On Publishing

Before anything else on this topic, I want to address a fact that I feel is relevant and important to this: I think that on the whole, creativity in schools needs to keep being emphasized even more than it already is. The maths and sciences are difficult for this, as a lot of the time we’re trying to teach methods to arrive at conclusions. But with computers, english, social, and other subjects, creativity and the desire to be creative should be put at the top of the list and encouraging creativity should be there before publishing is emphasized. (After all, you’re not going to publish a book that the author didn’t want to write.) It could very well be said that publishing content on the internet is a way to get students more interested in creating, but I also think that that drive to be creative needs to be there first.

Another side-note before I get into the nitty-gritty is my love of memes:


While memes are often simply cute pictures of cats online, they can also be a fantastic means of making statements in creative ways: As John Seeley Brown said, learning ecology is “a collection of overlapping communities of interest ( virtual), cross pollinating with each other, constantly evolving, and largely self organizing.” That’s one of the beautiful things about the internet: that many different types of information can come together and connections can be made more readily. Websites like Reddit are a hub of community and information and are excellent means by which to make differing topics of information relatable to each other. Or you can use it to look at cat pictures. That works too.

One of the great things about this Internet and Education course is the vast amount of resources that are provided for us. If you’re not savvy to the options of programs, software, and hardware out there, then so much is provided for us in these Topics for us to pick-and-choose from.

The first one I want to jump on is the idea of the flipped classroom. It’s something that I’ve really wanted to try ever since I first heard of them (and definitely something I want to give a go in my PSIII practicum). While there are obviously many concerns (students not coming to class prepared, lacking technology at home), I think that by showing students how easy it is to put your own content online, it will make that drive to be creative even stronger for them. Let’s look at Victoria Hart as an example:

Victoria Hart is a “Recreational Mathemusician” and ended up finding herself making videos full-time. She posts many math-related videos on Youtube and posts articles on her own personal website, vihart.com. Whether or not she wanted fame, she ended up finding it because of her funny illustrations and rants on mathematical concepts.

Another example is the musician Lindsey Stirling: she’s a violinist and since her rise to fame, she’s participated in many genres of music. One of the biggest reasons she became as big as she is is because she was able to make use of the internet (namely Youtube) to bring attention to herself and become recognized. She has performed musical tours, received numerous awards, and is a real-life story of an internet sensation.

While neither Vi nor Lindsey started their craft because of the internet and their ability to share their work, the ability to do so certainly helped to craft them and their creativity. By promoting tools such as Youtube to students, we can inspire them to want to create by sharing their work with the world (which is obviously a much wider community than friends and family are). That’s what this topic is really about, I think: wanting to have students share their work and inspire greater creativity.

That being said, I fear that we as teachers are up against a high-inertia opponent on this one: I’ve found that (mostly higher grade) students really don’t want to put themselves out their or to share their own work. I’ve seen cases where students will avoid answering questions on a test for fear of getting them wrong, or not wanting their work to be displayed because they don’t want others to judge their work. It’s quite a frightening scenario, honestly, but I also think that by promoting these means of sharing with a wider (and largely more anonymous) community of people can help students to regain that lost confidence and, once again, promote that level of creativity that may be suppressed.

Of course Youtube isn’t the only resource for this; websites like DeviantArt and Pinterest can be used for sharing art, photography, and writing, Thingiverse for digital models, and WordPress or Weebly for blogs and personal websites are all examples of how we can promote students sharing their work. We’re living in a world where literally anyone with a phone or computer can put their work out there. Many students already do this with Twitter and Facebook, but our job should be to promote more than just sharing what they had for dinner, it should be to encourage that higher-level Blooms and get them creative!

But not too creative… :/

Significant Comments:




On Communication (Again)

The content of the internet can be a scary place. But the reason for this is because people can be equally as scary. (Is it any wonder that I’m an introvert?)


Topic 4 of this Internet and Education course is kind of a funny one for me because the topic boils down to the concepts of chatting, video conferencing, and IMing online. Like I’ve said before: I’m no stranger to the internet or talking with people through it. There was once upon a time when I was so bullied that I was literally not allowed to have friends at school, so I went and found friends online. Gaia Online, Nexopia, MSN Messenger, and MySpace were some of my favourite haunts and I met people all over the world to spend my time with. Often at lunch or after school, I would get home and immediately hop on the computer because my friends in England and Israel were just going to bed, or the ones in Australia and Japan were just waking up. It was a grand time, and I learned a lot about people around the world. Eventually, I even went and visited some of them.

