1. In the video, The Networked Student, Alec Couro and Wendy Drexler introduced to us the way a 21st century student may be studying these days. He described a form of teaching called Connectivism. Alec Couro’s explains, “Connectivism is a theory that presumes that learning occurs as a result of a social network made up of many diverse connections and ties.” He describes a learning environment in which the teacher never uses a textbook. That really blows my mind. I, for one, enjoy turning pages. I think that I would need a textbook.
Alec goes on to explain that the teacher does play an important role in the classroom. She makes sure that the students take this technology and connect with others across the world to make their learning experience more productive. The students feel empowered by having the control over their virtual environment. To be successful in this type of learning, he must first build his own PLN.
To build your own PLN, you must research valid sites and bookmark them. He also searches for blogs that would help give him more insight on what he is learning. To be able to keep up with the blogs that he has found, he then subscribes to a reader. After gathering all of his information, he can then create his own blog so that others can see what he is learning.
Alec also points out the value an mp3 player has in terms of learning. I have never heard of iTunes U. The fact that we are able to hear lectures from other professors is exciting. The point behind his PLN is so that he can share his knowledge with the rest of the world and others can benefit from his hard work.
The question of whether or not we even need teachers anymore came up. Alec goes on to explain that without teachers, students wouldn’t know how to harness all of these tools in order to make them effective. Teachers still play a very important role in modeling behavior and communication skills. We must remember that although students of today have access to great amounts of technology, we as teachers are responsible for equipping them with the knowledge of how to use it to its fullest potential.
This was a great video, and it solidifies to me where the classroom is headed. I’m glad that I am finding this out early in my studies so that I can apply it to my daily life and, in turn, apply it to my classroom. Dr. Strange asks if I feel that I am ready to be a teacher of a networked student. I don’t feel that I am completely ready, but with the exposure that I’ve had to technology in the last few weeks, I am only becoming more and more prepared.
2. In the YouTube video, Welcome to My PLE, it surprised me to see what a 7th grader can do. I am only surprised because I have a 7th grader and she has no idea about PLEs. What does that say about what my child is learning in school? I guess it is up to me to teach her these things.
Anyways, I was impressed that she took the time to research sites online and put it all together on a personal page. It is basically like taking your desktop with you anywhere you go. She has full access to the things that she uses the most. The fact that she can utilize this at school was impressive. This could really benefit students here. They would be able to research and organize information by subject. That is what this girl demonstrated with her science class. She also talked about using Google Docs. I have recently been introduced to Google Docs and I am sold! I must have been hiding under a rock. What a great resource! She also goes on to talk about her social bookmarking page and her note taking program that she uses. I love to take notes, so this is something that I’m sure would add to my PLE. Also visit Glogster EDU to learn about another resource to introduce to your students. Students can design their own poster with pictures, text, videos, audio recordings and graphics all on one page. This would be a great tool to use for a book report or a project.
She made a great point about students possibly getting distracted because of the freedom they are given when allowed access to their PLE. If we show our students that we trust them, then I believe they will respect the fact that they are given the opportunity to use their PLEs at school and not abuse their privilege. It’s a great tool to make research and learning faster and more convenient.
3. In Bill Fettiter’s blog post, Why I Hate Interactive Whiteboards, he clearly points out that he is totally against SMART boards and/or whiteboards in the classroom. He claims that they are an absolute waste of money. He then goes on to explain that whiteboards are only purchased for show. Parents and students are wowed by the fact that there is a big, new piece of technology in the classroom for all to enjoy.
In Fettiter’s post, Why are we STILL Wasting Money on Whiteboards?, he doesn’t hesitate to say what he would do with all of the money “wasted” on whiteboards. In a similar post by Kevin McLaughlin, he shares the same ideas about whiteboards being a waste of money.
I can see both sides of this debate. In a Q & A post, some benefits of using a SMART board were discussed. I agree with some of these benefits, but the teachers must be willing to learn how to use the SMART board for it to be beneficial. In our school system, SMART boards are being offered to classrooms, so we must take advantage of the opportunity given to us to engage our students with this technology. We shouldn’t complain about how the money was spent. The point is, the money was spent, this is what you get, now make the best of it. Learn the software and use it! It is a great tool. I’ve found that the hard work has already been done. There is a plethora of information out there and lessons that you can use. There are blogs that point you in the direction that you want to go when planning a lesson. My sister’s blog, SMART Board Goodies, is a great resource. There are countless others.
In every classroom I’ve been in, students are engaged and actually involved in the teaching process. When they feel that they can teach us something, they tend to pay better attention in hopes that they can catch us off guard and enlighten us. I’m in favor of that. I want my students to watch me closely and teach me a thing or two. I can’t wait to have my own SMART board or any other technological device that is offered to my classroom. I will certainly take advantage of it.
So the question is, are whiteboards a waste of money or are they beneficial in the classroom? Can the cost of the whiteboard be justified? I would say, yes, they have been an asset in the classrooms that I have been in thus far.