Friday, September 21, 2012

Module 2: The Invention of the Car

The invention of the car drastically change the lives of people. It has given people freedom and convenience as they are able to more freely travel from one place to another. The biggest downfall of the car is that the majority of cars are dependent upon a nonrenewable source. Inventors have been up to the challenge of creating alternatives.

Larry Burns, the Vice President of General Motors, gave a TED talk back in 2005 in regards to the future of cars and how they would run on hydrogen.  Seven years later this new technology does not seem to be emerging.  It is interesting to see where we will be going and what will be the next step.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Module 1: Emerging Technology: The "Flipped" Classroom

Emerging Technology: The Flipped Classroom

One of the buzz words in education today seems to be “flipped” classrooms.  This classroom model has students receiving instruction at home and doing the practical application in the classroom.  For the flipped model, instruction is usually received through an online podcast that is video or audio.  Educators who are incorporating this model are working on the assumption that every student has internet access of some sort to receive this instruction outside of the school day.  This model has received a lot more attention through the work of Salman Khan, the voice and person behind Khan Academy

This new technology and model for instruction is not without its challenges.  The most obvious hurdle is the technology infrastructure.  A doctoral fellow who has been studying the model points out, “You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to flip the classroom without establishing a foundation of the instruction and technology. . . you have to create the environment in which students can go online” (Sparks, 2011, p. 1).  Classrooms and school districts approach this issue in various ways.   Decisions makers in my current school districts have been having discussions and drafting plans on what they will do in regards to district-wide wifi and policies in regards to having studies bring their own device or to supply devices to students.  And then there are the talks about what does the management of all of this look like.  

The other hurdle that most people overlook is the quality of the podcasts that are being used and how they are being used.  Khan Academy has grown in its popularity due to the press it has received over the past couple of years and has received several grants, including five million dollars from the O’Sullivan Foundation (Watters, 2011).    What originally started out as Salman Khan creating podcasts to help his younger relatives in different subjects, emerged into a website that provides the public with free video podcasts of him giving mini lectures on a variety of topics.  Many of these topics have follow up activities for people to apply what they have learned.  Teachers have been tapped into Khan Academy and started incorporating his podcasts into their classroom during class and as a “flipped” classroom model.  I have been one of the many teachers who have used Khan Academy in the classroom.
Khan Academy is a great tool to use in the classroom as well as to use outside of the classroom.  Used whole group in the classroom or outside of the classroom, it can be a great tool to be used to introduce or review a topic.  However, like any tool, it can be over used and abused and it is not a substitute for good, quality instruction.  Khan Academy or any podcast for that matter does not replace quality teaching within a classroom with hands on application and practice.  Students need more than to simply watch a video listening to a lecture and then taking an online quiz to test their ability.  Podcasts can be used as compliments toquality teaching, but not be used as a substitute.  My fear is that too many people are becoming dependent on podcasts that other people have produced instead of focusing in on how to create their own or perfect their own practice.