End The Classroom War On Mobile Devices – Article Discussion #2 Christine

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-shuter/end-the-classroom-war-on-_b_10637426.html

This article from Huffington Post outlines the differences in attitude about cellphones and laptops in a classroom setting. Shuter cites a number of examples of instructors and professors who hate the devices in the classroom and use a variety means to get rid of them, from  outright bans to one professor who submerged a device in liquid nitrogen and smashed it pieces to get his point across. An extreme example for sure, but no doubt effective.

I think this hatred is rooted in the love/hate relationship we all seem to have with the Internet. We hate the internet when it is spewing bad news, horrific pictures and just things that make us feel just plain bad when we’re rooting around on there. On the flip side, we absolutely love it when it saves us time, makes us smarter by quickly finding something we want to know, and keeps us in contact with family and friends.

It angers people not be paid attention to. The mobile device by it’s very size and nature makes the user seem to think that sneaking a peek is okay, that no one will notice. Everyone notices – especially the person in the front of the room, looking at you, looking at your crotch.

The students, on the other hand, most of whom have had a cellphone since elementary school, have a different take on the situation. They MUST be connected. They believe the ability to look things up immediately and on the fly is beneficial, and are often puzzled by the attitude of the instructors/professors.

As we saw in our own ED366 class, cellphones can make learning fun, if integrated properly. Making the device, that is already in everyone’s hand anyway, part of the lesson might make it less of a distraction. Take away the sneakiness and crotch looking and perhaps you take away a lot of the appeal.

But there does need to be some balance. The question remains how to find it. It is allowing a certain amount of time to look at the phone during class? Integrating the phones a couple of times a week with the lesson? Or do you just let things fall where they may? It will be interesting to see how the next generation of teachers, who have grown up with these devices always on and present will deal with their classrooms.

“In Your Pocket” and “On the Fly” Article Discussion – Christine

Meeting the Needs of Today’s Generation of Online Learners with Mobile Learning Technology.

This article appears to have been written about ten years ago, but surprising has some very forward thinking, much of which has come to fruition. Written by three colleagues from Athabasca University, the article focuses on the need to meet the expectations of the younger generation who have grown up with mobile devices.

Athabasca University in Alberta, founded in 1970 is a pioneer in the distance education movement and was the first Canadian university to specialize in this type of learning.

In the article Richard Sweeney, a university librarian is quoted as saying,” higher education was built for us under an industrial-age model.” The us he is referring to are baby boomers and previous generations. I have to agree. If you are over the age of fifty, or perhaps even a little younger and rural, you most likely were taught by textbook with a teacher at the front of the room, making notes for you to copy down, from a blackboard.

Not so today. An “arsenal of electronic devices”, as stated in the article is now the norm. I think this was very evident in our ED366 class. Cellphones, tablets, laptops, as well as the desktops computers all came into play during the seven days. I know I used all three. The beauty of today’s updated technology, unlike the struggles the article refers to, is the ability to cross platforms, to be able to start aproject on one device, and then open it up and continue on another.  The Apple Corporation has been a leader in this regard, but others are quickly catching up, such as Google.

I don’t know if you all took note that most of the desktop programs we used to work on our presentations, had a corresponding app. As we try to educate a new generation of learners who have a phone permanently attached to their hands, this must become the new normal.  This is part of what is referred to in the article as “multiple media literacy.” It is not enough for students to do the job you are training them for, you must also be able to teach them the technology required to get it done as well. Because there are very few professions anymore that technology has not touched in some way. Even the cashier at the dollar store needs to know how to operate a computerized register.

Today’s teachers now have to become the students.  And there may be come catching up to do. Would my fellow classmates agree with that?

A good time had by all

This was my first CAE course, and if they are all as interesting as this one, it’s going to be a great couple of years.

I have spent most of my time in the last number of years working largely solo – given the nature of what I do. Last September I decided to shake things up and took a Holland College course. Which ultimately led me to this one. In the last 10 months I have meet more people and had more interesting conversations than I have in the last five years. I think now I got just socially lazy.

It has been extremely helpful to observe the teaching styles during the presentations. It has made me consider carefully how I would approach a classroom. But I had largely forgotten about the human factor quite frankly. Hearing your observations about the over-eager, the slackers, the timid ones, the aggressive ones etc. was an eye opener. (You get some good ones right?!) I was only looking at what I would be bringing into a classroom. Now I know I have to really look at what those students will be bringing to the experience, baggage and all.

