Category Archives: Educational Technology

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Mad and Weird Science

scott Mad and Weird Science

The Way Forward Starts Here - What Went Right

 

Let's face it, unless you add some type of entertainment into your science lesson, students are going to wane on you. Dr. Fly's Reviews offers some unique science related games and sims .   You can find more on Edtechteacher .  They have a great list of programs and informative content to keep the busiest of students motivated and engaged.

Adults too.

Trying to stay on top of the latest trends in science and mathematics is never ending.   MIT  has a great listing of courses to help keep the old brain frisky to learn.  There are other free online science courses being offered at a lot of different universities across the country.  I was surprised to see my own stomping grounds  Utah State University,  on the list. Go Aggies!   

Terminology  - say what? 

I was split-teaching between  the high school  and the middle school science departments last week.   I am not a science major by no means - but I like science.  So filling in for that department is always fun for me.  Just picking up the books and observing the surroundings is fascinating.  I probably couldn't give you an on the spot review of meiosis vs. mitosis, but I get the concepts.   If you can get your students to understand the concepts, you are halfway there.  By the end of the week, I had the terms down to a science (pun intended). 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAPfAAAAJGI2Y2RkODAxLTA0NzAtNDI4YS1hZWYyLTAyYmM0MGNlZTNlOQ-1-214x300 Mad and Weird ScienceSurprisingly there are still a lot of people who envision Science as some stale environment where everyone is wearing white lab coats, donning four inch thick rimmed glasses, while gawking into microscopes, and filling petri-dishes.   Nothing could be farther from the truth.   Believe it or not, learning about the elements can be an adventure all by itself.  Terminology must be taught.  In order to effectively teach science requires a teacher who can get into the hands-on-teaching aspects, and inspire students to pull up their sleeves and get their hands dirty!  

Science 101!  

The lesson we were involved with at the high school  had to deal with agriculture science, and the nutrients in domestic animal feed.  Yep, we were learning about all things "Cow". That included elements going into the cow, chewing the cud, and the final excrement process.  I can assure you those students will never forget the lesson on "Cows".  Nor shall I!  Luckily, for this lesson there were no hands on contact with any part of the "Cow".  AAEAAQAAAAAAAATDAAAAJDgxNWFhNGMzLTQ4ZjAtNDEzOS1iYWQxLTZjMTVhMTA3YmIwNA-300x225 Mad and Weird Science

Cleaning the guinea cage and feeding Mom.

 Somewhere between "Cow" intestines, and gut, there were other classroom duties that needed tending to.  In the back of the classroom  were three furry little guinea pigs.  Butter who is the fat one, and two others who were not hurting in the fat department.  Sorry I'm not  discriminating due to Butter's size, she was just the most lovable.  There was also an oversize fish tank with one slightly older goldfish named "Mom".  One of my duties for the week were to feed and tend the living quarters  of these highly sensitive and not so rare creatures.  

I quickly delegated the task of guinea pig cage cleaner to one particular student.  He promptly re-delegated the guinea pig cage clean up duties to two other students, who expressed their concern with him dealing with the animals.  He was forthright in his duties of feeding Mom.  However, it did require that we strain the excess goldfish flakes  from the tank.  He dumped a 1/4 of the bottle into the tank.  We moved on from there.  

When in doubt stick in a movie!  

The Lecture

While I don't mind ditto sheets for teaching, there is a lot to be said for leaving the answers for one to be able to teach on the topic.  With a 47 question and answer session in front of me, I spent the better part of three hours researching and preparing for a life science  lecture to help student with an introductory chapter.  Mind you, I'm no science major, so they only got what I was able to research.  There was another science teacher in the room adjacent to me, so I was able to get some of the simpler concepts out of the way, thanks to her help.  

Yes I opted for the movie option.  But not completely.  I only did a 12 minute movie, and then I took the challenge - I taught science.  Students who didn't have a clue about science, nor were they willing to sit still in class for 10 minutes,  were writing for me!  They were writing and taking notes, they were asking questions.  The kid who over fed Mom, was my main bright and shining star!   His grade just hit a D- I am sure.  He was proud to turn in the 47 questionnaire with all the answers. He exclaimed, I know what "CHONS" stands for!

