Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Week 9-#23

I thoroughly enjoyed this (crash) course. I know I have been focusing on this class over the last few days, but I don't think I would have gotten more out of it had I spaced it out more; I would have simply spaced out more. For me, this was the perfect pace. And, I think it was the perfect amount. I have read other posts from people who wished it was longer, or had more credits involved. IMHO, cut to the credits and make a sequel. I just think that would go against some of the web 2.0 philosophy with smaller steps and mash-ups as opposed to larger eventual products, which we would need if we were going to pull 2-3 credits out of a course like this. I can honestly say that I put in the hours required to earn a graduate credit, but it would be difficult to put in three times as much effort and be successful in a project like this.
When I finally locked onto the step by step nature of the course I really appreciated it. Much like our students, we like it when it is laid out for us in a manner in which we feel we can be successful. Now you could have 23 things just for podcasting. And after the course was over teachers would have a number of lessons and lectures posted online for their students. Or 23 ways to annoy your students with music on teachertube (I am talking about myself, not about the teacher I linked, but students might be annoyed by the fact that she calls singing rap). We could take anyone of these tools more in depth in their own right.
The neat thing about technology, is that these tools will be worn-out before my career is over, perhaps before the next decade is over. There is a bit of hubris in the thinking that we know how it is going to be. The great part is watching technology change, and then watching all of us change as well.
As far as implementation, I am still stuck on the idea of a home server. That aside, I really want to make an irony wiki for my students. Irony, in its many forms, can be an elusive concept for students. I think after working with a few classes, we will have built something that students will find very useful, not to mention how useful it will be to the students who help build it, and on and on. Click the link on my link list to take you to the irony wiki.

Computadoras para toda la gente, or Ch. 8

My original certification is in English as a Second Language, so when scanning for another chapter to read, I choose chapter 8. I agree that there are many benefits to using digital curriculum, not only for students designated Limited English Proficient, but also those with diagnosed disabilities. For both, there can be a support structure set up so that they can excel. However, there is an elephant in the room that nobody notices until p. 165 when they start address in the concept of equity.
I agree that the digital curriculum presents more social flexibility and can be tailored to the individual. I agree with the importance of authentic assessment to improve learning across the board. I like the way that portfolios have changed their focus over the last few years (though, they were always thought of as constructivist. I imagine an old constructivist model is a positivist). I like that provided WiFi for lawndale, a low income neighborhood. Soon, we will have to consider the next step.
One to one schooling. A government mandate, that all students will have the technology they need to succeed. If you really want to compete on a global scale, prepare our children to do so. It isn't good enough that most already have the technology. Every school needs to provide a laptop for every student. Financially, we aren't far off. It doesn't need bells, it doesn't need whistles. Just like the school had the art supplies, but every student had a pencil, so to would the one to one student laptop. To equip my school, at $100, and we haven't quite reached that technological capability, we would need $200,000. That sounds like a lot, but when you consider that my department just asked for $50,000 to fill the book room for 11th grade English only, we could even save money. I recently heard of a laptop that cost $200. We are not far off.

Al infinito, y mas alla, or Ch. 9

On 178, it talks about harnessing data, and wonders, why there isn't an education company that can use a model similar to Ebay or Amazon. In a way, there is. I can't remember the name of the product, but it actually grades writing and provides feedback and exercises to increase different areas of need. Wow! Instead of feeling threatened, as some of my colleagues were, I thought, where can I get that? If a student is constantly making the same grammar error, I have to sit down, correct it, give a mini-lesson, run off some exercises, and then go over them. This program does all of that, on its own.
I like the blissful optimism at the end of the Long Tail. Someday we might have infinite curricular options, as technology will set us free. Keep in mind, before the internet, there were still millions of books, many of them written by Americans. I am only able to teach 15 different novels. Curricular freedom seems to come and go, depending on the political tide. I don't think the access to different literature is going to help. Differing viewpoints on the literature we are allowed to study, will, so in that regard it will liberate how the preset curriculum is viewed.
I think that open source software will continue to thrive.
I like the section called textbooks. I have textbooks in case the power goes out. Other than that, it's all online. With that comes the responsibility to become an online creator. I am not saying every teacher should be able to write code. I am saying that even though I don't know how to make a battery, I know how to hook one up. I know how to change the oil, and the filter, even if I don't know how to cast the steel to make the engine. There is a need for professional development so that we can learn how to change the spark plugs.
If you've read any of my other posts, you probably know how I feel about nationwide broad band and net neutrality. Yes, and yes.
At the end of it all, we need to be as open-minded as possible about the possibilities of the internet. Some of the statements from just one decade ago, seem narrow-minded to the point of being anachronistic. These days, everyone is teaching Sci-fi.

