Ed Founds Module B: Comments on Colleagues

•May 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The following comment is in response to Kath’s post relating to Jane (2).

Kath makes an excellent observation about Jane needing to find ‘hooks’ to connect prior knowledge to new knowledge. An excellent technique for reinforcing the neural networks involved in association and memory is to have students represent these networks by drawing ‘mind’ or concept maps which show the connections between ideas (Joseph, 2003).

Kath notes that students will struggle to reach Piaget’s formal operational stage if they lack physical maturation and social and environmental influences. This is a valid point, and if we consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Huitt, 2007) then it is clear that Jane will struggle to meet their academic needs if students are lacking basic physiological needs like nutrition. Jane must take her concerns to the councilor and the executive, because she has a duty of care to ensure student well-being where possible.

It is not certain from Jane’s scenario that her students on farms will lack social interaction generally, just that they don’t mix with town kids. It is possible, though admittedly unlikely, that these students achieve necessary socialization with each-other at school, with family and neighbours, and online. It is unlikely that the town kids are clearly more experienced than their farm-based contemporaries, therefore I am not sure where Kath derived the conclusion that, “Jane’s more remote students are not getting the social  interactions as they are isolated from the community and spend their time with peers or with the same set of adults”. While this may be implied by Jane’s scenario, it is not definitively stated and thus I think Kath should have been a little more cautious in her statement. However, I agree that If the students from more isolated farms do lack social interaction; then Kath’s inference is valid.

References:

-          Huitt, W. (2007) ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’, Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University, retrieved 29 April, 2011, from: http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/regsys/maslow.html

-          Joseph, J. (2003) ‘Learning with the Brain in Mind’, Focus Education Australia, accessed 29 April, 2011 from: http://www.focuseducation.com.au/Webzine/Learning_with_the_brain_in_mind.pdf

The following comment is in response to Danielle’s post relating to Tracy (2).

Danielle’s comments are insightful, though they could afford to be more concise.

I agree with Danielle that teachers must deal with students as a whole person and that, having been at the school since the outset, she is in a position to encourage students and parents to embrace her broader approach to learning. It should also be noted that she is in a good position to develop influence with other (newer) teachers and the school executive. By continuing to network with students and their parents, she will demonstrate that she is a proactive teacher, both regarding schooll priorities but also her own curriculum creation. She will likely develop increasing influence among the whole school community, and when this new school has some breathing space to re-evaluate its priorities, it is probable that Tracy will find herself in a position to influence the direction of the new priorities.

Danielle makes the excellent point that Tracy can combine her own goals and those of the students, parents and executive if she finds ways to incorporate her cross-curricular priorities and students interests into her existing curriculum. This would allow her to be satisfied with the depth of her curriculum and student learning experiences, without requiring students, or parents, to expend additional time. It is admirable that Tracy demonstrates hard work and enthusiasm, however in order to preserve herself she must recognize that she is accountable to more than just her idea of what is best for her students. She must consider the priorities of the school/executive, which may require a conservative approach to balance a wide range of competing staff priorities.

If NAPLAN and ATAR are major preoccupations for students and their parents, this may be because the school is new and outcomes aren’t as reliable, and also because the emphasis on results is widespread. If Tracy wants to encourage good results and good student development generally at the same time, she may consider holding some parent information sessions on the value of a rounded education, emphasizing the ideas of the great education thinkers from history (Murik, 2007) and also the more recent thoughts on cognitive and social development, including research which demonstrates higher academic achievement resulting from education incorporating moral values and a high degree of relevance to society (Newmann, Marks & Gamoran, 1996). If parents focus is on their kids’ results, and if Tracy can make a convincing case for her alternative programs, then it seems that their priorities could align.

References:

-          Murik, J. (2007), ‘Notes on Education: Historical Perspectives’, University of Canberra, accessed 29 April, 2011.

-          Newmann, F. M., Marks, H. M. & Gamoran, A. (1996) ‘Authentic Pedagogy and Student Performance’, American Journal of Education, v.104, n.4, pp.280-312, retrieved 2 May 2011, via EBSCOhost.

Ten Teacher Tips

•May 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The following is a link to the poster I have made on Prezi. Ten Teacher Tips on Prezi

References:

-          Churchill et al. (2011) ‘Teaching: Making a Difference’, John Wiley & Sons Australia, Chapter 4.