  Together, I took those students  on a science journey - one that gave them a glimpse of what real MAD COW science really looks like.  It was WEIRD.  They liked WEIRD.  But they learnt that science has value, and that their thoughts matter, no matter how MAD or WEIRD those thoughts may be.

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If you don't remember  the elements of CHONS from your science years, go look them up.  It's a challenge!  Better yet, create your own puzzle and give it out to your staff  or students to solve.  CHONS has  to do with "Cow", and the nutrients "Cow's" need. 

 

 Middle School

If you can image 25 to 30 students all between the ages of 12 and 13, each  given a laptop, and told to write about an animal of their choice; hope to God that the choice is not a "Cow". 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAQcAAAAJGVkZWYxMTdlLTJjYmUtNGJjMS04ZDM1LWIxZDdjMTk1YjJlMg-300x195 Mad and Weird ScienceThere are animals I didn't know existed.  But these kids found them.  Just to keep it interesting here is a list of 22 strange animals you probably didn't know existed.   One student chose an animal that was akin to a jack rabbit, because it was her real life name.  For the life of me I can't remember the students name, so I just call her jack rabbit and she laughs.   What parent names their child after a rabbit?  Hers! 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAj6AAAAJGMwMDk3NTdlLTAwYWMtNGUwOC05NmM2LTk5MmYwMzNkMTEwNw-300x200 Mad and Weird ScienceComputer technology has come a long ways in the halls of education.  These 7th grade students were easily navigating online power point  programming, and linking web addresses for citings and other research materials.  Embedding images in my day weren't taught until I was in college!  Students today are so digitally savvy it is almost bionically creepy.  WEIRD MAD science. 

Pre-test - whose the real scientists in the group?

I did give a pretest quiz to the 7th graders.  It was one of those quizzes where you had to look up the answers in the book.  That was a sleeper assignment.  I decided to make it a winner take all event, and hand out treats to those who could answer the questions verbally.  But first they had to do the following:

1.  Research the topic

2. They had to spell the word to the class

3. Read the definition to the class

Since it was all open book, it allowed those students who weren't hard core academic's to get involved!  They were!   Students after my own heart. I will do anything for chocolate.  Well, almost anything within reason. 

Science technology has grown over the years.   So have students, in how they learn and acquire science knowledge.  They aren't going to just answer  ditto sheets  and have that  become the building blocks of knowledge.  Who teaches that way anymore?    Actually I would personally like to burn all ditto sheets as a rebellious protest!  Let them learn "Cow".   Hands on! 

 

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Cell Phones & The Pre-Selfie Era

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Cell Phones & The Pre-Selfie Era – Welcoming In The New Millennials

I walked into the junior high classroom this morning, and it was chatty as normal, similar to  the beginning of any class. It’s a very open environment, and the culture of the students says, “this is our space“.

Students were discussing the latest news in spirit activities, while others were trying to decide if lunch was going to be edible.   Picking up on that conversation,  that gave me the heads up that I better head across the street during my free hour and grab some food.  I’ve eaten the food at all the schools, and I’m not a fan.  I know the lunch people do the best they can, but…..

While waiting for the class to settle down, I notice there is one major difference that is genuinely unique at the  junior high level compared to the high school.  Students are not hunched over, looking into their cell phones .  I know they have them somewhere.  But I don’t even  see them during recess, or lunch hour, or in the halls – nada, zip.   I like to call this age group, the pre-selfie era – Junior High. 

This is the Pre-Selfie Era

While I can’t speak for other school districts, I can for my own.  It’s refreshing to know your students are engaging with you, and the message is getting across to them.  Not having  a cell phone on your person may sound archaic to some. But growing up without one was a  far better world to have been in.

Before I continue, I just want to stress that I’m not looking to verbally beat up on the high school environment, teachers or students.  I actually do have to give kudo’s to all those teachers at my local high school. During testing last week, I walked past a number of classrooms and quietly observed  the back roll of each room.  While I did spot a few students with their cell phones conveniently concealed – for the most part their classroom environments were all “engaged”.

ENTER THE NEW MILLENNIALS

How did the new millennials  arrive at where they are today?

