Friday, December 18, 2009

Week 5 Reflections

· What outcomes had you envisioned for this course? Did you achieve those outcomes? Did the actual course outcomes align with those that you envisioned?
In completing the first assessments of the course, I thought we might be learning the Technology Applications Standards. As I progressed through the first assignment, I came to realize that the outcomes would be much broader. I began to get the bigger picture how can we most effectively incorporate and utilize technology in our campuses. From state mandated usage, to practical usage, to innovative usage, to professional development and management issues, I found that many of my concerns and questions were addressed in the various articles and assignments. One thing this training helped me realize is that no matter how adept I think I am in technology, there is always more to learn. I am still assimilating all the information provided in this course and I know I have not finished learning all I can. It will be very interesting and exciting to continue implementing new technologies in my campus.

· To the extent that you achieved the outcomes, are they still relevant to the work that you do in your school? Why or why not?
I think it would be very interesting and enlightening to actually implement my technology action plan. I definitely know I will continue researching and trying out the many of the items introduced for example RSS, blogs, and wikis. I use technology every day and I can not imagine not using it. From my desktop computer where I check my email, write letters to parents, to my laptop which I store lessons for my classes, to my projector which brings everything to life for my visual learners I can not survive without technology. Just this week I had the opportunity to learn how to use a camera when the librarian was having her R.I.F. distribution. She was having difficulty getting it to focus and to be able to see the pictures. Simply by playing with the buttons to adjust the exposure and focus ring for a few minutes I was able to make the image much sharper and brighter. I will always utilize technology in my classroom and in my campus as an administrator.

· What outcomes did you not achieve? What prevented you from achieving them?
I know I can always do more and do better. I still need to learn and be more adept with the various Technology Application Skills. Although I consider myself a digital native who is very comfortable utilizing many kinds of technology and who actually depends on technology on a daily basis, it seems that I have some digital immigrant tendencies when envisioning the use of technologies such as the cell phone. I am still not comfortable with the idea of cell phone use in the classroom. I have a very hard time understanding how cell phones can be used effectively while substituting a similar technology such as a digital camera or camcorder is not as good. I must continue to work on and develop my mental models concerning technology and its various uses.

· Were you successful in carrying out the course assignments? If not, what prevented or discouraged you?
I was successful in the assignments, although sometimes I did have a little bit of a difficult time. Many times I like instructions to be specific, but brief. If I do not understand exactly what somebody expects, then I can not fulfill expectations to the best of my ability. I like to speak and teach that way because I think it is easier to learn when directions are concise. Tell me specifically what you want me to do and I will do my very best to get it done. This is what I expect of myself and what I expect of my teachers. Of course, time running out is always an enemy for a busy administrator. There is always so many things to do and not enough time, even with delegation it is hard to get by sometimes.

· What did you learn from this course…about yourself, your technology and leadership skills, and your attitudes?

From the technology trainings I have attended as an administrator, I have learned much about my strengths and many areas for improvement in technology as well as many new ideas to utilize on my campus. I have also learned that although I am an ardent advocate of technology usage in the classroom, I am still prejudiced against some possible forms of classroom technology such as student cell phones. Therefore, I must remember to practice having an open mind to the limitless possibilities that technology brings. I have come to realize that there is always more to learn because technology is ever evolving and society is constantly changing, therefore we as administrators must be flexible and willing to adapt to these changes. As an administrator, I plan to keep informed of the latest trends in technology in education because this will give me and my students the cutting edge to stay ahead.

· What is the educational value of blogs and blogging to the 21st century learner?

There are many ways we can utilize blogs in our classrooms today. Blogs can modernize the way students and teachers address homework and grading. Teachers can utilize blogs as a student homework page or journal. Students can create their own blogs and post homework on it. The teacher can post evaluations. Blogs enable students, teachers, and parents the opportunity to collaborate and communicate. Teachers can create a classroom blog to communicate with students and parents regarding rules, assignments, announcements, etc. Classes can communicate and collaborate globally to solve problems that are relevant to them with the help of students from other schools across town, in other states, or even other countries via a blog. Blogs offer students the opportunity to build their social communicating skills in a safe online environment before having to traverse the ocean of the internet. Blogs can teach students how to communicate effectively and appropriately not only in a written context, but also in an online context.

· What are the concerns of blogs and blogging in education?
Although I recognize and appreciate the communicating and collaborating capacity inherent in weblogs, there are also some legitimate concerns regarding the use of blogs in schools. The primary concerns with blogs include potential safety and privacy issues. Weblog providers must be carefully chosen because depending on which blog provider is used and what access features are offered, anyone can access and communicate on a blog. Insufficient protection in the form of blog accessibility to the general public could create several problems. Problems stemming from unchecked accessibility include the risk of online predators meeting and communicating with students, potential loss of privacy for the students and the campus, and the possibility of various forms of inappropriate content uploaded to the blog. Some students might inadvertently post private or personally identifiable information on their blog if prodded or tricked by a predator. Hopefully with adequate teacher training and clear safety guidelines for students, blogs can be utilized as a powerful education technology tool.

· How can you use blogging to communicate with school stakeholders?
Weblogs are an easy, effective way to communicate with the members of my school community. They are easy to create, share, edit, and for members to respond to. Best of all for my budget, blogs are free. If I want my teachers to create and update their own class webpage, but my district cannot afford software designed for building websites, I can have teachers create a weblog instead. With this tool, teachers can communicate with all of the parents and the parents can respond and collaborate with the teacher and each other. We could create a blog for the campus and include pictures, calendars, powerpoints, and other informational items of interest. After school clubs could create a blog to post announcements instead of sending letters home. An important difference between a website and a blog is multi-party communication is possible; parents and students can question, comment, and collaborate with administrators, teachers and each other.

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