Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blog Post 10

An Open Letter To Educators.
Morgan Bayda standing on a snow covered hill
Morgan Bayda is a teacher in Saskatchewan, Canada. In this blog post she discusses her disappointment in the lack of engagement and connection found in a majority of her college classes. She says in her letter
"I too feel cheated sometimes at University, especially by the time I am finished sitting through two three hour lectures in one afternoon."
I can definitely relate to this feeling of wasted time. Taking down notes to later memorize and having no real passion for the material often makes learning seem like a chore instead of an adventure. And if we are not passionate about the subject or the work we are doing then what are we really learning? How much of this information will we carry with us and put to good use? I can definitely agree with Ms. Bayda when she points out that these lecture style classes pale in comparison to her Ed. Computers class. I think she must be taking something very similar to EDM310! When a teacher helps you create your own community and you constantly feel connected to people who share your passion you are much more likely to enjoy learning and seek out more knowledge. However, I don't think it's just EDM. In general the College of Education here seems to have embraced this theory of learning by doing and certainly the theory of connectivism. It's an exception, not a rule, in this department for me to have a class I'm not excited about. I can't remember the last time I was in class and didn't feel engaged or that the information being given wasn't relevant or useful. The idea that future teachers are being educated in this way gives me a lot of hope for the future of K-12 education. If we can remember what it was like to sit through boring lectures and how it feels to be engaged and in control of your learning I think the next generation of teachers can change the current system.
Ms. Bayda included in her post a video by Dan Brown. Dan left college because his education was interfering with his learning. I can see where Dan is coming from in this video. I always have a huge list of books on my reading list by the end of the semester. My kindle is currently gathering dust. Between classes, work, and the time I spend researching random tangents brought up by the posts we read for these blog posts and the links I get from twitter there isn't much time for reading. However, I feel that the way my classes are structured, as mostly project based with plenty of freedom, I can coordinate the things I'm interested in into the projects that require research anyway and in that way my education enhances my learning by guiding and focusing my investigation of topics.

Adventures in Pencil Integration.
John T. Spencer is a teacher in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Spencer's blog is a satirical debate over how much access and what type of access students should have to pencils. In this particular post Spencer is arguing the results of a recent study that suggests that student's from low income families show a decline in test scores when given computer and internet access at home. This is for students given access to these tools after the fifth grade. Students in low income households given access before fifth grade show an increase in test scores. As Mr. Spencer's character Tom Johnson tries to argue in the blog, there are clearly other factors involved. The study suggests that providing low income students with computers and internet access will decrease their learning as evidenced by a decrease in test scores. Why is this? What are students meant to be doing on these school provided computers when they are at home? I would assume homework. I would also assume that most students' main source of homework help is their parents. I would also assume that students from low income households are more likely than their upper income peers to have technologically illiterate parents. Therefore they are less likely to have a support system when they leave the classroom. Therefore, the real solution, as "Tom" argues in the post is not taking computers away from low income students (which may temporarily increase test scores but will certainly decrease genuine learning), but to involve parents and provide them with the training they need to provide their children with support and guidance. I really enjoyed this blog and will certainly be adding it to my PLN if for no other reason than to giggle when he talks about the "pen pal networks" and all the dangers therein.


  1. An excellent commentary on the Morgan Bayda post and the Dan Brown video. I am delighted to hear of yiour passion for most of yiur classes in the CofE. That is good to know. Your passion for learing is quite evident in your excellent work in EDM310. Thank you.

    And you understood Tom Johnson's metaphor. Congratulations! Only 6 of 129 students identified the post as a metaphor in which pencils were computers. Well done! Please read my post Metaphors: What They Are and Why We Use Them (A Learning Opportunity). It contains a Special Assignment. I think you will find the comments that will be generated interesting. I am looking forward to your participation in the conversation.

  2. Hi there. I too could relate to Bayda's disappointment in her college courses. I am just beginning my education courses and love them as well (so far). I am surprised so few students got that the post on Mr. Spencer's blog, "Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home", was a metaphor. I think it illustrated a good point. I feel we should be focused less on scores and more on genuine learning. I hope we as future educators can bring this to the field of education.