Wednesday, June 30, 2010

EDUC 504: Memories and Standards and Games, oh my! (Reflection on June 30 Class)

First in a series of posts reflecting on class meetings of Education 504: Teaching with Technology

I have been pleasantly surprised by how all the different classes (5 and counting -- we'll get the sixth in a few weeks) in the SMAC program have been focused on the overall teaching experience in addition to the specific subject matter of the class. That trend continued today with the exercise in discussing our best and worst memories from our high school experience. (My best was my high school orchestra trip to Europe, which provided an exciting adventure, an experience of independence, challenging and beautiful musical performances, and lots of fun with great friends. My worst was when my classmates and I made two different teachers cry due to our disengagement due to their challenges in teaching us.)

That being said, I was a little surprised that we spent so much of the first class (an hour?) walking down memory lane with a pretty lose connection to technology in teaching. Probably valuable overall, and I understand that the instructors wanted to emphasize the focus on Teaching, not just with Technology, but I'm not sure about the use of time.

I thought the technique of using the google form embedded in a wiki was brilliant (it is possible I'm too engaged by shiny tricks), and I look forward to using that to aggregate student responses in say, a pre-unit base knowledge evaluation.

The next hour spent on the national technology in teaching standards was a bit murky for me. I understand that there's a tension between making standards so general as to be useless and so specific as to be stifling. I think these standards were aiming for a middle ground, but ended up being fairly mushy -- abstract but convoluted -- language. I would have been greatly helped by some non-prescriptive concrete examples, and indeed the only way I made sense of it was trying to come up with what they might concretely look like in our "cafe chat" groups.

I'm intrigued by the discussions of texting and video games and looking forward to learning more about how to use them to engage students in meaningful learning, and also how to set appropriate guidelines around their use.


  1. Great thoughts, Emily, and definitely things that were rattling around as we were debriefing as well (we're blogging over at As for Google Forms and wikis, sometimes the cool stuff is actually useful cool stuff! I've found Google Forms to be extremely helpful in quickly gathering data and then letting me see and sort the results in many different ways. So for me, it perfectly fits my "more valuable ways" mantra. It's better than paper: faster, aggregated data, and I don't accidentally find someone's responses buried under a pile on my desk. :)

  2. To respond to KF's comment: I also am looking forward to the day when I won't have trouble finding one specific note, or paper, lost in the 3D world. That all of the data is saved forever, is both helpful and a bit terrifying.

    Emily, your coherent blogging is like a fresh breeze. I don't know how you are able to get such detail out of your class notes, I am struggling with that & have to get a better system, so that I don't miss the essential points. I used to carry around large binders, but that is no longer the way, must learn to do notes on computer.
    About the fuzziness of the National Technology Standards we were given, I also would like to see a few concrete examples. There seem to be many overlaps, and I wonder if activities can logged as having met multiple subcategories. This is my 1st time blogging, so am trying to catch up, and often find myself a little (but only a little) lost in the pages and amounts of ways it can be used.

  3. Let go of the paper, Kathy! Preview lets you annotate pdfs! You can highlight and take notes and everything!

  4. I am not so sure I understood the point of going 'down memory lane' as EmVA noted. I don't always find such things useful. Mostly I think I have put so many things from HS behind me (many, many years behind me). I guess the point was to see what has stuck in our memories but I mostly only remember the trivial. It was interesting that most of the stuff people shared had little to go with the class room learning and that too may have been the point. What students take with them is often the 'other stuff' of the environment and experiences and not so much the content.

  5. What I found interesting about the memory lane exorcise wasn't so much about telling my memories (as I've got a bad memory and haven't retained a lot of them) but rather hearing what everyone else found most memorable. I realize we'd already come a long way in bonding as a group, but I think it contributed a bit more to that, and perhaps served as a decent segway into thinking about why technology wasn't more prevalent in our memories.

  6. George, I'm kind of with you on the memory lane thing. My 20th HS reunion was last year, so it doesn't really feel like HS experiences have that great a bearing on my self anymore.

    As I posted elsewhere, the vagueness of the standards felt pretty familiar to me from corporate world experience. I same them as really being written for the state level and then teachers at the school level would use them as guidelines for their own much more specific standards.

    The part of the first class I had the most issue with was the whole class discussion after the standards part. It felt to me too much like one on one, professor to individual student questioning, without allowing for a broad range of views to be voiced from the whole cohort .... just my two cents.