Replies to Walden Blogs

Hi Everybody…

I replied to the following blogs. Be sure to check out what my colleagues are posting!

Brandy at http://brandylutz.wordpress.com
Kat at http://kat-edtheory.blogspot.com
Lisa at http://durffsblog.blogspot.com/

Mike 🙂

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Opposition to Technology Integration

An example in the workplace where I have experienced resistance to experimentation with using new technologies has centered on the development of online courses. My wife and I are huge proponents of finding ways incorporate online learning into the high school setting.

As online learners, we have experienced first-hand the benefits of online learning. Although we are both aware that online learning is not necessarily the smoking gun for improving education, it is apparent that online learning is here to stay and will probably be a part of most future learners’ educational experiences. With this in mind, we feel that it is important for high school students to begin having some experience with online learning as they prepare to enter college and/or the workforce. In addition, rural schools are in need of new, innovative ways to stay viable. With shrinking budgets, reduced staff, and fewer resources, online learning could serve as an avenue for providing rural students with access to relevant and essential coursework that they may otherwise not get.

At the beginning of the school year, we presented some of the work that we developed over the summer to begin introducing some components of online learning into our classes. We were not asking for others teachers to the same work, to any additional work, or to make any changes in their instructional practices at this time. We simply wanted to share what we were working on and to share the potential of online learning.

The reaction was very disheartening. Many of our colleagues showed little interest in what we were working on. Many of them left the meeting grumbling about having to do more work now to learn about new technology, to integrate new applications into their classes, or to live up to higher technological standards. The administration thanked us for our efforts but provided very little follow-up support. In the end, it felt like our effort to push the envelope (in really slight way compared to the progress and advances in other places around the world) was met with resistance and passive-aggressive attitudes. We felt very isolated in our efforts to bring about some positive changes in our school.

Keller’s ARCS model, as described by Driscoll (2005), could provide a route for helping to reverse the types of behaviors and attitudes that we encountered. “ARCS” stands for attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. In the case of the situation that my wife and I experienced, I think that confidence was one of the main obstacles for our colleagues. Many of them lack confidence in their abilities to learn new technology and integrate them into the classroom. Therefore, one need that our staff has revolves around getting time and opportunities to develop their technology skills in order to boost their confidence and motivation to take some risks by trying new technology-based strategies in their classrooms. I feel that these types of opportunities would be an essential piece to helping our district move forward with regard to educational technology and to redefining what a rural school might look like in the future.

References

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

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CCK11 Is connectivism retroactive?

I have been catching up on the readings from the first couple of weeks of the CCK11 open course in addition to doing all of my readings for the Walden class that I am currently taking about learning theories and educational technology. One of the goals is to try and wrap my brain around the various learning theories that are out there and explore how they may be applied in various educational settings. Another goal is to assess how connectivism fits into the scheme of how we learn and how we educate.

In looking at the various “accepted” or prominent learning theories that are out there, it seems as though their enduring applicability is what allows us to feel a little more comfortable in calling them theories. Behaviorism, for example, may no longer be viewed as an all-encompassing theory that describes how we learn, but we can easily pick out examples where fundamental behaviorist principles are driving teaching and learning. I think that similar things can be said about constructivism or cognitivism.

With connectivism, there is obviously the debate about whether or not it can stand as an independent learning theory. Is this because it has not been around long enough to demonstrate its enduring applications?

Another key aspect of connectivism is link to technology and the role that technology plays in the learning process and in the process of building connections. Today’s technology has significantly changed how we function as a whole; this impact leads to need to rethink (as George Siemens mentioned in a video at http://www.youtube.com/user/gregaloha#p/c/0/a5-Wk2cwb68) how we go about the educational process.

So, I guess that this leads me to my main question: Is connectivism retroactive? Can we take the underlying principles and apply them to earlier contexts? Even though there is a significant tie to the technologies that we have today and illustrating how connective networks can be established and maintained, technology is simply a general term for any tool that we have created to assist us in completing a task. A basic definition, developed by Heinrich (as cited in Saettler, 2004), of educational technology is “…the application of our scientific knowledge about human learning to the practical task of teaching and learning” (p. 5). Could we use connectivist principles to explain how the chalkboard influenced learning? Could we use connectivist principles to explain how graphing calculators influenced network creation?

