Wednesday, July 26, 2006
My contentious issue deals with educational blogging and the possibilities for the humanities.
Link to my Podcast
Being that I will be working for Dr. Gray in about 3 weeks time, I am really looking forward to hearing what she has to say, both in content and in style. Dr. Gray's 'big ideas' that I connected with:
- James Bosco - Tools, Culture, and Education: Past-Present-Future - speaks to 'digital natives' versus 'digital immigrants', but his idea is that we're all pioneers and as leaders how we make sense of what is happening has a direct bearing on our roles in shaping educational policy and practices
- Tools for creation and transmission of culture
- Tools for the mind
- I loved the comparison between the Dewey Decimal System versus Google - which in my mind has implications around thought and organizing our thinking
- Integrating technology into the curriculum - focuses on tech skills and plugging in subject-area content into teaching tech skills
- Snorkeling the horse - comparison between traditional teaching methods being used with technology, which allow for newer and better ways of learning and teaching
- We're seeing integration or infusion, but not transformation or reform - a very intriguing thought and somewhat bothersome
- "There has never been a better or more important time to be an education professional than now" - and me entering my new role as VC project coordinator, I couldn't agree more
- The analogy of banks' use of technology was very much an eye-opener for me. I see glimmers of schools being transformed with technology, but mostly on the administrative side.
- *Getting on committes involved with Alberta Education's Business Plan - allows some measure of influence in policy direction and monies to support those policies (I'll have to remember that)
- The leader's role in understanding the 'place' of ICT - We need to have a vision.
To make an impactful chage in education with technology, a huge cultural shift will need to take place.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Dr. Tom Keenan
Video-conferencing with Dr. Keenan began with anticipation. The audio was a bit low and what it reinforced with me again is the importance of quality audio in a video-conference or Skype audio conference. The quality of the video was excellent and there was some ‘WOW’ factor’ involved which likely contributed to our attention being held. Dr. Keenan mentioned Dr. Kurzweil and his contributions to technology development. He brought up the “Ultimate Thrill Ride Live Webcast” which he deemed extremely successful except for the firewall issues in the public school board network. I’m hoping that the ‘edge’ devices I’ve heard about will help in this vein. Big Ideas:
Pretty Good Information is ubiquitous – the average person can access some incredible technologies and information these days compared to long ago. This is an interesting development but it can result in negative consequences which were unintended. “Always think of the unintended consequences of technology” was a quote Dr. Keenan offered us as advice.
Online Information is not always “Good”
We Should Think Before We Put Information on the Internet (Facebook, MySpace)
Biometrics Will Raise the Stakes – Collecting our personal information, what this information will be used for, identity theft, used as the basis of hiring or not hiring people (medical insurance)
Location Awareness – GPS chips will appear everywhere and will have numerous consequences – some good, some bad
The Law Will Continue to Lag the Technology – not surprising
We Need to Make Some (societal) Choices – e.g. video surveillance technology, ip logging
Finally, Dr. Keenan urges us to develop a new set of ethics around collecting information about other people. What scares me the most about Dr. Keenan’s ideas is the realization that the information we post on the Internet, especially posted by children who may not know any better, may be used against them in their future.
Dr. Stan Ruecker - Document Collections
Ideas that resonated with me:
- When we create a collection of some type, we may not always know how people can or will use the collection
- The example of the Drugs Database was a fascinating example of how information can be sorted and searched visually, not just textually. I had no idea that so much thought went into creating such utilities
- The Delegate Browser Applet was another fascinating example of visually organizing data
- 'Design Families' reminds me in ways of activity structures
- The 'Tables' topic of having users re-organize the table to see new patterns reminds me of Turkle's article asking for simulations to be able to be manipulated by users. Viewing the 'Victorian Women Writers' table shows how even textual information can be viewed and organized visually
- The Mandala browser completely blew me away - the idea of 'seeing' ideas organized visually
Monday, July 24, 2006
Some of Pat's main points:
- Guidelines for Infusion of ICT outcomes consistently - some things can be taught without digital technologies - an interesting and not well-understood point. They are also meant to be used by curriculum managers at the provincial level, although some of us might benefit from seeing the 'intent' of these guidelines to guide us as technology coaches and users.
