Saturday, July 24, 2010

Week 5: Technology Knocks My Door?

Technology knocked my door this week with a very valuable array of ideas that can make a difference or change for my students.

Literary tracker tool, online calendar, digital avatars, plagiarism checker, wikis, blogs, webQuest, e-mailing, chatting, online discussion boards, delicious.com, podcasts, websites, and digital camera to record students’ presentation are among many tools which my colleagues will use to change their classrooms.

Thanks my dear colleagues for these thoughts and ideas that can help me approach many issues and problems in my classrooms. What I think about now is how to know the results of using these tools with your students as some of us are on holiday. Even If we prepare a well-organized plan for our suggestions , there will be a difference between what is on paper and what is on realty.

When I thought for the first time to use blogs as a technology-inspired change in my classroom, I find it very motivating and interesting. This is before even this course as an idea for my Ph.D. I spent two months to search for this change and after I found it, another problem appeared. The main point is not related to integrating blogs in teaching, but how to use it effectively with students. When Deborah asked us to create blogs at the beginning of this course, I expected an approach to frame our use of blogging. I mean blogs are just a tool by which students publish their work. Of course, there is a drafting cycle that enables students to write, edit, rewrite, publish and even after publishing, students can edit their work again and again many times. I suggested this framework in one of my blog’s posts: http://azharreflections.blogspot.com/2010/06/week-1-framework-for-using-blogs-before.html#comments. However, I want a broad approach under which I can use blogs as a tool. May be the process approach is suitable here, but I want something new for using this new tool.

If we look at blogs theoretically, we will find it based of a new learning theory called “Connectivism”. It places emphasis on the importance of instructing students to search for, filter, analyze, and synthesize information in order to obtain knowledge. Siemens (2004) advocates this theory pointing out “When knowledge …. is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than the learner currently possesses.

Siemens compared the “flow of information …. in a knowledge economy to the equivalent of the oil pipe in an industrial economy. Creating, preserving and utilizing information flow should be a key organizational activity. This pipe is more important than the content within the pipe. Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today.

In short it is a theory of the digital age and the 21st century. Then, how to use it in our classrooms. This can be done through developing new approaches, models or strategies involved its principles. I searched a lot for frameworks to use it as I liked its idea very much, but until now there are just tools for applying its potentials. All of you know the web 2.0 tools. They are wonderful means to add flavor in our classrooms. However, I’m still searching for an approach to frame my use of blogs or even wikis.

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