Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blog Assignment 6

Interactive whiteboard at CeBIT 2007Image via WikipediaWendy Drexel’s Networked Student Blog and Video

After watching Wendy Drexler’svideo and reading her blog, I have several questions. The most important of which is, “Did it work?” The blog was written almost 2 years ago, so assuming she was able to start in the fall of 2009 there has been ample opportunity for her to give this a try. I would love to see her blogs during this experiment and an updated list of things which did and did not work.
One thing that caught my attention about the video was it talked about a college student, not a primary student. Richard Howell’s blog response shared his concerns about still needing a teacher to teach and technology not working in a lot of situations. I understand his concerns, but I do not think Ms. Drexler’s idea was for teachers to do no teaching. I am all for guided, collaborative and independent learning, whether this includes technology or not is a separate matter altogether. Whatever technologies students have at their disposal should be used and shared. This is especially important in schools where budgets are hard hit or many students do not have access to technology outside of the classroom. I have attended and worked in schools like this, and address my concerns below. I feel a 21st century teachers’ job is to give students what will benefit them most. It is not nearly as important anymore to be an expert at something as it is to be resourceful, creative, and flexible. Now this does not mean I do not feel students will need to know facts or unchanging things such as 2x2=4. Simply that it is more important for students to understand general concepts and how to find the facts they need when they need them. The best thing my parents ever did for me was to not tell me how to spell a word or what a word meant. They would make me get the dictionary and find out for myself. While searching for the word I needed I would spend numerous hours learning. Because of that, I was ahead of many of my peers for years in vocabulary.
I love that she chose a science class to do this. I am not certain what her background is, but mine is a B.S. in Biology. In all of the required blogs we have had to blog about so far, this is the first one that really talked about using technology in science. This is really strange considering science often gives us technology. I do worry about how rural or inner city schools are going to handle the increase pressure to incorporate technology. I know where I grew up there really was not much of a science lab, much less computers in every classroom. We did have one computer lab with about 30-40 computers that over 500 students shared. Although the local phone company offers internet access, it is dial-up still for most of the county. The number of people with computers has increased, but I know a lot of students would have to use class time or stay after school in order to work on projects. Staying after school for most students would not be feasible since they have to ride the bus home given they are bused in as far as 30 miles. For inner city schools, often the schools are overcrowded and therefore over taxed simply because of the sheer number of students serviced.

Personal Learning Environment

This student’s PLE was impressive! I like how she had everything organized, and that she addressed several concerns I and others have mentioned this year about students misusing the freedom and internet in classes like this. She said that although the social networking sites were a distraction, she had enough motivation to get her school work done. She said part of the motivation was the class animals and how neat the projects were once they were completed. I wonder what other motivations her teacher uses. Are grades enough to motivate anymore? As of right now, her PLE is definitely more impressive than mine.

Interactive White Boards (IWB's)

After reading the two critical posts about IWB’s, I found a few sites which spoke of the positive points of IWB’s. One on the NEA’s website not only listed why interactive white boards are beneficial in classrooms, but gave a list of several kinds of IWB’s, including the most popular SMART boards and economical options such as Mimio. I have never used any type of IWB, and having terrible handwriting, love anything which keeps me from having to write. However, I do feel both critics made extremely valid points. With ever shrinking (or at least not increasing) budgets, I’m not sure if IWB’s are the best use of a district’s money. This is especially true if a school already has projectors set-up in their classroom where teachers and students can plug in jump drives of pre-created projects. Granted, the ability to change or create a project while in class sounds like a great one, how often would it actually be used in a given semester? I do not mean using IWB for students to do math problems that could be done as easily on a dry erase board, but legitimate creation and collaboration. Even if this is something which would happen on a regular basis in a semester, could there be a simpler and more cost-effective way? Perhaps iPods have a program what would allow the same collaborative real-time creation? At this point I am neither sold on the benefits of IWB’s nor their total uselessness. I do hope working with a SMART board for our next project will help me have a better understanding of their value in the classroom.
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1 comment:

  1. I am so glad that you used the image that you did. I have a "checkerboard kid" that could really benefit from using a pattern identifying activity. Thanks! Great post. You were very thorough and made some good points.