Innovation as Learning Ethic: A Wicked Problem

For the past several weeks, my CEP 812 classmates and I have been working toward solving wicked problems. Though seemingly impossible, my group has been tackling making innovation part of the learning ethic. We’ve brainstormed, discussed, came up with a visual representation, and wrote a report on our ideas to solve this wicked problem. The rough draft of our project is available here.

Technology Integration with Communities of Practice

This week for CEP 812 we created a survey for our communities of practice. The questions asked teachers what technologies they use in their instruction, how often the technology was used, and also questions about professional development. The survey I created for my community of practice is available here. After reviewing the responses, I wrote a report of my findings which is available here.

Informational Diet

This week, in CEP 812, we are asked to reflect on our information diet, specifically in terms of the sources we use for our professional information. Since starting the MAET program, I’ve used twitter to gain insightful information about education. After listening to Henry Jenkins speak about participatory culture and the formation of Dumbledore’s Army, it’s easy to see how a group of people who have similar interests can use social media and the internet in general to get together and make major change in our society based on receiving digital information based on their interests (Jenkins, 2011).

However, until listening to Eli Pariser’s TED talk: “Beware Online Filter Bubbles”, I had never really thought about how the information I receive on a daily basis is filtered, nor did I really think of it as a problem. “There’s kind of this shift in how information is flowing online and it’s invisible, and if we don’t pay attention to it, it could be a real problem” (Pariser 2011). Pariser explains that when information is filtered for us and we have no say in what we actually have access to nor do we even know what has been filtered out, it limits our knowledge and prevents us from being challenged by other viewpoints.

Lastly, Nicholas Carr reminds us in his talk, “The Dark Side of the Information Revolution” to focus on our information diets with limited to no distractions. “As we constantly shift our attention to various bits of information all day long, we lose our ability to distinguish important information from trivial” (Carr, 2010). All the more reason for teachers to instill good practices with students, modeling how to manage only the required information for the specific task.

To challenge my own information diet, I began following three new twitter handles this week, all of which I normally would not have even bothered to look at. First, is the Marzano Evaluation twitter page. My current school district uses the Marzano evaluation system to evaluate teachers and I have felt that the way the Marzano system is set up so that evaluators can easily check off boxes instead of really looking at the effectiveness of my teaching. I am impressed to see tweets that does promote good teaching. This does not totally surprise me, as I do feel that Marzano’s research does promote good teaching strategies, I just feel that maybe this system is not the best way to evaluate teachers.

The second handle I began following is No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This law was put in place under the Bush Administration and something that, in my opinion, left many children behind. So when I searched this twitter handle, I was not expecting anything great. On the contrary, this feed provides a plethora of posts and articles about how NCLB has not worked and how an increase in school testing is now the norm. This showed me to “not judge of book by its cover” or in this case “don’t judge a twitter handle by its name”!

The last twitter handle I began following is Race to the Top NY, which was a handle dedicated to NY winning the federal funds for education. A few things about this feed: first, the last tweet was from 2011, so the information is from the past, and therefore many of the links to articles/posts did not work. Next, the information that was available promotes Charter schools in New York as a way to improve the education in the state. I find all of this to go against the education reform I believe in–I feel that free quality public education should be the norm for all students and there should not have to be a race between states for federal funds to receive this type of education.

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References:

Carr, N. (2010). The Economist. The Dark Side of the Information Revolution. Retrieved from: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid57825992001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAADXaozYk~,BawJ37gnfAnGoMxEdQj_T9APQXRHKyAC&bctid=1128986496001

Jenkins, H. (2011). Media Scholar Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture and Civic Engagement. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgZ4ph3dSmY&feature=youtu.be

Pariser, E. (2011). Beware online “filter bubbles”. Retrieved from: http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html

 

Response to Gee

This week in CEP 812 we read the first part of James Paul Gee’s The Anti-Education Era, where he writes about humans being incredibly smart and also insanely stupid. Here is a link to my response about how limitations prevent humans from intelligently solving complex problems.

 

Genetics Problem using Google Drawing

For our first week in CEP 812 we learned all about problems of practice. Our create assignment was to make a screencast of one problem of practice using technology to help solve that problem. In my screencast, you’ll see how I used Google Drawings (part of Google Drive) to solve genetics problems.

FInal CEP 811 Reflections

Professional Assessment & Evaluation:

It’s fitting that the final week of CEP 811 is all about evaluation and assessments. This course incorporated a strong focus on the maker kits that we purchased during the first week of the course. When I was choosing my maker kit (Raspberry Pi), I was not looking into how I could use the kit in my specific classroom or the specific subject I teach. However, after engaging in Maker Education throughout this course, I could definitely see incorporating this whole idea of “making” into my classes, especially since I teach Science and, like James Paul Gee states in the Edutopia video, Science has always been about learning by ‘doing’ science. Would I specifically use the Raspberry Pi in my class? Probably not. I found making Life Science topics (the main subject I teach) with the Raspberry Pi challenging for myself, and feel that sixth graders would struggle using the actual Raspberry Pi to “make” with. As in, I would be the one “making” and the students would just use what I made, and I feel like that is not the purpose of Maker Education.

Still, I would still have students “make” in my class, and to evaluate the effectiveness of their product based on the purpose of their product–specifically if the product addresses the needs of the original problem proposed. I would also take from Grant Wiggins’ rubric for creativity and assess whether students used materials in unique or creative ways while not being wasteful! For example, in my Life Science class, I may have students make a tool to unclog a model of a clogged artery while we learn about the circulatory system. Or during our unit on Ecology, I may have students make habitats for small organisms (such as a birdhouse for a bird) that meets the needs of that organism. Could these things be made using the Raspberry Pi, probably not–but still, I’m really excited to take the ideas behind Maker Education and make it a reality with my students.

 

Personal Assessment & Evaluation:

I do feel like I made personal growths in CEP 811. I was able to re-visit some ideas from my College of Education days (such as learning theories) and use these ideas in a whole new way in different designs and technologies. I deepened my knowledge of re-purposing (which I was introduced to in CEP 810) and also learned some completely new ideas, like remixing! All in all, I do see growth in my understanding–I really appreciate that the courses in MAET (so far) work on connecting concepts to innovating ideas in education. In this course specifically, I sometimes felt like we were jumping around a lot–for example, we began by learning about re-purposing/remixing and were introduced to our maker kits, then didn’t do anything with our maker kits, then had to go back to working on our maker kits. We also had our conference proposal assignment which seemed to be randomly thrown in as well with some other assignments that didn’t totally feel like it made the course “flow” very well. However, all in all I feel that I did expand my understanding of my maker kit, and deepened my knowledge of many new concepts.

References:

Gee, J. (2008). Grading with Games. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU3pwCD-ey0

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/