Of the varieties of social media that are so prevalent in our society, I have found myself pretty removed from all of its forms. I do admit however, that when social media websites like Facebook/Twitter/etc. were first created; I was a member of most of them. When I realized so much of my time and energy was spent cultivating my personal settings, taking photographs just to post them online or message friends rather than speaking face-to-face, I realized that I was becoming dependent on social media! I prefer a much more traditional style of communication and quickly removed myself from the majority of these social networks. Although I am not the biggest fan of social media, there are several advantages as well. Keeping in contact with friends and family is one that comes to mind. Using websites such as Facebook not only promotes talking to one another but also allows one to stay up to date with other people’s lives (via photos, text, and videos).
I believe that social media has (and will continue to have) a prevalent role in education. Social media targets children at a young age and I believe it can influence how students may think or act in regards to education. I foresee social media becoming useful even in the classroom as a convenient way of communication. I am interested to see how these social phenomena will impact our future generations.
Similar to education, culture has also been affected by social media. For example, we are now able to network with people across the globe! There is endless ways to reach mass amounts of people apart from the television. With a very high percentage of people belonging to at least one social media site, messages or news can be spread at a viral rate.
An ePortfolio (or electronic portfolio) may be defined as an electronic collection of evidence that shows your learning journey over time. Portfolios can relate to specific academic fields or your lifelong learning. In the educational setting, ePortfolios are being used increasingly more and more even in grade K-12. Because of the wide audience of growing interest, my attention was turned towards the reason they are so attractive in the scholastic realm. After researching deeper, I discovered several benefits for both the professional and the student when using this as a resource.
A professional ePortfolio is a selection of evidence of professional competence for a wide audience. Depending on the focus or the individual, information will vary. For example, an already established teacher may use an ePortfolio very differently than an undergrad student pursuing the medical field. Using this tool will be very useful when potential employers want to see my experience or extended resume. In other words, it is a way for me to showcase my development in my role as I pursue teaching. As I have already begun my electronic portfolio, I see the benefits for myself being just that: a way to showcase my background in education. When interviewing for jobs and positions, it will be an added attraction to give them information where they are able to see a clear visual of my experience.
Besides the pros of an electronic portfolio for myself, I anticipate using them with my students as well. ePortfolios intend to demonstrate student achievement and are developed throughout a course or program. In this process, students generate a collection of material and display it electronically. I see several possibilities and endless potential for the use of ePortfolios in my future K-12 classroom. First and foremost, I believe education is evolving and leaving the paper-based traditional education behind. I think utilizing ePortfolios will be extremely useful for students to become familiar with technology and build their foundation as they develop their education. I may assign this project to be group based or individual depending on the purpose and have students continue to reference and curate it over the course of the semester. Even as I think through this blog assignment, I am excited for the potential my students will have after I am able to teach them step by step how to create their very own portfolio!
Prior to this point, I have not been exposed to screencasting from a users perspective. I have however, watched several screencasts and wasn’t even aware of the work behind it! Examples of this are hair styling tutorials, step by step cooking directions and videos for online classes including this one! I am very thankful for screencasting because it offers a variety of benefits depending on both the purpose and the user. I may use screencasts to catch up on lectures that I missed, while my younger sister may need directions on how to make a recipe. Either way, we are both utilizing screencasts and as I prepare to make one of my own, I am excited to see what goes on behind the scenes of these tutorial videos!
Here is an example of a screencast:
Screencasting can be defined as a digital recording of what is on your computer screen with a narrating voiceover. Simply put, it is a way to capture anything that is displayed on your computer screen. Screencasting has several benefits when used correctly. Specifically, for educational purposes screencasting makes class time more productive for both teachers and students. Because topics can be discussed online, teachers have the freedom to dive deeper into certain issues or answer more questions during class time. In so many words, it takes the pressure off of trying to cover and absorb everything in class. Screencasting makes lectures reviewable and reusable which is a great tool for both educators and the students who may have been present during class (or absent) and want to review what was covered.
Another educational purpose for screencasting is feedback. When students submit work, I could create a screencast for each of them to give them a response that they could access repeatedly. Similarly, if I have a student who I know will be absent ahead of time, I can create a screencast specifically for them that will cover what they miss during class.
