Chelsi's Educational Musings

Module #3 – Response to Technology Cartoons

Our third module was quite different, as it allowed us the opportunity to verbally post to a voice thread.  Here are my responses, non-verbally, to my thoughts regarding some very interesting and humourous technology cartoons that were presented to our class by Steve.

I have thought quite often that because we are a Web 2.0 generation heading towards Web 3.0, our education should reflect this trend.  The one technology-based class that I was able to take in university was by far one of my favourites classes, and it remains the class in which I learned the most and still utilize the information that I gained.  I also think that teachers need much more professional development surrounding these topics.  Many of the teachers at my school ARE willing to learn, but just do not have the opportunity.  I have helped to present seminars on using classroom blogs, but there is simply not enough time for the teachers to attend these sessions, and one session just is not enough for them to learn what they need, especially if they are barely using email.  I think that the more exposure to the Web 2.0 tools and processes, the less we’ll have to FORCE those who are unfamiliar with them, and the more they’ll WANT to start trying.  For example, my mom, after teaching for 33 years, started blogging for her classroom each week.  She was quite hesitant to start, as she had never heard of a blog until I showed her my classroom one.  She was always scared she would make a mistake or delete the whole page of work.  After working with her not once, but a few times, she became more accepting of blogging and became one of the only teachers at school who had a blog.  The fact that our school board has issued every teacher a laptop, yet some don’t even bring them to school or even use them, shows that more PD needs to be had before the divide will cease to exist.

I agree that it is essential to maintain a personal approach when using technology.  I feel that sometimes online classes and using technology in the classroom gets a bad reputation because people have stereotyped it as robotic and void of feeling.  I do feel that technology in general has a way of stripping people of the use of feeling, such as the constant texting that takes place in our society.  However,  I feel that technology has its place and if it will benefit a lesson, it should be used.  That is not to say that it should be used for every lesson, as some lessons are most effective because of their emotional and social aspects.  I think that a personal aspect can be a part of technology though, such as our use of a profile page with our pictures and biographies for this class.  Comments on a blog work well too.  I have a classroom blog, and sometimes the responses that the students write regarding to my weekly prompts teach myself and the class more about the students than we would have otherwise known.  Responding to their comments also shows them that I care.  Yes, I agree that it is essential to maintain a personal approach when using technology, and I think that it can be done.

I liked this cartoon because I completely related to it last Friday when my class was trying to work through a Webquest.  The wireless hub in our school was cutting in and out and it felt like an absolute fight to maintain the lesson while only half of the computers worked sporadically.  I just had to keep reminding myself that when it works, I love technology. When it doesn’t work, I simply have to be patient and know that in the grand scheme of things, the technology that we are working with is all so new that soon, maybe these problems won’t exist.  In the meantime, patience and having a back up plan are what we can keep in mind.

I feel that this cartoon depicts how Web 2.0 and 3.0 are propelling us in a different direction than ever before.  While man evolved, his use of tools evolved as well.  However, the man at the end of the chain now has a different tool – the computer.  This tool has replaced the tools used for physical labour in the evolution chart, just as the convenience of technology has replaced may jobs of the past.  One of the first things that I noticed when viewing this cartoon was the man’s posture while at the computer.   Physically, he has regressed, as he is not as strong as the men before him.  Technology has replaced much of the physical labour and man power of the past.  However, the constant use of computers and video games is also the result of many of the current health problems in our society, such as obesity.  The cartoon is definitely an interesting and accurate representation of society at the moment.

I think that it is indeed possible for us to accommodate and integrate technology into our teaching for the benefit of our lessons as well as the benefit of the students’ learning.  Students today are so wired and comfortable with technology that it seems a waste NOT to tap into this interest and skill set that they already possess.  I think that we must not force the use of technology into lessons and our teaching where it is not suited.  However, if we are able to use the students’ interests in a lesson to connect them to the content, we must try to find a way to accommodate these interests.  If the students are interested in Facebook, perhaps we could utilize their love of digital photography by having them document and create a project using digital cameras.  They love posting comments on Facebook, so why not get them blogging about discussion questions and engage the class in the discussion rather than simply having the students answer questions in a work book.  If the students like listening to their ipods, we can get them creating their own songs or podcasts using Garage Band.  Rather than fighting what they like, such as Facebook, we should use the skills that they possess, but in a school-appropriate and beneficial way.

I am excited to be able to try to create my own Voicethread to use in my classroom.  After using resources such as VoiceThread Home Page and the many Voicethreads already created on the site, as well as the ideas generated on the Higher Education video, I have generated a list of ways that I want to try to use Voicethreads in the classroom:

–       book reports and book talks

–       read stories aloud

–       connect the whole school – I could use this for the Student Activity Council web page to have students comment on themes and ideas for spirit days and dances

–       persuasive letter or debate writing

–       brochures – Voicethread could be used by the student as a “travel agent”

–       poetry and short story reciting

–       responses to novel studies

–       art and music critiques

–       for use with kids who have trouble writing – have them respond verbally through the use of a Voicethread, then have them write down what they’ve said to formulate their answer

–       listening to an orally read story

–       Have the students show their artwork to parents, grandparents, and friends by uploading it to the Voicethread and describing the artwork

I plan to create my own Voicethread in regards to a unit on the Titanic that I am currently teaching.  Once it is up and running, you will find it here.  Stay tuned!

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