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2020 Vision

November 15, 2008 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

To understand how education will change by the year 2020 we should first discuss how technology will change dramatically by the year 2020.  Moore’s Law basically says that technology gets increases in capability but decreases in price over time.  When I say technology increases in capability, I mean that computers keep getting smaller and smaller, but the amount of memory they can store keeps increasing.  The processing speed of these sleeker smarter computers will continue to get faster.  Check out this video.  Computers in the future may be no bigger than a pen, but more capable than our computers today in every way imaginable.  Future Computer Of 2020.flv  When you can put a computer that is better than the one you’re working on now into a pen, what else will technology be in?  The possibilities are truly limitless.

This pattern in technology will change how prevalent technology will become. Students will have to be technologically savvy.   As technology becomes better and more affordable it will reach more and more people in many different ways.  Technology will show up in devices like watches, pens, sun glasses, and I have even seen proposals for a cell phone that could fit in your tooth. Think about how technology is applied and will be applied to items like household appliances, vehicles, tools, weapons, clothing, shoes, the list could really go on for quite some time.  Technology will be everywhere!  Not that you would want to, but it will be hard to ban access to the internet in many places.  As more people have better technology, we will depend more on it at school, work, home, and when we travel.  The web will become the source for entertainment, education, social networking, shopping, and more.  We will need to know what the web has to say on any issue we encounter.  Newspapers, magazines, radio programs and television are all going to take a back seat to the internet.

This shift toward dependency on the internet has already begun.  Why do we wait around to see things that entertain us?  We should go out and find our entertainment when it fits into our schedule.  Youtube is just the beginning.  There will be many similar ideas that follow.  Many TV shows already offer webisodes with fewer commercial interruptions than the broadcast version.  There are also deleted scenes and blooper reels on the online version of the TV show.  You could argue that it is already better to use the internet to watch some sitcoms in 2008.  The same thing goes for radio programs.  If it is talk radio that you like, then there are more podcasts out there than you could ever listen to right now.  You can seek them out and listen to them on your schedule instead of waiting for the broadcast.  Music and music videos will be available at your convenience too, like they already are.  Instead of having a daily, weekly, or monthly subscription updates, we will get up to the minute updates via RSS feeds.  These trends will exacerbate with time.  Education needs to be keeping pace with these changes.  Teachers will need to be literate in these areas to effectively communicate with their audience.  Students are already making these shifts toward web for so many different things. 

So far I have predicted that technology will be better, cheaper, more prevalent, and a source of entertainment, news, and learning.  By 2020 we won’t be able to separate our students from the web.  Our big issue will be showing kids how to use the web.  There will be so much information that we will have to rely on our professional training to show students what is reliable information and what is outdated, propaganda, incorrect, or just a hoax.  As teachers we will have to contribute quite a bit to the web to gain credibility with our students, or to keep our jobs.  Many students may not even come to school in person.  Just as working from home has certainly caught on, students may stay home with their parents to virtually attend school.  We will use the web to learn and to educate others.  Evidence of growth will be posted to the web to track our learning and to aid in educating others.  Projects, presentations, and assessments will also depend on technology. The benefits of computer generated tests are already evident.  Students benefit because computer generated tests can be corrected immediately and sent back to students to help them correct or confirm their learning.  A comprehensive report about the outcome of the test can help teacher by showing them where they did a good job teaching and where they need to spend some more time teaching.   By publishing our progress to the web students will create meaningful learning that can be accessed and evaluated from many different places.  We can collaborate with almost anyone in the world on any project.  The benefits to a connected classroom will benefit not only the students in our classes, but world’s knowledge base will benefit as well.

This collaboration of ideas across the world will create a global community.  Students will be more aware of our world and its needs.  Hopefully the world will have fewer secrets with all of this connectivity. How people are compensated, governed, medicated, and spend their free time or money may reach a middle ground as we create global benchmarks for these things.   With access to the internet, we can read about and let people know about great ideas and injustices in the world.  This will be a dangerous idea.  As we will have to decide what is real information and what is propaganda.  As we become more connected, we will seek out and help people who are facing hardships.    Hopefully when the entire world in networked, this will benefit all of humanity.