Week 9-#22

Well, I kind of jumped the gun on this one, though I should have seen it coming. That being said, I love the Gutenberg project as it really coincides with my philosophy of education for everyone; it provides access and therefore, liberation. I give both sites my full recommendation.
I am going to take the rest of this post and divert it toward a discussion on copyright. I am conflicted on the topic. On one hand, I believe the artist should be paid, on the other, I don't think digital transfer should cost the same as actual goods (books, cd's, dvd's, etc.). I don't think the artists get a larger percent of profit for a digital transfer, but you can bet Sony does. Previously, we needed recording labels to press thousands and millions of recordings. As an industry, this just happened in the last century. Now, we don't need them. This is no longer a viable industry, unless what they sell is the packaging, or fan clubs, or miscellaneous materials. I can understand that the recording companies are very worried. They should simply be gone. Am I saying people should download these illegally? No. I am saying that they should support artist that are independent of this power structure.
But it doesn't happen that way. The industry is tied to other monoliths, so Brittany sells Pespi which is a partner company of the label she's on, who owns a chain of theaters, that show a commercial, before the movie, and she's on the soundtrack . . .
One of the arguments is 'we won't have quality if we don't have the institutions to produce our art.' That doesn't seem to be the case. The same quality will exist, to some degree there will be even more quantity of 'quality' works, yet it will be inside a greater body of works that are created overall. Meaning, everyone is a producer in this circumstance. We are asked to be even more cognizant consumers. Hopefully, people create their own culture, as opposed to having a commodity made for them.
What about the question of correctly recognizing those who created it? What about plagiarism, teacher? I think in the digital age, it has never been easier to plagiarize. Yet at the same time, it also has never been easier to claim credit. Post your idea first, and you can always go back to the original time stamp. If it is original, then you have the original idea. However, from an academic standpoint, we have to demonstrate how to properly cite others as we work toward new and improved ideas. The rules have changed some, but not that much. An MLA citation from a Journal, is not that different from one from an online Journal article.