-          HREOC (2000) ‘Education Access: National Inquiry into rural and remote education.’ Commonwealth of Australia; Canberra. pp. 1-4. http://www.hreoc.gov.au/pdf/human_rights/rural_remote/Access_final.pdf

-          Huitt, W. (2007) ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’, Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University, retrieved 29 April, 2011, from: http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/regsys/maslow.html

-          Joseph, J. (2003) ‘Learning with the Brain in Mind’, Focus Education Australia, accessed 29 April, 2011 from: http://www.focuseducation.com.au/Webzine/Learning_with_the_brain_in_mind.pdf

-          Murik, J. (2007), ‘Notes on Education: Historical Perspectives’, University of Canberra, accessed 29 April, 2011.

-          Newmann, F. M., Marks, H. M. & Gamoran, A. (1996) ‘Authentic Pedagogy and Student Performance’, American Journal of Education, v.104, n.4, pp.280-312, retrieved 2 May 2011, via EBSCOhost.

-          Penuel, W. R. & Wertsch, J. V.(1995) ‘Vygotsky and identity formation: A sociocultural approach’, Educational Psychologist, v.30, n.2, pp. 83-92, retrieved 28 April, 2011 from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep3002_5

Research Critique: Cybersafety in Schools

•April 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This critique will review arguments arising from my research into cybersafety and the use of social networking services (SNS) and other Web 2.0 tools in classrooms. Cybersafety in schools involves understanding and protecting against online threats such as cyberbullying, phishing and related scams, grooming by sexual predators, exposure to illicit or inappropriate materials, and breaches of copyright or intellectual property rights. As Collin et al. (2011) describe, the majority of young Australians are regularly utilizing SNS and other Web 2.0 tools. Despite this SNS are banned in many states’ schools and underutilized in education generally. The problem with this situation is that, while students’ risk at school is limited, their education regarding appropriate uses of these services is not being adequately addressed and thus the risk outside of school and in the long term is greater than need be. This critique will argue for use of SNS and other Web 2.0 tools in schools, both for delivery of lessons on cybersafety and as platforms for other curricula.

A recently published CSM White Paper on Cyberbullying (CSM, 2010) emphasizes the extent of the cyberbullying problem. While frequency of bullying differs with definition, there is little doubt that cyberbullying is a problem which must be addressed. In response to such risks, many education departments have banned use of SNS as carriers for the majority of cyberbullying. The problem is that students are exposed to cyberbullying (by schoolmates and others) outside of the classroom, and so while preventing SNS access in classes may help protect educators from legal ramifications, it does a disservice to students who are under-prepared to respond to this and other cybersafety threats.

Lack of sound ICT policies in schools, equity problems associated with digital divide, network and site restrictions and lack of teacher training are other issues linked to the tendency to of schools to avoid SNS (Minocha, 2009). If department policies severely restrict use of ICTs in schools; then there is little incentive for researchers and school administrators to develop ICT policies. Despite this, it is clear that educators are actively involved in developing sound ICT policies which emphasize SNS (Collin et al., 2011; Minocha, 2009; Freyvaud, 2008). This shows that there is strong support for greater use of Web 2.0 technologies in classrooms. Moreover, access to ICT teaching and teacher training resources are available through the federal government’s Cybersafety Plan. As Web 2.0 has ingrained itself into 21st century life, the various barriers to its widespread uptake in schools are progressively being eroded or dispelled.

Equity issues are serious but not prohibitive. While convenience of access and available bandwidth may vary between individual students and regions, this is not an excuse for deliberately limiting use of resources. Equity issues ought to be addressed on a case-by-case basis by teachers via special considerations etc, and on a broader scale by government. However, digital divide is likely to persist  indefinitely in one form or another and thus we must do our best to factor it into our teaching and work around it, rather than using it to justify SNS prohibitions.

Site/content blocking is a broad-brush approach to dealing with the issue of inappropriate content. This conservative approach is intended to protect students from exposure to inappropriate material and protect educators from consequences of a student’s exposure to such material. As with cyberbullying, content blocking at schools fails to teach students the digital literacy skills to evaluate SNS environments and make sensible choices (Endicott-Popovsky, 2009 ). There is a challenge in balancing a duty of care for students in the classroom with a responsibility to prepare students to take care of themselves in cyberspace. It is up to schools and teachers to negotiate where this balance will lie.

