why I personally want to explore this specific subject. For one, I teach grade 6, so I’m quite aware of what students of this age find appealing, and more importantly, what they are more likely receptive to. Secondly, kids love technology. I love technology. So shouldn’t this just…work?

Right?
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Well, the more I think about it, the more trouble I have trying to come up with effective ways to construct a blended learning course as we would see in this example.

Reading through Stephen Downes’ post gave me some interesting insight on the difference between personal and personalized learning. The following quote breaks it up quite nicely:

Personalized learning is like being served at a restaurant. Someone else selects the food and prepares it. There is some customization – you can tell the waiter how you want your meat cooked – but essentially everyone at the restaurant gets the same experience.

Personal learning is like shopping at a grocery store. You need to assemble the ingredients yourself and create your own meals. It’s harder, but it’s a lot cheaper, and you can have an endless variety of meals. Sure, you might not get the best meals possible, but you control the experience, and you control the outcome.

What’s cookin’ good lookin’?
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Keeping this analogy in mind, I realize that my classroom definitely leans more towards Downes’ interpretation of personalized learning. Although I am providing my students with options (including the use of digital resources and tools), ultimately, they’re all getting the same thing (with minor changes here and there to cater to some of their personal needs).

The way I see it, blended learning should be catering to students’ needs in more ways than this. Essentially, I should be providing my students with a space to explore at their own rhythm, according to their own learning styles, capacities, interests and so on and so forth. I’d love to say that I do these things, but I don’t…which leaves me wondering, how on earth I can change this?

I dunno…
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The video we watched in class last week gave me so many ideas, but as I sat there watching, I realized that a lot of the things they were doing in the video would require a full-blown reconstruction of my classroom. The video is idealistic, and is obviously showing us what we can do, given that we have the resources, materials and the technology available for all students. For what it’s worth, the video gave me a better sense of what all this means.

After reading up on the SAMR model, I realized that whenever I’m using technology in the classroom, I’m rarely ever doing anything groundbreaking. My goal with this project is to actually come up with some concrete ideas on how to redefine the way I use technology in the classroom.
SAMR MODEL IMAGE SOURCE
Continue reading “Let’s get this started!”

First thing’s first…

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog for ECI&834!

My name is Andres Araneda, but most people call me “Dre”. I teach grade 6 French immersion at Elsie Mironuck Community School, and this is my 7th masters class. I took the spring session of EC&I830 with Alec and Katia, and let me tell you, that was one heck of a fun time! This class gave me the opportunity to harness some of my creativity and use it in some interesting ways I typically would have never explored or engaged in if I wasn’t in a class like this.

I’m looking forward to finishing up my degree because that means I’ll finally have more time to dive into my own personal creative projects. In my spare time, I typically like to create as much as I can, whether it’s music, art, or cooking.

I’ve played in several bands in the past ten years, most notably hardcore-punk bands. I like this genre because it breaks all the rules. It’s fueled by the energy of the crowd, the lyrics and the music. Playing this style of music may not be most people’s cup of tea, but seeing a hardcore show is not only eye-opening, but quite exciting as well. Here is a vid of my band Failed States playing at the Southern Alberta Hardcore Festival in Calgary this past July:

My other big passion is art. I like to draw, spray paint and create all sorts of crazy visuals. Here’s a quick video of me erasing some of my whiteboard creations I made a few months ago:

And here’s a video I created for my Arts Ed. summer institute this past July:

And finally, as I stated earlier, I LOVE to cook. Here’s a quick SnapChat video I took a few months ago of some Pad Thai I whipped up:

Whenever I teach, I try to incorporate all of these elements from my personal life into the classroom. Whether it’s showing my students how to video edit, how to create animations, how to create their own blogs, or how to create their own cartoon characters; I’ve found that using technology has absolutely enriched and reinforced my teaching style.

