Erin Crane: Harness Your Students’ Digital Smarts
Edutopia, an educational sources website, has a video detailing Vickie Davis’ unique way of using media tools to connect her students to learning. Vickie is an innovative teacher in Camilla, Georgia that has taken it upon herself to use games, blogs, wikis, and virtual worlds to ignite a want in her students. Mrs. Davis herself has won an award for best teacher blog in the world. She has traveled around the country talking about the techniques she is using but her passion remains in the classroom with her students. As a “teacherpreneur” she has taught her students new software, to learn how to learn, how to use the Wiki, and how to collaborate with other students more effectively.
Mrs. Davis has collaborated with Julie Lindsey, a teacher in Qatar, to form a global collaborative project they named Digi Teen. Students all over the globe have come together studying digital citizenship by researching and posting their finding through two digital portals! Along with Digi Teen the two teachers have also founded another project. Flat Classroom Project is a project that lets students experience trends in information technology by writing reports with other students and creating videos. She has even travelled with some of her students to the Middle East for a conference for the Flat Classroom Project. Vickie Davis made a statement at the end of the video that stuck with me. She said, “I believe this whole idea of turning school upside down and empowering students to share with one another. If you can empower them you are just going to have a better classroom.”
Wesley Etheridge: Teaching in the 21st Century
Kevin Roberts made it clear that teachers in the 21st century will have to stop simply providing content, dates, facts, and formula’s. Teachers are no longer the source of information; instead we are the filter between the students and information they have access to learn on their own. Roberts nailed this point by listing all the things students can use to learn on their own. Resources such as blogs, Google, cell phones, Twitter, Wikipedia, and YouTube are available to the majority of students in America.
What does it mean to be a filter? Kevin Roberts asks the question, “How do we teach students to handle their resources?” Being a filter means that we show our students how to use the resources made available to them. Teachers in the 21st century must show students how to validate, synthesize, leverage, communicate, and collaborate information. Roberts poses another important question, with all of this information available should our curriculum be focused on facts and content, or skills? If students can learn facts on their own, it’s clear we should focus on the skills needed.
I honestly don’t disagree with anything Kevin Roberts stated. I think he’s correct, and I think it means we need to focus on engaging students rather than entertaining students. Engaging students begins with the teacher. As teachers we need make sure we’re doing anything it takes to keep our students engaged at all times. Rather it be through collaborating with fellow students or utilizing questions that challenge students to solve problems online, the focus needs to be on engaging students. If Roberts is correct the challenge for me will be to take risks. Instead of making assumptions that my students won’t be successful learning facts on their own, I want to try different methods and see what happens.
Lance Wilkinson: The Networked Student
The educational theory and practice known as Connectivism puts emphasis on networking and interactive learning rather than on traditional educational mediums , lecture and readings. The Networked Student video (created by Wendy Drexler) also puts emphasis on the role of technology in the future of the educational field. The Thesis of the video claims that Connectivism is the way of the future for education. Furthermore, the video reassesses the role of the teacher as a guide for the learning process.
The example student in the video was shown to have taken very well to Connectivism. The student networked with other students studying his subject of interest, subscribed to Podcasts to watch classes around the world, and started blogging to discuss subjectively his area of interests with other students, as well as muse on his subject in his personal blog. It is argued in the video that this is the way of the future for education. The student only went to class three days a week and didn’t even have a book!
Connectivism will definitely be a major aspect of the educational field in the future. What a wonderful resource the internet and technology are! However, putting too much emphasis on networking can either take away or dramatically add to the academic discipline being studied. The video assumes every student will do what is necessary to be a self-learner and take the time and effort to network. In the school system today, some students refuse to even do short reading assignments. Therefore it is impossible to assume every student will actively participate in Connectivism. However, this should not dissuade anyone from the value of Connectivism. I believe the ideal is to continue our push towards Connectivism without completely throwing off lecture and readings. In this way students will both learn from valuable resources (books, academic articles, journals), and network what they’ve learned online; making Connectivism even more valuable. Students could refer each other to academic sources and books that they’ve read and discuss themes or ideas from these reading assignments.
The video asked: “In the future, why even have a teacher?”. The video argues that the teachers role is to be a guide for networking. This is a crucial element of our educational system because networking is such a major part of our modern society. I believe the teachers role is to actively participate in the learning process by lecturing and assigning relevant readings, but also to encourage networking and Connectivism. In this way our future students will be competent, educated, networking individuals.