Spent an interesting few hours in Greenwood, SC today presenting to and talking with the faculty and the deans of Piedmont Technical College about the wonders of the Read/Write Web. I got a tour of some of the classrooms and a rundown of what they are doing with distance learning, and I have to say it was probably one of the most impressive technology buildouts I’ve seen. They have a number of rooms that have video uplinks with satellite campuses from throughout the region, and they are in the process of really ramping up their online course offerings in some major ways.
And now they are trying to turn their attention to the pedagogies that go along with all of that technology. And I’ve been trying to figure out a good way of showing the potential power of RSS and social bookmarking in an hour long presentation that could just as easily be three hours long with everything there is to show and talk about. I think today I actually came close to getting them to the power of the socail aspect of all these tools. In about five minutes, here’s what I did:
- Framed the whole RSS concept by telling them how I would subscribe to all of their blogs (assuming they all had one.
- Framed the whole social bookmarking piece by deconstructing my list of links in del.icio.us (including touching on the distinction between taxonomies and folksonomies.)
- Clicked on the plagiarism tag in my account (which was relevant because we’d been having a number of questions about IP, copyright, plagiarism, etc.)
- Clicked on the link to see what other people had saved the recent article from USA Today on “Authorship Gets Lost on the Web”
- Clicked on the link to the plagiarism folder for the user “Senioritis.”
- Talked about how, after reviewing the list of plagiarism links that Senioritis had saved and finding them to be pretty relevant and substantive, I could “subcribe” to all future links that Senioritis might save to his/her plagiarism folder.
- Talked about how if a could find 5-10 such “deliciousers” that it could be a powerful way of finding out new and useful information (and how finding 25-50 could be mind-numbing.)
Right there, in that small chunk, is where I think most people’s brains start to whir. Especially when you talk about it from the professional practice standpoint. And the questions were great. “Do those people know you are doing that?” “Can they take your stuff too?” “If other people are going to take it, why would you want to put your stuff up there?” “Do you credit those people with doing the research?” It felt like a good way to just encapsulate the way things are shifting.
I was very impressed with your talk today!
I just spent an interesting three hours in Greenwood, SC today. Oh wait I live here!
I really enjoyed your talk to day. I am a novice blogger. I really love keeping up with friends. All personal stuff and believe it or not NO politics. I use Myspace to find out what is going on with my disappearing students and have drawn some of them back.
We care a great deal about our students at Piedmont Tech (speaking for my department) and do go above and beyond. Many of our students enter with less than a 9th grade education, are starting a new career (30â€™s to 50â€™s) or are giving college one last shot. I was one of the latter students. I failed out of college and moved in with my parents in Atlanta. LONG story short I attended PTC at 26 obtained a 4.00, continued to Lander University, then Augusta State University for my Masters in Psychology Science (TUFF program I might add). I am OVER the top proud of myself and I want to give back to my students!
There is so much awesome technology to be had at PTC and I jump on every bit! I have the luxury of teaching in a smart room next semester and can use lots of interactive power points with my students. My students also have great opportunities to have access to all my power points and have online discussions with me. However, I am struggling with incorporating blogging into my curriculum. Many of my students when asked to bring in one â€œfactâ€ from one “source” tend to lean towards Cosmopolitan or their Grandmother. This is where the critical teaching begins. The goal is to incorporate critical thinking as much as possible.
I love teaching Psychology related courses and will continue to incorporate as much technology as I feel my students can handle or â€œwillâ€ handle.
Thanks again for your talk today. It was informative!
Diane Quirk says
Wow – this sounds like a great place to go to school. Which do you think comes first – the technology tools or the pedagogy? Do we need to start from our pedagogy or adjust/adapt our pedagogy as the tools change?
Cindy Davies says
I echo the comments of my Piedmont Tech co-worker “Ryah”. We Techsters are fortunate to have great technology on hand to help us serve our students, but we often need a gentle shove to use it effectively and to its greatest potential… thanks for the push!
I believe that we need to start from the pedagogy. Teaching really is an art. Without the passion to teach and the connection with the students one isn’t going to be as effective. It doesn’t matter how much technology I have access too if I don’t care about my students learning!
