Tag Archives: education

The Twitter Teacher or Teaching Twitter

On November 23, a #tfwf14 classmate of mine, @hamilt35, posted an article on twitter. “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” by “The Irish Times.” As I have discussed the importance of “Zite” in my prior blog post “Educational Innovations,” here is another example of it’s asset to education. This article was posted on an Irish news website, on November 22, 2014, and without “Zite,” would have never made it to my computer screen. Zite is not the only application providing a positive academic resource, Twitter is also implemented into classrooms all around the world.
Teachers are learning how to shape their curriculum around new technologies that their students are using. This process helps teachers engage their student’s conscious effort, attention, and participation. Any college student in Rowan Universities’ Introduction to Writing Arts course, #tfwf14 #tfebt, could explain how Twitter can be used as an academic asset and an educational resource. Now, there is evidence world wide of Twitter’s positive influence on a classroom, as well as, the student’s success.
The article “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” explains the process of how Twitter can be utilized in an academic setting. “For a typical class, groups of students are asked to research a topic online and then to start tweeting facts in chronological order. He monitors quality, deleting misspelt or out-of-sequence tweets. He then uses Storify to grade and document the tweets. The groups have a sense of researching like historians, he says.” His lessons are structured around the established use of Twitter in the classroom. This creates a positive way for students to use their cellphones in class, therefore, combining the educational information of the History class with the common interests of the students. Essentially providing an efficient way for teachers to obtain their student’s effort and dedication.
Porter and DeVoss express the influence of new technology on writing. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Twitter influences student’s writing in the classroom. Instead of writing their notes on paper, the chalk board, or typing them on a computer, Twitter has provided an user friendly interface. The respond rate is almost instantaneous, allowing students to observe their classmates ideas. Twitter remediates word documents, pen and paper, and even the chalk board, because the teacher and students can read and respond to the individual comment, or post. Bolter defines remediation as “homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Twitter and Zite are two new educational applications, that offer an academic resource for students of ages. Implementing student’s interests into a lesson plan can derive enveloped participation and academic success.

Educational Innovations

I was recently introduced to a new educational technology, “Zite.” Zite now has an influence on my research processes. This application is an academic resource for discovering and obtaining new educational information. For me, it has replaced news websites, and television channels. What is Bolter’s ideology of remediation and new technologies? “Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23). Zite offers a user friendly interface, based on educational and personal interests important to the individual. Therefore, Zite essentially eliminates aimless scrolling and wasted time. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t need more hours in a day?

I probably would have never read this article if it wasn’t for Zite. I did not have to research websites or search engines, I just opened my Zite application on my iPhone and there it was. On November 19, 2014, Keith Sawyer published an article titled, “Ten Educational Innovations To Watch For In The Next Ten Years.”
“Education experts at the Open University (UK) led by Professor Mike Sharples, have identified ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education.” (Sawyer). The influence on education is existent, but not defined. According to Porter and DeVoss, “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Though the technologies educational resources and academic assets are not yet evident, it does not mean that they will never be.

Ten Educational Innovations:

1.) Massive open social learning: social networking

2.) Learning design informed by analytics: “design and analytics work together to support the development of successful learning and teaching.”

3.) Flipped classrooms: Video lectures, allow students to work at their pace, pausing to make notes when necessary.

4.) Burn your own devices: “teachers become managers of technology-enabled networked learners, rather than providers of resources and knowledge.”

5.) Learning to learn: Web tools/activities such as reflective journals and concept mapping support learning to learn.

6.) Dynamic assessment: The assessor interacts with students during testing, ways to overcome each person’s current learning difficulties.

7.) Event based learning: “do it yourself science” engineering and crafts projects

8.) Learning through storytelling: Developing a narrative to create a meaningful whole

9.) Threshold concepts: a new way of thinking about a problem, a subject or the world.

10.) Bricolage: a practical process of learning through tinkering with materials. Learning through play.

Disney Creatively Inspires Learning

On December 4, 2014, Brooks Barnes of The New York Times, posted an article titled “Disney to Introduce New Apps Focused on Learning.” To a college student studying new technologies influence on writing, learning, and education, this title jumped off the page, and captivated my attention. However, due to my current use of new literary technologies, this metaphor is relatively obsolete. Now I have to say, jumped off the “screen,” because the article by Barnes was not posted in The New York Times newspaper. It was posted on The New York Times website, with no subscription or purchase necessary. If this is not supporting evidence of technologies influence on writing, than what is?