- Computer Literacy --> Infusion - What is Integration? There was disagreement as to how ICT program of studies should be 'tackled', whether as an integrated model or a separate course. Ironically, Even as an integrated model I saw many teachers scheduling their weekly 'computers' class where they studies discreet tech skills which were, at best, very loosely tied to some subject-area content.
- Pat felt that putting out the ICT Program of Studies in 2000 was a great hindrance to actual integration, though teachers liked the fact that something specific was given and mandated (I'd argue otherwise, that most did not like it and a 'mandated' curriculum without any accountability goes largely unnoticed).
- Textbooks & Teacher Guides - Pat doesn't agree with teaching courses with a traditional textbook. Being bound by this, she is pushing forward a model which, in social studies, focuses on inquiry and integrates heavily various technologies. It also integrates 'Internet Field Trips' which have information not readily available from the classroom. Part of that is showing students how to locate and judge the authenticity and value of each resource they encounter.
- Project Pegasus - Exploring learning with technology through action research (before AISI) - the aim was to change the belief systems (something that really resonates with me) around technology to one where technology can work and improve student learning. I love this! It reaffirms my belief that the teacher is KEY to the learning process, and that learning gains with technology must be accompanied by excellent teaching!
- Accessibility - becoming more and more an issue that is being dealt with. Assistive technologies is a very hot topic right now and the Ministry is showing commitments toward seeing AT through across all curriculums
- Portal Technologies - Providing us with pinpointed information that brings together numerous sources of information to us.
I guess for me to tie what Pat said together, it would reinforce a belief that I currently hold - that innovations in technology are giving us new opportunities to learn and be productive, and the best uses of technology with students almost always are accompanied by excellent teaching practices. The role of the teacher and the beliefs about learning and teaching that the teacher holds are key to the learning gains that can be leveraged with technology. Hooray for Pat, one of my EdTech icons!
Friday, July 21, 2006
Thursday, July 20, 2006
- The Paradigm shift rate is growing and will double in the next 10 years - the question I have is whether the rate of adoption of these paradigms is growing at the same rate, or will the 'knowledge divide' grow even more?
- Cost of technology dropping (hardware, not overall cost of technology including support), performance rising - this makes sense, although I was somewhat surprised to hear that desktop computers will disappear by 2010
- Miniaturization is also a trend leading toward nanotechnology (MEMS - MicroElectronic Mechanical Systems) - fascinating animation of the oxygen-releasing nanobot in the bloodstream!
- Technology will emulate human thinking by 2020 - Reverse engineering of the brain has already begun (scary thought - will 'smart' machines consider humans a threat to the earth, given our not-so-ecologically-friendly ways?)
- IT will make up a major part of the economy by 2020 - this was surprising to me given the stock market's boom & bust with technology a few years back.
- The next shift in educational technology will be virtual reality - move toward online education - transactional distance will reduce due to this 'feeling' of being together virtually; as we add nonbiological materials to our brains, we'll be able to upload skills & knowledge. This is consistent with a lot of the educational simulations we saw last week with science and math.
- The role of the teacher as mentor and guide will still be needed - this is comforting, but by no means should we as educators remain complacent about our roles. I still feel a huge mindshift is needed with how we teach and how our students learn.
Charmaine Brooks - The State of ICT
One thing that surprised me was the statistic that school jurisdiction leaders display a very wide range of skills, beliefs, and practices around supporting ICT. With such varying leadership styles and 'beliefs', this seems to me problematic in terms of province-wide improvement with technology use. The question "How do we measure the influence of information and communication technology on student learning?" was asked, and answers varied widely around the room. My feeling is that asking this question is the wrong approach, just like asking the health care industry whether MRI machines affect patient health. Just as the focus of healthcare is on improving the health of its patience, the focus of schools is to improve student learning. We don't learn about health by studying how medical technology works - we use medical technology because it is a way to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system. The core of healthcare is doctors who understand how to make people healthy, and the medical technology developed and used is driven from that need. In the same way, the core of education is learning, and once our teachers have a strong understanding of effective learning and teaching practices, and believe that their actions must with their students must reflect best learning practices, I believe they will chose the aspects of technology that best leverage learning. I wait longingly for this day when teacher PD with technology is driven by their need to improve the learning across their subject areas and not by a desire to 'cover' a separate ICT curriculum.
Welcome to Technologies & Humanities
This blog represents my reflections on the learning that I will experience over the next five days. Welcome!