Flashcard Machine–a student-centric learning tool

Image

This week for our technology tool exploration, I discovered and investigated Flashcard Machine, an application that allows you to quickly create your own flashcards on your iphone or ipad, customize study sessions based on performance by separating flashcards into “correct,” “wrong,” and “flagged” piles, and tag flashcards to allow for easy and organized sharing. The iTunes App Store provides a very detailed description of the product and features, which I found helpful and informative before deciding to download the application.

The application is very user friendly and directed me through a “deck” of flashcards while explaining the various features and options available. I found the “Progress” feature particularly helpful for studying because you can filter the flashcards to allow for repeat study of categories such as flashcards you got “wrong.” This ensures that study sessions are student-centric, customized to ensure that concepts and terms are mastered according to the learner’s needs and pace. Additionally you can enhance your “study session” by deciding whether you want the term or definition to be displayed first, you can change the flashcard font, size and color as well as shuffle cards by shaking your phone or selecting the “shuffle” option.

With this application, study materials are always at your fingertips and are accessible without an internet connection making studying on-the-go quick and easy. When downloading the application, I received 100 flashcards for free, but must pay if I decide I need more flashcards. While it does cost $4.99 for “unlimited flips,” this may be five dollars well-spent for accessible, customized learning experiences.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flashcard-machine/id368469794?mt=8

Advertisements

Disruption Markets and Computer-Based Learning

Chapter 4 of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the World discusses the disruptions that are currently taking place within schools. The first stage in the transition from “teacher-delivered” to “software-delivered” instruction is computer-based learning which is “methodically gaining ground as students, educators, and families find it to be better than the alternative-having nothing at all” (pg.90-91).

Disruption markets are developing in many significant areas of education: Advanced Placement classes because “there is an inadequate demand and resources to hire more AP teachers,” smaller schools who may otherwise have to cut classes because they may not be able to hire “highly qualified” teachers for every subject, urban secondary schools, especially in low-income areas because they may “struggle to find highly qualified teacher who are committed to working in such a challenging environments,” and homebound or home-schooled students may also be a great market for computer-based learning to increase depth of learning and subject range, as well as provide alternatives for students who need to make up credits (pg. 92-94). The modularity and flexibility of computer-based learning would allow students to experience a customized educational experience where they do not have to waste time on concepts they have already learned.

This chapter was particularly relevant for me as pre-service high school English teacher because according to the data projections, “by 2019, about 50 percent of high school courses will be delivered online” (p. 99). I understand that online courses provide convenience, accessibility, greater flexibility as well as an economic advantage, but I can’t help feeling that this “advancement” is not wholly a positive one. Sure, I want there to remain a demand for teachers, because that means employment, but there is a human quality about learning from and beside others that will be lost to the ease and access of computer-based learning. While access to information may increase, so will isolation. And there is something to be said about mentorship as a part of teaching that I feel will be lost with such a technology-based approach to instruction. Speaking as one who has taken many online and mixed-online courses, I feel less engaged and a bit disconnected from the material when I am not interacting with the Professor or my peers. I wonder about the effect this instructional transition will have on the social and communication skills as well as the personal and moral development of our students.

I completed my reading for this week while on a red-eye flight to Michigan for a dear friend’s wedding. I had not previously explored the different viewing options available as part of the KindleReader, but did mid-flight. While reading in the middle of the night, I definitely preferred the color mode, black! The white background was harsh on my tired eyes whereas the black was not as bright or disruptive for the sleepy travelers beside me. From now on, I think I will read from either the black or the sepia mode because those modes do not seem to bother my eyes as quickly—I tend to get headaches from reading from a screen for too long.

