Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is the Flat Classroom?

Although I can’t fully envision what the Flat Classroom experience will be like, I’m looking forward to working with the students. By allowing globally located students to work together to create a project, I believe they will grow in creativity, community and culture.

After watching The World is Flat, featuring Thomas Friedman, I’ve been noticing what he’s saying is true. We communicate daily in a horizontal fashion as technology has opened more doors for us. We’re also not competing with the guy down the street for a job, but the whole world.

Comparing this to text from the book, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, and Curtis W. Johnson, this trend shouldn’t be a big surprise. Christensen et al. discuss how education has been changing since the 1960’s and 1970’s when Japan became a major competitor of goods to the U.S. As the U.S. looked to schools to improve their status, they realized U.S. students didn’t fare as well as other countries and a revolution was begun (Christensen et al., 2008, 58).

To keep up with economic change, U.S. schools have stressed traditional subjects to stay on the educational playing field. The idea simply is that if our students can become proficient in the subjects other countries are learning, then as they enter the workforce, the U.S. will remain competitive. Therefore, since our schools have become more globally competitive, why shouldn’t we expect the global economic playing field to change?

Working horizontally in the education sector is beneficial for students who will one day enter the business world. The Flat Classroom Project is an example of this. Today’s use of technology encourages communication and innovation so why shouldn’t we promote global partnership (and competition) in our schools? We might as well know what we’re up against in the working arena.

Christensen. C., Horn, M. & Johnson, C. (2008). Disrupting class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Technology Integration Matrix

Recently in class we’ve been discussing the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) and how it  illustrates the way teachers can use technology to enhance learning for students. The TIM incorporates five characteristics of learning environments: active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, and goal directed. The TIM also recognizes five levels of technology integration including: entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation.  The five levels of technology integration and the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments are constructed to create a matrix of 25 cells. The TIM is designed to help schools evaluate the level of technology integration in classrooms and to provide teachers with models of how technology can be integrated into instruction in meaningful ways.
As part of our unit we constructed our own TIM including 5 activities. Here are mine, noted below.

TIM activity

Lesson 1: Google Docs Training

The Goal: Teachers should be able to utilize Google Docs in their classrooms.

Grade Level: Teacher Development (All grade levels)

Subject Area: Any/Training

Intended outcome: Learners should be able to understand and manipulate Google Docs for classroom activities.

Process: As a workshop, teachers would be trained on Google Docs to incorporate them into classroom communication and creativity. Though documents, presentations, and spreadsheets are heavily used, other options such as Forms will be reviewed as possible resources for student projects, grading sheets, or parent slips

Matrix Classification: Active/Adoption- Learners use technology [Google Docs] to create a product (spreadsheet, presentation, etc).

Example: This tool would work well to prepare presentations or word documents in group settings in the classroom. Students can work independently or collaborate with others to complete their assignments.  

Take it up a notch: Collaborative/Transformation

After teachers have incorporated Google Docs into their classroom and for collaborative work, they will work with another school outside of the setting to allow students to access experts and peers in another location. Using Google Docs, students will create a project with their distant peers and evaluate each other’s projects.

Lesson 2: Classroom sharing with Posterous Spaces

The Goal: Teacher will learn and utilize Posterous Spaces to post updates via photo to a blog for parents.

Grade Level: Teacher Development (All grade levels)

Subject Area: Any/Training

Intended outcome: After website introduction and review, teachers should be able to access posterous.com by email (post@posterous.com) to update their photo blog for parents.

Process: Teachers will be introduced to the website and create a photo blog for their classroom. After becoming familiar with the phone connection to the website, teachers can showcase their students at work, play, etc. and upload photos daily for parents to view.

Matrix Classification: Constructive/Infusion- Learners use technology to make connections between subjects and students while constructing understanding throughout the day.

Example: Once the instructor has a website to post to, they can easily document their students’ day and projects with a snap from their phone (or email it to the website, too). This would work well on field trips as parents would know what their kids were doing throughout the day.

Lesson 3: Teaching Photo Story 3 for use as a lab journal

The Goal: Learner should be able to construct a Photo Story video to show lab results from experiments.

Grade Level: Instructors or students (high school- university level)

Subject Area: Science

Intended outcome: Students will be able to create a video based on the lab results from a previous experiment.

