Saturday, February 11, 2006

Podcast Commentary

Raw Materials for the Mind, pages 280-292

Podcasting is something I have a definite interest in, but there doesn't seem to be the required technology at my school. I've never done it or heard it either. The chapter didn't really substiture for a firsthand experience, and I don't really have the time to delve into right not.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Facing the Future [and the downloading thing]

Facing the Future... This was well written and insightful.

The other downloading thing... I was bored by that music downloading debate/crisis a long time ago. I've never downloaded; don't know where to go, what to do, haven't missed it.

Raw Materials for the Mind, pages 258-280

Some mildly interesting discussion on the purposes of various web-sites. Guidelines for what to consider in creating a website. This is really the least interesting section of the book that I've read through; or the section that seemed least applicable for me. Change has always constant, but it hasn't been so damned fast. We do "seem to have less and less time to deal with more and more change leading to a relentless assualt on our comfort zone."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Raw Materials for the Mind, pages 245-258

After blogging as much as we have this is nothing new to me. The Landmark-Project "Blogmeister" seems like a good tool, though I doubt I will try to mess with it this school year. Reading and editing students blogs maight not be any more difficult than grading papers, but on the surface I somehow suspect that it is.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Raw Materials for the Mind, pages 207-245

I can certainly attest to the fact that students tend to rebel, subtly or overtly, against doing any writing that doesn't fit into their idea of what is worthwhile. In fact, many students profess to feeling that all writing in school is pointless. Having experienced this far more than I like, it's certainly attractive to find a possible scenario in which students will be more intrinsically motivated to write thoughtfully and thoroughly.

On the subject of learning how through teaching, I don't really know how to include a wide variety of media in what I do on the computer. However, I am pretty sure that I'll learn to do this soon. I certainly want to make a WebQuest assignment for my classes. My constant complaint of "too much stress/not enough time" applies here again. But, hopefully, I will be able to get this done soon. It really wouldn't be too difficult to make one better than a lot of the WebQuests that I've seen. I will definitely check out the sites and resources listed in our book.

I haven't really had a chance to explore the different styes of webquest sites and the "slate" site discussed, but I am planning on (hopefully) using a webquest in my classes soon. I also plan on looking into the "who else" link through the pinet library for ideas or other links that will be useful to me. I already utilize the pinet library for my own link site.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Raw Materials for the Mind, pages 180-206

Honestly, a lot of this section falls into the "Greek to me" category. I definitely want to, need to, explore the applications about transferring images and audio from one format to another. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten around to doing this.

I definitely appreciate the citation information and the steps to follow to obtain proper permission for the use of information. I have mixed reactions to the concepts for implementing various types of internet information. Basically, I'm interested in the ideas that I can see applying to lessons in my own classes.

The last section introducing WebQuests is one that I want to investigate further. I really want to try designing and incorporating a WebQuest as a unit. The idea of doing so is daunting because I don't feel like I have the time; and if I spend any time on something that it turns out I can't find use for...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Oversold and Underused

It is difficult for me to say whether or not computers in the school for which I work have been underused. I'd have to say almost certainly they have, but there are so few computers available that it makes it hard to tell. The only classroom that seems to have computers for students' use is (drum roll) the computer class. There is a computer lab in the library that can be reserved for your class, but it seems that most teachers just don't bother with the hassle. You can also check out a computer to use in the classroom, but this is also a hassle because the method for showing the screen to the class is problematic. Of course, I am so frazzled that my level of not wanting "the hassle" is higher than some other teachers.

To deal more closely with the article, I am certainly not surprised that computers haven't made any "fundamental change" in students' performance on test scores. I am told that the level of student motivation at my school is widely recognized as very poor. It seems that there is a culture of apathy that the teachers and administration have been trying to grapple with for years... and no one has found a workable solution.

I feel that many teachers simply do no feel that computers greatly enhance students' ability to learn whatever it is that is considered central to that class's curriculum. In response to "more professional development," this seems to be the answer to every teaching issue. Frankly, I am tired of professional development that is not sequenced in an order that is helpful to me. "Professional" development seems all over the board; and so scattered that I don't know what to do with it.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Technopoly, Chapter 4 - The Improbable World

Reflection on Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, by Neil Postman, ISBN 0-679-74540-8; pages 56-70.

I was very impressed by the intellectual power of this writing. It congealed a very large period of history in a way I have not heard before, and did so very effectively. I personally would not perform experiments with untruths on unsuspecting, innocent people as Postman says he did; but he makes a good point in illustrating how poorly most people employ critical-thinking skills.

The extension of this point is a powerful truth - the world we live in is so inundated with mind-boggling amounts of "information" that it has become virtually impossible to know very much about anything.

I found the author's example of an ordered versus a shuffled deck of cards (with the shuffled deck representing the chaotic nature of our current culture's "information" structure) very insightful.

In a side note, I find that this is also an excellent way of conceptualizing the difference between a good course of study and a poor one. As a first year teacher, I fear that my course outline (loosely termed) is far too shuffled to be very good. I have been scrambling to simply come up with decent lesson plans from day to day; and as far as them being well-ordered, and building a gradual and logical progression... well, I'll do better in the future.

The author's point is true - the problems of the world are not now due to a lack of information. We are assaulted by "information" from every angle. I am not a Buddhist, but I can certainly see the spiritual point in leading a simple, meditative life of "chopping wood, carrying water."

In a sense, information itself may well have become "the enemy." Our current world is built upon an ever-changing landscape of information. The question is, does this landscape allow anyplace where it is possible to put down roots?

This is an issue that I have thought about before. I have heard it discussed from various perspectives prior to reading this article. However, I had not heard or read this particular approach before, and I am very glad that I now have.