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City Refraction, City Reflection
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Here lies Heather Kennedy-Plant’s final required blog post for the Summer 2009 EDES 501 course through the Faculty of Education at the Universityof Alberta.  The post focuses on the mission given to me and my classmates just six short weeks ago and contains reflections and recommendations for moving forward with bringing innovation with technology into our classrooms. 

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action ~ Peter F Drucker

It is now time to reflect 

Our course mission for the blog assignments was to undertake an independent inquiry exploring Web 2.0 tools.  Through the blogging assignments we had the opportunity to discover, experiment with, and reflect on these new technologies and their use in teaching and learning.  Our proff and facilitator, Jennifer Branch, both taught and learned with us over this past six weeks! 

Thank you Jenn!

Thanks for the wonderful collaborative approach that you started us off with! The welcome discussion in eClass is a must keep assignment for this course. The written feedback and tips you provided when you graded each blog assignment and our discussion groups helped me find my way.  I started to find my “voice” as I took each of your tips into consideration for subsequent blogs. 

In the beginning of the course, I tried to read about what makes a good blog because I had not really discovered that for myself yet.  The assignment at the beginning of the course to search and find blogs that we checked in on over the course was an excellent idea!  I started thinking about what it was that was made me return to the blogs I enjoyed visiting more than once, and several times reflected upon why I kept going back to several and never returned to others.  Before the class I had not frequented any blogs.  If there was one tip for future students in this course that I could pass along it is to frequently view and consider what they like about the blogs that keep their attention and draw them back.  For any future blogs that I might create I will be asking myself for each and every post, why would someone want to come back and visit me again? 

I am sure that future students will continue to be like our class and many may never have exposure to many of these tools until they start this course.  I had never paid attention to blogs until we were assigned to and I know that was the case for several of my classmates too.  Copyblogger is an exceptional how to site and I wished I had come across earlier in the course!  I am sure that it was a resource recommended in either our eClass links, the trailfire links for our class but it didn’t come to my attention until a classmate brought it up in an eClass discussion, several weeks into the class.  Perhaps this is for the best though because I did find my own style and now I can use the points from Copyblogger to improve my blogging but they are not my only considerations for how I blog. 

I am not sure yet when I will next blog but I am not adverse to the thought of it and I will definitely keep up with most of the other tools that I am coming to have a rich understanding about and will use them for either work and/or for personal interest.  I plan to get back to Picasa, which I happened upon for my blog about photosharing and I am eager to use videos as discussion starters for ethics and business etiquette training, which I blogged about in my videosharing blog.   

Social bookmarking will be very useful for organizing all of the superb resources that are online for career counselling purposes and my other work related topics of interest.  I also enjoyed creating a podcast and believe this tool has great potential for marketing our program and/or for putting together lessons or tutorials.   

With virtual libraries open 24/7 I know that our students have access at all times to a vast array of resources.  I am confident that I will continue to benefit from the many services available from our online libraries.   

Wikis are an exceptional tool for collaborative learning.  I love the idea of living knowledge that I conjure up when I realize that Wiki’s are always changing and improving and the content improves as more people contribute, and the community continually grows stronger which creates “a powerful, positive cycle!”  

I found one of the most fun tools while researching for my blog on multimedia mashups. It is animoto and it is sure to be used by me lots more in the future, as I bought the subscription and am curious to see how they further develop this most excellent tool. 

There is no doubt that I will continue with facebook which visitors to my blog on social networking are sure to quickly realize.  I love it for my personal use and see many benefits to using the group capabilities for student groups.  It is also a tool which we can use to educate our students about the power of social networking and also about privacy, safety and digital identity.  Twitter certainly grabbed my attention and although I do not think I will bring it into my work anytime soon, I will keep up with the tool and do not have a difficult time seeing its potential.  Blogs, Blogging for PD, and RSS were all topics covered in my August 9th post and I will return on a regular basis to my RSS feed to catch up on the latest news on a wide range of topics.   

