kellyschreckengost

November 3, 2012

Education: A 2020 Outlook

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 7:30 am

This week, I am about to complete an online graduate course that I enrolled in to enhance my skills as a private tutor and speech-language pathologist. The title of the course, “Building Online Collaborative Environments Online” by PLS, was created to help “classroom teachers harness the power of online technologies like blogs, podcasts, and wikis for student engagement and learning” (Performance Learning Systems, 2012).

As many of you are aware, I currently practice as a private SLP and a private tutor in Pennsylvania. I graduated with my M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology in 2002. I went on to work as a speech-language pathologist in a large public school district in Western Pennsylvania until 2004, when I celebrated the birth of my second child. It was at that time that I decided that staying at home with my children was where I wanted to be. I resigned from my position that year.

In 2007, it was time to decide whether or not I wanted to enroll my eldest son in Kindergarten in the public school system. I was torn. I was educated in the public school system and although I excelled in terms of academics, I couldn’t help but remember how much I felt that I lacked and how much I had to teach myself in order to compensate when I began college. I didn’t want that for my son.

I was also unhappy with the face of education when I left my teaching position in 2004. I knew first hand that many teachers were being overwhelmed with mandates and testing requirements that were not aimed at the best interests of the child. The amount of paperwork that I was required to complete in the area of Special Education left very little time for me to focus on the specialized needs of each child. I felt more like a worker on the production line, going through the same motions every day just to make quota, or in educational terms, meet standards. What happened to the ability to meet each student’s individual needs?

After many long hours of thought, my husband and I decided that homeschooling should be considered. But how was this to be handled? I researched and researched. Would I be making the right decision if I homeschooled? Homeschooling came with a stigma. It was labeled as odd and unordinary. I had little support from fellow educators.

So in the fall of 2007, I decided to try a blended approach. I enrolled my son in an online private academy. I liked the fact that each day had dedicated coursework to be completed, but at my own discretion and time. I would also have my son at home to teach in case I felt any of the areas were lacking. Unfortunately, they did end up lacking. I felt that for the price that I was paying, the curriculum was not sufficient. I was spending too much time compensating for the online curriculum’s weaknesses.

That same spring, as I completed my son’s Kindergarten year, I attended my first homeschooling conference held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show & Expo Center in Harrisburg, PA. It was there that my eyes were opened. I was not alone. There were HUNDREDS of families just like me taking the same plunge. I knew that even though I was not seasoned yet, I could homeschool. It would take a lot of preparation and work, but I could do it. And I did. And I still am-five years later, now with the addition of four of my other five children enrolled under the Private Tutor Law of Pennsylvania.

I’m sure that many of you are wondering, where am I going with this? How am I going to tie this into my title, “Education: A 2020 Outlook?” Well, I believe that I am experiencing one of the great shifts in modern education. My eldest son will graduate in the year 2020. He will be one of the many students who has been taught outside of the “traditional” physical classroom walls and he will have extensive knowledge of Web 2.0 technologies and beyond. Without the web and online coursework, I would be unable to help my children make the connections that they so easily have. The current web is now extremely interactive. It is not just read/write anymore. It is “collaborative” as the title to my course states. It brings people together with few limitations or boundaries. It helps us learn from others’ experiences and lets us share information for the greater knowledge of a group.

Web 2.0 technologies, such as Wikipedia, have shown us that knowledge can now be easily created by anyone and shared throughout the online world. Programs like Skype have allowed people to interact face to face regardless of where they are at. I know a few homeschoolers who have used Skype technology to communicate with other homeschoolers and teachers from across the globe. Other web technologies, such as blogs and RSS feeds, play a huge role in helping educators and homeschoolers find a myriad of online information quickly and easily. By the year 2020, I can only foresee web technologies playing a greater role in education. Aside from the current resurgence in the homeschooling movement, there are many current public school students who are involved in online public schools from home. They sign in each day and are monitored via web cams. There are also blended programs for accelerated students in which they participate in lectures in public school and then take online courses as extra electives. Web 2.0 technologies are critical in the interaction for these courses.

In my opinion, I believe that the classrooms of the future will continue to decrease physical and most likely, time barriers. In fact in 2020, I believe that the web will have advanced much further than the Web 2.0 technologies we have talked about today. It’s hard to image what these technologies may be, but one thing is for sure: change will occur. Like I said initially, change is inevitable and change is often uncomfortable, but change can not occur without learning. May we strive to see the benefits in change that will  make us stronger educators.

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November 2, 2012

Web Applications for the Student

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 12:34 am
Tags: , ,

This week, I started looking at web applications that are available for the student. One I’d like to talk about today is called Zoho Notebook. I’m sure many of you are already familiar with this app since it has been around for awhile, but since it is new to me, I’d like to explain why I find it so promising. First, since Zoho is a web based app, there are no restrictions as to who can log into it based on operating systems. So if I’m working on my Mac at home and need to finish a page in my notebook later on my PC at work; I can do that-easily.

