Archive for Teaching

Google is making us stupid?

Nicholas Carr (2008, July/August). Is Google Making Us Stupid? Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from

In our Web 2.0 class, we had an interesting discussion about this article. I was surprised when Dr. Alexander mentioned this article in our motivation class as well. So THIS GOOGLE thing is not a problem only for instructional technology itself! 🙂

The company has declared that its mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It seeks to develop “the perfect search engine,” which it defines as something that “understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.”

“The ultimate search engine is something as smart as people—or smarter,” Page said in a speech a few years back. “For us, working on search is a way to work on artificial intelligence.” In a 2004 interview with Newsweek, Brin said, “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” Last year, Page told a convention of scientists that Google is “really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale.”

The author has a really interesting point speaking from Google (artificial intelligence)’s point of view and users (human being)’s point of view.

This was also a nice discussion topic with my undergraduate students since they’ve never thought about this issue before. For their generation, learning something they don’t know is just getting knowledge from their fingertips. They don’t have to check out books from the library and look for information. For me too. The way we find information is physically different from before. Maybe cognitively different as well. Not sure.

We have to evaluate the sourses of information. For me, evaluating something sometimes seem easier online because you can easily find information or find links to anther source. For instance, shopping on Amazon, you can read information about the product as well as read other people’s comments. Even though sometimes comments can be biased especially when you have this direct linked to the profits. Some companies may keep posting positive comments (on E-bay) but eventually the mass force can’t be ignored or fooled. 🙂

For evaluating knowledge – search results of google – I think human brains (especially in collective efforts) can be really powerful! Just like “Stumble upon” users with similar interests suggest useful resources and used by everyone else. Google recently allow users to individualize the search results. by deleting or prioritizing results. what impact is it going to make? I am not sure.

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Podcasting, webcasting

The podcast discussion of the Web 2.0 class was very short. But the readings and short discussion were interesting. From the survey result from the slides below, most podcasters are male, just like Wikipedia or Wikibooks.

#5 Mocigemba, Dennis, & Riechmann, Gerald (2007, July). International Podcastersurvey: Podcasters – who they are. How and why they do it. Retrieved July 30, 2007, from

I think to some extent, podcasts have greater barriers to entry for most people. And males tend to have higher self-efficacy in technology/ computers. It may not be complicated to record podcasts, but the editing and sharing parts can overwhelm people who have lower sense of efficacy in technology (compared with blogs)!

The other interesting thing is that even podcasts allow users to download the episodes to their iPod or mp3 players, most people use laptops or desktops to listen to podcasts!! – The reason may be – most people don’t sychronous their iPod with their computers or don’t do this open enough to get daily episodes.

For the undergradute class I teach, students have options to create blogs, wikis, podcast, or videos. Most people choose to create videos with others, some people choose to do blogs with one project partner or alone, about 1 out of 6 groups choosing to create a podcast. (Most of them did a great job!!)

What kind of podcasts people would love to listen to? I think it depends on people’s needs and their motivations to listen to a podcast. For some language learners, podcasts are really wonderful tools, which allow them to practice listening. There are some good programs for language learners.

For me personally, I would appreciate one short and precise/ interesting fact, story, application every day. This is the podcast I shared in class:

Here is the weekly podcast “60-second psych“. You can subscribe it through RSS or iTunes.
Example: sep – 29 – 2008 Business, Lies and Email
New research finds that business students lie more often in e-mail than when communicating using pen and paper. Christie Nicholson reports

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wikis for k-12 uses (and for preservice teachers)

Recently, Dr. Bonk, Dr. Lena, and I, we just started a new project about K-12 wikis. This is an unexpected project for the busiest semester but many it is the most interesting thing. 🙂

Why is this research important?

1. Technology integration in teacher education needs more modeling from in service teachers or case studies. I felt frustrated when my undergraduate students said they didn’t see teachers use wikis at school (in Indiana).