Allowing teachers to explore cybersafety issues in a hands-on manner using SNS and other Web 2.0 tools will not only improve learning opportunities in cybersafety and digital literacy, it may also help remove the stigma and confusion around cybersafety threats and encourage students to report incidents of cyberbullying or attempts at grooming or phishing. By bringing SNS out of the taboo sphere of ‘banned sites’ we demonstrate that we want students to view such services critically, rather than necessarily negatively.

The NSW DET recently implemented a new Social Media Policy which opens up previously banned Web 2.0 tools including Twitter and Facebook for use in the classroom. The intention is to improve student-teacher interactions by utilising increasingly important technologies. This indicates strong support for the notion that one of the best ways to address the numerous issues of student cybersafety is through hands-on learning experiences in the classroom. This move means that, in NSW at least, teachers have a realistic opportunity to begin effectively educating their students about cybersafety and other aspects digital literacy in Web 2.0 environments. In order to familiarize themselves with the uses and usefulness of SNS, teachers and schools executives should use them to form professional networks and share teaching resources.

Educators and their administrators are beginning the move to a socially networked view of the classroom which is necessary to align with developments in society at large. It is essential that we develop not just new policies for SNS and other ICTs, but also procedures for rapidly identifying, evaluating and responding to new developments in Web 2.0 applications and beyond. Otherwise educators will continually be outpaced by developments and continue to leave students under-prepared for the dynamic world of the digital age.

References:

-          Collin, P., Rahilly, K., Richardson, I. & Third, A. (2011) ‘The Benefits of Social Networking Services: Literature Review’, Research Report, accessed 30 April, 2011 from: http://www.inspire.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/FINAL_The_Benefits_of_Social_Networking_Services_Lit_Review.pdf

-          CSM (2010) ‘Cyberbullying – Damage in a Digital Age’, Common Sense Media White Paper, accessed 30 April, 2011 from: http://www.ncta.com/PublicationType/WhitePaper/Cyberbullying-Damage-in-a-Digital-Age.aspx

-          Endicott-Popovsky, B. 2009, ‘Seeking a Balance: Online Safety for Our Children’, Teacher Librarian, 37, 2, pp. 29-34, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 April 2011.

-          Freyvaud, R. 2008, ‘Journey to the new world : young people and cyberspace’, Screen Education,49, pp. 94-99, Informit, viewed 13 April 2011.

-          Minocha, S. (2009) ‘Role of social software tools in education: A literature review’ Education and Training, 51(5/6), pp. 353–369, accessed 30 April, 2011 from: http://oro.open.ac.uk/18910/2/Shailey_Education+Training_Lit_review_Edited.pdf

Ed Founds Module B Scenario Response: Wayne (2)

•April 28, 2011 • 4 Comments

Several issues arise out of Wayne’s scenario. From the perspective of human development, three major issues that Wayne faces centre around engagement, motivation and identity. Wayne is concerned about engaging his students in high level learning, encouraging intrinsic motivation to learn, and ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment for students at a stage of potential identity confusion. I will briefly address each of these issues, as I consider that motivation and engagement necessities which can be facilitated by effective teachers. Wayne should be able to apply these ideas regardless of his subject area.

Wayne seeks to deepen his more motivated students’ (MMS) engagement to an intrinsic level. I would recommend he look into a revision of Bloom’s  Taxonomy (Krathwohl, 2002). By encouraging students to generate their own understanding of concepts via evaluative or creative processes, Wayne will increase the chances that they take a personal interest in the learning and thus retain more information as well as thinking about the topic at a conceptual level. If good marks are the major extrinsic motivation, Wayne can explain that highest marks are awarded to responses that show a student’s own high order thinking. The use of this extrinsic motivation may lead some students to engage at a deeper level and foster the intrinsic motivation of intellectual satisfaction  in the process. Wayne may also be able to encourage high order thinking in his less motivated students (LMS), however, in both cases, deeper engagement will depend on motivation to engage in the first place.

Wayne will have an easier time engaging students if he comes to understand some of their personal interests, including plans or goals. He can then design lessons which directly incorporate or accommodate their interests in order to encourage engagement, because learning is more effective when personally relevant or meaningful (Zull, 2004). Students who are under-motivated may not be adequately stimulated. The cerebral cortex can be divided into four areas of processing: sensory (receiving information); sensory-integrative (making sense of sense information); frontal-integrative (making compound ideas); motor (acting on ideas). By addressing each of these areas in his lesson planning, Wayne can maximize the engagement of student brains in learning. However, it is important to reiterate that if students aren’t motivated to participate then their brains will only be minimally engaged. Therefore motivation is an essential compliment to engagement.