Thank you classmates!

Now that I have reflected upon the core topics of my assigned blogs, I would like to reflect upon the discoveries of my classmates and a few key things that jumped from their blog posts to capture my interest, further my understanding and engaged me with the topics, in even greater detail.  Thank you to every classmate for your welcoming introductions, your eClass discussions and eClass “coffee talk” and for the major efforts you each put into your blogs.  I found that even though we were examining the same topics I was able to learn something new from every single one of your blog posts.  Every contribution was and is important and when I consider bringing any of these tools over time into my work, I will return to your past blogs for insights, thank you all!   

The workload has at times been gruelling, as those of us who are at our dashboards instead of our backyards, and at our computers, and frequenting our “in class” eClass discussion groups, can truly understand.  We have just accomplished an utterly mind-blogging (yes, intended play on words), amount of research, writing, and collaboration! 

Classmates: I continually learned from your unique perspectives on the very same topics I was blogging about!  What we did in this short six weeks is truly amazing and epitomizes the collaborative possibilities of blogs and class web portals! 

You all rock and your blogs are all HOT! And I would like to wrap up my reflections by thanking each one of my classmates personally and individually now.  In alphabetical order, (by last name, with the last name removed) here are my amazing, dazzling, mind-blogging classmate’s blogs and a brief note about just some of the gems that they shared on their blogs that I feel are worthy of remembering: 

  • Dan introduced me to “torrents” when we engaged in a discussion on his blog post about photo sharing, where the topic of plagiarism was introduced into the discussion and the topic served as the spring board for my blog about using YouTube videos for teaching ethics.  Thanks Dan!
  • Ruth engaged me with her positive eClass discussions and took the initiative to arrange an in person meeting when she was passing through Edmonton on her way back home to Saskatchewan.  Luckily, I was able to make it to the High Level Diner, as was our classmate Gerta. It was a great experience to meet in person and discuss our class.  The sense of camaraderie was heightened when I learned that all three of us were finding that this course, although great, is intense and very time consuming.  Ruth has energetically approached and grasped twitter and even discussed artistic ways to play with twitter.  I will be sure to check out twitpic and the rest of Ruth’s list in the future. Thanks Ruth! 
  • Gerta was also in attendance at our breakfast meeting with Ruth and it was a great experience to meet in person and discuss our class.  Two videos that Gerta discovered and shared in her blog on the topic of twitter really caught my interest and so I shared them in my vodpod.  One was just plain fun and the other had entertainment value but also is a great teaching aid for my work – it is the how to lose your job in 140 characters video and you can access it from my vodpod or in my blog. It is a great teaching aid for lessons focused on personal identity and online persona. Thanks Gerta!
  • Shirley shared an anecdote in her blog about twitter that resonated with me.  “The larger issue in this application however, is to not to confuse information with authentic communication. Or as my gifted administrator friend said to me, “remember that our most effective teaching still comes face-to-face, palm-to-palm, and in the safe and caring schools we have all worked so hard to create.” This is a message that I will continue to remember because I agree that face-to-face is when I best get to really know my students. Thanks Shirley! 
  • Debbie titled her blog The Reluctant Blogger.  She provides a critical analysis of web 2.0 tools and in her blogs she seeks to consider if these tools are appropriate or useful for educators to implement and she approaches many of her blogs from both a pro and a con side for each topic.  Her conclusion on her blog on the topic of social networking shows that even though she may be believe she is a “reluctant blogger” she is willing to consider using technology in her classes, “One thing I have to seriously consider are the potential benefits to using social networking tools that students may already be comfortable with before I make any decisions to dismiss or try out a new tool. Will teaching on their turf motivate them to be more actively engaged in the learning process?”  The question Debbie asks is an appropriate one for all educators to keep in mind, and I believe that it is important to keep up to date with the technologies that our students are engaged with and when and if appropriate we should reach and teach on their turf. Thanks Debbie!
  • Tara has an exceptional ability to break down information to provide her audience with guidance in a step-by-step manner.  She is also early with most of her assignments and so when I was still researching for the topic of RSS and I was ecstatic that she too had the same problem as me, information overload, and she had already devised a 5 step RSS plan for success to help sort through her 1000 + feeds.  I liked her advice so much that I shared her tips in my post on the topic of blogs and RSS and I am happy to accept advice on how to manage my information in a meaningful way and thought my audience would like the advice too. Thanks Tara! 
  • Carol shared some great ideas about professional development through online collaboration and her ideas set me thinking of the idea of actually “getting to know” and work with people even when we are divided by distance as a very real and potential use of Web 2.0.  It is something that I foresee as beneficial for our staff and ultimately, when we share and build upon best practices, it will also benefit students. This video that Carol shared speaks to the potential of creating conversations online for mass innovation and is based on a book by Charles Leadbeater, ‘We Think’ explores the potential of the latest developments of the internet . Thank you Carol! 
  • Lori reminded me of the term that was on the tip of my tongue but I couldn’t recall from our guest speaker eClass with Mack Male.  She commented about Mack’s visit and mentioned continuous partial attention in her blog about twitter.  Lori wrote, “It was interesting to hear Mack D. Male agree that his best approach to accomplishment is continuous partial attention; i.e., multitasking. That is a clear statement on how many of our students function.”  The concept intrigued me too and I am happy that Lori remembered and shared it in her blog.  I was intrigued by and would like to look into the concept further in the future.  It would be interesting to know if there is research on the topic and I wonder if we can educate ourselves about how this concept works, how it can be optimized, if it can be taught, and to gain a deeper understanding of the concept.  Thanks Lori!