Just as more “classic” learning theories can be brought forward and applied, could we use the current model of connectivism to explain prior learning contexts or prior influences of other technologies? If, in fact, we can, would these provide more substance for promoting connectivism as a unique learning theory? These are just some thoughts that popped up for me in my own learning process. I am really curious to hear what others think about this…

References

Saettler, P. (2004). The evolution of American educational technology. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

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More Replies to My Fellow Walden 8845 Bloggers

Hi Everybody…

I replied to the posts of the following classmates in EDUC 8845. Be sure to check out their throughts on connectivism…

Brandy at: http://brandylutz.wordpress.com/

and

Laurie at: http://lkortecc.blogspot.com

and

Richard at http://walden7105.blogspot.com

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Mike’s Learning Network Mindmap

Mike's learning network mindmap.

How has your network changed the way you learn?

One of the most significant ways (in recent years) that my learning network has changed how I learn is that it has opened up a wider array of learning opportunities and has provided access to a larger number of tools for finding and learning information. As part of my education, I have learned how to utilize digital tools to communicate, generate documents, access information, synthesize concepts, and share ideas. I have had opportunities to connect with instructors, experts in the field, and fellow students from all around the world. In many cases, I have been able to collaborate with individuals from across the country to develop projects and ideas. Technology has afforded me the opportunity to expand my learning network far beyond what was available to me prior to engaging in online learning.

These changes in my learning network have also helped to enhance the more “traditional” components of my learning network. Although I still work with colleagues and students in a face-to-face nature, I am able to integrate a variety of new technology-based applications which allow our shared learning network to extended beyond the confines of classroom walls and static textbooks. In the end, an expanded learning network makes is possible to break through physicals barriers of time and space to access information from all reaches.

Which digital tools best facilitate learning for you?

Personally, I have found that I can able to learn through a variety of different learning tools. Although I still enjoy opportunities to interact with people in face-to-face settings, online learning (and the tools that are associated with this type of learning environment) works extremely well for me. In general, I have grown to adopt a variety of different tools for learning ranging from hard-copy textbooks to online blogs to Internet-based simulations to long distance SKYPE sessions with peers.

How do you learn new knowledge when you have questions?

When I have questions, I try to access a wide range of different learning communities. As an educator and life-long learner, I have access to education professionals, experts in the field, fellow students, and so on. Connections with these individuals make it possible to find the relevant information for solving problems. In addition to personal connections, the Internet itself provides access to wide range of resources. I have learned to use the Internet to access information and to explore new applications in order to get the most out of virtual interactions with information and people. I have also found that an important feature of maintaining by dynamic and flexible learning network involves taking my own initiative to locate, learn, and develop new information. Actively seeking out information within the network serves to keep the network fluid, efficient, and effective.

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Replies to Walden 8845 Classmates

Hi Everybody…

I responded to the following blog posts. Be sure to check them out!

Kim
http://amusingmoose.wordpress.com

Laurie
http://lkortecc.blogspot.com

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Collaboration and Technology

In his TEDTalks discussion, Rheingold (2005) presented an interesting take on the evolution of collaboration (see http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/howard_rheingold_on_collaboration.html). In the examples that he portrayed, he suggested that humans have a natural tendency to form groups to accomplish particular goals. However, the formation of these groups is influenced by particular goals and social factors and, in turn, influences how future interactions and group dynamics.

In general, I agree with Rheingold’s perspective that humans are naturally social and seek out opportunities to interact with others. Collaboration serves as an opportunity to share ideas, to get feedback from others, to explore one’s creativity, and to continue to progress forward.

As noted by Rheingold, the process of change continues to accelerate; technology has both contributed to the increased pace and allowed individuals to keep up. Current technology makes it possible for individuals to collaborate in a variety of forms, communicate ideas, and construct new understandings. Constructivist learning is essentially based on the opportunity for individuals to actively explore concepts and construct their understanding of those concepts. Current technologies allow individuals to construct information and quickly share it with the rest of the world. This sharing of information creates the opportunity for unprecedented collaboration (both direct and indirect) with others around the world. Although Wikipedia (as noted by Rheingold) has come under its share of criticism, the net result illustrates the ability of people to collaboratively create, gather, and connect vast amounts of information. And in the modern world, information has become a premium commodity within the global community.

As collective group, then, how will people evolve in order to function effectively in collaborative efforts that span the globe and that result in massive amounts of product? What will collaboration have to look like in order for us to maximize the potential afforded by our innate abilities and technological tools we have developed to support those abilities?

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