Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blog Post 13

Alabama Learning Exchange (aka ALEX) is a website for teachers that contains a plethora of resources. A project of the Alabama Department of Education, ALEX is designed to share educational materials among teachers, parents, and administrators. The website has everything from web links to a virtual storehouse of podcast, and all the traditional subjects are represented, as well as some you might not expect like physical education and drive/traffic safety. With the diversity of material available, ALEX is an invaluable resource to all educators, even those that do not traditionally use technological approaches.
While i found the podcast area to be interesting, especially since that seems like a great resource for both students and teachers, it was the Lessons Plans section that really caught my attention. Each subject has its own set of lesson plans, completely searchable lists based on grade level, and those sections contain an abundance of lessons geared toward a specific grade range. But what makes the site so amazing, at least to me, is the opportunity it creates for collaboration; teachers can submit lessons as well as alter existing materials. It reminded me of the smart exchange website, but better geared to the Alabama Learning Standards that each subject should meet.

ACCESS Distant Learning (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide) is the first thing we have discussed in this class aimed at equality. The initiative is admirable, seeking to grant access to a variety of opportunities for students with the greatest need, but seems to be missing the idea of "equality" that they so admirably declare in their mission statement. The areas they are attempting to address, which are vaguely laid out, are not addressing so many of the institutional practices that are aimed at excluding students of color.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Final Project Report

AS of right now, Richard and I are planning on doing something regrading a forum/discussion board. Hopefully next week we can hammer out more of the details.

Project 15

Blog Post 12

One of the things that I believe would be a great supplement to the material of this course is viewing modern trends in education in regards to technology. With that being said, find at least two articles, using either Google scholar or some other reputable source, to find recent articles that talk about how technology is benefiting education or students. Hopefully this assignment will help students learn to do quality research, and also open up discussion on where they see the future track of education. In three to four paragraphs, summarize the main points of each article and give your own commentary on what you have read. Outdated Teaching is failing our children is a great editorial piece on the modern environment of education, and what will happen if we don’t change it. Some statistics that jumped out at me from the article were the steady decline in graduation rates since 1970 and the drop of the U.S. from 1st to 12th among developmental countries. These two facts alone point to a frightening future for the field, but there are ways to capitalize on the “natural” tendencies of children that can help to help the future of education and the nation. The article talks about research and The Montessori model. This model, based on individualized, self-directed learning, equates these experiences to those of video games in regards to captivating attention when technological learning is implemented in the classroom. Instead of continuing to hold on to the “good ol’ days” of education is creating a void between students and the traditional classroom setting. Online High Schools Helping Students Avoid School Bullying is a more positive view of how technology can impact the lives of students. It also demonstrates a different aspect to the positive impact of online education. The article describes how online high schools, like James Madison High School, are eliminating the negative impacts of bullying in traditional schools. I believe a story lie this is important because not only does it give more support to the positive affects of online education, but it sheds light on an aspect of traditional schooling that some of us have a tendency to overlook.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Blog Post 11

A look at Ms. Cassidy first grade class is a look into what education will, and should, look like. Probably the most remarkable part of this story is how Ms. Cassidy used the limited resources she began with to start her off on a journey into a revolutionary style of teaching. The ways she uses the technological resources to benefit her children’s education is just as remarkable as how she arrived at her current methodology; in a time where there is a mass disconnect between teachers and the parents of students, Ms. Cassidy has created an online portfolio that eliminates many of the issues facing parent teacher relations in the 21st century. This online writing also facilitates feedback on the children’s work that, if done properly, will help development of written and communicative skills. For me, as an avid proponent for the benefit of videogames, the use of the DS is a creative way to capture children’s attention; promoting problem solving, as well as continuing an evolving understanding of language semantics, through a medium that easily captivates children’s attention is perhaps one of the best uses of technology I have seen thus far. This is undoubtedly one of the most influential approaches that we can learn from as future educators; using your students likes and interest as a tool for education can do nothing but aide the state of modern education. Keeping an open mind seems to be the most important tenet of the teachers we have seen do such innovative things in their classroom; only through a desire to embrace new, and often difficult, approaches will keep education on the cutting edge of innovation.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Summary Post C4T#3

This C4T assignment has been my favorite thus far, even though the fischbowl is close. I had the astute privilege of reading Scott McLeod's dangerously irrelevant blog, and it was definitely a great insight into how teachers in classrooms view technology.

