Learning Activity 8-C-1

I think changes in education have been slow to materialize. The nature of the industry is such that changes happen slower than in other sectors. As an economist, I believe that incentives matter and it is not different in the education industry. From the perspective of faculty, there are not a lot to personally gain from adopting new technologies and for embracing change. Most teachers K-12 are tenured and in a system that does not reward or encourage excellence.  It is not different in many universities across the country.   Thus, teachers know that improvements would probably not mean higher pay or even recognition.  Many times is the other way around.  Pushing for change may actually put teachers in a weird position with other teachers or even administrators.  From the perspective of administrators, it is similar.  Most K-12 schools have a monopoly over students in certain areas and thus have little incentive to improve.

The consequences have been showing for a while in the results of our educational system. A Pew Research Study explains that “(o)ne of the biggest cross-national tests is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which every three years measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15-year-olds in dozens of developed and developing countries. The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.”  The United States have been slowly losing positions in this ranking.

Our schools are to blame!  At younger age, students in the United States do well.  However, the longer students stay in American schools the more they lag behind other countries.  Our Schools are just not good.  I would like to say that all I saw in here would change education for the better.  I wanted to say that more technology would be used in the classroom and this technology would translate into students in American Schools learning more and recovering positions of the United States in international rankings.

However, unless the system change it is hard to see education in the United States changing that quickly. We have to rely on internal incentives of teachers. Most teaching professionals do become teachers to make a difference in students’ lives. However, without a systematic approach to improvements in performance, it’s hard to see the U.S. educational system change from within.

I see the world in 2020, not much different than the world in 2017. Changes in communication and online resources will continue to improve. However, real changes in our educational systems are unlikely in this time frame. The continued improvements in communications will allow for more students to take online courses. However, I believe that students will continue to take “brick and mortar” classes but they will mix these classes with some online courses in both college (in a larger degree) and in K-12 (in a smaller scale).

Pressure for change could happen if the population was growing fast and school districts needed more resources for new buildings. However, population growth has declined and tighter immigration policies should slow population growth even further. I think there is more hope for collaboration in research when true collaboration can make innovation flourish. Still, potential problems with patents and copyrights are likely to slow the pace of true collaboration worldwide. I don’t think the world in 3 years will be significantly different than the world today. Maybe we will have more Facebook pages and less paper but our lives and educational systems are likely to be very similar. Thus, being a teacher in 2020 will not be significantly different from being a teacher today.  Yes, it’s likely that I will be changing more online courses but I’ll still teach face-to-face courses too.

We learned a lot of things in this class. I think they are useful and I think the use of blogs, wikis, Google Docs, and sharing will increase slowly over time, not as much as one would think.  From my perspective, I get students in College who learned very little math in 12+ years of schooling.  My Community College is in a relatively high income district, I can only imagine what goes on in lower income districts (schooling in Illinois is financed mostly through property taxes).

With all these issues, I do still believe that I can make a difference in the lives of students.  I want to improve my teaching; I want to teach students something that will help them do well as professionals; I do question whether what we teach in my discipline is the most important for our students.  I will try to continue to try to excel and improve in my profession.  I will continue to think about how I teach something more relevant in the age of instant information.  What students really need to know?  I don’t know how to answer that but I think that collaboration and openness in the classroom can speed up the process.  I want to be a catalyst for change but I also think that we must also have system wide changes.

However, the truth today is that the educational environment is setup in a way that it slows change down; it does not speed it up.  Maybe great politicians will come up with great ideas of changes.  Maybe great administrators will execute these changes; Maybe administrators will choose great teachers to lead the change in education.  If this is the case, the internet would play a key role in this change.  Classrooms would have to be opened up.  We would have to change what we teach students.  We would have to make technology our partner to allow students to learn to use technology to leverage learning.  We would truly have to learn to collaborate online.  I hope we are all ready, this class is the beginning to get me ready!  Thank you for the class, Andre

 

Discussion 8-A-1

I would pick Google Docs. I think the weaknesses mentioned in the article about Google docs have been reduced significantly. There are a few things where Microsoft applications are superior but I think overall Google docs provide a very similar experience to the user. Furthermore, google docs is somewhat simpler to share than Microsoft products. Thus, I think that Google docs would serve well for different students.

I am not sure if I would recommend Google docs for students with specific learning styles. However, I think it’s good for students who have a hard time keeping their files organized and “their dogs tend to eat their homework”. It’s a simple way to never forget documents at home or to forget to bring assignments to school. I think the biggest benefit of Google docs is the ability of students to use and share information. Thus, students who benefit from sharing or who could benefit from sharing with colleagues would probably benefit from becoming familiar and using Google docs. I have children and they all use Google docs for various purposes, from College applications to submitting homework to completing homework assignments.

