Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I received this notice today in my email Inbox from Dropbox, and it is welcomed news. So, if you’re with a .edu account, I recommend you try it out!

To give you guys a jumpstart for the new school year, we’re giving all you .edu folks double referral credit! That’s 500 MB per friend you invite, including friends you’ve already invited!

Get started at www.dropbox.com/edu

 

Also if you’re not using Dropbox yet, then please use my referral link. 😉 “I need the extra space!”  http://db.tt/BWTEqY1

These are my Jumptags for March 17th through April 13th:

Guest Blogger PostOn March 9, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton announced via Twitter that Memphis was filing an application for Google Fiber for Communities.  This initial tweet was followed with a post on the mayor’s blog From the Mayor’s Desk. In his blog post, Wharton asks you to “Imagine a promising inner-city 7th-grader collaborating with classmates around the world while watching a live university lecture.” Wharton is asking his readers to imagine e-learning in our K-12 classrooms. This call to imagine e-learning in Memphis classrooms comes less than a week after the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology released a draft of their National Educational Technology Plan 2010 titled “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology“. This plan calls for readers to embrace the use of e-learning as the catalyst that will propel our schools through the 21st century. With this political focus being put on e-learning, let’s explore how this will look in the K-12 classroom. First we will define e-learning, next we will look at a few of its benefits, then we will note a few barriers to its implementation.

E-learning Defined

From the local to the national level, there is a focus on e-learning in K-12 education. E-learning is the promotion of learning through the delivery of instruction via a computer or the Web (Clark & Mayer, 2003; Mayer, 2003). But what does this really look like? How will this change K-12 education? Perhaps it is easier to start by noting what it doesn’t look like. Embracing e-learning does not equate to a rejection of the formal classroom setting. The computer is only one mode of delivery for instruction. It is not necessarily the best mode for a given situation. While in some circumstances it is, there are times when teachers, peers, or other media are more appropriate for delivery of instruction (Alessi & Trollip, 2001). It also should be noted that e-learning is not about the technology, it is about the learning. Kleiman (2000) addresses myths associated with using technology in the K-12 classroom. He states in his article, “the value of a computer, like that of any tool, depends upon what purposes it serves and how well it is used” (p. 3).

Benefits of E-learning

If the technology is just a tool and learning can take place without the technology, then why such a push for e-learning in the schools? The Office of Educational Technology (2010) posits, “Just as technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences, content, and resources and assessments that measure student achievement in more complete, authentic, and meaningful ways” (p. v). So this is the picture we should envision when imagining e-learning in our classrooms: opportunities that are “limitless, borderless, and instantaneous (p. vi).

Creating these opportunities can happen in several ways. Embracing e-learning can include the adoption of virtual schools or virtual courses, ubiquitous computing, and using e-learning in the classroom to support the curriculum. Although some virtual schools have had great success (Florida Virtual School, Virtual High School); incorporating e-learning does not mean that brick-and-mortar schools will go away. E-learning can offer many benefits to students who attend traditional schools. These benefits include taking a course online that the school cannot afford to offer, catching up on lost credits, and taking classes with students from across the city or world. E-learning can also be used in the classroom to enhance the curriculum. This may include a virtual field trip or the modeling of a science experiment.

Barriers to E-learning

It is obvious that e-learning has benefits. There is often funding available through organizations and grants to implement e-learning in schools. So why aren’t more schools incorporating e-learning? Kleiman (2004) suggests two reasons: teachers are unprepared and technology support staff are lacking. Toby Philpott has created a Mindomo concept map outlining the barriers he sees to implementing e-learning. These barriers include motivation, literacy, cultural differences, accessibility, economics, and freedom of information. So, before we can see our imagined 7th grader collaborating with classmates around the world, we have some work to do.

With the push for e-learning and a broadband infrastructure coming from the US Department of Education and the prospect of Google Fiber coming to Memphis, I would like to start a conversation on how we see e-learning changing K-12 education. What do you believe the impact will be? What are obstacles to its successful implementation?

References

Alessi, S.M. & Trollip, S.R. (2001). Multimedia for learning: Methods and development (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2003). E-learning and the science of instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kleiman, G. M. (2000). Myths and realities about technology in K-12 schools. In the Harvard Education Letter report, The digital classroom: How technology is changing the way we teach and learn. Retrieved March 18, 2010 from http://www.edtechleaders.org/documents/myths.pdf

Kleiman, G.M. (2004). Myths and realities about technology in k-12 schools: Five years later. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 4(2), 248-253.

Mayer, R. E. (2003). Elements of a science of e-learning. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 29(3), 297-313.

Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.  Available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/netp.pdf

Guest Blogger: Carmen Weaver is the project manager for the TLINC grant at the University of Memphis. She also teaches technology integration to undergraduate education majors at the University. Carmen has a background in Computer Information Systems as well as Secondary Education. She is a doctoral student in Instructional Design and Technology.