As a goal for this semester, I want learn how to effectively incorporate online and blended learning into my classroom. We all know how great online resources can be, but sometimes bringing in these tools into the classroom doesn’t always go as planned. In doing so, I want to also identify ways in which I can overcome typical obstacles we usually experience when bringing these two practices into a classroom. We all know how troublesome these tools can be if we don’t know how to use them correctly, but what exactly should we be doing to overcome and address these issues successfully? Last but not least, I want to learn as much as possible from all of you. This online community has some incredible benefits for our professional development, but unfortunately, these tools aren’t often used to the same degree in the real world, as they are when we are enrolled in an online class such as this one. Ideally, I would like to start implementing these tools in my own workplace because I’ve come to realize just how much can be gained through sharing and learning from these online communities. Just look at our Google+ community page for example; we only started this class a few days ago, and everyone is already making really good use of it. Imagine the communities we could build with our classrooms, I mean… the possibilities are endless if these things are done correctly.

Thanks for checking out my first entry. I hope to bring as much of me into this class as possible, in hopes to offer all of you different perspectives on these matters. I am hoping to do the same with you as well!

For anyone interested in following me on Twitter, here is a link to my page.

Enjoy your weekend everyone, and see you all on Tuesday!

Peace out,

Dre

Should we just pull the plug already?

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Well, here we are, my final EC&I 830 blog post. Our quick semester flew right by us, leaving me a lot more prepared to begin my next school year in September. With the help of the discussions we’ve had throughout the past month and a half, I have developed a few new ideas relating to how I’m going to be integrating technology in my classroom from now on.

Ironically enough however, our debate topic for our last class focused on society’s dependency on technology, and whether or not we should just unplug completely.

Unplugging completely is quite an extreme measure to take at a time where technology has completely grasped every aspect of society. Just yesterday I was talking to my class about how I saw a $300 tooth brush at the store the other day that could hook up to an Iphone app via Bluetooth. I’m sure the device is great, and tracking my brushing time could definitely have some benefits…I guess.

“Brushing our teeth the OLD SCHOOL WAY!”

I guess this is as good of an example as any, but I would definitely agree that we’ve become quite dependent on technology. Of course, this goes beyond the idea of a three-hundred dollar toothbrush. It’s the fact that we need to keep track of every personal stat for every workout; it’s us needing to post a picture of every dinner and lunch that we have; or having to share every single thought that comes to our heads.

In true fashion of all the EC&I 830 debates, I have managed to land in the grey area of this question once again. On one side, technology is taking over our lives, disrupting our real-life interactions and chipping away at our social skills. Just the other day, we were having a discussion in my class about how difficult it is to have conversations with people when they are more pre-occupied with their phones, than they are with your conversation. Then, we’ve got the other side, where technology can simply be viewed as a tool, rather than a necessity, that facilitates daily tasks.

For my final debate reflection, I decided to go to the source. I decided to take this question, and actually ask the very people that we’re so concerned about. Our students.

I’ve spent the past week and a half discussing some of the debate topics we had in our EC&I 830 class, with my grade 5/6 class. May sound a little weird, considering some of the questions brought up some heavy topics, but they were extremely co-operative and more than willing to answer the questions we were exploring.

We started off talking about what technology even is. I wrote a list of different objects, spanning from a stapler, a rake, a spear, a typewriter, paper, pencils, tablets, laptops, virtual reality, space crafts, the Large Hadron Collider, and many others.

I proceeded by asking them “What do all of these things have in common?”

Kids made associations between some objects, saying how pencils and papers had things in common, as well as spears and rakes, and computers and laptops. We spent a great deal of time breaking down the list, but none of the students made the connection that all of these objects are considered technology.

We explored the concept of technology, and how it’s evolved and become bigger and more exciting things. To them, technology obviously refers to electronics, devices, social media; this is what they were brought up with, this is what their definition of technology is to them.

We compared our grandparents’ childhoods, with their childhoods. We talked about what we do differently today. But then I asked them “What is something you wish you could experience that your grandparents or older generations have told you about when they were your age.” The answer were interesting. The most common answer I got back from them was “not having technology” and “being free to do anything you want, and not being connected to everything and everyone all the time”.