2. Similar to reason #1, most of my students heard of wikipedia before but never used a wiki. The concept of wikis – ability to edit others and collaborate with someone else online seem overwhelm some of them. The issues include – (1) they can accidentally delete someone else entry when they try to edit right before class at the same time (2) they complain withing meeting face to face, they don’t feel like colloaborating enough. However, when the opportunity of onlien collaboration was offered, I didn’t say they should only rely on it. I knew some groups met f2f and online, whereas some groups delayed the assignment because online took the initiatives online (lack of leadership or more self-regulatory learning skills needed).

Then, some of preservice teachers developed a very positive attitude of using wikis and believed they would be using wikis in their future teaching. On the other hand, some of them just disliked wikis and said “it may be just too complicated for kids.” I don’t know if this is true. And I think there may be strategies to overcome it if it is too complicated for kids regarding the uses of wikis and the concept of collaboration online, if any. I totally respect their perception. But sometimes I think it is very dangerous for them to make the judgement since most of them haven’t taught and haven’t been amazed by how much kids could master things like this. (From my experience, kids are amazing!)  If there are a number of class wikis, that would be extremely helpful for them to observe!

computer_kids-710435What do I want to know?

1. how do teachers use wikis/ why do they want to use wikis/ what wikis do they choose to use and why?

2. to what extend are kids involved in the wikis as well as parents?

3. how much support these teachers have in terms of pschylogical support from school, parents, and others?

What do I expect to learn from this experience?

1. Collaboration with Dr. Bonk and Dr. Lena.

2. Learn more about k-6 wikis

3. Provide wiki cases for preservice teachers

4. Understand the values of wikis in k-6 or k-12 schools

5. Process of writing the paper as well as preparing manuscript for publication.

Extended reading

Wetpaint wikis in education <> They have examples and projects linked on the page. Also build an educator community there.

Wikis (for  k-12) comparison: <>

Which wiki is right for you (for k-12, librarians I guess)? They compare Wikispaces, PB wiki, and Wetpaint.

Examples of a k-6 wiki

1.  (Wikispaces) <> this is a wiki created by a 4th grade teacher. This is also the richest class wiki I’ve seen. He updated the wiki often. Some interesting posts there. For instance, in a sub-page: I guess kids created the interview questions, and the teacher’s friend answered those (kind of interaction) and then posted the wiki. Very interesting. They used  many photos compared to Wikipedia/ wikibooks.

2. (Wetpaints) <> “This will be the site used for a holiday collaborative project with 2nd and 3rd grade classes across the nation. We will complete 3 collaborative projects during the 2008-2009 school year.” They have about 3-4 teachers with 20 students each. So far, I didn’t see much complete projects on the wiki. But I think it will be interesting to talk to them and know how they came up with these ideas.

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Messages you sent out to the world everyday

This is a video I found on Daniel Pink’s blog. In this digital era, everyone sends tons of messages everyday. Just think about how many emails, posts, and edits you’ve done a day. How many of them did make an influence of the world? It seems hard to deal with a lot of messages and still be careful about choosing words (be aware of it). Great mini movie below (5 mins).

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my students presentations

My Thursday section students presented their technology research project. We think the class was great! They demonstrated Google Earth, Wikis (Wetpaint), Podcasts, and presented the lesson plan they developed for teaching English. I was impressed by their creative ideas. Link to their report on Eva. (Select topics under Secondary English)

There are a few things I would like to discuss with them next week. One is the difference between uses of wikis and blogs in education. Interesting enough – when wikis group presented, at the end of their presentation, one person said wikis is not as good as blogs because students might overwrite each other’s work. When blogs group presented, one person said blogs can’t offer as much collaboration/ interaction as wikis can. I think it will be interesting to discuss with them about differences between media – wikis v.s. blogs and podcasts v.s. videos. This will also be a good transition for next project, multimedia production project.

The second thing is about digital divide and media literacy. It always made me frustrated when my students said, as a teacher, we can’t assume all students have computers/ Internet access at home. But I think the series of media literacy and digital learners (net generation) articles in R685 this semester provided me another lens to look at the phenomenon. If a few students don’t have computers at home, do we as teachers want to give up with integrating technologies? or provide these students opportunities to help them and not fall behind the notion of media literacy?

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