Tuesday, January 25, 2011

K12 Online Conference "Engaging our Youngest Minds"

Engaging our Youngest Minds by Angela Maiers outlines the importance of "passion" in the educational experience. The author talks about how integrating technology into the classroom alone is not enough to engage our students in their learning. Educators must know their students and their passions in order for them to become fulfilled members of society. She outlines the story of a young child whose passion for science drove her to investigate about the needs of animals in danger. Instead of using technology as a way to learn information, technology can be used as a way for students to connect with others around the world who share similar passions. This child inspired the author to honor the talents and passions of all of her students.

I agree with the points the author is making in this presentation. Many successful individuals I know have followed a passion of theirs that has driven them to pursue and obtain their goals in life. Too often I have seen and reflect back on teachers who never really took the time to learn about their students' interests. Too often they will simply teach straight from the standards with little interest if any at all about what interests their students. With standardized tests among other things on place, I understand that teachers have materials they are required to teach their students. However, if individual passions were included in lessons from time to time, students may feel more engaged and interested in their educational experiences. This presentation reminds me of an orientation I attended last year at a school in South Carolina. The principal told us that one of the most important things to do is to "know your students." Build a connection with your students and more times than not your students will work hard for you.

Individuals all have different passions and interests. Sports and the Civil War have always been very interesting to me. Looking back, I wish I had a teacher who took the time to learn my passions and incorporated them into my learning rather than the usual lecture and book work lessons. If we can identify students' passions and assist them in acquiring more knowledge about their interests, I believe our students will be more engaged and driven in their pursuit of their life long goals.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Digital Nation" Reflection

            When I was assigned to read “Digital Nation” for class I expected or assumed that the film would outline or detail the positive aspects technology is having on peoples’ lives.  However, I was surprised by the some of the content of the film. “Digital Nation” highlights some of the concerns associated with many of these new technologies in addition to the positive impacts technology is having on societies across the globe.
            It was fascinating to see the treatment methods that were being used in South Korea. In my personal life, friends and I have often talked about how little we see children and teens playing outside. Growing up in a rural community, I would ride my bike four miles into the nearest town to meet up with my friends. We would play basketball and swim all day long. When I go home to visit, I often drive though the small town of Pemberville, Ohio and see very few children out playing on a beautiful summer day. Currently, I am working as a paraprofessional at a nearby middle school and daily I witness firsthand the detrimental impacts video games have on some students’ academic progress.
            I think the school program in South Korea that teaches children how to use the internet in a responsible way is a creative idea. Stressing internet etiquette and manners to children seems like a good idea; however, I question how effective this practice alone will be without reinforcement from these children’s parents? It really is fascinating to see elementary aged children creating blogs so easily and I just created my first blog a few days ago! That really was an eye opener.
I firmly agree with the principal who said employers are not looking for workers who know how to sit quietly and memorize a bunch of facts. Employers all across the nation train and provide their employees with the necessary materials to get the job done in a time efficient and productive manner. These are the type of skills children will need to acquire in order to become positive, productive members of society in this ever changing world and more specifically in our American economy.
              I thought it was very sad to see that man who was playing a video game online as many as four times a week, then precedes to say, hold on a minute I have to hug my boy goodnight. I can definitely see how compulsive gaming can have a negative impact on peoples’ lives. Many of these people talk about their “virtual” friends and how they are closer to their online friends than their “real” life friends. How are these people spending quality time with their families? How are they becoming the best workers and members of society that they can become? This segment of the video was very troubling to me. It is almost like some of these people are escaping reality in an attempt to create a new life for themselves. How can we as Americans strive to compete in the global economy while people are spending so much time in a “virtual” world?
            I do believe that technology can help businesses become more efficient while reducing costs. I do not really understand how using avatars to simulate a meeting is effective, however, using video conferences and conference calls can be an efficient means for conducting business. With that being said not every sector of our economy can thrive only in a virtual world. To compete in this global economy we are living in, we must continue to build and manufacture goods that people from all over the world will desire. In regards to our military, I believe we must give our bravest and finest men and women the best possible tools in order to protect our great nation in the safest manner possible.
            I believe these new technologies like many other items in our world are generally good in moderation. Technology can enrich our lives in powerful ways; however, I do not feel we should use technology as a means to escape our lives for a new virtual life and reality. Now that live in New Hampshire and most of my family is back home in Ohio, I love the fact that I can email or Facebook a family member as a way to stay in touch while I am away from home. However, when I do go home to visit, I use very little if any technology because I want to enjoy the people, places and natural landscapes my home area has to offer. I feel that educating people about the potential negative aspects of technology can help alleviate some of the concerns that were raised in this film. People who live in a free society have the ability to live life as they wish, but raising awareness of these aspects of modern technologies may prompt individuals to take a second and assess how they are living their daily lives.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"About Me"

     Hi there, my name is Ryan and I am currently seeking to obtain my M.ED. at Southern New Hampshire University. I am originally from a small town in rural Ohio and a graduate of Bowling Green State University. I enjoy family, friends, my pets, sports, and especially Ohio State football and basketball. Upon graduation from college, I moved to South Carolina where I spent some time working for Monster.com. After working in the "business world" I realized that this is not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I learned about an alternative teaching program in South Carolina and soon thereafter accepted a position as an 8th grade social studies teacher and basketball coach. Monster.com has a slogan, "Your calling is calling" and last year I finally felt that I had found my calling. After a couple of months on the job I knew this is exactly what I wanted to do with my life. However, I was concerned that since I was enrolled in an alternative program and not a traditional path to  teacher certification, obtaining a teaching job in my home state of Ohio may be difficult. Furthermore, Ohio requires a master's degree of its teachers after so many years on the job. I then decided pursuing my master's degree was the best course of action to take in obtaining both my professional and personal dreams.