Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (Marc Prenksy)

Is there really a huge difference between the generation of those who are now in their 40’s and 50’s compared to those who are currently in their early 20’s? What about those who are currently in school? Because they are growing up in a world that operates on technology, do they learn differently than we do? Is there really a gap between generations in terms of learning styles? Marc Prensky definitely feels strongly about this. In his article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrats, he talks about learning styles between generations. The younger generation seems to speak a totally different language, according to Marc. This is where the term “digital natives” comes in. We, the older generation, are “digital immigrants” because we are not as technology-savvy as they. The younger generation has been born into a world that operates on technology. Their lives evolve around the daily use of technology. Even though I’m a young man, devices like cell phones haven’t been around that long. I remember the first time ever surfing the web. I remember the first day my father bought a computer. I thought it was nothing compared to my Super Nintendo. I remember the first time I ever used a computer in my school. Times have changed so much. I had no idea many schools provide a laptop for every student. Marc Prensky believes that because the younger generation was born into a world that operates on technology, technology should be a language learned by teachers in order to allow their teaching reach out to their students.

Technology is a great thing. Technology is used to improve the way we do things now, and make things more convenient. For example, communication and travel is so much easier and quicker now that we have cell phones and airplanes. Hybrid cars have been created recently to give drivers more miles per gallon. They also help with the environment because of the combination of natural gas and electricity. Technology can also be a great way to find entertainment. Sony’s Playstation, Micrsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s Wii have created a new ways in which we can enjoy entertainment. Blu-Ray allows movie watching to appear almost realistic because of the quality of pictures portrayed. Sometimes technology can be a downfall for humans. Video-gaming can be so addicting to some. These addictions could possibly lead to a lack of development in social situations. The internet allows pornography to be accessed in any home with a computer and web connection. Where are we headed in terms of technology?

Back to the topic of education and technology. I have to disagree with Marc Prensky on a few points. First, I don’t think it’s fair to consider our generation and older the “digital immigrants”, and the younger generation the “digital natives.” We ourselves have grown with technology that our parents and grandparents never experienced. For every generation, there are new inventions and technology. In a few years, the current younger generation would become “digital immigrants” to their children.
Second, I don’t agree with Marc’s emphasis on putting away with the old. If education becomes a means of playing video games to help students learn the classroom, and no lecturing takes place, how can we expect our students to learn how to actively and respectfully listen to others? If their learning is based on computerized-instant gratification, how can we help teach our students to be patient? If students are behind a computer all day, how can we expect them to build social skills with each other face to face?

I believe technology should not just be a part of education, but it should be embedded into education. However, I think we should be very careful in how technology is embedded. Too much computer engagement students receive could be harmful. For example, calculators are great because they help students check their answers, but when they becomes a habit for kids to use them without first learning trying on their own causes them to rely on instant gratification. They don’t learn how to be patient and solve problems on their own. We must fully teach our students how to be patient, and solve problems. We are helping students find answers to problems and to think critically. We are teaching them how to be independent leaders for the future.
Finally, there isn’t a huge difference between us and our students. We may grow up in different environments, but generally speaking we live in the same world. They aren’t that distance from us to the point where our students are aliens. They just have more than we did at their age. This doesn’t mean we don’t have access to them now. Transforming education is unnecessary. Modifying it is ideal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Power-less PowerPoint Presentations...

Are PowerPoints effective in the classroom, are they a distraction, or are they just plain boring? After reading the article “Scoring Power Points” by Jamie McKenzie about PowerPointlessness, I realized more and more how important it is for teachers to be innovative. Sometimes we forget that making a PowerPoint presentation isn’t creative, interactive or fun, it’s the creativity involved which makes the presentations that make it different. If there is no creativity, interaction or fun involved, presentations are just like writing on the board only there are typed bullet points rather than chalk marks.

It is great to integrate technology in the classroom. Students need things to keep them motivated and excited about learning. They may lose focus quickly. What may work one day may not work the next; what may work for some students may not work for others. This is why creativity and effective speaking is so important.
Sometimes too much emphasis on making a PowerPoint appealing may lead to too much animation. When there are too many things going on during a presentation, students could become distracted.

Jamie McKenzie provided many points on how to make a PowerPoint presentation effective, and not “pointless”. Here are a few of the points mentioned: maintain depth, provide sufficient evidence, supplement slides with text and data, consider the audience, eliminate distractions, select powerful images, deliver dramatically, maintain eye contact, avoid reading off the slides, deliver sincere beliefs, and the list goes on. It’s actually quite interesting to see how similar different subjects of studies are, especially when relating to effective presentations. Jamie McKenzie pointed out many great points about how to make a PowerPoint presentation effective, and not “pointless”.
All of these are great tips for communicating effectively. It’s only adding extra aide when incorporating technology like PowerPoint presentations while teaching in a classroom. In my opinion, PowerPoint presentations are like icing on the cake. They add flavor and creativity to one’s teaching. When done correctly, students could really enjoy lessons when engaged with the teacher while they’re presenting.

