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The First “C”

12 Apr

Communication, collaboration, and creativity are three major elements that the Online School for Girls has built its philosophy of educating young women on.

Today I explored the power of that first “C” in an awesome way. Now I have to say, blogging is simply incredible because it can lead to very meaningful connections with people you’d probably never come across otherwise. For a while now this AP Gov blog has gathered a following of educators, other government students, and people who love the idea of online learning (Kudos to all of you; we love hearing your thoughts on our posts!). A small group of these people are teachers who are pursuing a master’s at St. Joseph’s College, CT and are taking a course called “Integrating Technology and Literacy”. On my first post a couple weeks ago their teacher asked if my teacher and classmates could Skype with her students about our thoughts on online learning; lo and behold, an exciting connection was born! We finally had our Skype today and the teachers asked us many intriguing questions such as the following:

“What are the advantages of maintaining a blog throughout this course? Any disadvantages?”

I said that blogging allows me to enjoy seeing how things I learned previously truly apply to my life at the moment and how I’ve seen them play out in current events. Sometimes blogging can be tough when you don’t accurately convey your thoughts to your readers both in your posts and in your comments.

“What recommendations would my classmates and I have for these teachers who want to implement blogging with their students?”

Anyone can blog, even 1st graders! I was thinking to myself that younger students could write short reflections on classwork or books they’ve been reading. It turns out that many teachers in the blogosphere have their kids do this, which I think is awesome.

“How has implementing technology helped me as a learner?”

I’ve definitely been able to collaborate on projects more efficiently. In today’s fast-paced world, efficiency is key to success. Using tools like Google Docs, Voicethread, and Google Hangout has also allowed me to communicate with students who come from different parts of the country with different approaches to projects and definitely different opinions on issues that I’ve never thought of. It’s kind of like having pen pals in the digital age…you learn so much about different environments and in the meantime help each other to grow as students.

“And what about online research — does the Internet contribute to academic dishonesty and how can students of all ages become better online researchers?”

I think the internet does contribute to academic dishonesty, so it’s important for teachers to crack down on plagiarism and cheating. At my school for example, we upload our essays to Turnitin.com to see what percent of the words come from academic and internet sources. It’s a very effective tool for catching plagiarism. As for online researching, I personally wish I was a better database researcher. My school librarian certainly teaches us how to use our online databases, but I often find myself resorting to Google searches for assignments. If students are taught to use databases by habit, the research they put into their work will definitely be more accurate and legitimate.

For over an hour we answered these and many other questions and had a great conversation going. I realize now that the Skype chat combined a bit of the second “C” as well –collaboration. (It’s tough to be a learner without using more than one of those C’s!) We collaborated on giving this fabulous group of teachers some ideas for how to implement online learning into their classroom; in return, my classmates and I had a peek into the direction that elementary and secondary education in our country is taking. The future is definitely bright for our students!

 

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4 Comments

Posted by on April 12, 2012 in 21st Century Skills, Learning, Technology

 

Tags: , , ,

4 responses to “The First “C”

  1. JudyArzt (@JudyArzt)

    April 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Elisa, Thank you for participating and contributing to the Skype session tonight. We gained many valuable insights into how the students in your class use tech tools and how the online course is organized. Yours and your peers’ comments were informative to all of us. Although we don’t have a class blog, but individual blogs, we do have a collaborative wiki. We are using a variety of tools in the course with the aim to explore how these tools hold the potential to differentiate learning for students, engage them in collaboration, and enhance their communication skills. Overall, the students in my course are impressed with the caliber of the work the students in your course have posted on this blog. It was an exciting night for all of us.

    By the way, once you start your college education, learn as fast as possible how to use the library’s databases, how to select “terms” for your searches, and so forth. Once you begin to use discipline-specific databases while a college student, you will wean yourself of the habit of using Google. A better choice is Google Scholar, which you might be using already. In college, you are likely to use EBSCO, which you also might have started to use.

     
  2. Brad

    April 13, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Elisa- Thank you so much for sharing your reflections on connection, collaboration, and creativity. When we started the Online School for Girls a few years ago, we knew those had to be the centerpieces of any good online course — your blog provides great validation for that. Always good to see learning “theory” play out in “practice.” Thank you for brightening my day!

    One of your comments today struck me as very interesting: “I’ve definitely been able to collaborate on projects more efficiently.” Throughout your posts this semester, it is obvious to your readers that you have become more facile with technology and communication tools. And yet, at the same time you have been asked to explore many, many different ways of communication. Your comment that you are now able to collaborate more efficiently shows that even though there are many, many, many ways of communicating and collaborating online, you have sifted through the options and figured out what works best for you as a learner and collaborators, and what is appropriate to the situation. Congratulations for that! An extraordinarily valuable skill!

     
  3. Christina

    April 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Hi Elisa! I am one of the grad students from St. Joseph College, and I can not thank you enough for meeting with us! We all learned a lot from you and your peers. One of the concerns I had was whether online learning would weaken the skill one should have in speaking face to face. With blogging, you can have the time to really pick and choose your words unlike in person. With all you girls, the way you spoke and presented yourselves was just as eloquent and strong as your blog posts. I was greatly impressed with all of you! -Christina

     
  4. Malary Booker

    October 8, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Hey Elisa! I am a student at the University of South Alabama. This blog post was very informative and I really enjoyed it. Blogging has opened up a whole new world for me and I can see that it has done the same for you. Also, thank you so much for your recommendations to teachers who want to start a blog with their class. This will help me as a future teacher myself!
    *Malary*

     

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