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Introducing the Awesome EDUC 515

AN OPPORTUNITY TO START ANEW THE LEARNING PROCESS

Ready for a productive, busy nine weeks of academic and professional growth.

GOALS:

Here we are at the beginning of a new semester, and as always it is a fresh start and a new opportunity to learn and grow both as a professional and human being.

So let's address a few basic questions: What are some of your personal or professional goals in EDUC 515 this semester. What would you like to be able to accomplish at the end of this class that you could not do at the beginning? What technologies might you be able to utilize to "teach digitally"? As technology continues to change profoundly how we live and work, what might be the implications for education? Or to be more specific, the implications for teachers? Students? What do you think?

Take a few minutes here as we begin to gather your thoughts and to brainstorm on a plan for progress in this class. Your final posted blogsite entry should be at least three or four paragraphs.

THE FEW, THE PROUD: EDUC 515

Morgan gives two "thumbs up" during first class meeting!!

Comments

I would like to become better acquainted with the current technology because I feel that it can help to bridge some of the cultural gaps between my students and I. I learned a lot of useful skills in my EDUC 512 class but I feel like I can get closer to mastering those skills in this EDUC 515 class. Students today really are in a different place then we were 10 years ago. While the main, underlying issues students deal with might not have changed, how students communicate and deal with those issues has. Students and teens today text instead of call people, they blog on public sites instead of writing in a private diary, they also post about their day on social media sites like facebook. Youth today are generally familiar with these types of technologies and utilize them at home. However, these types of technologies are rarely seen or used in the classroom setting.

One of my professional goals; to use technologies like blogs or wikis, effectively and when applicable, in the classroom. I can see blogs or wikis being a very effective tool for students. They can be used to keep up to date on assignments, to post a completed assignment, or to be able to collaborate and work with a partner on assignments outside of school. This would also help the teacher to be able to use class time in other ways rather then using it to do things that could easily be facilitated in an online forum. It would also give another chance for students to practice collaborating and working with each other over the computer, which is something that is more and more common in many work settings today.

“With great power also comes great responsibility” is one of my favorite Spider-Man quotes. It really makes me think of the educational setting with technology. We have made such great progress with technology, but with this progress we also see many new problems. Letting students use their phones in class to answer class questions also opens the door for students to cheat during tests or to coordinate other types of unwanted activities at school. Also, using social media sites or blogs that people can post whatever they want on can lead to many other problems that I can’t even begin to name. I think that there will be many issues to come involving these new technologies, but like anything, there are always kinks to be worked out. That doesn’t mean that we should push these new technologies away or shun them. We should embrace them and work out these problems as they arise.

As an environmental educator for the past 6 years, I have had the opportunity to see how students respond to different types of teaching. For the record, I usually teach thematic lessons on ecology, geology, and current environmental issues based on CA-state science standards. Students learn a lot on a 5-day trip, most significantly because of the reaction they have when taken out of their comfort zones, away from technology, in a classroom with no walls. Because I haven't had the smartboards and youtube videos, I have had to up my game, teaching-wise, and make sure my lessons are engaging and relevant--so my students aren't so distracted by deer, waterfalls, or (let's face it) squirrels.

I was one of the first outdoor educators in Yosemite to want to incorporate technology into my teaching, but I never knew quite how! I could get my students to take interesting photographs and make a movie when they returned, but that was out of my hands. I did Skype visits with classrooms, both pre- and post-trip, but felt that my skype lessons needed to better make the connection between their homes and the national park they would soon visit.

What I want to learn about, but haven't yet, are some tools I can use in the field (while on a hike) that my students could use to gather data, to then take back into the classroom and follow through with a long-term project. Ideas I have include measuring weather data, water and air quality, wildlife sightings, soils, and lichens. But what would be the best way to collect this data while on trail? Would it be to write it all down on paper, then spend some time doing data entry in class?

There are several people I know in the EE community that have begun to incorporate technology into their lessons. In the Channel Islands, park service has begun to do live dives and students can watch as divers collect data. In the Santa Monica Mountains, students measure windspeed at the top of Sandstone Peak and at Leo Carrillo State Park. The organization I currently work for recently received a $4million grant to be used in part to implement technology so I feel that anything I learn in EDUC 515 will be valuable information to use at work.

Goals for Fall 2011:

Some of my personal goals for the EDUC 515 class include expanding my understanding of technology and the impact it can have on student learning, and becoming more comfortable with technology so that I can more easily implement it in my classroom.

Professionally, understanding technology will make me a better teacher since so many of today’s students are coming to high school as “digital natives”. If I can find more ways to weave technology into my lessons, I truly believe students will have more success with the content. Additionally, exposing other teachers at my school to technology and helping them to implement it into their own classrooms will make us a stronger, more technologically advanced school.

At the end of this class, I am hoping to feel much more comfortable utilizing technology in my classroom and to do it in a way that maximizes student learning. I think I am at the stage right now where I understand that there are many different technologies out there, but I am not certain on how best to implement them in my classroom. I would hate to use technology just for the sake of saying that I am using it. Instead, I want to be able to apply technology in a truly beneficial way to create an even stronger learning environment than the one I currently have.

As technology continues to change and advance, I think teachers need to adapt to the times. We can’t just live in denial and think that things aren’t changing. It’s really up to us to put in the effort to learn how to use technology. Today’s students are used to using and receiving so much digital media and some of this should certainly be implemented in the classroom. As was the case before, today’s classrooms are filled with students that are unique learners. They all have individual strengths and weaknesses and I think that using technology can help to reach each type of learner. I really look forward to advancing my understanding and competency with technology during these next nine weeks and beyond.