Thursday, April 26, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
In terms of how my portrayed networks have change the way I learn, I would say the time and quality have improved. The timing has improved in terms of efficiency in learning. Rather than waiting to learn or discover on my own or in isolation, I am able to collaborate with other educators (who are more experienced with technology integration) and discover new ideas through them. My learning is no longer limited to exposure to people in my same enviroment. I am able to access a plethora of ideas via people from different geographic areas with varying level of experience as it applies to educational technology. With this is mind, the quality of my learning is enhanced since it is broader due to the exposure to diverse opinions via modern technologies (Siemens, 2004). The collaboration that is also available online has added to the quality since my shortcomings can be corrected by others and vice versa.
To reiterate the impact that digital technology has had on my learning, I will expound on my use of Google Docs. For the first time, the math department at my school used Google Docs as a platform to facilitate our weekly meetings. I shared the document with my building administrators and district leaders to show them how powerful this tool could be to promote collaboration (contributing together) and decrease cooperation (simply working together). In the past, the math department has always split up responsibilities. The problem with this was quality control and timing. Timing was a problem since some individuals would not complete their assigned task within the specified timeframe. And quality was a problem since there was one person working on each component and there were varying standards of expectations with regards to what quality work should look like. Utilizing Google shared documents will resolve this matter since all members of our team will contribute to the creation and development of the documents (lesson plans,formative/summative assessments, meeting minutes, team goals, etc.) and can address any revisions or editing issues up front in lieu of waiting to see an error filled artifact that was completed in isolation by one member of our team.
When I have questions, I am now able to learn by posting those questions in an open forum...be it a social network such as facebook or a educational form such as the Class Cafe in my online course. I can also do a Google search to find the answer to my question as well. I no longer have to spend tedious hours reading through pages of material or waiting to encounter an experience that will help answer my question. Efficiently being able to find an answer via the computer and assess the quality of the answer based on credible sources are two of the benefits that connectivism theory correlates with many of the digital age technologies included in my mindmap.
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
“Survival of the Fittest” describes the old human mentality according to Howard Rheingold (2008). As I ponder on this, I question whether or not this is still the current human mentality. Rheingold (2008) believes that over time, the human mentality has evolved to one that has lessened in competiveness to make room for cooperation and collaboration. While I agree that 21st century problems, require collaborative-based 21st century solutions, I still believe that the “destroy competition” mentality overpowers the willingness to cooperate in some cases.
Professional Learning Communities are being established in today’s schools in an effort to increase uniformity and collaboration across the board. However, the fact that there are still teachers who cling to the concept of working in isolation leads me to believe that people do not necessarily have a natural inclination to interact and work in groups. For whatever reasons, there are some people who are naturally inclined to work alone. Even those who prefer collaborative work, tend to evaluate their work load as an individual rather than as a member of a larger community. For example, when my boss sends us emails of a list of task he wants completed, considering how “I” will meet all the deadlines is one of the first things I consider. After further processing the assigned tasks, I may consider how a colleague and I can collaborate to get the task done and make efficient use of our time as a cooperative team. But, my initial thoughts were of the course of actions “I” would take to get the tasks done. This is just an example to further elucidate the natural inclination we have to work in isolation in lieu of collaboration.
As I had previously mentioned, I consider collaboration to be effective since it takes multiple perspectives and varying levels of expertise into account. Collaboration enables people to complete task in a more proficient and time efficient manner. One technological resource that I recently used (for the first time) to engage in collaborative work was Google Docs. For my EDUC 7105 course, the members of my learning community took a constructivist approach (2005) to collaborating as we all provided input in responding to 5 questions about our selected learning theory. Rather than each of us simply selecting a question to answer, we all constructed a cohesive and agreed upon response to all 5 questions. We all played a part in the editing and revising for each question included in the table. Utilizing technology in such a manner definitely breaks down the tendency to work in isolation since the productivity of team work is made prevalent.
To read more about the positive effects that collaboration has on learning, please go to the following website: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/v7n1/gokhale.jte-v7n1.html
Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.
Rheingold, H. (2008, February). Howard Rheingold on collaboration [Video file]. Retrieved from