Mapping our Painless, Progressive Journey
Through this course you'll experience directly many different instructional approaches with an emphasis on achieving an accurate overview of key trends which will allow you to minimize anxiety and optimize use of your limited time. You'll find many references to resources to support your continued exploration, and self-directed learning, well beyond the finite requirements of this course.
Current educational reformist literature points clearly to the need for student-centered, project-based learning. The "sage on the stage" model, has been replaced with the "guide on the side." Another popular cliche for the outdated style of teaching is called the mug and jug model, where the teacher (jug) pours knowledge into the student (mug). Today, the teacher learns right along with the students, utilizing a global Internet library, self-publishing regularly with multimedia on the web, and regularly interacting online with peers and experts, worldwide.
Since information today changes faster than ever before in history, we need to teach the "just-in-time" learning process as opposed to memorization of specific content. Beyond teaching a solid foundation of the basics, knowing where to find information upon a topic will increasingly be more important than knowing a topic itself, as new knowledge continues to grow exponentially. Students need to learn to build their own knowledge (called constructivism) and to be in control of their own learning as lifelong self-directed learners.
The study of virtually any topic can be integrated with teaching how to search the Internet for highly specific information, how to express oneself via multimedia, and how to develop online social organizational skills through collaborative projects.
Current educational reformist literature suggests students need to become motivated, self-directed lifelong learners able to apply just-in-time, inquiry-based learning against any problem, at any time, often in partnership with others via Internet. Project-based learning has emerged as an ideal methodology which happily is as exciting and gratifying for teachers as it is for students. As you read through the Project-based Learning tutorials referenced in this lesson you will see these core themes appear in many different forms.
Alaska has adopted new state standards which, like those of most states, relate directly to most of these stated benefits of Internet integration. If you have concerns about matching your Internet integration efforts with state standards you're advised to consult with peers in your state. Feel free to raise any concerns you may have in our class listserv, which is dedicated to facilitating just this kind of peer-sharing and discussion opportunity.
The challenge of this course is to help you integrate use of the Internet in a step-by-step process to painlessly benefit both yourself, and your students, with the best of what the Internet, and you, have to offer. While many topics in this class could constitute an entire course, the goal of this course is to give you a summative overview of the most important essentials, supplemented with rich resources for your ongoing self-directed exploration and instruction.
Dealing with information overload continually, when time available is at a minimum, is a skill to be developed, and a learnable process this course will attempt to specifically address. As a busy educator, it is important to know what you don't need to know, so your precious time isn't wasted.
The volume of useful resources on the Internet for K-12 educators is increasing rapidly, as are the number of free software tools for utilizing them. Your ability to learn about key resources from peers, knowing that more and more educators are posting quality resources on the Internet for your convenient access, will become more and more important as a time management strategy for staying current. Not only educators, but now businesses, are gathering rich collections of the best-of-the-best for K-12 instruction, which means it will be increasingly important to know how to build upon these resources instead of wasting time duplicating them.
You and your students can easily create web-based lessons with little more than word-processing skills. Its important to recognize that creating web pages will soon be as common as using word-processing is today! We'll all do it every day, and think nothing of it!
As the cost of computers and Internet access continue to drop dramatically, we'll see more and more students with home computers, and particularly with their own laptops. We must keep our vision for the usefulness of what we teach, ever ahead of the current day, as pace of change is increasing.
Computers and Internet access will rapidly become cheaper, easier, more beneficial, and more diverse in the range of applications, with multiple wireless, interconnected devices becoming integrated into nearly every aspect of daily life. While the ease-of-use of pointing and clicking through web pages is what popularized the WWW, the ten Internet collaborative tools are likely to produce the greatest benefits, as we learn to unlock their social and democratic potential for new forms of human communication.
Developing skills for 'building learning communities' as a strategy for dealing with information overload is becoming increasingly important as the rate of change due to accelerating technical advancement continues to pressure our human limitations. We all know how frustrating it can be to be stuck with a technical problem without someone to rely on for help.
Will Rogers once said "We're all ignorant, only on different topics." If we all learn to share what we know, and can learn to count on others for similar support, we'll all have access to all our joint knowledge. This one theme is perhaps the most pervasive issue related to our journey exploring the greatest potential for the use of Internet in education; collaboration is becoming increasingly necessary as a survival skill.
Elementary teachers are finding a major increase in software and web resources aimed at elementary education. The modern multimedia formats are well suited to use by very young children. The motivation and skill which even very young children are demonstrating with computers and Internet causes us to be continually rethinking how we approach elementary education. Computers and Internet can provide a tireless source of learning and experience for eager young minds, when they are at a stage of enhanced knowledge absorption.