Thanks classmates!  You all rock and your blogs are hot!

Thanks again Professor Jenn for the learning opportunities!

Thanks Joanne for the great trailfire links!

Thanks Mack for your exceptional guest appearance!

Thanks Will Richardson for the text and the ongoing wisdom shared in your blog!  As you note in your text: Blogs are hot! (2008, p. 20). 

As you can see from my classmates contributions, this exploration into Web 2.0 has truly been a collaborative adventure.  But this is not the end, it is the beginning.  As we set off with new knowledge and understanding we will need to promote these new technologies and bring innovation into our classrooms. 

We’re never done learning technology.  We can’t truly learn in isolation and we’re not ever settled in our roles as collaborator and teacher… We must know how to select, adopt, and promote new technologies… to a place of prominence as innovative models for teaching and learning in our schools.”(Brooks, 2008, p. 14)

I believe that technology alone will not enable us to be better educators and we must have good, sound, teaching practices and then we can use the tools to enhance our teaching.   As well, just adding a tool for the sake of demonstrating that we can now use the tool is not an adequate enough reason to rush into using any new technology.  I have discovered many great uses of Web 2.0 tools and shared them in my prior blogs but it will take some further planning before I am ready to implement these valuable tools.  I need to come up with sound rationale for each tools use, and when I do come back to each tool and begin planning for its use, I will start my plans by considering David Jakes list of tips for making IT stick that I have included below. 

David Jakes, in a conference keynote presentation, described the “characteristics of school culture that are required for an innovation to become seamless and transparent.”  In other words, to become “sticky.” Here are his thoughts:

Making IT Stick

  • There must be a high degree of organizational readiness for the innovation.
  • The innovation must have multiple entry points for a spectrum of usership; each of these entry points must support effective use by teachers and students.
  • The innovation must clearly address an instructional need, with benefits for both teacher and student.
  • The innovation must add value to an instructional process.
  • There must be visible and tangible results indicating that the innovation improves student learning.
  • The technology has been taken out of the technology or innovation.
  • The teacher has become a confident, active, and visible user; use becomes seamless and transparent. (cited in Solomon & Schrum, 2007, p.22) 

In addition to Jakes making it stick tips, Solomon & Schrum (2007) ask several key questions that can move Web 2.0 integration plans ahead:

At what point will new tools and new methods catch on enough in schools to reach the tipping point? What forces are pushing school change? From this vantage point, it looks like the confluence of having new tools (both pedagogical and technological), the future economic need, the access to bandwidth, and tech-savvy students are driving change. 

