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Archive for February, 2014

 


Module 2 Reflection

February 24th, 2014 Comments off

This module was a lot of review.  It reminded me of my undergraduate days.  I was drawn to one particular category of theories.  Connectivism has always intrigued me.  It always has made sense to me that we learn by making connections.  That’s how I remember things.  It’s not so much the knowledge, but the circumstances and locations that I learned it in.  I also believe strongly in the PLN and CoP.  While my memory is rather good, I don’t think it’s possible to learn and retain everything that I need to know in order to do my job.  Instead, I focus on retaining where I can find the information.  With the internet and the mass amount of information available to us now, it’s really only the smart thing to do.  It’s something that I do with my students.  I pull the information from them.  I focus on content, but I also focus on using tools that help students find and relate to the content.  With the rapid flow of information that we have today, students are accustomed to being bombarded with it and having it at their fingertips.  I see no reason to try to fight this.  Instead, I encourage students to use their phones and look up information.  I encourage the creation of personal learning networks.  The role of a teacher, my role, is not to put information in student’s heads.  It’s to expose them and teach them how to create their own web of learning where they can connect with and put the information in context.  I guide them to find the answers that are relevant to their interests, needs, and inclinations.  I guide them to create their own connections and context so they can develop a deeper understanding of the content.

 


Communities of Practice

February 24th, 2014 Comments off

Overview

Classified as a constructivist theory, a community of practice is a group of people who interact with each other to share knowledge and learn from each other.  Communities of practice have a domain, community and a practice in order to be successful and useful.  (“Communities of practice,”)  Examples could include a professional teacher’s group that discusses various web 2.0 tools to further education such as Classroom 2.0 (classroom20.com).   According to Penelope Echkert (2006), a community of practice is “is a collection of people who engage on an ongoing basis in some common endeavor.  Communities of practice emerge in response to common interest of position.

Contributors

The founders and major contributors the theory of communities of practice are Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger.  Initially introduced in 1991, Wenger furthered the theory in 1998.

Major Principles

As connectivist theory, CoPs foster learner when members make connections with peers and learn from other’s experience as they are shared.  Communities of practice (CoP) must contain three items in order to be an actual community of practice.  First of all the CoP has to be centered on a specific topic.  This is called the domain.  The domain is specific and commitment to the domain is required from the members.  For example a group of neighbors that live on the same street would not be considered a domain.  Just because they all live on the same street does not qualify.  Now, a group of neighbors interested in and committed to making their street more beautiful with landscaping could fall under the definition of a domain.  By the necessity of the commitment, arises the community.  Community is a specific requirement of a CoP.  The community members are all working and interacting with each other and completing similar activities.  Finally, the CoP requires a practice.  Practice implies professionalism.  Practice means that the members are professionals that work in the same area as the domain.  They must be committed to and practicing.  So the example of neighbors working to beautify their street, unless they are all professional landscapers, does not meet the definition of a CoP.  

Other principles of a CoP include sharing stories, best practices, methodology, and other pertinent information related to the practice so that all members of the CoP can increase skill and perform their practice more efficiently.  The CoP can also be applied to students, especially in a college setting.  Students can become involved in a CoP to help them gain better understanding of their field of study.  A CoP is a community of professional or academic development.  A faculty of teachers who teach English at a public high school that often relate stories and best practices so that all teachers benefit and can improve their practice would meet all definitions of a community of practice.

Application

Closely related to the CoP is the Personal Learning Network (PLN).  PLNs are a form of CoP in which members create and cultivate networks of people and resources such as blogs, wikis, and other web 2.0 tools to foster learning.  While PLNs don’t always involve two-way exchanges, they often do.  PLNs are broader than CoPs in that they are personally created by each individual and contain more than one PoC. PLNs can be used in the classroom to help students develop connections to the outside world so that they can develop skills in their chose field of study.  By joining professional organizations like the NEA for teachers and groups on the web like the teachers in Classroom 2.0, students can create vast PLNs with multiple CoPs.  An instructional approach that can be used is to foster and require students to find information within these PLNs.  Rather that provide knowledge and information to the student, pull the information from the student.  Require them to find and guide them when needed.

