Category Archives: STANDARD 4: MANAGEMENT

EdTech 543- PLE Depiction and Analysis

Entering into this class, I was certainly aware of the term Personal Learning Network.  I had been through a professional development ‘workshop’ on web 2.0 and it’s potential uses in education.  I had embraced Facebook as a way to connect socially, Twitter as a way to see what others are doing and various Ning Communities as a way to converse while still be distant.  If anyone asked, I would have said that I had a PLN.  Looking back, I am not so sure.  I had connections, for sure.  I lurked in the background and cherry-picked the good stuff.  I read blogs posts here and there, but never commented.  I tweeted experimentally, but with little of substance to add.

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So what has changed.  In some ways, not a great deal.  I am still more lurker than contributor…but I am working on that.  More importantly, I have come to gain a better appreciation of the fact that the PLN is simply a portion of the Personal Learning Environment (PLE).  When push comes to shove, this is about my own learning.  For that to happen, I need to have a variety of ways to obtain and process information.  The tools for finding information vary from Google to Twitter to Facebook.  (For the sake of this assignment, I am limiting myself to the online communities, but understand the role of my offline interactions as well.)  From there, learning becomes an interactive process.  I reflect in a blog or comment on someone else’s blog.  The dialogue begins and I build on a base of understanding.  From there the cycle builds and grows over time.  Interestingly, I used to feel like I could “master”  a topic.  I may not have known everything, but I knew everything that was reasonable to know.  Now, it seems there really isn’t such a limit (or achievement?).  With so much to know and so many potential teachers, all PLE supported,  the sky is the limit.

One thing became apparent as I viewed some classmates’ own PLE diagrams- mine showed less distinction about what each tool/community is for.  That is not to say that mine is better.  Truth is I really don’t know.  Distinctions about personal vs. professional seem like they should be distinguished.  But, for me, as I view my own learning, they all blend together.  This class brought my social world, Facebook, into my professional world.  One of my students follows me on Twitter, which I use for Professional Development.  We chat about golf.  So many of the tools could be placed in every category.  Even in my depiction this was true, but I went with what I use it for most.  Heading forward, this is both a challenge and an opportunity.  I have to be aware that my audience is very diverse.  It includes my colleagues, my boss, my students and even my mother.  However, it also brings the opportunity to catch things that might pass by otherwise and to get input on professional topics (or personal ones) from unlikely sources.

I’ll be interested to do this again in a few years.

Ed Tech 543- Curated Topics Criteria Group Assignment

While I have been studying Ed Tech at Boise State for a year and a half, this was the first true group project I have been involved.  There have been opportunities, but it always seemed that it would be easier to work alone.  Something about individual work just seems more efficient.  Much of this comes from outdated ideas that linger in my head.  Collaboration across the internet means creating a document, emailing it to your partners, each suggesting or adding changes and emailing it back, changing the original to reflect the new material, emailing that updated copy to partners, getting an email pointing out errors or omissions  changing the new original to reflect those changes, emailing it out, and on and on.  Frustrating right?

Leave it to Social Networking Learning to disprove that.  This assignment was something of an eye-opener in terms of showing me the ease of group collaboration across social networks.  To be fair, my group was actually a pair and my partner was outstanding.  Both of these facts contributed to the success of the project.

My partner Fabio Cominotti, and I come from different backgrounds.  I teach Science and Fabio’s background is in
English.  Despite this, we seemed to be on the same page from square one.  Our busy schedules limited our time and made efficient work a must.  We quickly settled on Google Docs as our medium and the project on curation came together seamlessly   The use of Facebook for conversation (and the fact that I get updates on my phone and can respond quickly) help ease the process of communicating changes and helped us stay on the same track.  Fabio learned and introduced me to Scoop.It, which is an exciting tool that I will be using quite a bit heading forward.

Overall, this group experience has been excellent.  A great partner, amazing tools and a cool subject all contributed to a positive experience.

Project-Based Learning- Ed Tech 542 Post 1

As I begin this exploration into project-based learning, my initial thoughts are very positive.  Most articles and sources that I have come across paint a picture of motivated, engaged students doing work on project that have real and lasting results.  Edutopia.org provides a laundry list of benefits of  PBL including improved standardized test scores (although I wouldn’t want that to be the main goal of a learning situation).  Projects seems to bring life to classrooms that few other strategies do.  Students learn about topics that are important to them and develop some product that they the share with the world.  The learning is authentic and seems to be a wonderful way to approach learning.

As a science teacher, I ma often confronted with the question of covering content vs. helping students learn science.  The fact is that our understanding of the Biological world, for example, has exploded in the past century and there are simply too many facts to cover in a school year.  Even if I were able to cover the enormous textbook cover to cover, there is little chance that my student would retain more than a tiny fraction of the facts they learned. PBL seems to provide an alternative.  Yes, you do sacrifice the amount of material covered, but the depth of what is covered and the learning and retention seem to make it very worth the trade off.

One aspect of PBL that I do find intimidating is the fact that so many teachers do this within groups.  They lean on each other as they develop projects and share experiences and learn from each other as projects progress.  At my school, we have created a somewhat isolating culture in which teachers don’t collaborate as often as they should. While I think i want to incorporate PBL into my teaching for the students benefit, I also hope that my colleagues will be open to sharing that experience.  Who knows, perhaps my embracing PBL might help start a cultural shift at my school.

As far as ideas for a project go, there have been some moves at my school towards embracing a gardening curriculum.  I think I would like to explore that as a project for this class.  Some of the work has actually been done here, but I will approach it as if ground has yet to be broken.