The New York Times website is an evident example of technological remediation. Defined by Bolter, “Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Do The New York Times’ online articles improve their newspaper? If I were to answer this question I would say absolutely. The networking capabilities of the Internet created an efficient and accessible news station. Ask my grandfather the same question and he won’t dignify a response. Though there are assets and complications to both sides of the news publishing processes, the importance lies with The New York Times “implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23).

As well as The New York Times, Disney has had an essential influence on the public for multiple generations. Disney’s’ intentions to implement positive learning applications are similar to the progressional effort of The New York Times, and the creation of their website. They should not be viewed negatively, and according to Barnes, “Disney Publishing Worldwide unveiled a technology-driven learning initiative called Disney Imagicademy. Aimed at families with children aged 3 to 8.” The use of technology has substantially increased in children, and Disney is taking a positive advantage by providing a “learning” resource. “The media conglomerate is being careful to describe the initiative as learning and not educational,” due to “harshly criticized marketing claims tied to its Baby Einstein line.” (Barnes). Porter and DeVoss offer some support for Disney’s effort. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (page 195).

Disney’s application’s “significant impact on basic literacy” is yet to be defined. Though there intentions are clearly positive and progressional. Barnes explains, “Disney developed Imagicademy in conjunction with advisers like Douglas H. Clements, an expert on early childhood mathematics from the State University of New York at Buffalo.” “Imagicademy will include more than 30 app-based “experiences” centered on various subjects – math, science, language arts, emotional and social skills.” (Barnes).There are a vast variety of applications available to children, and Disney is trying to provide an app. that derives a learning process from it’s users. An unsurmountable amount of applications need parents to consciously consider the hindering interference they have on their child’s education and ability to learn. Bolter explains that the effort of improvement is the important property (page 23). “This is a substantial commitment,” Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products, said in an interview.” (Barnes). Disney’s conscious effort and commitment is clear. Imagicademy, was developed based on “learning,” and should be the last application ridiculed, as well as, accused of deceit.

Technologies’ Influence on Education

One of our blog co-administrators, Samantha Regina (@samantharegina8), tweeted an article from The New York Times, “Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say,” by Matt Richtel. 

In this article, the information presented for new technologies influence on students, was obtained through a teacher survey. Richtel explained that, “the researchers note that their findings represent the subjective views of teachers and should not be seen as definitive proof.” (page 1). However, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, states that the “teacher’s views were subjected but nevertheless could be accurate in sensing dwindling attention spans among students.” (Richtel, page 4).

In Turkle’s article, “Who Am We?” an excerpt from her book, “Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet,” she explains “ how computers are not just changing our lives but changing ourselves.” (page 3). According to Vicky Rideout’s research, discussed in Richtel’s article, “media use among children and teenagers ages 8 to 18 has grown so fast that they on average spend twice as much time with screens each year as they spend in school.” (page 1). New technologies have an influence on students’ academic careers, as well as, their lives outside of the classroom. The teacher’s that were surveyed said that, “technology was as much as a solution as a problem.” (Richtel, page 3).Therefor, efficient implementations and conscious adaptions are essential to the technologies’ educational resources, and the students academic success. This is a clarion call for a healthy and balanced media diet,” said Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media. (Richtel, page 3).

“The internet links million of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities.” (Turkle, page 3). Technologies within a classroom can become a positive asset, or a negative interference. The associate director for Pew Surveys, Kristen Purcell said, “that the education system must adjust to better accommodate the way students learn.” (Richtel, page 2). Dave Mendell, a forth grade teacher, supports Purcell’s ideology of adapting teaching processes to accommodate the way students learn. “Educational video games and digital presentations were excellent ways to engage students on their terms.” (page 3). Other teachers that participated in the survey explained that “they were using more dynamic and flexible teaching styles.” (Richtel, page 3). In an educational setting, an accommodating teaching style is nothing new. The evidence is expressed in the introduction of ESL (English is a Second Language) programs, to understanding the differences between visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Is there a difference between involving the three different learning styles and introducing the beneficial use of new technologies in an academic lesson? Or is the evolution of educational technologies progressing; producing new obstacles, outdating older technologies, under constant revision, and in a state of acceptance or rejection?

