EDTC 6431: Learning Tool Exploration 4 – Surveymonkey

For my fourth learning tool exploration I decided to take a look at surveymonkey. Surveymonkey is a website designed to help users create their own surveys or use existing surveys. It is free to sign up, though the free version only allows for 10 questions and 100 responses per survey and is limited to the customizable features of the appearance of the actual survey. There are other versions for a monthly fee that has much more features and capabilities than the free version.

Surveymonkey Homepage

What I valued most about this website is the ease it was to create and view surveys. I was able to put together a quick “my favorites” survey that could be used as an introduction activity to get to know my future students. It is not limited to surveys, as one could create a test using the same formats. Again, the only down side of this is that the free version only allows for 10 questions. So the survey or quiz would have to be on the shorter side but definitely doable especially for a review quiz or an exit slip type quiz. The other aspect I thought was especially neat was the multiple methods to distribute the surveys. You can distribute the surveys via web link, email, put in on your website, and on facebook. Another feature I valued is surveymonkey will collect the responses and will also analyze the results in various ways.

"My Favorite" Survey

I love the idea to create my own surveys and questionnaires that I can use in the classroom and also send out to parents. Surveymonkey also has example surveys like teacher feedback which can be used for parent insight. One way I can especially see myself using this tool is through creating surveys before and after specific units or lessons. This would be an easy and anonymous way to gather insight on student prior knowledge, as well as what students have learned. Also this could be used to ask students what they enjoyed, disliked, or thought was difficult about the unit or lesson.

Sample Survey

I did not find this tool difficult or challenging to use. I can see it being a tool for students to even use to create their own surveys to gather results. This could very well tie into a mathematical lesson involving gathering data, making graphs, and analyzing the information. Again the only frustrating thing about this tool is the limited capabilities with the free version. Having the ability to only create 10 questions can be a difficult hurdle to overcome. I do think hat limiting the number of questions can also be viewed as an advantage. Individuals creating the surveys will have to put more time and thought into what questions are really necessary for the survey. It may get rid of lengthy surveys that seem to drag on forever and long surveys may not be appropriate especially for elementary aged students. Overall, I see this tool to be useful and very easy to incorporate in my teaching practices.

https://www.surveymonkey.com

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EDTC 6431: Educational Research

I felt that Chapter 8 Improving Education Research by Christensen and Johnson (2011) made some strong points in regards with the educational research seen today. Typically research is done based upon the majority groupings when in reality the focus should be on the diverse populations and individuality of each student. Christensen and Johnson (2011) state that “education research must move toward understanding what works best from the perspective of individual students in different circumstances as opposed to what works best on average for groups of students or groups of school” (p. 3166). Christensen and Johnson (2011) further claim that “no longer will research on best practices or what works best on average across education suffice” (p. 3166). I believe that these points merit much consideration especially when research is constantly being done to improve our schools.

eReader screenshot

There is no “one-size fits all” model that works for each individual student, though this may be the easiest or best method for the majority of students. Still students are being left out or simply falling through the cracks because of the teaching styles does not cater towards their needs. I agree with Christensen and Johnson (2011) that research needs to shift towards understanding the different circumstances of the individual. Through this I feel that specific issues students are facing in schools could be better identified and resolved. Christensen and Johnson (2011) mention that students are not motivated to learn because schools continue to use monolithic ways instead of methods customized by circumstances (p. 3173). Students are individuals and learn in unique and different ways from one another, therefore research should focus on this individuality rather than what works best on average. Current methods tend to focus on fixing the problem with what works for the majority, rather than identifying the source of the specific problem then proceeding to make appropriate changes. Not only do teachers need to focus on individualizing lessons, research must head down this path as well so that evidence can support and promote these methods.

My overall experience with the eReader was a pleasant one. I thought the eReader was simple to use and had many convenient features like highlighting, bookmarking, and searching for specific words or phrases. Also the feature to right click on a word for a definition was extremely helpful. If I had a tablet (I used this eReader on my laptop) I could see myself in the future to use the eReader mostly because it is cheaper to purchase books and easier to find sections I want to reference back towards, but until then I will have to stick with using actual texts.

