Digital_Nation

“The point is to be our most creative selves, not to distracted ourselves to death.”

The clip above is a trailer for Frontline’s, “digital_nation: life on the virtual frontier.” I watched digital_nation for class recently, and it’s really interesting! I highly suggest others to watch it. I thought Chapter 2: What’s It Doing to Their Brains? was particularly interesting.

In my undergrad studies, I learned a lot about how there is no such thing as multitasking. It’s just a switch between one task to another. You typically cannot actually do two things at once. Good “multitaskers” just switch quickly between tasks. To read more about it, check out this research article: Multitasking- 2001- Strayer _ Johnston. Some researchers are trying to figure out what is going on in the brain when a person tries to multitask. The Frontline video’s research is in agreement with the my undergraduate studies saying, “Classic psychology tells us that it’s impossible; the brain can’t do it.”

Some specially chosen students on Stanford’s campus were chosen for a small study. Professor Nass studied how quickly these students could switch between tasks without losing focus. The students were really confident of their multitasking skills. The test results showed otherwise. These students who were chosen because they constantly are “multitasking” aren’t actually as good at it as they think.

I am well aware of my inabilities to switch tasks quickly. I get so distracted in between. I work much better when I focus on one thing until I get it done and then switch to the next thing. I think more people would be productive if they did things this way, but they don’t want to miss out on what’s going on in their email, text messages, social media, etc.

Professor Nass believes this idea of multitasking is “creating people who are unable to think clearly and well.”I’m guilty of trying to multitask; I love checking my email, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever else while trying to complete an assignment. I agree that it is so difficult to think clearly when my brain is all over the place, trying to do so many things at once. It takes me so much longer to get something done than if I had just focused on my assignment for a time, and then went and checked my other things.

Digital media is changing the way we live as human beings. Frontline claims that kids are spending as many as 50 hours a week on digital media. That’s more than a typical 40-hour work week! According to Frontline, there is only one scientist, Dr. Small, who has examined the impact of the Internet on our brains. He says that the brain is twice as active while doing an Internet search than while reading a book. Dr. Small says that when it comes to the brain, using more of it is not necessarily better.  Dr. Small thinks that using the Internet is “risky” like drinking and gambling. He says that it’s addictive. More researchers need to take the time to study how the Internet and technology effects the brain. Unfortunately, the research cannot keep up with changing technology.

I definitely think technology should be used in moderation. I can definitely see how the Internet can be addictive, I know that for myself, too much of it really hurts my eyes. My eyes get so dry and actually get really uncomfortable when I’ve spent too much time in front of my computer or iPad. I definitely think that like with all things, we should use technology in moderation. Too much of any good thing is a bad thing.

3 Influential Tweets

I made a professional twitter account for my ED554 class. Twitter has now connected me to so many inspiring educators and amazing resources. I will definitely continue to use this twitter to stay connected when I become a teacher. I have learned a lot through twitter and have read many great posts and articles through others’ tweets.

My three favorite/most influential tweets are…

#3     This article breaks my heart and warms it at the same time. Elephants have been my favorite animal since I was a little girl. I checked riding an elephant off my bucket list last August when I took an elephant safari ride in Zambia. Checking out the elephants in the wild was one of my favorite parts of being in Africa. Overall though, I want to instill a sense of love and appreciation for our world and its animals in my students. I hope that by sharing articles like this with my students, I will inspire them to take care of our earth and animals and make a positive difference in the world.

 

#2     I love this because I love to laugh. Life is so much better and so much more fun with laughter. I definitely want my future classroom to be full of life, excitement, and laughter.Life and learning does not need to be so serious. This article is a great reminder of why we need laughter in our classrooms and what a positive affect it has on learning.