If you are an educator and you need one more reason to bring about change by bringing Web 2.0 innovations to your class or school, I highly recommend this following video that shows us how much students exist in the digital age so that teachers can understand their need to get up to speed with the technologies at hand.  I discovered the video on my classmate Debbie’s blog – good find and thanks for the share Debbie! 

Since most of today’s students can appropriately be labeled as “Digital Learners”, why do so many teachers refuse to enter the digital age with their teaching practices?  The above video presentation was created in an effort to motivate teachers to more effectively use technology in their teaching. Please see http://t4.jordandistrict.org/payatten… to learn how you can become a better teacher. 

We as educators can effect change and lead the way as change agents

What will make change happen? Gladwell (2002) identifies three factors necessary for change to occur: exceptional people who drive  change by their own habits, stickiness or memorable qualities of the ideas that move others to act, and the power of context, which includes the skillful use of groups and the power of communities. (cited in Solomon & Schrum, 2007, p.22)” 

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ~ Alvin Toffler

With over 35,000 words written in 38 posts, I would say I have come a long way in an extremely short period of time, towards driving change through my own habits.  I have played, learned, created and came to understand many of the most useful Web 2.0 tools.  I look forward to keeping up with them and also to discovering new tools along the way.  It has been a very busy six weeks for me and I have been challenged and at times, sleep deprived, but I am eager to declare that the mission has been accomplished! 

I wish you all the best in your future endeavours and share this final video with you to ring out the old and welcome the new!  I wish you all happy Web 2.0 adventures!  I leave you now with a little Auld Lang Syne, to ring out the old and rush in the new.

Best to you all from me!

 ~:) Heather Kennedy-Plant, the curly-haired co-op coordinator!

 

References

Brooks, L. K. (2008).  “Old school” meet school library 2.0:  Bump your media program into an innovative model for teaching and learning.  Library Media Connection, 26(7), 14-16. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=tfh&AN=31853628&loginpage=Login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Lombardi, M. (2007). Authentic learning for the 21st century: An overview. Boulder, CO: Educause. Retrieved August 10, 2009, from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3009.pdf

Richardson, W. (2008). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (Second Edition.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Solomon, G. and Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New tools, new schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education. 

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The University of Alberta campus showcases the natural beauty in Edmonton. It is my favourite location for photography. Any amateur photographer should agree that Edmonton has so much scenery and superb images.
 
Did you remember to cast your vote again today? You can vote daily and voting gets you the chance to win an iPod shuffle!
 
Vote, once a day, everyday, until September 15 at http://www.edmontonstories.ca/story/beauty-in-edmonton, please spread the news to your networks (did you send a note to your department, friends, LinkedIn contacts, alumni group friends, recruiting network, professional association… it sure would be appreciated, thanks) and thanks for the support! 
 
~:) Heather Kennedy-Plant
the co-op coordinator with the curly hair and smiley face   
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Dr. Mark Mills drawing diagrams on a blackboar...
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Creating and Sustaining Groups in Blackboard

This slideshare presentation provides examples of virtual group configurations in Blackboard and explores the various group tools available in Blackboard.

View more presentations from Jason Rhode.

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Blackboard promo

 A blackboard 8 academic suite overview video

An integrated teaching and learning platform! Web 2.0 interface! Improve the way students learn and the way educators can now use Blackboard!  This promotional video will help you see the potential benefits of learning more about this platforms tools! In concluding Blackboard states that this technology will improve the way students learn and save time for those who teach. 

