Archive for September, 2009

EC&I 831 – Technology’s Role in Formal Education

September 25, 2009

Technology is a fantastic tool that can add exciting and innovative twists to the traditional way we have “done school” for the past number of decades, centuries or however dramatic you would like this point to be.  I believe most of us share in this belief as we have all signed up for a class intended to make us aware of and comfortable with the different tools and opportunities provided to us by the digital world.  Times are changing and with school closures, multi-grade classrooms, structural innovation, etc., we need to take a hard look at changing the way we operate.  Although it is frightening for many of our colleagues who are accustomed to a traditional method of pedagogy, the fact is that today’s learners have grown up with technology, are comfortable with technology, and as much as we may or may not agree with it, this is not likely to change any time soon.

I would offer that although there are enormous opportunities associated with incorporating technology into the educational landscape, we do need to employ an air of caution when approaching the subject.  It would be easy for us to jump on board and make this the new backbone of our educational system but once again, I believe it is a resource to add to our repertoire, not the be-all and end-all that we entrust our youth’s learning to.

Our government has outlined literacy and numeracy as the top priorities for our province’s educational system.  We have placed more and more of an emphasis on these areas and although some may argue that this is of the highest importance in preparing our students for the “real world” (post-secondary education/training and then on to the work force), I would suggest that we have lost sight of some of the more important factors in developing children.  By making more time for math and language arts classes, we have stripped our students of valuable time spent in health and physical education, art and music, practical and applied arts, second language classes, etc.  Although these options are available to our students, our timetabling creates an either/or type situation. Few of us would consider reading, writing and arithmetic to be time wasted, but wouldn’t we want to encourage development of the whole child?

At the risk of getting off task and onto a tangent of the true goal of education, I would say that we are not simply trying to churn out the next generation of workers and consumers, but the next generation of well rounded citizens.  Technology, in all of its forms, is a fantastic tool to be implemented in any number of different situations, but I fear that we will be quick to turn all of our attention to the new, sexy way of doing things and forget about the value of the human relationship.

Although some may disagree, I believe that one of the more important aspects of the educational system lies within the socialization of our young people.  Our youth need to learn how to work with others in a shared environment.  They need to learn how to share space and do things they may not find important, engaging or fun all the time as this is generally how the world operates.  Although I love my profession immensely, there are a large number of tasks that we are required to perform that some may find ineffectual and tedious but we do them and move on.  I would imagine that most professions are in the same boat.

I suppose I could sum up my hopes for technology’s role in the new reality of formal education with one word: balance.  I think this will provide us with a tremendous capacity to engage students in a way that has not been seen before, but I also think we are faced with a large responsibility to ensure the relationships with students are not lost.

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ECI831 – Reflection on Wesch’s “The Machine is (Changing) Us

September 22, 2009

As a generation X’er myself, I can relate to the frustration and boredom on the faces of the university students in Dr. Wesch’s class.  I can relate to this feeling of jumping through hoops – from coloring maps and pie charts to the numerous lesson plans that were required for our ever inspiring and useful EPS classes in university.  Our society demands education from its young people if they have any desire of attaining gainful employment, but refuses to invest the time, resources and effort needed to bring this system into the new reality.  Even though we are constantly being encouraged to take advantage of new initiatives like structural innovation and project-based learning, and there are many who do a fantastic job, a large number of educators continue to crack open the same lesson plans that have been used for the past X number of years.  If we aren’t prepared to continually evolve our practice and tailor our material to the varied interests of a particular class, how then can we expect students to engage in the exercise in a meaningful way?

But can this be blamed on the classroom teacher?  Classroom teachers have a large amount of responsibility already on their shoulders and with the added commitments of family life, extra-curricular activities, etc., it is unrealistic to expect all educators will put in the effort required to stay current and up to date.  Many of our government mandated curriculum documents are older than the students we teach.  I teach Core French and one of the units of study for a high school class (published in 1999) deals with creating a new game.  There is no mention of electronic devices such as an Xbox or PS3 or Wii, and the only mention of any sort of electronic gaming deals with “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”.  Although we may or may not agree with young people spending the majority of their time in front of a TV or computer screen, I think it is foolish to deny the role video games play in the lives of our students, especially when dealing with a unit based on the pass times of our youth.  Can we truly expect kids to buy in to such dated and out of touch information and do these documents provide us with material that could be deemed engaging or inspiring by our youth?

