Monday, June 22, 2009

Using a Wiki for Your Class

It’s interesting how quickly a new piece of software can catch on with uses only limited by our imaginations. I know that wiki’s aren’t all that new, and in fact, I’ve even known about Wikipedia for quite some time (even though I’m usually behind the curve on new technology). However, what I didn’t know was exactly what a wiki could be used for and how it might be integrated into the classroom. After reading our text by Will Richardson and having a couple of discussions with instructors, suddenly I believe I’ve gone outside the box. This is sometimes a scary place to go as once outside the box, it’s difficult to reel me back in.

Richardson had some excellent examples of uses for wiki’s in the classroom including resource sharing and group projects. I created a wiki for an English class that teaches students how to read, analyze, and write about literature. I envisioned this wiki being a great supplement to an online learning environment where students could go and share information, discuss preliminary ideas, and ask questions of classmates to provide a richer online learning experience for everyone involved. This is just one possible way a wiki might be used in an English class. Something similar could be created for a biology class where students would be able to work together on information gathering and share the results of their research with the whole class. Think of the study guide you would have to work with for chapter tests and finals!

A wiki would be just as useful for a face-to-face class as an online class too. Those are just a couple of ideas I’ve had about the use of wiki’s, but I’m sure every instructor could come up with other ways to use them as well. I think the possibilities are endless! Welcome to the Wonderful World of Wiki!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Comments on Will Richardson's Blog

Will Richardson’s blog contains some interesting thoughts on technology in the classroom. His blog of Feb. 28, 2009, “Teacher as Learner” states that teachers should be willing to be learners and should embrace bringing technology to the classroom. One of the issues he talks about is customizing our children’s education as opposed to standardizing it. I can understand where he is coming from because quite frankly, I think the school systems currently have very little flexibility for students who don’t fit in the mainstream. However, students do need some basic skills to be successful in school and life, so as educators we need to make sure they acquire those skills first. Then I think it would be wonderful to be able to give each student the opportunity to customize their education. I’m not sure how that might be accomplished with limited resources and teachers, but, with the aid of technology, it could be possible.

Richardson addresses the need for a shift in education with the realization that instructors have to be brought to the level of competency with the tools, as well as changing the way we think about education. This will be a major shift and the truth is that the younger generation is embracing technology much more readily than those of us who didn’t grow up with all these new-fangled gadgets. His June blogs reflect on what an educational institution built today might look like as opposed to those of the past. Do any of us really know at this point? I think the next generation may have a better idea of how to integrate technology more readily into their studies. As well, Richardson talks about how his children’s work world will be very different and as educators we need to address their needs to prepare them properly. Undoubtedly, this is going to be the case, but again, perhaps they are the group who will identify what those changes need to be in education.

Richardson’s blog was very thought provoking and gave me some real insights into the potential of blogs. I'm starting to think outside the proverbial box.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Adding a Feature

I added the feature to Search YouTube from my blog page. I'm not sure why I would need to search YouTube from my blog page. I can certainly see adding a link to my blog for some specific video that I mention in a blog (Such as "A Vision of Students Today"). Does this fall into the category of "just because we can doesn't mean we should" for uses of technology? Tell me what you think!

Instructional Methods - Construvist vs. Behaviorist

I reviewed Learning Theories on two different web sites, one Judith V. Boettcher, Ph. D., is the Executive Director of the Corporation for Research and Educational Networking (CREN),and the other from the University of Washington. Information from these two sites brought me to this conclusion: the behaviorist model versus the constructivist model shows the constructivist model is far superior in aiding student learning and application of principles.

The constructivist theory is based on building on student’s prior learning and experience. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively with the instructor as a mentor and guide. Students create their own learning experience guided by the instructor building on known principles and applying learning to real situations. If I were making a lesson plan for an English Composition class for instance, a constructivist approach to learning would be giving the students a YouTube video to watch, “A Vision of Students Today,” then have them write explaining in detail the effects of technology on college students both in school and in their personal lives. This assignment challenges students to be analytical and extrapolate information from the video stretching them to think critically and write down their conclusions. If posted to a blog or discussion board or discussed in a class, this can stimulate further discussion with classmates who will have other opinions to add to the analytical process.

The behaviorist method focuses on instructors presenting material to students who are then expected to memorize and prove acquisition of knowledge through tests as assessment measures. This model does not challenge students to analyze information while making connections to reality based situations. An example of an assignment using the behaviorist model would be giving students Vocabulary works to define and giving them a quiz to assess proficiency. This lesson doesn’t require students to do anything but memorize and regurgitate information.

Student will also respond to the constructivist method more readily as it is more interactive and gives students the opportunity to work collaboratively benefiting from classmate’s knowledge. In my opinion, the constructivist model is far superior for meeting learning outcomes that will benefit the student in the world of work.