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 3.46.20 PM

Computer-based Learning and Student-centric Technologies

Our reading this week focused on why schools do not utilize computers when computers could so easily enrich the learning experience of every student. Over the 20-30 years, schools have spent upwards of $60 billon in equipping classrooms with computers and yet, “despite these investments, students report using the computers sparsely in their classrooms” (p. 81). Christensen suggests that computers should be utilized as more of a primary instructional mechanism to ensure that learning is customized to students’ varying types of intelligences while allowing the teacher to give more focused attention to each student (p. 73). As a pre-service teacher, it is important to understand and utilize the powerful software and hardware that is available in order to “transform prevailing instructional practices” (p.82). While high school students do use computers more often than elementary students, high schoolers are limited to word-processing programs and the internet for research, hardly experiencing computers as an instructional tool. We are cramming computers into classroom, but not allowing computers to modernize our traditional instructional practices. According to Christensen, we as teachers need to use computers to transform our teaching, to increase student-centered learning and project-based practices, to migrate to a student-centric classroom by allowing students to learn in ways that correspond with how their brains are wired (p. 83). Many existing pedagogies and instructional practices must be replaced by computers, not sustained by computers. Through employing the use of computer-based learning in a more disruptive mode, schools may realize the transformations of classrooms and student achievement.

I did not learn anything new while using the Kindle Reader this week, although I have switched to hitting the arrows on my keyboard to progress the pages rather than clicking the mouse on the forward arrow. This is much more convenient and I don’t have to look up from my reading, move my mouse, select the arrow and then re-orient myself on the next page—just a very small, but helpful way of navigating the text.
Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 9.14.09 PM

How to Save Time AND Engage Students

Turnitin.com has already been noted a resource worth sharing, I personally have very little experience with this learning tool and so for my resource share, so I decided to explore it further. When I was observing a friend’s high school English a few months ago, he introduced me to turnitin.com, a resource I had not heard of previously. One aspect of this resource that he raved about was a “plagiarism prevention” feature called Originality Check, which compares submitted paper against “billions of web pages, millions of student papers, and leading library databases and publications.” He loves this feature because he can view the students paper, while a list of “source matches” are listed on the side and he could control filters through which the paper is compared. He explained that this feature not only saved him hours of trying to find the sources his students were plagiarizing, but also providing opportunities for further instruction regarding the proper and ethical way to cite source material. Plagiarism can be a pretty prevalent issue in high schools. As a future high school English teacher, employing this resource in such a way, will not only saves me time but will also allow me opportunities to work with students who very well may be plagiarizing out of ignorance.

In addition to this feature, during my exploration, I learned about a feature called PeerMark—a well-organized space for collaborative online, peer editing. A teacher can customize how many papers will be issued to each student’s inbox, what questions, guidelines, and rating scales, students employ as part of their editing and responses, and comments, edits, and suggested revisions made are presented anonymously so students are able to share honest feedback. Peer editing, not only saves a teacher from spending unnecessary time editing silly mistakes, but also, and more importantly, provides a sort of mirror—students edit one paper while also reflecting on their own. Consequently, students develop critical thinking skils about the writing and editing process, and content material is reinforced. Students can then review the comments from their peers and have the opportunity to revise and refine their papers before finally submitting to the teacher. I remember peer editing playing a large in a few of my high school English classes, and those experiences in addition to teacher feedback were most influential in shaping my writing. PeerMark provides an anonymous and convenient way of blending both peer editing and technology and will undoubtedly be a feature I use frequently as an instructional tool for improving the writing of my students.

A third feature of turnitin.com is GradeMark provides teachers with five distinct ways of providing rich, meaningful and efficient feedback. Originality Check which I mentioned above, is one of those options. Another I found particularly intriguing and potentially very useful is Voice Comments. Voice Comments allows teachers to provide quick and customized audio feedback such as clarifying written feedback, providing encouragement and explaining an element more in-depth. Teachers love GradeMark for a variety of reason, however I can see employing this feature as a way to go paperless, a time-saving way of organize all student papers in one easy-to-access location, prevent “lost” papers and printer issues, to avoid issues over whether or not a paper was turned in on time. Additionally GradeMark provides a feature where teachers can create a “feedback” bank of commonly used comments and questions that can be dropped directly into a student’s paper. Also, scores, once entered, can be immediately transferred to blackboard, for example. Each of these features will be so beneficial, time-saving when I have 150 essays to grade in a matter of days. Not only will turnitin.com save me time and energy, but it will also allow me to provide more efficient and personalized feedback to students, which translates into richer instruction and deeper learning.

http://turnitin.com/en_us/features/overview

Disruption Theory and the Evolution of Public Schooling

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.10.10 PM

This weeks reading begins with an explanation of disruption theory and how that applies to schools with the implementation of new standards and standard-based testing. In terms of “disruption in the private sector, society has moved the goal posts on schools and imposed upon them new measures for performance.” (p. 51). These new goal posts and new measures of performance require that “schools [to] pursue the new metric of improvement from within the existing organization, which was designed to improve along the old performance metric”—equivalent to “rebuilding an airplane in mid-flight,” which is a feet yet to be accomplished by any private enterprise (p. 51). And while the task seems daunting and requires new primary jobs and new energies focused in new directions, research affirms that schools do evolve and improve as new measures and goals are set.

