Archive for the 'Etec 512' Category

Dec 02 2010

Parting comments from MET

Published by under Etec 511,Etec 512

As I come to the end of my MET journey, I thought I’d leave with an excerpt from my essay. The title is: Are computers making us stupid? The deskilling of Canadian students.

The concluding paragraph: In Technological Literacy and the Curriculum Apple states that technological changes are really changes in relationships. Is this not the crux of the question that I posed in the title of this article? Is the reason we perceive today’s students as being less intelligent since the introduction of technology in the classroom not as simple as acknowledging that there has been a change in our relationship to technology? Micheal Wesch explained it so eloquently in his video The Machine is us/ing us. Once we accept that this shift has occurred, we can start to understand its implications in education today. Teachers must evolve their methods to include digital literacy, critical thinking skills and a return to distributed learning and constructivism. Traditional methods of assessment must evolve to consider the many literacies and new skill set needed to function in a technologically charged environment. Without these shifts, students are no further ahead than if they were to sit in a room with every bit of information known to man and be expected to come out years later fully equipped to take their place as functional and productive citizens, only to find the world has changed immeasurably while they were in their learning incubator. This is the stuff of experiments, not real life.

I know many of you have watched some of Wesch’s videos in your MET courses and you may have been impacted by them as I have. As I drew up my bibliography last night, I was sitting beside my 20 yr old daughter so I decided to ask her to watch another Wesch video “A vision of students today”. Her response was to upload the link to FB and share it with her (377) “friends”. These are the comments that were posted on her page:

T – This video never even mentioned drinking… what’s school without drinking?
A – it’s not about drinking. it’s about how technology has taken over class rooms and using chalkboards is obsolete
K – what it should be about is how everything we learn from a proff we can learn from a book … all you need is a library…
AB – Maybe professors should be allowed to set off EMPs before class.
P – our sad reality –
A – is it sad for reality and society to evolve? why stay in the past with chalk and books when literally every resource we need is now online. we write more e-mails than we do essays. c’mon. it would be sad for us to not utilize our tools from our generation

I’ll let you guess which comments were made by my daughter (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). Why do I bring this up at this point in my journey? Because we must never lose sight that we are studying, implementing, integrating, using technology in our teaching for the benefit of the students. We have a duty to understand their needs as well as the tools that are available to fill those needs. The difficult issue with technology is that we are no longer sure if it has not artificially created those needs or whether we are witnessing the natural evolution that occurs whenever a new tool is introduced and becomes widely accepted,  no more radical than the shift from orality to writing (said tongue in cheek). I can only assert that technology is not neutral.

Lastly, thank you to all of my colleagues for their valuable contribution to my education.  These discussions have been my classroom and library, my soapbox and almost constant companion since September 2009.  I wish you all the best in your learning journey.

One response so far

Nov 23 2010

Thought Question #4

Published by under Etec 512

Learning online is not theoretically differently from classroom learning. As I deconstruct the various elements of a successful online experience, I begin to see elements of many of the learning theories we have analyzed in this course. However, it is possible that online learning might require the elaboration of some existing theories.

Elements required for a successful online learning experience: (bearing in mind that some technological determinism exists)

  • an easily navigated framework
  • clear statement of expectations
  • clear instruction on how to access knowledge (scaffolding) or construct it (constructivism)
  • the ability to access community or expert knowledge (ZPD)
  • the ability to share knowledge (distributed learning)
  • accessible and timely feedback (scaffolding and distributed learning)
  • appeal to multimodal learning
  • the ability to make learning meaningful (Ausubel) by transferring knowledge beyond the virtual world into other contexts (activity theory)

It seems to me that there are only two real innovations in web based learning – hypertext and social interaction on a global scale (web 2.0). The question then becomes “do these two innovations require the elaboration of a new learning theory or do they fit into existing learning theories?”

The easy answer for social interaction on a global scale is that it certainly fits into the category of Social Cognition. It provides the means for Distributed Learning enhanced by quasi instantaneous results to the learner’s queries. As for hypertext, I find answers in Scardamalia’s article about CSILE. Hypertext has allowed us to accelerate “knowledge building” in that it allows ideas to develop naturally (not linearly) as research can occur in any direction the learner chooses. This seems to be part of the scaffolding process that can be purposefully built in to online courses. If however it is not built-in, the learner still retains the option of accessing knowledge through his desired path.


Kanuka, H. (2008). Understanding e-learning technologies-in-practice through philosophies-in-practice. In T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds.) Theory and Practice of Online Learning, Chapter 4 (pp. 91-118).

Scardamalia, M. (2004). CSILE/Knowledge Forum. Education and Technology: An Encyclopedia (pp. 183-192). Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

No responses yet

Oct 23 2010

Piaget and Vygotsky – finding common ground in dialogue

Published by under Etec 512

Piaget’s style of questioning could be compared to Vygotsky’s ZPD. When an adult asks guiding questions, as Piaget would in his interviews with children, it gives the child the words with which to express his ideas, discoveries and intentions. It allows children to construct knowledge by examining what they thought they knew as they are asked to verify their knowledge through careful questioning. From there, the child might need to reach equilibration by questioning their own knowledge and reconciling it to any new information that has come in as part of the dialogue.

This is the same process as scaffolding. The experienced adult finds what the child knows and is capable of, and then suggests a path where discovery occurs and new knowledge is constructed. Eventually, the child can move on to a new level by themselves. The teacher, therefore, assumes the role of guide. The child is guided to their ZPD, which is where real learning occurs, according to Vygotzky. Piaget would probably say that the ZPD can be reached at each level of development given the right questioning.

For instance, as adults, we go through a very similar process when we discuss our ideas with other adults. Not only do we confirm our knowledge, but the conversations lead to building links and further inquiry. As adults, we are more adept at verbalizing what knowledge we need to confirm and complete our understanding.

Dialogue plays a great role in both Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories. Piaget identified three types of egocentric language, one of which is monologue, where the child speaks to himself during learning. Similarly, Vygotsky believed that language played a large role in learning and internalizing knowledge as the child first creates a learning monologue then moves on to an internal (silent) discourse as he grows older.

No responses yet

Oct 16 2010

Vygotsky’s theory and the webquest

Published by under Etec 512

The webquest is too text intensive. It would require that the teacher read much of it to the student. Does this bring the student closer to Vygotsky’s ZPD? It would depend on what the teacher is trying to teach with this activity. It doesn’t seem to be reading. The focus of the webquest activities, according to the teacher page, seems to be more about categorizing information. The method of finding the information is mostly printing and copying data. How does that get the student closer to the ZPD? If it doesn’t, then wouldn’t this part of the webquest just be busy work?

The categorizing and sorting activities take place once the product of the quest has been completed. Would the students be as engaged in the sorting had they not printed and coloured the dinosaurs themselves? Would the colouring be sufficient for them to be engaged and for real learning to take place? I think it might. What I am suggesting is that the recopying exercise by removed in favour of time spent researching and discussing the findings amongst themselves.

I think the activity might have been structured differently so that the student would research the dinosaurs facts from a small database (provided by the teacher) – more like a match up activity than a recopying activity. This could be done in teams and discussion could take place among the team members – learning in a peer mentoring situation (Vygotsky’s social partners). The rest of the webquest activities seem relevant, however the teacher might replace the copying exercise with a dinosaur word search or some other activity that provides practice for writing. Perhaps each student could write a short fictitious story about their dinosaur once the presentations have been made to consolidate learning. This would be assessed as part of the rubric.

The rubric is not very well designed, but it is only an outline of what might be assessed. Again, I think the teacher needs to really think about what the students need to learn with this webquest so that learning can be assessed, not just the final product.

No responses yet

Sep 20 2010

Reflecting on behaviourism

Published by under Etec 512

Good morning from Frankfurt, Germany!

It’s 6am locally and unfortunately, I can’t seem to sleep. So what better time to think about the behaviourist learning theory? I’ve been trying to find an example in my own teaching practice where I might try to change a behaviour and use some of the reinforcement described in the reading. I did come up with an example from my Accounting class.

When I teach students to move from manual accounting to computerized accounting I begin by insuring they have the correct data to enter. This way, I am measuring their ability to use the computerized system, rather than measuring whether they have journalized the entries correctly (which is an exercise at the knowledge processing level). I show the students how to use the system and tell them to enter transactions using the computer. The stimulus is that they all get 100% to start but each mistake will cost them 10 points. The goal is to teach them to be meticulous and avoid mistakes. Once they have completed their entries, they must compare them to the answer key and if they find mistakes, they must correct them using the appropriate technique. Once the whole process is complete, they put their grade on the printouts and submit them for me to record.

Students have the following responses to this activity:

  1. They do the work correctly and are happy to receive the full mark.
  2. They make a mistake and correct it and submit the corrected version showing their adjusted mark.
  3. They correct a mistake and try to hide it and try to claim full marks. Unfortunately, there is no way to hide the mistake as the journal records all transactions, even the corrections. So I have them adjust the mark and submit the work. They think it’s unfair, but they are more careful next time.
  4. They reprint another student’s work with their own name on it. If I have suspicions (and I am very suspicious), I ask to see the work on their computer to verify it. I also ask all students to put their own initials in the journal descriptions to try to minimize this behaviour.

There you have it! I guess I’ve been subscribing to this learning theory all along but hadn’t realized it. I must say that in order to come up with this system, it was a learning process of my own. Students come up with ways to plagiarize or avoid the unpleasant consequences all the time. Each time they do, that is my stimulus to adjust my behaviour.

No responses yet

Spam prevention powered by Akismet