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A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.

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Just yesterday I was having a tough time thinking about how I can bring all this new information I have to my colleagues and was also trying to think about which “just one tool” I would narrow down to share with them.  I thought about how much I enjoyed the collaboration with my classmates, professor, and guest speaker in our live online class and it got me thinking that this is where we need to head, as I mentioned in my earlier post today we use Blackboard/uLearn and so I set out on a mission to consider how we might integrate online conferencing into our work.  It also made sense as a starting point because we will have an opportunity to participate in a virtual conference together this fall with colleagues from across Canada, so they will be able to see firsthand the benefits of such a great tool.

So since I was last here, I set off to find out if we might be able use a virtual classroom to conference with our students.  

The Virtual Classroom is a Collaboration Tool that allows Instructors and Students to participate in real time lessons and discussions and also view archives of previous Collaboration sessions. The main area of the Virtual Classroom includes all of the functions available to users. From this area Instructors can manage the session through the system controls, interact with participants, and use the Whiteboard to post content, open Web pages, and draw. The Instructor has the ability to control access and functionality for other participants in the session.”

My goal was to come up with how we could implement using this new technology into our program and to consider how I might be able to get the ball rolling so that we can begin showcasing this technology in our program.  I usually take a “just jump-in” approach with new learning about new technologies and have done so in this case too and hope that I can convince my colleagues that we should use this approach for online conferencing with our students – let’s jump in!

This morning I was already speaking about some very applicable uses for this technology in my post, so I needed to ensure that we can actually use online live conferencing and I set off to see what I could find.  For there is not much reason for me to go further, if I get all excited about implementing a new technology and in my haste I engage my colleagues only to discover I have found a tool that we cannot access for some reason.  Especially given that my primary approach to sell my colleagues on starting with this tool is about just how easy it is to use.  The main objective to using this tool though is to add value to our students experience in our program. 

I started looking at our intranet and went to the link on teaching services where I am very happy to report, I found that our faculty does support live online collaboration.  There on the list of resources available to us, I found a link to Elluminate – Web Conferencing and upon further reading I discovered that we can use University’s virtual classroom application; the very same one that our Web 2.0 course just used.  It can be used not only for class, but also if you need to hold a virtual meeting, online office hours or mini-conferences or information sessions, for our entire cooperative education student body to enable them to collaborate with each other and with us at the university, even if they are out on their work experience placements.

I also came across the information on our faculty’s online course management system, which I mentioned is Blackboard and see that it is described in more detail than I imagined.

The School of Business maintains an online course management system (cms) known as “uLearn” which is used for all School of Business courses.  uLearn runs using Blackboard which is currently the most popular CMS worldwide.  Blackboard offers a variety of online tools that enhance the learning experience for students including announcements, course calendar, discussion boards, online assignment submission, exams, communication and much more…”

My investigations have been going far better than I ever anticipated! The current tools that we have in our course module for potential use in uLearn are a calendar, announcements, tasks, view grades and an ability to send email.  Since I believe my colleagues will adapt quickly to the benefits of using Elluminate I can briefly think about what we else is available within our uLearn cms so that when uses come up in conversation with my colleagues, I will be prepared to provide a list of potential, additional options.   else is already readily available for our potential use.  I found that our faculty’s online knowledge base has a separate link for uLearn/Blackboard.

I am beginning to rapidly notice that our office does not utilize uLearn to anywhere near its full potential and I have a fair idea that my colleagues, like I was, are not aware of the diverse Web 2.0 tools that we can bring right into our course modules, such as Wikis and Blogs.  This simple find, is how I will be able to share all of my new knowledge with my colleagues!  This, as my classmate Lori might say, is my eureka moment!  I had no idea that there were any tools outside of those that show in our course, never mind the full list of potential tools that are supported by our faculty.  We now have a have a well-rounded menu of available tools right at our fingertips and the technical support that comes with using them through the online course platform offered by our faculty. This course has shown me that there are endless ways to use Web 2.0 and now I am finding that some are way closer to home than I ever imagined!

