Daily Archives: May 31, 2013

Week 2: Web 2.0

(Please forgive my late posting.  There was a medical emergency in my family.)

How is learning presumed to occur within the context of Web 2.0?

As Brown and Adler discussed in their article, Minds on Fire…, learning is presumed to happen in a social context while both consuming, creating, and sharing knowledge.  Facilitating this experience, Web 2.0 assist this by providing resources that allow people from a variety of places, backgrounds, and interests to come together, collaborate, and exchange information in “innovative ways” while focusing on “how we are learning” and not “what we are learning”.

What are the differences in the role of the learner and the facilitator as compared to ‘traditional’ learning environments? (Do you consider these roles and processes viable/valid given your philosophy of learning?)

Traditional learning environments are top down, teacher directed, didactic instruction where the learner was supposed to “soak up” information that was presented, connect it to other bits of previous information, and form chains of transferred knowledge that we, as the learners, could then put into action.  Now, both the teacher and the learner are expected to have active participation, collaboration, and creation of knowledge in a more socially constructed environment.

Personally, I feel there is space for both methods.  If I am taking a music class and learning how to play the violin, I expect the lesson will be teacher directed and I am to be a sponge.  This is something technical that I have no understanding of at that moment.  I would have to be trained.  Training, although the most basic form of teaching, occurs when there is a lack of base knowledge and/or a behavior needs to be created.

Bear with me just a moment as I try to explain my thoughts….

When I joined the military, I had no idea how to really be a soldier other than what I heard from vets or saw on TV.  In an environment like the military, behaviorism (creating a behavior) most certainly has its place – afterall, it was the miltary.  It was in the military that I learned how to stop thinking and start doing.  Now, before some rush to judgement on that statement, these were examples of things I had to learn to do as a natural extension of myself since I was an immature soldier (not to be confused with an immature adult).  As a brand new soldier, I had to learn how to follow orders and not question them; jump out of an airplane in the middle of the night with equipment that weighed more than me; rappel facing the ground instead of looking up at the sky; rush into a scene with bodies broken, bruised, dead, and dying (although it was portrayed by actors in the training phase); march even though my body ached and blisters covered my feet; and fight with another human until one of us won.

Much like a young child is potty trained, trained to eat with a spoon, and trained to conduct proper hygiene, an immature soldier has to be trained too.  One can not interact with the immature as one would act with the mature.  As a soldier professionally matures, the training changes to education.  This is all part of a soldier learning to be a soldier.

Much like a pre-teen/teenager starts to construct their identity, a mid-grade soldier learns to construct his/her own image of the soldier they want to be as well as the professional path they are going to take.  For example, a mid-grade soldier is normally at the point they have to decide if they are going to stay in or get out, is this to be a career or just a stepping stone to another career, will they change jobs within the military, for enlisted – will they stay enlisted or become a warrent officer or even an officer.  At this point, education is starting to consist of participation but is mainly driven by a top-down model of knowledge but there are choices that can be made by the learner as to where the instruction will occur.

Finally, with professional maturity in place, the professional military education (PME) changes to the connectivism (collaboration, participation, creating personal connections) paradigm and the soldier learns how to analyze his/her position, the military at large, and the military in a more global, social, and cultural l sense.

To add confusion to the matter, this overly generalized discussion changes according to the job a soldier holds or during times of conflict like we have seen for the past 10 years.  For me, basic training and airborne training were based in behavorism, learning to do my job as an intelligence analyst was based in constructivism, and training to become a non-comissioned officer (a middle management rank) was based more on a hybrid of constructivism and connectivism.

I do not see a one style fits all when it comes to learning environments but an appropriate learning style for the learning environment.

What implications do these shifts have for how we think about designing learning environments?

The biggest shift I see is considering what prior knowledge the learner possess.  A learner cannot necessarily collaborate if he/she has no prior knowledge.  With the increase of the learner’s knowledge base, comes the freedom of creating participatory environments that are social in nature.


Thoughts on Week 4 Texts

As I read the texts for this week, I felt a little “technologically overwhelmed.” As the Horizon Report 2011 shared: “Gesture-based computing” is gaining interest and exposure. I simply can’t wrap my mind around the thought of controlling a computer through body motions rather than with a mouse and keyboard. I was also shocked to read that attendees were asked NOT to turn off their phones at an Abilene Christian University performance. Can’t the summaries, clarification of Shakespearean language, and live-blogging hold off until at least the end of the performance? Are we taking this too far? As I read in The Horizon Report, the impact of technology is “indicative of the changing nature of the way we communicate, access information, connect with peers, and colleagues, learn, and even socialize”.

I was at the Verizon Wireless store in State College today trying to fix an issue with the speakers on my iPhone, when I heard an employee try to sell a smart phone by saying, “People are on their phones more than anything else today. They are on their phone more than they are in their car. They are on their phones more than they spend time socializing with their family and friends.” First of all, I couldn’t believe this was a part of his attempt to sell a phone to a customer. Secondly, I began to wonder how true his statements really were, and after the readings for this week, I am starting to think technology (specifically phones) might be taking over our lives. Let me step back for a moment..

People who know me well would probably be surprised to hear me say I feel “overwhelmed”, since I use my phone often for emailing, social networking, FaceTiming, etc. and find it to be extremely convenient. I am not saying that we would be better off without these technologies by any means. Now that I have finished “going off on a tangent”, I think technology has changed our lives for the better and I cannot picture the day when we no longer have these resources at our fingertips. Specifically as a teacher and student, technology is an integral part of learning in today’s education system.

Web 2.0 Technologies as Cognitive Tools of the New Media Age listed 5 Web 2.0 Implementation Recommendations For Teachers. I really made a connection with #2 (start small and be realistic) and #5 (Make it a big deal). In order for teachers to be successful, they must feel confident and comfortable with the technologies they are using in the classroom. I believe using Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom is absolutely motivating for students. Not only is it beneficial for students, but this “new-generation of Web technologies has lowered the technical threshold required of teachers and allow for relatively easy learning”.  Yes, we still need to start small and be realistic, but with hands-on practice, teachers can be successful with Web 2.0 technologies and using “contemporary teaching methods”.

I believe the most significant insight about the application of technology into the classroom from this chapter is how teachers are using blogs as learning and reflective Journals (E-Portfolios). The teacher in the text, Mr. Smith, was successful in the way he organized his blog. As #5 highlighted, he “made it a big deal”. His students were organized, motivated, and were able to track their own learning throughout the entire year. His 8th grade students were able to reflect on what they had learned and what their classmates had learned. Through the use of these portfolios, metacognitive and self-regulated reflection is enabled. “Learners were more likely to be motivated to devote effort in preparing their blog posts to demonstrate their knowledge because the e-portfolio would be published on the Web and accessible by audiences worldwide” (p. 365).

Melissa’s Week 4 Reading Reflection

The Hsu et al. chapter identifies different categories of Web 2.0 tools and how they accommodate student learning (specifically table 1). What is your perspective on the classification and application of tools based on your own knowledge and work with various Web 2.0 tools?

While I mostly have experience using the category of journaling or blogs, I did feel that the cognitive processing involved was correctly classified in Table 1 for each Web 2.0 technology type.  It helped to go back over the table after I read the rest of the chapter with examples of the use of each type of technology.   I have some minor experience with group use of Goggle Docs and feel that you could categorize the use of that tool in the “Organization and Integration with Prior Knowledge” cognitive process as well, especially when information needs to be placed in a certain category of a document.  But the authors themselves point out on page 356 that all three applications could promote all of the types of cognitive processes in the table.

What do you see as the most significant insights about application of technology into the classroom based on this chapter?

The tagging scenario on pages 358-359 helped me to think about a future application for my own course.   I am looking into the use of Pinterest as a helpful study aid for my anatomy and physiology students.  I recently attended a short presentation about Pinterest and its use in an undergraduate course.  I took a look at the number of anatomy figures that were already present on Pinterest and feel that maintaining boards on certain categories would allow students to find images to study, and also allow them to pin images that they find.  One of the biggest issues that occurs on anatomy quizzes is that students feel that they knew the information from one image (the figure in the book, for example), but couldn’t identify that part from a 3-dimensional model in lab.  I have found that the more a student studies from various sources, the more they understand the correct anatomy, no matter how it is presented.   Pinterest would allow students to find images and organize those images into the correct category to be used for future study.

I was also interested in the discussion of RSS feeds for staying updated on blog content (page 364).  I have found this to be a particularly helpful feature in our course this summer.  A problem that we face at our college is with our learning management system, students do not have good mobile access to the discussion forum.  They can get email updates, but posting is still best done on a computer, not a mobile device.  While I know that we will eventually be moving to Blackboard (which has better mobile access), in the short term of the next year or two, discussions on a blog would allow my students to interact with each other more often.  Because so many students have a Facebook app on their phones, I do know instructors who have moved their discussion forums out of the learning management system and onto a closed group on Facebook.  This allowed for better interaction between the students and the instructor as it could be used as a ubiquitous mobile tool.  I’d be interested to hear about the pros and cons of Facebook versus blogs based on others’ experiences.  And as with a blog, students can reflect on their learning by reading previous posts and seeing how far they have come since the beginning of a course.  I was excited by the scenario of using a blog as an e-portfolio as this allows the students to save multiple media types including audio, video, pictures, and text.  E-portfolios are now being used by many students to show their skills and experience for job interviews or acceptance into academic programs.

My favorite part of the article was the recommendations for implementation at the end of the article.  With all I have been learning in the past few weeks about these tools, I loved the recommendation to “start small and be realistic” on page 367.  I already have so many ideas to use these tools in my courses, but I need to refine those big plans into small steps to pilot these tools one at a time.

I did also enjoy exploring the different reports on the New Media Consortium website.  It was interesting that over the last few years, many of the same trends were reported such as mobile apps and educational games.  Recently, I was introduced to the area of learning analytics at a workshop, and it seems this could be an important new tool as well.  As an instructor, I already can use data from assessments to see where students are having problems as well as the areas in which they are doing fine, but learning analytics provide more detailed analyses that can help both instructors and administrators.

Week 4


Welcome to Week 4! Here’s what we’ve got coming up for this week.

  • Reading: Horizon Report 2011; Hsu, Ching & Grabowski, Web 2.0 technologies as cognitive tools
  • Blog post (see Lessons>Week 3 in Angel for suggested questions or topics to consider
  • Blog comments: comment on at least two other students’ posts
  • Group Blog Leaders/Curators: Courtney (Group 1); Melissa (Group 2); Shelby (Group 3)

For the Blog Curator assignment, those of you who are group leaders/curators for this week will read the posts made by those members in your group and then identify what you see to be some of the key highlights in their posts. You can look at my curation of the Week 2 posts as an example. You can see the schedule of group leaders on the Groups page of our course blog.

As always, if you have any questions, let me know.