But I keep coming back to the idea of using online communications in the classroom, and quite honestly I keep finding myself at a loss for answers as to “why would I have students talk to other people online?”

Let’s start with forums: Forums are probably one of the top forms of online communication that I would encourage. Using websites like Reddit to look for and find information and answers to problems (like the amazing subreddit, Explain Like I’m 5: http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/) is a great alternative source to using Google, and even just browsing (like I do every single day) can lead to some amazing finds and can help me to keep up on current events.

Onto IMing: I’m pretty sure that the single best reason that I can type as quickly as I can and without being a two-finger-typer or watching my hands is because I spent SO much time on MSN Messenger when it was still around. But quite frankly, that’s the only application of IMing that I could possibly think of for using IMing as a teaching resource. If you (as a teacher) were using it with the intent of finding information from a specific person, then video conferencing would be a much better experience.

On Video conferencing: It’s a great tool. You could meet with people from all proverbial corners of the world without even needing to put on pants… but like pretty much every other specific topic that has been offered in this topic, I really don’t feel like there’s a good use for it in education. Sure you can interview a scientist, author, or go on a virtual tour, but I feel like the novelty of the experience often eclipses the useful portion and students just walk away thinking, “that was neat, but what did we talk about again?” (I feel this way because that’s been my personal experience with it.) I could be a bit jaded and outdated in that regard though, since technology has come forward a lot since it was introduced to me as a student. Video calls are no longer things you just see in the Jetsons: they’re part of every day life.


In summary of all this, I honestly feel a bit jaded. I love technology and I love the idea of having it in my classroom, but whenever something like video conferencing or chatting online comes up as a possibility, I always end up feeling like the effort required to make it happen far outweighs any benefit, mostly because the benefits are superficial. There are certainly some aspects of the curriculum that are worth exploring with regards to communicating online; namely things like digital citizenship, web awareness and safety (which are absolutely important, there’s no doubt), but in terms of teaching specific course content, I simply feel like there are better and more effective ways of doing it. After all, part of the ICT curriculum is that we as teachers need to recognize when technology is useful and when it becomes a distraction. I would really like someone to change my mind on the matter, but until then, I feel that in the classroom this sort of thing can’t possibly amount to anything more than a distraction or minor amusement.

Significant Comments: 



On Communication

Communication is a funny thing. In this day and age, “communication” is nearly synonymous with “technology,” thinking about keeping in touch with people over long distances instantly, but so much of the communicating that we do has been reduced from incorporating all our senses to only using one: our eyes. Text-based communication is, in many ways, the way that people talk to each other en mass now, but that’s not just an electronic change either: the Gutenberg Press made the written word available to anyone with the ability to read, and all of a sudden people around the city, country, and world were able to communicate with each other over great lengths of distance and time. Current technology, in particular the text message, is a oddity because while it keeps us connected with each other, it also allows for a certain amount of anonymity provided behind the safety of a screen. Phones themselves are almost an anachronism because many people use their phones for everything BUT making phone calls.

That being said, new media is really bringing back the integration of the senses in many ways. Programs like Skype allow us to see and hear people over long distances, and tools like video games and the internet allow for bidirectional communication interactions through various software and applications. By bringing the sense back together in terms of communication, people are able to get more out of a message than when using a medium through which only one sense is being utilized.

One of the biggest things that I took away from this assigned reading was the need for varied means of communication within the classroom. We as teachers need to always be on the lookout for what’s best for student learning, and I think that very rarely will that need be met by simply having students learn through the same medium over and over. In high school chemistry, the only way that my teacher would teach was by having us copy notes off of the overhead on the board, and I can safely say that that did me no favours.

While utilizing the internet or video games to teach classroom may not always be the easiest means by which to make a point, it is beneficial if in no other way than by using a variety of methods to keep students interested in the course content. Many students will thrive on “new” means of teaching, while others won’t so much. But by bringing in multiple lines of communication to the classroom, we’ll be better able to address the needs of all the students and not just the few.

Significant Comments