Monday, May 17, 2010

Digital Learners! Real Learning!

This past week has been hectic with everything needing to get done at the office. But it's the evening class I'm teaching that is really making all the hustle and bustle worthwhile. As I am preparing the materials, I find myself scanning through oodles of videos that I can embed into my lesson. There is so much out there. I'm teaching a class called "Supporting Language Instruction" for Teacher (Education) Assistants. The students are getting a lot of technology thrown at them, but they are getting it. Some will say at the beginning, "I don't get it." But I work with them on Elluminate Live, either by desktop sharing, or application sharing, and it is so cool seeing people succeed in using the technology and learning.

We've incorporated using a Wikispace as a place for the students to create a page of resources for themselves to use later and share with other para-professionals. I really hope that the wiki can be a site where it can remain evergreen and current for each other. But it can be a challenge for learners (adult), who have used very little technology to learn about create links, or embedding favourite videos from TedTalk or TeacherTube.

Here's a sample of video that I watched this week from TedTalk that I really liked. I liked it so much that I sent out a mass email (which I rarely do) to teachers all across Saskatchewan about the need for math curriculums needing a makeover. In Saskatchewan, the trend is to move towards making math more of a real life experience, rather than the prescriptive, problem-solving, formula driven math of the past.

This young teacher really captures the reality that math needs to become more real for students. Part of making it more real, is using technology to enhance the experience for students. I was challenged by this video, because it stressed how we have busied ourselves with trying to bring students from point A to point B. This is not only for math, but many subject areas. We've taught know the facts, but missed the boat by not stressing the point of experiencing the facts. As I write this, I'm reminded of Bloom's revised taxonomy, which shifts away from the knowledge focus to the understanding all the way to the creating emphasis.

This blog was abruptly interrupted due to some technological issues with Firefox. Funny how, I'm trying to promote the use of technology and sometimes the technology doesn't support me with my claims. :) For whatever reason, javascript won't work with certain applets in Firefox 3.6.3 and Windows 7. Thinking of making the switch to Google Chrome. So back to the technical issues, I couldn't embed the taxonomy image into the blog, because the insert image applet wouldn't work on my home laptop, so I'm finishing this off at the office. What's the lesson here? Well, this is real life. Sometimes things don't work right with technology, but we don't abandon it. We find ways to make it work for us. Unfortunately, our students encounter huge technical issues in their remote communities. Last night for example, two students experienced a thunderstorm that caused them to get booted from their live classroom because Internet kept fluctuating. Frustrating for them, but they didn't give up. We worked through it and learned lots in the process. That being said, I leave you with another little gem for a video that promotes the use of digital learning.

Well, that's my thoughts and ramblings for this week.

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