Monday, February 23, 2009

Thing 4

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of blogs out there - how do you handle information overload and how do you think RSS might help with that?

I tried to get into RSS a few years ago when I had an extremely dull desk job staring at a computer screen 8 hours a day. For whatever reason, it never took. I think I liked being able to manually navigate through my favorite websites at my leisure. Additionally, this was at a time when RSS hadn't conquered every facet of our existence, so there were a lot of websites that I read that weren't not syndicated.

In principle, I love the idea of RSS, especially with the idea of using blogging as an assessment tool with RSS to provide notification of the updates.

I don't mind the "information overload," but I enjoy spending huge amonuts of time with a computer on my lap. I take my personal laptop to school, and I even carry a cellphone capable of reaching the internet just to be sure I'm never too far from the www. RSS could certainly help focus my energy on the important sites for those times when I'm being stretched a little thin. I just hope this time around is better than the last.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thing 3

How might a blog support the work you do? How might you use a blog with students? How might they respond to a blog assignment? What concerns do you have about educational blogging?

Right now I know I'm only using my class website and blogs for the simplest purposes (links to class notes, daily schedules, homework assignment listings, etc), and I still don't think many students take advantage of it.

Ideally, I would like to use the class website to extend learning outside the school day. I could probably implement a blog assignment in one or two of my classes, but most of my students lack the basic skills and resources to take advantage of such and assignment.

From the personal blogging aspect of things, I've had to take many precautions to keep my online presence private from my students. The simplest idea is to censor myself in what I write online, whether I think anyone is reading or not. I can also lock blog posts to prevent the public from seeing them, but search engines love to catch things like that and hold on to them.

I used to keep a blog detailing my experiences with the teacher certification process, but I abandoned it after I realized that all I did was complain. Anyone who's been through the process knows its flaws, and I wasn't adding much of substance to the discussion.

I know there are better uses of the technology out there and I'm looking forward to learning them.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thing 1 and Thing 2

It was suggested by a coworker that I participate in 23 Things because I am a new teacher who is moderately tech-savvy. I'm already familiar with many of the "things" we will be learning about, but I lack the ideas on how to implement the technology into the classroom.

Thing 1 was interesting, but contained very little new information for me. I've heard many of those statistics before, and I often find myself disagreeing with many of the assumptions made by the argument that technology is the only way to teach today's youth.

The biggest problem I'm worried about with my students is that many of them do not have access to technology (cell phones, computers, high speed internet, etc) and would be left out of curriculum changes based on the assumption that they do. Secondly, those that do have limited access to technology often have little more than a casual understanding of how to use it. For example, students might be familiar with how to use a word processor on a computer, but often lack the ability to properly type in a URL and rely on Google to find the websites they need. Finally, the assumption that simply integrating technology into a class will somehow magically transform students into self motivated learners is the most troubling for me. I worry that the huge time investment this kind of curriculum requires carries an enormous risk of backfiring if not successful. By that I mean, after spending days or weeks of a technology-related project, if students fail to take it seriously, then we simply lose that much classroom time.

I realize it may sound as though I'm entering this project with the preconceived notion that it will not work. I'm hoping to gain valuable knowledge here that I may be able to use in the future, or with certain classes that are mature enough to handle the increased responsibility.

Finally, I've kept and maintained a private blog for years. About 2 months into my student teaching experience, my students found it and I was forced to take steps to "privatize" my online self. Even now, I have to be concerned with what I write for fear of what coworkers who are reading may see. I don't worry too much about repercussions from my administration because I am careful with what I am putting online, but I do worry about how our society feels that a person's private online life can be applied to their professional performance.