Sunday, September 25, 2011

Disruptive Innovation Theory....Say What?

Reading about disruptive innovation theory in Disrupting Class, written by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, and Curtis Johnson, I couldn't help but be a little confused. I am not a math or science major, we memorize dates in the history department--those graphs were a little much for me:)

The authors define the disruptive innovation theory as a reason, "why organizations struggle with certain kinds of innovation and how organizations can predictably succeed in innovations." When I read this the first time it was kind of like explain the definition of "run" as: to run--they needed to give me more! I broke it down after reading it a few times. The first aspect describes the reasons why some companies thrive with innovations and why some fail, the theories behind those two sides. The second part basically theorizes how organizations can predict these innovations to succeed. I also watched a video where Clayton Christensen actually explains the theory, and it helped to hear him talk and look at that pesky graph.

Tying this into education seemed a little tricky to me, but the book did a wonderful job. As the America has evolved as a country, so has the education system in general. Interestingly enough, this reading sort of relates to a lot of the discussions that I have in my Schools and American Society course at UNI. I won't lie, I strongly dislike that class; but it has provided me with some insightful topics that we debate (friendly of course). One of the first topics was the purpose of education. I established (as a social studies teacher) that the purpose of American education was to produce little Americans for the job sector. The first three jobs that the authors describe touch on this. At first (and still to this day even if they don't want to admit it) schools served one purpose, to create law abiding, functional, and active citizens. The goal was for students to be educated enough to be citizens of the country, and potentially run for political offices.

When the next job came along in the early 1900's, creating an active citizen didn't go away instead schools were expected to do that and also prepare kids for jobs. Interestingly enough, we were competing with Germany in this race (close to the start of WWI). In the 1960's we were competing with the Soviet Union (Russia and the Cold War). These competitions sparked a new interest in different things. AKA disruptive innovation. In the 1960's math and science became such important subjects because the SU could not beat us again (they launched the first space machine before us). So basically, the demands of our country determined what needed to be done in school. We needed math and science to excel, so reading and writing took a back seat to the demand of the "market." Flash forward to the Bush years (the younger), and we get No Child Left Behind (also a popular debate in my Schools class). The demand for math and reading has become a high priority. In the article "Side effects of NCLB," schools are often making tough decisions on time spent in other classes to increase the time spent on math and science. This can be compared to Apple's take over of the computer world that the book described. Apple met the requirements that people put forth, therefore more people bought them. Administrators are making tough choices to please the national government, the choice is either loose funding or be proficient in math and reading--the schools made the choice to be "user-friendly." In this case, disruptive innovation isn't necessarily a good thing like in the case of Apple, what are some good ways disruption has helped public schools?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Worksheets, smerksheets?

I will graduate in May after student teaching in the Omaha area. I won't lie--I feel very unprepared and very nervous to think that it will be my job to teach the students. It seems crazy that I will be the one preparing the lessons, and having to think of MANY ways to teach the kids. How many of us were given worksheets, took notes, and took tests in high school? How boring was that?! Now that I am the teacher though, it seems a little scary that I can't hand out those easy worksheets:) If I don't hand out worksheets I need to be really proactive in preparing for my lessons, that's where the World Wide Web comes in!

Dr. Z suggested we read through the fourth chapter of Web 2.0: how-to for educators written by Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum, I found myself skimming the entire book. I appreciate that the book cites a tool, and then explains it quickly then shows how you could use it or gives a real life example. The book is $22 on Amazon, go get it--it's worth the money!

When thinking about all of the things I could use in my class I looked at a variety of sites and blogs to find tools. The first item that I find very useful is Delicious. I was introduced to this handy tool my sophomore year of college and have not stopped using it. This cloud, allows you to find web pages and bookmark them out in space to use on any internet powered device anywhere. The best thing about it is being able to use tags. Students could use these tags to tag a group, this way they can share sources between each other. I could also use our class tag to give out recommended sources--this will allow students to do their work at home and make it easier on them if they forget their notebook with all the handy links. This saves students paper and time--no need to jumble around with 100's of article print outs. This will also give me the opportunity to see what sites the students are looking up, and I can help sway them to a better choice.