Does new technology mean sacraficing rich course content? Can both live together hand and hand?
Lynn Mack says
As a PTC instructor of mathematics and the college’s Instructional Development coordinator, I thought your presentation for the college was a great kick-off for the new year. What better way to start a new year than with relevant and current information focused on strategies to help engage and connect with students–and– most of all ways to help students “learn” more effectively with technology. It was great and I actually was able to converse with my 15 year old last night. I think I am going to start or join a blog on parenting a 15 year boy. Now that’s a challenge!
Scott Walters says
See, I would say the opposite: you start from the technology. If we start from pedagogy, we are starting from what already exists and trying to figure out ways to use the technology to do what we already do, but better. This can be exemplified by the teacher who simply moved his overheads to PowerPoint — doing simple things in more complicated ways.
But if you start with the technology, asking ourselves “how might I use this?,” we might start thinking of new approaches we wouldn’t ever have thought of without the technology. Will’s description of the uses of RSS feeds, for instance, takes the idea of “research” in a different direction. Suddenly, I thinking about ways students might collaborate not only with each other, but with people around the world, and research becomes something that is done in groups, and is built on the interests of others.
If you start with journaling, you will probably see blogs as a great way for students to journal. But if you start with a blog, you might find many other possibilities.
Truth be told, it is probably a spiral — you probably don’t start with either, but with both.
I thought your presentation was terrific! It gave all of us at Piedmont Technical College a lot to think about! Although we have come a long way using technology and the magic of the web, we have so, so far to go! Without a doubt, many of our faculty will use the information information you shared to supplement their coursework.
Thanks you for inspiring us to charge on!
Hey, Will… How does one go about editing a blog? I guess I hit the send button before I re-read what I had typed in my first blog! I guess one learns from their mistakes! Gosh, that must be the first mistake I have ever made!! Ha! Ha! (I see I can’t put a “smiley face” on this!
Anyway, I greatly enjoyed your presentation and the conversations that followed in our meetings on Monday.
Yes, we are trying to make it better. Take what we know and build. I like the idea of looking at the technology and asking â€œhow might I use this?,â€ it makes the classes more exciting.
I work in an ever changing and growing field but a great deal of my material is history and doesn’t change. Therefore I am looking at my instruction and asking “who is my audience?,” “how can I reach this class?,” and “what resources are out there for me to use?,” and press forward with the material.
When talking to a friend who teaches high-school social studies (just to sneak blogging in) I stated that she should try journaling. She agreed and said that it would give the students a chance to express their personal views about the subject and give her some feedback about the class. Then I suggested that she use a web page where the students can log on so she wonâ€™t have huge amounts of papers being handed in at different times. She agreed that would be great. I told her that was blogging and she then stated â€œoh I canâ€™t do that.â€ The language is scary to some people.
I think that we are lucky in some cases to get a teacher from overheads to PowerPoint.
PowerPoint to me is so much more than “simple” lecture notes on a screen. I integrate video clips sound bites and soon will be able to allow my students to interact using their own remotes. I think that it would be important to bring people up to date on some of the out of date teaching tools before thrusting in blogging. Baby steps…..
I must agree “Truth be told, it is probably a spiral â€” you probably donâ€™t start with either, but with both.”
By asking both “how might I use this?,” and “what might I use to really teach this matter?,” brings it all together nicely.
This is such a great career!
Thanks for coming to South Carolina. Your presentation certainly got me to thinking. What is the primary skill our students need in the coming world of education? If knowlege is so plentiful if it can be collected so quickly from so many sources, what is the best tool to give to students?
My first thought about an answer to that is reading comprehension. There is plenty of good info out there and you showed several great ways to get to it (or have it sent to you). But evn with the explosion of multimedia most of the information is still in text form. In fact if a teacher isn’t going to be standing in front of the class and talking then even more of the information students need to learn is in text form. So, with all that is available the ability to read (and read fast) and comprehend what you read becomes even more important.
By the way… I teach in the Math Department!
Very glad to know my links are useful to others.
Cheers Global Horizons!