Saturday, January 30, 2010

Week One Internet Learning Resources - Media Literacy

The fourth MEIT Course, Internet Learning Resources, kicked-off by asking the class, “What are Internet Learning Resources?” The class initially revealed their preconceived ideas of the term and later revisited after reviewing three Internet Learning Resource sites. My view or understanding of Technology Resources was not radically altered by the review of these three sites, but it did shape my expectation of what a good site such as the Media Awareness Network should offer in terms of unity, cohesion and emphasis.

On the Media Awareness Network site I found fascinating resources which increased my understanding of media literacy and how it relates to students. In the Media Issues section I delved into ‘Online Hate’ and explored an article on ‘Deconstructing Hate Sites’ which examined common characteristics of sites promoting hated against other groups. Additional articles related to this topic were linked from the same page. Later, in the Educational Games section I easily noticed an interactive game where students learn of discern bias and hate propaganda on a fictitious “Galactic Web”. The game is just one example where the Media Awareness Network site provides additional resources to help teachers actively apply a topic in a student setting.

Following my review, I took a look at what my fellow classmates found to be good Internet Learning Resource sites. There I found wide-ranging results! Not everyone had selected the Media Awareness Network but found value in other sites. Are Internet Learning Resources perceived much like beauty in the eye of the beholder? What exactly were the criteria used to select one site over the other? Well, stay-tuned because that is our next assignment for the class. We will review existing Internet Web-site evaluation forms, adapt and use to critique 3 non-commercial sites.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Technology Tools in Review: The Digital Natives are Restless

The past six weeks of CSU CEdO515 - Technology Tools has provided many insights into how I need to change strategies for workplace training. One of the most important trends impacting my teaching is young workers entering the workforce. These are technologically savvy, digital natives raised in an online culture of social networking sites, gaming and instant messaging. Digital natives become easily bored with lecture and traditional teaching practices and become restless. Multimedia, Web-based research and synchronous activities are common examples of ways to invigorate and incite learning. A solution to provide more effective learning is to incorporate these very same technologies into classes. Not all workers are digital natives and the digital divide with digital immigrants must be accounted for in courses.

Another important point from the readings and class discussions has been the shift from a teacher-centric to student-to-student learning. The old one-to-many lecture is lost on the digital natives and more importantly, it does not foster group interactions. 21st Century skills required by employers dictate that students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. My role shifts from being the subject matter expert to one of a co-learner and facilitator.

Throughout the CSU CEdO515 - Technology Tools course we experimented with technologies which may enhance the learning experience such as Web-based presentation software, spreadsheets, database and word processing. In individual assignments or as study teams we used variations of these technologies in a synchronous, collaborative environment. We also explored use of video and technology tools which, when appropriate, can enhance and bring greater value to the learning experience.

The course reminded me that I need to have a technology learning plan. If I don't have specific goals and time lines for developing skills, they just will not happen. As coincidence would have it, it was time for the Annual Performance Review at work. I was able to include goals for 2010 that reinforced my technology development plan.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Week Five - Natives, Trends and Professional Development

Our class this week had me thinking about 3 main areas: digital natives, trends in technology,assessing and creating a professional development plan. In chapter 10 of Egbert, I was exposed to the term 'digital native' for the very first time. Most students are tech-savvy and are used to interactions with social networking (Facebook, MySpace, etc.), advanced cell phone technologies and that their brain structures have been altered.

Digital natives will require greater interactions with technology to ensure teaching is effective. Otherwise, these students become easily bored and drift. I was a bit dismayed to discover that I and other teachers are 'digital immigrants' in use of technology for personal, administrative and academic pursuits. Sure, we use technology for administrative tasks but there is much work to be done to incorporate into lessons.

I used an assessment tool to see how my practice stacks-up in the new trends and possible use of technologies. An output from that process was a Technology Learning Plan with measurable, attainable goals. As it would have it, this past week I submitted my Annual Performance Review at work along with goals for 2010. I included goals from my Technology Learning Plan for 2010, and now I am 'on the hook' with my management to see them through.

My company is radically changing the team dynamics by employing an Agile approach to software development. Agile has cross-functional teams collaborating on iterations of software. When it comes to collaborative software at work, we are systems-starved. I asked to be part of the software evaluation and selection process for collaborative tools supporting our new initiative.

I also asked to help our new subject matter experts create education events for internal employees and customers. I will create new courses that help students/employees interact and use problem solving and critical thinking skills to create software which meets the needs of our customers.