I consider myself a regular podcast listener, with one of my favorite programs being This American Life. If you have never heard the show, I strongly recommend you check it out. While I have found many episodes from a variety of different podcast interesting and enjoyable, no single episode has stayed with me like episode 550: Three Miles. As a teacher in an urban, high-needs school, it was remarkable the parallels I could draw between the students in the episode and my own students. My school has even participated in a program similar to the one featured in the podcast episode. I found myself haunted by the heart-breaking stories shared by the students and the blunt honesty of the teacher. While I do not want to give much more away, I will say that I still find myself asking the question, "How can we do better?" and searching for answers.
You can listen to the episode by using the link below.
Between my graduate course and my personal edtech readings, I have been spending a great deal of time contemplating my thoughts on the relatively recent phenomenon of Massive Open Online Courses, also known as MOOCs. For those who are not familiar with MOOCs, check out this wonderful infographic created by Online Learning Made Simple. Basically, MOOCs are free, online classes being offered by many major universities. A breakdown of the current data available about MOOCs is available in this article from EdSurge.
It is very easy to get caught up in either side of the MOOC debate. Some experts believe that MOOCs may eventually replace college degrees, as is presented in this article by Bloomburg Business. By lowering the cost and removing the financial barrier to educational courses, it is believed that a larger number of students will begin to turn to MOOCs for their educational credentials.
Other experts believe that the independent nature of the courses will not lend themselves to wide success. Learners are required to be autonomous and self-motivated to successfully navigate through a course of hundreds, sometime thousands of people. This article from The New Yorker, outlines the difficulty currently facing MOOCs and reports the current lack of verifiable success. Some have even argued that the format of MOOCs is contrary to the nature of teaching, as is outlined in this blog post by Guzdial.
One source that particularly resonated with my current sentiments toward MOOCs is the view presented on the EdSurge Podcast from March 14th, 2015. In particular, I agree that the value of MOOCs will not be realized until employers start recognizing the credentials from MOOCs similar to way they recognize a college degree or a certification. The relevant section of the podcast starts at 6:30 and runs mostly to the end.
As a whole, I don't believe we have the information we need to determine the ultimate fate of MOOCs at this time. Both arguments are currently plausible due to the highly volatile nature of education. The dynamics of the educational system are in an interesting state of flux, leaving infinitely many possibilities for the future. While the affordability of higher education will play a role, the future of MOOCs will ultimately hinge on makeup of MOOCs and of future learners. Will they be self motivated learners with a thirst for learning? Or in need of external motivation? Maybe a better question... will the future version of MOOCs be able to accommodate either kind of learner?
It's easy to feel overwhelmed as a teacher about adopting new educational technologies in your classroom. The task often feels daunting and it is literally impossible to know everything about the Edtech world. That's why I really liked the perspective in one of ISTE's recent articles called 5 Steps to Become a Digital Learning Ninja. It helps a teacher take the incredible task of adopting technology and break it down into actionable, manageable chunks. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I have been eagerly anticipating the launch of a brand new app - YouTube Kids. This week, EdTech magazine wrote an article about the launch titled YouTube Kids is Google's First App Designed for Children that I particularly enjoyed. I really hope this is the first of many things coming from Google that are targeted specifically for kids!
For a long time, I have been trying to move away from a paper planner to a digital calendar. I tried to go digital and rely on the calendar on my phone, but the task proved impossible. With multiple calendar accounts from a variety of platforms, I found myself unable to put all of my appointments in one place without manually entering each event. I begrudgingly bought a paper planner, but then I found myself forgetting it at home or at school and running into the same problems. Clearly, my scheduling problem was still not over.
While researching resources for teachers, I stumbled upon an app called Sunrise. I decided to download the app to see if it could potentially solve my problems. Not only was I pleased with the features, I am still constantly amazed by its power. I was able to add iCloud calendars, Google calendars from three different accounts, Microsoft Exchange calendar, Asana task list, Evernote task list, Todoist tasks, and events from Eventbrite. I can access my calendar from a web browser, my iPhone, or my iPad - and it will stay synced in real time, as long as I have Internet access. There is also a Chrome extension available. While I have only been using the app for the past few weeks, I have been incredibly impressed by how organized I feel and how confident I am when scheduling events. I strongly recommend it as a tool for any tech-junkie looking to take their planner digital!
Mattea Garcia is a passionate educator dedicated to improving instruction by utilizing technology. This blog is dedicated to reflections on educational technology tools, instructional coaching, and educational equity.