Tag Archives: web2.0

Student Voice: A visit to MsJWeir’s Classroom

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Ms. J. Weir’s classroom at WRDSB’s  Southwood S. S. to meet her students and gather some feedback about their online writing project. I was immediately struck by the calm and trusting atmosphere in the classroom. It was obvious that the students were very comfortable in this learning environment — a wonderful tribute to the teacher! The dialogue flowed freely and students were at ease contributing to the conversation.

I posed the following guiding questions to the students to facilitate our discussion regarding the project:

  1. How has writing online changed your learning?
  2. Is writing online what you expected?
  3. What would be the effect of removing the technology?
  4. Describe the pros and cons of back channelling (Today’s Meet and Twitter)
  5. What were the challenges?

The actual discussion happened in a rather free flow manner. I have grouped the responses to follow the question sequence outlined above.

Many students commented about the ability to ‘organize on the fly’ and being ‘in the moment’ when they write online because the process feels more natural.  Capturing ideas and shaping them is much easier electronically. The students also made that point that they felt more ownership for their work.

When asked question 3, the responses were unanimous: removing the technology would be a step backwards, poorer organization, less motivation and anticipated drop in achievement.

In terms of back channelling and online forums, many students commented that the variety of options to contribute to class discussions (Face to Face (F2F), EdmodoToday’s Meet and Twitter) enriched the discussion, drew more students into the conversation(s) and created a much stronger sense of community within the class.  The students all indicated that having the comfort level to participate was a key ingredient to their learning.

In the area of challenges, a few things were identified.  Access to resources is dependent on a wifi connection. We talked about the importance of wifi reliability and high levels of up-time.  I was impressed by the fact that the iPads used for this particular project were set up with a small number of key apps that were aligned with class needs and learning goals.  This was a welcome observation on my part as people often become app focused rather than learning focused. Well done! Students also talked candidly about the need for a level of self discipline. Having wifi enabled devices in the classroom certainly support student learning, and a more personalized component to the learning. Yet, the potential for distraction is still there — it must be managed.

I found this to be an excellent classroom visit. I appreciated the candid conversation with  Ms. J. Weir’s class. The approach to learning in this classroom needs to be shared and replicated.

Related Resources

Ms. J. Weir’s Blog

~Mark

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Technology ‘Noise’

Given the times we live in, with technology exploding everywhere, new apps being pumped out daily, user generated content, web 2.0, mobile devices, anytime anywhere learning and business (and the list goes on…) an interesting point for pondering is Technology Saturation. Has technology taken over how we spend our time? Can we/do we balance our lives? Can we unplug when necessary or appropriate?  Focus versus time fragmentation. Does technology use negatively impact the way we spend personal time? family time?  Can you put limits around your technology use that work for you and your family?

From the last week:

I read Will Richardson’s blog post on technoslavery. It is a great article and I would recommend you read it.

Staff at work were talking about technology ‘noise’. They feel they are being bombarded with so much information they are being less effective, rather than more effective. We had an interesting conversation about dialing into the ‘right things’ for them – focusing on information that would be a difference to them in a professional or personal way. At the end of the day, a reduction of participation in mailing lists would be an easy place to reduce the ‘noise level’. There was agreement that being connected to the right people and information sources is important – the PLN concept.

Other discussions focused on social media. How do companies and educational institutions manage social media? Block access to effectively ban it during work hours? Some companies allow use for business purposes related directly to the company – the tweet your products viewpoint. Other leave social media open, and work toward appropriate use. That is a good thing. After all, social media does provide excellent networking and collaboration opportunities while adding to the technology noise level. How do you control your social media time in your non work time?

I think this all boils down to using technology effectively. Do the things that work for you, that help you to be more effective at whatever it is that you do (work, hobby etc.). None the less, it is an interesting point to consider. Lots to think about. I am sure this topic will keep bubbling up as we have more time the think and observe.

As for me, I am powering off for some sleep before I get back online first thing in the morning 🙂

~ Mark