Friday, July 31, 2009
The research paper is finished, except for printing, and I'll do that tomorrow after I proofread it just once more. Really, just once. This time I mean it. Once. We've learned so much in this class, I'm really excited to get out there and use some of it in the real world. Oh, and then there's that pesky final exam. I hope it's not a paper and pen exam. That would be a real technological disappointment, wouldn't it?
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The research paper is shaping up. Blogging for language learning is at the top of my future to-do list. My review of the research has definitely been enlightening. English language learners can gain so much from keeping a personal blog. It seems the best results occur when teachers let their students express themselves freely, without editing, revising and correcting. Their language skills in the target language grow from reading and writing experience, and from contact with native English language speakers through the comment/response function of the blogs. For some students, this may be the only contact they have with native English speakers. In one of the studies I read, the teacher was Chinese, teaching English to Japanese college students. Their opportunities for contact with, and feedback from English speakers was non-existent before they started to blog. The students perceptions of what they learned and accomplished after blogging were overwhelmingly positive.
Best practices in education can be accomplished when you give your ESL students a blogging assignment. Blogs are socially interactive, the format allows differentiation of instruction and assessment, and the students are (mostly) engaged in the technology. Various styles of learning can be addressed by different uses of multimedia. I love the idea of going outside to do mobile blog posts (now if I can just get the Blackberry to cooperate).
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
The topic was Liberating Learning-The Future of Education. The two authors (Terry Moe and John Chubb) wrote a book about how politics affects education. They say that less beaurocracy is better for schools. Special interest groups and teacher's unions, both powerful in the political process, are listened to by legislators. Their bottom line is that the special interest groups and teacher's unions are blocking needed educational change/reform. The main focus of the reform is the use of technology in schools.
They said technology is now at a point where it can make a big difference in schools, and is less expensive than traditional schools, so why is technology being blocked by political barriers? They said technology is threatening to the powers that be, that government is stifling the advance of technology in education. It's clear that lots of kids are not learning in traditional classrooms, so if there are better ways to help kids learn, they ought to win out. With technology, coursework can be customized, students can access their work no matter where they are, and they can work at their own pace. Multimedia programs along with teacher support increase learning.
How will technology transform schools? Teachers won't be concentrated in a district, so unions will be harder to maintain. When technology is a substitution for labor, that means fewer teachers will be needed. They say that schools will be hybrids in the future, part online learning and part face-to-face. Presently, technology is only used around the edges of education, i.e. AP courses, for remediation, and for returning dropouts.
The authors mentioned some successful online schools in PA, FL and OH. At PA-Cyber school 8000 kids enrolled, sponsored by a school district, and the initial response was that the teacher's union went to court to get the funding for the online school cut. They said it's impossible to avoid focusing on teacher's unions, which have 4 million members in the US. They said that state by state, the stronger the union the less technology is used in the schools.
One of the audience members said it is simplistic to say teacher's unions are the boogieman.
He said that NCLB and level testing are the real problems. The author's response was to say that unions ARE powerful, you don't like it, but that's the truth. They suggested the audience member should read the book. He said "we are not engaging in a rant."
The issues here are unfamiliar to me, but I think these two distinguished scholars have a few problems. They did seem to be on a rant, they were somewhat antagonistic toward the one audience member who disagreed, and they both could use a course in public speaking. If we had a dollar for every um...uh...well...huh...you know...um...uh....uh....we could send our union representatives to a technology conference and get them on the bandwagon. Just my $ 0.02.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I'm finding as I work on the writing of the paper, that I have to narrow down my focus. The studies and anecdotes from foreign language classrooms can all be extrapolated to other subject areas and vice versa. So, I need to decide how to clearly narrow down all the information I've collected. Blogging in a foreign language can absolutely improve all areas of language learning. The social and collaborative, student-centered medium of the blog meets best practice and educational standards. Can you imagine writing your blog entries in your second language? One of the studies I read describes a class of Japanese students who did voice blog entries in English every week for the whole semester. I tried to picture myself with a similar assignment, and I'm really glad I don't have that particular task.
One of our class members said something about feeling like her head was going to explode, and I can honestly say I have had that same sensation. We are learning alot, all at once, really fast, and assimilating and recalling after this course is over will be one of my challenges. So, I'm thinking that blogging is almost the next best thing to sliced bread, but it's going to take me awhile to allow all the other technological wonders really sink in.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I'm going to try to add this link to an interesting site about using technology in education:
And this one for not-so-techy-teachers:
I've been wandering around the web tonight finding all sorts of stuff, including WebMeister, which is a mind map making site, like Kidspiration/Inspiration for grownups. Here's the map of my research for EDTS523, so far...(click to enlarge the image).
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I listen to a variety of podcasts and vidcasts. Here's a sampling:
Hydrogen Cafe (ambient music for non-linear minds): http://hydrogencafe.blogspot.com/
NPR's news quiz, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!: http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=35
Bonnie McCaffery's quilting vidcast: http://bonniemccaffery.com/wordpress1/
Coffee Break Spanish: www.coffeebreakspanish.com
Now, the challenge is to create our own podcasts. This is giving me podcast paranoia, podcast panic and podcast problems. I like to listen, but am not sure what to podcast about. Hopefully after today's class, it will all be crystal clear. What podcasts do you listen to?
Friday, July 10, 2009
This is a test of a new (5 minutes ago) skill. This reminds me of Belize, where I worked in March. I went as a volunteer with a surgical team. It's a beautiful country, wonderful people, and a gorgeous clear ocean full of fish like these.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Let me just say that the internet is amazing for doing research. I didn't need to spend a week in the stacks with many rolls of nickels for the copier! I do need to find some things in the library, but got lots of info from the web. Incredible.
My topic is blog assisted language learning. Who knew this would be an international research adventure, but I guess I am behind the times. I found articles from:
BiNational Center, Brasilia, Brazil
Canterbury Christ Church College, UK
Ohio State University
Ryukoku University, Japan
Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan
Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan
National Chiao Tung University, China
And that's just for starters. Now the reading, analyzing and synthesizing can begin. After a short trip to the Naz library to look up a few more articles, that is.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
The universe as I know it has expanded. Or exploded, with information and lots of ways to share it and learn from it. In two class periods, I became a member of Google Reader, Twitter, Delicious, and our class wiki. So far, I've used Google Reader and the wiki the most. I like Delicious, but I think it can take a while to network with enough people to get useful information, and also to be able to share some info in return. Twitter is not so interesting yet, but again, I think it takes some time to build the network so it's useful to me and the others I follow. We're all learning new language to go with our new endeavors. We're connected in new ways, and the fast access to information is a little overwhelming to me.
The Inspiration program we used for our last assignment was something that I didn't like at first, but that changed in a hurry as the lesson plan progressed. I really can see that organizing your ideas visually, then flipping over to the outline form can enhance writing and thinking in ways I didn't think possible. I learned so much from my classmates, a big THANK YOU to all you very creative, smart teachers! The presentations were so interesting and informative, I was thinking that single class was really worthwhile. Also, the discussions and side conversations in class have been informative and helpful.
Next stop: TeacherTube
And a new question: What's a ning?
That's it for now... see you in class.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Food hasn't really changed, but during my current assignment in Educational Technology, I discovered that our old friend the Food Pyramid has a great new look. You can explore further at www.MyPyramid.gov.