Blog Response #2~ Twitter for Educators and Students

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Twitter is just about 6 years old now. It’s incredible how many people are on this social networking site. In searching people to follow you discover more about topics you’re interested in (such as Spanish or education or photography) as well as having an avenue to share interesting online resources for those who follow you. I’m amazed at how many educators use this in an academic sense. I’ve enjoyed seeing some of the ideas others have. Some are more dedicated than others and tweet several times a week. Others seem to sign-up only to left it fall to the wayside. It all depends on how much time you can invest into it as well as your desire to. I’m not sure I’ll be able to continue with it once I’m in the classroom. I’ll be busy with lesson planning and whatever extra curricular activities I’ll be tied to. Some people I’ve followed tweet so frequently that it’s distracting and prevent others’ tweets from being on my news feed. The book and articles have led to some good people to follow and emphasize the availability of good educational information.

Student use of social media truly depends on specific  students’ dispositions. Reflecting on people in my high school some make appropriate use; others use it for purposes that are not befitting of a high school student. Facebook and Twitter have many benefits, but are also plagued by those who misuse it. You can organize and advertise an event or share too much information that isn’t for public consumption or slander others for your own advancement. Some sites are more adaptable or geared toward educational purposes. Diigo is wonderful for class projects and sharing information. Twitter can connect students to others around the world for information. I believe social media can be incorporated in the classroom. However, before starting that kind of adventure, the teacher should address the issues of security, privacy, and legitimacy with students. If the standards are firmly set from the beginning, students will be more cautious and smart when using the social media tools for education. If someone abuses the system, teachers should punish with appropriate measures to prevent other students from misusing it and challenging the system.

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SOPA and Its Backlash

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Yes, this is an extra-post that is part of my attempt to become more technologically savve. (Ok, more like it just happened into my lap via Facebook and WordPress, but still, I’m trying to understand this.) So here’s to something new:

Anyway, when searching for different blogs to follow the yesterday, I came across what I believed was an ad for something called SOPA and just went back to the previous page to try with something else. But it came up for 4 or 5 of the blogs I wanted to look at. So I finally took the time to read through the ad. It was imploring us to write to our Congressmen(women) to counteract this new bill, SOPA. I investigated a little more to discover that they plan to shut down companies that provide free downloading. Still not really comprehending what this means for me, I continue working on various assignments. Later that evening, my roommate mentions something about SOPA and explains it in such a way that I more or less get the gist of the bill. Basically, I won’t be able to find the latest episodes of Doctor Who or several other of my favorite TV shows online. I’m not exactly sure what else will be excluded, but believe this will cause a ruckus in many other online things as well.

Flash forward to the present. I log into Facebook to see what my friends are up to (aka refusing to work on the homework mountain I’m attempting to conquer). Scrolling down I see something from a good friend who I met in Spain. He’s writing things such as, “Why must they take our videos away?!?” Baffled, I continue to scroll down and see an earlier post by him and another Spaniard complaining about Megaupload. Turns out that they watch many videos through Megavideo, a subcategory of Megaupload. This is the company that I watch my favorite shows on as well. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that this American law is having a large influence across the ocean as well. It’s befuddling to imagine that something that I thought was only American is stretching worldwide because of the interconnectedness we share via the internet. Anywho, silly little ramblings, but I thought it was pertinent to this class.

High-Tech Idaho Schools

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In a recent New York Times article, readers learn about the latest legislation involving the education system and technology. Idaho is forcing technology to be included in the classroom by teachers in addition to requiring high school students to take online classes. Lawmakers are declaring which programs should be used in the classroom and how. Teachers “receive a grade” for whether they use technology in their classroom, placing added pressures to a potentially already high stress job.

Teachers are divided on the topic. Majority are opposed. Fears include lack of training, being unable to incorporate specific technology into their teaching methodology, eventually being replaced by a computer, and budget cuts for salaries to compensate for the new equipment. Yes, they see the benefit to incorporating technology. However, the limitations and regulation of the usage is disheartening.

Personally, I lean toward the side of the hesitant teachers. My personal technological experiences are limited and often frustrating. In addition to the demands of teaching my subject area, will I be required to teach programs that I barely understand? What will happen to the students that don’t have a computer at home to work on classwork after the school day?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I will incorporate technology into my classroom as much as possible in a manner that fits with my subject and my students’ abilities. I feel that this technological push by Idaho will soon be followed in other states. I’m afraid of the social implications that will come from this. Will plagiarism increase? How do students develop interpersonal skills when they are encouraged to automatically turn to a computer for help? What happens to spelling and writing skills when you only type? I’m hoping Idaho uses technology in addition to direct teaching instead of making technology the foundational skill of what a good teacher needs to reach their students.

Blog Reflection #1~ Edutopia.org video

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The video from Edutopia.org provided some incredible ideas for project-based learning. In many of the schools, the project-based learning revolved around the students’ interests. These can be shorter or semester-long projects. The projects in the video used technology, but weren’t focused on the technology. Students used information off the internet or created Powerpoint presentations. Some benefits include students’ high motivation and involvement as well as possibly incorporating their research into real life experimentation. Students could find a future career path through a former project-based learning module. However, critics wonder whether students are learning all they should within these settings. Presently, I cannot decide where my loyalties lie. I understand the benefit to project-based learning, but don’t quite understand how to get all your students on board. Finding a way to relate your topic to every student is impossible and it seems that project-based learning could be detrimental if several students require all your attention or if they simply refuse to do the work necessary for success in a larger project. Also, I’m not sure what means of project-based learning would be most conducive to a history setting that would intrigue enough students in a subject generally looked upon as boring. It would be helpful to learn about specific project-based learning modules for certain subject matters.