Overview & Assessment written by Jamie Baxter, Thomas Leytham, and Savannah Rhodes
Professor Dancealot is a humorous video posted on youtube by Michael Johnson that shows how much can go wrong when a course's goals, assessments, and learning activities aren't aligned. Professor Dancealot, who is in charge of teaching a social dancing class, uses PowerPoints to teach his students how to dance. The students are expected to sit there quietly and take notes without participating. As you can imagine, it'd be pretty hard to learn a dance without any hands on practice or experience! When it's time to take the final exam, everyone is confused and doesn't even know where to begin, even though they tried to prepare with the notes they were given.
We believe this video shows how important it is to teach students in a way that they feel involved. It’s important to use class time as an opportunity to really learn, and soak in material instead of just sitting there taking notes. That definitely has its place, but if it’s possible I feel like it’s important to come up with ways to make students feel involved. When you let students practice something in a hands on kind of way, they really pick up information and remember it.
Along with that, it’s also important to make sure that all of the class materials line up with what is expected from students in the end. You can't expect someone who has never touched a computer before to be able to write a blog post. They have to have practice and experience doing it. The same can be said about science experiments. It's likely that a student won't be able to learn from a science lab experiment just from having a teacher give them the steps through a PowerPoint. They need to try it themselves, make mistakes, and learn from them.
The video showing Professor Dancealot’s class shows what teachers are not suppose to be like. Students learn a lot better, especially in dance class, if they do the moves on their own and practice while the teacher is teaching.
Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts:
Overview & Assessment written by Savannah Rhodes
Harness Your Students’ Digital Smarts is a video post from Edutopia about all of the cool things that Vicki Davis is doing in her classroom. She brings up the point that she thinks every child is capable of learning, but when you only use paper and pencils in the classroom only certain types of learners are going to succeed. Mrs. Davis is able to teach the same curriculum in all of her classes, but customizes the specifics based on her students’ individual interests. Using this method, Mrs. Davis teaches her students how to use new software, how to blog, and how to collaborate with their own classmates as well as other students from around the world.
Mrs. Davis allows her students to share their projects and assignments through a website called DigiTeen, which encourages them to communicate and start discussions with other students about the material. One unique thing about Mrs. Davis is that when she introduces a term that her students are unfamiliar with, she expects them to google it and find out! It's important for students to be able to figure out some things for themselves in this day and age, especially when so much technology is right at our fingertips. Not only does she expect this from her students, but they are also responsible for teaching some of the lessons! When a student really understands and grasps a concept, they are allowed to get up in front of the class and teach their fellow classmates what they know. Mrs. Davis believes that this gives them the empowerment that they need to be confident their skills, and to keep striving to be self learners.
Teaching in the 21st Century:
Overview & Assessment written by Jamie Baxter
There are many things that I think about after watching this Roberts’ video. Where is teaching going to be in the 21st century? What does it mean to teach? The video got me thinking about what the schools are going to be like in just a few years.
When I was in elementary school, all teachers used to teach were chalkboards. Teachers in the 21st century will be able to use tablets and many different computer programs to aid in teaching their students. Students will be able to find any information at any time through the internet. There will be many different forms of technology in the classroom. Students will be able to communicate with one another through internet at any time of the day, which will make group projects more common. This will bring students together in the classroom, and not only will they learn from the teacher but from the other students as well.
Teachers teach their students skills and facts. In elementary school, teachers teach the students more facts then you would in high school. For example, students come to school in kindergarten and do not know what the alphabet is, so the teacher has to teach the students the letters of the alphabet and the sounds. Once they learn those then they use skills to put them together to form words.
The Robert’s video made me think about many different aspects of teaching, and also made me realize how different teaching is going to be in just a few years.
Overview & Assessment written by Thomas Leytham
The Networked Student is true story based on a student utilizing connectivity to learn. The idea behind this learning comes from the theory of connectivism. The video defines this as, “a theory that presumes that learning occurs as part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties, which is made possible through various tools and technology. The tools are not as important as the connections made possible by them.”
The teacher’s role changes slightly in connectivism. In this class, there is no text book and the teacher rarely lectures. Instead of teaching a subject, the teacher teaches the student how to learn on their own. This is done by teaching how to assess data and insure its’ credibility. The teacher also helps when the student is stuck or needs to be pointed in a different direction.
This particular student utilizes technologies to make a list of sources, subscribe to audio and video podcasts made by professors from elite colleges, use the internet to find other experts on the topic and asks them for information, and show what he has learned through blog posts. He then shares his organized research and threads with the world so that others may utilize his work.
There are quite a lot of good things provided by this video. However, I am not sure how I feel about them. The idea of connectivity can be wonderful. It is exciting to see students learning on their own, and having a surplus of knowledge to attain. But I am unsure if this learning should be used for all students. We all learn differently. Sometimes people need exact instruction and lectures. They shouldn’t always have to search for information.
In my opinion, it can possibly lead to two negative outcomes. One, it makes the students lazy and they don’t actually learn. Instead, they learn to tag sources and go to them whenever the information is required. Or two, the process become monotonous and the students lose intrigue in learning through this method.
I’m also fairly concerned with the teacher’s credibility. It requires little training in order to promote students learning in this manner. How is the teacher to know whether the student is actually learning correct information if they themselves can’t verify it? And even still, how could it be assured that the student is actually learning the material and not just regurgitating internet posts? And what if the student needs something hands on? Could this kind of teacher provide this to every student? I’m unsure of these lazy qualifications. We cannot allow a teacher to simply monitor, and not necessarily have knowledge. The public school system is already seen as baby sitters. I don’t think this would help much with their image.
Perhaps the teacher qualifications are overlooked because the students now have professors from elite colleges to “teach” them. I understand that it is fantastic to have the best professors in the world at your fingertips and the most new aged information. But what defines the best professors in the world? Do they have the most knowledge? Or do they have the most effective results? Could they teach elementary students, middle school students, or high school students? Who is to say that my AP English teacher was lesser than an English professor at Berkeley? And is new aged information better than the basics for all subjects? I can see the benefits to history, psychology, and literature. But would math, the sciences, and the arts be benefitted in the same way? Is that even testable, and has it been tested?
I see Sugata Mitra’s ideas in connectivism, and though I find those to be exciting revelations, it could backfire if not handled properly. My fear is what would happen if we lost the internet for a week, a month, or a year? If we only teach in this method… we may find ourselves in trouble in the long run.
Overall the theory of connectivism has its’ benefits. The students are learning on their own, and can constantly be learning thanks to the internet. I’m excited to utilize these techniques. But I’m unsure whether this is the most effective for all students, all teachers, and all subjects.