Chosen Medium

When planning out my response for this week’s discussion, I had to create a visual to help me reflect. My medium that I am using is Google docs, with embedded images of my work in progress. I just bought a new stylus for my iPad and love the Evernote Penultimate app. I have also used MyScript Memo, which is useful because you can switch from written notes to text. I am trying to incorporate more evidence of planning using technology into what I share for multiple reasons. First, I want a record of how technology affords us conveniences in our daily life. Second, the path that I am on with knowledge sharing is only credible when I can say that I walk the walk, not just talk the talk. This is something that all reading consultants/coaches face when working with staff. If you can not substantiate what you are doing by providing evidence of your own blood, sweat and tears, it’s not worthy of sharing. Third, I have decided to use Google docs to share so I can thread a conversation for feedback. This is a type of virtual discussion based on the assignment and an exchange of ideas. 

Discussion Prompt #1

Conversation, discussion, presentation.    What are they and how do they appear in your professional life?    If you were to diagram the power relationships in each of them,  what would the diagrams look like?     Which are technology-enhanced and which technology impeded?   Is there anything about the current status and role of these in your present professional situation that you would like to change?
I created a matrix to show how each facet of our readings affects me professionally. The conversation, discussion and presentation element of our profession is present during informal, as well as formal settings. Each example can fit into different categories, but it identifies that whether it is formal, or informal, teachers are always “on” while communicating.

Formal

Students

Teachers/Admin

Parents

Conversation

in class, online, individual, workshop conferencing

faculty meetings, common plan, data teams, office

phone, email, PPTs, 504

Discussion

in class, online

PPT

phone, email, PPTs, 504

Presentation

class websites, powerpoint, prezi, other Web 2.0 tools

PPT, faculty meetings, collaboration, SAT meetings

Internet, district meetings, parent workshops, websites

 

Informal

Students

Teachers/Admin

Parents

Conversation

hallways, class, library, school events, instant messaging

hallways, teachers room, parking lot, lunch

events, social networks, social media, grocery store

Discussion

blogging, social networking (Edmodo), Google docs

hallways, teacher’s room, parking lot, lunch

events, social networks, grocery store, around town

Presentation

shared links, videos, research

Internet share, email, resources, text/instant messages

mobile devices,

 

Technology has afforded more ways to communicate with with staff, students and parents than ever before. There is the good and the bad that go along with that. When we can share information with our students, peers and parents effectively, we are happy and we are heros. Parents can log on and see assignments that are due, past due and will be due soon. This helps parents set up expectations for their children, as well as define what the teacher needs from the students. Communicating with parents has been enhanced through technology, and having access to student grades has been as well. All of these ways to communicate, discuss and present information to parents has been positively influenced by technology (at least from my view as a reading consultant, and a parent of a fifteen year old student). Logging in and seeing my daughter’s grades is much easier when having a conversation with her than waiting for the teacher to return an email or phone call and then explaining where she is in the class and why.

The use of email and social networking has also built relationships with teachers. The lines between personal and professional get crossed frequently, however, one still needs to be aware that he/she is always “on” as an educator. Each text, posting, blog or photo shared represents you as a professional. There are ways to share information formally and informally, and always have the awareness that you are making everything public. Using technology to create and share has set some educators in separate categories. Who may share too much, not enough? We discussed digital identities and footprints in our other course, but do we truly understand that what and how we share affects us professionally? Is one teacher better because she uses Edmodo for her classroom conversations on a topic? Does one instructor have a deeper understanding of content because he uses presentations he found while searching the Internet? These are questions we have when we question the new standards and the integration of technology. The Common Core State Standards embed technology into daily practices. What happens to the teacher who has not “grown up” with technology? Does he or she have less to offer students?

Whether technology enhances or impedes our lives is truly a personal answer. I embrace and enjoy discovering new ways of sharing and engaging students. Is that because I lack some content knowledge on topics, and the technology fills that gap? That could be the answer. I know teachers who understand the usefulness of what online sharing, collaborating and viewing does for a student, however, do not participate in making it a daily practice. With teachers who have not been raised on the Internet, are teachers who use it for everything, and may I add, sometimes, ineffectively. When an educator does not have a deep understanding of the curriculum, he or she can not decipher the true meaning of how the technology will enhance the lesson. Therefore, the lesson may become about the technology instead of the objective.