I proceeded to ask them why they felt this way, and many of them told me that the reason they wish to leave these things, is because they find that they are spending too much time on their devices. They found that their parents and grandparents had more interesting upbringings than them, and that they wish they could do some of the things their family members did when they were young. One of my students told me that there are too many rules nowadays, and he can’t just “go outside”. He told the class that he wishes phones didn’t keep track of where people are and how you can get a hold of anyone at any time. He identified some of the risks of not being connected, like being kidnapped or getting hurt or lost and not having anyone find him. He also mentioned how people like his grandfather got in all sorts of trouble, but nothing ever really happened to him.

Of course, not all the kids had the same answers, many of them thought the past wasn’t that exciting at all and they didn’t really want to experience a life without the technology we have now.

I then asked the class to do a quick role play. I stood in front of the class and chose a volunteer. I handed my volunteer my IPhone and told them to pretend I was someone from 1916. I told the class that my character I was playing had no knowledge of what a cell phone was. The question leading up to this activity was: “Imagine you could go back to the past, and show someone from 1916 a device from the future. What would you show them?”

So I told my volunteer to pretend that they were showing me, the man from the past, a device from the future. My student showed me the device and told me what it was.

Student: “This is a cell phone”

Me: “What’s a cell phone?”

Student: “It’s a device that you can go on social media and talk to your friends”

Me: “What’s a device? What’s social media? What do you mean I can just talk to them?”

Student: “Well, it’s a phone, so you can talk to anyone?”

Me: “A phone….?”

Student: “Yeah, you know, a telephone!”

Me: “Ohhhh, you mean those things that are attached to the wall that the rich folk have in their homes? But how is this a telephone? Why isn’t it attached to the wall?”

Throughout the role play, the student was getting frustrated, because he wasn’t able to explain all of the cool features this device was capable of doing.

Me: “So what is this social media that you speak of?”

Student: “Well… social media is something where you…. It’s an app.”

Me: “What’s an app?”

Student: “It’s kind of like a program that goes on your phone.”

Me: “A program? Like a schedule for an event?”

Needless to say, this went on for a while and the student (eventually students, because my first volunteer gave up midway) experienced a lot of trouble explaining the features and appeal of this amazing device. The purpose of this experiment was to show my class how different our lives really are compared to older generations(and even people who DON’T have these devices). Putting these things into perspective helped them see how difficult it is for people who aren’t connected to understand the things that we’re so infatuated with.

We ended up making a pros and cons list of technology. The results are surprising:

"Cons"
“Cons”
"Pros"
“Pros”

According to my class, there are far more cons to technology than pros. When I asked them to beef up the pros list, they really couldn’t. They told me that although technology is helpful, they often find it difficult to use it appropriately. They said it’s a distraction, and even if they try not to overuse it, they always end up doing so anyway. So the kids that are growing up with tech are coming up with some of the same conclusions many people are making on topic. It’s always interesting to see what your students really think.

We started talking about being connected, and I asked my class who would be able to fully drop technology. Most of my students said they would never abandon technology altogether. Some of them said they’d be more than willing to get rid of social media, but not other things like video games or their phones.

We proceeded to watch the Paul Miller story, the man who stopped using the Internet for a whole year. For many of the reasons my own students identified, Paul abandoned the internet for many of these same reasons.

When I asked my students again if they could abandon technology and fully disconnect, only two students said they could do it. Most of my class said that they would never unplug because there’s no need to unplug. Watching the video of Paul showed them that although he seemed happier at the end of the experiment, he still didn’t end up doing a lot of the things he had the intentions of doing with an entire year of “FREE TIME”. Some of my students said that the busier they are, the more they get done. Some of my students said that they can take or leave technology, because they still enjoy being outside and playing with their friends. Many of my students made the distinction between digital and real-life interactions, saying how they are both different types of interactions. Although they like socializing online, nothing will compare to real-life interactions.

I could go on forever, but at the end of the day, the message that came out was moderation. Once again, we find ourselves in this gray area of the debate. Technology, although quite harmful in many ways, is still something a lot of us are unwilling to completely abandon. Even me, unless I HAD to, I would never be able to just drop tech. What I learned from my students however, is that they are fully aware of the dangers and the negative aspects of tech, and as far as they see, their solution is moderation and backing off and taking a break from time to time.

