Exploratory Essay

The base of technology for this research assignment allowed for a tremendous amount of possible directions. Since I’m planning to become a teacher the direction I’m interested in is education and technology. I stumbled upon an article in one of my previous classes that was about global education. It didn’t mean much to me until now. In my search for a TED Talk as a starting point for information I wanted one that addressed global education in some way. The one I discovered was about building a school in the cloud. Students could be in a classroom in one part of the world while working with a teacher on the other side. The possibilities for education with the use of technology are tremendous.

In my TED Talk the presenter Sugata Mitra shows children learning how to operate and understand how a computer functions on their own. Technology is so intriguing to children giving them a desire to learn. As a result of this Mitra’s presentation I wanted to find articles about students using technology to educate themselves or about global education. Can children really teach themselves by using technology and if so will technology take jobs away from teachers? I’ve found articles about teachers as support for students who utilize technology for education. It didn’t eliminate the teachers job but it slightly changed it.

Classroom lectures are rarely something many students enjoy. With the use of technology teachers can record lectures for students to view prior to class at their own pace. This allows for more problem based learning and hands on learning in class. This brings about the question of does technology allow for more productive learning? Also is technology more accommodating to diverse learning? The amount of time students receive on individual subjects has been something schools have been tweaking for years. It may be possible that listening to lectures online prior to class allows for more time to experience the subjects in more ways.

There’s constantly a need for more assistance or tutoring by some students. The increase in learning apps is a tool students can use instead of having to hire a tutor. There are many different apps available to students in multiple forms. There are game based apps and apps that are like flash cards. Students just have to find the one that works best for them. Many apps are designed to make learning more interesting for the student.

Students learn more when they are interested in what is being taught. Children are naturally inquisitive and technology encourages inquiry learning. Is the infinite amount of knowledge available online contributing to an increase in a desire to learn? YouTube has many how-to videos available. There isn’t much that students can’t teach themselves these days.

While technology contributes greatly to self directed learning it also provides forms of collaboration. Students can communicate with classmates on their subjects or students anywhere in the world. This can be done on their own and in the classroom. By collaborating with students in other parts of the world they can learn more about different cultures and interact with people in those cultures. This expands the students perspective and broadens their little world. This is something that will be of great benefit once they enter a work environment.

One argument against online education is the lack of social interaction. While physical social interaction may not be available students are still able to learn in a social environment. Students can  do group work online instead of having to coordinate times to meet at the library or each other’s homes. They can work in teams. Students or teachers can build learning or educational communities.

My seed article provided the greatest amount of possibilities for my topic of interest. However I was a little surprised to find as much as I have after some of the readings we have done in class. The readings haven’t provided much that would indicate technology and education as a team would be beneficial. The readings left me with the impression that people still think traditional education is best regardless of how time is changing.

I was surprised to find ways technology benefits diverse learning along with assistance for special needs. There are computer programs that assist with both. It seems there isn’t much technology can’t do to benefit learning.

It seems that possibly fear is what is causing people to question technology in education. The fear of changing the way people are learning and writing. People are afraid to let go of what they know. Most importantly, privacy. I expected to find a great deal of information on privacy being the reason for the limited amount of technology in many classrooms but I haven’t yet. More than likely I just haven’t looked in the right place because it’s hard to believe this isn’t a hot topic among parents and school officials.

The tremendous amount of tools available through technology for education is exciting. Global education is the area I’m most interested in at this time. Global education includes collaborating, exposure to other cultures, learning communities, and problem based learning. The amount of knowledge that is available to students for educational purposes is amazing. Creating opportunities to experience what they are learning outside of a textbook and encyclopedia.

Global education doesn’t only change things for students but for teachers as well. How do teachers work with teachers in other countries to create learning opportunities that meets the needs of students from different cultures? What type of training and planning is involved? How are they able to find teachers to work with in other countries?

There’s much to discover about this topic. Technology has been working its way into the classroom for many years now. It’s needed in most jobs so using technology as a tool for education seems like a smart way to prepare students for the future.

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Reading Response #3

Seed Article

Technology has spread into almost all areas of our lives. A consistently growing amount of information is available to us with just the touch of a finger or even the sound of our voice. It’s made everyday tasks quicker and easier to accomplish allowing more time for other activities. We can calculate calories, read a book, manage bank accounts, play games, check the stock market at any time. Technology is changing the way students learn and the tools available in education.

The article “Implications of Shifting Technology in Education” addresses the potential of technology in education now and up to five years into the future. Technology allows for a different type of classroom. The classroom can be at a traditional school, at home in front of the computer, in the car while traveling or many other options. Technology opens doors for diverse learners, assistance with special needs, and global learning environments. Janet and John Holland describe the possible outcome of allowing technology in education by saying “Using integrated curriculums, team teaching, media rich instructional technologies, forming partnerships, and fostering innovation, we can create knowledge and skills to prepare learners to work in future markets” (2014). The use of technology in education provides skills not only with technology but socially and with other cultures.