 

 

And my #1 most influential tweet:

Oh, this letter makes my heart so happy! This letter means so much to me after working in a primary school and orphanage in Zambia. Students’ futures lie heavily on their grade 12 exam results (if they can even make it to grade 12). I wish I had encourage my students and the high school orphans in this way while I was there. But, it’s never too late! The grade 12 orphans take their exams in October. I think I’m going to mail a similar letter over to them. This is by far my favorite and most influential tweet! 🙂

 

LiveBinders

My classmate Morgan and I became “experts” on the online social learning tool, LiveBinders. We created a short Google Presentation on LiveBinders for you to see what it’s all about!  I highly recommend for educators to use this awesome online organization and collaboration tool to replace traditional 3-ring binders!

Click on the link below to download the short, informational presentation:

LiveBinders

My First Flipped Classroom!

I created my first flipped classroom!  It’s intended for third grade students learning about the water cycle.  For homework, students answer questions during the first part of the video.  These questions are only available when they view the video from educanon.com.  In addition, students would take home a diagram to fill in with me during the video and bring back to class the next day. This is the diagram:

Homework handout to be completed during the video with me.

Homework handout to be completed during the video with me.

To make this video, I created a Google Presentation and then inserted the slides into the Explain Everything app on my iPad.  I recorded my voice and completed the worksheet using the App.  Then, I uploaded my video to YouTube.  Lastly, I put my video on educanon.com and added questions for students for the first half of the video.  Again, to view my flipped classroom with questions, go here!  Enjoy!

Cell Phones in Class: Acceptable or Not?

Lisa Nielsen wrote a post about “5 Reasons to Allow Students to Use Cell Phones in Class.”  Allowing cell phones in class goes completely against the rules we are used to.  Things are starting to change though.  For example, the year after I graduated from high school, students were allowed to start using their phones at lunch.  That was a big deal at my high school.  Phones had always been confiscated at lunch!  In my opinion, phones should always be allowed in between classes and during lunch.  I can’t believe it took until 2010 for the rule to change.

Now, some educators think cells phones should be used in class. Nielsen gives 5 reasons why:

  1. We should allow students to use the tools they’ll be using in life after graduation.
  2. We should use the technology that is readily available.
  3. Mobile devices are great for teaching 21st Century skills.
  4. If administrators use their phones, students should be able to as well.
  5. Allows opportunities to teach students responsible ways of using technology.

Lisa Nielsen thinks that cell phones enhance learning; but do they?images

In my opinion, only #2 and #4 are valid reasons to use cell phones in class.  Most schools are on a tight budget and reason #2 makes a good point that cell phones are readily available because most students have them.  For #4, I completely agree that a double standard is not okay.  Here’s why I think the other reasons are kind of lame:

#1: Students will use their phones regardless.  Typically, they know how to use them better than we do.  We don’t need to teach them how to use their phones.  They use them plenty outside of school.

#3: Any technology is good for teaching 21st century skills.  Sometimes, no technology is good for teaching 21st century skills because students need to learn to think creatively.  When they just get ideas off Google, they aren’t thinking independently.

#5: You don’t have to specifically use cell phones to teach students how to be responsible with technology and the internet.

Since I only graduated high school 4 years ago, I know that students aren’t going to use their cell phones for the right reasons in class.  Maybe a few will, but most just care about updating their social media.  To be honest, I’m in graduate school and I still don’t use my cell phone for learning purposes in class…that’s what my computer is for!  Therefore, I tend to think cell phones interrupt learning.

However, kids are getting cell phones earlier and earlier in life.  I know a 6 year old with a cell phone!  That’s first grade.  Maybe, elementary school teachers can help students learn how to use their cell phones appropriately in class at early age.

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Then, maybe, by the time those students get to high school, they’ll use them appropriately in class.  Just an idea, but teenagers will always be teenagers and I’m not sure if cell phones will ever be a good idea in class.

The New Digital Learning Playbook

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Speak Up is a national initiative of Project Tomorrow. The Speak Up National Research Project annually surveys K-12 students, parents, educators, and administration about the role of technology for learning in and out of school. Speak Up’s 2013 National Findings provides some very interesting information about the ways students are using technology.

