Monday, 19 September 2016

ECI 833 Welcome Back

Hi Everyone,

I am excited to be taking yet again another course from Alec.  This is my third course from him and I am on classes 6/7 this semester. In response to his questions this week of

Exploring your personal contemporary understanding of educational technology.

Alec has prompted us to discuss our understanding of educational technology and how I might define what it looks like. When I think about my understanding of ed tech I think about how I use technology within my classroom:
1 - I am using Google Apps For Education,
2 - Through GAFE I incorporate a variety of videos to help supplement and aid in my teaching turning my classroom into a blended learning environment.
3 - I have a few students who are supposed to utilizing Google Read and Write program to aid in their learning. I am learning how to use these tools effectively myself so I can help teach with these tools.
Emerging Ed Tech
4 - Calculators within math class

With these as my main tools within my classroom I then look to the SAMR model of how I am utilizing the technology. I feel that I am between the Augmentation and the Modification phase. Over the last couple of years I have been working toward changing my units and lesson plans to function in ways that are more tech friendly and open for students to use their own ideas and tools of choice when creating/developing their assignments.

What might a contemporary definition of educational technology look like?

This question I am not sure I can do it justice to answer it myself... I appreciated the definition, from Molenda's Historical Foundations abstract, of a technological advancement of "applying scientific or other organized knowledge to the attainment of practical ends" (John Kenneth Galbraith 1967). Now in terms of how does that connect to educational technology, well I think that educational technologies are tools used within the classroom (physical or distance) that aid in the learning of the courses curriculum. I know it is a blanket statement, but ed tech is so diverse that it needs a broad encompassing concept to cover the range that is holds.

How has your own understanding of educational technology been shaped (consciously or not) by the rich historical and philosophical contexts?

When looking at the historical and philosophical contexts from this weeks readings I found myself consciously aware of how unconscious I typically am. In Neil Postman's reading from this week I found myself comparing the document that was wrote nearly 20 years ago to what was going on in today's society and found that it spoke more (at least deeper meaning) truths now than it did back when he originally said the speech. From culture paying the price, the winners and losers dilemma, powerful hidden ideals, and finally how ecological technology truly is. None of these are stand alone concepts. Some that I see most current would be how ecological the technologies in the last few years have changed the face of the world, especially how it is changing our cultures so drastically.

Through reading about the hard and soft technologies I found myself connecting to a variety of them and how I use them within my teaching. Obviously the hard technologies are easier to pinpoint and notice that we take more advantage of them frequently. How many times have you reached for your phone today? I know I quit counting on Sunday when it hit 100 by noon, but I'm an NFL fanatic so that's my excuse for Sunday Funday...

In terms of teaching technologies I am frequently using the overhead projector, or my laptop for a variety of things. Today my world came crashing down when my wifi key within my laptop failed and I could not be online anywhere within the school. I had to be hardwired in, in the library. This made me work in a very public work-space where I was trying to evaluate and give feedback on individual student assignments. While doing so I had multiple students come up behind me to see what I was doing. I felt that I had to continually hide my screen for fear of another student see the private comments for another student. Partly I viewed this experience as a huge cultural shift, as when I was a kid if you saw a teacher marking, or they were in their desk, students knew not to bother the teacher, but since I was on my laptop it is natural for students to come see what a person is working on. I see this frequently when people are on their phones. How many times do you catch another person glancing at your phone? As adults we know its inappropriate but at the same time its hard not to see another persons phone when they hold it out for everyone. The use of all these new hard technologies are changing the way we respect boundaries and how we communicate in the face to face on a daily basis.

The soft technologies that I've been thinking of is something similar to the ecological shift that Postman discussed and that I mentioned earlier. The communication shift or the concept of how we are communicating has drastically changed. Alec mentioned how the art of sending a message, specifically from a student to a professor or my experience of a parent to myself (teacher) should have a semblance of formality to them, yet they are beginning to lack simple introductions or salutations. The concept or art of print conversation is being lost very quickly.

My other thoughts around this topic of soft technology have been about the aforementioned SAMR model. Would the concept of the SAMR model be the soft technology that a teacher wanting to implement technology across their curricula be the soft technology we should be aiming for? Are there other concepts? I view this model to be more of a teaching approach than a physical tool, similar to how the "Daily 5" is an approach to literacy. Molenda discussed and described a multitude of the tools many of us have heard of, remember using growing up, or may have taught substantial portions of our careers with, but he mainly talked about the hard technologies. Since Alec has brought up the soft technology piece last week, I have been trying to find the soft technologies that I am using within my daily teaching practice. Let me know if you have any soft technologies you rely on daily.