Educational technology is certainly has a larger scope than I had anticipated. I knew about the big ones – like Power Point, Prezi and Google Docs – but it is the smaller, lesser know ones that have grabbed  my attention. I love being a tech hero. That look on someone’s face when you’ve shown them something new or cool is awesome.  I think Dave must feel like that a lot.

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Digital “Stuff”

This particular article really resonated with me. All of my “stuff” is digital. And it is always a nagging fear of mine that every piece of work I have done will one day be gone is one spectacular pouf of digital annihilation.

File naming: This is a huge one for me. I am dealing with a lot of different types of files as I built ads for my paper. I have found it very useful to put an obvious tag at the beginning of my file names – for instance AD(Company Name) appears at the beginning of each ad file I build, so when I am searching multiple files I can quickly disregard those files that may be pictures, or pieces of graphic art I’ve used. In my case I also stick the run date of each ad on after the company name.  Just these small tweaks has saved me countless hours I’m sure.

Also I NEVER trust a computer not to crash and burn (it’s happened twice) so I’ve invested in a number of large capacity stand alone hard drives over the years, to back up all my work.

I agree in principle with the idea of fewer documents, and structuring the content but have yet to do that. I create individual files, though I do try to group similar documents in one single folder. I think it’s important to have the discipline to periodically go into the folders and delete, much as you would with a paper filing cabinet.  Same goes for saving everything to your desktop. Clean it or organize it once in a while like you would your desk drawer or the top of your desk. Either physically or digital – clutter is clutter and impedes progress when you work.

Dave’s comment about digital bookmarking caught my attention (learning all kinds of useful stuff this week!) – I had no idea there were little programs to keep track of them. I tend to just jot those things down on post-its – sometimes I get to it, in which case I bookmark it, but often it is lost.

I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of a digital home – having everything posted in a blog, as Dave does. I can see it’s usefulness as we have been using it this week, but I don’t know if I would want a clearinghouse of my thoughts and work out there being scrutinized by the general public.

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Independent Learner

I have never waited to learn something in the classroom. When I was younger I had a 14 month period where I couldn’t find a job. It was a combination of a poor economy where I lived and my lack of any amount of formal education at the time.

Every day for months I drove to the library in the city, and I read every day. Every topic that caught my eye for hours all week. At first it became way to cope from losing my mind with boredom, then it became an adventure.

When I finally did get to post secondary a few years later I grabbed on to the courses that excited me and I did the extra work to learn even more on my own time. I have been always filling in the gaps. Much of what I know very well has been self-taught.

Dave makes the point of overcoming isolation – being outside the conversation of a particular field. I have felt that way somewhat this week. This is my first CAE course, and most of you have taught a program in the “real world.” Some of the terminology I have been unfamiliar with – but I’ve been making notes. I intend to follow up with more reading later. I imagine most of you would do the same if you came into my office and I started throwing out graphic design and business references.

I do think the Internet has changed things from passive to active learning. “Just Google it!” has become a common phrase. There is absolutely no excuse for not knowing your topic throughly, yet I have been in courses where students are genuinely bewildered when they receive a poor mark. Their excuse is that they couldn’t find any supporting material.

I do think self-assessment is hugely important in all aspects of a person’s life, not just for education purposes. If you don’t take the time to throughly figure out where you are headed it’s impossible to move forward. I have found self-reflection papers an excellent strategy for this, particularly if there are some guiding questions given by the instructor.

As you can probably tell I am still making the mental transition from student thinking to how I would approach these subjects as a teacher.

 

Give me the digits

Today I was completely out of my element. Unlike most of you I have never taught a full course. I hope to eventually so I was more interested today to listen to those of you who have actually been through this process.

I have come to the conclusion that I am old school. I want the grade mark. I want you to break it down for me into pieces and tell me what needs to be done to accomplish that. I don’t want to decide what to give myself. I am in YOUR classroom, I am perfectly comfortable with your abilities to tell me what number value my work has.

Having recently finished a Holland College program I can tell you that two of the courses has a pass/fail, and all others were a number grade. I detested the pass/fail. I felt it did not measure in any way the tremendous amount of work and hours that I put into it to complete the requirements. The courses that had the number grade? I saw those digits as proof of what I had done.