Zoho Notebook markets itself by saying “Create, Aggregate, Collaborate.” Basically, Zoho Notebook allows you to create and store various types of media (audio, text, photo, video, etc.). It also allows you to take that media and use it in a project. You can take info from various applications and put them into your Zoho Notebook. Another neat feature is that you can use read/write features to share any amount of content that you need to. If you want to share a whole page great, but if you just need to share a video file with someone or a photo, you can just do that too.

Although the above features are great, I can’t help but think of how this app could help many students-especially those in upper grades or at the collegiate level. Since technology has made it easy to store audio files, a student who doesn’t want to miss any important aspects of a class discussion or lecture can now record the material and upload it to Zoho Notebook. Say that, for example, a student is taking an anatomy course. On Zoho Notebook, they can create a page just for the course and add any relevant information that they need. If they are studying a unit on the muscles of the upper arm, they can add any recorded lecture from class, any photos of important muscles to remember (even with added arrows pointing to each muscle!), and key texts points that they need to remember. This is exciting for me and really useful for the kinesthetic learner. When I was in graduate school, I know I would have really appreciated an app like this. Hopefully, many of you can benefit from this neat app as well!

October 25, 2012

Paperless Classrooms?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 2:52 am

I was intrigued by an article I just read about the paperless classroom. The paperless classroom described in the article was part of an experiment at Columbia University in which eight students, enrolled in an undergraduate class, viewed and submitted all documentation (course syllabus, work due, etc.) electronically. The interesting twist to this paperless class was that it was not an online course. The students actually met twice a week for face-to-face lectures and discussions.

This article lead me to start thinking about how I would feel if I were to go paperless? I’ve come to the conclusion that it is probably a personal preference into how much paperwork a teacher wants to include in the classroom. The above class was a collegiate course in which students were more than capable of independently logging into their class and participating. It’s much easier for the upper level student to independently read tutorials and information on how to submit work electronically if it is new to them. Thus, I can see why the trial at Columbia was a success.

On the other hand, I am currently working with elementary aged children, who are by no means computer illiterate, but they definitely require a lot more guidance when it comes to using online sources. I can not see me converting all of my paperwork online. That doesn’t mean that I won’t consider a mix though. I think it’s acceptable to begin to blend the use of pen and paper and the computer to teach students how to take advantage of bringing “life” to their works.

In my previous blog post, I talked about the shift in education to include more student work online. I think it would be a great idea, at the elemenatary level, to have students use traditional methods of writing and revising on paper and then incorporating their final drafts online using media such as podcasts, screencasts, etc.

I feel that for me, a completely paperless class may take away from the role that I play as a teacher and model. At this level, I want my students to understand how written paperwork is to be completed properly. To me, they need to understand the basic foundations of writing before they move into typing. They need to know what to do when technologies are not available. I also feel that at this age, students are very kinesthetic learners and it may be a detriment to have them lose the”feeling” of writing.

I don’t deny the value that a paperless class my have for some, but for me, I try to actively engage my children in as many activities as possible to build a good foundation for learning. I’d be hesitant to go completely paperless at the elementary age.

Big Shifts

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 1:39 am

In Will Richardson’s Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom, he lists ten big fundamental shifts occurring in education.  They are as follows:

  1. Open Content
  2. Many Teachers and 24/7 Learning
  3. The Social, Collaborative Construction of Meaningful Knowledge
  4. Teaching in Conversation, Not Lecture
  5. Know “Where” Learning
  6. Readers are No Longer Just Readers
  7. The Web as Notebook (or Portfolio)
  8. Writing is No Longer Limited to Text
  9. Mastery is the Product, Not the Text
  10. Contribution, Not Completion, as the Ultimate Goal

One shift that I’d like to discuss today is number 7, “The Web as Notebook (or Portfolio).” The concept of this shift is that as the web continues to become a prominent place to gather information, the effectiveness of using pen and paper to capture the information becomes less relevant (Richardson, 2010). Online, a student’s portfolio has the opportunity to become alive, so to speak, due to the ability to take advantage of photography, podcasting, screencasting, etc.

This is an exciting concept for me as a Private Tutor under PA Homeschool Law. Starting at the compulsory age of 8, documentation is required by law. As an educator with an active teaching certificate, it is up to me to document the portfolios of my children. Up until this point, I have been keeping written documentation of everything we complete, but I can’t help but think that I need to take the plunge into the “Big Shift” that is occurring and start to make my children’s portfolios electronic. Instead of taking a photograph of a completed science project or including a written copy of a well written poem, why not make a video with my child explaining what they have completed or a podcast of them reading the poem?

