Friday, November 30, 2012

Teachers Teaching with Technology

In my previous blog post, I talked about the different types of technology that have entered our classrooms in recent years. When it comes to teachers actually using the technology, there can be many different outcomes.

There will be teachers that are very welcoming, inspired and excited to use new technologies, there will be teachers that are hesitant when using technology, but will try to anyways, and there will be teachers who refuse to use newer technologies and resort to their personal preference of teaching.

It is important that teachers grasp the new technology being given them to use in the classroom. By showing that they are excited to use the technology, students will be more engaged when it is being used. By being an open minded educator, you will more than likely have an advantage in teaching curriculum compared to educators that are not as open minded. Teachers are constantly looking for new and excited ways to keep students ready and willing to learn. By introducing new gadgets like a Smart Board or Ipad, we can in a way, trick students into learning by making wide-eyed games and attraction to the gadgets.

If a teacher hesitantly uses technology in their classroom, students may not get the full effect or experiences that other students are gaining in a technology positive classroom. When it comes to teachers that refuse to use newer technology, those students are not getting any of the new experiences that other students are accumulating.

Why hold back the opportunities of your students or even yourself as an educator just because you are not comfortable or considered ready for to use such technologies? It's time to wake up and get with the generation! Technology is cool, and kids think it is too, so use it!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Technology Taking Over Teaching

I remember when I first started school and the most exciting thing was to get to use the computer to play an educational game, or even getting an opportunity to write on the chalk board and/or overheard projector. When the chalkboard  and overhead projectors were decided to be too messy and difficult for students to read, the big white boards were introduced. Now, the excitement for kids was drawn to the smoothness of writing with a dry erase marker and easily erasing it with little to no mess on their hands. By this time, many classrooms had their own 3 or 4 computers that students could use.

Now a days students have been introduced to Smart Boards and Elmo projectors. Some schools even have a 1:1 ratio of students to computers. Technology has come a long way since I was in grade school. Students are getting to use higher forms of technology to assist the learning process of their curriculum. Some very lucky schools have the means of each student getting to use small laptops, Ipads and Nooks. Any more these days if a paperless copy of a textbook is available, many schools will opt to buy that copy instead of the physical textbook.

Are these forms of new technology really appropriate to use as a stable in the classroom? I believe that is a difficult question to answer. The use of the technology in the classroom definitely engages students and excites them to use the equipment. However, I believe it should be used sparingly. I feel it's very important that students still get to read and see a physical copy of textbooks, storybooks and chapter books. I am not completely shooting down the use of Nooks or Ipads. I just believe the use should be earned on good behavior and whether the group of students will use the equipment in an appropriate and respectful manor. Smart Boards and Elmo projectors take place of chalkboards, whiteboards and transparency overhead projectors. Because of all of the different things a Smart Board can do, students and teachers not only can write on a document while a lesson is being taught, but also save it so that they can view just exactly what happened in class at a later time. Newer students to the era of the Smart Board are probably very excited to use a board in class, but as time goes on it will become part of the normal routine.

Video: From YouTube, uploaded by: SMARTClassrooms

Using up-to-date technology in the classroom is a way to keep the engagement of students and to find easier and more proficient ways for a teacher to teach. By mixing the technology with former and more traditional ways of teaching, students with different learning styles could be kept in the loop better. I just recently did a field experience in a 6th grade class where the teacher used both a Smart Board and the whiteboard to teach his lessons. He usually prefers to use the Smart Board, but in cause it might be having an "off day" (not working as properly as it should or could) he resorts to the whiteboard. By having this choice, he does not have to take up precious time in trying to fix the Smart Board and can easily teach the lesson at an equally efficient way.

So is technology really taking over the classroom? Well, yes it is. However, not in a terrifyingly bad way. By keeping the classroom and education up to snuff with the rest of the world within the technology realm, students can be kept excited to learn.

Picture of Elmo projector taken from: Source One Rentals

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Digging and Doubting Diigo

There are many internet sources where educators can share their triumphs and other useful information that can be used inside and outside of the classroom. I have been introduced to the world of Diigo. On this website, anyone can post different websites that might be found useful to others. Advertising, books, blogs, and databases are just a few examples of what people share. In my college education technology and design course, we were instructed to find different sites and sources that had to do with education. We were even encouraged to do our own postings of sites.

Diigo allows you to search for different material by using "tags". These tags will lead you to different sources that have to do with what you are searching for. For example, in class we searched for "Education", "Teaching", and "Tools". By using all of these tags, we were able to find better sources and sites for what we were looking for. Most of the material found on Diigo is interesting. The people who use this archive are more than likely knowledgeable and interested in the sources and topics they follow.

Photo from:
Where I do see how Diigo can be useful to teachers, I do not believe it should be used as a primary source of structuring a classroom. Many educators have their own opinions on how a classroom is to be run and what material is to be taught. If you find someone on Diigo that shares your own opinions, than you could possibly find their information useful and thought-provoking. However, not every educator is going to be teaching the same material from year to year, or even the same material in different school districts. For instance, a teacher in Allendale, Michigan is not going to be teaching the same material or curriculum as a teacher in Davenport, Iowa. Also, not every classroom will ever be the same when it comes to the type of students in each class. Learning styles, personal lives and schools (public, private, etc.) will never be the same. Therefore, I do not believe it necessary nor intelligent for a teacher to base their structure of teaching according to another teacher's way. It frightens me that educators around the world will adapt to other educators' ways of teaching by relying on archives such as Diigo or other PLN's (Personal Learning Networks). As long as educators use this archive to enrich THEIR OWN skills, ideas and teaching structure, I see no wrong for using Diigo. The teaching world will always be evolving. Because of this, it is up to each individual educator to evolve with it in the proper ways that will not enrich the rest of the world, but enrich the students that they teach during a year of school.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tweeting about Technology and Teaching

By taking a course that teaches students how to incorporate technology in a classroom, we grasp an understanding for how the education field is growing and evolving. We have been introduced to the use of many different websites for Personal Learning Networks (PLN's) and different tools to enhance or make a lesson more enjoyable for future students.

One of the PLN's that we worked with in this technology course was Twitter. Twitter is often seen more of a social networking site for teenagers to follow their favorite celebrities and friends. However, I was able to see how many different accounts there is to follow with helpful hints or suggestions to teaching different criteria. While I believe it might be useful for a educator standpoint, I don't find it absolutely necessary to use. By using social networking sites, I feel like we could be going further and further away from the proper ways of teaching and subjects we are needed to teach. By taking or borrowing information from other random Twitter users that claim to be legitimate, we could be taking a risk by using what they have tweeted. I understand that many of the accounts are more than likely legitimate and useful, however I personally do not feel comfortable trusting many of the accounts.

Another reason why I do not feel that using Twitter is necessary is because there are plenty of other websites that give proper information that you can find easier than going through a Twitter news feed. Students may also feel awkward trusting information from a teacher that has come from Twitter. Especially high school students where they see Twitter as only communication between peers and celebrities. I would be uncomfortable trusting a website or information coming from a social networking site that I use for recreational purposes.