Sunday, July 13, 2014

Final Project - Writing Assignment

            As societies around the globe becomes more and more reliant on technology, I must remember the importance of adapting my teaching practices to ensure my students are prepared for the digital world that lays ahead. Teaching my students how to properly utilize technology to enhance their learning and aid them in acquiring useful information is paramount to their success in today’s modern world. Although my students are born in this digital age, and are, in many respects, considered “digital natives,” this does not necessarily mean that they are all 100 percent fluent when it comes to technology’s many academic uses. As Boyd states in chapter 7 of her book, *It's Complicated “The notion of the digital native, whether constructed positively or negatively, has serious unintended consequences. Not only is it fraught, but it obscures the uneven distribution of technological skills and media literacy across the youth population, presenting an inaccurate portrait of young people as uniformly prepared for the digital era and ignoring the assumed level of privilege required to be “native.”’ Although I consider myself to be a “digital immigrant,” I have the foresight to educate myself and stay current with trends in technology. By incorporating technology into my instruction, such as through the use of hybrid pedagogy, I can help my students to utilize technology in order to benefit them academically. This course was a great way to critically analyze differing viewpoints of how to incorporate technology into the classroom.

As I seek out new ways to stay current with trends in education, I must also be conscious of why certain beliefs and views are valued and why others are not in the media. So much information is available to our youth today, and I feel it is important as an educator to help my students navigate and question certain propaganda portrayed by the media. One exercise I plan on implementing as soon as my students return in the fall will be S.C.W.A.A.M.P. This exercise did a wonderful job of opening my eyes to many of the reasons why certain stereotypes and injustices exist in our society today. I am sure that it will help to inform my students of our society’s dominant ideology. Having my students partake in this exercise will pair nicely with my belief of educating my students about their individual backgrounds and cultures. I am a strong believer in critical pedagogy, and that my students are empowered when they are informed about the historical past of their native cultures and the cultures of their classmates.

As a culminating project for Curriculum 501, I chose to create a better organizational tool for myself. The structure of the school where I am employed and the nature of my job require that I transition from location to location throughout the day. I have found it challenging to keep up with proper documentation, and I was/am in serious need of a tool that is both easily accessible, and easy to use. I have found that one of my greatest challenges in learning how to utilize technology more efficiently has been lack of time. I become reliant on tools that may be inefficient, mainly because I don’t have enough time to devote to learning what could be an easier way. This course provided me with the time to challenge myself and push myself to try new things, such as the digital tool, Evernote. My aim with using this new tool is to incorporate it into my daily schedule, and eventually try to have my students do the same. In one of our last classes, Dr. Bogad said something that stuck with me throughout the completion of this project: “If you create it, they will use it.” Hopefully this will hold true as I move forward with the implementation of this new tool.

To better organize and progress-monitor my students, I decided to create an Evernote account. Dr. Bogad and a couple of my classmates recommended this as a tool that might work well for my needs, so I decided to try it out for our first assignment in which we were required to learn and teach others about a digital tool. It took me quite a while to get accustomed to the various tools, but I was immediately pleased with the overall layout of the site and it’s accessibility from my smartphone. Last year I attempted to use Google Docs, but for some reason the layout didn’t work for me and I spent more time looking for information than accessing it. The Evernote account that I created allows me to create new “notebooks” for each student or group of students that I with whom I work. I can then add “files” into my “notebooks” to organize my individual students within groups or buildings. Although adding all of this information was quite time consuming, I now feel I have a tool that I will want to use to enable me to stay better organized for the benefit my students and me.

Boyd, Danah. It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Final Pecha Kucha Attachment: Final Project Pecha Kucha

(Under 7)
Includes a narrative context about where this project came from, what you did and why it is important to you


Explains how the use of digital technology enhances or changes this content/context (points x2)


Draws from at least 3 of our course themes, texts or issues (points x2)

Demonstrates something that you could not have done or conceptualized before this course


Includes hyperlinks to at least 5 external resources (academic and/or technical)

Writing Style (creativity, style, flow)


Writing Style (grammar, spelling, format)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Digital Native?

I do not think of myself as a digital native. When I was in college, email was just beginning to become a thing, and I didn’t use it until a couple of years after I finished my undergraduate degree. I would call myself a happy immigrant, still trying to figure my new language. My social language is great! I can email, go on the Internet, etc. But my academic language needs a lot of work. I still need to figure out how to utilize technology for academic purposes to benefit me, and my students in the classroom. It really hasn’t been until that past 5 or so years that I have found myself reliant on technology. I think the turning point for me was when I spent my own money on a computer. It was really expensive, so I wanted to figure out how to get my money’s worth.

I have learned more about technology over the past 4 years, I believe, as a result of my students. They motivate me to learn new tools. I need to keep up with them so I have been more willing to access and try to learn about new digital tools. Dr. Bogad said something the first day of class that has resonated with me, "Don't be fooled, technology might make things easier, but it will not save you time." I find this to be true for myself. The more things that I learn, the more time I spend trying to use them properly. 