When Turkle discussed computers as a technology, she said “allow us to cycle through cyberspace and real life, over and over. Windows allow us to be in several contexts at the same time.” (page 3). This introduces the main controversial aspect involving the computers influence on it’s users, and therefor the computer’s influence on students. The acceptance argument is “that the Internet and search engines had a mostly positive impact on student research skills, (…), such tools had made students more self-sufficient researchers.” (Richtel, page 2). Whereas the rejection argument is “that digital technologies were creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” (Richtel, page 2). “Windows have become a powerful metaphor for thinking about the self as a multiple, distributed system. The life practice of windows is that of a decentered self that exists in many worlds, that plays many roles at the same time.” (Turkle, page 3). However an agreement can be made by both sides, students are easily distracted, which makes it difficult for teachers to captivate their attention, conscious effort, and constant engagement.(Richtel, pages 1-3). Dr. Christakis said “students saturated by entertainment media, were experiencing a supernatural stimulation that teachers might have to keep up with or simulate. The heavy technology use makes reality by comparison uninteresting.” (Richtel, page 4).

When used in moderation outside of school, as well as, monitored within the classroom, computers can become an accepted academic resource and a successful educational technology.

iWrite Words: The Handwriting App

As a iwritefuture educator, I am always on the lookout for creative ways to make learning fun for    my future students. With the Common Core‘s heavy presence in the classroom, various forms  of  writing instruction are crucial. Today, technology is so natural to children and is becoming  more popular  in the classroom, so being able to incorporate technology into writing  instruction will be extremely beneficial for the students while making learning fun.

In preschool and kindergarten classrooms, it is important to have the students practice forming uppercase and lowercase letters. Understanding that children must begin to write letters and numbers by tracing them first is key.

The app iWrite Words is something that can be used to do just this! iWrite Words is available on iPads, iPhones and iPods, and is an excellent way to get children interested and involved with the early stages of the writing process both inside and outside of the classroom.

iWrite Words helps to teach kids how to write the letters of the alphabet, numbers up to 20, and simple words using tracing. While it does help if kids already know how to count and read numbers up to 10 in order to play this game, this app can teach children the basics of letters. This app is available in English, French and Italian, making it a great for dual language learners, too.  After the child traces the letter or number, they hear a cheer, then see their actual handwriting appear based off of how they traced the letter.

This app has received rave reviews which include, “The whole app is delightful to behold. Bright background colors are juxtaposed against equally bright and scribbly child-like artwork that convey the word being spelled. You and your child will enjoy tracing your finger along those necessary building blocks of language. With its memorable artwork and way cool physics engine, it is sure to entertain and teach your child,” and many more.

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The next time you are searching for the perfect new app to introduce or reinforce the basics of writing, keep iWrite Words in mind for your preschool and kindergartners.

*This app is available on iTunes for $2.99.

Myths of Creativity

Fellow blogger, Kylie Trush, tweeted an article titled, “5 Creative Myths You Probably Believe,” written by Christian Jarrett.

Jared states that we often believe that only right brained people have the capability to be creative, and that those left brainers are left thinking they have no chance at creativity. Thinking back, I know I have heard this excuse for lack of creativity in the past! Little comments such as, “My brain doesn’t work that way ” or, “I don’t have the creative gene” are both things commonly said….not just among school students, but adults as well! Are we really creatively stunted because of being left or right brained? Jarrett says “NO.”

“When it comes to creativity, yes, there’s research showing that the right hemisphere is important for problem solving, but there’s also evidence that the left-hemisphere is adept at story-telling.”

This section of the article ends with a point that made me laugh. “Real neuroscience says: if you’re human and you’ve got a brain, you’re capable of being creative.” Love that!

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Another myth Jarrett argues is, “It is Simply Not Possible to Bribe People to be Creative.” It isn’t? Yes it is. Why do we participate in collaborative work at school? What is the point of working together? We share ideas with each other that results in sparking ideas in group members minds. We continuously influence and inspire each other. Of course, it is important to avoid letting someone take charge:

“It’s also important to conduct brainstorming sessions in the right way. Groups need to guard against those dominant characters who shoot down other people’s ideas; and more passive individuals need to be encouraged to share their thoughts without fear of being judged or ridiculed.”

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We all have the power to be creative, and the potential for imagination lies in all of us. Creative writing can be unstoppable just as soon as y discover how you personally can spark creativity! Good luck.

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The New Social Norms: Technological Literacy

What exactly is technological Literacy?

In accordance to the national project to expand technological literacy, technological literacy involves “computer skills and the ability to use computers and other technology to improve learning, productivity, and performance.” This definition, and also a second more social definition, can be found in an article called “a New Literacy Agenda and its Challenges” by Cynthia Selfe.

