In the last 10 days I participated at two technology conferences. One was about ePortfolios (AAEEBL) and one was about blended learning (Sloan C). At the first presentation I went with a colleague of mine, Dr. Kate Culkin. Both she and I presented separate powerpoint presentations in which we discussed how we were able to successfully integrate podcasting in teaching history and foreign languages. We both addressed the added value or using ePortfolios & Podcasting in our respective classes and how this has improved students’ learning. Dr. Culkin’s presentation argued how significant the use of podcasting has been in making students feel and act like public historians. Moreover, the other important point emphasized is that students were allowed to reflect about who acquires the right to talk about history and who is allowed to write it. Podcasts were presented which showed how the activities assigned to students allowed them to think in depth about the historical process.
My presentation discussed how valuable podcasting production is for foreign language teaching, in terms of improving oral and aural proficiencies. Furthermore, I provided concrete evidence of how the learning objectives, as well as the Gen Edu objectives, are aligned with the technology used. I showed the work of my students discussing topics that range from slow food vs fast food, personal narratives, recipes, etc. The AAEEBL provides a resource page with some of the presentation offered at the conference, if interested; you can consult their website, http://www.aaeebl.org/northeast_resources.
What are in conclusion the added values of ePortfolio & Podcasting?
- Learn how to communicate in public about educational content
- Keep track of progress overtime (ePortfolio does not go away, unlike Blackboard)
- Be able to share information, knowledge with a community of learners
- Decentralize learning which no longer comes exclusively from the teacher
- Share resources among other sections of the same class.
- Increase interest for subject matter: students are more willing to do the assignments if the class is more engaging.
At the Eporfolio conference we learned what other colleagues are doing and how ePortfolios can be used, from language placement (having high schools produce language artifacts as evidence of proficiencies), to open source ePorfolios such as WordPress and Mahara. We also learned about instruments and analytics used for assessment such as Pearson LearningStudio’s ePortfolio.
At the 8th Annual Sloan-C conference I met several people who are interested in making a difference in students’ education and listened to a very thought-provoking presentation from the keynote speaker, Josh Jarret (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) at the plenary address. Just as an aside — there were aspects about Jarret’s presentation that made me jump out from my chair. No one dares to address the fact that all of us (especially the top 1% of the richest people in America) should start to think about paying more taxes to fund public education (like Canada and Europe) if you want public universities and schools to be affordable for students. This is another topic for another day, but I believe that this is a big issue in the United States that no one wants to address. The panel which I enjoyed the most was “Social Media to Facilitate Community Building Engagement”. I reported some of the ideas we could implement to the director of OIT, since our college is moving along a proposal for an online degree. I take away the idea of how to better integrate social media (Facebook and Twitter) in the classroom and consult more often the following resources: Teacher youtube channel, TED/ED, Edu-Tastic which I gladly share with the CUNY Commons Community. I learned that you can send tweets as a text message, publish photos and use podcasting ,etc. Check it out, http://www.twi5.com/
The principal philosophy about using technology in the classroom is that pedagogy should drive the technology and not vice-versa. I heard Dr. Picciano drive home this point at the conference in Chicago during one of the plenary sessions. This type of conceptual rationale is somewhat lacking and it should be more visible in technology-based panels — ideally it should become the starting point of such conversations. Most of the social media session I attended did not sufficiently address this issue in detail, perhaps since the people speaking were not faculty members but for the most part administrators. I would like to offer some good reading on this topic to gain some perspective on this important issue, article I “Pedagogy-Based Technology Training” and article II, “At the Intersection of Technology and Pedagogy: Considering Styles of Learning and Teaching”, I look forward to more conferences. A presto ! Ciao!
Photo — Caravaggio (1571 – 1610) Bacchus.