Wednesday, July 2, 2014

This Old Dog's Learnin' New Tricks

Yesterday, I started an online master's level course about Teaching Reading in the Secondary School through the University of Phoenix, something I need to do to get my Missouri teacher certification reinstated so I can get a Texas teaching certification. Three significant things I have picked up already in my first day:

1) Online learning is DA BOMB! I am loving this so far! Of course, I think some of the credit has to go to the University of Phoenix who was a pioneer in the concept and seems to have this all down to an art. Easy access to University Library materials at my fingertips . . . simple classroom set-up so I can find assignments, materials, and instructions easily . . . quick and efficient means to post completed work and discuss assignments with the teacher and other students . . . everything done on my own schedule . . . oooh! Ahh! I expect I'll find some things to annoy me later, but for now, I love it.

2) The "New Literacy" movement fascinates me and irritates me. Irritates me because of their
hijacking of the word "literacy". Literacy is supposed to refer to the ability to read and write. But now "literacy" is often being expanded to mean the possession of a set of knowledge about a topic. Being "technologically literate" means knowing a lot about technology, not just having the habits of thinking and reading strategies involved to pull information from technological sources. Language evolution sometimes makes a term more convoluted, I contend.

On the other hand, I much appreciate the idea that a general literacy does not necessarily apply equally to all subject areas and information sources. A student who is an excellent reader of literature can be a lousy reader of scientific text. Masters in the different disciplines approach texts in different ways, with different strategies, and those strategies need to be explicitly modeled and taught. I've always contended that I never did well in science because I don't think like a scientist -- and surely a great science teacher could have taught me how to do that.

Another fascinating aspect of "new literacy" -- that reading online media is a qualitatively different process than reading print media, and it requires, again, explicit modeling and instruction for students to do it effectively. I think I know this instinctively, but need someone to articulate it clearly for me to be able to do something with the knowledge. Looking forward to learning more about that.

3) I am SO out of touch with online and digital technology. I know how to use what I use, and that's about it. In my reading yesterday, I was introduced to terms like "wiki" (the word that "wikipedia" came from -- I didn't know there was such a word), "ning", "hyperlink" (okay, I knew that word but only vaguely -- couldn't have defined it if I had to), "webquest" . . . oh, my. And not only that, I can use these when I teach! I mean, not just find a website where some other techno-genius has set something up where I can send my kids to learn something. I can make my OWN wiki, where I create my OWN webquest where kids look at MY hyperlinks -- or add their own hyperlinks to show their understanding and connection-making . . .

Oh, oh, oh . . . the possibilities!

So, yeah -- I'm kind of psyched. Between this class, and my curriculum writing for the fall, and my having my daughters sitting around me most of the day to enjoy their company, this is a good summer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Gwen! Just wanted to pop by and tell you that I love the observations you make in this post. I took my first class online class with Notre Dame pretty recently. I missed the personal interface of class discussions, and the connections with classmates that you make in incidental conversations. However, I felt the variety of sources provided provided me with the ability to to in depth with the information in which I was interested.

You really highlighted the pros and cons that resonated with me, as well! :)

Sending a hug to you!