Sunday, January 30, 2011

Educating in the Networked World - Going Virtual

Dr. Glen Gatin presented some very interesting happenings in the world of education and ICT. He outlined more of the possibilities available to us as educators when it comes to incorporating the internet into our classrooms. One of the most intriguing ideas he raised was the use of the online virtual world "Second Life" as an educational tool. I was not familiar with what exactly Second Life was all about, but after talking to a few of my friends and looking around on the web, I discovered some very interesting things. I still can't totally wrap my head around the capabilities of this separate online world, but I can definitely see some advantages.

One of the videos I found interesting talked about using Second Life to supplement Science instruction. Since I plan on teaching high school science, I would like to consider adding this to my bottomless bag of potential tools for getting information to students. Undoubtedly there will be at least one student that would find this sort of resource useful. Take a look at the video and see what you think...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Social Media in the Classroom

The presentation by John Finch sparked a very interesting topic for us to consider as we plunge into the ever-exciting world of education. We are at the forefront of change that will surely arouse debate and controversy among students, parents, and teachers everywhere.

The question is, should we use social media as a tool for learning? Unfortunately, the answer is about as clear as the Assiniboine River - reminiscent of chocolate milk. The potential for misuse is ripe, and there is probably a very thin line between useful educational tool and ultimate chaotic distraction for students. However, the reality of the situation is that virtually all of our students will be seasoned internet (especially social media) junkies, and it would behoove us to take a good hard gander at what we can do to harness this behaviour for educational purposes.

In my opinion, there are many advantages to incorporating social media into the classroom. As part of John's presentation, we were asked to do an internet search for examples of schools and teachers that are currently experimenting with social media in education. During my browsing, I came across a particularly interesting article entitled "100 Inspiring Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom" - . There are lots of good ideas and links to specific examples of where the method is being used.

I look forward to trying some of those ideas in my classroom, and I think my students will enjoy it as well. Hopefully all school divisions will realize the benefits of using social media as an educational tool. Students live in a world centered around social media, so why not allow them to interweave education into their technological matrix?  As the old saying goes: if we can't beat 'em, we might as well join 'em.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Closer Look at Web Based Courses

During our last class, we had the privilege of hearing from Howard Griffith about Web Based Courses and the progress Manitoba Education is making in refining and developing them.
When I was in High School in small town Manitoba, I took a course called Calculus 45A, which was taught over the phone. Five other students and myself met once a week and joined a teleconference with our teacher, who was in another small town 100 kilometers away. We would fax our exercises to him and he would mail them back to us with corrections made, and any questions could be asked during the teleconference. The course went well, but a big reason for that was the fact that all of us were strong math students and didn't need much extra assistance after working through examples. We could put our heads together and more often than not help each other with errors. The amount of help we could get from the teacher was limited by the lack of face-to-face instruction. Nowadays, there is video conferencing capabilities that can bring in that face-to-face aspect.
Especially in rural schools, the demand for distance learning is increasing due to lack of teacher resources, changing needs of students, and other logistical barriers. Web based courses are an option that can be used. One benefit that was brought to my attention by Howard was the fact that these courses can be used as yet another resource for teachers to implement in the classroom. I am looking forward to incorporating the information and activities into my classroom instruction. I also look forward to the potential opportunity to teach web based courses  in rural Manitoba.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let the Blogging Begin!

This is my first experience with blogging, and so far I am enjoying it. John Evans' presentation of Personal Learning Networks was very interesting and opened my eyes to the value of using tools such as Diigo and Twitter etc. in relation to teaching. I am really looking forward to implementing the use of those tools in my classroom. Our students live in a technological world, and by giving them the opportunity to use the internet more for their education, we will hopefully see more interest and enthusiasm in assignments and projects we ask them to complete. Using Personal Learning Networks should benefit everyone involved in education.