Christensen, C., Johnson, C.W., & Horn, M.B. (2011). Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (kindle). McGraw-Hill.

EDTC 6431: Learning Tool Exploration 3 – Slideshare

For my third learning tool exploration I decided to take a look at slideshare. Slideshare is an online community where the user can share their presentations, documents, PDF’s, videos, and webinars. Slideshare is free to sign up but does offer a “pro” version for an additional fee. On slideshare you can upload your presentations either publicly of privately and download or view presentations shared by other users.

Slideshare home page:

Slideshare Main Page

What I valued most about this tool is the ease to use and the ability to share your own presentations. As a teacher I can upload my documents and power point presentations on slideshare where students could refer to. I can simply give the students my user name and then students will have access to any presentations I have shared on slideshare. This can be extremely useful for students who may be slower at taking notes or maybe needed a reminder on a certain presentation. Students can also print off slides or lectures prior to class which will help in note taking. Instead of emailing students presentations or notes, simply stating that all my documents are on slideshare will save the hassle of trying to get the documents out.

Sample of a shared lesson:

Sample Lesson

Another great feature about the tool is the ability to search for presentations shared by other users. Many of the presentations are sample lessons, teaching tools, and workshops taught. As a teacher these presentations shared by others will help me continue to learn about various topics as well as provide supplemental materials that could be used in my classroom.

Sample of a search result:

Sample Search Results

The one feature I wished it had is a more detailed organizational method. Currently, the user can organize by presentations, documents, infographics, and videos. It would make things easier for example if under presentations, you can organize those files into categories like subject or class. Other than that I find this tool extremely helpful in presenting materials in a quick and efficient manner that can be easily accessible to my students.

EDTC 6431: Language Dancing

The chapters by Christensen and Johnson (2011) were very interesting. Since I have had classes that have discussed in some detail about student motivation, I was more intrigued by Chapter 6: The Impact of the Earliest Years on Students’ Success. The one fact that jumped out was Christensen and Johnson (2011) stating “the children whose parents did not begin speaking seriously to their children until their children could speak […] suffered a persistent deficit in intellectual capacity, compared to those whose parents were talkative from the beginning” (p. 2592). I have always known that early development for children was extremely important, but never thought about the importance of the child’s intellectual development between 0-12 months and how communication can affect it. Christensen and Johnson (2011) talk about “language dancing” which is essentially talking, thinking aloud, and commenting on what the child or parent is doing or planning. This has shown to cultivate curiosity in children (Christensen & Johnson, 2011, p. 2614).

How can a teacher who may work with children as young as 3 (for pre-k) help facilitate growth and development that occurs at home? The solution Christensen and Johnson (2011) give is to teach children how to be parents before they become parents (p. 2683). They state that high school can be a place where classes could teach students early cognitive development for future parents (p. 2683). I personally feel that this could be beneficial and could be a lesson added on to the sexual education unit. Even though I think that this could be beneficial I am not convinced that students would care or get enough out of the lesson or unit to have a significant impact. My fear would be it would just be another thing that “goes in one ear and out the other” as students would not pay attention because they don’t have kids and won’t have kids for some time so why does it truly matter to them. It may be difficult for high school students to see and understand the big picture of the importance of “language dancing”.

This chapter also reminded me of the importance of demonstrating the proper use of words and language in the classroom. Not communicating at the cognitive level of your class, but communicating using dialect rich in vocabulary. For elementary, this could be to use the new vocabulary words throughout the week so that students become familiar with the sound, articulation, and the usage of the new words. The importance of using high levels of communication rich in vocabulary is similar towards the importance of “language dancing” for infants. Children may not totally understand the vocabulary or sentences but the exposure is important and will require students to explore definitions and sentence contexts.

