Thursday, June 2, 2011

Two thumbs up

Creating this blog has not been a wholly positive experience. In the beginning, it was a task I had to do to because I was being graded, a little boring as I wasn't always all too adventurous with technology, time-consuming and also confronting. Blogging wasn't a new experience for me and was one I actually used to take pleasure in but blogging about life and things that inspired or happened to me was very much different to blogging for the sake of passing a course and appearing knowledgeable about the digital world. In the midst of attending university three days a week, working for two and completing numerous assignments during the weekend, blogging wasn't something that interested me. As with many things, when you haven't meddled with it in awhile, it takes you awhile to figure out how to use it again and for some reason, it took quite a lot of long and frustrating hours to make my blog into a place I was happy to visit.

You will be glad to know I no longer view blogging with the same passion as I did 12 weeks ago.

In many ways, I've grown attached to this experience of settling down with a hot tea, switiching on my laptop, pulling out my notes and putting all my thoughts down in digital reality. And ultimately, blogging has made me a reflective learner. Within this course, I have been introduced to many different techonological tools; some that I have heard of in the past and some new to me but 90 percent of which I have chosen to avoid attempting. I believe in order to write about something, we need to either be knowledgeable about it or have experienced it. As I'm clearly not technologically savvy, I've gone down the road of experience. Blogging has therefore given me a reason to pull my socks up, stop whinging and start playing with the 'toys' on the Web. To take it one step further, the process of writing about these experiences has shaped me into a learner that not only experiences but is also reflective upon her experience.

Looking back, I found it difficult to blog in the beginning as I didn't what direction I wanted to take this blog. Seeing as this blog was one that was going to be for university purposes and perhaps for my professional portfolio one day, I didn't feel like I could blog as me but rather I needed to be more formal in my blogging style. It took me awhile and the exposure to some of my peers' blogs to realise that it was more important for me to blog as an indidvidual with my personality rather than attempt to blog with someonelse' voice. Once I established that, deciding what to blog was quicker and the process more fluid.

All in all, this course has opened my eyes to the many benefits the Web can bring to the classroom and I hope to re-create and incorporate these tools into my classroom teaching and learning experiences. I've just found out that I'll be getting Year two students for my ATP and I've been thinking of various ways the use of modern technology can enhance the experience. Yes, the children may be young and lack some of the skills and literacy knowledge but I don't believe that I should let that stop me. I'm truly excited at the idea of becoming a socially networked classroom.

Web meets Deb

As excited and intrigued as I am about all the different new technology that is being created and used all around the world, it feels as if somewhere along the way, I missed the stage of 'Web meets Deb' and I've been fast tracked to 'Web meets World'. I have no doubt that digital technology is only going to continue developing at the rapid rate it has been going in the past decade.

Everywhere we turn today, we see technology being used to help us enhance our everyday lives. iPhones are whipped out to send a quick message to our friends that we are late, GPS used to help us newbies navigate our way around Perth, desktops booted up to get the latest news update, Smartboards switched on to upload an interactive numeracy activity, laptops switched on and earphones plugged in to tune in to the latest lecture podcast and the list goes on and on. Compared to how we used to communicate and navigate our surroundings a couple of decades ago to how we do so today, I can say life is infinitely quicker and connected!!

More importantly though is the question of how technology development impact upon education. Is it enhancing the learning the our students, providing a more holistic learning environment, bringing the focus from being exclusive to inclusive and tailoring instruction to student's needs? When technology is implemented well in an educational context, student engagement is high, the boundaries of a classroom are endless as students can be socially networked and accessing information for all over the world, students are exposed an online conduct that will benefit them in the real world and students can access instruction that is individualised to their strengths and weaknesses and can construct new knowledge on their own terms. These are only some of the benefits of technology development in education today.

As all things go, where there is a positive, there is also a negative. Technology is not cheap and the question arises as to where should the financial burden of technology in educational settings lie. It is realistic to assume that not every family will be able to afford technology at their homes. What happens then to their children. Do they fall behind or receive a less authentic learning experience. Does the development of new technology every few months create an environment of exclusivity whereby only the financially rich can afford to keep up with new toys. What about cybersafety? Is it safe for children to be part of the Web or are we placing them in a position of vulnerability? Is the pen and paper becoming obeselete? Are we creating a generation of future leaders who will be so technologically dependent that without it, they may fail to succeed?

While these downfalls are all real and true possibilities, I believe that there are solutions to overcome each and every one of them and that the benefits of technology development ultimately outweigh the problems it may bring.

Despite missing 'Web meets Deb', I'm striving to catch up and embrace all that technology has to offer, from making new Avatars, exploring the 3D world out there to seriously contemplating trading in my Blackberry for an iPhone just so I can experiment with augmented realities.

Until my next post...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blogger NOT on the Go

I found a link at the bottom of my Blog 'Learn how to start mobile blogging' and I decided to give it a go. I got all excited when I read the instructions and saw how simple mobile blogging or moblogging could potentially be that I whipped out my Blackberry and started with Option 1: Sending an e-mail for my claim code. Got an instant reply saying that my device had failed to register and that I would have to send the same e-mail again. ATTEMPT 2...failed me again though I did appreciate the instant replies. Undeterred I decided to go with Option 2: Sending an SMS instead. After 2 more attempts at signing up for the service, here I am a Blogger NOT on the go.

Until my next post...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Multitasking crash

Am I truly multitasking or am I simply shifting my attention from task to task? From simply driving to where I need to be in rush hour traffic every morning and having breakfast at the same time to simultaneously replying e-mails, checking the daily weather, having a cup of coffee and answering my mobile phone, how effective am I in all I do? Is it better to complete one task before beginning a second one or am I actually using my time better by multi-tasking.

A number of articles I read online this week supports the notion that doing two, three things at once does not actually save us time. While our brains are perfectly capable of keeping us walking, talking and chewing gum all at the same time, it is only because these movements have been practiced so much that they are automatic. When it comes to deeper and more meaningful activities that require a higher level of consciousness, multitasking may simply be a myth.

Take into consideration the digital and technology friendly era we live in and more than often it's information overload for us. Technology has created methods for information to reach us a lot more rapidly than in the past and in most cases we have failed to adapt as rapidly and to learn to filter information efficiently. We are not discrmininating between what is important and what is mundane.

It is not information overload, it is filter failure

Until my next post...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Surprisingly simple to use

Social networking sites

I went on Facebook today, trying to find out how long I've been a member of this social networking site and funnily enough, though I can find out the daily going-ons of my friend's life on this site, I failed to locate how long it's been since I've clicked the 'Sign up" button on Facebook. Recent lectures have gotten me thinking about my 'online conduct' and if a potential employer were to click on my page one day, would my page reflect an accurate perception of myself or would it possibly condemn me and my chances of getting the job. My answer: It's accurate if you carefully follow the progression, personally know who I am and have been a live witness to the context of each and everyone of my pictures and videos. Verdict: I'll probably be condemned and lose my potential job.

So then, are we responsible for our each and everyone of our online actions and to what extent? Can we be accountable for everything that is uploaded to the web about me. Referring back to the ACMA seminar, there is a huge need for web users to be safe cybercitizens. Since the seminar and this week's lecture, I've checked and edited my Facebook friends, double checked my privacy settings and actively tried to untag myself from numerous photos and videos.

Would I use social networking sites in the classroom? Given that Facebook and most social networking sites are meant to be for individuals aged 13 and over, I feel relatively comfortable with my position as a future primary school educator who will not have to implement these sites in my classroom due to these restriction. I will however have to prepare myself for the more junior versions of these sites such as Moshi Monsters and ensure that I am aware of how these sites operate, their capabilities and their benefits in Education system. There will also be the issue of preparing my students for future uses of social networking sites.

On a different note, one albeit astray from the topic of social networking sites but what about blogs? Blogs represent an excellent platform for people to share information, photos, videos and at the same time present people the opportunity to comment on their posts. I have to admit, I'm a closet blog follower. I know the names of children, their parents, their favourite activities and numerous other random facts of people I've never met and am likely never to met halfway across the world but whose blogs I have stumbled across in the past and am now addicted to. How safe is it for people to be posting so openly? While I love being invited into their lives, when I do take the time to think about my favourite pasttime, I find it slightly 'creepy'.

Until my next post...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cybersafety Outreach

Last Thursday, I attended a Cybersafety lecture given by ACMA at my university. It was a real eye-opener as while I had always known that I wasn't the best at technology, I have just found out that in addition to that, I'm not an effective cybercitizen either.

The lecturer kicked off spouting out a number of scenarios where the use of technology has inadvertently placed technology users in a whole lot of trouble. I remember sitting there thinking 'This could easily happen to me!!!!'. Little alarm bells started going off in my head and I started sitting a little taller in my seat and leaning a little closer to the front.

Q:How can we protect ourself from being on the wrong end of the the wonder of technology?
A:Be an effective cybercitizen.

We need to constantly educate ourselves and students on how to be an effective and safe user of the cybercommunity. This includes educating students on appropriate online behaviour to ensure positive online experiences. Cyberbullying has become an issue and adults need to be aware of it and be on the lookout of possible signs that cyberbullying may be occurring. Students should from an early age be taught how to develop positive and appropriate relationships and also how to avoid or deal with cyberbullying..

Students and adults alike need to be critical when analysing and media text or images that are viewing online. In addition to that, we need to be cautious about what we choose to upload to the web and how we choose to do so. Posting items on unsecure profiles or websites can lead to unwanted attention, undesirable self-images and identity theft. An innocent photo of a person having a drink at a party today may easily come back to bite us 10 years down the track as a photo of a 'teacher enjoying one too many drinks at a party'.

This leads us to
Taking that extra few minutes to think about the item that we are intending to share on the web and the repercussions that may come along with it is an important aspect of being a safe user on the web. Take into consideration who we have on our social networking sites and the relationship we have with each person. Do we want that person to know about this item we're posting? If not, why? Is it because, quite possibly the item is inappropriate or perhaps the person isn't a friend anymore and you may be better off deleting them from your social networking page?

As a future teacher, I've learnt that my duty of care can arguably extend to the use of technology outside the school grounds in situations where I may become aware that a child may be harmed. Failure to take reasonable care may amount to negligence. Now, this scares me, A LOT. The use of technology leads me to a land where there are no physical boundaries to limit it and I will need to one day police this land and ensure that all my students are safe. That feels like a responsibility of monumental proportions. This lecture however has awoken me to that responsibility and made me realise while it is physically impossible to limit this responsibility, I can learn to identify the risks associated with the Internet, educate my students about this risk, embed cybersafety practices in my teaching and above all be aware of the school policies in place. Knowledge is POWER.

Until my next post...