March 2 2013

A Big Thanks to Classmates!

Online Collaborative learningAs with most things, I have always approached online courses with expected anticipation, some necessary determination and to some small degree -trepidation.  But I have to say that I have so enjoyed our work together that, as our class comes to a close, I find myself …well…wanting more.   So the first thing I’d like to do is say Thank You  to all my classmates and of course  Neil for your encouragement , support and contributions toward a great leaning experience .  I think what amazed me most was our group chemistry – if you will. If we could just bottle it up and apply it to our own classrooms, we’d be turning out life-long learners in not time! It’s been a real pleasure to have been a part of such a positive collaborative effort!

Enjoy the rest of your school year,

Mrs. C

February 28 2013

Twitter – a Powerful Communication Tool for Educators

To date, Twitter has been in a holding pattern for me. I know I was not alone when I told myself I had no need for another networking site and “At first glance, Twitter [didn’t] appear to hold much value.” The networking tool first interested me years ago, when the buzz primarily revolved in and around business professionals. When students started getting on board, I stepped away from the application entirely. I will forever be a true advocate of keeping personal and professional lives separate. And so Twitter was left in the bag of tools, unopened. However, the article, How Twitter can be used as a powerful educational tool” by authors Alan November and Brian Mull, identifies what I feel is a vital key to making Twitter a productive tool for communication and collaboration. Not only do the authors clarify the mystery of the hashtag, they also share what I consider the key component in making this tool fundamentally useful. “If you’re interested in a topic, but you don’t know of a hashtag that will be helpful with your research, simply do a search in Twitter using a keyword rather than a hashtag. Then, scan the results to see what hashtags people are using when they are discussing that particular topic.” Finally some meaning to the hashtag process! With the help of this article, I can now understand how Twitter can bring “authentic experiences to our students”.  Guess it’s time to open that bag of tools and join the global education community on Twitter. Sweet Tweets!

Mrs. C

February 17 2013

Web2.0 Tools support Community & Collaboration

BP – Web2.0 Collaborative instruction. Week 4 – Community, Collaboration & Mind42.Two Business Lessons using Wallwisher

This week’s task: ” illustrate your understanding of how Web 2.0 tools can support community and collaboration…”.  According to Collaboration, a 21st Century Skill: Three Free Sites to Help Students Understand Collaboration, “Collaboration is a Twenty-First Century Skill. It is also a process and that all students need to experience it in order to fully comprehend its potential.” With the onslaught of technology in today’s business world & global communities, the inclusion of communication & collaboration in the classroom is made possible with the use of many Web2.0 tools.

In My Mind Map, Collaboration in Education, I explored the possible application of common web2.0 tools, and their use in the classroom to enhance these 21st century skills.

In the right hand thread, I mapped out two potential class projects to enhance subject areas in my Introduction to Business and Business II classes.   In both branches, I identified how with the use of the collaboration tool, Wallwisher, discussion and class communication could be encouraged.  Note sections outline introductory prompts for each lesson, tool/tech review, appropriate use of the tool and an in-class follow-up of the information shared.  I included links to pertinent sources of information and notes to explain and define bullets where applicable.


Mrs C.

February 15 2013

Valuable Contribution through Collaboration

Student Comments: Moving from Participation to Contribution by Maryellen Wiemer,PhD from Faculty Focus, identifies an interesting distinction between a student’s contribution to class discussion and simple participation. Originally quoted by Gioia, “Participation connotes involvement, sharing and simply taking part. . .”  Contribution implies “…intellectual involvement and sharing of knowledge and knowledge construction. Concentrating on contribution causes people to think about what they are going to say, instead of simply blurting out ill-considered opinions, superficial observation, and irrelevant personal examples. ” (p. 16) Teachers have struggled with this classroom dilemma for decades. Many strategies have been suggested (and employed) in an effort to steer the learning experience toward the best possible outcome; to encourage contribution as opposed to superficial participation.

One could make a strong argument for the use of web2.0 tools and an online discussion model as a means to accomplish these  preferred, higher-quality contributions as outlined by Wiemer and Gioia. The article describes what students typically accomplish when making a contribution to any discussion. These include providing summaries; making observations; integrating concepts; and asking questions that lead to further discussion.  New technology tools such as blogs, wikis, wallwisher, Diigo and others, also achieve this same interactive and collaborative result. Online discussions naturally allow for Gioia’s “think breaks” where participants can take the time necessary to reflect and add worthwhile, thoughtful comments. Successful online environments are not only nurturing collaboration but also  accomplishing valuable contributions with a much larger, authentic audience and engaging students through natural inquiry and creativity. Online “we are hearing contributions that promote understanding, develop knowledge, and result in discussions where student voices dominate”.

Reference: “Student Comments: Moving from Participation to Contribution | Faculty Focus.” Faculty Focus Student Comments Moving from Participation to Contribution Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2013.


February 8 2013

Web2.0 Tools support Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

Mind MapBP – Web2.0 Collaborative instruction. Week 3 – Critical Thinking & Mind42

This week’s task: “ illustrate your understanding of how Web 2.0 tools can support critical thinking, systems thinking and problem solving skills.“  My thoughts were inspired by Pam Berger‘s article Student Inquiry And Web 2.0”, where the author identifies the many advantages in utilizing various Web2.0 tools to actively engage learners. According to Pam Berger and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) it is commonly believed that “Inquiry provides a framework for learning”.  To effectively support this framework “educators should develop interactive, inquiry-based, technology-rich curriculum.” And so my mind map began with the relationship of inquiry based leaning to the fundamental development of Critical Thinking & Problem Solving.  These correlations were further supported by the Maine Learning Technology Initiative in the article “Making meaning-Critiquing reality using web2.0 to Foster Critical Thinking”.  This author identifies a lack of “Higher reasoning skills” and suggests “Socratic questioning is a way of helping students face the issue of critical thinking.”

In addition illustrating  the direct correlation of technology-rich  inquiry  to the many Web2.0 tools available, I also mapped out a project currently taught in my Computer Literacy class.  In this thread,  I identified how the various elements can be modified using Web2.0 tools. Again, I included links to pertinent sources of  information and notes to explain and define the bullet.


Mrs C.

February 8 2013

Are you up for the challenge?

What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century?  A nicely presented video from a teacher’s perspective, identifying the various multidimensional interpretations of literacy for the 21st century learner.  Literacy today encompasses so much more than the simple reading, writing and arithmetic of the previous era.  Literacy in the 21st century involves being well versed in many areas in addition to the basics. These areas include, at a bare minimum, computer literacy &/ or technology literacy, information literacy and media literacy.   As one gentleman in the video, so eloquently put it; “Literacy means, to me, being able to understand and read the world”.  There is no doubt that today’s world is online and the classroom needs be connected.

With this new definition of literacy comes a new role for our educators. As the video states, technology is now a part of our everyday lifestyle and this element needs to be incorporated into our schools. Students are often overwhelmed with the volumes of information available. They need time and guidance to identify and absorb what’s vital and toss away the unnecessary. Teachers are embracing a mentorship role and are often part of an active “partnership in learning”.  This new methodology is the key element needed to enable our 21st century leaner to reach the critical thinking stage of their education.

The challenge of the 21st century educator is to provide today’s young people with the knowledge necessary to be a skilled, responsible digital citizen and lifelong learner. Are you up for the challenge?