“So… if you want an A – do that much work. Only want a C? Do that much work”

Dave makes this point in his article. I guess because I haven’t had students it seems a bit bizarre to me that an adult would have this mindset going into a course that they’ve paid to be in. It makes me sound simplistic and naive perhaps, but shouldn’t we assume that everyone is in the class to do their best? Maybe that’s my 80’s elementary school self talking.

Christine

Let Me Entertain You!

I throughly enjoyed today’s class. New technology always excites me. Carl and I demonstrated the Powtoon application, and the little we were able to dig into was excellent.

In a classroom setting I can see this being highly popular. As a teacher I think this would be super fun to use, mix things up and keep most engaged with the material. As a student the utter ease of use would be easy to explain to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Power Point or similar presentation software.

We are an increasing visual society, which is why apps like Snapchat and Instagram are so widely popular. In 1960 three billion photos were taken a year. In 2015 over one trillion photos were taken. Every two minutes we are taking more photos than the whole of humanity in the 1800’s.

While Powtoon might not be suitable for every subject – given it’s seemingly light-hearted nature, it could still be be used, in those cases, as an introductory piece at the beginning of a course or class.

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We’ve all had the experience of attending a class so dry that you could almost see the air being sucked from the room. I don’t remember much about those. The material I almost always retain are those classes where I was immediately pulled in to the good time that the instructor seemed to be having up in the front of the room.

“Let me entertain you
Let me make you smile

Let me do a few tricks
Some old and then some new tricks
I’m very versatile”

Christine

 

Cheaters are welcome at my table.

I just finished course with Holland College that had a broad cross section of ages. The youngest was a freshly minted high school graduate with no work experience to speak of. The oldest was a determined 56 year grandmother, who had worked a series of retail and seasonal jobs. In between that was a group of students with a broad cross range of work and life situations.

Our program had a number of projects that required a collaboration for them to work, usually in groups of three or four. We were told what the topic was. We were introduced to a number of new technologies, such as Google Docs and Prezi – and then we were set free.

The topic was irrelevant really. It was the process of working together, adding ideas, bringing our own experiences and knowledge, and figuring out what worked and didn’t work. We cheated. As soon as one person figured out a particularly frustrating aspect of the technology, or found an excellent source of materials, everyone in the group, then everyone is the class knew too. There were no trade secrets held closely to our chests. It was an educational free for all.  And each one of us was grateful for the sharing.

And where was our teacher throughout the process? At her desk. Ready to guide, ready to listen, but never telling us what our final product should look like. There was a certain delicious freedom in that.

On presentation day, each group had distinctively different takes on the same topic. One group might have relied heavily on videos,  another might have relied solely on speaking notes and a Power Point presentation.

But at each presentation, you could see those lightbulbs going off around the room. A new knowledge, and understanding of the topic at hand, despite the fact that you yourself just presented on the same subject. You just never had that take on it. You examined it from a different angle.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Christine

 

 

 

Confessions of a Computer Geek

I still remember the first time I saw a personal computer. Andrew’s dad was a professor at Memorial University and had given that lucky boy the future. It was a black screen with orange MS-DOS type, hooked up to a dot-matrix printer. I was smitten.

Fast forward several years later. My first glimpse of the Internet. My fellow classmates and I huddled around the one tiny monitor that had a dial up connection. Here at my fingertips, everything I ever wanted to know, that I couldn’t find in that white set of encyclopedias my mother bought me when I was a kid. I was in love.

The first computer I bought for my business was $5000 and had 2GB of memory. I was the computer queen. Twenty years and about seven computers later my latest machine cost far less and has about 2TB of memory. Leaps and bounds in two decades.

What intrigues me is the notion that I can literally live anywhere, such as rural Prince Edward Island, and potentially create content for post secondary institutions anywhere in the world. Beyond that there is the potential to create learning experiences for anyone who seeks it out, beyond traditional bricks and mortar campuses, particularly those in rural areas.

A perfect example, in my opinion, of a website that does this well is lynda.com. With over 4000 courses, this website draws experts, in their respective fields, to share their knowledge is short, digestible videos. It is the type of learning that can fit into virtually any schedule.

My goal for this course is to learn what platforms are available to deliver content to students, in the most interesting and interactive way. If they are in front of me, how do I engage them, using technology? If they are learning virtually, how do I develop the materials to be clear and extremely user friendly?

Educational technology is an exciting place to be right now.

Christine