Teaching technology in a no-tech classroom

Ian Hamilton reports about Karen Lichty’s class in Journey School,  Aliso Viejo.

“The school was founded by a group of parents in 2000 and is based on the Waldorf approach to education, which means it is focused on hands-on physical activity and art-based projects. There are 13 teachers at Journey, and students move up through the grades together, where possible, while computers and technology are avoided in place of a variety of activities including gardening, knitting, building, music, painting, storytelling, performing and, as with Lichty’s son, projects like dissecting a computer to learn how they work.”

They encourage the students to learn about digital technologies and the impacts on their lives such as cyber bullying, information and research literacy but do not actually use them during this period.

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Do we need ‘social butterflies’ in Online Learning Communities?

Debbie Morrison asks in Presence, part 2 of 3 about online communities. She notes that some students like lurking in online learning communities and MOOCs.  She notes that social presence cannot be easily defined or designed by educators

Social presence is felt by learners, yet is created by the course design and participation of other learners, in contrast to instructor presence which is mainly driven by instructor behaviours and participation

She also provides some suggestions and resources for exploring further

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Devil’s Advocate vs Shelly Terrell on Technology & Young Learners

Chia Suan Chong interviews Shelly Terrell and asks her a range of questions including

  1. Does she think that kids today just spend way too much time on their computers already as it is?
  2. Is it teachers or parents’ responsibility to strike the balance?
  3. Children were learning effectively before so what difference has technology made?
  4. Why waste precious classroom time fiddling with gadgets instead of milking every moment the student has with the teacher as their guide?

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Moving toward project based learning—part 1: the frustration

Quantum Progress blog reflects on the problem solving of the students during semester, who became excellent at creating, describing, exploring and solving problems; but wonders about the relevance of the problems.

Here was the culminating moment of my class, the final exam, and the student seemed to equate it with one giant pointless problem sandwich. Sure the problem was fun, but is there any meaning to this work? Does the student even have a basis to judge whether individual parts of the problem make physical sense? Where are the things I thought I cared about, like teaching students to put their physics to use to ask questions about the world around them, and to critically evaluate the answers they find? These failings do not belong to this student—they belong to me

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Lance Christian Johnson:

“I’m a public school teacher, and as we all know, that means that I’m in the business of indoctrinating children.  By the time those kids leave my class for the last time in June, I can assure you that they’re all thinking exactly the way that I want them to think.  No matter what their political/religious/ideological positions beforehand, come that last day they have all succumbed to my will.  I get a particular ghoulish delight when I know that they have thrown out all of the values that their parents have given them.  Oh, and I should probably point out that I get my Marxist/Socialist/Nazi/Communist/Sith marching orders from a secret cabal of liberal elites, which includes Jimmy Carter, Bill Ayers, Rosie O’Donnell, Jane Fonda, and Colonel Sanders.”

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“Algebra 1B Academy”: Mission Accomplished

Lorri Carroll reports about her class’s screencast project in Algebra 1.

Screencast-o-matic was very reliable and the students enjoyed choosing their own color/style/ background to write out their problems using Paint. It was like music to my ears hearing them explain how to add/ subtract/ multiply and divide radicals expressions. The students were completely engaged for all three days in the lab and the entire process forced them to think about how to simplify radical expressions. YAY!

She describes the process that her students followed to create the screencasts with a wonderful video of their contributions

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Online Learning is where Online Music was Five Years Ago

Andrew Maynard at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies reflects on the impact of youtube with online education, reporting on a panel at VidCon where all the panelists were not formally trained or from institutions but experienced online educators.

As new tools come online, educational institutions are jumping on the band-wagon to provide instructional content.  Initiatives like Coursera and edX are bringing college course material to a far wide audience using online video.  But even these innovations are in danger of looking turgid and outmoded in comparison to the new breed of community educators.

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Online Learning: The New Buzz Phrase Waiting for a Definition

Cathy Finn-Derecki has been trying 2 MOOCs, DS106 and Udacity Statistics. She mentions that Udacity is distraction free from other people and windows, but

then the DS106 in me creeps into the picture. I imagine this lecturer as the whole person. I want to do a mashup of the Udacity course, mocking Sebastian Thrun’s accent, turning the statistics lecture into a comedy sketch complete with charts and graphs. The possibilities for using video, audio, writing, and acting are endless. I break out of the checkboxes and lectures and have a chance to explore my alter ego’s needs. If one person can experience such extreme differences in online learning environments, how can we even discuss “online learning” as though it’s a monolithic thing?

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Turn on the light

Dr Termit Kaur Ranjit Singh reflects on the change in schools and teaching in recent decades. He observed new teachers trying out different methods and strategies using technologies and noticed great interaction with the students.

Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than teaching basic computer skills and software programs in a separate computer class. Technology-enabled project learning is the new plus ultra of classroom instruction. Learning through projects that are equipped with technology tools allows students to be challenged intellectually, while giving them a realistic snapshot of what the modern office looks like.

He supports a non-linear approach to learning where information is no longer just received from lectures, books and conferences but critical thinking and problem solving encouraged.

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The difference between live and taped lectures

Arthur Camins takes a look at the flipped classrooms and flipped learning ideas and wonders about the effectiveness of the learning taking place.

However, not enough attention is being paid to sorting out what is most effectively learned through reading, from listening to a lecture and from active social engagement in problem solving. Questions about the cognitive impact of listening to a lecture alone while being able to stop and replay, about whether students take advantage of that technical capacity, and under what circumstances are too often glossed over.

He refers to his own experiences and lectures that moved and inspired him but how it felt differently because he was physically with other people at a live lecture and listening to a recording would not be the same.

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