Undoubtedly as we research, collaborate, share and create better technology we will extend the life span of our average person.  With medical technology we will avoid illnesses, create better prosthetics, artificial organs, and just plain live longer.  Increased processor skills will aid in the diagnosis of ailments.  Technology will also increase the speed at which we create medicine. All of this too will affect the graduates of 2020.  They will need to be productive citizens as our population ages.  All of the graduates of 2020 will need to generate a taxable income to meet the basic needs of these people of our retired citizens.  There will be so many people who will be retired that it will be extremely difficult for our future graduates to collect disability or welfare.  The jobs that require a low skill level will be gone too.  These jobs will be filled by machines.  Machines are more dependable, don’t ask for health insurance, vacation time, and they are easier to replace and retrain than human employees.  These technological advances will require our students to be productive at jobs that will require a high level of skill. 

Our graduates of 2020 will live a life that will be touched by technology on a daily basis.  The technology they deal with will be more capable and less expensive.  The products that they have technology in and areas that they will have access to the web, we can only be dream about at this time.  Their learning and proof of learning will be web based.  This will shift toward technology will be felt worldwide.  The benefits of this shift will benefit the world in unimaginable ways.  Our graduates of 2020 will feel quite a burden.  The low level skill jobs will be gone, but yet we will demand that our students be employed.  To say that technology will change how we teach and learn in 2020 is quite an understatement.

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Picnik as a Teaching Tool (9-A-1)

November 11, 2008 by · 3 Comments · web tools

Picnik as a Teaching tool

When I taught biology, it wasn’t uncommon to come across students who were opposed to dissecting animals.  As an alternative to dissecting animals, I think Picnik could be used.  It wouldn’t take long to find or create an archive of photographs.  This archive could be used for learning about structures, to create study guides, and administer exams.  The pictures can have arrows and font put on them so there would be no confusion about what structure I am referring to.  Of course the real thing can’t be beat, but in years when the budget is tight, when you have students who oppose dissection, or for a consistent test, an archive of photographs might be a great help.  Check out Picnik and tell me how you could use it!

<a href=”” rel=”tag”>dissection alternative</a>


A Paperless Classroom (8-B-1)

November 6, 2008 by · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

When I taught high school last year, we almost had a paperless classroom.  Our school received a grant that gave certain teachers a class set of laptops.  This made learning wonderful for students and teachers.  My objectives for the day or week were posted to a program called Edline.  Students would learn about the objective in any manner they chose.  The web of course, had a lot to offer.  There were books available in the room.  I would answer any questions that they had.  There was always a prove-it project.  They had to demonstrate their new knowledge somehow.  This could be a comment on the Edline blog, a Power Point, a Publisher document, a typed report, or they could create a worksheet with an answer key.  I created folders on the school’s server for them to put their projects in.  

Having a paperless classroom changed my role to more of a facilitator.  Instead of lectures, book reading, or experiments, the students had free reign to learn about our new objective.  Their learning was tailored to their liking by themselves.  The flow of learning, how we went from one topic to another, was better than it had ever been.  I could spend more time in areas that students were interested in and speed up the pace in the unappealing areas.  There was much more room for spontaneity too.  I could monitor the students’ progress and post the next day’s assignment accordingly. 

One of my favorite things about a paperless class was how learning was measured.  I could still post and worksheets and have students turn them in.  Test could still be administered, but they are better for students and teachers when they are given electronically.  When the test questions that had one correct answer, (multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, etc,) the software immediately graded those portions of the test instantly.  This gave the students immediate feedback and teachers can get a great test report.  Beyond this I loved the prove-it projects.  Students just come up with some unconventional ways to prove that they’re learning.  One of my favorite things to watch was when the students evaluated one another with the shared folder we were using.  (Each group was given a different color to do a report in.  They then used their color to put notes on each other’s reports.)  I could really elaborate, but you probably get the idea. 

It would definitely be easier to build a learning network with a paperless classroom.  I had trouble getting this part going because our school didn’t want the students to have email.  This prevented them from joining blogs, wikis, and other networking software.  I know networking would have eventually taken place.  I had absent students keeping pace at home by checking in on Edline at home.  I had a student who went to the Bahamas on vacation ask me a question about an assignment we were working on.  Networking is just a natural process of the read/write web.  I imagine that it is just a matter of time before students are given email accounts and access to other networking software at our school.

My teaching assignment was changed from high school to middle school this year.  Middle school was not part of the Classrooms for the Future grant that gave us access to laptops all day every day.  I am currently having a hard time dealing with my one allotted day of lab time per week.  I miss my paperless classroom!  How will a paperless classroom affect you?

Will Richardson’s Big Shifts (8-A-1)

November 6, 2008 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

In his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other powerful Web Tools for Teachers Richardson describes ten shifts that will make changes in education.  “Readers Are No Longer Just Readers” is the shift I chose to focus on.  This shift has had a few negative side effects for me as a teacher, but I think that will change in the future.  Students can be careless researchers.  They tend to believe anything that they read on the web.  More than a couple of times this has caused me grief.  Students are reluctant to believe their teacher over a website if there is a disagreement over an idea. 

In the future I hope to create a class wiki.  When students will see how easy it is to post something on the internet.  This should make students realize how easy it is for anybody to put anything on the web.  They will become better researchers.  They will also see how the internet works.  There are some more good aspects of readers no longer being just readers too.  I think that the amount of information on the internet will continue to grow at a phenomenal rate.  I think when my students contribute to their wiki they will gain a tremendous sense of pride.

I can use wikis to help students post information to the web.  Having an internet site that they can post to, edit, and watch others edit will show students how the read/write web works.  By collaborating with classmates, other students, and perhaps strangers students will not only pick up on content, but important job skills too.  This will change the way students learn, change what they learn, and help them build a network of students and teachers.  This big shift will affect my teaching in a big way. 

How does it affect you knowing that anyone can post anything to the web?




Celebrate Success

November 3, 2008 by · 10 Comments · Uncategorized

This may be a little premature, but I have already picked out a couple of small rewards from Cabela’s for myself when this course is finished.  This is the last of my 24 credits that I need to get my permanent certification.  I excited about my permanent certification, the small pay raise, and I’m pretty pumped about being done with school for a while too.

In class I give out stickers to kids for doing good things.  Three stickers are worth a piece of candy or some other small reward. Sometimes, although they might never admit to it, a pat on the back, some kind words, or smile seem to make a student proud.  I have heard of class celebrations with elaborate cheers or handshakes, but I really don’t get into that.

As a school we have pep rallies, award ceremonies, and an activity day to celebrate student achievement.  Pep rallies get our student body excited about upcoming athletic events.  We hand out certificates to commemorate and honor student achievement in many areas.  Our activity day is a day where we honor good grades, perfect attendance, and other positive contributions with a ceremony in the morning.  The students are then treated to a free picnic for lunch.  In the afternoon there are a variety of activities including a dance, games, dunking booth with teachers in it, and more for the students to choose from. 

 So how about you or your school?  How do you celebrate achievements on a personal level?  What about in your classroom?  Does your school do anything to celebrate the good things our students do?

Against Connectivism

November 1, 2008 by · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

A graduate class that I am taking was divided into two groups.  The groups were supposed to argue for or against the theory of connectivism.  I was placed in the group against connectivism.  At first I struggled with this.  I felt that this was the more difficult position to defend.  My thinking is, not only do I have to read and comprehend this theory; I have to do the same for the opposing theory.  I struggled at first.  But after a lot of reading, rereading, underlining, and highlighting I was glad to be put into the group that was against connectivism.

Basically connectivism likens humans and computers.  Data can be obtained and then shared the more you network with other individuals, who will then in turn connect you to more networks.  This cycle is supposedly a great new way to forever intellectually grow.  First of all, the idea that information can be stored and shared with nonhuman devices is not new at all.  Books have done that for pretty much all of recorded history.  A book club would have been a predecessor to this concept.  To say that computers and books for that matter can learn though is akin to saying that shovels are good at digging holes.  They are nothing without humans.  They are tools for us.

Now let’s look at the other ‘new’ idea that expanding your network will increase your knowledge.  This is a big part of connectivism.  To me ‘expanding your network’ was the shining star of the YouTube video and the crux wiki that supported connectivism.   This to me isn’t a new idea.  People have gone on trips for longer than I care to trace back to learn new things.  How about Darwin on the HMS Beagle?  He was expanding his network.  Let’s look at kids in school.  You usually start out in one room with one teacher.  As you move up, your schedule, or your network, gets more and more complex.  You go to different teachers who are experts in different areas.  Sure computers help and can link us to different experts, but networking isn’t new.

To me connectivism has a lot of neat ideas put together with a neat new technology spin on them.  But when you sit down and look at this theory, it is not really new.  If you really study it, it is not even a new learning theory as much as a rant about how technology can help us learn.  No one will argue with that idea.  George Siemens says some neat stuff, but nothing new, and he doesn’t really have a theory. 

How do you use Skype?

October 29, 2008 by · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Skype has been used for a couple of interesting things in our school.  We have had teachers in our Anatomy & Physiology class view surgical procedures.  Our information technology teacher skyped in when he was at a conference to answer any questions and see what assignment he should post tomorrow.  It was neat to hear and see him.  Teachers communicated with other teachers during a lock down and concluded that we should prepare to evacuate.  We have also had Penn State engineer students conference with prospective students at our school with Skype.  Skype has proven to be a valuable teaching tool at our school.  How do you use Skype in your school?

Podcasts In The Classroom

October 25, 2008 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

I like to change thing up from time to time.  The podcast on rats has quite few concepts in it that we covered in our last unit.  I will use this podcast to make a game.  We will listen to the podcast.  The student that lists the most concepts that we covered will win a prize.  Ideas we covered that I hope the students pick up on would include structural adaptations, behavioral adaptations, parasitism, competition, scavengers, and diseases.

Podcasts haven’t been my favorite topic.  I had quite a time finding a working podcast, even worse finding an applicable podcast.   I had a horrible time trying to get a link to this podcast.  I found it, of all places, on my public pageflake, under Discovery Channel Features.  It’s titled rats.  I don’t know if that will always work, so I recorded a copy to share with you.


How do you use podcasts in your room?

Flickr in the Classroom

October 22, 2008 by · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

  Autumn Stream by digitalART2.

digitalART2 (2007, December 8) Autumn Stream.  digitalART2’s photostream.  Retrieved October 19, 2008, from

We usually just look out the window or we remember back to autumn to talk about leaves changing color.  This would be a nice picture to look at when talk about how plants respond to their environment. That got me thinking about how easy it would be to use Flickr in the classroom.  It’s nice to have bank of pictures that correspond to what you’re talking about, but what else could teachers use Flickr for?

  • You could also use the pictures for writing prompts.  Show the kids a picture and have them write in a journal about their reaction to the picture. 
  • With rising gas prices some schools are putting halt to field trips.  Pictures could be used to take students on a virtual field trip.
  • In our Ecology unit, I could show the students a picture and have them tell me which biome that picture was taken in.
  • When images in a textbook, or when making your Wikibook, Flickr could be used for supplemental to textbook illustrations.

That’s just a few ideas that come to mind for me.  What else do you think Flickr could be used for?

My first Wiki

October 19, 2008 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

I had to complete a wiki for a graduate class I am taking.  The deadline was the most challenging aspect of my first wiki.  We had a week to finish a page on wikipedia as an educational resource.  The assignment started on a Monday.  We were put into groups of three.  One of my partners and I collaborated on topics for the main page and a ‘drilldown’ page set up.  We updated and tweaked for a few days.  I added things, she commented and moved them around, and she added things.  It was Friday evening before our third partner contributed.  I wanted to get stuff done, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to get their say in.  The deadline for this project made it difficult.  Most wikis are never actually done. 

It was also difficult to rely on strangers for a grade for my grade.  As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to get the ball rolling early in the week and go over things with a fine tooth comb a couple of times. One of the others in my group wasn’t quite as ambitious.  I was so nervous about contributing too much and having my partners think that I was a glory hog.  I was nervous about contributing too little and having them think that I was some sort of slacker.   I was nervous that I would have partners that might fit in to the glory hog or slacker category.  Not knowing the people I was working with made me uneasy.  I didn’t know how much faith to put in these people. 

I have to admit things look great!  As far as a resource and a report, I think we did a great job.  It was difficult to work with complete strangers who have their own priorities and agendas with a deadline looming. I think we did a good job, and the wiki might not even be done.  I will just have to wait and see what we come up with.   Check out our page and let me know what you think.  What was your biggest challenge with your first wiki?