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Blog o' Greg

Greg's thoughts on education and technology (and anything else that comes to mind)

May 2007 - Posts

  • Wikis, Web 2.0, podcasting, and audio/video conferencing

    Do wikis make a difference in educational experiences? What role might Web 2.0 play in fostering change in education? How does voice and/or presence change the way learners interact with one another?

    Wikis can be a tool for collaboration or a source of consternation, depending on who you ask. Throughout OMET, we have used wikis to share ideas, develop plans, and collaborate in general. I have found wikis to be useful. I recently tried to introduce the use of a wiki in a project at work. The group was lukewarm to the new technology. After trying for about three weeks to keep the wiki alive, I let it die. One group member commented that he didn't have enough control over formatting on the wiki. The group returned to emailing Word documents. What happened? My group wasn't ready to switch to a new tool that could uproot the use of a tool that has served as a staple for years.

    I think the strength of Web 2.0 is the ability to bring curriculum to learners. RSS subscriptions enable the use of podcasts and news/learning feeds in courses. Web 2.0 also brings the ability to easily write to the web, which means the web is now prime for collaboration. Of course, learners need to see the value in this new capability.

    Distance learners now have options for communicating with each other. Voice over IP and video conferencing are really just taking hold in the mainstream of learners. Several times this year, I have used video conferencing for some 1:1 meetings. I have to say that, while it was nice to see the face of the person I was talking with, it wasn't a requirement. Skype conferencing or text-based communication would have worked just as well. There probably are occasions when video has value. I, however, am a digital immigrant compared to many younger learners who equate value with "cool factor."

    Posted May 30 2007, 05:05 AM by ghinshaw with no comments
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  • Interactive simulations, video games, and technology-infused lab environments

    How can authentic learning tools improve student engagement and deepen learning? What does the apprenticeship model tell us about learning?

    Authentic learning tools put learners in situations that challenge. When authentic learning occurs, learners strive to gain knowledge out of interest rather than the desire to pass a test or please a parent. This is the type of learning that makes permanent cognitive connections.

    The apprenticeship model is a form of social constructivism where groups work on projects under the guidance of an instructor. The premise of this model is based on Vygotsky's "zone of proximal development," where learners work on tasks that are slightly more difficult than the learners are capable of performing on their own. This is the zone where learners are constantly challenged and never bored. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's theory of "flow" also looks at this state of mind, calling it optimal experience.

    Posted May 20 2007, 10:25 PM by ghinshaw with no comments
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  • Portfolios, rubrics, and peer review

    Why do educational organizations choose to employ portfolios? What value does the use of rubrics in evaluating activities and portfolios bring? How can peer review affect learning progress and growth?

    Portfolios are good for instructors and educational institutions as they are for students. Portfolios help to facilitate good organization, which should make life a little easier for instructors who need to review a large volume of work. More importantly, educational organizations are realizing that portfolios are living documents that help students visualize themselves on their career paths. They can easily see where they are, which helps them visualize where they want to go. Portfolios are meant to be maintained throughout a career.

    The rubric is of value because portfolios need to be engaging and easy for the intended audience to understand. The rubric provides a set of evaluation criteria that reviewers can clearly and consistently follow. Students should be able to understand the review feedback based on the rubric, and they know what they need to work on to make their portfolios stronger, at least in the eyes of the reviewers.

    Peer review is often kinder and gentler than that of an instructor or industry professional. When I review the work of my friends, I usually compliment the strong points and overlook the weaker points (unless there are obvious mistakes that require correction). However, when students review the work of their peers, they often inspire each other to do better. If I stumble upon someone's work that is clearly more creativethan mine, I'm driven to rethink my own work.

    Posted May 14 2007, 02:05 PM by ghinshaw with no comments
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  • Why an e-portfolio?

    What will we be responsible for this semester? What is the role of an electronic portfolio in my ongoing academic and professional career in educational technology?

    This semester, besides completing and presenting my action research report, I will look at ways of promoting change in my environment, and I will identify new opportunities for applying educational technology in an effort to spark positive change.

    An electronic portfolio will help me reach my goals in several ways. It will serve as a container for my most relevant work. It will keep my thoughts organized. It will evolve as I progress through my career. It will also provide interested parties with pertinent information about me. I can have multiple portfolios, depending on my interests. Electronic portfolios are usually web-accessible, but they are also portable enough to reside on a disc or memory card.

    An electronic portfolio is important to me because I need to build credibility in the area of educational technology. I want to apply my skills and creativity in K12 and higher ed. Since I'm a corporate educator, I need to show my worth in this different environment. Even though I plan to help school districts in a voluntary capacity, I still need to "sell" my services. An electronic portfolio will help me do that.

    Posted May 10 2007, 04:17 PM by ghinshaw with no comments
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