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Week 13- One Laptop Per Child

Mar. 29th, 2008 | 12:19 pm

The article, The Role of Constructivism in Teaching Science, puts forth an interesting perspective regarding the importance of inquiry, that is questing and critically analyzing problems/situations on ones own rather than listening and following instructions. “…the scientific progress is dictated by the curiosity that arise in trying to find answers to questions. In inquiry-based learning the goal is to drift the students from passively listening to actively solve a problem by continuing questioning”. Quite often than not, this method is used heavily as it is easy to implement, can involve a larger group more easily, as well as, a time saving measure. The question to ask however is are children developing the critical skills they need to discover things on their own, be active participants in their education, as well as extend their learning to their home environment and with their peer groups?

This article emphasizes many parallels to my own educational experience. As a child, my education has mainly been centered around learning and listening and following the rules or demonstrated model, learning involved little engagement between the teacher and students. In university however, the learning engagement was quite different to what I was used to. As in my current classes I like to the type of learning environment created, such as having a professor as a moderator and the students as facilitators. I think that there are many advantages to this type of learning as students can explore, create, and question on their own and with the help of the professor, ask questions when needed. This article makes much of the same connections including the OLPC. The OLPC is seen as a tool to enhance engagement, inquiry-based learning, peer relations, questioning, as well as a tool to extend learning to the home. Another possibility is to have this tool to act as a means to attain extra support or assistance from the teacher as when needing help, the OLPC is a tool that can connect the child with the teacher, helping the child with their questions about homework when family members are unable to help such as language barriers.

The article also mentions that this is not only a tool to be utilized at school but extend learning to the home environment. I find that the topic of science paired with the OLPC initiatives to be an interesting match. Using this tool in addition to at school can provide other extensions such as using the technology to explore a natural environment. When exploring ones immediate environment in other unique ways such as acting as a reporting while exploring a natural habitat, can be a great way to extend learning, in a way that it does not seem to be reflective of work as learning can sometimes be portrayed as, rather as a fun educational experience.

"The Role of Constructivism in Teaching Science." (08 Dec. 2007). Retrieved 28 Mar. 2008 http://www.olpcnews.com/use_cases/education/constructivism_role_teaching_science.html

Word Count: 464

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Critical Reflective Narrative 6: Chapters 8 and 9

Feb. 23rd, 2008 | 11:43 am

Overall, chapters 8 and 9 address many compelling points in regards to using integrative technology as a means for critical and reflective thought processing for the purpose of extending curriculum beyond just paper and pencil. In my own experiences with designing and visualizing technologies have been limited in my schooling especially in elementary school. I am happy to see that some of the conventional ways of teaching are now incorporating technologies more then ever before. Scratch, Impromptu, GarageBand, TinkerPlots, Digital cameras, camcorders, and digital storytelling are fascinating programs in which I would love to see in use especially with children in elementary school. I can see how using TinkerPlots in my own experiences of grade 4, learning would have made the lesson about data collection more interesting and allow me to further explore the concept as this was an interest of mine at the time. I think that by allowing students to develop a greater understanding of the curriculum through such means, provides a venue for greater analysis, critical evaluation, and reflective though.

Learning about digital storytelling, I enjoyed the concept behind the process of developing storyboard, which many students already learn, but through paper and pencil. Overall, the technologies mentioned above can be incorporated easily in the classroom and can provide for more interesting learning experiences for students and allow for more creativity, expression, and choice. An educator could easily incorporate three to four of the technologies such as a digital camera, camcorder, GarageBand to create their digital storytelling. This can provide an avenue for students to have basic guidelines and then make their own choices for the creation of their digital story.

With my own experiences with technology, I think that educators need to be aware of the different learning styles children have and the way the educator introduces the lesson and the technology. Through personal experience, even though I use technology on a daily basis, use of some technology comes more naturally than others. An example of this would include my own use of the software available on my Mac computer. I enjoy the software available on my computer but there are many programs that I do not use simply because trying to figure out how to use them by reading the manual bores me to death. My own learning style is hands-on where I can learn how to use the technology when interacting with it and by having some instruction on how to utilize it. I think that the same can be applied to children's learning. Children should be given the opportunity to explore, however, I feel that they also need to be given some instruction on how to use the technology in a constructive manner. Providing instruction also allows children to learn about varying ways to interact with the technology, allowing for more potential use of the technology and also incorporating it with others. Allowing students access to such technologies would allow students to express their learning through the means they are more comfortable with as well as provide for more diverse material produced. This also allows children to explore technology in many facets rather than the known thought of computers being simply used for programming. Providing opportunity for exploration, children will have more opportunity to learn multiple uses for computers and hopefully have more exposure to use the technology to simplify and fill their creative being with whatever form of technology is of meaning to the child. As educators realize that paper and pencil is not an effective way of teaching children, the same can be applied to technology and the many ways an educator can apply lessons to more then one software program or piece of technology.

