Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Dependence on Technology

So I wanted to show you all this awesome video that my boyfriend Adam made. It's a really funny take on society's dependence on technology. I'm tempted to do this challenge myself but I would struggle without my cell phone. I would like to think I could live without my computer, tv, or video games, but I guess I would only know if I tried.

I've talked with Adam about this a lot and Alex's limitations in the film is that he can't use any technology for entertainment purposes; cellphones, radio, tv, video games, or computer. I know this a premise that has been done before but I love that this is locally made and has a Canadian context. In Adam's words, his purpose was "to show how dependent our generation is on the constant flow of information and stimulation through electronics and instant internet access from virtually anywhere at any time". I love how Alex goes through withdrawal by about day 5. This makes me believe that many people are in fact addicted to technology and that your body will react accordingly if you decide to quit. It shines a new light on the epidemic that is technological reliance in our society.

Another video linked to this idea:

A funny way to critically examine some key aspects of our current society.

Monday, February 7, 2011

New Technologies in the Classroom

Last week we discussed the use of new technologies in the classroom. This could be anything from a SmartBoard to cell phones to iPads. The amount of new technologies available is staggering. Some people, especially teachers, would argue that education is adopting technology too quickly whereas others firmly believe that we need to incorporate as much technology into the classroom as possible. I'm a little torn on the matter. I can see how use of technologies such as SmartBoards and iPads could be beneficial to our students but other issues arise such as higher costs and ethical issues. The school that I am student teaching at has a laptop cart that moves from classroom to classroom and I think the laptops are assigned to a handful of students to share. These students are not, however, allowed to take the laptops home and the Internet at the school does have a blocker for sites such as e-mail, and Facebook. There is also a computer lab at the school equipped with top notch Macs but I get the feeling the students prefer to use the laptops. I think this is a great use of technology as it's fully monitored and the students can't really get themselves into any trouble. But with technologies such as cell phones and iPads, I think more ethical issues could potentially arise.
Most schools have a ban on cell phones as they feel they are distracting to a student's learning. I agree with this 100% and I wonder if allowing them in the class for educational purposes would cause more issues than it would solve. I've heard of some teachers, more specifically professors, who have used cell phones to get students to text in their answers to an online poll. While this is a good way to anonymously get students to participate, this also gives them the opportunity to use their cell phones in class for non-educational purposes. As far as iPads are concerned, I know there are some fabulous Apps available and it is an incredibly intuitive piece of equipment if you know what you're doing. But there are also some ridiculous Apps available that I would argue have no value whatsoever. And I think it would be hard to ensure that students stay on task, even if they are working in small groups using one iPad. The newness of this particular technology is a little worrisome to me and I'm not sure how I would best use it.
I really like the idea of the SmartBoard but I think it some ways it's a glorified white board. The challenge with that particular technology is using it in a way that is both creative and intuitive, not simply using it because it's there. I haven't had the opportunity to use a SmartBoard in a classroom yet but I would love the opportunity to work with one and find unique ways to incorporate it into my teaching.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

An Issue of Plagarism

I know many of my classmates have discussed plagiarism and copyright in their blogs but I'll throw in my two cents since we've spent quite a large amount of time in class on these issues. I agree that it's an extremely complex issue and the lines are very vague. Dr. Hylnka shared a story in class of one student being expelled from University for plagiarising, which I have mixed emotions over. One on hand, I completely understand the need to cite your sources and give credit where credit is due. On the other hand, perhaps this student simply had inadequate training as fair as citing his sources. When I was in my first year of University, I handed in a paper for Music History I in which I didn't cite anything, simply because I had never been taught in High School the conventions of proper citation. Thankfully my professor was extremely understanding and gave me a passing grade because I had a proper reference list. Now, perhaps if I had had a less understanding Professor, I too may have been expelled from University for a mistake I didn't know I was making.
This brings up the question of whose ideas are they anyway? I've always been much better at writing English papers because they are opinion based. I can't really steal anyone else's ideas because I am using one text, usually a novel, and my interpretation is coming from my brain alone. I simply need to be able to back up my opinion with proof from the text. I've always struggled with writing History papers though because I'm unsure as to what's common knowledge (such as date of birth, etc.), and what is someone else's ideas. And how did this person develop these ideas anyway? How can you discover something about a composer who's been dead for 300 years? It's all very blurry to me and I find that now I cite everything and very rarely use my own words in fear of plagiarising.
It's true that plagiarism in music is treated very differently. Composers borrow ideas from other pieces of music all the time. Generally, this is considered to be a tribute to that composer, not a stealing of ideas. And I suppose there's only so many notes you can use while writing a piece of music using the western system, whereas there are a plethora of words to choose from when using the English language.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