References

Communities of practice (Lave and Wenger). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.learning-theories.com/communities-of-practice-lave-and-wenger.html

Eckert, P. (2006). Communities of practice. Retrieved from http://www.stanford.edu/~eckert/PDF/eckert2006.pdf

 

Categories: General Reflection Tags: ,

 


Module 1 Reflection

February 10th, 2014 Comments off

I currently train adult learners in a corporate setting.  I work from home and my learners are learning from home.  I provide synchronous lessons through Adobe Connect.  In my case the technology (internet, Adobe Connect, and other communication tools) was implemented for the sake of expanding the workforce and connecting with more potential employees.  My company provides telephone technical support for customers of a national company.  There are physical sites throughout the U.S. but turnover can be high in a call center and sometimes the recruiting pool is not very large.  By expanding operation to a work-at-home environment, the application pool is larger and more diversified, but this has presented some challenges.

The project has suffered from poor planning and implementation of policies and procedures.  Often, as the instructor, I spend a good deal of time helping my agents deal with and solve technical issues.  In the world of bring your own device, my company does not provide the equipment.  Each employee must provide their own computer and interact with the company VPN through a company provided USB disk that houses the operating system.  This USB disk suffers problems and is still in the testing stages.  It is frustrating now when training a class, but at the same time, I am on the ground floor and am helping to create the change needed to bring the program to a better position.

This is my last semester in the EDTECH program before completing my portfolio.  I’ve attempted this course two other times but have had to withdraw due to medical issues.  I have the benefit, at this point, of quite a few classes and can be of better assistance at work.  Using policies and practices in this program, I have helped design processes and instruction to help agents struggling with the tech side of work.  In a national large program like this, teaching the tech is needed.  Many people come to the company with little or no knowledge of the tech they use to do their job.  Many of the trainers in the program don’t know the tech that well either.

Looking at the material for this module, I can’t help but ponder what used to be considered educational technology advancements.  Take the pencil for example.  This is such a commonplace item now.  Everyone knows how to use it, but when it was first introduced in the classroom, it’s hard for me to imagine using it for the first time.  This is a similar feeling that I have now.  I worked my way to trainer in my company in a traditional brick and mortar site.  I trained in a traditional classroom for over a year.  It has been a big change for me when I started working from home.  I’ve had to adjust and interact with my equipment in ways that I haven’t before.  I’ve had to create processes and procedures for myself that I turn around and teach to other trainers and agents.  We’re still in the formative stage now, but we are growing and discovering a lot of best practices.

 


Definition of Educational Technology

February 7th, 2014 Comments off

When I was in High school, we had a computer lab full of old (even for the time) Macs that were used to teach typing most of the time.  I didn’t have a computer until just before I graduated and even that one was about four generations older than the most updated system.  College was just beginning to get on the computer bandwagon.  I had access to computers but only if I paid a fee every semester.  Needless to say, my most immersive experience with technology in high school was an old TI-81 graphing calculator and an overhead transparency projector.  I was still fascinated by it.  I learned how to use computers on an old IBM PC running Microsoft DOS.  I loved it and as my PC knowledge progressed, so did my passion for technology.

I am a strong proponent for technology in the classroom.  Students are different today.  They are used to readily available information from multiple channels simultaneously and they have to ability to switch those channels quickly.  It’s not that they have shorter attention spans; it’s that they have such a large quantity of information available to them, that they have learned to ignore what is important to them.

With this in mind, we, as educators, need to build technology tools into the curriculum that can take advantage of  all that is out there, but we need some guidelines.  So, to start we need a definition of educational technology.

Educational technology is not simply technology that is in a classroom or used for classroom purposes.  The technological tool needs to have purpose, be useful, and advance the learning objectives.  It cannot simply be  technology for the sake of technology.

I also think that technology needs to be defined as well.

Here are the definitions that I propose.

Technology is any piece of hardware, software or process that uses hardware or software.

Educational technology is any of the following.

1.)    Technology that enhances an educational experience.

2.)    Technology that adds something to the learning that is unique and purposeful.

3.)    Technology that adds something that could not otherwise be included in the instruction

4.)    Technology that aids in the facilitation and distribution of instruction to students who could not otherwise participate in the instruction (i.e. Distance or online education).

Categories: General Reflection Tags: ,