Archive for August, 2013

Thanks from Sarah Moeller

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I wonder what my EDMT 602 self would think if she was able to fast forward to today. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and wondering how I am going to learn everything that I need to know. I am different than most in this program because I have no education background. I have learned so much and have been trained so well in this program. I am confident in calling myself a true trained higher education teacher. Moreover, I can now call myself an Educational Technology Specialist. I think that with hard work and continual improvement, I can take on anything that comes my way.

Sarah Moeller

All of the assignments in the EDMT Master’s program have lead me to where I am today. Each assignment had a distinct purpose in my training. I understand the various components that go into appropriately using technology and implementing it into the classroom. I feel confident in creating technology enhanced lessons in my own classroom and training my coworkers to do so as well. I have a new realization on assessment and evaluation of students. Coming from completely test and quiz structured assessment to reflective, critical thinking type assessments in my graduate studies, I have realized that assessments should promote higher ordered thinking. I used to just memorize information for a test and I would be very stressed in doing so. In my graduate studies, I learned more than I ever thought possible and I was not scared or stressed out by my assessments (most of the time!).  I will incorporate more reflective and critical thinking assignments into the courses I teach because I have seen firsthand the results in student learning. I have such a solid foundation from my graduate studies, but have made a commitment to continually learning myself.

I have learned so much in this program and have the knowledge I need to move forward. I believe that using technology in education can make for a very powerful learning experience if used appropriately. Now that I am trained in doing so, I will share my knowledge with others. I am very excited for my future and am thankful that I had the opportunity to have such a sound education in educational technology.

Sign of Professionalism?

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Just how easy do tools need to be to support teachers?

During a weekly Twiitter chat (#edtechchat held every Monday from 8 – 9 pm) a small debate erupted on this very point. A few teachers shared that if the tool wasn’t immediately transparent or was too complicated, they moved on to other tools.

However, Scott Messenger, a former teacher and founder of Common Curriculum, pushed back, asking, “If Ts ‘don’t have time’ to master complex tools, can we really call them professionals?” He went on to provide an example: “What if an accountant said they ‘didn’t have time’ to learn Excel and QuickBooks bc 2 complex?”

If we want to improve the public perception of our profession, we need to act more like educational professionals and that means reseraching and learning to use the tools we need to do our work well.

Google’s Battle for Your Data

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Have you ever notice those little ads creeping into your browsing experience? You know, the ones that seem vaguely familiar to products you may have shopped for online or maybe something you talked to someone about in an email message?

 With the continued growth of electronic mail use, a person’s right to privacy remains a huge issue for many reasons. Data mining is one of the larger reasons that causes much debate.  Facebook is continually being accused of invading its users’ privacy, and, as a result, is continually tweaking its privacy settings to satisfy members. Recently, Google was taken to task for its data mining of Gmail for target marketing purposes. In a 39-page motion filed in June to have a class-action data-mining lawsuit dismissed, the Web giant cited Smith v. Maryland, a 1979 Supreme Court decision that upheld the collection of electronic communications without a warrant: “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s e-mail provider in the course of delivery.

Indeed, a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.'” So it seems that Google’s policy is that users gave up their right to privacy when they agreed to use its services. So now we have to consider the possible effects of having the content of our email being scrutinized by another entity. Despite Google’s dismissive comments, they have tentatively agreed to a settlement of $8.5 million with the plaintiffs, among them, the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, the World Privacy Forum, the MacArthur Foundation and AARP, based on the claim the Internet search company violated users’ privacy by leaking their search queries, which may include names or other identifying information, to operators of websites that the users may visit.

But will this legal action result in Google ceasing its data mining tactics? Or will it just cause them to refine and make their mining more covert? Since this is from which Google fills their coffers, I think, most likely the latter. What I’ve learned from this is that the U.S mail is much more private, and I won’t get a slew of pop ups on my computer. So I won’t use Gmail for anything I would like to keep really private. In fact, maybe I’ll just go back to Hotmail since Microsoft claims they don’t do what Google does. We’ll see about that.

MOOCs and Higher Education

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Lately, there has been a lot of talk in higher education circles about MOOCs, Massively Open Online Courses. A MOOC is a model for delivering learning content online to any person who wants to take a course, with no limit on attendance. These classes are aimed at expanding a university’s reach from thousands of tuition-paying students who live in town, to millions of students around the world. When I was having a talk with Washtenaw Community College’s Chief Information Officer, Amin Ladha, this past year I asked him what he thought the biggest challenge facing the school in the future was. He said, without hesitation, MOOCs. I confess, I didn’t know much about them at the time. What I found out though is that they provided free classes in just about any discipline.

As I thought more about this I started to think that yes, indeed , this was going to provide a challenge for brick and mortar institutions of higher learning, if not now , then certainly in the future. This will especially become the case when the brick and mortar schools start to offer these courses, as has come into play recently. MOOCs will become even more of a challenge when courses become accredited and students can earn degrees. That is if our hallowed institutions don’t jump on the MOOC bandwagon.

This jumping is exactly what is happening. The term MOOC has been gaining traction the past two years as some revered names in higher education have begun to offer courses A number of big-name schools including Princeton University and the University of Virginia have partnered with Coursera, a for profit company started in 2011 by two Stanford University professors, to offer free, no-credit courses online. But everyone is still waiting to see how this experiment will work and what role MOOCs will play in higher education, especially the funding of higher education.

Digital Citizenship

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

One of the biggest concerns parents and teachers face today is how to protect pxls”children from the dangers of the internet. Will they be a victim of cyber bullying? Will they see stuff they shouldn’t on home/school web sites? Will a predator find them from a naïve contact online? And what about friends- will they share bad websites found by older siblings?
I believe adults do their best to protect children. But stuff happens; if not in the classroom, then possibly at a friend’s house, on an IPod, or during bus rides to and from school. Many parents insist on protecting their children from the possibilities by unplugging kids as much as possible. Even if we unplug them at home, they plug right back in the moment they are out the door. Our job as educators and parents is to stare into the abyss of the unknown and educate. We need to teach these digital natives how to not just survive, but thrive in the digital world.

But, how do we do this? It seems so daunting and intimidating at the same time. Technology is always changing, how could we possibly keep up? That question is answered by Jackie Murray, a technology teacher and blogger. “This is simple; just follow the same rules applied to safety in their physical environment.” So let’s dive into those everyday rules we use in the real world:

  • Don’t talk to strangers: Remember “stranger danger” and act accordingly.
  • Look both ways: Be cautious every time you enter a new website. If it doesn’t look safe, step back with the back button and re-evaluate.
  • Don’t go places you don’t know by yourself: Just like you wouldn’t go into a dark alley by yourself, don’t click on unknown links without a trusted adult.
  • Play fair: Be kind! Pretend it is the playground, if it’s not allowed there, then it’s not allowed on the internet.
  • Pick carefully who you trust: Just like you wouldn’t leave the playground with a stranger, don’t allow people you don’t know to “follow you.”
  • Don’t get distracted: No, you didn’t win a free puppy, it’s called advertising. Don’t click on links or give out personal information without talking to an adult.
  • Balance: use technology and enjoy it, but in moderation. A bit of computer and a bit of outside play- mix it up!

Once children understand their digital neighborhood is just like their physical one, continue making connections regarding digital rights and responsibilities. With the benefits afforded by an open internet comes the responsibility to make it a safe and healthy place for everyone.