In a society where gaining an edge may be the key to success, I’d like to take my children to the next level. I’d like to show colleges that when my children started school, they were actively involved in the technological world around them. When my first child graduates in eight years, I want colleges to recognize that these technologies were being utilized by my children before they were a standard. It’s exciting to think that I have the chance to be a part of this “Big Shift.” I sit here now, feeling somewhat content and thankful.

October 21, 2012

Connectivism

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 1:17 am

What is Connectivism? George Siemens states that “Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories” (Siemans, 2004). It is based on the idea that learning does not rest in the head of the individual, but instead in the world around us (Wikipedia, 2012). It is controversial whether Connectivism is a new learning theory or a rehash of previously published theories. This week, my classmates and I posted arguments that were either for or against Connectivism. The viewpoint given to my opposing group was that Connectivism is supported as a new learning theory. My group was assigned to the position against Connectivism as a new learning theory. After reading both sides of the argument, I still feel that Connectivism is not a new learning theory. However, I do want to point out that whether it is a modern day rehash of older theories or not, valid points do exist. The modern day student is making several new connections on a regular basis using web technologies. One issue that I have against Connectivism is that even though our storage methods for information have changed over the years, the fact that we still learn through our given resources and experiences remains the same–whether it’s in written form or an electronic medium. I don’t agree with the Connectivist view that the way our mind processes information has changed. Yes, the modern world is connected at a more rapid pace because of the internet, but I believe how that effects the mind and learning is up to the individual. I believe that most people don’t absorb information fully because they are not taking the time to absorb it. I don’t believe that it has anything to do with the Connectivst view that information is not fully processed by the individual because it is so vast and because it is constantly changing.

October 20, 2012

Skype: What is all the hype?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 3:56 am

I’ve had a chance to delve into the world of Skype in the past few days. This is one area that I feel very comfortable commenting on. Skype’s ability to bring people together, without having to worry about physical distance, is priceless. As an SLP, I have had instances in which I have needed to access clients when they have not been physically able to attend a session. The medical office that I work in is Skype enabled and uses Apple’s Facetime as well. Sharing space with a medical practice has enabled me to see how much modern medicine has advanced because of technology too. Programs like Skype break down the physical barriers that doctors and patients have encountered in the past. Patients who live far distances away, or those who need access to care while on business trips or vacations, are able to use one of the above programs (Skype or Facetime) to connect with their physician and have a virtual visit if necessary. It is truly amazing to see this in action. For me, I know that Skype comes in handy for teaching as well. I know fellow teachers who have worked on joint projects with other teachers and classrooms located in other states and even countries. They’ve used Skype as a point of unity to bring the students together when discussions were needed. In short, Skype makes it easier to break down the walls that inhibit us from making connections outside of our immediate environment on a regular basis and is a resource worth exploring if you haven’t already.

October 16, 2012

Blogical Discussion

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 2:54 am

This past week I did some research into what technologies are available for the Speech-Language Pathologist. I had recently written to a classmate of mine and commented on how technology has exploded in the past 10 years. In graduate school, we were still using the tape recorder to capture live speech from our clients. Today, most people have smart phones in their pockets that allow them to capture the voice and store it in an MP3 format. It’s become almost effortless to obtain a quick articulation or language sample when needed.

During my perusing of information, I came across an older blog post from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) talking about blogging and podcasting for the SLP. This blog post was written by a talented trilingual SLP named Barbara Fernandes. One of Barabara’s accomplishments is a series of podcasts/vodcasts/screencasts that can be found at  Geek SLP TV. I am really excited to find these resources. Barbara does a remarkable job explaining how to use technology and incorporate it into the therapy needs of the SLP. If you are an Apple user, Barbara has a series of informative tutorials on how to use Apple technologies. She provides some PC info as well.

Barbara is also the director and owner of a company called Smarty Ears, which develops all sorts of SLP, teacher, and parent apps that can be downloaded through the iTunes store. It is worth it to check out these resources. And although I need to look into this more, she has an app called the Sunny Articulation Test that is supposed to be a wonderful tool for the school based SLP. I’ll be checking into that later.

While looking through all of this information, it sparked a great idea for a blogical discussion. Why not see how many useful resources we can find and post to this discussion page? Even though we are educators with different backgrounds, it never hurts to have a vast array of resources to pull from. When you tell us about your favorite resource or resources, please include a link and give us all a description of what to use it for, why you chose it, and why you like it so much. At the end of the week, I’ll comprise a summary page and we’ll all have it to keep! Getting excited about starting this 🙂 Talk with you all very soon.

October 15, 2012

Using Podcasts in the Classroom

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 8:15 pm

This week I was looking for an example podcast to help my children understand how to incorporate technology into their language arts curriculum. I finally came across a series of podcasts from Wells Elementary School’s 4th grade students. The one that sparked my interest was by Ms. Weisman’s class. The class put together a series of stories/letters/poems that they had written, also incorporating some music in between. I found this very interesting. I am now planning on using this podcast as an example to show my children how written works can be brought to life. I am also going to have them create an audio book of their favorite works and pick music of their choice to depict the tone and mood for their stories. Essentially, I want them to understand that they can use music, just like an illustrator would use pictures to help enhance a story.

