Category: Digital Literacy

Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

Two years ago at the beginning of the fall semester, I was given the chance to speak to the faculty on my campus about technologies for teaching and getting organized, which is how the mindmaps Web 2.0 for You and Organize Your Digital Self were born.  Now two years have gone by, and I’ve given both of these talks (updated with each presentation) all over the country in various formats. This year, the Faculty Association invited me to give another talk about what I’ve learned about technology and teaching.  Although I got to choose the specifics,  I figured it had to be a departure from these other two talks (since at least 1/3 of the faculty have seen those).  After much thought and gnashing of teeth, I decided to focus on learning more than teaching, or rather, how the way we teach should be motivated by what we want students to learn. This brings up the rather sticky question, What should students be learning today? To answer this, I did a lot of research and reading.  In K-12, there are several state initiatives to infuse “21st Century skills” into the classroom – many of these initiatives are part of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (which has an excellent website).  Another organization that is leading the way aims at adult education: Equipped for the Future (EFF) is housed in...

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What if there was a Google for Math?

What if you could go to a free and readily available website and enter an equation, an expression, a question about math, a request to analyze data, or anything else, and the site would answer your question, elaborate on it, give you all the steps for the mathematical work, etc.? Did that make you uneasy or excited? Well, ready or not, it’s going online at 7pm CST today, and I think we ought to pay some attention to this. Wolfram Alpha You can watch a screencast about Wolfram Alpha here. It does have the potential to seriously wreak havoc on the way we teach math today if students can simply copy all their work from an A.I. website.  Whether you think that it’s time that somebody forced a change, or whether you think it’s just hype and not really a threat, I think we should all be aware that after today, it exists. Possibly Related Posts: Contemporary Algebra Collection (new resources 2/4/2019) Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast about ESIL Lens Add Graphs In The World to Courses ESIL: A Learning Lens for the Digital Age Taking the Algebra Out of College...

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Web Tools for Student Learning

I’m in the DC area for a couple days and I was supposed to do a presentation to students at UMD today called “There’s More to the Web than Facebook.” Description: If you think the Internet is for playing games, catching up with friends, and downloading music and videos, you’re right! But there’s a lot more out there that you could be using to help you with your education.  Use Mindmaps to organize a research topic for that long paper.  Find another lecture or a tutorial on a topic you’re having trouble with.  Meet with a group online to discuss a group project.  Write a paper with a group without emailing it back and forth.  Watch some of the most mindblowing video clips on cutting-edge research. Facebook IS great, but there are other Internet applications you should check out too! Unfortunately, several inches of snow closed the UMD campus today, but there’s no reason you still can’t play with the presentation map! The active map of this presentation can be found here. For the record, I should probably admit  that after avoiding Facebook for years, I finally succumbed to the lure of FB in December.  I was pleasantly surprised that, although it is an excellent way to whittle away your time, I enjoy the time spent catching up with old (and new) friends.  I think it is one of...

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Education, Competition, and the Environment

This video Did You Ever Wonder? produced by Bill Farren, provides, according to the author, a counterpoint to the Did You Know? by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod. Did You Wonder… – video powered by Metacafe Here are some of the great quotes that I pulled from the video and a few of my musings: Quote from Alfie Kohn: “so few children seem to take pleasure from what they’re doing on a given weekday morning, … ” Is it just me? Or is this “lack of pleasure” seen in adults too! Quote from Amory Lovins: “There is no cost difference between incarceration and an Ivy League education. The main difference is the curriculum.” California spends three times as much on its prisons than its University system. Quote from Hunter Lovins: “What is the purpose of education if not for future generations?” Now that’s a quote I can sink my teeth into. As educators we can’t dwell on “how we learned it” – we’ve already been educated and have moved into the world community, but the students we teach need to be prepared for the world they will enter. If that means that instructors will have to continue to be learners themselves – so be it. Quote from Edwin Land: “It’s not that we need new ideas, it’s that we need to stop having old ones.” Overall, I need more...

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Suggestions from the Age of Distraction

A reading assignment for today: The Age of Distraction: The Professor or the Processor? by Michael Bugeja (published in The Futurist magazine) The question that Bugeja poses: Are digital distractions the cause of lowered performance measures for students? He argues that we’ve spent a lot of money on technology in education. Have we seen results? It’s a good question. It’s not an argument against technology, per se, I think he’s just making the point that we may need to retake our learning environments from technology distractions (like improper laptop use, cellphone texting, video games on calculators, etc.). Bugeja writes about what he calles “interpersonal intelligence” which he defines as “knowing when, where, and for what purpose technology is appropriate or inappropriate.” He suggests teaching incoming students some basic interpersonal intelligence. At my college, we have a seminar designed to teach students study skills, and perhaps this is where these questions belong, in addition to being reiterated in other freshman-level classes: Are you being exploited by the media? Is your internet impulse purchasing destroying your budget? When has using technology distracted you from accomplishing something? Do you have real-person communication skills, like meeting your neighbors or talking to the students in your group? How is instant feedback different from critical thinking? Hmm. I may need to revisit the third bullet point myself. I know that technology (specifically writing these blog...

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