Ethics over hate, or Ch. 7

Internet security is a very real concern for all educators. We've already seen unfortunate cases where children were victimized through the internet. I am going to separate three types, that of predators outside schools, the dissemination of hate outside schools, and cyber-bullying inside schools, so that I can discuss them individually.
The sexual predation is the worst thing about the internet, that I can think of. People that would normally have severe restrictions on their spatial relation to children, found ways to contact them through the internet. This led to tremendous concern, and eventually, a number of different measures, including such restrictions as no unsupervised use of the internet. As the book says some school districts have gone to shutting down chat all together to eliminate the risk. This may be a necessary evil, as there would be few times that students could use it purposefully. Math chat, like an online math tutor, or real time cyber pen pals in a foreign language come to mind. In this case, the internet is a new avenue for this type of violence. Whatever it takes, we need to make the internet safe for children.
In my opinion, one thing the chapter could emphasize more, is the excessive hate on the internet. Now people can anonymously burn digital crosses, with little or no accountability. In a way, it is comforting to know how bad some people are under all of their masks. One needs to read a few postings from Craigslist's rants and raves to see that there are a few racists left in our society. This is a way that the internet has given new access to violence.
Cyber-bulling is very real, and very serious. However, as opposed to the other two I have presented, I don't think the internet presents an avenue that wasn't there before. Yes there always was sexual predators, hate mongers and bullies, but in the case of the other two, it gave access that wasn't there. Cyber-bullying does offer a different avenue, but I think face to face bullying is still just as prevalent, and in the larger scheme of things, worse. I have seen very compelling cases on this subject, but I don't think the internet has granted access that wasn't there before. Indeed, now the text, the post, the email has a trace that can be tracked, unlike the comment in the hall, or the phone call.
I think the most powerful weapon against all three is the creation of a code of ethics. I think the one on 147 would work just fine, but it would be more powerful to have group input into the creation of the ethics, with solid guidance, of course. Preparation before the students get online can help them make the appropriate decision if they encounter a threat online. It can help them analyze the beliefs of others, so they can evaluate the arguments, (or lack thereof) themselves. Hopefully, a code of ethics would help prevent cyber-bullying, but also, preparation would train students how to respond in the case that it did happen.
I know I left out the part on copyright, but I am going to talk about that during my Podcast post.

Week 9-#21

Ahh, podcasts. A few years ago the district was awash in training on podcasting. After the initial honeymoon, they seemed to fade. Perhaps with the onset of video sharing sites, they became a little less brilliant. I haven't used podcasting, even after my training. But I think I will, even as early as this year. I'll talk about some of the site hunting I did, and then I will talk about just a few applications that I will have in my classroom.
Was it just me, or did these come in two types, non-functional or commercial. I am just going to double check so that I don't make a fool of myself. didn't open up. Podcast alley worked. I was able to find Huckleberry Finn last night. EPN works, but only has 59 podcasts at the high school level (I know, 'well, get busy, high school teacher'). Teacher content was a $$$ site and techsavygirlz has an error when you go to archive. So I am going to suggest and view my own that I have been using for a few years, and that is functional and non-commercial: Libravox! I am sure creative commons references them. For me they are great. If it is in the public domain, I know I can use it. It sounds like Litoutloud is doing something similar, but for some reason Libravox sounds a little more grassroots. Having audio of the readings is useful, and sometimes essential, as I have had students with IEP's that require it. I love the concept. Volunteers working to create an online audio library for everyone.
They only use . . . I just looked at thing #22, and guess what is there . . .

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Web, Woah Nelly, or Ch. 1

I agree it is important to provide the best practice possible. The onset of new technologies has opened up a brand new world of teaching technologies and methods. It is important to help students understand, use and adapt this technology for themselves. I also agree the world is being 'flattened'. We are one global community.
What I don't buy is the fear this book is putting off. Learn or we will lose jobs. 'They' are harder working, smarter, faster, and they are coming for our lunch. Teach, or die. I've just seen enough general panic in my life to remain unruffled by this. Trust me. I've survived Satanists, nuclear war, Y2K, and a reactor in Switzerland. What is the worst that will happen from this? I'll have a neighbor named Diment and another named Zeng. I, and the United States, will be better for it.
Yes, in some comparisons, Uncle Sam looks like he is getting whipped. Just because a car pulls forward at a stop sign doesn't mean you are driving in reverse. I see the process as a normalizing of the worlds intellectual and economic resources. The people that struggle with this are those that believe that the United States clawed its way to the top over all these other nations. In actuality, we didn't pull ahead; all the others went in reverse at a stoplight called World War II. With all the other players roughed up a bit, we were able to advance in their stead. It didn't hurt that we had access to a relatively raw Western Hemisphere to work with.
So, I agree with Chapter One, except for the heavy underlying xenophobia. We have a responsibility to educate for the individual's sake. When that is taken care of, the institutional mass takes care of itself. We need to teach web 2.0 so the students can be creative, productive and literate citizens of the world. When they can do that, I am sure they will make their employers happy.