Monday, August 4, 2008
Hart, Jo-Anna (2008, August). Why growing voters matters: The need for engaging civics. Learning and leading with technology, Retrieved
Political participation, ignorance, and apathy are par for the course in American society and the educational system has done nothing to rectify this situation. Jo-Anna Hart’s article addresses the need in schools to have more civic education and engagement and one way she has promoted this is to develop a website with projects, exercises, and vetted websites. She sees the need for “constructivist understanding” where students produce voting materials and engage amongst one another, students in other grades, and the general public. She has a series of questions relating to the voting process that the process of answering requires a “higher-order of thinking.”
Question 1- Why doesn’t the education system foster more knowledge and engagement in civic affairs? In my opinion the overriding philosophy behind public education has been to produce productive member of society as it is. Being that its purpose is to support the structure as is, fostering knowledge and engagement of the society as a whole may undermine our system of representative government (republic) where those in control come from a very small percentage of the upper echelon. One aspect of this has been the implementation of NCLB where standardized tests on math and English skills have prioritized any sort of authentic engagement with the real world out of the curriculum.
Question 2- Can a different approach to education effect voter turnout? If education becomes more geared towards Heart’s ideas of “constructivist” and “higher-order” thinking then at a minimum people will be more involved. Starting from the beginning of a student’s education there should be an emphasis on these sorts of approaches as opposed to the usual regurgitation of the idealized points of history and founding fathers. The grey, messy, and imperfect political situation of this country is enough to interest students without the obvious generalities and unbelievable venire that is usually given in school.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Glen Bull’s article discusses the possibility of recognizing and utilizing technology that students are already using outside of class and being able to harness it and the hours of passive engagement towards some academic goal. Cognitive surplus is the excess brain power not being utilized while people are engaged in passive activities such as watching TV.
Question 1- “Shirkey highlights the expanded range of participatory media options as a key social difference between the 20th century and today” But is this a positive difference that has led to benefits for students or society as a whole? Although there has been a degree of expansion in media that people actually participate in I don’t think that this is inherently been a positive thing. More than anything it seems that these people are engaging with the technology as opposed to other human beings such as with mp3 players, video games. The internet as a whole allows for people to simply place mirrors in front of their faces and consume and engage in things and ideas that they already think or know as opposed to having to interact with new or contradictory perspectives.
Question 2- “How to connect out-of-school activities with academic goals” ? Some of the most used technologies used out side of school are video games, phones, and the internet. One way to make connections and make these things pertinent is to have students write or produce projects on how they use these things or what they represent. One example could be video games and a project could be to have them choose one of their favorite games and have them break down every aspect of the game such as; who made it, who is it marketed to, what social construct does it enforce or expose, who does it benefit, what are the cultural, historical, and political aspects of the narrative that the designers used? These are questions and a mindset that more often than not students do not have while buying or playing these games but academically, and for life in general, it is imperative.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Through the forums on classroom 2.0 I learned that there are many different websites offering collaborative documents and that for students and schools with limited resources this is a very useful tool. Adobe has buzzword.com which seemed to get points for style but in terms of tools and usefulness was not as good as many others. Zoho.com is an extensive site that along with collaborative documents there are wiki’s, chat, and spreadsheets. Yourdraft.com is a very basic site that does not save older versions of a document where as writewith.com is much more extensive with the ability to have side discussions with your fellow contributors. Although it does not have as many features as other sites, the most used site for collaborative documents by far is google documents. This is because of its integration into other applications such as search and email along with its ease of use. Teachers used it to post assignments, schedules, have students submit assignments and input comments and grades. This all negates the need for printing, hard drive or flash drive memory, or working at the same computer.