E-Text Screen Shot

The research article shared about E-Texts was really interesting to me. On one hand I do understand and believe the E-Texts are extremely easy to use and can be much more portable then the standard textbook. They offer quick and easy ways to highlight, bookmark, make notes, and organize information. Students won’t have to worry about losing a textbook or damaging from writing inside when using E-Texts. On the other hand I think having technology such as smart phones, tablets, and laptops allows for more opportunities for students to be multitasking or doing other work. How many times have you been in a computer class and had another window open for something unrelated to what you were working on? I believe this problem would be significant for students and the reason why they like using E-Texts. They can easily go from their E-Text to checking their facebook with the teacher even knowing.

Christensen, C., Johnson, C.W., & Horn, M.B. (2011). Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (kindle). McGraw-Hill.

EDTC 6431: Students as Teachers

Textbooks are something that has been a part of education for some time now, and I personally do not see that changing anytime soon. More and more texts are available online, but I still do not see actual texts going anywhere. I agree with Christensen and Johnson’s (2011) frustration with the current education using textbooks. Christensen and Johnson (2011) mention that the industry focuses on creating and commercializing books for the large undifferentiated masses of students (p. 2296). Furthermore, textbooks by their very mature are fixed and static (p. 2296). In the course EDU 6133: Diversity in America, I was given an assignment to review a textbook. What I found about the textbook is that the material presented followed the traditional or typical elementary social studies texts for the information that was introduced. Just as Christensen and Johnson (2011) is that textbooks are typically fixed and static meant for the majority of the population. Those students who excel at reading and interpreting information from texts will learn from utilizing textbooks, but what about those who struggle in this academic area?

The solution that Christensen and Johnson (2011) foresee in the near future is through the usage of integrated software. Integrated software “can incorporate pathways for different types of learners as methods for teaching in these different ways become understood” (p. 2333).  In essence students can learn from other students as well as share their findings or methods to others on the network. I am not totally sold on this digital approach, but I do believe that these efforts to meet the needs of the individual students are extremely important. Christensen and Johnson (2011) best puts it by saying “we often learn better when we teach than when we listen to a teacher” (p. 2437). Students need to be actively engaged and this can be achieved by having students teach their classmates. I really like the idea of students sharing what they have discovered or how they came for their answer. Some students just learn better when other students articulate their answers rather than listening to the teacher. Online learning is not the only way to differentiate instruction, teachers can still create lessons that stray from the traditional elementary approach of worksheets or high school lectures. I believe there is no denying the potential towards these online approaches and even in the next five years it will be interesting to see their educational impact.

Dropdown Bar

I feel totally comfortable and familiar with using the eReader now. A new feature that I used this week was the dropdown bar in the notes and markings section. It makes it much easier to find the specific note, highlight, or bookmark by organizing through the specific category. Instead of having to scroll through all my notes and highlights to find the one bookmark, I am able to view just the bookmarks. This function especially now that I have a bunch of markings comes in handy.

Christensen, C., Johnson, C.W., & Horn, M.B. (2011). Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (kindle). McGraw-Hill.

EDTC 6431: Learning Tool Exploration 2 – Brainscape and Flashcardlet

For my second learning tool exploration, I decided to search for something that would not only benefit myself as a teacher, but also a tool that could be utilized by my students as well. I began to search for SmartPhone applications because of the growing number of younger students who have and are able to efficiently work or play on their phones. Thinking back upon our previous modules one key aspect that continued to stand out towards me was in Module 2 about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.  The multiple intelligences approach should be in alignment with the individual’s stronger intelligence so that understanding and learning can come easier and be done with greater enthusiasm (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011).  I stumbled across a free application called Brainscape more specifically the flashcardlet function. Brainscape in an application that allows users to create and share your flashcards and explore the expert content Brainscape has to offer, though this content was limited. There is a free flashcardlet app as well that allows users to create simple flashcards on their SmartPhone devices. On this separate application you can download other user’s flashcards specifically for your devices as well.

