Week 2 – Transforming my world

The percentages listed in the “Unleashing the Future” article concern me. So, 51% of students are motivated to learn? There is not outside motivation to include in this statistic? I’m not so sure I agree with this idea – at least with the current way that bricks & mortar schools are arranged. The single, most important thing I think we can give students is self-directed learning. Unfortunately, self-directed learning is not how students are being taught in schools now. I look at my time in a bricks & mortar school, and I remember giving students a topic and letting them choose how they wanted to discover that topic. I gave them access to any technology available. I can say for certain that 51% of my students were not more motivated to learn.  In fact, I would say that my students’ motivation decreased. And, I think the reason for this is that they were not accustomed to having technology available to them. So, they wanted to do all of the things they weren’t supposed to do – like playing games, checking social media, etc. – instead of focusing on the “learning” of their topics. I believe that if technology were used on a more continuous basis that students would better equipped to use technology without allowing distractions to impede learning. A bit later in this article, the mention of “firewalls” and students’ and teachers’ frustration struck an important cord with me. Many times, I gave assignments to my students only to have them unable to complete the assignment because of the firewalls our district had in place. I believe our firewalls were especially stringent in comparison to other districts. In fact, many times I wanted to use legitimate teaching sites that were blocked from my use. It is almost impossible to engage students in self-directed learning using technology when students are blocked from content that is important to their learning.

Moving from my bricks & mortar classroom and into my online “classroom,” I connected to the Boston Consulting Group article and the ways that students can learn “online” in a history classroom (p. 24). It was interesting to me because this is exactly what my students do. I teach English online, and my students’ learning involves reading, writing, exploring, and discovering. I cannot honestly say that my bricks & mortar classroom involved exploring and discovering. In this new environment, however, my students read traditional Canonical texts; but, they connect that reading to videos, blogs, online encyclopedias, online content that involves youtube videos, etc. My students no longer simply read a story and are spoon-fed information about the author and the times of the things they read. Now, they discover that through their virtual worlds (and they do it at the time of day they choose). I do not believe online learning is for every student, just as a bricks & mortar school is not for every students. What excites me the most is that this virtual environment exists for the student who needs this type of self-directed way of learning.

Just as the infographic from this week by Onlineeducation.net indicates, I’ve moved from being a teacher-centered educator to a student-centered educator. I’m a mentor now. Online teaching has transformed the way that I think about education. I can’t wait to see how it transforms my thinking over and over again.

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8 comments on “Week 2 – Transforming my world

  1. Cyndi says:

    Jen, you make very good points! We are experiencing exciting times in the delivery of instruction whether it be on-the-ground in a residential classroom or online. I agree that a single environment may not be right for every student. Knowing the student and the student knowing himself, will help guide a learner to the right environment for learning. Perhaps blended learning (more on that later in the course) suits an individual learner best not just f-2-f or at a distance. As technology becomes more ubiquitous hopefully the technology part of the equation will take a more minor role and the instruction, delivered in any manner, will be a motivator.

    I have found, in a K12 setting, anytime a new technology tool is introduced, time has to be allotted to get the “giggles” out. Unfortunately there isn’t always enough time in an instructional day, week or month to slot in time to get take care of the “play time” so that there is “get down to business time”. It is a challenge for the instructor.

    • Curt Bonk says:

      Dang. Must we be serious all the dang time? Play is frivilous…not. Play (and Montessori types of education) leads to creativity and imagination and companies like Google, Amazon, and the Sims. Just ask Kim…a former Montessori teacher who likely wishes she was back there instead of reading all that Bonk assigned her to read.

      Giggling now…

  2. You’re right about working through the “giggles.” I find that schools just don’t have the budgest to keep up with technology, so teachers are often working with “older” (we can talk about the definition of “older” later) technology, so working through the giggles is also a bit more time consuming. Also, when it comes to the ever-changing dynamics of hardware and compatibility, I find that schools try to piece-meal their technology, which also leads to tons of complications.

    Finally, I think educators (this is a sweeping generalization) are scared of technology. Much can go wrong in a classroom. We are supposed to protect students from “bad stuff.” We are supposed to make sure that every second of every day is educational. Yet, we spend how much time trying to do that when we could just lets students learn….?

  3. Jen, I am wondering if your assertion here is that online itself makes learning more student-centered. I have the privilege of getting to “hang out” in many instructors’ online courses as a language specialist. I notice that many have merely taken their instructor-centered courses and made them available in electronic formats.

    What do you feel have been the distinguishing factors in your own movement to student-centered?

    Kelly

  4. Curt Bonk says:

    Jen, I wanted to leave a comment on your Week 1 posts, but there is no where to do that. You mention Paulo Friere and his condemnation of the banking model of education. Well, when I was in an ed tech class in grad school at Wisconsin, we read Friere. And I wrote several papers about such a model. Madison had a social-critical approach to their ed tech classes. And the different lenses we had to wear when critiquing articles in Michael Striebal’s classes was highly valuable. And it informs my views of the Web 2.0 today. I am delighted to know that you know that literature and can cite it. Keep reading. Keep pushing. Keep thinking.

  5. Curt Bonk says:

    well, Jen, online opens up that chance for exploration. At least 15 percent of learning should be exploratory in nature. And that is how we can boost up that 51 percent number we find in the article.

    Reading Canonical texts…? Yes, watch the videos. Read the blog posts. Listen the podcasts on the book. Go to 60 Second Recap to get the Cliff Notes version in video.

    http://www.60secondrecap.com/

  6. kseeber says:

    Jen,
    I am curious about you found a position teaching online. Did you pursue it or did it find you? What do you like and dislike about it? What are the differences you see between F2F and online students?
    My daughter has mentioned that her high school (Bloomington North) blocks sites that she actually needs to use for schoolwork. She also said that students find a way around the blocks and access the sites anyway. It is interesting to look at the varying levels of censorship around the world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_by_country
    I hope one day information will be free. It is ridiculous to punish educators and learners for trying to share information.

    Kim

    • Hey Kim,

      I actually purused online teaching. In fact, I believe I am a pioneer in the secondary online teaching industry. My parent company has been in existence for 10 years; but, this is the first year for the school in Indiana. It is a 100% online k-12 schoool (no it isn’t k-12).

      I really like that I can connect with my students on a more personal one-on-one basis (this seems counter-intuitive; but, it’s true). I think the one thing that I dislike is the amount of hours I sit in front of a computer. I now have to make a conscious effort to get up and move around (exercise), where I was constanly in motion in a f2f classroom.

      There aren’t real big differnces between my f2f students and my online students. They deal with the same teen issues; they’re still rebellious; they’re still “kids”. That said, most of my online students have struggled for some reason in a bricks & mortar environment. It may be social anxiety, physical differences/disabilities, pregnancy/teen mom, etc. I do have a high number of students who are on the Autism Spectrum. But, I must say that for every student I have who has a reason liek the ones above, I have a student who was bored in a bricks & mortar school. So, we have very high achievers as well. Finally, we have a number of students who are athletes and train 8 hours each day. This environment gives them the opportunity to “go to school” while still pursuing their dreams.

      I think the censorship comes from schools trying to protect students and the schools. I can only imagine the number of irate parents there would be if a student happned upon a porn site at school. I believe censorship is wrong; but, I also believe in age-appropriateness. How do we balance the two?

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