What individual traits do millennials all have?  Technology  is one trait that most of them posse, and that is THE big one.  But at what age do new millennials come out of their social shell’s? When does technology become a changing force, and who is guiding that change?

Communication and collaboration in the classroom mean a lot to both students and teachers.  If you lose those valuable tool, you could lose a whole generation.

Dumbing down a whole generation in  the Selfie Era

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There is software available that can block out all cell phone usage inside of a  school.  I’ve walked into those zones before.

  Egad! So this is what it feels like to lose all communication to the outside world.

Some people have a real addiction to high stress (drama), and a cell phone can really feed into  that addiction. While I am not a millennial,  I was technologically inspired, starting in the early 80’s.  I guess I am one of those types, like a millennial – but not a millennial. You know the kind, a type A, workaholic, social introvert.  WAIT!  No, not me…

It almost sounds like 8th grade was the turning point,  even for me.  Landlines were being replaced with wireless phones, and all communication was  accelerating.   Computers were becoming the norm in every school, and inside most homes.

It’s 8th Grade All Over Again

In 2016,  8th grade students are very much coming into their own little worlds.  Once they transfer to 9th grade, that little world can be rewarded through the socially acceptable right of passage known as – learning the selfie rules.

At least on a superficial scale,  learning the selfie rules  has its rewards.    Students quickly learn that selfies and student group shots during class have their social rewards.  The reward is not academical I assure you.  But it is rewarding on the social scale, and as a narcissistic pacifier to those who may struggle  already with  self-esteem issues.

If you are on all the right social applications on your computer/phone, and you have a big enough friends list  – then you stand a better chance of fitting in with the selfie crowd.  Where you fit in, and how you are perceived by your peers, soon becomes part of your online virtual reality trip.  I use the word trip, because it is a trip.   Coming off of that trip  – that is not  fun.  The landing is often hard and punishing.

There is a little light at the end of the tunnel.  Junior High reigns supreme when it comes to still having teachable moments that are in abundance.  At the high school level those teachable moments are being attacked daily by that  3 x 4 piece of  shiny technology,  vying for our students attention.

PRE-SELFIES IN HIDING

Standing outside the junior high during after school duties, I noted 3 out of 10 girls that popped out a cell phone, and nearly  1 out of 10 boys.  At least those were the ones not afraid to use their phones on campus, even after school was out.

I’ve had  teachers vocally express their feelings about cell phones.

  •  Was the lesson plan worth it?
  • Did I get through to my  students?
  •  It is defeating when you have invested so much of your time and energy to be put on what amounts to, a commercial break for a classroom selfie.

So what are we doing wrong at the high school  and junior high levels?  How did all these narcissistic selfie robots amass in such great numbers –  almost overnight?  Parents.  Yes, parents are mostly to blame.

Settle Down!

I’ve been one of those Parents, so don’t go off on me too hard just yet.  I have been one of the best helicopter parents of my generation.  At least until the powers that be discovered where my landing pad was located, and turned the lights out on me.

It started in junior high.  I didn’t want anyone telling MY children they were insufficient in anything.   By the time by last child had gotten to the junior high level, she reigned supreme.  She had the grades, the looks, and the talent to do it all – and she did.  She wasn’t denied anything.  But, I wouldn’t allow her to be denied anything.  Then I did the thing, that  I as a teacher complain about the most.  I bought her a cell phone, and I got sucked into the millennial whine.

I bought her a cell phone

WHAT I LEARNED

  1. It’s $25 at the middle school to get your cell phone back, if you take it out where others can see it.
  2. The first selfie with friend in their bikini’s posted on Facebook, and that friend was gone (I was stupid and let her keep the phone).
  3. Competing with the cute boy from  school who also had a cell phone.  Family time became a chore, and grounding from the phone brought even more issues (Drama!  I hate you – you are ruining my life!) .
  4. By college she allowed her boyfriend (thank God he is gone) to rack up nearly $400 in cell phone charges.  Plus he wrecked two of her cars and …. let’s just say he is gone.

The excuses that WE all make regarding our children having a cell phone is:

I want them to get a hold of me if they need me.

  1. They are in a classroom filled with 30 other cell phones.
  2.  Plus the teacher has a cell phone,  and a landline on  her desk.  I think we have the “get a hold of me”  problem solved.