WOW! Our online classroom platform has the potential to create an exceptional mashup and will keep me and my colleagues busy looking further into all the potential it offers.  Before today I had no idea that we can add a wiki to our course, or that we have the ability to add a blog.  These two finds alone are enough to start discussing with my colleagues how to really get the technology integrated into our courses. Eureka!  We can start with  live online conferencing, then wikis, then blogs, then

 

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 If there was only

one tool

 that I could introduce to my colleagues

and my students

from all of the Web 2.0 tools

that I have come to learn about

over the past five weeks

 of my exploration into all things Web 2.0

 it

would

be…

drum roll

please

 

 

 

Online web conferencing

You may notice that I have not yet blogged about this tool and it is not in my list of blog topics that I shared in an earlier post, where I listed my upcoming blogs assignments and the anticipated delivery dates.  That is because we were not required to create a blog about this tool but rather, we were introduced to this tool through a practical learning situation set up by our Prof Jenn. Thanks Jenn! Since I work in cooperative education which is based on the perspective that experiential learning has merit, I believe this is one tool that I can easily introduce to my colleagues and that they can easily see the potential. 

When Jenn introduced us to the full potential of this medium by arranging one online live class for our course.  when she invited Mack Male, to join our class in an online discussion, in the University of Alberta’s eClass live tool, Elluminate.

eClass Live! is a web collaboration system and real-time virtual environment. It can be inplemented stand-alone or to add live discussion and dynamic interaction to your exsiting asynchronous learning environments such as eClass. The system allows instructors and students to text chat, talk over the Internet, deliver PowerPoint presentations, and share software applications and whiteboards. It is powered by the Elluminate.” 

With just one live online class I am sold on the benefits and potential of online web conferencing! When you can be passionate about a tool I believe it is easier to interest peers and colleagues about considering the tool.  With the change in any work policy, procedure, or process or with the adoption of any new technology it takes a passionate advocate to share the potential outcomes that can come from change.  With ever changing technologies and the time it can take to learn, understand, implement and then get to utilizing new technologies it can be understandably, intimidating to think about jumping on board.   

I believe that online web conferencing is a technology that is going to catch online like wild fire.  Given that the technology is becoming easier to use and with the increasing financial constraints that many educators are facing it becomes even more enticing when we realize it can be done at a very low, to no cost.  It is sure to be given more consideration in the future.  I believe it is “what’s next.” 

This web 2.0 tool has come to my attention at a most opportune time for my colleagues to be situated in an experiential learning situation, similar to the one that just happened to me! My colleagues and I are members of the Cooperative Association for Cooperative Education (CAFCE) and at the upcoming annual general meeting and professional development event that is being held in November we will be able to participate in sharing our voice and opinion about the direction of our association.  My colleagues and I have been invited to attend virtually, if we cannot attend in person, and since it is unlikely that we have the budget for us all to go, we can likely participate and connect with our peers right from the comfort of our office.  

When it is time for professional development or time to implement new technologies, will you have the time?  What’s Next?

As educators we have a responsibility to our students, our institutions and in our case, also to employers, to ensure we uphold a commitment to deliver a quality program. This is the case for educators across all disciplines and settings.  There is one critical issue that I need to address further and that is the issues around professional development and the necessary fact to rememeber is that it takes time.  The Learning Point Associates website has an article on this very topic titled, Critical Issue: Finding time for professional development that provides a summary of this issue:

School improvement efforts over the last few decades require teachers not only to study, implement, and assess learner outcomes outlined in local, state, and national educational standards but also to provide meaningful, engaged learning (cognitively, socially, and culturally) for a very diverse student population.”

