Sunday, January 25, 2009

Connectivism Theory: Analogy Assignment

I think a learner is like a hard drive. It is a place where information can be stored and retrieved, added or deleted. It is a small portion of the larger computer, although size is small to the relative whole the amount of information that can be stored there is immense. Information is retrieved at an extremely fast speed related to how organized the information or files are, like how the neurons in our brain fire rapidly to bring forth memories and knowledge. If the files are not organized it may take some searching to retrieve the information and will be brought forth at a slower rate just like if the connections in our brain are not strong or concepts were not related, the knowledge will not reach our working memory as quickly and sometimes not at all.
Connectivism Theory relates to this analogy of the learner and George Siemens (2005) lists some key principles of this theory that I think relate well.

"Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning"
In placing information in a hard drive the user must create organization and folders that will relate to one another and be easy to find when needed. It is this process that will help to facilitate the further implementation of new information to the drive. Through the neuronal connections in our brain and the connections to information in the outside world we continue to gain knowledge but without work applied to maintaining these connections they die off.

"While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision."
In a hard drive the more information that is added the harder it may be to retrieve the older information or the slower the retrieval. This is related to the user as well because the user
may have better memories of where they stored newer information. Although a search engine is very useful with the hard drive the user still must remember the key words to search for. As new information enters and new connections are made in human brains, old information may be left behind or ideas and concepts a persons holds may be changed/replaced by the newer more up to date knowledge. Every day new information enters out minds and just as stated will affect our thoughts, perceptions, moods and decisions.
Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Retrieved January 25, 2008.

"Learning and the act of knowledge creation is a function of a network where it is the aggregation of activities of many individuals that generate meaningful knowledge."
This is an important concept in connectivism because while this may not be directly related to the individual learner it shows that through the connection of a diverse array of experiences and knowledge coming from all different places, a greater knowledge will be created that will be readily available to all. The individual while imparting the knowledge will continuously gain knowledge from others. Retrieve January 25, 2009.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Social Networking

One way to get up to date on current trends in education is social networking on the internet. You can search for networks that appeal to your interest or field online at a free social networking service I explored the website and found to be a network that could serve very useful on my journey to teaching higher education. It is titled “Weekly Innovations: Share, Grow, Innovate” and states it is a “one stop shop for higher education news, collaboration and innovation.”

On the site you will find members with similar interests or careers that post links to websites, videos, news or groups with one common theme…higher education. You can even start a group discussion which would be very useful (especially to me, as a novice to the career) to be able to talk with seasoned professionals. Other ways I think this site would be especially useful is through all the links to resources or other educational blogs, news reports on higher education throughout the U.S. and through videos posted by members that serve as educational resources for other teachers or that spark discussion.

I am excited to begin my social networking and learn a thing or two about higher education!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Using Blogs in the Classroom

As educators we may be behind the times when it comes to the fast paced movement of the internet and all its' tools, especially when our students have grown up on it. Whether is be elementary, middle school, high school or college blogs can create a different spin on education.

Blogs can be used in the classroom for any genre and for just about any age group. Will Richardson's book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Webtools for the Classroom describes that blogs can be used to promote critical and analytical thinking, be a powerful promoter of creative, intuitive and associational thinking, combines solitary reflection and social interaction and increases access and exposure to quality information.

There are many ways that blogs can be used in the classroom and for your own personal teaching and learning. After looking at a few resources the three ways I think blogging could be most helpful to my own teaching and learning are described below.

1. Creating your very own journal blog
Many teachers have already created their own blogs on the internet, reflecting on their own classroom experiences. They have used them as a way to explore their own teaching, help others who may have similar classroom problems or ideas and as a way to get help from others who can post their own opinions. They can learn about others' teaching styles and stay up to date on current classroom practices. It becomes an interactive news feed between educators and becomes their very own tool for education themselves. You can read about one teachers approach to education in England and give feedback from the U.S. It is a fast, easy way to learn about education globally!

Here are a few examples of teacher blogs: 1st Grade teacher creating meaning, inventing, looking for creativity, and other nonsense. The adventures of a high school art and drama teacher.

2. Have your students create their own weblog
Students love to have interaction and by having students create their own blogs they can add one more tool to their already vast knowledge of the internet and computers. It can be a place for them to communicate with other students and you. They can also express their own opinions and get feedback from the teacher and students. By having their very own blog they can be as creative as they want, take pride in something they created and showcase their best work. It can give them a chance to work on their writing skills and can be a place to comlpete assignments. It can even be a place for you as the teacher to get feedback from your students on activities done in class!

Here are a few examples of student blogs:

3. Have a classroom blog
This would be a great way to involve all the students in an interactive and digital way. I think it would work best if you had a smaller group of students. Group projects could be facilitated this way, even completely done online. Students could share ideas and give feedback. This is an easy way for the class to communicate to one another outside the classroom. Students having trouble could post questions and get help from either the students or the teacher. It can also just be a fun way to showcase the students work and keep the parents up to date on what is taking place in the classroom!

Here are a few examples of classroom blogs:

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed. p. 20, 38-40). California: Corwin Press.