 

We as human beings have survived and thrived heavily in part to our ability to adapt, to anticipate and to evolve. This is also the case for our schools as outlined in the chapter. One example of a major shift in our school system dates back to the founding fathers, whom, envisioned schooling as the best way to preserve and instill democratic ideals and morals in hopes of helping all citizens assimilate into the American culture as “functioning, self-governing members of the republic” (p. 52). Then, in hopes of competing with industrial Germany, schools were not only required to instill democratic ideals, but also to prepare every person for jobs and participation in the workforce (p. 53).  Not only was the primary focus of schools redefined, but also, that existing system was reconfigured extending high school to all students.

 

Reading that with time, and diligent effort, schools characteristically rise to meet new measures and standards was encouraging. As a preservice teacher, we are already bombarded with the present failures of our public school systems. Additionally, the current transition to the Common Core, the standardizing of curriculums and testing, brings with it new pressure to achieve for both teachers and students. We are entering the teaching profession in the midst of these growing pains and must do our best to adjust while remaining critical of both our existing organization as well as the reconstruction.

Source:
Christensen, C., Johnson, C.W., & Horn, M.B. (2011). Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (kindle). McGraw-Hill.

This week I felt more comfortable using the Kindle eReader to navigate Chapter 2. With that said, I stand by my preference and love for holding a book and physically turning each page. My only negative feedback for this week’s experience has to do with the process of making a note. A couple different times, (yeah, you’d think I’d learn my lesson after the first time) I would go to make a note, but after typing a small paragraph, I would decide the font was too small to proof-read what I had written. So, I moved to the full screen option and all that I had typed was lost. If moving from a smaller screen to full screen or visa versa, be sure to save your note first!

A Few Problems with Standardization

Screen Shot 2013-07-04 at 1.05.36 AM

For some students struggling to master a particular concept, the presentation of material in a new way can make all the difference. Because every student’s brain is uniquely wired, students have different intelligences and do not learn in the same way. In light of this information, chapter one of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns discusses why schools and teachers do not completely customize learning (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011). The current architecture of schools is founded on standardization, a shift from the one-room schoolhouse, and “inspired by the efficient factory system that had emerged in industrial America” (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011, p. 35). The students arranged into grades could learn the same material in the same way, and at the same pace, allowing teachers to focus solely on one group of students and set content. This model, however, cannot currently “handle the differences in the way individual brains are wired for learning” (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011, p. 35). While standardization was previously seen as a virtuous method, Christensen, Johnson and Horn unabashedly state that schools are in desperate need of a new system, “because students have different types of intelligence, learning styles, varying paces, and starting points, all students have special needs”…and are “differently abled” Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011, p.34).

The authors go on to suggest that computer-based learning is a valuable stepping stone toward student-centric learning which will allow students to learn according to their intelligence type, and at their own pace through customized content and sequence (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011, p. 38). Through implementing new technologies through incremental changes, this chapter suggests there is hope that schools will move further and further away from standardization and more toward student-centric learning.

I had never used eReader before, but definitely prefer to read anything of length from a book rather than a computer. I was frustrated initially after having read about 30 pages because I could not figure out how many pages I had left to read in the chapter. After some exploration, I did discover that if I clicked on the following chapter I could see what page it started on and then gage how many pages I had left to read—just a silly little thing, but helpful to know! Highlighting and making notes was extremely simple. When going back to write my reflection, upon completing the reading, it was very useful to see the list of highlights I had made and then to select a highlighted passage and be transported directly to the corresponding page.

Source:
Christensen, C., Johnson, C.W., & Horn, M.B. (2011). Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (kindle). McGraw-Hill.