Sunday, November 9, 2008

Distance learning and computer ethics

A virtual second life sounds a little scary to me - I'm more into the here and now than some made up fantasy world. I don't know, I think folks that spend too much time on that should be psychology evaluated. More wireless - I'd like to see that at my schools, but with budget cuts and mandates to spend more money on shiny new textbooks - I don't see that happening any time soon. Hey, what can I say, I'm a realist. Revolutionizing high school - I'm all for combining solid teaching with technology. I don't think they are exclusive of one another.

Distance learning - well, as indicated in the article it was Master's and Graduate students (a very self-directed group) who were evaluated, this is a very small proportion of the population. Elementary, middle, and high school students (even some under graduate students) probably would not fare as well. I struggle with it - I enjoy having the teacher on site. During Dr. Crocker's class, SLO dominates the discussion because A. there are seven of us and B. he is in the room to discuss with us. We all know how it is to have the professor at a different site - we're not paying attention, checking email, browsing the Internet, etc (everyone is guilty of it and we all know it). I cannot honestly say that I feel it would be in the best interest of students - convenient, most definitely. The instructors we have had on site have not particularly cared for the technology or the distance learning (as reported to the class).

Computer ethics in the workplace and school - as technology continues to broaden, I think this becomes even more difficult. I've known teacher, administrators, board members that have been dismissed for viewing inappropriate materials (access in too easy and apparently too tempting for these folks). As for students - wow exposed to too much at a very young age. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not - they are viewing some really inappropriate things. Keeping up with the "banned" cites and filtering materials at districts and county offices is increasingly difficult. Educating students and young folks on who has access to what they put out there is critical. What they may think is harmless information for their friends, can end up in the hands of a criminal.

Email ethics seem like they should be common sense. I feel someone is either an ethical person, or they're not - email is just another area in life that pertains to this. It's not very often that I receive something inappropriate or offensive - maybe people just know me and what I respond to.

Monday, November 3, 2008

School choice and the state of education

I have to comment on the old adage - "you don't throw the baby out with the bath water". I agree with most of what is discussed in class - we are missing the target in education and we are not preparing students for their educational futures, or careers for that matter. There are some basic fundamentals that I can see would be missed in an educational setting such as proposed in the Phoenix Odyssey. We're presuming that somehow students interested in attending the Phoenix Odyssey would be able to read the brochure to contact someone for services - that they would have that basic fundamental skill. Not only that, the idea of a voucher system in American education, is not appealing to me. There are disparities in education as it is right now - just wait until folks get a voucher and then the providers will take their vouchers and then some more money for a truly "quality" education. An individualized education plan for every student? Are these people providing it qualified to do so - we're talking millions of students here. The sheer amount of time this would take is mind boggling. We think high school teacher-to-student ratios are bad as it is with an average teacher seeing over 200 kids a day. Where would we get all of these folks for the one on one attention? If they were a dime a dozen, I'm sure it wouldn't be too difficult. The "how" in education still hasn't changed (as proposed in Dewey's writings over 100 years ago and the "Tap into Learning" constructivist article), it's the "what" and although I propose some radical changes to education - vouchers are not one of them.

Another interesting article titled "How We Don't Learn" published in ACSA's November/December 2008 Leadership publication by Laurel Schmidt supports social construction of knowledge. The author cites Dewey, Friere, Gardner, and Vygotsky to make the point that students have never learned by sitting quietly in straight rows and "maintaining a church like silence". The author simply purports that teachers can work their students like "rented mules", but if "their working against the brain, using strategies that ignore the natural learning cycle in children" - ultimately the goals of learning will not be reached.

I also enjoyed looking at the "i" software from Mac - although both of my districts are PC's and all the computers I have at home are PC's. I don't know that I'd have time to learn how to use an entirely new software to produce a multimedia presentation by the end of this quarter - that would take some training, time, and assistance.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why are we still reading all of this when theory tells us narration and animation are better - just kidding

Interesting reading - all of it, but I'm still not sure if I'm ready to question my own belief system regarding reading and some fundamentals of education (i.e. critical thinking skills). I realize that the Framework for 21st Century Learning supports these types of learning process, I just felt that abandoning reading might be a little too progressive for me. I agree that much of what we currently provide in education has little relevance to today's student - but feel there are fundamentals they should know and have questions about how to level the playing field for all students. After all, teenagers couldn't Blog or create their MySpaces without knowledge of reading and writing. And like I said in class, having a child or teenager (for that matter) spend that much time in front of a computer as opposed to actively doing something, is not healthy.

Wow - the ECAR research study was a lot of paper (I can't read things on a computer screen, it gives me a massive migraine and I can't highlight or process the information the way I need to). Which brings me to my next point, digitally scanning research or print does little for my learning. I need a hard copy of literature and to highlight and review it several times before I process and fully understand the information. I have a hard time buying into the fact that these "digital natives" get anything out of scanning information the way that it's proclaimed they do - maybe I'm wrong and I process information differently.

