Author Archives: Shelby Nelson

Learning Networks Week 11 Blog Post

The Making projects, making friends text discusses the potential for kids to go from being “consumers of media” to “creators of media”.  I took a particular interest in “Scratch”- the programming environment that shares a collection of projects created by students. As Brennan’s text shares, “The collection of projects is incredibly diverse: interactive newsletters, science simulations, virtual tours, animated tutorials, and many others, all programmed with Scratch’s graphical programming blocks”. The variety of projects submitted seems open-ended which allows for creativity and uniqueness. The idea of “blocks” struck a chord with me being a kindergarten teacher. Scratch was created by the Life-long Kindergarten group and the thought process behind it is interesting to me. Yes, children play with blocks to build pretend castles and they try to see how tall of a structure they can build before it all comes tumbling down, but I believe much more is happening. Kids are creating something that is meaningful to them. Through Scratch, kids are learning skills (mathematical and computational) while they most likely don’t even realize it. It was incredible to read the different stories about how children learn from one another all around the world. The importance of feedback and critiquing was also revealed throughout the text.

“Access to the community created opportunities for individuals to imagine new possibilities for creation; develop their technical and aesthetic abilities; create more technically, aesthetically, or conceptually sophisticated projects than would have been possible to create independently; and reflect on their development as creators of interactive media”. This quote I believe is an excellent summary of the Brennan text. This explains how using the community bridges the gap and allows for things otherwise impossible.  I wonder how many students or children will be inspired to become “creators of media” compared to how many will be content with their current role of “consumers of media”. Will kids be overwhelmed or intimidated by the work?

As highlighted in the Zywica text, “Informal networking sites attract many of today’s youth”. One thought that I would like to mention is that I’ve been thinking about the effectiveness of informal sites vs. formal sites especially in the classroom setting. I think about how much students really learn when they are using informal sites verses formal sites. Part of me thinks that it all is centered around the topic and if it interests the individual. Another part of me wonders if it is the tools that are keeping the students on task and actually learning. And a small part of me wonders if they are learning what the teacher had in mind (which may not always be negative).

Some “learning” occurs when the students are outside of school and this has been made possible by the tools that students have available to them now. The videos that I watched from the Brazil: Kids using digital media to teach each other site amazed me. Yes they may not be learning algebra or science but they are learning.  “According to Ludemir, the “small steps” craze is an example of how youth can be protagonists in creating and changing culture.” This is just one example. I want to mention the tags from the article: “Peer to Peer Learning”, “interest-driven learning, and “youth culture”. Interest-driven learning is HUGE today and it is changing lives.

Week 10 Badges

A few things stood out to me while piecing through the readings this week. The idea of badges is one that “we can’t ignore” as Young states; however, it would need to become widely recognized and accepted in order for it to be successful.

“All badges could seem more flash than substance, like the flair worn by the waitress in the movie Office Space”. Would having badges be equivalent to a degree/certificate/etc.? Are individuals trying to earn these badges just to say that they have them? Or to better their education? Are they earning badges that will help them down the path they are going? Will badges be recognized by businesses? Some may not bother with it. I find myself asking many questions about the effectiveness and worth of badges. I believe this quote nicely sums up my opinion.. “Fundamentally, badges are all about perception, so it’s difficult to predict whether the key players employers and job applicants will click the like button on the concept”.

Week 8 Connections Being Made

  1. What is your perspective on the notion of a ‘fluid’ epistemology as proposed by Dede–that is, that knowledge is collectively negotiated and ratified as opposed to being ‘given’?

Dede brought up a number of different views that I had not thought about in the past. For example, I had never heard of the word “epistemologically” before reading this article, and I had never really challenged the “Classical Perspective” of knowledge. The Web 2.0 definition of knowledge: “collective agreement about a description that may combine facts with other dimensions of human experience, such as opinions, values, and spiritual beliefs” is something that initially I would think to challenge. I think that I think this way because of some of the lectures I have heard in the past from professors and help-desk workers assisting me with finding “valid information”. As I continued reading the article, and came across the section that discussed how most present educators choose to ignore certain aspects of Web 2.0 technology for various reasons, my thinking started to shift a bit. Why should students be limited to only the resources and tools that one professor may have to share? Many professors that I know have expressed their opinions that yes, just as Dede states, “social networking sites are useless or dangerous”. Many believe that unless a perspective comes from a “disciplinary scholar” it is not worth reading or researching.

According to the Dede text, “Many students who excel academically do not fare well later in life; the challenges of work, citizenship, and daily life do not resemble the multiple-choice items on high-stakes tests.” I can relate to this quote because I know a person very well who does extremely well on tests and would be considered “book smart”; however, this person struggles with day to day tasks and sometimes lacks what some call common sense. Would these types of people be better off if they had professors who believed in the Web 2.0 definition of knowledge? I believe someone who does take advantage of Web 2.0 creativity by using resources such as wikis, podcasts, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Flicker, RSS feeds, etc. will be more well-rounded overall- not just “book smart”.

2. How does connectivism relate to the epistemological shift described by Dede?

A significant trend in learning that the Connectivism text highlights is: “Informal learning is a significant aspect of our learning experience. Formal education no longer comprises the majority of our learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways”. As the video “Networked Student” shares, “Learning occurs as part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties this network is made possible by various tools of technology. The tools themselves are not as important as the connections made possible by them.” If you go out on that limb and are encouraged by educators to find that expert and ask them if they would be willing to share their expertise with you, you will make connections that you never thought were possible before in that traditional classroom relying on the “classical perspective” of knowledge.

Week 7 Learning Networks

What types of trends do you see in the ways audio and still/video media are being used to support learning?

Audio and still/video media are being used in the classroom to connect students to the material, experience, and each other. As I have stated in my learning philosophy, learning must be made MEANINFUL to students. By using audio and still/video media as add-ons to lessons, learning can be made meaningful. Teachers are able to present the curriculum in new innovative ways. Teachers are finding excellent resources and ways to engage their students. These resources can be used as instructional aids to reteach students who don’t understand the material or who missed a class. They can be used as inspiration, vocabulary building, as a “hook” to a lesson, for comprehension, student projects, etc. There are so many ways that audio and video can be used to enhance the learning experience.

Specifically, how do you see these media enhancing participatory learning within the Web 2.0 context beyond that possible by text media?

I found a blog titled 50 ways to use video in the classroom.

These ideas are great and more importantly, they are practical! My favorite is #50 Changing and inspiring the world (Videos make a POWERFUL statement. Students want to make a difference and making a video will allow them to).  I believe that video will foster student creativity above what text media could. Using video/audio tools will help challenge your students and make learning meaningful to them. Using media as a teaching tool will absolutely help to engage students; however, I believe it is important to note that teachers need to use a variety of tools in order to reach all types of learners.

I really enjoyed the video that featured students from an Introduction to Cultural Anthropology Class of Spring 2007 at Kansas State University. This was one of the “Award-Winning Videos” featured on the Video Ethnography Projects link.  One of the parts that stood out to me from this video after reading this specific question of how learning can be enhanced within the Web 2.0 context beyond that possible by text media was the very end when the chalkboard reads…. “Writing on a Chalkboard- What is missing? And on the other side you see: Photos, videos, animations, networks”. To add, one of the students holds up her notebook that reads… “I will read 8 books…2300 Web Pages…1281 Facebook Profiles “

Richardson & Mancabelli describe six new literacies for 21st century learning environments. Which of the six measures of literacy do you see as the most challenging? Why? Are there any you would add?

I find #4 to be the most challenging (Managing, analyzing, and synthesizing multiple streams of simultaneous information) because I think combining various streams of information into 1 thoughtful and organized whole is a difficult task. I feel that what I have already learned through this course would help tremendously.  As I also read, “Learning is extremely social as we read, filter, create, and share with one another on an ongoing basis.” I think the important thing to note here is the word filter. We do this without even realizing that we are doing it. When we are analyzing and synthesizing, we also need to make sure we are filtering the meaningful or important from the nonessential.

Additional Thoughts and Quotes: I found these in particular from the readings and videos to be the most worth-while.

As I read in the text Understanding the Power of PLNs, Richardson & Mancabelli highlight 2 game-changing conditions. With internet access…. 1: we now have two billion potential teachers and 2: the sum of human knowledge will be at our fingertips.

“Right now, we can be intellectually close to people who are three thousand miles away, while in the same respect, we may be far away from those sitting right next to us”

I can see how podcasts have become so popular after viewing and searching around the Teaching with Technology Podcast site. I listened to many great podcasts that I found interesting including: The Kindergarten Achievement Gap, Creating Video Clips (under Media category), Educating Parents about Digital Communication, and Five Tips for a Class Web Site.

The reason why I continued to click around and navigate through the large list of categories was because it was extremely convenient. I also noted how each podcast was quite short and to the point. I bookmarked this site because next time I want a quick tutorial on how to use technology I will be using this as a resource.


Week 6 Wikis and Learning

What type of knowledge building activities do you see going on in these different sites?

According to The Power of Wiki’s text, educational wikis are grouped into four different categories: “Collaboration, sharing, organization, and instruction”. Under the category titled “Collaboration”, I found professional development to be one of the examples discussed. I found this specific example to be a useful one. I had never considered this as a possible use for a wiki. In the text, “Solomon and Schrum suggest having educators use wikis during professional development sessions to create district wide or statewide technology-based lessons and district-level technology plans” (p. 58). I believe this is such a powerful idea for school districts. When I attend professional development days, my colleagues and I take our own notes that end up getting filed away and never really discussed among us. If we were to create a wiki for these types of situations, we could engage in meaningful discussions and it would be a great place to store notes, ideas, and resources for future use. This would be a great organizational tool that would also get teachers comfortable with the use of wikis so that they can maybe someday use them in their classrooms as well.

I also believe that sharing technology plans and lessons could really go a long way. When you have multiple educators working on shared lesson plans, you would be able to bring brains together and hopefully come up with engaging lessons. These plans could also be easily adaptable. Another knowledge building activity taking place on wikis includes students learning and working together with students all over the world. It is very motivating for students to not only edit something with a group or with a student in their class or school, but knowing that they are a small part of something really large and great would be a very rewarding learning experience for some students.

McCrea shares with the reader in Wiki-Centric Learning that everything created for the wiki is archived by year for future referencing. I believe this allows teachers to model assignments, students can be inspired and figure out “what works”, and this also is beneficial because teachers are able to set high expectations.

My concern with the use of wikis is when trying to use them in a primary classroom. I teach 5-6 year olds who are just learning the basics when it comes to using a mouse, a keyboard, etc. I believe I could use a wiki as a sharing tool for parents, administrators, other educators, etc. but I can’t see the perks for using a wiki over a blog or traditional website for something like this (in my classroom). The one thing that I instantly thought of was using it to sign up for conferences, supplies, volunteering days, etc. so that parents can edit at home. Maybe as I become more comfortable with using it myself I will become more creative and think of new ways to possibly use this Web 2.0 tool.

How do you see the quality of knowledge building being monitored in large public wikis and the smaller wikis?

The smaller more personal/classroom wikis are monitored by just a few, while larger public wikis have numerous people working hard to keep “What Wikipedia is Not” true.  I was anxious to do the readings and researching for this week’s topic since it is the one I am least familiar with- especially from an educator’s standpoint. I honestly learned more about the ins and outs of a wiki through the “What Wikipedia is Not” site. Although I felt all of the information was interesting and worth reading, I especially liked the “Wikipedia is not a crystal ball” section. It is important to realize that opinions, thoughts, speculations, rumors, announcements, etc. are not a part of a wiki. Before learning about wikis this week, I had associated them along with blogs. I now cannot group them together! As I read in The Art of Using Wiki Pages to Teach, Davis pointed out that you never use “I” on a wiki. It is highlighted that there is ONE voice. Blogging is for “me” and wikis are for “we”. Sidenote: I LOVED the “This Page in a Nutshell” summary and icon at the top. I thought that was fantastic!


Week 5 Blog and Podcast

Week 5 Blog

What do you see as the role of blogs for learning as integrated in formal learning environments?

From my point of view, I believe the role of a blog in a formal learning environment is for educators to ADD depth and interest for students. I don’t think a blog should “take over” a class. A blog should not be the sole assignment or project. Blogs should be places for students to “have a voice”, participate, and feel like they belong. As the Bartholomew text Educational Blog Management Strategies and Tools reports, blogging is the “most education friendly” of the new Web 2.0 tools.

“The new and unique qualities of Web 2.0 can be compounded in traditional educational settings by the fact that students often times have far more experience with and understanding the new technology than the teachers who are developing curriculums and setting educational goals.” Why not let these students ADD depth and interest to their learning goals? Why limit the resources for your students? Why not make it MEANINGFUL to them?

The teacher/professional blog that I enjoyed reading through most was Will Richardson’s blog. My favorite part of his blog (and a part that I have not seen on too many other teacher blogs) is the section titled “Ask Me Anything”.  Any person who is logged into Tumblr can ask a question and likely get a response. What a great way to foster communication and feedback. In Will’s case, this is a way for potential “buyers” of his books to contact him and to feel that personal touch that is sometimes lost along the way.

What do you see as the role of blogs when self-initiated and informal? (i.e., outside bounds of any institution/formal classroom), especially in the context of learning?

As Balsley’s text 10 Good Reasons to Start a Blog states in #2, starting a blog INSPIRES YOU. I believe the role of many self-initiated and informal blogs start off due to an inspiration that a person has. Some people may be inspired to learn more about themselves. If a person is on a weight loss journey, it could be motivating and inspiring for them to create a blog. Blogs could also be created to help map out preparations for a wedding, or an addition to a family. There are many “personal” reasons for ordinary people to be transformed into “bloggers” and I think that the underlying reason is because it will INSPIRE not only the blogger, but other people along the way.

What do you see as the most important aspects to consider in using blogs for learning?

In the conclusion of Bartholomew’s text, blogging is referred to as a “loving, growing organism.” “It needs to be tended and watched over in the same way someone might a garden.” This made me laugh a little bit, but I believe it to be true. Having a blog that keeps students coming back for more is a very important aspect. If the blog starts to die down, the person in charge (the gardener) needs to give it what it needs to survive.. In a blog’s case, it depends on the group, but that could be new interactions and more STUDENT led projects in some cases.

“Blog participants are self-generating agents. They must choose to visit the blog, they must choose to read and take seriously the thoughts/ideas of others, and they must choose to actively write on the blog in a way that fosters interest.”  Blogs that do not do these things will not survive and will not foster learning.

I also found 2 of the 10 Good Reasons to Start a Blog by Jessica Balsley to be important aspects when considering blog us for learning in a classroom. #3 states that a blog CONNECTS YOU. Not only do blogs connect the teacher to parents and the community, but they can connect students to other students and students to the community. If a blog can achieve this, I believe it can foster learning. The second reason that I’d like to point out is #8 (Makes you feel as though you are not alone). If students and teachers can see a blog as a place to share their successes and trials, they will realize that there is always room for improvement. A blog is a great way to get feedback, and getting feedback helps both students and teachers learn.


In this Podcast, I interviewed Cara Marchione who is a 3rd grade teacher who just earned her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State.

Group 3 Blog Curation

Group Three’s posts were engaging and interesting this week after analyzing the Horizon Report and Hsu text and looking more deeply into the cognitive processes that are enabled by Web 2.0 technologies.

Rachel makes a connection to the Hsu text that groups tagging into the knowledge construction process category. She suggests a free iOS app (mGeo) that allows users to share information that can be saved and tagged to a geographical location. A part of the reading that stood out to Rachel was the recommendations for implementation that Hsu outlined. She plans on exploring Edmodo (a social learning platform commonly thought of as the facebook of schools) to create a discussion forum that will be a part of a course that will begin in September 2013 via iTunes U called “The Heart of Teaching: Philosophical Foundations”. She will become familiar and research this Web 2.0 tool, which was one recommendation for implementation featured. Rachel is the instructional designer for this open course. A few of the other recommendations that Rachel highlighted were “starting small and being realistic”, “providing scaffolding” when introducing a new tool, and “making it a big deal” for students.

Although Rachel finds the table on page 357 of cognitive processes enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to be helpful, Karen believes the table may limit the technologies teachers use if they’re looking to involve a specific cognitive process. EunSung was able to reflect on teaching strategies used in the past when looking at the table.

Karen, being a media specialist, believes that comfort and familiarity with emerging technologies is most important when it comes to the implementation of Web 2.0 tools. She recommends mobile uses as a starting point for teachers who aren’t ready for more advanced web-based tools. Karen shares that tagging, blogging, and using wikispaces are three great tools that can be used by teachers with relatively little experience. She also explains that hands-on practice will help her teachers become comfortable and confident.

EunSung believes the ability to classify similar topics and share viewpoints are two of the reasons that make Web 2.0 technologies appealing for users. EunSung shares that through experience, although they see the many benefits, students prefer face-to-face interaction and believe it takes longer to use Web 2.0 tools. In the post this week, EunSung concludes that it would be time-consuming for teachers to track the cognitive processes that their students are using. EunSung says it would be challenging for elementary aged students to collaborate using these tools even with appropriate scaffolding due to the critical thinking, evaluating, and analyzing skills that are necessary.

Our group as a whole believes that teachers need to provide scaffolding and to invest time to learn and become comfortable with Web 2.0 tools before implementation should occur. EunSung sees potential for learners to develop critical-thinking skills through the use of these tools.

Thanks everyone for the posts and comments that lead to great discussions. Have a great week.

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).

Learning Philosophy: Participating in MEANINGFUL experiences

Learning occurs when a student participates in MEANINGFUL experiences. I have had the opportunity to see first-hand how young children learn, and to be a part of the process. my kindergarten classroom is an environment where my students gain experiences that are hands-on and MEANINGFUL to them. Through careful planning centered around the curriculum, I am able to create experiences and learning centers that help students use creativity and problem-solving skills.

The question then becomes: “How do you make experiences MEANINGFUL to students?”

I believe the first step is to get to know your students very well, create relationships with them, and relate learning to their “real-life”. It is important to connect learning to life outside of the classroom. It is important to be able to answer the question “Why are we learning this”? My school has just adopted a new reading program called Lead 21. There is a component of Lead 21 that has proven to be extremely successful this year among my students for many reasons. This component is called “inquiry”. At the end of each unit, we participate in an “inquiry project”. The reason why this project is so successful is because the students themselves create the questions and the project (with teacher support and guidance to extend learning). For example, during a unit titled “Life All Around”, my students created puppet shows in small groups that answered the question, “What plants and animals are around us?” Students brainstormed ideas, made their puppets, rehearsed, and performed their puppet show to summarize what we had learned in the unit. Using Web 2.0 these inquiry projects can be enhanced even more and can reach a farther audience.

Since these projects are so open-ended and allow for freedom and creativity, it is challenging for students. A quote from Davidson & Goldberg The Classroom or the World Wide Web? stood out to me when I was thinking about the inquiry process:
“Challenges are not simply individually faced frustrations, Promethean mountains to climb alone, but mutually shared, to be redefined, solved, resolved, or worked around-together”.
I have found that students are more motivated and successful when they are interested in what they are learning. When they create their own learning opportunities, they are MEANINGFUL, and students are held accountable for them. Students not only “dive deeper” into the subject matter, but they learn how to work effectively in a group setting and how to be a contributing group member. These are skills that they will need to use their entire lives.

This year I have seen how allowing for the shift in roles (student-created inquiry projects) helps to shape a new learning environment. In this environment, I have seen what Douglas Thomas has described.. “You get to see students learn, discover, explore, play, and develop, which is the primary reason I think that most of us got into the job of teaching.”