During the reading of the passages for Alone Together, there were many distinct moments that stuck out. First, the discussion between the Rich and Kismet, the robot, disturbed me. I was actually uncomfortable at the “play” that the author, Sherry Turkle was creating with the dialogue. The background about the caregiving robots, as well as the chapter “Always On” provided accurate insight to how humans interact with technology. I have read articles in professional journals on how creating Second Life avatars and communities is a new instructional tool. I am not sure I have completely jumped on that train yet. However, there is enough interest behind it to make it worth exploring.

Much of the “Always On” chapter hit home because of how we interact with our devices whether it is with students, staff or parents. The love for being connected 24/7 is relevant, and as educators, we can take advantage of it. There is still something valuable in connecting with people face to face. As teachers, we thrive on those moments of clarity and validation that we see in the eyes of who we connect with. To replace that human contact with technology takes away from the emotional connection. A perfect example is our meeting face to face with the class in a few weeks. It seemed as if we were always more relaxed when we are able to meet and discuss in person, rather than via the Internet (despite whichever tool we were using). Technology has given us gifts of convenience, however, the preference of gathering socially is still important. In Turkle’s book, she provides information on how the Japanese have already said that cell phones, texting, instant messaging, email and online gaming have created social isolation. Even when we are together, we are engaged with our devices, not each other. Maybe that is the comfort level that some of us can not leave behind yet. Where students that we are teaching now, have NEVER had to go a day without a device. These students do not know what it was like to not be instantly connected to everything and anything. Does it make one childhood better than the other? Only to the person who can not change with the times.

I truly do not wish to change anything related to technology in our field. I believe that when given the proper training and support, technology can only enhance the instructional practices of our teachers.  The convenience it affords the community is irreplaceable. The parents, teachers and students can build independence and use the additional time they have to do other projects and practices to enhance their lives.

Currently, I am assisting some teachers develop their professional learning through the creation and support of an Edmodo blog. The teachers are doing a book study, and although I am not reading the text, I am involved in supporting the members within the social network. It is funny to see some of the comments that the teachers share among other community members, and what a learning curve some of them have. Teachers who are self-proclaimed “tech savvy” users can not navigate through the site and post responses in the proper place. The choice to do this blogging on this site was so that teachers can then become comfortable with the technology and incorporate it into their instructional practices. I will say that despite the frustrations, it is pleasing to see the teachers develop a social connection with the common text. The conversation at lunch centers around posts and responses, as well as side emails for support. These are all ways of connecting, albeit informal, but a different level of togetherness.
Discussion Prompt #2

Feedback.    Please describe what sort of feedback you want from me.   I am trying to challenge your thinking with the comment feature running throughout the text, but that forces you into Google docs.– a limitation, —-while the global comments features in the other formats don’t seem detailed enough to me.   Maybe it’s my age: I am missing the private conversations before after and during  face to face classes.  What are your thoughts and suggestions?

I believe that the feedback you are providing has been supportive and meaningful. The readings that have been assigned have been thought-provoking and enlightening. I do feel that I have a deeper understanding of communication from reading and viewing the chosen texts. I have shared some with staff, informally, to get feedback from them as well. I do not want to feel that I stand above anyone I work with, but am constantly searching for ways to put all of this together to “share” what we have learned. I like to do that face to face, although I let technology be an assistive device. One thing I had learned when I was going for my masters in reading was to not become the “memo writer.” I guess I just aged myself – I was in school on the cusp of the email explosion. I always need to be on the front line experiencing best practices in order to be credible. I believe that as an instructor, you are providing us with what you want us to know. We are all information sharers. When I read the posts that you send out via email, I can visualize you discussing it with the class. The downfall is not having the back and forth “discourse” we all love so.

Is it possible to do a Google Hangout instead of a reflective post? If that is one way we can respond to our reading, we can connect visually, conversationally and emotionally to each other, but still have the deeper meaning of the reading. I do feel that there are limitations to reflecting in one format, however, when I have tried others, I feel like I fall flat. We had some “conversation” about using Google Presentation for a reflection and I was actually happy that you saw that it was not an effective piece. I tried something new, and now I can speak personally about how presentation tools may not be good for reflective pieces. My “aha” moments come from personal blunders. 🙂

 Could we possible try something through Google that creates a conversation and a thread for discussion? Through Google Communities, we can actively read and post to a prompt you provide. It will be closed to the group members, but we can all provide feedback to each other and then possible link some outside information to the discussion thread to make it more global. We can interview colleagues to gain insight or input on topics that we may or may not be strong in, and share our community with members of different groups or classes. These are just random thoughts, however, I am envisioning what I would like to experience for my district via professional development/training. The experiences we have had through these courses have been inspirational. To say they need to be different is tough. The class members have so much to offer in their own ways. We are lucky to be a part of such an amazing group of educators.

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