It is apparent from the article that it is not just my program that is seeking to achieve accountability and improvement measures but that we have many a kindred spirit in our same postion out there in cyberspace.  We cna learn from their experiences. The learning and understanding of best practices is only a first step in the process of managing our program development and delivery and as I hope is becoming apparent, we are all well aware that is also necessary. 

I believe that we cannot implement every great new technology or best practice, with only so much time to plan, develop, and implement new tools into our program.  However, we can continue to look to innovators in our fields and will know where to turn for ideas for each tool that we do get the chance to consider and implement over time. By keeping knowledgeable about the technologies that are emerging for education we will can continue to advance the learning of our students and will also learn lots ourselves, along the way. One place I will be turning to keep apace of emerging technologies and practices is Educause Learning Initiative.

Learning technology alone does not necessarily advance learning; well-integrated learning technologies and practices often do. With learning principles and practices in mind, technology is being used in service of learning. New technologies may advance learning; even traditional technologies, when implemented with pedagogically sound practices, can result in significant learning gains.

Questions the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) explores include:

  • What are the emerging learning technologies and practices, and how can we use them?
  • How do we accommodate emerging practices associated with new learning technologies within our institutions?
  • How do we evaluate the potential impact new technologies and practices may have on advancing learning?
  • What do our students think about these technologies and higher education’s perspective on them?
  • How can we understand what is happening on our campuses? Can surveys help us develop strategies that align student and faculty expectations for the use of learning technologies?”

Jane’s e-learning pick of the day blog and Jane’s social media blog are two other places where I will return to see what is new with technology and learning.  Jane’s blogs have been added to my RSS feed. I just discovered Jane’s blogs this morning when I was visiting my classmate, Carol’s blog, where a link to one of Jane’s sites was sitting in Carol’s sidebar with an interesting post titled, MobilEdu – now part of Blackboard – thanks Carol, this is how we can share best practices!  The post caught my eye because in the U of A School of Business, Blackboard is our online course delivery platform that is known by our staff and students as uLearn. This is where my colleagues and I might be able to set up an online live class for our students.

Currently, the Introduction to Cooperative Education course that my colleagues and I teach in fall and winter semesters, utilizes several features in uLearn to keep in touch with our students about our seminars and workshops. I can see exploring uLearn’s capacities in much greater detail now that I have seen how well live online course conferences can work and I will be encourage my colleagues to explore this platforms potential with me in the coming months.  

We are always funnelling the feedback we receive about our program content and delivery so that we can learn and develop our program.  I can see that we can make some positive transformations to our program by utilizing more aspects of uLearn.  For example, students have shared that they would like to feel more connected with their peers and our program when they are away from campus, completing their work experience terms.  

With the fresh awareness of the potential for creating a collaborative “class” environment with a live online class, I think we need to explore this tool further – it could be a great way to connect students workplace learning with their university learning and they could learn from each other’s experiences.  I recommend we try to have one online class per each four month term, meaning 3 times per year we put on a one or two hour online class for students to join in an online reflection period, where they can share with each other and us about what they are learning on their jobs.  

What’s next? What else is emerging? 

Technology is rapidly changing, as I mentioned above, and it is hard to keep up with what is currently in use and what is on the horizon. Jane’s blogs mentioned above, are a good place to start but if you haven’t found what you are looking for in my blog or the links that I have shared and are looking for resources on the topic of education and training check out blogcatalog where you can find great blogs that may lead you to your next great web 2.0 tool that you can consider bringing into your education, here are just a few examples, to get you started:

  • Successful Teaching
    Ideas and strategies for new and struggling teachers on all levels.
  • Education For All
    Free Education Resources and Information
  • iLearn Technology
    iLearn technology is an edublog dedicated to giving teachers practical tips for integrating technology into the classroom. All of the resources are free to use and simple to implement.

If you want a lighter look at What’s Next check out this video

A video with Bill Gates and Seinfeld where some future tasty tidbits are shared between the Microsoft guru and the comedian

And now a final inspiration

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit – Aristotle

This 21st Century Classroom slideshow presents core themes about the importance for creative and innovative teaching and learning and includes thinking on the skills and knowledge needed to master 21st century life and career skills. 

