EDM 310 Class Blog

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blog Post #6

1. The Networked Student by Wendy Drexler
Picture this: a student who is part of a blended class (partial lecture class and partial online participation), has no textbook, has a teacher who rarely lectures, and creates his own Personal Learning Network (or PLN) to help with his assignments. This PLN consists of his school library's website, his own blog, Google Scholar, Google Reader, selected social bookmarking sites, blogs written by other people on topics he is studying, iTunes U podcasts, lectures by acclaimed professors,documentaries, and so much more.
This student actually models many modern students. Actually, this student models most of us in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class! So, peronally, I found this quite relevant.

The student in the video saved a lot of money on their textbook! Because they made their own aid to learning.
But with all this, what does having a teacher help with? How is the teacher still useful?
First off, the student did not think of doing all of this on their own. It was their teacher who encouraged them to gather all this information together, led them through the steps of sorting all this out, and already had some experience with which to lead them. In the video, the narrator mentions the different titles for a teacher in this situation. Some of them include:
Learning Architect
Learning Concierge
Network Sherpa

A teacher would be a modeler because they lead by example, like how best to communicate, how to communicate in a way that is respectful of others, how communication can be used to supplement learning processes, things like that. How to use communication tools is a neccessity, but understanding what comes out of it is just as neccessary and probably that much more difficult.
For example, which information is useful? Which is propaganda? A teacher helps develop the skill of information management. Teachers have done this before, only now, there is easier access to so much more information, which only makes managing it that much harder.

Teachers also encourage students to make contacts: family, friends, classmates, professors, experts, professionals, schools, students, etc. All of the blogging and tweeting we have done in this class is an example of this. By putting ourselves out there, marketing the skills we are learning, our educational philosophy, and our passion for teaching, we are making ourselves available to opportunities for the future. I strive to do my best with my blog and related projects so that I can be proud of it, and also so that others in my field can see it also.

I think that I will be prepared to be the teacher of a networked student because I am now a networked student myself! I know what it is like encountering new resources, programs, software, etc. that I shied away from before. The usefulness of technology in education is something that is becoming increasingly relevant to me.  Taking that a step further, it is not only becoming more and more relevant to me, I am also learning how to make it relevant to my students.

2. A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment (PLN)
Paperless Science Class? That is just radical. That would never work. That goes against traditional conventions! I don't think I want to hear any more of this foolishness and nonsense.

These are some of the responses I could imagine from the skeptics, the cynics, those who are never okay with change, and are content with things the way they are, whether they work or not.
To convince them, they would need to listen to an actual student. The student who created this video uses a Personal Learning Environment that is self-created and teacher-guided. She is able to do all of the same things students would do in a normal class setting, just in a different way.
She still keeps notes, makes posters, researches material covered in class, and writes scientific reports, only...she does it in a way that she enjoys what she is learning.  She does it through fun projects that make it memorable.  She remembers all her fun projects and exactly what they were about because she created them herself; her teacher did not supply them to her and tell her about them.
She does all these things using note-taking and note-tracking software, Glogster, YouTube, Gmail, Symbaloo, Skype, etc. She is also able to create presentations and also to have scientists and professionals review her work.  It would also be easy for her parents to view and keep up with what assignments she is posting.

The plus side to all of this is that it gives students freedom.
Hogwash! That's completely ridiculous! If you give students freedom they'll turn in assignments late, copy each other's work, offer their opinion, and text in class. What a terrible idea!
Wrong again.
The networked student in the video stated that having more freedom drives her to be more responsible. That's what we need! Students who take responsibility for their work. By using resources to make classroom projects "cool" students will want to do them, and by allowing them the freedom to decide how to complete said projects, and where, and when, they will do them.

3. Michael Staton, "Why SMART Boards Are a Dumb Initiative"; Bill Ferriter, "Why I Hate Interactive Whiteboards".
Why are SMART Boards a dumb initiative? Why do some people hate interactive white boards?  Don't you think the words "dumb" and "hate" are a little too strong? Well....
Traditional classrooms have, for years, consisted of students glued to their desks, with their teacher standing in the front of the classroom lecturing, performing their dog-and-pony show, trying (and sometimes failing) to keep their students' attention.