Guest Blogger PostAs I reminisce on my undergraduate Education Psychology course and graduate courses that promoted the need for incorporating constructivist practices in the classroom to “prove” you are a student-centered educator, I often contemplated the effectiveness of the constructivist teacher in the classroom. Before revealing my perspective, let’s identify some key points related to constructivism.

5 keys of Constructivism

  • Constructivism is not a theory of learning instead it is philosophy that underlines various theories and combines them to form an epistemology
  • Constructivists promote the need for the learner to discover their own knowledge to enrich their experiences
  • Other names for constructivism are discovery learning and inquiry-based learning
  • According to constructivist, new knowledge acquired by the students must be re-constructed in the learners’ mind which involves eliminating any discrepancies to develop a knowledge structure that is meaningful to the student
  • Constructivist practices are usually prominent in science classrooms

Additionally, Tuncer Can stated on a blog post that students in a constructivist environment demonstrate the following qualities: self-controlling, realistic, scientific, and value generator just to name a few.

Before progressing let’s consider the following scenario: An algebra teacher is ready to introduce her students to the concept of pi (3.14) in the geometry portion of the lesson sequence. The students are enrolled in regular education classes and some have a solid understanding of basic algebra, while other students are lacking the necessary foundational skills to be successful with this concept. A constructivist would see this as a valuable opportunity to allow the students to discover the meaning of pi (3.14) through manipulating shapes, measuring shapes, comparing objects, etc.

However, if the students possess limited to no background knowledge of pi (3.14) are they truly able to construct their own knowledge? Will their knowledge of pi (3.14) be totally misconstrued or partially inaccurate? Are these inaccuracies acceptable because the student may have an epiphany and pi (3.14) will transform to knowledge in their minds? Do constructivists take cognitive overload into consideration when learning? How soon does the teacher intervene, since in the constructivist classroom the teacher is the “coach”?

Constructivism is a learning philosophy that has the potential to expand on a concept once it has been grasped by the learner, but if learners have limited knowledge are they able to construct (build) their own learning without the appropriate tool-background knowledge?

Being student centered means you take the needs of your learners first before delivering the instruction. A student centered educator is cognizant about the abilities of their learners and utilizes the instruction to bolster student achievement. When an educator has the students’ instructional levels, behavior characteristics, and effective strategies in their repertoire they are ensuring students are the primary focus from the development of the objectives to administering the evaluation. When learning is not achieved, the student-centered instructor determines the weaknesses and strengths of the learners and devises a plan on “how” to re-teach the concept/skill to achieve learner mastery.

Developing an in-depth knowledge regarding teaching and learning in order to diagnose and remediate instruction instantaneously to prevent frustration during instruction, and avoiding the possibility of a students’ motivation levels plummeting is student-centered instruction. Continuously providing students with motivational techniques to increase their confidence and performance level in the classroom promotes a student-centered environment. According to Dr. Kate Kinsella (2010), the research on motivation and learning states the most critical success factor for students is the ability for them to perceive themselves being successful. It would be quite difficult for a learner to perceive success while struggling to “discover” a new concept!  Delivering instruction customized to your learners needs and sustaining motivation in the classroom are the main ingredients of a students centered learning environment.  All of this can be accomplished in a classroom where the educator skipped the final exam essay question requiring him/her to support the constructivist viewpoint in an undergraduate Educational Psychology class!

References

Cruickshank, D., Bainer , D., & Metcalf, K. (1999). The act of teaching (4th ed) . Boston, MA : McGraw-Hill.

Can , T. (2007). Constructivist learner. Retrieved March 13, 2010 from Constructivist Education: http://constructivist-education.blogspot.com/.

Kinsella, K. (2010 March). Accountable student engagement in the READ 180 classroom. Webinar presentation presented on WebEX.

Reiser, R., Dempsey, J. (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology(2nd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson

Guest blogger: Terica Butler is a former middle school reading/language arts teacher. She taught in an urban school setting for six years. After teaching, she transitioned into the role of an Implementation Consultant for Scholastic. She now has the opportunity to serve teachers and students in Memphis, Tennessee and other large urban districts.  Terica is presently pursing a doctoral degree from the University of Memphis. Her interest in education include: urban education, professional development for teachers, instructional design embedded in technology.  After completing her degree, Terica plans to continue improving the lives of teachers and students in school districts across the country!

Guest PostFacebook is an Internet phenomenon. It launched to a small group of Harvard students in 2004 and now has millions of users worldwide. Although elearning is popular, it has not had the kind of widespread acceptance with the general public that Facebook has seen. Let’s take a look at a 5 things Facebook can teach us about elearning.

1. Anyone can do it.

One reason people give for not wanting to participate in elearning is that they aren’t good with computers or technology. According to Inside Facebook, Facebook’s fastest growing demographic is women over 55. I’ll never forget the surprise I had when I logged into Facebook and saw that I had a friend request from my mother. MY MOM IS ON FACEBOOK! I was shocked. If she has the ability to create an account, upload pictures, make status updates, and everything else she’s been doing on Facebook, why can’t she take an elearning course?

