Thursday, January 27, 2011

Does the internet make us dumber or smarter?

     Well, on our Faculty of Ed Ning, the question was posed; Is the internet making us smarter or dumber?  Followed up by two articles, each offering opposing views... here are the links:
Does the Internet Make You Dumber? by N. Carr
Does the Internet Make You Smarter? by C. Shirky
After reading both, I've come up with the following response:

     Wow... well, I "read" both articles to see what points were brought forth.  Does the internet make you dumber? brought forth several good points and had a handful of experiments/tests that were completed to reinforce the point.  The, Does the internet make you smarter? article was more full of oppinionated points.  And honestly, I got pretty confused/bored by this article and did a really half-a**ed job completing it.

     I can't really say that I agree with either.  I don't think people are any smarter or dumber due to the internet.  Sure the internet has brought an entire world of knowledge into our homes, but do people know how to use it correctly?  Do they know how to determine what is the truth and what is some bored individual throwing a bunch of gibberish together?  Sure the internet has brought forth a mountain of distractions, but wasn't the same said of TV when it was invented?

     People always had to determine how much information came out of a text book is actually true (Haeckel's embryos, Thomsons "plum pudding" molecular model, etc.).  People are always going to have distractions around (radio, TV, etc.). The bottom line is it comes down to the individual.  You can't blame the internet for making them dumb.  You can't thank the internet for making them a genius.   You made yourself the way you are.

                            (Then there's the whole genetics vs. upbringing argument I just won't get into)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Social Media in the Classroom

     Well, another week gone by in the education department.  Starting to find some motivation for this term, but it's still been the one of the tougher terms to get going in.  What can I say?  I'm just looking forward to getting out of the classroom and into the classroom.  Yup, that's my best shot at an education joke...  I could just hear the thud when that one hit the floor.  Oh well, I stand by it!

     On Tuesday's internet for educators class we were luck enough to have Mr. John Finch (MB Ed, LwICT) come and visit us once again.  We had a chance to discuss the uses of social networks in the classroom and to try and go out into the digital world to discover some examples to help us in our future teaching careers. 

     We came across our usual; youtube, teachertube, twitter, etc. examples.  Others found some more in depth websites that gave ideas on how to use the social network in the classroom.  I think that this could be a bit of work to get going, but it's a fantastic idea to communicate to the students in a way to which they are accustomed.  I like the idea that, as a teacher, I would only have to get the ball rolling.  The usefulness and upkeep can easily be completed by the students.  They could use this application to share ideas and answer each others questions.  Ideally, I would like my role to be only that of ensuring that any information shared on the network is in fact accurate.

     Of course, the irony has been discussed and will hopefully be addressed as time goes on.  How do you engage the students in this form of communication when a large group of the school divisions block out social networking sites?  Well, hopefully, as a new generation of teachers slowly and constantly enters the profession, I can easily forsee this question becoming one of the past.  As a teaching community, we just have to keep pushing on the positives of the program.  We'll break through!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Web Based Learning Site (Manitoba Education)

     In Thursday's class we were lucky enough to have Howard Griffith from Manitoba Education come into our class to discuss web based learning.  He gave us some insight into the website that was created to help students and teachers via web based learning.  We were led into a discussion about who can use the website, what the website is, where to find it, and why it was created. 

     Coming from personal experience, I was excited to get a few more ideas on how to implement these modules in the classroom.  I was first introduced to the blackboard program last year in my second student teaching placement.  I was informed how to logon for the demo mode, and had access to the basics while I was teaching a grade 11 chemistry course.

     It wasn't until my third placement (in MountainView School Division), that my cooperating teachers showed me just how easy it was to sign up and get full access to the modules present.  I got myself signed up for 3 more courses; grade 9 science, grade12 biology, and grade 12 chemistry.  While I had a fairly strong unit set up already for the grade 9 science, and therefore didn't use it much for this course, the grade 12 chemistry course became a very valuable resource. 

     The layout of the acids and bases unit was set up in an excellent manner.  There were plenty of assignments ready to go along the way, and the answer keys were all written out in a full step-by-step manner, which saved me a large amount of time.  All I had to do myself was splash in some personal preference changes, images, and labs.  The unit was pretty much ready to go from that point on.  I loved how the core ideas were solidly set up.  A strong foundation was laid out... I got the ability to spice it up to my liking.

     My use of the grade 12 biology unit did not work out the way I had liked unfortunately.  I had one student who was going to be out of town playing hockey for team Canada for 3 weeks.  I got him and myself all set up on the online unit.  I had envisioned how this student would be gone for 3 weeks, but wouldn't miss a step.  He'd come back to class and be ready to rejoin immediately...  Unfortunately, when he arrived at camp, the coach removed all cell phones, laptops, etc., from the team...     

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The First Week Of Internet Class

     Well, it was a good holiday spent doing nothing more than relaxing with the family.  My boys were both home with me for a couple of weeks while my wife was fully in charge of bringing home the bacon.  It's kinda hard to get back at it after a taste of that kind of lifestyle.  Going back to school was not one of the hilights of my 2011.
     The saving grace of my final term of school; I get to take an internet course with one of the best prof's at Brandon University.  Yes, I do like to suck up.  One of the key differences this time is that I'm telling the truth as well as sucking up : )

     Right off the bat, we were lucky enough to have a discussion with John Evans, a professional learning instructor with Manitoba education.  We had a chance to get introduced to a handful of web 2.0 programs that would be helpful and had a discussion on how these can be used in a digital teaching world.  Then we got to also take it another step further and looked at professional learning networks (PLNs).
     PLNs are essentially social websites for a group of people who would like to ask and solve questions on a given topic.  As a future educator I've found a couple of PLN sites that will definitely assist me with my teaching career.  Classroom 2.0 is an excellent example that has many science groups for me to join up with.  They even have those handy groups for assisting with ideas on how to use software (facebook, twitter, etc.) or hardware (smartboards, etc) effectively in the class.
     This was a good introductory week to this class and I definitely can't wait to see what the upcoming weeks are going to bring.