Thanks for checking in on me!

~:) Heather Kennedy-Plant’s second to last, required, assigned, EDES 501 course blog

Time flies when you are having fun!

 

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The digital youth of today are ready to engage in 21st century learning and in building the skill sets needed for a 21st century career.

What’s next for how we educate our youth?

Here is a brief video to start a discussion on where education, learning, and technology should be taking conversations of program and curriculum development in all levels of education. 

I highly recommend  this video to any educator and encourage you consider and reflect upon the key messages that the youth in the video are sending to us!

This video showcased benefits, pitfalls, and common themes that we need to consider for every one of our 21st century, K-12 and beyond, North American youth, who are able to access education today.

Yes, these messages are important to reflect upon in higher education too!  After K-12 youth experience education with teachers who are using technology in their K-12 classrooms they might just be heading to a classroom near you, my higher education colleagues.  

The youth are coming to us in higher education with an ability and a need, to confront  learning head on in this ever changing technological world. 

These youth are the future! 

They are learning new skills, and developing knowledge, to adapt to the unknown technological trends that will continue to come into the forefront of business, education, and the fast approaching technologies of the future. 

Our youth enter a cyberspace that is constantly occupied by the newest, most revolutionary, and rapidly changing technological realities, of any time in history. 

As the newest, most innovative, technologies hit the market, and sometimes even before, our youth are behind the scenes and are the first to use, adapt, and grow these new technologies. 

Multiple innovative and ingenious technologies that we are familiar with today began as small start up applications or businesses of people in the under 30’s demographic and some remain in the top of their fields as teh most major innovators of the newest technologies of the last century and even today, almost a decade into this new century.

Who started facebook, at what age? 

Who started microsoft, at what age? 

Only two examples of an endless list of young innovators of our times.

There are counter examples of technological innovators who are older than 30 but I am sure my point is made!

Normally, I provide links in my blogs but this time around, I am creating a potential teachable moment for any educator who might have made it to this blog but does not know the answer to my questions listed above. 

Please realize this is an ideal time for you to start using and understanding the amazing power of the immense knowledge that lies at the tips of your fingers! I assure you that the tools and applications that you need to learn and understand, in order to meet today’s youth at the technological doorstep that they are already waiting for us at, are easier than imaginable to learn and utilize.

Please rest assured that I do not anticpate that everyone should readily know the answers. I only hope that you can start exploring the power of the web, if you do not already have the answers.

Quick tip: if you do not have the answer for the facebook or microsoft questions above, Google or Wikipedia searches are a great place to start!  You will find some of the fastest access to problem solving that you have ever experienced! Welcome.

The majority of mainstream youth are becoming ready and prepared for an ever evolving, constantly changing  job market, not because they know what is coming but because they have the skills to adapt to new technologies in an instant. 

Although we do cannot know where technology will lead us in the future,  our students are learning first hand,  to be adaptable not only in their skill sets, but also to learn to become diverse in their career interest and pursuits. 

We as educators need to be prepared to teach these 21at century learners, as they become more and more adaptable and engaged in  forward digital thinking; they are ready for the unknown that lies ahead – are we? 

I invite each of my educator friends and acquantaces to ask yourself – are you ready? 

What can you learn to prepare for the future of education and work in this rapidly changing, technological world?

Our youth are 21st century learners – are you, is your institution, is your company or organization?

I believe that we can be 21 st century learners and educators and it is crucial to facilitate the  the development of our youth and our society.

I believe  that as educators we need to embrace the first-hand use for understanding, of the popular and highly used technological tools that are already engaging our youth!

Welcome to Web 2.0

Kind regards,

 ~:) Heather Kennedy-Plant – welcome to our journey as 21st century learners and educators!

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