The student’s world of education has greatly expanded. Technology allows students to collaborate much easier with one another and receive feedback instantly. Teachers can become more of a support system for students as they utilize technology for their assignments. Students are able to do more hands on learning as they are researching the topics they are studying and work at a pace that is more suitable to their learning. While they are using technology to do their work they expand their knowledge and understanding of the topic more effectively.

Technology offers more toward education than I ever knew was possible. This article is filled with a tremendous amount of benefits for education through the use of technology. There are many different learning styles and technology can be tailored to work with the various styles. It can be used as a tutor if needed. Technology allows the student an opportunity at self learning. The possibilities are endless and the intended result is someone prepared to work and succeed in a globally competitive economy.

Reference

Holland, J., & Holland, J. (2014). Implications of Shifting Technology in Education.Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 58(3), 16-25. doi:10.1007/s11528-014-0748-3

TED Talk: Build a School in the Cloud

TED Talk by Sugata Mitra – http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud

In the TED Talk with Sugata Mitra he presents the idea of building a school in the cloud. He describes his experiments with children teaching themselves using computers. In his presentation he used children in India that had never used computers before. He left them alone with one for months at a time and would follow up on their progress. He was surprised to see they were not only learning how to use them but how they work without any outside assistance. He wanted to see how far he could push this by what he termed the granny approach. Instead of telling them how something was done he prodded them with questions and allowed the children to teach him. He believes that this can be the future for education and that this is what fits our future.

Potential topic areas:

1) Technology as the teacher

2) Using technology to teach across continents

3) Technology levels the playing field between gifted and nongifted

Reading Response #2 Paper vs. Technology

Words are all around us in one form or another. We read texts, emails, signs, books just to name a few. We may read something for a discussion or for a test that we want to commit to memory. There are also things we read that we forget as soon as we finish reading. Reading is available in many more forms today than in the past. It’s no longer just on paper. Since the 1980s reading on some form of technology has grown tremendously. Some even predicted that books would eventually fade away. In their articles Jabr and Keim discuss the different forms of reading available and the effectiveness of each.

Technology makes reading more convenient in many ways. It allows us to research information we are reading much easier and defines words for us with the touch of a button. We are also able to keep all of our books with us on just one device. Even with these benefits many people still prefer to read a paper book. In Jabr’s article “Why the Brain Prefers Paper” he tells us that “Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done” (2013). He explains that people approach reading differently on paper than they do on computers.

While there are many benefits to reading on a computer Jabr and Keim both suggest that computers have many distractions. Jabr says people “spend more time browsing, scanning and hunting for keywords compared with people reading on paper and are more likely to read a document once and only once” (2013). Does it mean that if someone is doing all these things while reading they aren’t cognitively receiving the information in the text? These examples sound like they would benefit the reader if they are using them to further understand the text.

Keim’s article “Why the Smart Reading Device of the Future May Be…Paper” suggests our lifestyles may be to blame. He states “We’re all so multitasked and attention-fragmented that our brains are losing the ability to focus on long, linear texts” (2014). The increase in technology allows us to do more in our daily lives making many of us busier than people in prior generations. The ability to focus on longer texts is something we should exercise in our busy lives. This is important whether we are reading a paper book or on a computer.

The way we process what we read on paper versus what we read on a computer is not the same. Think about the different styles of learning. There’s auditory, visual , and kinesthetic. The same information can be presented to us in different ways and depending on the way it’s presented we can learn something different each time. This would make sense when comparing reading on paper and reading on a computer. They look different, sound different, and feel different. Scientist Maryanne Wolf states “I would like to preserve the absolute best of older forms [reading on paper] but know when to use the new” (Jabr 2013). Both mediums for reading are beneficial and it’s possible that there’s a time and a place for both.

References

Jabr, . “Why the Brain Prefers Paper.” Scientific American 309.5 (2013):

48-53.<http://www.nature.com/scientificamerican/journal/v309/n5/full/scientificamerican1113-48.html>.

Keim, Brandon. “Why the Smart Reading Device of the Future May Be…Paper.” Wired. May 1

2014.Web. <http://www.wired.com/2014/05/reading-on-screen-versus-paper/>.

Thoughts regarding digital natives/digital imigrants

The terms digital natives and digital immigrants seem to be stereotypical. Apparently if you’re born 1980 or later you are considered a digital native but if you were born prior to that you’re a digital immigrant. At first hearing these terms I assumed they meant anyone considered to be a digital native was born when technology began to take off and became common in schools, offices, and homes. That seems pretty true in some places throughout the world depending on how parents raised their children and what type of technology they were exposed to during their childhood. However it doesn’t mean that everyone exposed understood it, knew how it operated, or how to use it. Besides people born prior to 1980 were the ones who created and developed it. Digital native and digital immigrants like many stereotypes don’t provide a true representation of what they really are.

Reading Response #1 Depending on Technology

Are we becoming a world run by computers? Are computers doing all of the thinking for us? Are we constantly relying on some form of technology? According to the articles in this weeks assigned readings it would seem this is where we are headed if we aren’t already there. The main idea from each article is that technology is quickly increasing along with our dependence on it bringing about concern for the wealth of our own knowledge.

The ideas in the two articles by Nicholas Carr point out a drastic concern regarding technology which has opened up the world to us more than people could have ever imagined years ago. Carr points out in “All Can Be Lost” that “…in recent years, as the focus of labor-saving technology has shifted from machinery to software, automation has become ever more pervasive, even as its workings have become more hidden from us” (2013). In “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Carr drastically says “Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory” (2008). As humans we are constantly growing, learning, and changing but our brains aren’t computers as Carr implies.

We have a natural desire for knowledge. The type of knowledge we seek depends on us. Our jobs and lives depend a great deal on technology whether we want it to or not. Living off the grid is becoming almost impossible for us. We are constantly connecting by the use of technology in some way everyday. The idea of unplugging is for people to unwind, relax, enjoy nature or whatever constitutes as a vacation from technology for an individual. In the article “The Pointlessness of Unplugging” Casey Cep explains “it’s strange to think of these unplugging events as anything like detox: the goal isn’t really abstinence but a return to these technologies with a renewed appreciation of how to use them” (2014). Just like with a vacation we take a break to enjoy other aspects of life and hope to return relaxed and ready to take on the world we hope for that same vacation feeling when we unplug.

Technology is a powerful and amazing tool that allows us to use, stretch, and collaborate our knowledge in ways that wouldn’t be possible without it. It’s good to have a healthy fear of something and to be aware of what it could become. We are responsible for making sure we don’t lack the knowledge we once had by becoming totally dependent on technology. Instead we can use it to increase that knowledge.

 

References

Carr, Nicholas. “All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines.” The Atlantic. November 2013. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/the-great-forgetting/309516/>.

—. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic. July 1 2008. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/>.

Cep, Casey N. “The Pointlessness of Unplugging.” The New Yorker. March 19 2014.

<http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-pointlessness-of-unplugging>.

Practice Reading Response – Technology and Writing

There is no doubt that technology has made an impact on who writes, how people write, and why people write. Ben Yagoda discusses the positive and negative effects the internet has had on today’s writing. In “Is the Internet Good for Writing? Part 1: Affirmative” Andrea Lunsford of Stanford believes “We’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we have not seen since Greek civilization” (Yagoda, October 3, 2013). People are writing more, reading more and connecting in ways that aren’t available without the use of the internet.

While this is great much of the writing on the internet would make many English professors cringe. Yagoda also writes about the flip side of the argument in “Is the Internet Good for Writing? Part 2: Negative” pointing out ways in which some darker human tendencies develop such as “superficiality, triviality, groupthink, meanness, narcissism, and a short attention span: maybe worst of all, a seeking out of short-term merit badges (clicks, ‘likes’, comments, retweets, page views) at the expense of complexity and depth” (October 7, 2013). Writing found on the internet doesn’t have to be well written for people to want to read. It only has to be interesting.

This is a valid debate. There are a great number of writing outlets through the internet where people are able to state their thoughts regardless of how well they can write. There is a wide range of writing styles on the internet from professional to those who seem to be free writing. It seems that the internet allows equal opportunity to anyone who desires to write. In another article “How the Internet made me a better writer” Noah Berlatsky explains that by posting his writings online he was able to improve by getting feedback from others. In his experience “Writing online is a better way of thinking than writing alone, in short, because writing online allows you to take advantage of other people’s thinking too” (Berlatsky 2014). Sure people can write with pen and paper and have others review it before posting it for the world to see but by using the internet as part of the writing process there is a larger audience to offer feedback.

The internet has been gracious enough to highlight the need for improving the written language. The internet alone cannot be responsible for poor writing skills. While texting and other forms of communicating have opened doors for newer versions of shorthand that have contributed to poor writing skills education is also to blame. Another article regarding the effects the internet has had on writing is “The Internet Doesn’t Have to Kill But Can Instead Cultivate Writing – Good Writing” points out that “Most mistakes already existed, only becoming more obvious with the increased use of the World Wide Web and other communication technologies, like texting” (VanNest 2013). As people look for someone or something to blame for the varying degrees of writing online it is important to be open minded because there is likely multiple culprits.

Berlatsky, Noah. “How the Internet made me a better write.” Salon.com. January 27, 2014. <http://www.salon.com/2014/01/27/how_the_internet_made_me_a_better_writer/>.

VanNest, Allison. “The Internet Doesn’t Have to Kill But Can Instead Cultivate Writing – GoodWriting.” Grammarly.com. July 10, 2013. <http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2013/the-internet-doesnt-have-to-kill-but-can-instead-cultivate-writing-good-writing/>.

Yagoda, Ben. “Is the Internet Good for Writing? Part 1: Affirmative.” The Chronicle of Higher Education: Lingua Franca. October 3 2013. <http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2013/10/03/is-the-internet-good-for-writing-part-i-affirmative/>.

Yagoda, Ben. “Is the Internet Good for Writing? Part 2: Negative.” The Chronicle of Higher Education: Lingua Franca. October 7 2013. <http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2013/10/07/is-the-internet-good-for-writing/>.