lundi 28 avril 2008

I love forums too!

I agree that forums are a great way of tapping into the potential of a community of learners who can, in so many ways, run on its own. I noticed, in the forum we started in ESL Computer Applications class, that when one person asked a question about a certain topic, and another person answered, there were other students who posted saying that they used the tips suggested or appreciated having the help that was provided. In other words, it is so much more effective to have students help each other and consult past questions and posts because it avoids the inefficiency of several people asking the teacher the same question, over and over. Also, education is becoming increasingly student-centered and rests on the idea of giving students the tools to build their own framework of learning. Forums fit right in with that philosophy.

Computer Classroom Management

There are many things that I really appreciated in our Computer Classroom Management discussion. First of all, the age-old motto "be prepared" applies to everything, including how to set up and carry out a computer class. I thought the suggestion of standing on the opposite end of the classroom so you can see all the screens sounded really smart. I was glad that we went over all the basic rules for computer class (not eating and drinking, no running in the lab etc.), it was a good reminder. Our chat about how to deal with porn was an eye-opener too; I had never realized how important it is to be calm and controlled and not freak out.

I also appreciated the suggestions of non-threatening ways to monitor the classroom. Getting down to eye-level with students, asking if students need help or how the activity is going are all useful ways to monitor a computer classroom, but also to monitor a regular classroom as well.
I am looking forward to my next practicum because I'll have more chances to put these suggestions and techniques into practice in a computer classroom!!

lundi 4 février 2008

What the top industrialists could not achieve with proprietary software and financial capital,
free software has demonstrated with community development and intellectual capital.
While this article gets me excited about open-source software, and helps me to better understand the how, what and why of this revolutionary idea, in a way I am not surprised at its success.
The word on everyone's lips for the past 50 years, but increasingly in recent times, is "globalization". True to the concept of all people, all economies, all governments and all countries being tied together in one great big community, open-source has created the opportunity for those with hidden talents, unexplored interests and just plain lots of time on their hands to tackle all the glitches and problems that just can't be handled by commercial industries. If software is designed to help human beings to work better, why are these same people not allowed to contribute and help perfect and fix this software? 'For the people, by the people' seems like a much more effective and fair way of doing things, and according to the statistics presented in this article, there is proof that open-source is a far superior alternative to traditional commercial production.
At the same time, I'm not sure that open-source can stand on its own, without the industrial side to software, without some form of control.
Perhaps that is a opinion based on what I'm used to seeing in the world, and I will be proven wrong; it just seems like some structure is necessary to keep order, and to create a norm that can be followed and built on.
One thing is sure:

"The software industrialists have massive financial capital and a 30 year head
start on legislating proprietary interests over social interests. Those in the free and open source
movements have the benefit of new intellectual capital born every day and a firm grasp of how
increased, rather than decreased freedom improves innovation, quality, competition, and choice."
What do you think?

samedi 26 janvier 2008

"Today's workplaces need citizens who can think independently and analyze complex information. Information available is changing so rapidly that it is not so important that students memorize as much, but instead be available to locate the most current information on a topic and analyze and synthesize it. They must be able to locate information from multiple sources and perspectives. Collaboration skills are essential, as very little work is isolated and discrete. Technology has turned us into a global economy, and we must now understand and compete with the entire world." (
As my understanding of the role of an educator grows and expands, I can't help but realize that my career of choice is not so much about us teachers as it is about the young minds that are entrusted to us. These students who, though they sit in their seats staring at us with the blank stares of boredom, chewing gum they're not supposed to have in class and secretly listening to their ipods when they should be turning to page 46 of their workbook...these students are the citizens of tomorrow, those who will run the world. The difference is that while 50 years ago, people ran the world from the podium, the pulpit, the fields, the stage and the factory, today more and more, it is being run from in front of a screen. Times are a'changing, and so, as educators, we must be prepared.
I am not sure how I feel about this change. I have my misgivings. It seems so backwards that students need to be able to access information more than they need to know it well or understand it deeply---is that not what we always learned was essential to pass exams? And if knowing what there is to know today is more or less important, because tomorrow, or in a few hours, it will be different---are we not losing the depth of knowledge to the shallow, unsatiable race for information? I always thought that knowledge was important, that things like old books and well-worn pages and oft-told stories were the real jewels of education, that what was passed down from generation to generation had value and meaning because it had stood the test of time. How can anything be considered meaningful and valuable if by tomorrow it will be old news, or if there are so many other pieces of information vying for young minds that those age-old truths are swept away and lost? If we feed their already-shortened attentions spans with the lightning-speed information that they are used to getting everywhere else, are we still being true to the traditions of teaching?
But what do I know...I'm only beginning my career.
What I do know is that in everything, there must be a balance. There must be a way to shape young minds for the future, equipping them to take their places as the future citizens of the world that they are meant to be, while still imparting them with knowledge, and things of substance that they can chew on, wrestle with, think deeply about, and grow on. I also know that to do so it is essential to meet students on their own level. We will never reach the digital generation unless we Maybe it is a question of stretching the traditional methods of teaching to fit the mould of the world today, and not at all a loss of any kind, but more of an adaptation of what is and always will be the role of an educator.
What do you think?