Parents have become lazy.

Parents rely on the cell phone to baby sit their kids.  A wonderful suggestion is to get in your car, drive across town and find out for yourself what your kids are doing.

  1. A phone call may be a temporary pacifier, but its virtual reality even to adults.  Kids still want their parents to care.
  2. Some even think that the more expensive the phone, the more protected the kid will be.  A $600 phone isn’t my idea of protection.

The kid with the $600 iPhone.

The amount of kids that walk around with electronics that even I couldn’t afford, makes me worry.  How hard of a landing are these kids going to take when big daddy or mommy bucks,  cuts them off?

Virtual reality if used properly can be a great learning tool.  But with cell phones,  the verdict is still out.   At least  until some genius can develop specific games that actually help teach the academic core to our teenage students.

Millennials and Their Kids, that is what I should of called this article.  But as I dug deeper into some of the issues, it really is a baby boomer issue.  We allowed our millennials to get away just about everything.

I reflect on this paper, and I wonder if my youngest (now 27) will come at me to lock horns  and state the obvious.  Why I you mention at length in this short article the crutches of the argument mother? Do you know the rules? Are the rules only being taught to the students by students, or are manufacturers of technology writing the rules?  Are the parents and teachers being left out on purpose?  Parents and teachers, do you know the selfie rules?

 

And for God’s sake mom, where did you dig up that old photo (she secretly loves the shot)?

 

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Designing in the Digital Age

 

 

#millennial #selfie #education #classroom #teenager

 

 

 

 


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Does Facebook finally have enough emojis

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Dumbing Down the Next Generation

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Dumbing Down the Next Generation


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Lectures in the field

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Lectures in the field and the use of social media as a learning tool


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Edutainment – a Virtual World

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Edutainment - a Virtual World

It might be interesting to see a virtual avatar of the instructor popping in and out like the Cheshire cat giving minimal guidance where appropriate.AAEAAQAAAAAAAAG1AAAAJGNiOTg2ZjI3LTlmNmItNGY0NS04ZmU2LWNhNDU1NDIzZGU4Ng Edutainment - a Virtual WorldThe tangible benefits of this type of environment can be many. The environment can be set up to allow learners to go back or retrace their steps in a process of discovery to correct an error or go to a higher level.

The course would have to be relevant and provide a level of entertainment to keep student motivated and engaged. Not all content has to be entertaining in the real world.

So is there a stimuli balance?

Are students becoming overly stimulated with technology?

As far as edutainment being a legitimate philosophy, yes I feel it could be in certain instances. At the same time, it is a gimmick that will have insurmountable rip-offs trying to support their claims just to gain money. Assessment is the key to the legitimacy. Students will have to show a level of aptitude and accomplish set goals. But the goals need to be justifiable and open to assessment and change.

With Multi User Virtual Environments MUVEs/Second Life (sometimes called virtual worlds), the idea that one can create their own environment that fits AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMyAAAAJDcxNjNiNjZlLWViNjEtNDZjNy04MTQwLWY4NWY5MjJmZjY0Nw Edutainment - a Virtual Worldtheir needs and future needs is an exciting field. However, I do see where it could be negatively used, for instance in “bullying”, or cyber stalking in ways unimaginable; the risk of loss of privacy are high in the virtual environments.

We have to keep pedagogy as our principal focus rather than technologies. It is how you use technology that matters.


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Creating Innovative Students

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Creating Innovative Students

Creating Innovative Students

Creating an online classroom and making sure that the students can be successful in them is a craft that instructional designers and instructors work on endlessly. Building online and blended content for the new technological classrooms requires more time and energy, than the traditional classroom that most of us grew up with. However, online instruction offers something that the traditional classroom doesn’t offer – the ability of the student to actively engage in thetechnological learning process, and gain hands on experiences that pushes them to really think about how things work in an innovative way within the field of emerging technology. That is one of the true defining characteristics of our modern American society “innovation”. We Americans are innovators.

