Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My Podcast...Finally!

After a great deal of technical difficulty (thought my mic was fried, tried a 2nd mic, turned out to be the sound card, tried the iBook (first Odeo - didn't work, then Pod-O-Matic) and finally got something.

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:

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:

  1. 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.

  2. Online Information is not always “Good”

  3. We Should Think Before We Put Information on the Internet (Facebook, MySpace)

  4. 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)

  5. Location Awareness – GPS chips will appear everywhere and will have numerous consequences – some good, some bad

  6. The Law Will Continue to Lag the Technology – not surprising

  7. We Need to Make Some (societal) Choices – e.g. video surveillance technology, ip logging

Dr. Stan Ruecker - Document Collections
Ideas that resonated with me:

Monday, July 24, 2006

I'm thrilled to be able to listen to Pat Redhead speak this morning. She is an icon in the area of educational technology and I've read many of her works.

Some of Pat's main points:

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

Trevor provided us with a lot of interesting statistics regarding student technology use from his research. Of note is the high proportion of students who illegally download music and video. He spoke about SuperNet and that the cost of delivering video to schools was compared to the low cost of delivering video via a video iPod. 'Weapons of Mass Instruction' (great term) - the need to stimulate students in school (learning objects, learning management systems). He contends that we as teachers are peddling information and should be more concerned about communication. SciQ is a way to engage students interactively through virtual fieldtrips, and there are about 5-6 of these fieldtrips scheduled per year. The software they use runs H.323, compatible with video-conferencing units. I am interested to see how this could work given firewall/bandwidth/security issues that might slow this process... He questions the need for learning objects/learning resources and spending money on these things, and feels a 'blank page' has its own power. He spoke to the power of community, something I agree strongly with in terms of technology use. He sees Alberta being in a crisis - losing big businesses and our brain power to other places, but questions if we're spending enough money making 'smart people'. He sees districts shutting down blogging and instant messaging, disallowing iPods and cell phones, and sees this as a 'black and white' bad thing (something I do not agree with - there are numerous real issues that free thinkers often don't consider with these types of arguments). If nothing else, I found Trevor's ideas thought-provoking and interesting, but in the end I have a hard time accepting ideas from someone who profits from these opinions (e.g. webcasting, iPod downloading).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Listening to Ray Kurzweil was mind-blowing to say the least. I've listened to various futurists before, but none have made the sense or had the credibility of Dr. Kurzweil. A few points that Dr. Kurzweil mentioned which stood out for me were:

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!

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