I need to add, just to be completely honest, that I would still much rather be surfing or hiking, than learning how to use a digital tool.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Smartphone Addiction Conversation

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Turkle vs. Wesch

            After reading the article and watching the video, I got the feeling that Turkle and Wesch are on allies when it comes to media and technology, but that they believe in different solutions. Wesch argue that we need to have the knowledge to use technology to better equip ourselves, and Turkle argues that we need to break free of technology to better equip ourselves.
Wesch takes the standpoint that we need to utilize technology to move students from being “knowledgeable to knowledge-able.” He feels that if students have the ability to understand how significant a message can be when seen by the masses, they will be motivated to use technology in a more productive manner. He references T.V. advertisements, and random viral videos that have done amazingly well at connecting people and igniting positive change. He makes the point that in the past, there was not a lot people that were not on TV could do to make change. Now, with new advances in technology anyone can be heard and voice their opinions. Wesch argues that we need to teach students how to effectively use media for productivity and positivity, and once learned, students will use it for just that.
Turkle argues that in order for individuals to really connect with each other, the devices need to be turned off and put away. She references our youth, who would rather interact via screens than have actual face-to-face conversations. She makes a very good point about the ability to delete and fine-tune everything that is put into the universe via technology. In real life, conversations can be messy and blemished, but on the web, everything can look perfect – including someone’s life. If we continue to rely less on real-life, real-time feedback, we will eventually lose the ability to connect with each other free of devices. We will lose that ability and the need to read cues, because we can just send a message without the fear of having to respond immediately.

It was interesting to read about, and see on the video, one significant commonality. A main reason given as to why people develop a dependence on technology stems from lack of human attention. In the video, a girl holds up a sign lamenting about how professors don’t know her name, and in the reading Turkle quotes an answer to her question about technology relationships as “No one is listening.” This is intriguing. Technology gives us (in my opinion) a false sense of being connected and being listened to. Although, technology also give is the ability to have our voices and opinions heard by millions of others. This is the reason why I believe Turkle and Wesch are allies when it comes to media and technology. They are both seeking to answer the same question: How can we find a balance of human interaction (with no technology involved) in conjunction with connecting in a meaningful and productive way with technology?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sticking It to the Man
Wayne Au

            Sticking It to the Man by Wayne Au compares two Hollywood movies, School of Rock and The Perfect Score.  Au uses the films to speak about the United States “dehumanizing,” “budget cutting,” over-test driven educational system. This excerpt was an interesting read, and Au’s critique of these two very different films does a great job of shedding light on some of the current educational practices that discourage cooperative learning and free thinking, which the movies believe, are making our classrooms boring and high-stakes test driven.  The author states that the moral lesson in both of these films “is that grades and test scores don’t represent real learning, and they certainly represent all that is human and important about students and education.”

            The chapter begins with a summary of School of Rock. Jack Black’s character Dewey Finn impersonates his roommate to attain a long-term substitute teaching position at a wealthy private school. Finn hasn’t the slightest clue about teaching, but in his naivety does away with the previous teachers atmosphere of “silent contained obedience to a free-spirited classroom.” Finn is able to bring out each of the students hidden talents through the creation of a school rock band, in which they work collectively to compete in a competition. Over the course of the movie the students gradually become more self-aware, and their attitudes toward their own education take a “more positive direction.”

Au is clear on his opinion of the Perfect Storm being junk, but also recognizes that the movie still manages to get a couple of good points across to it’s audience.  According to Au, the film does a great job of exposing the inequalities of standardized testing and test makers, such as the SAT and ETS. He goes on to explain about how the SAT or “Suck-Ass Test” is laden with biasness in gender, race and socio-economic status.

            I enjoyed reading this piece. I agree with most of the viewpoints of the movies, so it was easy to enjoy. I personally do not believe that we should be measuring student intelligence with a “one size fits all” mentality. With such an emphasis placed on test scores, in my opinion, teachers are forced to teach to the test, and lose the ability to create a learning environment that is best suited to the many different learning styles within each classroom.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Facebook Experiment

The other day I mentioned something about Facebook conducting an experiment on some of it's users. Here is the link to the article I was talking about.

Facebook Experiment

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I never had much care for cartoons or Disney movies growing up. I have never been to Disney World, nor did/do I ever feel like I was/am missing out.  I don’t mean to say that I disliked Disney movies; they just didn’t play a very big role in my life. My parents didn’t really encourage or discourage my siblings and me from watching cartoons, but as far as I can remember, my brother and sister didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to them either. My parents were pretty busy when I was younger, and they didn’t read much to us growing up. When I was old enough to pick out my own books, the Disney tales weren’t what I gravitated to, so the Disney texts never played much of a role in my life either.
Disney plays much more of a role in my life now, than it ever has. I have two boys – including a five year old, Kai, who loves to watch movies. He can’t get enough of anything that is one T.V. He is pretty upset that we don’t have a T.V., and that he has to watch movies on “that small screen” (the computer). One of his favorite things is to go to his grandparent’s house where he can watch movies on their big T.V. My wife does not want Kai to be exposed too much to movies that contain violence, or as she puts it, “will curb his creativity.” I have been a bit more laid back about it than she is, and it pretty much drives her crazy when in the past I have let him pick out what he wants to watch, or allow my mom to pick it. Yesterday’s class and reading this article have helped to put my wife’s opinion into a little more perspective. I don’t want my son growing up thinking that every story has to be the same: a girl needs a guy, pretty with pretty, poor with poor, rich with rich, etc. Also, I really don’t want to have to deal with the hassle, heat, and lines, and expense of Disney World.

 Brave challenged many of the notions that we read about in the article by Christensen. There was no prince to save the day, nor was there a need for him. The girl didn’t want what every other Disney girl wants – a man to keep her safe. In fact, all of the possible suitors were portrayed as weak. Although, Merida’s eyes did light up a bit when the movie teased the big guy as a possible suitor. Also, I feel that the movie was a bit stereotypical of Scottish culture – the drinking and the fighting.