The article states that the mobile device is “the new gateway to self-initiated technology use for schoolwork.” 64% of parents said they would purchase a mobile device for their child to use at school if it was allowed. Students are saying that it’s an obstacle to school technology use when school’s do not allow students to bring their own devices. Students were asked about their aspirations and ideas for improving technology use at school. Their answers from Speak Up’s Findings are below.

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I question students’ intentions of wanting greater access to websites, using their own mobile devices, and recharging their mobile devices at school. I graduated from high school 4 years ago. I don’t think students’ mindsets have changed that much. I used my iPhone to text and check social media in class. I remember my access to websites was fine – we just couldn’t view YouTube or Facebook. I’m not sure I would have gotten much work done if I could have. My personal opinion is that kids are bored. I don’t think that the problem is so much about the use of technology. I think the content needs to be more relevant and interesting to students. Then, they won’t care if they’re using tech or not.

The article talks about “envisioning the ultimate school” and how one-size does not fit all. Students, parents, and educators do not share the same vision of the ultimate school. It’s important to take all views into account. Each school and student population is going to be different. It’s important for each school to hear the voice of its students and parents before making its technology game plan. I think it’s important to ask students why they want something available at school to make sure their intentions are good. In addition, educators really need to get to know their students on a personal, deep level so that learning can be made personalized, interesting, and relevant whether or not tech is involved.

When I’m a teacher, I will incorporate technology when appropriate. I think it would be a good idea to get to know my students and parents’ use of technology at the beginning of the year to see what types of tech they like to work with. Each year, I’m going to have to adjust how I incorporate tech in the classroom to fit the interests of my students. I want to make sure that using technology enhances learning in my classroom, and that I’m not just using it for tech’s sake.

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Education is Broken

I watched a TEDx Talk by Chris Lehmann named, “Education is Broken.”  Chris Lehmann starts off by saying that “high school stinks.”  He claims that it stinks because students are told what to do over and over again.  Basically, the kids are just bossed around all day.  Then, they don’t know why they need to know any of the concepts they’re learning.  The information is not relevant.  Students do not know why classes are important.  It’s a problem.

Chris claims that unfortunately, schools are designed as factories where students are “on a conveyer belt moving from class to class.”  Schools were built in a time when information was scarce and you had to go to school to get the information from the teachers.  Now, we live in a world of information overload and you can get information on any topic on the Internet in less than a second.

Schools are designed as factories with assembly lines.

Schools are designed as factories with assembly lines.

Chris says that school now need to “teach us how to learn.”  School should open up students’ minds.  School should not be pointless, but should teach students how to live.  Projects and assignments should be given so that students can learn more about themselves, and the subject matter they are studying.  But, Chris says that the main purpose of school should be teaching students how to be citizens.  Then, they’ll become the workers, activists, friends, community members, husbands, wives, and parents that the world needs.  School needs to be building confidence in students so that they can go out in the world after school and be those things.

He says that the problem can be fixed.  Teachers need to ask questions that they don’t even know the answers to and let students think.  Teachers need to help students make sense of the world and all the information that is available to them.  Teachers need to let students make and build things that matter and share it.  Let students have choice in what they create and how they create something.  Chris says that we need to let students know that what they’re doing “matters now.”  Chris says that when teachers do these things, “high school won’t suck anymore and we’ll encourage kids to change the world.”

I’m all about changing the world.  One of the biggest reasons I want to be a teacher is to inspire children to make a difference in the world.  The ideas Chris Lehmann are the same ideas I keep hearing over and over again since I started graduate school in May.  I agree with Chris’s ideas.  I think his ideas could be harder to implement than it sounds.  However, every teacher could make a few small changes in their classroom to make learning more relevant and citizenship more important to their students.  Together, as millions of teachers, a education may not be as broken as it is now.

Watch this TEDxTalk below: