Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bolgs and Education

Blog as an Educational Tool:

Blogs are Internet-based journals. However, these are different from traditional journals in many ways. The main difference is that blogs are public media. The media can be still picture, sound, motion video, animation, and/or text items combined in a product whose purpose is to communicate information. Personal journal was also widely popular in the late 1990s, actually developed independently of weblogs. According to (Firth, 2006). Personal journals, or online diaries, are described as direct, personal, honest, almost painful to read and yet a compelling way to communicate indirectly. But, by the time Firth’s article which was published in the New York Times July 12, 2000 issue, personal journals were on the verge of extinction. Many of the biggest journal fans began online journals themselves, and soon everyone ended up mostly writing about each other. Some of them got famous, others got resentful.

The confusion between these two distinct forms of journal is evident in the observations of commentators such as NBC Meet the Press, Fox News Network, CNN Headline News and Hardball with Chris Matthews just to name a few. In general, blog used to mean a personal online diary, typically concerned with boyfriend problems or techie news. But, after September 11, 2001 a number of new or refocused media junkie/political sites reshaped the entire Internet media landscape. Blog now refers to a Web journal that comments on the news often by criticizing the media and usually in rudely clever tones with links to stories that back up the commentary with evidence.

The definitions of blogging offered by bloggers, as opposed to those offered by external commentators, follow this theme. Blogging is something defined by format and process, not by content. A blog, therefore, is and has always been more than the online equivalent of a personal journal. Though consisting of regular and often dated updates, the blog adds to the form of the diary by incorporating the best features of hypertext, the capacity to link to new and useful resources. But a blog is also characterized by its reflection of a personal style, and this style may be reflected in either the writing, or the selection of links passed along to readers. Blogs are, in their purest form, the core of what has come to be called personal publishing (Matthews, 2007).

In the educational environment, blogs become something of a different perception. For example, The Web is by now a familiar piece of the educational landscape, and for those sites where personal publishing or chronologically ordered content would be useful, blogs have stepped to the fore.

Four major uses of blogs in the educational environment are:

First, teachers use blogs to replace the standard class Web page. Instructors post class times and rules, assignment notifications, suggested readings, and exercises. Aside from the ordering of material by date, students would find nothing unusual in this use of the blog. The instructor, however, finds that the use of blogging software makes this previously odious chore much simpler.

Second, and often accompanying the first, instructors begin to link to the Internet items that relate to their course. The University of Phoenix for example, maintains a blog to pass along links and comments about topics in curriculum and instruction for their master’s program. Though these Web pages have been around since 1996, blogging allow instructors to write what are in essence short essays directed specifically toward students. These entries are not mere annotations of interesting links. They effectively model the institution’s approach and interest in the development of curriculum and instruction for the MAED students.

Third, blogs are used to organize in-class discussions. At Florida Virtual School Orlando, Florida for example, a tenth grade science teacher added a blog to compliment her lab class of about 60 students. Course credit was awarded for online discussion, with topics ranging from a simple rock to the green house effects. The students and parents were very excited to have that added communication link to discuss ideas, share current and future experiments on science projects and having the option of sharing this information publicly and at distance.
The students also got to know each other better by visiting and reading blogs from other students. They discovered, in a non-threatening way, their similarities and differences. The student who usually talks very loud in the classroom and the student who is very timid have the same writing space to voice their opinion. It puts students in a situation of equity and self assurance (Adams, 2007).

Fourth, some instructors are using blogs to organize class seminars and to provide summaries of readings. Used in this way, the blogs become group blog that is, individual blogs authored by a group of people. It becomes much easier for teachers and students to access the readings for a particular week and if you make sure that people is organized about how they do it; the summaries will effectively file themselves.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blogs in the Educational Environment

Blogs and Hypermedia:

I honestly think that we are living in a Blogosphere, surrounded by complex images, movement and sound. So perhaps it is not surprising that part of our human evolution has focused on making our technology reflect the color and glamour of our surroundings. In educational technology, blogs has been a steadily growing presence though, it’s recent inception. Like other educational technology concepts, definitions for blogs and hypermedia defy consensus, people find the two concepts either too close to distinguish between or too slippery to get words around. Blogs are simply Internet-based journals. These journals are very different from traditional journal in many ways.

The main difference is that blogs are public media. The media can be still pictures, sound, motion video, animation, and/or text items combined in a product whose purpose is to communicate information. Hypermedia refers to linked media that have their roots in a concept developed by electronic engineers. The current widespread educational uses of blogs augur an even heavier reliance on this modern communication medium via the Internet in classrooms now and in the future. Educators recognize and use these systems when they saw the powerful capabilities they offer to enhance classroom communication.

Teacher's Role in the use of Technology

Teacher's role is no longer only the use of chalk and paper:

The teacher is no longer the center of attention as a dispenser of information, but rather plays the role of facilitator, setting project goals and providing guidance and resources, moving from student to student or group to group, providing suggestions and supports for student activity.

On the other hand, the educational goals and vision of learning through technology have been determined, it is important to provide professional development to teachers to help them choose the appropriate technologies and instructional strategies to meet these goals. Students cannot be expected to benefit from technology if their teachers are not comfortable with it. Teachers need to be supported in their efforts to use technology.

According to the Development Foundation, teachers who had received professional development with computers during the last six years were more likely to use computers in effective ways than those who had not participated in such training. The ongoing professional development is necessary to help teachers learn not only how to use new technology, but also how to provide meaningful instruction and activities using technology in the classroom (Fulton, 2007).
This writer thinks that the evidence shows that technology has enormous benefits for all our learners. But, the preliminary evidence is that it seems to have special benefits for those learners who are behind academically, for the students who are under-challenged and are less motivated, students with less parental involvement in their education and for parents and students in a single parental environment.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Importance of Technology in Education

The reason for creating this blog is to promote the integration of technology in education now and in the future. Students, teachers, parents, administrators and other interested parties are encourage to participate in the sharing of ideas pertaining to the use of technology in the educational system.
Why Technology now?

The Internet opens up a world of information never before available in the classroom. Computers can be used as a tool to explore the world. Students are normally urged to research, explore and express themselves in ways which are not possible, practical or as powerful with conventional methods. The Internet is also more concrete than by learning with traditional instructional tools, because students can acquire knowledge in different ways utilizing technology.