One quote that I found interesting was when Dr. Wesch cited Huxley’s fear that the truth will be drowned in irrelevance.  There is a high level of frustration amongst colleagues and this is evident to anyone who has spent time in core meetings, professional learning communities or whatever the buzzword may be for a particular school division.  The majority of time is spent “dialoguing” about administrative paperwork, setting literacy goals, the new advisory program, etc., but one thing that I have noticed is that discussions relating to best practice and how to engage students are seemingly being left by the wayside.  I understand and appreciate people’s concerns and frustrations with the inner workings of our profession, but I fear that we’re losing sight of our “truth” – creating valuable learning opportunities for our youth while instilling a lifelong passion for knowledge.

What I enjoyed in this video was how Dr. Wesch outlined the positive ways in which our youth is reaching out to be heard.  I have always had a hard time believing that kids today are flawed and just don’t want to learn and this video reinforced the idea that there is hope to change.  Are there challenges facing the educational system today?  Absolutely.  But there are also tremendous tools available to bridge the gap between stodgy curriculum and a generation of young people who have grown up with MSN, cell phones and facebook.  Why not try to incorporate these tools and get into the learners’ world rather than expecting them to come into ours?

Getting to know me

September 19, 2009

Hello everyone! I’m not exactly sure how to start this or really what to say as I have never really written, read or had much to do with blogs to this point in my life, but I’ve read over a few of the intros from others in the class and I’ll try my darndest to make myself sound as interesting as all of you. My name is Brian Gatin and I am in my 4th year of teaching. I am starting my first year at Thom Collegiate and I couldn’t be happier with my job. I am a Core French teacher and I truly love working with young people and instilling a passion for learning. This is my second year of graduate classes and I was brave/foolish enough to sign up for two classes this semester. I have really enjoyed this class so far and I hope it will provide me with a greater understanding of the digital world, not only for professional reasons, but to also be more aware of and proficient with the technology that has come to be such an integral part of our society. I have coached football for the past 8 years and as it is somewhat a passion for me, I am trying to incorporate this into this class as well. We have been struggling trying to communicate dates for practices or fund raising activities with all of our players, so I hope to use the knowledge gained from this class to set up a website or blog that will allow for easier communication between our coaching staff and players. I’ll keep you posted with how it turns out! I have a beautiful wife, Meghan, and an adorable daughter, Emilie, who is 3 and full of boundless energy. Speaking of which, I hope she will be waking up from her nap soon so I think we’ll go enjoy this beautiful weather we’ve been blessed with and take a walk over to the park. Have a great weekend everyone and until next time, over and out.

Getting to know me

September 19, 2009

Hello everyone! I’m not exactly sure how to start this or really what to say as I have never really written, read or had much to do with blogs to this point in my life, but I’ve read over a few of the intros from others in the class and I’ll try my darndest to make myself sound as interesting as all of you.

My name is Brian Gatin and I am in my 4th year of teaching. I am starting my first year at Thom Collegiate and I couldn’t be happier with my job. I am a Core French teacher and I truly love working with young people and instilling a passion for learning.

This is my second year of graduate classes and I was brave/foolish enough to sign up for two classes this semester. I have really enjoyed this class so far and I hope it will provide me with a greater understanding of the digital world, not only for professional reasons, but to also be more aware of and proficient with the technology that has come to be such an integral part of our society.

I have coached football for the past 8 years and as it is somewhat a passion for me, I am trying to incorporate this into this class as well. We have been struggling trying to communicate dates for practices or fund raising activities with all of our players, so I hope to use the knowledge gained from this class to set up a website or blog that will allow for easier communication between our coaching staff and players. I’ll keep you posted with how it turns out!

I have a beautiful wife, Meghan, and an adorable daughter, Emilie, who is 3 and full of boundless energy.

Speaking of which, I hope she will be waking up from her nap soon so I think we’ll go enjoy this beautiful weather we’ve been blessed with and take a walk over to the park.

Have a great weekend everyone and until next time, over and out.

Hello world!

September 9, 2009

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