Education in the Digital Age

I love Ted Talks. Every expert speaker who makes a video has a special way of sharing their voice with the audience that resonates an influential message to the world, or as TED calls it, “ideas worth spreading”.

My peers and I recently watched the following 4 Ted Talks:

These were such cool videos! Technology has opened so many doors in education. It’s overwhelming how wide our opportunities to obtain knowledge are now because of the Internet. It is a global phenomenon that reaches people all over the world. It’s wonderful how Sugata Mitra built “hole in the wall” computers in the slums of India. He found that the children didn’t need a teacher to give them answers. What they needed was an adult to insure health and safety while implementing the “grandmother effect”. The main role of the teacher is to raise the questions, then stand back and admire the answers. Children know and want to find the answers, so long as they have an adult to inspire and facilitate their wonder of knowledge. This is what I love about teaching.

As John Green talked about, there is a massive community of learners on the Internet. He knows about Emily Dickinson’s poems and opportunity cost not from his teacher, but from his peers. When he quit his job to become a full-time writer, he used the Internet to join an online community of learners from the comfort of his own home. With websites like Khan Academy, people all over the world can connect with each other and learn with the ability to pause and replay videos. It’s totally true how Sal Khan said that when people are learning a new concept, it can be stressful and embarrassing when another person is there asking if you’re understanding the material.

The main concern I had about online courses was the lack of social/communication skills you get when you work together with your teacher and classmates in the classroom. However, these videos sort of changed my perspective on online education. John Green made a good point that there are many opportunities to join an online community and interact with others like he did with Zay Frank. There is no escaping technology. It is going to continue impacting education and it is our responsibility to embrace it and use it to it’s fullest potential.

Has watching these videos changed any part of your perspective on online education?

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Plant Life in Elfin Forest Instructional Video

We have been learning about the flipped classroom and how to create instructional videos in our technology tools for education course. As a class, we split into teams to plan, film and edit our own instructional videos. Dave, Brian and I worked together to create an instructional video called Plant Life in Elfin Forest. Conservation Cherifer, Discovery Dave, and Biodegradable Brian are wilderness explorers who are learning and educating 2nd grade students on the learning standard: Plants need water and light to grow. (2-LS2-1)

Click here for our Pitch and Storyboard

Click here to watch our instructional video

Click here to take the Plant Life in Elfin Forest Quiz

In creating our instructional video, we practiced 3 of our ISTE standards for technology. We facilitated and inspired student learning and creativity by educating students how to be real world problem-solvers in nature, designed and developed digital age learning experiences and assessments by creating our own instructional video and google form quiz, and modeled digital age work and learning by remaining fluent in technology tools like digital cameras, YouTube and iMovie.

Reflective Learning

A couple weeks ago my classmates and I began working with WebQuests. We took on many roles in the process… including researcher, a college student hoping to become a teacher, a website developer, an instructional designer, a teacher in our future classroom, a student in K-12 completing a WebQuest assignment and a teacher evaluating student work and the effectiveness of WebQuests as a whole. This has been a whole lot of learning about WebQuests!

I had never heard of WebQuest assignments before this class. I think it is a great technology tool because it exemplifies the first 2 ISTE standards. It facilitates and inspires student learning and creativity by having students participate in innovative thinking and problem solving. It creates personalized learning environments and assessments by having the students participate in self-directed online research. If I have access to enough computers, I can see myself having my future students participate in WebQuest assignments.

We had a well-rounded WebQuest experience which ironed out most of the confusions I had with this tool. I didn’t understand the organization of each step in a WebQuest, but once we got into groups to create our own, I began to understand it better. The only thing I have left to understand is how to establish an actual WebQuest page on the Internet. The WebQuest we made was on a Google Doc. Also, I would like to know how many teachers out there are actively using WebQuests in their classrooms. Is this an extremely common technology tool?

It takes a good amount of time to create your own quality WebQuest. In the future, I may look at other teachers’ WebQuests for reference, ask if I could use their WebQuest with my own students, and/or spend time creating my own.

Some people might not favor WebQuests because it takes the responsibility off the teacher and places it on the student to participate in self-instructed learning. I agree with this, however, WebQuests are technologically savvy! The students will appreciate getting to work on computers or tablets. It allows them practice in conducting online research, problem solving, and in working with others. These are important skills to have in our evolving digital age. Teachers should provide a variety of assignments to their students.

WebQuest assignments were an entirely new concept to me. I feel like there are so many technology tools out there that I haven’t heard of yet. I am eager to learn about them and to figure out how I can incorporate them into my future classroom. Exploring new tools is on my to-do list. If you have any tried and true technology tools you’d wholeheartedly recommend, please share them in a comment below!

Exploring WebQuests

In my technology tools for education class, we are exploring WebQuests and how they can be used to teach our students in an integrative, tech savvy way. A WebQuest guides students through individual and collaborative research and activities. Students use the Internet as their sole source of information and learn how to research and evaluate online resources in the process. This is a great tool that I will use in my future classroom. I would have enjoyed participating in WebQuests as an elementary, middle or high school student. My classmates, David and Brian, and I created our own WebQuest that helps 3rd Grade students understand the impact of littering on marine wildlife. In the WebQuest, they take on the role of a detective with The Green Police and report their research findings in a preliminary police report. Check it out below!

Click here for WebQuest

Preliminary Police Report

Have you heard of WebQuests before? What are your thoughts on using WebQuests in the classroom?

Digital Citizenship

Being a responsible digital citizen is vital for success in our evolving digital age. We must educate our students, parents and colleagues in how to properly navigate and represent themselves in the digital world. There are digital laws, etiquette and responsibilities we must be aware of in order to live and build a proper and safe Internet identity. Just like in the real world, there are digital dangers that arise when navigating the Internet and social rules that apply when digitally communicating with others.

If you would like to read more about digital citizenship, click here to read Chapter 2 of Mike Ribble’s Digital Citizenship in Schools.

In addition, I invite you to watch my PowTown below about how to become a responsible digital citizen.

Click here for additional resources for each of the 9 elements of digital citizenship

I chose to create a PowToon animation to educate my elementary students on digital citizenship. I think the colorful graphics will help better engage them in this heavy subject. What tools will you use to educate your students, parents or colleagues about being responsible digital citizens?