October 10, 2012

Using Flickr in the Classroom

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 10:16 pm

This is the perfect week for me to discuss how I would use Flickr in the classroom! For the past four days, I have been in San Diego, California on a business trip with my husband. During these four days, I have had a chance to visit some truly amazing places. This is my first trip to the west coast and the first time I’ve ever seen the Pacific Ocean.

As an educator, I have been having a field day capturing images of historic downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp district, Petco Park, the Maritime museum, the Navy base with its amazing fleets, the beautiful Pacific Ocean views, views of the Mexican border, and the amazing sea life along the coast (sea lions and seals in particular that are so new and different for me, a Western Pennsylvanian, to see in their natural environment). 

IMG_1693

Thank goodness for technology. With the iPhone and the iPad, my children and I have been able to keep in touch via FaceTime and iMessaging. It has been amazing! While I have been away, my mother, a 35 year veteran of the PA public school system, has been filling in for me as the educator for my children. Along with their routine school work, I have been sending them numerous pictures and videos of San Diego and its’ surrounding areas. We have discussed so much this week and most of our discussion has centered around the pictures that I have sent them.

Learning about Flickr this week has given me a great idea to compile a slide show of the pictures that I have taken and annotate them for a discussion with the kids when I get home. After reading chapter 7 of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, by Will Richardson, I learned that I could integrate Google Earth and Google Maps into my presentation so that I am able to open up exactly where my picture was taken using Google Earth.

Here’s a step-by-step guide as to how I integrated the Google Earth feature. First, I knew that I wanted to show the kids where I took the pictures of the seals and sea lions while on my trip in CA, so the first thing I did was to type “La Jolla Cove” into the search line at Google Maps (Maps.Google.com). Google Maps took me to the exact spot I was looking for on a California map. Next, I clicked on the “link” button at the top right of the map. A URL for the page appeared giving me the latitude and longitude information that I needed to add to my Flickr tags. This information was located after the letters “ll” in the Google Maps address. For La Jolla Cove, it looked like this: ll=32.849483,-117.273328.

Once I’d located all of the above information, I then went back to the photo of the seals and sea lions that I took at La Jolla Cove and added the tags that showed the coordinates Google Maps had given me. I used the following form: geo:lat=32.849483 for the latitude tag and geo:lon=-117.273328 for the longitude tag. After adding a third tag called “geotagged,” I was done except for adding the following comment in the comments section on my Flickr page:

Click on <a href=http://www.roblog.com/flickrfly.php>this link</a> to see this picture in <a href=http://earth.google.com/>Google Earth!</a>

The above comment had to be written exactly as is stated above.

Once I published this comment, I just clicked on the link, and Google Earth opened up and showed me exactly where my photo was taken. Neat, right? I couldn’t have asked for better timing on learning how to use this amazing Flickr feature!

Check out my actual Flickr photo of the “Seals at La Jolla Cove” and make sure to check out my Google Earth link by clicking here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/88418933@N02/8075193906/#

October 6, 2012

Wikis in the Classroom

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 10:00 pm

This week was the first time that I ever worked on creating a wiki. Up until this point, the only “wiki term” that I recognized was the online resource, Wikipedia. The process of actually participating in a group wiki was a little intimidating to me at first. However, once I created my own wiki spaces account and logged into the group workspace, I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of how the wiki works. What’s really great is the ease of posting new information. I  love the fact that there is a trail for revisions. I am a constant reviser! I had a very knowledgable English teacher in high school who stressed the importance of reading and rereading what you write. More than likely, you’ll have changes to make!

I wasn’t sure how the online collaboration would work on the wiki, but I was pleased to find the discussion button easily located at the top of my group workspace. The only confusing part for me was that you can leave a message in your group’s general workspace or once you click on a specific project link. I originally left a message in the general workspace, until I realized another one of my group members had left a message in the section under the specific project link that we were supposed to use. 🙂 This was really a minor confusion for me though, and from that point on, my group and I were able to contact each other quite easily.

I have to say that it was really nice to share a worksite with others. We worked collaboratively, suggesting areas that we could help with, and overall, everything went smoothly. Here’s what I learned that encourages me to continue building wikis:

-I loved sharing and building an information site with others because we were able to bring the “best” of the resources we had to the table. You know the saying, “two heads are better than one.”

-If I missed anything, it was nice to have a supportive group to back me up and add to or check my work for errors.

-Working with a group online is a bonus!  There are no meeting times to worry about. You can log in and access your wiki when it is convenient for you.

 

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