Thoughts from the readings for this week

Many of the big topics from the readings gave me much to think about this week as I am attending the SUNY Conference on Instruction and Technology.  Today, we had the pleasure of listening to an amazing keynote address by Dr. Bryan Alexander.  The address should be posted soon at .  Dr. Alexander also maintains a blog at  As I was watching Dr. Alexander’s presentation, one of the take home ideas is that educational games appear to be the next big thing, if they aren’t already.  I found this interesting considering the importance placed on play to engage students and stimulate the imagination in the Jenkins interview from this week’s reading.  Since so many kids today play video games, it seems only logical that using games to engage learning would have huge payoffs.  My 3rd grade daughter hates working on her spelling words, but we use a fun website ( to play games about the words until she has mastered them.  She looks forward to this, while the old-fashioned method of writing them ten times doesn’t excite her at all.

In the reading by Davidson and Goldberg, I had an issue with the statement on page 13 about current college students having no memory of life before the internet.  At a community college, I have had students in age range from 17 to 60 in the same class.  This has come up at the conference I have been attending as well, since those at four year institutions describe how in tune their students are with emerging technologies.  I struggle with requiring technology use, even simple things like email, because of the diversity of my student population.  In that sense, I try to incorporate emerging technologies in an optional way until I feel that the students who were non-users have gained the confidence and skills that they need.  I also can’t assume that all students have smartphones and/or tablets, which makes the use of those to encourage interaction more difficult.  One suggestion that was made during a session I attended was to have those who don’t have a mobile device share with someone else.  If students work as teams in this way, there is usually enough devices so everyone can participate.

In the Davidson and Goldberg reading, on p. 32, the description of the importance of “connectivities and interactivities made possible by digitally enabled social networking” was especially significant to me.  Over the years, I have seen a change from students in a competition mode to them being in more of a collaborative mode.  Perhaps I was selfish, but if I prepared notes from a class, I wouldn’t share them with other students.  Now, I see students sharing notes, flashcards, pictures, and videos with each other.  So in that way, it seems that social media has encouraged students to share resources with each other, just as they are constantly sharing their thoughts, interests, and pictures with each other.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts from the readings for this week

  1. Cheryl Burris

    My daughter was always hesitant to practice spelling too. However, in kindergarten, I gave her the letters out of our Scrabble game. She loved using those to spell her words. When she was older, 3rd grade, she came into my classroom, opened my SmartBoard, and created Scrabble-like tiles with the letters. While waiting for me, she would then practice her spelling with the SmartBoard scrabble tiles. I asked her if she used that in her classroom and she said no but since I didn’t have the scrabble game in my class, she would make her own. I immediately had a blinding flash of the obvious and started using her creation in my class during spelling. The kids in my 5th grade class loved it!

  2. Karen Yarbrough

    I noticed that line about college students not experiencing life before the Internet, too. I instantly went yeah… not so much really… thanks… I remember a lot of nontraditional students during my undergrad at a four year university. Perhaps it was just my particular education program, but we had quite a few group projects where I was teamed with students of all ages and technological abilities. I noticed that many people weren’t as comfortable with some programs as I was, even stuff like Publisher or PowerPoint because even if they had Word at home, they maybe didn’t have the Office or Student Suite like I did in high school. I was lucky because I played with those programs a lot on my own because I’m a visual person and I thought they were cool. I’m still a little surprised when people are in awe of some silly thing I’ve created and I feel awkward because it’s like “um… it’s a template… I can show you… It’s actually easy as dirt…” Anyway, point is making assumptions about people’s technological background is always a bad plan.

  3. Phil

    Yes, Bryan Alexander has some great insights into what’s going on. Thanks so much for sharing the links. Interesting point too about your daughter’s preference for learning spelling via the game SpellingCity. When I read the About link, I noticed that the founder has a degree and extensive background in ed; it’s always nice to see games become popularly successful that have also been designed by people with formal backgrounds in education. Enjoy the conference!

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