I think what's important to remember with the ECAR research is who it represents: college students. Does everyone in this society go to college or have even an equal chance of going to college? I talk to the students I have at one of my school districts and 90% of them do not even feel it's an option. Suggesting that somehow education would be able to provide equal access to all to create these 21st Century Learners is neither truthful or financially feasible. So I have to beg the question, are we trying to create a greater divide in access and equity in education with digital learning? I realize the global scare of America falling behind the rest of world drives the majority of propaganda stating that American schools are failing. I recently read an article by Yong Zhao in "The School Administrator" that postulates the idea that the reason that America as a country has been so successful and responsible for more innovations around the world is because we have allowed for creativity in schools in the past. Now with NCLB and other education reforms geared towards a one size fits all education, the U.S. should expect to see a decline in innovations and creativity. Looking for an answer on overcoming these barriers with reforms, mandates, and no funding for those with the least amount of access?

Monday, October 20, 2008

What are we doing in education?

The more I examine the current state of education - the more frustrated I become with the status quo and the possibility of making changes. Most of our current practices seem non conducive to educating young minds. Students enter their classrooms in an orderly fashion, sit down, usually quietly begin some worksheet the teacher has set out for them, and then have to listen to the teacher give instruction as they stare blankly into space. It is no wonder I dropped out of high school - it was the same thing then and I could hardly stay awake for any of it.
Ah - but to make the changes spoke of in Dr. Wesch's video. If we are aware that what we're doing is not working, why is it continued? This also somewhat corresponds with our discussion of the purpose and value of education in Dr. Crocker's class. What is it that is valued at the moment? A high test score on a once a year standardized test? Due to NCLB, is this what we've come to in education? I think it's a disservice to students and to education to be in this current state.
I found the Horizon Reports useful and interesting. I have to somewhat wonder though if they are somehow driving technology or if the technology is driving the report. Again, why are even universities slow at implementing new technological advances? Expensive, perhaps and ever changing. It would be difficult to continue to constantly replace obsolete technology.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Class Monday October 6th, 2008

It was enlightening listening to every one's perspective on constructing knowledge and making meaning for students. Now, attempting to pull it all together and connect the technology piece with knowledge construction. These kids love technology - but I see huge disparities in the availability for all students. My own children have an endless array of current technology: Ipods, computers, phones, cameras, video cameras, laptops, etc. In my opinion, they spend too much time using them. The My Space thing is a little biazarre for me and I know lots of parents who will not allow their children to have a My Space account. Back to the disparities - the students I work with do not have the same types of technology available to them. In fact many of the students ask on a daily basis to stay later at school to work in the computer lab because they do not have computers at home. Cell phones are limited, as well as MPV players (even I have an Ipod for my work-out music). So how do we get the everchanging technology available to everyone? Especially in these horrendous budget and financial times. The state continues to mandate that we spend thousnads and thousands of dollars every five years on replacing the state adopted curriculum that really hasn't significantly changed from one adoption cycle to the next. It's really very aggitating.

We all know that the sage on the stage has never worked. It has never been more apparent to me when I enter a classroom and see students falling asleep in their desks as the teacher rambles on at the front of the room - how inappropriate and mind-numbing that must be for them. Getting teachers to change their instructional strategies has proven extremely difficult. I spoke with my principal this past week about why this is and he offered the following perspective: it was how they were taught, it is their comfort zone and people do not change easily. I think about this in my own life - I kind of cringe at the thought of having to work with classmates at different sites to create a future educational environment. It's much easier to work on something when you are face-to-face. I also like having an instructor on site - the discussions get mumbled and it's difficult to participate in when you're not there.

It's interesting though. As a former teacher I realize that most administrators evaluate teachers on the behavior of the students (everybody sitting quietly, listening to the teacher). I once had an administrator write on my evaluation that a student was "rolling his pencil across his desk and not paying attention". This was honestly what this administrator was concerned about - not that there were thirty-three students in the classroom and they all needed to be up out of their seats and actively learning.

Well this is the video I said I thought was questionable to post - it is pretty darn funny though.
I call it leadership - old school style:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Modern Day Technology

Technology and Leadership

Well, it was great to be able to listen to everyone this evening. Those of us in San Luis Obispo figured out the blogging technology this evening while we were waiting for our video conferencing unit to work. We constructed our own knowledge on blogging (technology and constructivism). I am very interested in learning how superintendents use technology in this manner and how this may influence an organizations use or non-use of modern day technologies. As my fellow classmates are aware, my studies focus on the superintendent and instructional leadership - more specifically what organizational behaviors are used by superintendents to make instructional improvements (gains in student achievement) in school districts that have not been labeled academically successful in the past. It would be interesting to study how district leadership and support influence student outcomes and use of technology in the district.

Back to the subject of modern day technology and always maintaining a sense of humor.

The following video is an example of an innovative modern day technology in the automobile industry: