Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dean Shareski: The "Best Part" of the Internet

      This Tuesday we had an opportunity to Skype with Dean Shareski from Discovery Education Canada to discuss technology in education. There are so many technological tools out there that can be utilized in the classroom like interactive whiteboards, personal devices, and apps. While these tools can offer differentiated learning opportunities for our students, I believe that they are often under-utilized. By this I mean they are either used as a novelty project simply because they are available, they are not utilized in a regular basis and/or they are not used to their full potential. Why use your iPad to complete math worksheets using an app when you can easily do that on the board or with pen and paper? Technology should bring in new learning opportunities for our students. We should be saying, "How can our students use iPads to learn math in ways that they can't learn by using pen and paper?"

If you generally think of the Internet as a place to "look up stuff" you're missing the best partFor me, I am most excited about using technology as a sharing tool. I would love for my students to be able to publish their work to an authentic audience, to converse with a classroom in another country, to find networks for community projects and to learn from experts in specific fields. I believe technology can move the learning away from the classroom and into a global environment. Using the quote on the left as my inspiration, I though that I would brainstorm some ways I could incorporate technology in the classroom that meets the goals I listed above. (I thought that I would use the Grade 11/12 Agriculture curriculum as my basis as I will be teaching this course during my next student teaching placement in March.)

1 ) Twitter
- During brainstorming, KWL & discussion activities, tweet questions & ideas to
  local and national twitter accounts
     - Ste Rose Auction Mart               @srauction
     - Pioneer Coop Ag Team              @PioneerCoopAg
     - Cargill                                         @Cargill
     - Farming First                               @farmingfirst
     - Urban Farming Guys                   @UrbanFarmingGuy
     - Farm Start                                   @FarmStart
- My hope is that my students will not only have an authentic audience for their
  ideas but that they will hopefully get some good responses from people in the
  agriculture community (as opposed to me providing all of the answers)

2 ) Skype
- I am hoping to bring in people via Skype to discuss various aspects of the
  agriculture community. While we have many local people who I plan to
  bring in as well, there are many great people who are simply too far away
- I haven't began networking yet to set this up, but some ideas I have are to
  network with representatives from:
     - Brandon Research & Development Center
     - U of M Faculty of Ag
     - Viterra Quality Assurance

3 ) YouTube
- Create and post a video response to one of the "Peterson Bros" YouTube
  videos that share the importance of agriculture while creating musical parodies.
- This could be a fun final project idea that would have a large online audience!

4 ) United Classrooms
- I've posted about United Classrooms before. I hope to network with other
  classrooms across the world to share the differences and similarities between
  our local agriculture and theirs. Since most of the students in the class actually
  live on a farm or have friends/family who live on a farm I think they would be
  interested in seeing how their farm is different than, for example, a farm in
  Thailand.

* I am also currently researching different online lab opportunities, research opportunities and high quality apps that we could use in the classroom.

     I am hoping that by incorporating projects, like the ones I listed, that I will be able to reach the "best part" of the internet and not just use it "as a place to look things up". There are so many opportunities out there for our students and I strongly believe that we as educators need to be actively learning how to use them in the most appropriate manner to benefit our students. I'd like to thank Dean again for taking time out of his busy schedule to Skype with our class and inspire me to think about new ways to use the internet with my class!

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