I don’t think I answered this question, as much as I just took a better look at it. Unplugging, as I said, is so extreme. Is it possible? Of course it is, but what I find is that at this point in my life (where my job, schooling and social life depend on tech), it would actually make my life a lot harder to manage if I didn’t have these things. I, like my students, also believe in moderation and being able to step back when you have to. I almost feel defeated by technology, but perhaps we shouldn’t look at it this way…

This class was a huge learning experience for me and I’m really happy I got to share a lot of my thoughts with all of you. Thanks for everyone’s input every week, your comments challenged me and gave me the extra push to further explore my thoughts.

Great job everyone! I hope you all have a great summer.

Cheers,

Dre

And just like that, it’s over: My Summary of Learning

How’s it going everyone!

Well, just like that, our EC&I 830 class came to a close. In the past couple of weeks, I learned some incredible things I was completely overlooking about Ed.Tech. Before taking this class, I often struggled to successfully find useful and innovative ways of integrating technology into my classroom. What I found was that without acknowledging some of the potential issues technology can bring into a classroom, Ed. Tech. can go from being an incredible learning tool, to simply a nuisance.

But we can’t look at technology as a nuisance though. Tech is not only a revolutionary tool, but it’s also an integral part of Western life, woven into the very fabric of our society. Although devices and social media can be distracting and can sometimes lead to bigger social problems for individuals (such as cyber bullying, anxiety or depression), we need to prepare ourselves with the proper knowledge, tools and resources to address these issues in the classroom. As teachers, if we aren’t keeping up with what our students are doing online, we’re only distancing ourselves more from younger generations.

“Can’t stop, won’t stop.”
SOURCE: GIPHY

Most of us use technology in the classroom in straight-forward and “traditional” ways. Whether we’re using tech to gather information for a research assignment, or using it to make our PowerPoint presentations, we’re not really challenging the limitations of this technology . These tools are capable of breaking down all sorts of walls and social barriers. We can see and talk to virtually anyone around the world, at lightning fast speeds. And now, with virtual reality taking the world by storm, we can even “GO” and see anything and any place we want. I mean, how crazy is that? Imagine “going” to MARS with your class at the end of your space unit? That’s pretty crazy.

“Mars, you say?”

The SAMR model is definitely something I’m taking away with me. We can use these tools in various ways to help us, but unless we’re trying to “redefine” the way we put these things to use, we might as well just be using a pen and pencil.

SOURCE: Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D.

Technology has advanced so quickly in the past decade, that many of us are sort of just getting up to speed with the whole thing. I believe that for this exact reason, many of us are having a hard time understanding just how much of an effect this is having on society. Many of us judge the youth of today for obsessing over their smart phones and not going outside; but truthfully speaking, we can’t expect these kids to be outside playing with sticks the way we did when we were kids. First of all, why play with a stick, when you have devices that can virtually make anything possible? Sure, kids may not be using their imaginations in THE SAME WAY we would have twenty or thirty years ago, but maybe…just MAYBE, given the right circumstances, they could start using these tools in more productive and constructive ways than we could ever imagine. It’s also important to put things into perspective: What if WE had these tools when we were young? As much as we judge kids these days, chances are, we would probably do the same things these kids are doing right now if we were handed a device. Furthermore, do we even know what kids are DOING with tech? For all we know, they might be blogging, coding or participating in a social upstanding movement. We really can’t be judging unless we are proactively learning about the things they are doing. Even social media doesn’t always have to be the demon that we play it up to be.

For me, the common theme that emerged from all of the debates was adjustment. I believe that society needs to be embracing these social changes, learning from them and understanding them as much as possible. Right now, we’ve got a large portion of our society that is resisting tech, but if we want to fully realize technologies potential, we need to set it free.

Yo, check out my new state-of-the-art answering machine”

For my final assignment, I made a video showcasing my summary of learning for this class. I focused on some of the bigger issues I found the most important in our weekly debates, including some of the things I just mentioned.

I would like to thank all my readers and all of my classmates. You all contributed greatly in my learning this semester, and if it wasn’t for everyone’s engagement in the class, I’m sure I wouldn’t have come out learning so much.

I hope you all have a great summer and I look forward to seeing all of your final projects as well.

Good luck everyone, and happy summer!

Peace out,

Dre

SOURCE: GIPHY