The second definition, which according to Selfe, is in reference to “complex set of socially and culturally situated values, practices, and skills involved in operating linguistically within the context of electronic environments  including reading, writing, and communicating” and it differs quite dramatically from the previous definition. The first definition involves skills, which not everyone has; however, the second definition refers to to social values and practices, which implies that technological literacy has been adopted into society as required norm.

The interesting part about society’s adoption of technology is the various generation gaps, which can especially be seen in the world of education. In an article called, “How schools are Using Apps to Engage Students, Parents, and the Community” by Chirag Leuva, which was found from a tweet by Kylie Trush, the focus is exclusively on all of the advancements technology has to offer. Before listing various amounts of helpful educational apps, Leuva makes the claim that, “an app can creatively take the education beyond stereotype boundaries”, however, what exactly are these boundaries?

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The boundaries Leuva mentions exist because, as New Literacy and its Challenges writes, technological literacy was a skill at one point. Due to new adaptations, it has slowly become a practiced value. The problem is that not all educators know how to find, let alone share, new apps; while the newer generations are embracing technology, older generations are lost in the wave.

While the gap between old and new technologies will eventually close, right now, technology stands in an extremely ambivalent gray space. The merging of technology and literacy happened in a dramatic fashion; at this point, educators who reject or misconstrue technological literacy, will drown under the currents of articles and societal pressures to conform.

So, to answer the appointed question, “what is technological literacy?” my answer is that it is our new leap. Every century has something to set it apart, something that defines the work put into the years in the spotlight. Centuries from now, students will be reading from something (definitely not a textbook, maybe not even a computer), and they will read about when “technological literacy” was first introduced and how it caused such a stir amongst those unable to throw papers away. A laugh will emerge from students after they read these claims, mostly because they will wonder how something so common now so controversial then. Technological Literacy is both the end and the beginning; RU ready?

The Technologically Inspired Classroom

I feel as though teachers used to dread  introducing and involving  computers with daily lessons in their class for fear of it not working properly or taking too long to load, or even be too complicated. I remember sitting in class as a little girl and constantly wondering when we were going to get the chance to finally use the computers that were collecting dust in the back corner of the classroom. I always wanted the chance to use the computers, and was disappointed when the only chance we got to used them was during our “specials” period when we learned to type the right way.

Today, teachers are not only incorporating computers into their daily classroom instruction, but also using iPads, SMART boards, and social media to get their class more involved and interested in the lesson materials and topics. In an article from the World Economic Forum titled How Online Learning Prepares Teens for Higher Education, “there is a growing interest in the possibilities that different forms of virtual schooling can offer,” (Oliver). Teachers are becoming more creative  with how they incorporate technology into the classroom, and is proving to be very beneficial in the long run.intro1

A study was performed by the Institute of Education, which took a look at experiences of current university students who had completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). These students took a series of online classes, and the ages of the participants ranged from 17 to 23 (Oliver). The results of the study are pretty interesting and exciting for technology; “Of the students interviewed, 94% said finding academic resources on the internet was important to their success and 78% said being able to plan group tasks using online calendars, scheduling tools and discussion applications mattered. Another 71% found social networks useful for building relationships with other learners,” (Oliver). Essential parts of university life, such as virtual learning environments, discussion forums, Google tools, and audio-visual learning resources such as YouTube were all a major part of online classes, and gave the students  confidence with using the web, as stated in How Online Learning Prepares Teens for Higher Education.

“One student described how this experience online had helped them develop valuable skills and approaches: ‘I often use Google Docs and other Google tools to collaborate on group projects, including working with teams that are in different locations and time zones,'” (Oliver). Technology, both inside and outside of the classroom promotes independent learning, which is a really important skill for students to develop. Instead of having the information handed to them in a presentation and lecture form, students could be given instruction before class, then investigate further during class, like in a flipped classroom for example. Having the teacher present in class to answer any questions about the lecture/material from the previous night is really beneficial. Instead of sitting through a boring lecture in class then going home to complete the assignments, the students can talk to their professor about any issues and get them squared away before the end of class.

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Online learning and technology infused into the classroom is proving to be very beneficial to students, and teaches them various styles of learning. For students who do not have computers at home, the chance to use various forms of technology is wonderful! Technology is going to play a major role in our lives inside and outside of the classroom, so it only makes sense to get accommodated with that it has to offer when whenever possible!