Blogging, Constructivism: A Class Project, Part II

Well, my professor didn’t care much for my blogging idea either. His comments, in red.  “The two things that bother me a little are first, that it was hard to know the goal or the point to these. Why are kids blogging, for example?” Should I have to tell HIM that? It is in his book!

tenets are essentially to encourage pupils to initiate their own learning experiences, with an emphasis on their being able to ‘construct’ their own set of mental representations, topics, and issues,” (Tiene & Ingram, 2001, p. 76)

(or is he saying I didn’t explain my reasons well.)

This assignment, at its very core, is constructivism. This project on blogging, correctly executed, teaches the students that they can learn on their own and write about subjects that they have a passion about. To write a post on the BLOG, the students browse, read and think about what is most interesting to them and then write about it.

If they are to blog about almost anything, then that seems to put a lot of responsibility on them. Why?

because they learn better if they can construct their own topics and issues. He says so, in his book, So is his question that we didn’t explain why or is he really asking why?

I feel really bad on this point because the blog was my responsibility and my team members had all sorts of guidelines and rules they wanted to add to the blog section. But I wore them down because I thought that it took away from the spirit of constructivism, which is what we were writing about.

I never heard of constructivism before this class. I’m not an educator, but I do know that I learn when I am excited about learning, and I thought how exciting to begin 6th graders on constructivist activities.  I was so excited about what I learned in the textbook that I started a blog about my learning process. And that is where I got the idea about the blog. I had also read about blogs in Will Richardson’s book about Blog, Wikis, and Podcasts. He gave examples of some elementary classrooms that used blogs as a learning tool. I looked those blogs up and they were really cool.

Second, I’m not clear on how assessment will done for these.
Why must everything be assessed? Can’t learning be for fun, at least some of the time?  I’m not a teacher, how would I know if everything should be assessed, especially for 6th graders? Is there something I should know here?

Debate: Bill (alias) and I aren’t teachers, not sure about Kim (alias). So I don’t understand how we are supposed to think like teachers and write effective scenarios for elementary school students.

errrr………………

References:

Jonassen, D.H. (1998). Computers as mind tools for engaging learners in critical thinking. TechTrends, 43, 24–32.

Jonassen, D., Howland, J., & Marra, R., (2011). Meaningful learning with technology (4th Edition) (Kindle Locations 595–596). Allyn & Bacon. Kindle Edition.

Tiene, D. & Ingram, A. (2001). Exploring current issues in educational technology.
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Technology Integration & 21st Century Skills

I learned from the technology discussion in my Computer Applications Class that teachers in K-12 have a hard time integrating technology in their classrooms. Surprising to me was that the many of the software programs and websites are not allowed in the schools, which make it difficult for teachers to be creative. The students in this class are predisposed to technology. But it makes it easier for me to understand why so many of my non-geek peers are so against it–they don’t know enough to even have an opinion–except because it isn’t allowed in the schools, it must not be safe. What everyone at the school seems to forget that these same children go home and work on computers and are often on the same programs that are prohibited at school.

I also learned that this class as many inspiring and creative teachers. I would be honored to have any of them teach my child. Their schools are lucky to have them. They understand the importance of technology yet understand that technology is just the tool.

My background is publishing so my keyboard is practically glued to my fingers. I thought I was technology savvy, but what this discussion also taught me was that I don’t know hardly anything. I never even heard of a clicker, or a smart board, or a webquest, etc.

I picked up an idea from Theresa Mackanos about making movie trailers instead of book reports! I think that is a wonderful idea.

Since I’m not actually a teacher, I often didn’t have something to say. Had I been at a party, I probably would have slipped out, but because it isn’t awkward to stand quietly by and listen, I learned a lot from my classmates.

The Art of Blogging

This week as I was working on a project in my Researching Current Issues in Technology Class, I became more familiar with Blogging as a teaching tool. I am using this blog to teach myself. Learning by doing is a constructivist principle. “The key to understanding constructivism like in the belief that people learn by actively trying to make sense of information and experiences….They construct knowledge through their interactions with people and their activities in the physical world.” (Tiene, D., & Ingram, A., 2001) By writing this blog, I am learning by actively doing.