Sometimes it feels great to know that there are many ways in which we can instruct a classroom with technology and creativity, however I also feel overwhelmed with the pressure to make every lesson “perfect”, whether it’s doing science experiments, research activities, or PowerPoint presentations. I’m not the best speaker and presenter. After reading this article, I realize even more where I need to improve. I believe teachers are to be role models for their students. If students are to learn to be great presenters and effective speakers, so should we! Teachers never stop learning.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

ED 5201 Assignment:
How can technology help develop higher order thinking and problem solving skills?

Sometimes technology could be a distraction to people, especially students. Video games could be a huge preference over homework any day for many children. On the flipside, technology could tremendously increase engagement and excitement for learning. Textbooks are obviously unattractive to students in kindergarten. It's hard for them to stay focused. The tension span for younger children makes it even more important for students to have a variety of interesting and interactive ways to learn. This is also important for junior high and high school students as well.
Also, many times students will research the web and find something so that they can get their homework assignments over with. Whether it's seeing in a textbook or looking at a website, sometimes kids will write down the first thing they see. Sometimes because of this, what they write would have nothing to do with the question.
A lot of the responsibility relies on teachers to be facilitators. If students aren't understanding how to research, or are abusing their computer usage, teachers must be involved and engaged in student leraning as wel.

After looking at the two articles, and looking at the web for other articles, I realized how important technology is for students developing skills in critical thinking. Though some of these points can be done using books, they are very limited compared to what can be done with computers. The first point in the article on techtorials that stuck out to me was how "educators want to move students beyond mere memorization of information and simple understanding of concepts covered." It's a shame sometimes to hear teachers say that one day students will use what they learned. Why not put it into practice now? I love math teachers who bring in fake money to teach students how to understand why decimals are important. Let's take it a step further. When a teacher wants to talk about distance, and the difference between feet and miles, rather than pulling out a ruler and having students to imagine how far 30 miles stretch, why not take a step further and show them on google maps? Why not allow them to particpate by putting in their adress and seeing how far their home is from the school they attend? This will engage them, interest them, excite them, as well as help them see the importance in what they are learning.
After going of tangen I'd like to bring this back to the techtorial article. The six points pointed out by Bloom's Taxonomy are knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These cannot always be done using textbooks, papers and colored pencils. Technology is limitless in capabilities, and is only getting better. So much can be done using technology. Now students can research the web on their own, gain knowledge on what they're reading, apply it to the topic they're researching, comprehend what they read, apply it, analyze pros and cons of certain information gathered, synthesize, then evaluate. When researching websites on the web, students can decide whether or not what they're reading relates to the topic they're learning about.
Technology and the demand of it now allows students to create their own presentations, make their own data tables and charts to better understand how they work, develop organization skills by organizing file folders on their own log-in accounts, etc. Interactive websites for different subjects using video game-like software can definitely enhance one's learning experience.

Other technology can be a great benefit for students. E-mailing, blogging (like this website) and wikis enable students to from home interact with each other and with their teachers. These can be used for feedback and information sharing. From home children can now research rather than always having to drive to the nearest library. Because of technology, the world is now at our fingertips.

Children are growing up with so much technology that it must be embedded in education. Education and technology should not be seperate.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ED5210 Introduction Assignment

As an assignment for my ED 5210 graduate course, I have to talk a little bit about myself.
My name is Gerald Stroud, and I am a graduate student at Trinity Graduate School.
I am in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program for elementary education.

I want to be a teacher because I want to make an impact on the lives of young children. For years, I have had a strong passion for kids. I love interacting with them, I love making them feel important, and I love to see the growth and learning. I believe that teaching is a very rewarding job that comes with a lot of responsibilities, but in the end it's well worth it. It's also an act of service. It's devoting to the lives of others for their needs. It's others focused.

I am pretty comfortable with technology, but I wouldn't consider myself outstanding. I understand Microsoft Office, and have used other programs, such as audio and video editing software. I'm pretty comfortable with Windows XP and Vista for the most part. I've also taken a computer fundamentals cousre. I'm pretty comfortable as well with electronic devices, such as iPods, mp3 players, digital cameras, printers, video games, you name it.

My expectations for this class to learn more about technology, and how to better incorporate technology in a classroom as I'm learning to become a well-rounded teacher.