Word count: 605

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Critical Reflective Narrative 4: Chapter 6 and article by Jason Nolan and Michelle Levesque

Feb. 2nd, 2008 | 09:47 pm

The article, Hacking Human: data-archaeology and surveillance in social networks by Jason Nolan and Michelle Levesque, addresses many important points as well as another point of view, the portrayal of hacking as immoral. This article allowed me to think critically of my own perceptions of hacking and the reasons why I think the way I do. One of my early experiences was as a teenager was watching movies that were in the media spotlight and produced on the very topic of hacking. As a society, quite often individuals hear something in the media, school, or in the community, internalize and accept this information without critically analyzing what the core of the message is and whether or not as an individual believes the portrayal being made of a certain story or individual. The same can be applied to children, taught from an early age and experiencing new information constantly, teaching them to accept information learned is not the same as critically reflecting upon the lesson or thought at hand.

Analyzing the article, it is quite true that every individual is subjecting themselves to hacking by releasing numerous details about their personal and professional life without taking the necessary precautions to safeguard information. The article mentions that Internet capacity for "...storage is virtually infinite, and as technologies improve, it will degrade even more slowly, and though it may become harder to find, it may never disappear" (Nolan, J. & Levesque, M., pg. 34), makes me consider more how I will utilize my time on the Internet. I think that there is numerous measures that we take to ensure that children use Internet in a meaningful and safe manner, however the same provisions are not always taken by adults. Although this is true, it is quite difficult to not include personal information as consumers such as completing on-line banking, applying for a job, blogging or being part of a social network such as Facebook. In such a fast-paced and technology dependent society it is quite difficult not to participate in any interaction with the Internet.

Chapter 6 addresses many interesting points namely being part of a greater community. Through the many programs available for children, learning can encompass greater community involvement both at a local level and at large with other countries around the world. Not only, do the children socialize with peers their own age but also, attain an insider view of how their peer lives across the world, their school environment and the daily activities or chores they must complete by the end of the day. I was glad to see that through the "Learning circles", teachers were able to adapt the same program in their own learning and building a community of teachers that support one another in a professional setting. As a student nearing my graduation, I feel that having such supports allows a new teacher to learn, be supported by his/her peers but also, allows greater chance for collaborate with other educators or debate about particular issues at hand.

Nolan, J., & Levesque, M. (2005). "Hacking Human: data-archaeology and surveillance in social networks." ACM SIGGROUP Bulletin. Volume 25, Issue 2. pp. 33-37.

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Technology in Use

Jan. 30th, 2008 | 08:38 pm

Due to the topic of this weeks reading, I thought I would share with you all another unique way to utilize technology with children that have special needs, who quite often need adaptive technology.

This article describes a new way to use technology with children who are in therapy to regain muscle strength, all while playing fun games! The article is entitled "With virtual-reality, therapy is fun" (Bloorview Kids Rehab).


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Critical Reflective Narrative: Chapter 2 and 4

Jan. 19th, 2008 | 12:34 pm

Completing this weeks reading, I found that the overlying message being portrayed was for the most part the great strides in technological advances and the great use for children in their classrooms. Although this is true and many programs available to extend learning such as internet resources, WILD, concept mapping, as well as providing links to community members, there is little emphasis on the safety while browsing and utilizing the internet especially in the home environment. As mentioned in Meaningful Learning with Technologies, chapter 2, there are many provisions to help keep kids out of harms way through the use of various filtering software, however, what about the measures being taken at home to moderate exposure to inappropriate material? With the rampant growth of using technology in classrooms, instead of bringing home workbooks and textbooks, children will be completing homework on the computer, if not already doing so. Learning will be then extended in the home were there is a "...fundamental difference between the way natives and immigrants perceive, value, and use technologies" (Jonassen, D., Howland, J., et al, 2008, pg. 28). Although many parents realize the dangers of using the Internet, parents/caregivers may not understand the extent of inappropriate content available. The "immigrants" of technology may not have a grasp of what measures to take due to the growing usage of the Internet for school purposes as well as the benefits of extending the child's learning through many effective programs increasingly offered in schools.

As a result, schools, educators, and the education system as a whole needs to address the changing curriculum to play an active role in educating families about the benefits to their child's education when using certain technology. Creating an active partnership will allow parents to be well informed about the cautions with computer usage, importance of monitoring the content the child is browsing, but most importantly providing parents with the necessary tools to be active members of their child's learning, in other words, acting as moderators. With great emphasis on the ever-changing curriculum, parents/caregivers are often not involved in the process of change in the educations system; rather just seem the end result. Having parents more involved in their child's curriculum, especially with technology, can help minimize the negative impact technology could possibly result in.

Having parents more involved in their child's education can also help them understand the changes in the curriculum resulting in greater emphasis on critical thinking and more open-ended learning. Depending on the parent’s own educational upbringing and knowledge of the curriculum, parents may have conflicting views of how to help their child in their own learning. Creating effective partnerships with families and the teacher or greater extent, the school can help parents extend their child's own learning in the home environment. Instead of providing children with questions to answer at home, children will be utilizing the knowledge learned in various programs where knowledge can assessed. Having children to be more effective in their learning process will allow students to use various skills such as problem solving to self-correct and discovery through their own exploration.

Jonassen, D., Howland, J., Marra, R., & Crismond, D. (2008). Meaningful Learning with Technology. Toronto: Pearson Educational.

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