I love the idea of Inspiration, but not all of us can afford it and sometimes we simply need a mind map that is easy and efficient. does that for me! This will allow me or a student to do some brainstorming. Some students need to see the ideas on paper, and this will allow them to do so and form their thoughts in a logical order. This would also be a really good idea to use as a note taking tool.

Lastly, I really just like the idea of making videos and podcasts. I think that this is a great way for students to learn in a different way. Itunes, PBS, Youtube, History Channel, etc all have great options for videos. I like the idea of creating videos though as well. This will give a great variety in lesson planning, I could create a podcast for students are absent, or have them create a video for a hypothetical museum opening to feature a specific time period. The point is that the options are endless! PodBean, is a great tool to publish the podcasts and it's free! iMovie and Windows Movie Maker are both fantastic tools to use, and both are free. They are easy to use for me to do something quickly, but also for students to easily figure out the software.

What other Web 2.0 tools can we use to replace the mundane school work?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gen Y

After reading Angela Maiers blog post about the new generation, it got me thinking about how much potential Generation Y has. I find it hard sometimes to think good things about young people. We see them getting into trouble often, and the papers and news focus too much on the negative aspects of what they are doing. WHY? Angela gives 12 great examples of what Generation Y is here to give us.
Children today have grown up in the digital world, they don't understand why WE took computer classes. Heck, I think it's strange that my mom's computer class consisted of how to program things and she thought it was the neatest thing in the world! To our students we will be ancient people who know nothing, BUT there is hope--by using the skills that they already possess we can aid their education and also be the cool teacher.
Look at the Flat Classroom Project, yes it was started by an adult; but students are the wheels that are turning. They are creative and active and excited about new opportunities. Generation Y is wanting to participate in things that no other generation has dreamed of. We need to give them these opportunities. This requires us to attend conferences, webinars, and to be proactive in our decisions to incorporate new technology in our classrooms.
These children are not the selfish teens that we seen on shows like Gossip Girl. They are wanting to help others, wanting to get active in their communities. A few weeks before school started my neighbors had a lemonade stand. My dad told them to do it in our yard (we live on prime real estate in the metropolis of Lytton--population 200). These kids were not having a lemonade stand for themselves, it was for a 1st grader that has cancer from Lytton. All it took was for one of them to take a picture on her Android and post it on Facebook (yes, Generation Y knows these things at 10 years old). They raised over $100 in an afternoon.
Instead of focusing on the bad in young children today, we need to see the good in them and bring out that good. As a future teacher, I can only hope that I inspire each student to do something amazing in their lives, and Generation Y has the desire and the means to do so. We need to utilize the new technologies out there, giving them every chance they can get to see something from outside their area. Iowa students in my generation might not have thought it was possible to be a scuba diving instructor. Today, we can Skype with one in California so that children can see all of the potential in this world. I think it would be beneficial to Skype with and partner with a stock exchanger on NSE for an economics class.
What are some other ideas on how to engage generation Y?


Saturday, September 17, 2011

What's Your Crazy Idea?

On Thursday Frank Warren came to UNI, sponsored by CAB.  I'm not a member of CAB or anything, but they put on some AWESOME things at UNI and they are free, check out their Facebook page for more info.  He is the creator of the PostSecret phenomenon, with books and a blog.  He created this idea on a whim, he talked about how he felt called to do this and he wasn't sure why.  What seemed like a crazy idea turned out to be life changing.  He challenged us to think about what OUR crazy idea was.  It got me thinking, blogger was probably a crazy idea, Twitter was probably silly when 20 people did it, and I remember when Facebook was just for college students.   Think about if WE had a crazy idea that involved technology, imagine how helpful it would be for educators (because since we are educators of course my idea would help my people).   then thought, what if my use of technology in class inspires a student to create the next big thing--or even just the next little thing.  Technology inspires, and Frank's crazy idea would not have been possible without the Internet.  The power of technology gives us a platform to think of our next idea.  So what's your crazy idea?