Discussion 7-B-1

On your blog, post about the idea of paperless spaces or a paperless class.
How would a paperless class change your role as a teacher?
I have wanted to go paperless for a while. At my son’s high school all students are given an ipad. However, at my college this is not the case yet. For me, my role wouldn’t necessarily change. We would just use the internet to do everything we do anyways. In practice, I would spend more time finding resources online that can be used in class and offer them to students. Still, I think it’s a change in procedures, not necessarily in roles.

How would paperless classes change learning?
I envision a class that students spend more time doing activities than listening to lectures. I think that each student would be able to follow his/her own pace more easily. I would rely on more online resources and spend more time developing them for students.

How would you measure learning in a paperless class?
I would still have quizzes, homework, tests, all completed online. I already give these online for online classes anyways. They would also be available for face-to-face students.

Would a paperless space make it easier or harder to build a learning network? Why?
I think much easier. Students would have access to a number of resources, including social media and similar, to connect with peers, professionals and so on. However, I will say that sometimes younger students have a harder time relating to others face-to-face. This may be make it harder for them to build a learning network.

BIG shifts 7-A-1

It was hard to choose one of the big shifts. I think we have all “shifted” how we teach in small and big ways. The one I chose to write about was #3: the social/collaborative construction of meaningful knowledge.

I think big shift #3 has changed my teaching practice significantly. I looked backed to when I started teaching in 2001 and I think I thought the learning process as a lecture from the active instructor to the passive student. It was definitely a one-way street where students could, at most, ask “good” questions. Nowadays, I have incorporated discussion, group work, and am taking this class to take collaboration to the next level. I think student-student, student-faculty-student, and faculty-faculty interaction will become more and more important parts of my course. I envision a more fluid social construction of knowledge within each class.

I must say that I am not there yet but I think I am making small changes that will lead me to be more open to more collaboration and to explore ways and tools in which this can be done. I think this course has already improved the tools and has opened up my mind to forms of sharing that it was more uncomfortable for me before like wikis.

I think that the technology that is available (many of which we covered in this course) will allow for us to optimize collaboration in a way that enhances the teaching experience for us faculty and the learning experience of students. I think wikis, blogs, microblogs, social media, etc, will become more and more part of the life of teachers and this technology will eventually become the norm in classrooms across the country and the world. Andre

Discussion 6-A-3

Post to your blog a response to one of the arguments summarized by one of the other groups on their wiki. Do you agree or disagree with the statements made? Why? Be sure to provide a link to the wiki page you’re responding to in your post. If you use any other sources in your response, be sure to cite those as well.

Group A’s argument”
“Is connectivism relevant to your teaching practice? If so, how?

(…) “Through practice with connectivism-like activities, students will become stronger readers and writers as well as learners who can effectively build their knowledge through collaborating with others, all while they improve their internet navigating and research skills. This learning theory is relevant to our teaching practices because learning through these online connections and real-life experiences can help our students achieve many of our general learning objectives. Higher order thinking has been a major initiative in schools over recent years. We have all heard that it is time to get our students more involved in their own learning and to guide them on a path of inquisitive, student-centered learning that requires them to delve deeply into their critical thinking skills. (…) By taking a look at one of Siemens’ highlights surrounding connectivism, these points can be summarized. ‘One of the principles of connectivism is how higher order thinking skills are activated when individuals can distinguish which of the abundant and diverse information available online are reliable or sustainable’ (Korpf, 2013). This explanation demonstrates how connectivism is relevant to our teaching practices.”

My comments: The issue I have with the argument is that it misses the actual link between the learning theory and the higher order thinking. Maybe students with access to diverse information will achieve higher order learning, maybe not. I think the evidence is not-conclusive. Furthermore, it is unclear how this access would work. What kind of access would achieve this higher level learning. I am not convinced that such exposure would magically increase higher order understanding of concepts.

Learning Activity 6-C-2

One of the main ideas of connectivism is that we learn through our connections with others. On your blog, post your reflection on your experience connecting with another educator using Skype. How you might use Skype in the future to either connect with other teachers or to help your students connect? What do you hope to gain by using this technology?

I have used Skype to connect with others in my College. We have meetings, especially over the Summer using Skype (we have also used Blackboard Collaborate). It is a good way to interact with others when the use of the phone is not enough. The face-to-face interaction can enhance communication when compared to voice only options. I think that the experience of interacting with others has been positive. I think that we can increase communication and thus learning through this shared experiences. I think it’s a little hard to use Skype extensively with other educators if you don’t them well. However, it’s a great tool to use with educators if you already know them well. I think this in conjunction with Diigo can definitely enhance interaction and learning for educators.

I am hoping to be able to use Skype in the future to conduct more meetings and other business with other educators in my school. I am not sure if I would use with students but I may use it for virtual office hours. Currently, I use Blackboard Collaborate but I may use both. I am hoping to gain more effective and increased communication with my colleagues and, potentially, students.