24fdcd0-2 Creating Innovative Students

Anyone can plug information in a ditto sheet, and/or
AAEAAQAAAAAAAAZhAAAAJDI3YjZjOGEwLTcyNjItNDI0Ny1iMDM4LTA4YTQ0MjQxMzcwMA Creating Innovative Studentscram for a paper exam - only to purge that same information out the next day. But real learning, and true innovation, comes from hands on learning and building upon the skills one already possess. That’s what makes this country great. Innovation, hands on – sweat at the brow – even in the field of technology.

I can understand why a student would become distracted and may lose interest in trying to connect with certain online learning sites. Beginning users might need additional encouragement from their tutors or guides to help keep them on task at first. It’s new!

There are a lot of small secondary skills that are often easy to overlook, and simple processes can become complex rapidly if skipped by students. Grouping or organizing of information can become repetitive and lengthy within an online learning environment; making it hard to determine what information is useful. Using teachers as guides is a way to help students overcome these simple barriers.

In the process of trying to design an online instructional course, I find when I design an instructional online class that it is just as simple to prepare a video presentation or two, and strategically locate them in the design This better assists students more appropriately by means of describing the many different informational components.

Those who work at a distance as I do, have come to rely on the the assessments and feedback from the students we serve. It is good to be able to factor in as many changing variables as possible. Student feedback is invaluable.

For instance: If you have ever set and waited for a program to load, and all you see is a little arrow and/or hour glass on your screen - from a new users 0f0524c-2 Creating Innovative Studentsperspective that is “critical load time". Time that they do not yet understand. It is part of the learning process. Internet load time, if slow, can decrease a student’s motivation to remain engaged. Just waiting for the program to load drives some students over the top. I'm with the students 100%, I don't want to wait either; so designing simpler models is best.

Teachers are there to see that behavior is monitored with first time online users. Teachers as guides can help students with reinforcement that engages the students to use their prior skills to stay on task. Timely instructions can make simple concepts easy to understand.

The ability of a student to learn on their own is only measured by their own desire to be successful. The true test of eLearning is in the student’s ability to use their prior knowledge or skill sets to their fullest potential. We have to teach our students to be expert learners. We have to teach them how to use the skills they already have and then help them learn to research new concepts on their own.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous learning

Synchronous learning which is still done mainly in the classroom is not free of technology. You have labs, and chat rooms and video and audio. Technology is everywhere - It’s in the main classroom. A traditional classroom may be 80% free of technology, but the remaining 19 to 20 % is still using some form of technology. In the chart below you begin to see the bigger picture of how engrained technology is becoming in the classroom. Asynchronous is just the opposite of Synchronous - with 80% online and 20% using some form of video conferencing and/or face to face meetings. In the middle you have your blended courses with 20 to 79 % going in either direction. Blended is becoming more a norm for teaching at a distance.

24fdcd0 Creating Innovative Students

I personally like blended learning. I like having a number of scaffolding tools to choose from when developing course content and how I will present it to my students. Student need to be able to transition through step-by-step procedural instructions, as well as sub-step instructions to achieve the instructional goals set out in any online and/or on blended classroom learning environment.

Students need to successfully connect with a tutor, a guide or online instructor, and be able to participate in an online collaboration using their intellectual knowledge that they already have. Students deserve the chance to do that. They are the innovators of the next generation. We owe it to them to craft the best online/ traditional and blended learning environments to help them reach the next step in their learning process. We need to teach them to be expert learners, and we will - because they demand it!

We need to challenge our institutions of higher learning to prepare the future educators of tomorrow to deal with the technological advances that are occurring every day. In many cases it has already begun. The traditional classroom is no more. Wherever you look there are computers labs, IPADs, calculators, cell phones. You have a generation of digital learners. I wonder - if they will have the instructors in the future to keep them motivated, engaged, and willing to collaborate in the learning process. You have to be where the learners are – they are in technology! That is where your instructors and your instructional designers will also be.

If no good deed goes unpunished – then we all will be punished for not taking the time to educate a new breed of teachers who will be able to keep up with the ever changing emerging technologies. Engage your students – but first you must engage your instructors. That is where your instructional designers come in. Instructional designers build the templates and platforms that teachers will load their content upon. Teachers work closely with instructional designers to build the best online classrooms suitable for learning and developing innovative skills.

The innovators of tomorrow are waiting for the tools we will develop today. Our inventions of today will be the tool for creating innovative students of tomorrow.