Net dependence sapping our life skills?

Whilst researching on the net I came across an article that caught my eye, Net dependence sapping our life skills in which the author states that the current generation are losing some of the skills relied upon by previous generations. His article stated:

  • His (digital native) son was unable to read a map when his satellite navigation system was down.
  • Today’s generation expect to access answers to questions immediately via Google.
  • ‘Mobile phones and the internet have ruined an entire generation’s self-reliance’.
  • ‘Today’s generation have lost the joy of studying books, maps, papers and other non-electronic devices’ and so on.

I found myself disagreeing with his comment that ‘mobile phones and the internet have ruined an entire generation’s self-reliance’ as well as the other comments he makes about how students may be lacking/missing out on experiences. The internet has greatly enriched opportunities for enhanced learning experiences via podcasts, wikis, blogs, multi-media, RSS and other resources. Students are becoming self-reliant on how to access information and discern between reliable and non-reliable information. They learn many more skills than previous generations in information retrieval and are exposed to a wider variety of knowledge They are involved in a world of connectedness, collaboration and sharing, all of which enrich and expand their knowledge bank.

By no longer being confined to the walls of their classrooms they can connect with other students outside their school and outside their country. Their learning becomes real-life exchange experiences. These different experiences lead to different brain experiences (Prensky 2001). Learners think and process information differently than their predecessors and their thinking patterns have changed.

Personally I would rather be educated in today’s climate than in the generation I grew up in. Living in the information age means that people need to develop the skills that will enable them to effectively function in society. Technology is moving at such a pace that even the simplest of jobs requires people to use technology. What it means for the future of Australia is that education needs to keep pace with change and not be stuck in traditional pedagogical methods of teaching to enable learners to fulfil their potential in the knowledge society. Unless teachers (and parents) make the effort to connect, they are unable to meet today’s learners’ needs. They need to connect to speak the same language and co-exist with the digital natives!

Does anyone agree that net dependence has sapped our life skills?

References: Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, On the Horizon, Vol. 9, No. 5, NCB University Press.

Web 2.0 and the power of sharing

I needed to prepare a presentation on Web 2.0 and rather than start something from scratch I knew that other educators had probably done the same thing. Within a few days of my request, I received some incredible powerpoint presentations, webslides and teachertube resources.  Many thanks to Ken Price, Jim Mullaney, Phil Pound and others who helped me out.  Here is a webslide presentation Web 2.0 in the classroom, by Mark Woolley that was sent to me. 

Edu 2.0

Edu. 2.0  is an incredible free resource centre for teaching, learning and has a 10,000 plus bank of educational resources.   It provides networking and collaboration in a secure online community.    Teachers can contribute lessons, keep track of assignments, grades, participate in groups and forums.  Plus:

  • Students can create porfolio’s of their best work
  • Conduct surveys with your students
  • Create blogs
  • Games and quizzes
  • Create and share lesson plans
  • Create custom feeds for classes

edu21.jpg

Employers check out Facebook

Employers are not just accepting prospective applicants’ resumes, they are checking out their social networking forums.   In too much information, the authors discuss how people will post just about anything on social networking sites.  They warn that it is becoming routine for prospective employers to scour applicants profiles via  Facebook or MySpace to find out more about the person than what is stated in their resume.   Prospective applicants have lost job opportunities when their Facebook profile exposes them in a non-favourable light.

There is also the question of safety.  Many people will accept Facebook’s request to be a friend without even knowing who they are linking with.  They reveal personal details which could be used for identity theft.

Educating young people to build profiles which identify their talents and strengths via blogs and e-portfolios will enable them to present a positive image for their future job prospects.  Awareness of stranger-danger online will safeguard their identity.  Web 2.0 tools are great, but they need to be used with awareness.

Meme: Passion Quilt – Guiding Hands

Learning

I felt honoured to be tagged by Anne Mirtschin  for inclusion in the Passion Quilt initiated by Miguel Gulhin  where teachers are invited to share their passion for teaching symbolised by a picture and a synopsis of their passion. I have always had a passion for instilling a love of learning in students and since my induction into Web 2.0 tools I have been hooked on the potential that they offer for learning.   The enthusiasm that I experience via my online network is infectious and motivating.   It inspires my passion to share this knowledge with today’s learners.

The picture (by Rayparnava) shows the guiding hands of the teacher along with the student.  When the student becomes confident and  has mastered the steps, she will no longer need those guiding hands.  This encapsulates my passion for guiding and nurturing learners, to become their own masters of new skills and knowledge.  To give them the tools to be confident in this information age.  Confident that whatever they turn their hand to, there will always be a guiding hand to support them on their way (and how to access that support!).  It also depicts my experience with my professional network – there is always a guiding hand.

The rules for the Passion Quilt are:

  1. Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
  2. Post a picture from a source like Flickr or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about and give your picture a short title.
  3. Title your blog post Meme: Passion Quilt and link back to this blog entry.
  4. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

I look forward to seeing the images of Melanie, Richard, Kate and Kelly.

Free technology resources for teachers

Centralised locations for resources saves teachers time and energy in locating suitable material for specific subject areas.  Another innovation for k-12 educators initiated by Richard Byrne  is his proposed FreeTech4Teachers site. If you go to the site you can register your interest in its launch.  Richard’s blog Free Technology for Teachers hosts a rich supply of k-12 resources and ideas for integrating them into education and will form the basis for the new site.    Additionally, it proposes to host a multi-media sharing component similar to “teacher tube” but with file sharing options.

Edutagger

Edutagger (created by Mark Schumann) is a new kid on the social bookmarking block for K-12 learners and educators for the storing and sharing of web links.  Del.icio.us works for many educators and there is talk of creating an import facility from it into edutagger.     Once you register to become an edutagger, you will have access to submit links.      Users will be able to tag links.  The most popular tags will reside on the front page.  The aim of edutagger is to provide a means for learners and educators to benefit from the many quality resources in a central location.

Blogging for learning

Blogging offers so many opportunites for learners of all ages.  After reading Anne Mirtschin’s 20 reasons why students should blog any educator would be convinced to introduce it into the classroom.  It improves literacy skills,  develops deeper thinking and because it has a wider audience than the traditional teacher-student exchange, promotes self-esteem and confidence plus a whole host of other learning.    Hopefully more and more schools will take it on board across the curriculum.

Ipods for Learning

Ipods are the new learning tool in higher education: downloaded lectures, storing files, learning languages and a whole array of other uses are described in Ipods for learning and teaching.

I read an article which described how a teacher downloaded lesson files to help students of lesser abilities to prepare for tests. The students felt less self-conscious listening to their lessons on ipods and their test scores increased considerably.

This brings up the issue of digital divide: not all students own an ipod.  Who provides the ipods for educational purposes? Whereas most higher education students are likely to own an ipod, this is not the case with all school students.   Similarly, some students will have computers at home and others will not.  This imbalance is an issue that needs to be addressed for equity of learning.

21st Century Learning

Those teachers who are passionate about Web 2.0 tools for teaching and learning have a reason for their passion.  They can see the potential for increased learning.

What about students?  In From Their Perspective, Ryan Bretag has identified amongst his students:

  • students use technology when it adds value to their life not just for the sake of using it.  Therefore tools that help them collaborate, manage their time, experience more were valued.
  • students don’t know everything about technology but they are more open-minded compared to older generations.
  • students want a learning space that moves with them rather than remaining static.
  • students were excited about connecting locally, regionally and globally.

Although on a small scale, the above is probably indicative of students’ views of Web 2.0 tools.