I’ve been reading some of my RSS feeds on the subject of blogging but the book I am enjoying most is called Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. (Richardson, W., 2010) I read the book back in August but I am re-reading it now, trying to get more out of it. Most of my material fro this blog comes from this powerful book.

“We write not just to communicate, but to connect to others who can potentially teach us more.” (Richardson, et al., p28) Blogging is by it’s very nature a constructivist tool. Another principle of constructivism is that people learn by interacting with other people. And blogging is nothing, if not a social tool. A blog isn’t a journal however. A blog is reflective and complex; it is written for a large audience, therefore must be written with the audience in mind. Readers have the opportunity to comment in a blog, which may create a dialogue and an opportunity for increased learning.

A blog is more like an editorial in a newspaper, where the writer is seeking relevance in the issue. The blogger is editor, writer, and researcher. It is natural to be more careful with thoughts and grammar when the writer knows it will be published for millions to see.

Blogging is much different than writing a paper that only a teacher will read, or a journal kept hidden away in a drawer. A journal leans more to personal thoughts and decisions. The authors put it this way. “Writing stops; blogging continues.”(Richardson, et al., p30)

A really good blogger is someone who reads as much as writes. By reading articles, a blogger is reading critically for ideas to write about.  Bloggers “must be able to find connections and articulate the relevance of those connections.”(Richardson, et al., p32) This is higher learning written down.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Tiene, D., & Ingram, A. (2001). Exploring Current Issues in Educational Technology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

Concept Mapping

A concept map is an information graphic which illustrates concepts and the relationship between the concepts in a hierarchial manner. The concepts are represented within containers and the relationship is expressed by lines connecting the concepts. The lines include a propostion or statement. The proposition is usually a verb.

I think the concept map is very much like an outline, except better, because a concept map makes allowances for cross-links and multiple connections between thoughts and ideas. Concept maps are also better for learning than mind mapping because mind mapping is not structured with different levels of specificity.

Concept maps are often used by teachers to assess the knowledge of the students, before and after the subject matter is taught. The maps are can by used by students not only to brainstorm ideas, but to organize thoughts in succinctly. An added plus is that once the concept map is developed, it is a wonderful tool to use as a study aid.

How to Make a Concept Map

Concept maps can of course be made with pencil and paper, no technology involved. However, one of the nice things about using a computer to produce a concept map is the ability to easily move and rearrange the concepts. Drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator and word processing programs like Microsoft Word can produce concept maps. However, an application developed specifically for creating concept maps might be a better choice as they are simple to learn and use.

Social Presence, Project 2

For the Teaching online courses, project 2, the class is divided into groups, each group is given a subject. The assignment is to create and moderate an online discussion. This week the online discussion was about Social Presence.

The Social Presence group asked three questions of the class, and each student could answer one of them. I chose the third one, which was two-fold. “How can an instructor increase his/her social presence” and, “How can an instructor increase student-to-student interaction outside of instructional activities.” My expanded answer follows.

It is important to note that the social presence of the professor is crucial. A “Regular and timely interaction of faculty with students is one of the key quality indicators of online courses.” Bottcher, J., & Conrad, R. (2010). This needs to be done on a regular basis, especially early on. The teacher/instructor/professor may establish an online presence by posting information about the course before it begins and telling students a little about themselves. (This is usually when the icebreaker begins.) An instructor also may post notes and announcements, have live sessions, or virtual meeting times.

In addition to using the learning management system (blackboard) the teacher can also use other social tools like Twitter. My husband teaches Visual Communications (higher ed) and he often reminds his students about projects by tweeting short messages. In the summer he tweets some of the things he is doing or articles/books he is reading. His students often respond to the tweets.

Although faculty can’t be online all the time, students need to know the professor is there by answering questions in a forum, or participating in a discussion thread. Encouragement, suggestions and ideas also help create social presence for faculty.

Bottcher, J., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips.(75-80) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.