Process: Instructors will be trained on creating a Photo Story as they will then use them in their classrooms for projects. As a biology class is working on dissecting a frog, each group will research their frog type, photograph the dissecting process and create a Photo Story lab journal to document the process.

Matrix Classification: Collaborative/Adaptation- Learners are able to select and modify technology tools to use in collaborative work (group projects or presentations).

Example: Students would collaborate in small groups to research and document the process of dissecting a frog. Students work to create a cohesive presentation that can be used on their personal websites to showcase their work. It also adds creativity to the learning process.

Lesson 4: Blogging newsletter to parents

Goal: Teacher should be able to write and edit a blog to use as a parent reference for important events.

Grade Level: Teacher Development

Subject Area: Any/Training

Intended outcome: Teachers will be able to know how to create and post a blog including: images, videos and podcasts. Blogs will be used to inform parents of previous week’s activities, upcoming dates and reminders and showcase student work. This is to cut down on paper and the chance of students losing notices from school.

Process: Teachers will be learning to effectively write a blog entry for parental viewing. Uploading photos from that week’s projects and updating a classroom calendar via blog will create an easy way for parents to keep up on news and their kids.

Matrix Classification: Constructive/Transformation- Teachers use technology to construct, share, and publish knowledge to a worldwide audience (classroom parents).

Example: Instead of sending out newsletters every week showing what students did or notifying parents of the upcoming events, teachers can use a blog to inform parents. The information will be documented and categorized so its easy for parents to use. Parents also don’t have to worry about missing any information from the classroom.

Take it up a notch: Goal-directed/Adoption

Students will follow instructions to use technology to either plan and evaluate their weekly activities. A possible assignment would be for a few students to write a weekly essay or create a vlog explaining what happened that week from their own view.

Lesson 5: Podcasting with Audacity

The Goal: Instructor can manipulate Audacity to record a podcast of daily lessons to post on their website as student resources.

Level: Teacher/Professor Development

Subject Area: Any/Training

Intended outcome: Instructor should be able to use Audacity to create their own podcasts featuring their daily lessons or lectures to allow students to look back on lessons as study guides or for students who missed class.

Process: Teachers will learn to create a podcast using the free software Audacity. They will then upload the podcast to their website, blog, etc. to allow students to reference the lessons as a study guide or when a student misses class.

Matrix Classification: Constructive/Entry- Technology is used to deliver information to students.

Example: Instead of having to explain assignments multiple times to students or creating study guides, using podcasts can create freedom for both parties. Students can reference the lessons at any time and as many times as they want and teachers can monitor how often they’re listened to and what points to reiterate.

Take it up a notch: Constructive/Adaptation

A lesson has been designed where students will use podcasts to build an understanding of the concept of lineage. Students will use podcasting to create a family tree. They are required to have at least two interviews of family members included in the final podcast.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What I think about the World Being Flat

For our fourth module in the Emerging Instructional Technologies class, we are participating in the Flat Classroom Project as “expert advisors.” We will be working with students from across the world as they develop written pieces and videos together.  In preparation for this unit, our class watched a video showcasing Thomas Friedmanand his book, The World is Flat.

In the video, Friedman remarks how the world has become interactive and collaborative in such a way that our economic structure has completely changed.  He also noted that we should consider this movement an achievement as this has brought more countries into economic stability.

Friedman gave several examples of how companies are surviving and growing through collaborations such as open-sourcing, supply chaining, insourcing and offshoring. He noted, however, that these forms of collaboration increase competition for jobs. This presentation was given six years ago at MIT, and our economy looks a little different today.  Would the effects of worldwide collaboration look any different today?

Materials and software for collaboration have trickled down into education where we readily use technology such as Google Docs for our classes and presentations. Students are becoming more horizontally challenged in which they must use resources and people around them to complete their schoolwork. This is the purpose and challenge of the Flat Classroom. Using the internet and social networking to cross cultural lines will enable students to gain more knowledge and life experience than they could in a classroom.

I think this exercise with the Flat Classroom Project will be very beneficial to me both as an instructor and a student. Working collaboratively, we can complete tasks and create projects will more creativity and exploration than we could before. Not only are we learning a new skill, but we’re also practicing communication with other cultures and incorporating new technologies into our studies. This should be an interesting unit!