The first post I commented on was a "what if scenario" regarding technology. The purpose of much of the post was to bring to light how so many of the common complaints about education could be fixed through methods that a freely available online or by computer usage.
My response: Mr. McLeod I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at the university of South Alabama. I find your statements to be quite poignant; we are on the verge of a revolution in our society in regards to technology. Education, through association, is a major stronghold against these advancements. The overzealous desire to keep the “traditional” methods of education alive will be the downfall of its future.

His most recent post was taking what we know about the state of modern trends, and extrapolating from thoes trends what the future means for education. My Response: Mr. Mcleod, Again you have blown my mind sir; with what we know about modern trends regarding media and how we consume it, it is easy to deduce what education needs to look like in order to remain relevant. Implementing these trends into education will be the pivotal question in how important education will be to our society again fee free to visit my blog if you are interested in other material we are covering in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at South Alabama.

Blog Post 10

a toothbrush made up of pencils
The ideas expressed by both Dan Brown and Morgan Bayda are evidence of a lack of education in institutional based learning. The discontent that these individuals experience fostered undoubtedly impacted their faith in modern institutional instruction, and in Dan’s case caused him to abandon the process altogether. Normally this would be the part of my post where I explain how technology, and most importantly the things we are learning in EDM 310 class, is the cure for what ails the current system. Instead I would like to react to the general argument made by these two individuals with an idea that does not even broach the topic of technology, but deals with outdated pedagogy. The ultimate complaint here is a lack of interaction among students, and subsequently a lack of stimulation, in the traditional classroom setting. This has nothing to do with technology or its use in the classroom; this is a problem that would present itself in even the most technologically integrated classroom if the traditional power structure on which education has been predicated continues to go by unchanged. My own experiences have found instances of the same complaints made by Brown and Bayda, but often times those classrooms were some of the best technologically equipped, and often times implemented, in the college of arts and sciences, but the best “education” I have experienced thus far came in classroom that consisted of one textbook and 24 other students. We never used a smart board or power point, or even notebook paper if one was so inclined. What we did have was a remarkable instructor who was eager to learn with us; an individual who was willing to listen to how we interpreted the seminal works of literature we encountered throughout the semester rather than rely on centuries of scholarly research. He would listen to what we had to say, and use those interpretations and feelings to direct us toward an understanding of the scholarly interpretations while never demeaning how we felt about the work. This zeal for using our predisposed knowledge and ability to formulate opinions to convey what we needed to know is what inspired me to pursue a career in education. Needless to say I acknowledge that not all students in the classroom felt the same as I did about the experience, but this brings me to a problem that I would like to address regarding the comments made in this post and video, especially in the statements made by Mr. Brown. In the video Brown states that traditional institutional instruction is not adequately preparing students for their future jobs. While this argument does have some volition, it points out a critical flaw among the youth of the information age; these youths want to learn, and subsequently work, how they want. A sense of extreme self entitlement is a flaw that will affect so many young people throughout there lives, especially in the workforce. Traditional institutional education methods are preparation for meeting expectations in the workplace, and teaching one to conduct themselves appropriately in such an environment. Brown cites that the landscape of corporate America is changing, even sighting Google as an example, but such examples only represent a fraction of corporate America. Many of the experiences students have in the workplace will still resemble Dilbert, and therefore must be prepared to deal with such an environment and the expectations that come with it. Ultimately the sentiments of discontent among both Bayda and Brown point to larger problems among institutions than whether students can twitter one another or blog about the use of computers in History class, but instead point to a contradiction in methods and expectations; only when those two opposing viewpoints are brought into some type of balance can the discontent be addressed. Perhaps I am missing the point behind the Don’t Let Them Take Pencils Home post by Tom Johnson, but it seems to me that the real issue here is the idiocracy surrounding the “pencils”. If any method does not fit into the optimal test taking data for students, many administrators, and sadly teachers, see it as a danger to performance. This is the crux of the problem in the capitalist bureaucracy surrounding education; if it does not help funding, which is determined by standardized testing, it should be eliminated. These aims are in an effort to deprive children of the education they need to provide social mobility. The businesses that fund education have a vested interest in keeping certain sectors of the population “dumb” in order to drive worker compensation down. By putting so much importance on standardized testing, we have ensured that any real educational endevours have no place in the classroom.