An Issue in Ethics

The presentation by John Finch on Tuesday (Jan.25/11) was both useful and intriguing. He made some very interesting points about the semantics used in the resource document such as "Literacy w/ ICT" rather than "ICT Literacy," and "computer literacy" vs. "21st Century Technology." I agree that "computer literacy" has become an inadequate term as so much of how we use technology is going beyond the use of computers. It's hard to believe in the five years since I've graduated from high school that technology has evolved so rapidly and that the curriculum has changed with it. I was never required to take a keyboarding class (rather it was implemented into my grade 4 class I believe), but some of my colleagues who are only two or three years older than myself took it as a requirement to pass high school. Although, I'm sure there are students out there who would benefit from such a class being offered. I feel as educators, we too often assume that all children have access to technology which can sometimes get us into trouble.
In some ways I am glad the resource document Mr. Finch gave us exists while at the same time have concerns about it. I like that it is a continuum rather than a curriculum as Mr. Finch pointed out, teachers already have too much pressure on them to implement the curriculum and reach those outcomes. On the other hand, I have concerns with the involuntary implementation. There are simply some content areas where technology may be harder to implement (I don't think impossible but the challenges are certainly steeper), and I don't like feeling pressured into using something I am not 100% comfortable with and may not benefit my students.
Technology is certainly an ethical issue and I'm glad to see this resource document addresses these issues. I had never really thought about how I analyze information before until Mr. Finch mentioned "reliability," "validity," and "currency." I most certainly evaluate information using this criteria but I realized not all students have this ability. It's a challenge to teach as well, especially if students have not been taught strong morals outside of school. Technology has given children a means to behave inappropriately that is both sickening and frightening. The instances of "sexting" are mind-blowing and the quote that teenagers are going to need to change their name to escape their digital past, while an exaggeration, certainly holds some truth. The attached video is extremely sad but so much of the blame is placed on the school rather than the parents. Interesting stuff.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Technology and Multi-tasking

I was intrigued by the videos that we watched last class (Jan.11/11) in that I've never really contemplated the affects media has on children's everyday lives. During my last practicum slot I was somewhat appalled at that types of music my students enjoyed (Ke$ha anyone?) and I did discuss with my CT how some material was inappropriate for middle years students to be viewing (Jersey shore comes to mind) but I suppose that I feel it's inevitable. We can't possibly monitor what children are viewing (I personally believe that is the responsibility of the parents) but I can see how it can affect our teaching practices. And is viewing this type of material impacting the development of children or skewing their perspective on the world? Obviously no one really has the answers but it's interesting to think about.
I also related to those videos more than I would initially like to admit. It's easy for me to dismiss the behaviour of the children on the video who were texting 200 times a day or using their computer while watching tv, as I'm probably worse than most of them (I sent over 4000 texts last month and it's very rare that I am not multi-tasking in some way or another). But I like to feel as though I'm a little better behaved than those kids on the video as I still have "real" relationships. I am able to hold a conversation on the phone or in person and I don't depend on technology as my only means of communicating. Technology is more of a tool to keep in contact with people I may have otherwise lost contact with.
I'm also very particular about the types of technology that I choose to adopt. I love my iphone and could never go back to a "normal" cell phone. I love video games and am usually an early adopter of new consoles. But I have a nearly 6 year old laptop (ibook G4), which sadly performs worse than my iphone, and I'm using a 20" tv. So in some ways I'm technologically savvy whereas I fail miserably in other regards.