It is possible that Wayne’s lessons are pitched outside Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) for some students which would lead to disengagement. If the lessons are pitched above students’ competence; anxiety about the class and the prospect of university learning is likely (Penuel & Wertsch, 1995). By evaluating their current competencies, Wayne will derive information required to appropriately scaffold lessons within the ZPD of his students. If students no longer find the work to be too unfamiliar or difficult they are more likely to be motivated to participate. However Wayne will have to be careful to incorporate high level scaffolds for his higher achieving students so that they do not become bored. This may require a wide range of tasks pitched at different levels which would obviously be a lot of work and a big challenge.

If Wayne believes students are coming to class affected by alcohol or other drugs then he should discuss his observations with the school councilor. It is worth considering the findings of Shedler & Block (1990) in regard to adolescent drug use. Those who experiment with drugs score as the most psychologically and emotionally well-adjusted compared with both frequent users and abstainers. Frequent use was highly correlated with social and psychological maladjustment. If students are using frequently then the councilor should investigate the underlying psychology. It may be that his students are simply tired in the morning, as adolescents  have been robustly shown to have a delayed sleep period (Carskadon et al., 2004); they tend to become wakeful later in the morning. Wayne should consider planning his higher order lessens for after recess.

Student anxiety about university brings to mind Erikson’s ideas on ego identity formation (in Penuel & Wertsch, 1995). This anxiety may relate to confusion about identity regarding the key areas of ideology (what they value) and work (how they want to participate in society), both of which are significant issues for young people deciding whether to go to university and what to study. In order to alleviate this concern, Wayne should again place strong emphasis on the students’ interests and encourage them to discover and focus on the areas in which they have high self-efficacy as possibilities to pursue in future study/work. I would recommend Wayne encourage diversity and discuss alternatives to studying at university immediately after school.

References:

-          Carskadon, M. A., Acebo, C. & Jenni, O. G. (2004) ‘Regulation of Adolescent Sleep: Implications for Behavior’, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, v.1021, pp. 276-291, retrieved 28 April, 2011 from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1196/annals.1308.032/full

-          Krathwohl, D. R. (2002) ‘A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview’, Theory into Practice, v.41, n.4, pp. 212-218, retrieved 28 April, 2011 from: http://www.unco.edu/cetl/sir/stating_outcome/documents/Krathwohl.pdf

-          Penuel, W. R. & Wertsch, J. V.(1995) ‘Vygotsky and identity formation: A sociocultural approach’, Educational Psychologist, v.30, n.2, pp. 83-92, retrieved 28 April, 2011 from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep3002_5

-          Shedler, J. & Block, J. (1990) ‘Adolescent drug use and psychological health: A longitudinal inquiry’, American Psychologist, v.45, n.5, pp. 612-630, retrieved 28 April, 2011 via UC library.

-          Zull, J. E. (2004) ‘The Art of Changing the Brain’, Educational Leadership, v.62, n.1, pp. 68-72, retrieved 28 April, 2011 from: http://coe.winthrop.edu/marchelc/Brain%20Development/brain%20pages/aarticles/the_art_of_changing_the_brain.pdf

Cybersafe Digital Citizens

•April 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The dynamic social, cultural, economic, digital landscape requires dynamic, digitally literate citizens. Cetron and Davies (2009) depict a rather alarming scenario where we fail to control applications of interactive web technologies. The authors discuss the rapidly expanding possibilities for physical and digital attacks arising out of the increasingly interrelated spheres of ICT, economic globalization, science and technology, research and development and global socio-cultural politics.

Teaching students personal cybersafety in schools is essential, but it may also be necessary to discuss broader lessons of cybersecurity in order to prepare students to act as responsible digital citizens in a world that we are unable to comprehensively predict or prepare for (Freyvaud, 2008). It is not at all sufficient to tell students what they can and cannot do, nor what they should and shouldn’t do. It is essential that we explain the basis for those distinctions. We must teach students critical literacy skills and explain and demonstrate how those skills transfer to the digital sphere. If we adhere to the rote learning model for evaluating the rapidly changing digi-sphere then our students’ skills and knowledge will quickly become obsolete. If on the other hand we equip our students with critical thinking and lifelong learning skills we equip them to participate effectively as citizens in a dynamic world.