2. People don’t mind spending time online.

Another complaint I’ve heard about elearning is that people don’t like spending that much time on the computer. If you take a look at Nielsen’s Online Ratings, you’ll see that the average Facebook user spent almost 6 hours on the site in December. If someone can spend 6 hours a month updating their status, viewing photos, and participating in virtual pillow fights, they should be able to spend time participating in elearning.

3. Evolution is critical.

Facebook is constantly changing and improving. They add features that are needed and take away features that people don’t like or don’t use. They change the layout to help improve the user experience, even though everyone doesn’t always agree.  Elearning must take a similar approach for the content and the experience to remain relevant. Elearning must take advantage of the latest technology, make changes based on user feedback, and keep content up to date in order to improve the overall experience.

4. An active facilitator is not necessary.

Elearning proponents often talk about the need for an active facilitator to help create a thriving online community. Facebook blows this theory out of the water. Facebook has an extremely active and constantly growing community without having someone in charge of making sure everyone is participating. However, there is some facilitation programmed into the system. It might make a suggestion about adding a new friend or contacting someone you haven’t messaged in a while, but there is no live person checking to make sure you do these things.

5. It’s not for everyone.

I know I said earlier that anyone can do it, but that doesn’t mean that everyone wants to do it. Even with over 300 million Facebook users, there are still people who just don’t get it. I know several people who have signed up for an account, spent some time looking around, and then never returned. The same applies to elearning. It just doesn’t seem to fit with some people’s learning style.

So, if you are involved in the development of elearning, keep these things in mind. They might help it improve. If you can think of other things that Facebook can teach us about elearning (good or bad) please post them in the comments.

Guest Blogger: Joey Weaver teaches Computer Technology to high school students at Kansas Career & Technology Center in Memphis, TN. He is currently working on a Master’s degree in Instructional Design & Technology at the University of Memphis.

Image courtesy of Befitt at http://www.flickr.com/photos/befitt/3786204929/

These are my Jumptags for December 14th through December 15th:

These are my Jumptags for October 21st

These are my Jumptags for September 19th through September 21st:

  • Videos – Worldbuilder – Welcome to Worldbuilder: A Fourth World Media, LLC Educational Community Committed to the Advancement of Social Media Literacy
  • Did You Know? 4.0: The Economist Media Convergence Remix – The Economist Magazine is hosting their third annual Media Convergence Forum in New York City on October 20th and 21st. Earlier this year they asked if they could remix Did You Know?/Shift Happens with a media convergence theme and use it for their c…
  • YouTube – Did You Know 4.0 – The Economist Magazine is hosting their third annual Media Convergence Forum in New York City on October 20th and 21st. Earlier this year they asked if they could remix Did You Know?/Shift Happens with a media convergence theme and use it for their c…
  • Tinychat – Disposable chat rooms for up to 12 people at once. Text, audio and video. Free.
  • Freckle – The personal plan is 1 project and 1 user for free.

Marshmallow ToastingStarting next week, I’m going to summer camp.  Yahoo! Tents, campfires, ghost stories, s’mores.  I love s’mores.  I could be wrapped in chocolate and marshmallows.  Actually, I’m not going anywhere.  (Still thinking about making s’mores, though.)  I’m going to participate in PBworks’ (PBwiki) Summer Camp for Educators.  It’s approximately four weeks of Internet learning, collaborating, sharing, and fun.  The camp is currently closed for this year.  There have been about 1400 educators and technology facilitators from across the country and globe who have opted to participate. So, you’ll have to register for next year now.

From the camp syllabus, you can see that this isn’t just about wikis.  There’s going to be videos, polls, chat rooms, embeds, along with all the cool wiki stuff.  Oh, and there’s homework.  Now whoever heard of homework at summer camp.  But there you go.  The price for knowledge.

I’ve been using PBworks (PBwiki) for over a year now.  I’ve used it with graduate student courses in instructional design & technology and with the PAGE Teacher Academy site as well.  I’m also using PBworks as the space for my own professional resources.  I’m in the process of converting a lot of my handouts to web pages for this space, too.  I’m really thinking about moving toward this space as an archive for a lot of my handouts, which is a BIG deal for me.

Creative Commons License photo credit: OakleyOriginals

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I’m off to San Diego, CA, this week for the American Educational Research Association annual meeting.  This is the premier conference for educational researchers.  I will be presenting three sessions, and I will create posts for each one.  So, you can find all the articles and good stuff easily.

Today, as part of the Multiple Intelligences Special Interest Group, I’m presenting on “Coming to Understand the Influences on and Artifacts of Learning.”  The abstract reads:

Learning artifacts are tangible representations of an individual’s learning.  However, they are limited in their ability to completely reflect all the learning by an individual.  It is important to understand learning artifacts because learning and the products of learning are individualized for the learner and by the learner.  By understanding the products of learning, as well as the developmental process of these products, there may be a more complete understanding of what has been learned by the individual.  This manuscript attempts to understand the creation of learning artifacts, as well as the influences on learning artifacts.  A model is proposed to understand how learning products are generated and an example case from our research is illustrated.

You can download the full paper here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]