Screencasting also provides more time in which students can work collaboratively in groups. As a teacher I may use this feature with my students to complete group work. In addition, this technology helps to engage students in learning and gives them knowledge of content before class. In the case that I want my students to have some prior knowledge before a discussion, I can create a screencast for them to view so they are prepared to give feedback and ask clarifying questions.
These are just a few of the many benefits of using this educational tool. With the ideas from the videos, I can imagine several instances where screencasting would be helpful in class. Because a wide audience can view these links, parents could also benefit from screencasting just as much as their children!
Different sources for screen casting
“A wiki is a Web page that can be viewed and modified by any- body with a Web browser and access to the Internet. This means that any visitor to the wiki can change its content if they desire. While the potential for mischief exists, wikis can be surprisingly robust, open-ended, collaborative group sites.”
- What experiences have you had with wikis?
My experience with wikis is very minimal. I do not know much about them, although I have used Wikipedia for a number of searches and relevant information on certain topics. This would be the extent of my familiarity with wikis. Other than utilizing them as a search engine on occasion, I have already learned so much from the videos and assigned readings regarding the “how to” on creating and editing such tools.
- What potential uses do you see for wikis in today’s classrooms?
In today’s classroom, I could foresee the usage of wikis being enticing because of their simplicity and collaborative learning style. With the direct and immediate access to knowledge and information, students will thrive on the other side of how information is gathered and modified over time. With the usage of links, photographs, videos and other rich media included in the text-based content, students will be able to navigate and grasp a deeper understanding all from one area. Perhaps the most attractive facet of wikis in the classroom would be to edit and curate the information over time. I could see this being used more in the high school age range and would be a great opportunity for them to dive into the realm of collaborative learning.
- What do you think would be the advantages/disadvantages of using wikis with students?
Just as every idea has its advantages and disadvantages, wikis have several positive attributes as well as some down sides. Advantages of this tool would be to help students to collaborate on topics and enforce their level of interpretation on a topic. They could be both helpful and dangerous in that their information is always changing and being updated. Because of this, some information may be questionable in its reliability. However, with students creating their own wikis, they would be able to edit and modify text/pictures into a document that flows naturally as one voice. Although the final product of a wiki should appear to be one voice, they are written by many. Therefore, both an advantage and disadvantage is that the point of view is always collective. Furthermore, the perspective on and purpose behind using wikis with students could be biased. I would advise against using them as reliable sources but think it is a fascinating tool to help students develop and cultivate their thoughts over time in a group setting.
- How is PBL different from what is happening in most of today’s classrooms?
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge. PBL is vastly different than what is happening in most of today’s classrooms. Generally speaking, the classroom setting involves rows of students who, for the majority of the day or class period, listen to their instructor as they facilitate the information. At the conclusion of the day, they are sent home with assignments to complete independently. Finally, their knowledge and understanding of the concept is assessed by their performance on weekly tests. PBL on the other hand, has motives that involve collaboration and deal with topics that are designed to replicate “real world situations.” Through this method of learning, students are encouraged to critically think, collaborate and communicate, reinforcing what they’ve learned.
- How is PBL similar to or different from what you have experienced as a student?
As a student, this method of learning is both similar and different to my personal experience in the classroom. I grew up in a traditional school system where the primary way of studying and getting an education was individualized and “lecture” style teaching was a consistent theme. With that said, I did experience some aspects of PBL when assigned to work on a group project. However, these collaborative groups happened about twice a year and were heavily guided by our teachers.
- What is your impression of PBL? What do you think would be the advantages/disadvantages of PBL for our students?
I am very impressed and intrigued by the foundation of PBL. I am interested in seeing this type of learning in action and observing the students who are involved in this type of setting. The initial advantages I anticipate with PBL would be the flexibility and creativity for the students. I would imagine the boarders in a sense have been removed in this type of environment. Critical thinking, collaborating and communicating are not only valuable but essential tools that will be utilized daily in life regardless of the profession. Thus, I think PBL is an excellent way to prepare students for situations that are expected to come their way. A few disadvantages I foresee with project based learning are some students not contributing enough in the group effort. Due to the heavy emphasis on projects, I can imagine groups need to be designed specifically to help each individual student thrive and not simply get by. Another disadvantage I anticipate would be the lack of structure in the classroom. There are advantages to both the traditional school system and the PBL approach. In my opinion, the PBL approach may provide too much flexibility for the students. If there is a solution to being more geared towards projects but remaining consistent in structure, I believe students would have the opportunity to flourish and reach their potential.