Modern classrooms should not look like this, not with all that we know and with all the resources we have talked about that can be made very useful for the classroom.  Students can be seated at different stations using different forms of technology and internet services to meet their varying learning needs.  They can be using iPads, iPods, iTunesU and so much more to complete their assignments...with their teacher's help of course.
SMART Boards, although seen by many in the educational community, and even parents, as a greatly useful tool in advancing classrooms into the modern era, do not allow for interactive, student-centered learning. Bill Ferriter calls them "tools that do little to promote independent discovery and collaborative work".
Students are more in control of their own learning when they have their own Personal Learning Network, when they can choose how best to model what they are learning.  Learning how to demonstrate their knowledge will help them so much more than any standardized test.
SMART Boards alone do not aid education.  I believe that SMART Boards can be useful to allow students to show their own presentation to the rest of the class, to watch videos, come to the front of the class to solve math problems using some of its functions (like they used to on a chalkboard), things like that.  Having a teacher stand in front of everyone to lecture, using the same methods as before, only with the touch screen element thrown in, solves....nothing.
When I spent my observation hours at an Elementary school, the students in my kindergarten class were invited to come to the board to solve problems with shapes, numbers, letters, etc. instead of being told about them.  They could show what they knew.

However, SMART Boards are too expensive to buy for every classroom to only be used in moderation. Even though, to me, this is the most effective way to use interactive white boards, it is not the most cost effective way to improve classroom methods or resources.

I actually found a blogsite called SMART Board Revolution: A Revolution in Education.  It is a site for educators who are users of SMART Boards to communicate with one another and share feedback on usage, lesson plans, solutions, and breakthroughs.  The site also features notifications for training events using the technology.  All of the users of this site are very into their SMART Boards and finding ways to improve their usefulness.  Although there are a few gripers, most of the bloggers on this site are enjoying making the best of their SMART Board Lessons and offering their acquired knowledge to other educators/users.
I think the difference in opinion on blogs can be attributed to differences in personality.  Those who do not like SMART Board are probably more sensible, conservative, and money conscious.  Those who are for the use of these products were probably supplied them by their school district and might not have had any choice in the matter, while others said that they were very excited to get theirs for their classroom.  I think there are other, cheaper, simpler, more user friendly products, methods, and programs that can be used in the classroom other than SMART Boards.  We have to remember that the important thing is that children are getting involved in their education, and although you cannot put a price on that, sometimes funds are limited.  We have to make the most of available resources to accomplish this goal.
Click the link to read the SMART Board Revolution blogsite:


  1. "We have to remember that the important thing is that children are getting involved in their education..." I really feel this is the key to 21st century education. Regardless of what technology is available, if teachers allow their students more freedom in their own education, I truly feel we will have better students. (I know I blame teachers here, but it is also, and more often, the fault of school boards, state and federal education boards that are to blame with such a high demand on teachers to make sure that an enormous list of topics are known and even when they are taught.) I know when I am given some freedom in what I want to learn, I am a much better student! One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain: "I never let my schooling get in the way of my education!" Keep up the good work. I enjoyed your blog.

  2. Thank you for your comment. I enjoy getting feedback on my blog! I also enjoyed the quote because I like Mark Twain's stories but I have somehow never heard that quote.
    You are right, we can allow students freedom regardless of technology. This class deals with technology in education quite a bit, but it's more about how you incorporate the technology than the technology itself. I think that is why the two writers had a problem with SMART Boards. They might have seen teachers who relied on this technology to convey their lesson instead of getting more creative. These interactive white boards, like most technology are not the answer. Using them the right way and keeping students engaged is a better solution! :)

  3. Carly,

    Wow, I am super impressed with your blog assignment this week, and I love how you actually give a well thought out response. I can tell you are actually engaging with the videos and learning from them. You are definitely making the most out of this class, and you have to have this type of attitude if you are going to be a successful networked student, which I believe you are.

    I definitely agree with everything presented in the networked student video, and I think it is a great idea to implement into a classroom. We are always learning about technology and the importance, and from this video, we can actually see teachers putting all the resources to use. While the teacher is not lecturing, he or she still has a vital role for the students, and the teacher is definitely needed in the classroom. Students are able to learn more from the connections they make, and they are also growing and expanding not only their knowledge, but they are learning so many skills necessary in our lives.

    I thought your comment about the networked student being more responsible because of the freedom he or she is given was interesting. While I believe that some students would benefit from this, I do not think we could rely on all students to feel the same way. It is difficult to motivate students, and I am currently seeing this in the high school setting. The teacher I am observing has given her students freedom, and they do not want to complete anything. I have taught some of the AP students, and they were interested in what I was teaching simply because I related the literature project to their lives by using facebook. I still had to encourage them and give them guidelines to ensure they were completing the assignment.

    I think the network student is a great idea; however, I do feel a bit hesitant using it with some of the students we will encounter. I guess all we can do is hope for the best and try to incorporate it as best as we are allowed to.

    Keep up the great work!