Protect a kid from phishing and you protect them in your class. Teach a kid about phishing and you protect them for a lifetime.

Reference:

-          Cetron, M, & Davies, O. 2009, ‘Ten Critical Trends for Cybersecurity’, Futurist, 43, 5, pp. 40-49, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 April 2011.

-          Freyvaud, R. 2008, ‘Journey to the new world : young people and cyberspace’, Screen Education,49, pp. 94-99, Informit, viewed 13 April 2011.

Digital Literacy for the ‘Real World’

•April 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I suggested in my post ‘Social Networking – Know your Devil‘ that by refusing to engage with social networking in schools we alienate and under-prepare  students, but the drawbacks of this head-in-the-sand approach apply to the whole digital economy, not just social networking. ICT courses in schools are largely for people who wish to specialize in ICT, and it is hardly adequate to rely on only these classes to improve students’ digital literacy. ICT has permeated most industries in developed countries and general ICT skills are increasingly important to various employers.

Teachers are, in several senses, model citizens. I believe we have a responsibility to develop our own digital literacy skills and knowledge in order that we can demonstrate sensible and effective applications of them to our students. It isn’t enough to educate students of the risks of social networking and other Web 2.0 technologies and then let them have free reign: We must do the former, then model and guide appropriate ways of using those skills and knowledge in a controlled environment where students can demonstrate understanding of relevant concepts. As Endicott-Popovsky (2009) points out, we must develop school-wide cybersafety curricula which emphasize the safety issues, but then deliver these curricula using popular Web 2.0 tools to emphasize the cultural relevance and effectiveness of digital literacy. We must balance a cyber-ethics  understanding of responsibility and risk with a practical understanding of the nature of the web and it’s ever-changing role in society or we risk being unproductively alarmist on one hand, or alarmingly Laissez-faire on the other.

Reference:

-          Endicott-Popovsky, B. 2009, ‘Seeking a Balance: Online Safety for Our Children’, Teacher Librarian, 37, 2, pp. 29-34, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 April 2011.

Cyberbullying in schools

•April 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Cyberbullying is one of the most serious cybersafety issues. Like traditional bullying, cyberbullying involves persistent, deliberate, unwanted behaviours that the victim feels are abusive, aggressive or otherwise inappropriate. However, cyberbullying, through Web 2.0 tools can spread more rapidly and widely, can persist indefinitely across numerous environments, and can be committed with greater anonymity than can traditional bullying. The psychological impacts can range from acute emotional distress to chronic depression and suicidal tendencies (Longwill, 2010). In the face of such a serious issue, I feel that teachers, alongside parents where possible, have a responsibility to prepare students to respond to cyberbullying.

I would recommend a three pronged approach: To inform students of the legal issues; to provide students with coping strategies; and to work at changing the culture of reporting. Firstly regarding legality, I think teachers are obligated to inform students about, and warn them against, illegal bullying behaviours including: Cyberstalking as a breach of privacy; defamation; physical threats; creation and/or distribution of pornography; harassment; discrimination or vilification (Longwill, 2010). In schools where cyberbullying has been identified as a major issue, and for all identified victims of bullying, I would recommend both a coping skills program and a cybersafety skills program such as those described as effective in the research of Chi and Frydenberg (2009).  Finally, it is essential that we comment on the impropriety of any memes which seem to normalize cyberbullying behaviours.  We must emphasize the seriousness of cyberbullying transgressions and make clear the consequences, and we must be approachable to students who may otherwise be unlikely to report such an emotionally sensitive issue (Freyvaud, 2008).

Refernces:

-          Chi, C, & Frydenberg, E. 2009, ‘Coping in the Cyberworld: Program Implementation and Evaluation – A Pilot Project’, Australian Journal     of  Guidance & Counselling, 19, 2, pp. 196-215, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 April 2011.

-          Freyvaud, R. 2008, ‘Journey to the new world : young people and cyberspace’, Screen Education,49, pp. 94-99, Informit, viewed 13 April 2011.

-          Longwill, T. 2010, ‘Cyberbullying : like any disease, we need to manage it’, Teacher, 211, p. 48-52, Informit, viewed 13 April 2011.

 
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