Monday, March 7, 2016

OTEN Conference February 20th 2016

Oregon Technology in Education Network

This conference was absolutely fascinating. We were given the opportunity to listen in and take part in lectures by educators about various ways technology can be used in the classroom. At first, I was nervous yet excited because I feel confident in my technological abilities, however I recognize there is so much more out there to learn. I didn't realize how ignorant and unaware I was until I saw the list of potential lectures we could attend. The first one that caught my attention was Gamification Strategy Guide, led by Chris Hesselbein.

Gamification Strategy guide was a fun, interactive discussion on how games and school relate and how we can educate based on gaming ideology. Mr. Hesselbein broke down the fundamentals of games using examples like Super Mario Brothers and sports. These fundamentals we agreed upon were: A defined goal, established rules, immediate feedback, and the idea that games are voluntary. He then asked us to take a look at school and the education system itself in that manner. Games are fun for everyone to play because they meet the 4 fundamental ideas yet school is a lousy game that nobody wants to play. The idea of Gamification is to turn non-game situations (like school) into game like scenarios but Hesselbein stressed the importance of having a concrete established lesson plan.
Rather than just make games for the sake of making games, use the fundamentals to make learning fun again. The aspects of intervention he stressed were: Social, Cognitive and Emotional areas. Give the student an identity and personal connection to the material. Challenge the student to pursue knowledge and understanding even if it is difficult at first. Finally, provide feedback to help the student understand what they did well but more importantly, celebrate what they didn't do well and give them another opportunity to succeed. This application of gaming ideology doesn't require technology (although it helps) but rather uses the fundamentals of gaming to create interest in students.

The second lecture I attended was Google Drive: Tools for Collaborative Learning. This discussion was also led by Mr. Hesselbein and dove into the applications and functions of Google drive. I wanted to attend this since the Flex Program stresses using Google apps. I feel very confident at a baseline, introductory level when it comes to the program however Mr. Hesselbein was able to show me new tips and tricks when creating google documents. What I found to be most useful from this lecture was learning about the commenting and suggesting aspect of the program. Within a document, group members have the ability to highlight and comment on particular words or phrases and leave these comments/suggestions in the margin. This aspect allows for instant collaboration and thus in an education setting would allow students quick access to feedback. My favorite feature was that the owner of a document can monitor and review everything that was posted even if it has been deleted. As long as the host remains on, they can view and reverse any change that was made to the document. Personally, I feel as though I have only scratched the surface of this program and I need to explore it more in order to maximize the results.

The third discussion I attended was 21st Century Formative Assessment Toolkit, led by Patrick Brittenham. This was an absolutely awesome discussion and we discussed several technological tools to help assess students. The applications we discussed were Padlet, Plickers, Socrative, Kahoot and Quizizz. Plickers was by far my personal favorite because it was a free way to have students respond to a multiple choice question quickly. It involves using specific patterns on a personalized card which held at a certain angle was read by  smartphone and recorded to the database. Basically students held up their individual cards corresponding to the letter they thought correct and then the teacher scanned the cards with his own smartphone which then uploaded each students response for the question in a database. After Mr. Brittenham closed the question, it immediately showed the correct response with the number of students who got it correct. This application can be extremely useful in quickly identifying whether students understood a concept in class. I will post the links to all the applications discussed for anyone who would like to play around with them.

The final lecture I attended was Understanding and Applying TPACK in Methods Courses led by Gregory Zobel. TPACK stands for Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge. This lecture emphasized Shulman's idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge and how technology can be used to aid an educator in teaching their subject matter. The main important point that was stressed by Mr. Zobel was that we as educators shouldn't use technology just for the sake of technology. All three of these aspects (Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge) play and pull from each other and thus implementing them all usefully is what creates the ideal environment for learning. Understanding your subject, understand how to teach it and using the correct technology to convey the disciplines concepts will create the ideal learning environment for students.

This conference was absolutely eye-opening and really allowed me to embrace ideas and applications that were foreign to me. I feel like I learned a lot from just one day and really look forward to my own personal exploration through technology to better enhance my skills as an educator.

Assessment Links:

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