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!