If the "World Wide Wait," caused by slow Internet connections, makes Internet unsuitable for classroom use with wiggly students, you now have two partial solutions; offline browsers and Web CD's! If you are limited to one computer without Internet, you can still use offline browsers, such as WebWhacker http://bluesquirrel.com, to capture web pages from outside the classroom to bring in for classroom web simulations. Offline browsers are low-cost, easy-to-use, and are an essential teaching tool for those with, or without, Internet access. Free courses on the benefits of offline browsers are available at the above URL.
Did you know Internet Explorer 5.0 has a built in offline browser? Instructions are found under the help button menus listed as "offline browsing."
CDROM's with huge collections of browsable web pages are also available, which allow for yet another form of web simulation. Classroom Connect, http://www.classroom.com, has quarterly CD's with 10,000 K-12 web pages organized by topic for immediate classroom use.
Key trends to keep in mind:
Our Internet integration journey will be more conceptual than technical. We'll learn best by direct hands-on experience. Adoption of a new communications medium can take time for people to assimilate. Adoption of the telephone took over 25 years to achieve widespread acceptance. Adoption of the fax machine took only five to ten years. The WWW took less than five.
Some people relish change, others do all they can to avoid it. Change is a reality of the modern day and if we as educators are motivated to do the very best we can for our students, then we'll need to be continually learning, too.
Monitoring Trends: Because the technology is constantly changing, and as a result education and society is changing, educators need to be aware of current trends to anticipate what's coming. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, looking forward will become more and more important!
1. Maintaining an informed overview, to know
what you do, and don't,
need to know.
Since technology and software are changing continually it is important to maintain an accurate overview of current capabilities, and emerging capabilities. Investing precious time learning software and technologies that are not immediately needed, and/or will soon be obsolete, must be avoided. Often, teachers can save themselves time by providing valuable self-directed learning opportunities for their students to learn new software and technologies.
We can learn from our students how to how to model making learning and exploring new information exciting, fun, and social. In a lifelong learning society, "fun, social, learning" may soon be acknowledged as the best way the world learns. It is feasible, and often desirable, for an educator to direct students to learn skills that the educator may not possess, and to direct students to then mentor their peers.
Keeping our technical skills current is something our students can help us with, as we help them learn to teach themselves new software capabilities by helping them identify what they should be learning that will be of greatest value. For example; how to use the help menus and step-by-step tutorials that come with virtually every software program. Ongoing, interdisciplinary learning in a real world problem-solving context, even with elementary students, has become the new educational model.
The trick to minimizing information overload is to take it one step at a time and work with others, wherever possible. When you feel the pressure of information overload, take a break! Learning is less stressful with multiple short sessions. Patience and perseverance will see you through! Know that the tools are getting easier, and more productive, all the time! Keep in mind that building online social skills is as important as building face-to-face social skills.2. Free, easy, web-authoring options: The number of free, and easy, web authoring sites for creating original curriculum, with minimal time invested, are increasing steadily, and don't require you to have web authoring software or your own web site! Just as you created a web greeting card in the last course at http://bluemountain.com, and got a free email account at http://hotmail.com, you can now create five different types of online activities at Filamentality: http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/fil, author whole courses at Blackboard.com http://blackboard.com and many others listed at http://lone-eagles.com/webdev.htm and http://lone-eagles.com/teacherstools.htm. And this is only the beginning!
For this lesson you'll explore the Curriculum Authoring Web
Tour at http://lone-eagles.com/currtour.htm
noting the master listing for web-authoring and curriculum-authoring is at http://lone-eagles.com/webdev.htm
4. Technology Trends: While many of us may feel lucky to have one computer with Internet access in our classrooms, the dropping costs of computers and Internet strongly suggests that within five years most students, and teachers, will have their own laptops and home Internet access. Wireless technologies will allow us to connect to Internet from anywhere, and we're already seeing Internet access units that fit in the palm of your hand, called Palmtops. We must be forward thinking as to what skills our students will need for the world in which we'll all soon be living and working. Already, a multimedia PC and an Internet account cost less than one dollar per day, (see http://www.gateway.com) and leased laptop programs for whole schools are becoming commonplace.
5. Implications of Global Self-Publishing Your Online Curriculum; brokerage and royalty payment models are still evolving. Once your curriculum is on the web, others can use it, and potentially some day pay you for it! Today, 150 million people are on the Internet. In ten years, billions may be on the Internet, creating real opportunities for the best teachers to market their curriculum worldwide. We'll revisit the implications of global self-publishing of your instructional creations in a later lesson.