Thursday, March 29, 2012

Keeping Up with Today's Students with Connectivism

Today’s learners are very different from learners in the past.  In the past students were expected to maintain one line of communication at a time at any given time of the day. Whether they were communicating with peers or friends, receiving instruction from a teacher or discussing their day with a parent. One conversation at a time was the expectation. In some times and locations, it is still the expectation, but students today are capable of much more.

Today at any given moment, with today’s technology, a child can be texting a friend, messaging someone else on Facebook, and “tweeting” on Twitter during a phone call with their parent and all of that can be done using a cell phone. If they are sitting in front of a computer or video gaming system, their means of multitasking increases tremendously. As educators we need to keep up with these abilities in order to keep the students engaged. Connectivism is a learning theory that relates to the way students think today.

From using various networking sites student understand the idea or networking much more clearly than previous generation. They understand that you connect to new people through their personal friends and that once you connect to someone new, you are then connected to more people through the new friend. This related back to connecting ideas not only to their components, but their real life applications. This was something previous generations did not have the ability to do because they were not as connected to those around them.

Connectivism involves having lots of options, gaining information from non-living sources (such as the internet, blogs, articles) and connecting smaller ideas together to build larger more complex concepts and skills (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). It fits the minds of today’s youth. So that bring the question, how can we bring this to the classroom?

I am open to any suggestions. For older student, my thoughts behind it are to include more online blogs and discussion boards in your lessons. Students can keep up with different threads and responses according to the skill or concept you are working on in class. Past that I would suggest including more real life applications of those skills. Use online menus or price guides to hypothetical create grocery lists, buy the student “ideal” cars or go out to dinner. Have them use that information to figure out their bill, financing, or total cost of the meal with tax and tip. For younger students, teach them early to be proficient in technology. They will need it the rest of their lives.

Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved March 27, 2012 from

VoiceThread: A Lesson in Voice Volumes

Here is my VoiceThread link:

I feel that when it comes to recording the voices of my young students I should give you a fair warning. Some students spoke softly, and some, well, did not. Even changing the microphone input volume did not help a whole lot with the situation. So my warning to you, please excuse the super low voices and the super loud voices. I am still learning how to appropriately record voices and my students are still working on appropriate voice levels. Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Constructionism and 21st Century Learners

Today's learners are different from any other generation of learners. The incorporation of technology is crucial to engage these learners. In addition, they need hands-on involvement through project-based learning. Today's students are multi-taskers, and they should not have to sit there while their education happens to them. They should be involved. Constructionism is an answer to the needs to today's students. 

Constructionism is student learning that takes place through the creation of artifacts or something else that can be experienced by another person (Laureate Education, 2011). To begin this creating process, the students need to know what they think the outcome will be. That is their hypothesis. Next the student must decide what kind of problem it is and then plan how to get to the desired outcome. After following through with their plan, they have to confirm, deny, or adjust their hypothesis. In this process, students can create something to help explain their outcome. The artifacts created aid the student in fully understanding whether or not they achieved their hypothesis. Constructionism and hypotheses are very similar. The students are working on finding the answer, instead of just being told what the answer is. 

Of the technologies discussed in this week’s reading, the one I found most intriguing is under the Web Resources, where they discuss simulations. The story of Dave McDivitt and how he used a simulator to explain to outcomes of World War II is quite interesting to me. It is not possible for his students to live the actual war, as time-machines have yet to be invented, but they are through this simulation "living" the war. They could watch a dozen movies and still not understand the emotions behind the events that unfolded. As Mr. McDivitt explained her could here the students strategizing in the hallways (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). They were feeling the events of that war. That is an amazing learning experience for them. I am very excited to try out some of the websites listed in the book. As a resident of California I am especially interested in the SmogCity. 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved on March 21, 2011 from

Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction    
          that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Constructivism and Virtual Field Trips

This week we took a look at various sources for virtual field trips. There were field trips for a plethora of factory tours and places around the world. Virtual Field Trips were created as a way to experience places that you cannot access from your school. Either the distance is too far, or, with all of the budget cuts that are affecting schools, there just is not money for trips. It opens up new experiences for our students from the convenience of our classrooms. This helps support the idea of constructivism, as long as you follow up with a hands on experience.

Constructivism requires both physical and mental involvement in a lesson (Bhattacharya & Han, 2001). A virtual field trip gives a new experience that student would not typically get with direct instruction. They get a demonstration where they would typically just get an explanation or lecture. Following this up with an activity where they can show what the field trip was telling them gives them the physical aspect they need to build their schema. One example is students could build a bike out of noodles after watching how a cycling company builds their bikes. Another example of a hands on extension would be students could create travel pamphlets of places they traveled to in a virtual field trip. There are endless possibilities to options of how to follow up a virtual field trip.

Bhattacharya, K.& Han, S. (2001). Piaget and cognitive development. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on 
             learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Behaviorism: An Oldie but a Goodie (Sometimes)

While reading through our text this week, there were many activities that teachers were using in classrooms in order to teach the importance of effort and give students opportunities to practice what they have learned in school. While reading through these one specific activity gave the impression of behaviorism more than other activities.

The activity that stands out in my mind, as behaviorism, is the effort and grades data collecting and charting. The lessons involve students tracking and recording the time spent on and quality of class notes, attention in class, participation in class, homework, and studying. Then, they graphed it against the graded outcome (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007)

Behaviorism is a system that is based on rewarding desirable behavior and punishing undesirable behaviors (Standridge, 2002). In this particular case, the reward is a good grade, and the punishment is a lower grade. In this process, the students also have to internalize the desire for good grades as motivation.  The students are expected to see a correlation between effort and their grades. The higher the effort equaled the higher the grade. In order for this to work, the students need to have the desire for high grades. Without that, there is no reward. No reward means there is no reason to condition oneself to put forth effort to earn nothing (or something you do not care about.)

That raises the question, how do you make a student care about good grades if they do not see the value? How do you convince a child that good grades can get you a better job and no, you do not have to settle for just any job that is out there?

Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction 
             that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Standridge, M.. (2002). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, 
             and technology. Retrieved February 29, 2012, from