Sample flashcard making

Sample flashcard making on Brainscape

What I valued most about these applications is that it provides students with another method for learning new material and is conveniently done so on their SmartPhones or tablets. I can either create my own set of flashcards for students to use or use flashcard sets already made by other users that would help students further learn the particular topic. These flashcards can be large decks in number and can include images and sounds as well. Furthermore, having flashcard decks already made for students to use will save students time. Not only can these applications be used by my students, but as teachers we need to continually learn as well. I can use these applications to study up on a topic that I may be a bit rusty on or just need to be simply reminded on key elements.

Flashcardlet

Sample flashcardlet flashcard

Some challenges with these applications are that to create any sort of flashcards with images or sounds you must do it online at Brainscape.com. It said that syncing between ones Brainscape account and Flashcardlet account will be done automatically, but I was unable to figure out how to do so. The tutorials and help online were very limited, so it was frustrating that two applications that are to compliment each other were not syncing. Additionally, with anything free comes the advertisements which is a drawback for these apps.

Another positive to both applications is the ease to storing and sharing of flashcard decks. This can be achieved through using Dropbox or emailing flashcards to the intended recipients.

Sharing via email or dropbox

Sharing via email or dropbox

One of the challenging things with any sort of SmartPhone or tablet application is that not every student has access to these types of technology. This application is currently only available for iPad, iPhone, and iTouch. I think that Flashcardlet can be a great tool for students to learn and study about any topic and they can conveniently do so wherever as long as they have the device. Brainscape seemed more geared towards older students or for teachers but the flashcardlet app could be beneficial for younger students wanting to use flashcards on their devices.

https://www.brainscape.com/

Christensen, C., Johnson, C.W., & Horn, M.B. (2011). Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (kindle). McGraw-Hill.

EDTC: Online Learning

Chapter 4: Disruptively Deploying Computers left me with mixed feelings. I agree with much what Christensen, Johnson, and Horn (2011) mentions in this chapter. For instance, the story about Maria who wanted to learn Arabic is a great example for how effective online learning can be. I believe that these types of online courses provides a useful alternate for schools that do not offer classes, students who are home-schooled, who need to make up credits, or schools that do not have the proper funding or staff to offer various courses.

Christen, Johnson, and Horn (2011) states four factors that will accelerate this substitution for online learning. These four factors are online learning will continue to improve, online learning fits the learner’s needs, help with the teacher shortage, and the cost will fall as the market for online learning increases (p. 1790-1797). All these factors are strong indicators for the acceleration of online learning within our schools. Yet, I am not totally convinced if this approach is beneficial for our schools, teachers, and students.

The first concern I have with online learning is the simple fact of communicating with the professor or teacher becomes more difficult. Yes, one can email, skype, or chat online but I feel that ability to talk with your teacher before or after class and especially during class is a substantial advantage. The teachers or professors for online classes are not always available to talk or as prompt with responding to emails. Many times I feel that it is simply easier to talk in person rather than trying to explain your question through emails. I know the programs such as skype could solve these issues, but until the teachers for online courses are available throughout the entire school day, these problems will remain. Secondly, I feel that online learning will allow for more opportunity to cheat on tests and homework. What is to stop a student from looking up answers on his test online? Are students really learning the material or simply answering the questions just to pass the class? Are there test taking programs that do not allow students to minimize or open other programs? If this class were taken at home the student can use another computer or other resources to find the answers. My final concern is one that was mentioned by Christensen, Johnson, and Horn (2011) is with these virtual labs students are not experiencing the experiments hands-on (p. 1872). To me there is no comparison with doing a science experiment hands-on versus through some type of simulation software. The experience is completely different between the two and students will be missing out on the opportunity to actually complete an experiment hands-on. With time these problems will most likely be solved or minimized, but right now these are reasons I feel I would shy away from online learning.

eReader Highlight

What I found that came in handy with the eReader was the ability to download the software and have it on multiple computers. My wife had started her summer classes this week and she has to bring our newer laptop to class (she is at class all day) leaving me with our old and slow laptop. I love the fact that I can have this program on multiple sources; this makes it very convenient when a computer is being used so that I have an alternate method to accessing the eReader.

Christensen, C., Johnson, C.W., & Horn, M.B. (2011). Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (kindle). McGraw-Hill.