Monday, April 28, 2008

Done...for now

The reflective piece is done.
The links are all active.
The webquest is webquesty.

One thing I find amazing about doing web development and other on-line work (like blogging)is the deception of time. A task that seems should be alloted a mere hour ends up needing 3 or more. A ten minute blog post or 15 minute glimpse of the aggregator turns into over an hour. My TV viewing is suffering! But, I must say I am satisfied with the current progress of my eportfolio. Much of the design aspect still needs a bit of work. The colors are pleasant and the links work.

My webquest is a bit more of a work in progress. I had about ten ideas around the same premise and forced myself to start on one. If I had not I'd still be pondering which one to do. In hindsight one of the other options may have been easier to develop. Oh well. I'll be pressing the fingers this week.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

(real) Webquests

Tom March and Bernie Dodge have very specific requirements for webquests. Tom summarizes it as:

"A WebQuest is a scaffolded learning structure that uses links to essential resources on the World Wide Web and an authentic task to motivate students’ investigation of a central, open-ended question, development of individual expertise and participation in a final group process that attempts to transform newly acquired information into a more sophisticated understanding. The best WebQuests do this in a way that inspires students to see richer thematic relationships, facilitate a contribution to the real world of learning and reflect on their own metacognitive processes." from here.

Tom and Bernie separate "real" webquests from other web based activities by insisting that scaffolding and knowledge transformation occur. This is all well and good, but development of webquests to meet such requirements is daunting. Tom later states:

"’s taken the Web and related communications technologies to chip away at the Berlin Wall of traditional education to make the above strategies not just good ideas, but essential."

He then goes on to jab at what must be horrible teachers that still incorporate "traditional education" into classrooms. We know here that Tom is a technoelitist. I believe most teachers now use an inquiry approach to teaching, especially science teachers. We develop and deploy differentiated inquiry instruction without the use of technology. Teachers aren't programmers, and they are not going to spend days developing the wonderful webquests Tom expects them to. Teachers who do use technology in the classroom to do lessons that make brochures or plan a vacation should be commended on their efforts and not ridiculed as being "traditionalist". This is a starting point for teachers. Teachers need to develop technology skills just as students do. Through later refinement and risk-taking the teacher may later develop more constructivist methods in their use of technology. Yes, Tom, many of us teachers are not technoconstructivists, but many of us are technotraditionalists working hard to use technology to teach better.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Energy and the Environment Simulation

Ben Rimes in his blog mentioned Electrocity, a game from New Zealand with great potential for use in the classroom. Tonight I'll download and play the game at home to get a feel for what its like. Like Ben, I spent days playing Sim City as a youngster. I also enjoyed Sim Earth and Sim Ant. I hope Electrocity ends up being a great option for expanding my curriculum of energy resources. Currently, I have only a poster project that I do on the topic. Students research in groups solar, geothermal, fossil fuels, and all the rest. Doing this after the projects could really drive home the concepts.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Digital Native

My daughter the digital native.
She has recently discovered the joys of

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Video Blog Post

I say the video will be 10 to 15 seconds, but the ticker says 22 total.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

how we learn

There seem to be more and more videos like those above. The basic message is the same "You must teach us (digital natives) differently because we learn differently." I agree and disagree with the whole premise. I agree that technology should be incorporated into classrooms to a greater degree. But do even a majority of teachers need to use a wiki? Do all teachers need to blog? The answer to this is an absolute NO! There should, however, be more of it in schools. Social constructivism is a strong pedagogical method, that when fostered with computer technologies, can lead to great student success.

My major disagreement with this video and others of its ilk is that learning has not changed. Genetically, humans are no different now than they were thousands of years ago. We have not undergone some fantastic punctuated equilibrium of the mind. The mind therefore learns the same now as it did thousands of years ago. The way we teach and present material has indeed changed. My major concern is that we throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is no need to replace good teaching practices with questionable new ones. The goal needs to be to discard the poor teaching practices and replace them with new; possibly using new technology. Can the use of a wiki be shown to increase understanding? Can a class social network boost test scores? Until there is data to support change, teachers will continue teach as they have been. Students will continue to learn just as students in the previous hundred years have.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Class Videos

Showed a few videos in class today.

I also showed several videos of planes breaking the sound barrier.