Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Media and Technology Critique--Xiaoyu Ma

The majority of today’s adolescents pay close attention to Facebook, the most popular social networking website.  Today’s youth check the updates every few minutes and spend much of their day scanning Facebook’s news feed page. This new technology modality has strongly influenced many adolescents’ lives including their attitudes and habits towards learning. Since it has become part of adolescents’ daily lives, teachers may consider how to take advantage of Facebook to support their teaching and learning.
There are complex considerations, however. Many teenagers have developed an addiction to Facebook and the result of this habit is that they cannot concentrate on their school work. Research shows that some teenagers check their Facebook every two minutes during their school time. The research on high school students shows that students’ learning efficiency and quality have been seriously affected as the continuous updated information and announcement on Facebook distract them from study. In addition, the information on Facebook is so immense that students don’t have ample energy and time to deal deeply with it. Thus, these young users gradually develop a reading habit of skimming. Larry Rosen, a researcher from California has observed 300 adolescents and the result shows that those who use Facebook frequently have poor memory on reading tasks. Facing this problem, teachers may need to set rules for restricting students watching Facebook during the class. However, it is impossible to totally stop students using Facebook, so teachers can take advantage of it. For example, teachers can upload learning materials to Facebook, share some interesting and useful websites or link to projects related to the subject. It will let students feel that teachers are not always trying to restrict them or demand things from them. Teachers may also share information and pictures about their life with their students. Therefore, students can use Facebook to do the work related to academic study.
Furthermore, many adolescents are currently using Facebook as a tool for knowing others instead of for communication. There is a phenomenon that most adolescents will want to “friend” each other on Facebook so that they can access each other’s photos, wall, status updates and more. Many times spend lots of their time visiting other’s pages and suppose that they have known each other very well. They pay attention to certain people’s personal update, and it makes them feel like they have communicated with that person. Gradually these observers are not even willing to learn things through verbal communication. Moreover, more and more adolescents prefer to absorb information, interact with others, and log on to Facebook – a virtual world. So for helping students develop healthy and strong communication ability, teachers can create a group for those students who have difficulty spending time away from Facebook, and have them work with a group to do an assignment online.  In this way, students can learn more interactive communication, build meaningful relationship with classmates, become more active and engaging in discussion, and more thoroughly explore academic learning.
Of course, teachers may encounter many difficulties during application, such as how to control the duration of discussion, and how to keep the students from becoming distracted. However, I believe that Facebook, if used effectively, can be a creative and motivating teaching tool.  Since it is hard to change adolescents’ habituation and stop their enthusiastic pursuit for Facebook, then let us teachers take advantage of it and lead adolescents in the right direction.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bronx School Health/Wellness Forum 5/3

In case anyone is interested in attending, I've attached the above flyer. If anyone would like to volunteer to help at check-in or organize the refreshments, please email me at mitch@foodfight.org


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Media & Technology Critique

The question of whether or not the Internet negatively affects student growth is legitimate given the widespread use of the World Wide Web in classrooms. While it is important to consider the negative implications of schools being wired to the Web, it is seems more appropriate to consider the benefits given the reality that the Internet is here to stay. One of the many benefits of the Internet is the informative websites that students can use. However, teachers need to step in and help facilitate the use of these websites so that students will be able to use the Internet more efficiently and reap the academic benefits it offers. WebQuests are virtual assignments in which students are guided through a learning task by a website created by the teacher. A WebQuest is an inquiry-based activity that not only encourages cooperative learning but also allows students to analyze information rather than spend their time looking for it.
One of the most valuable assets of WebQuests is that they encourage higher order thinking. WebQuests can be viewed as a challenging game that requires students to use the Internet as a research tool in order to answer questions, pose hypotheses and form opinions. There is no such thing as copying and pasting answers in WebQuests. Teachers are instrumental in designing WebQuests that ask open-ended questions and raise issues and problems that students can explore. WebQuests allow students to go beyond fact finding towards an analysis of complex issues or events. For example, a WebQuest using the Globalization101 website asks students to consider issues such as human rights, the environment and trade.
Students must work together and use each other as resources to meet the objectives of a WebQuest. The value here is that the Internet is often used individually but WebQuests provide the opportunity to make it a collective experience. In addition, a quest has greater potential to be a meaningful activity than a teacher lecturing and students copying notes from the board. WebQuests especially motivate students who view the Web as a valued part of their culture. WebQuests teach students effective strategies for using the information found on the Internet. At the same time, students also need to be reminded to not take everything they read as fact. Teachers need to be a mediator between the Internet and students by helping students develop Internet literacy. Internet literacy consists of research skills, ability to shift through the plethora of information, as well as finding reliable sources. With the advent of blogs, it may be harder for students to distinguish between fact and opinion. Teachers need to keep these things in mind as they find the material on the Web to complement their WebQuests.
WebQuests support teaching and learning in Social Studies in a plethora of ways. While history textbooks only offer one perspective on a topic, a WebQuest with various links can offer students multiple perspectives. This is particularly advantageous given the fact that students of history are rarely exposed to a variety of perspectives that is essential to a more authentic study of history. Moreover, a WebQuest is an easy way to take students through a time machine. For example, students can journey back in time to the 1700s during the Colonial Days in America. In the process, they get to experience what it was like to be the first settlers of the original 13 colonies.
The possibilities are endless for WebQuests and teachers can customize them to fit the needs of their classes. Students have the opportunity to travel back in time with their classmates in order to come to a collective conclusion. WebQuests are a great alternative to traditional lessons involving history textbooks and not much imagination.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Social Media Critique

Xiuyan Wu
Prof. Doucet
                                                  Social Media Critique
    Over the past 15 years, social media became one of the most important communication platforms for people and in particular adolescents. Since adolescents spend a lot of time on the internet, they probably receive some positive and negative influences by using the social networks, such as Twitter and MySpace. Therefore, parents, teachers and communities need to be more aware of those social networks.
     Twitter is one of the most common and popular social networks that adolescents use in their daily lives. People from different parts of the world can share information through Twitter. Basically, adolescents can write anything on Twitter and upload it to the internet. Meanwhile, they can read other people’s posts and write comments on them. Once teachers incorporate Twitter as one of their teaching tools, students will learn more sufficiently in the daily bases.   
Twitter can be used as an online discussion tool for teachers and students. Basically, the teacher can open a discussion group on Twitter. Since mathematics requires students to have more abstract thinking and understanding, a math discussion group is useful for students when they study at home .If students have any question in doing their homework assignments after school, they can ask for help from the class discussion group. The teacher and the other students will answer the questions immediately. Students can learn from each other while they try to ask and response in the discussion group.  Students who ask questions can gain extract help from their classmates and teachers. Students who response to the questions can practice their problem solving skills.
Teachers can use Twitter to share some academic articles to students, especially those articles related to the mathematics content area. For most of times, students feel not motivated enough to study hard in mathematics because they probably think math is only used in the classroom setting. Therefore, teachers need to let students realize mathematics is useful and it happens around the world. As a result, teachers can post some current articles’ links or website on Twitter. Students can read those academic articles at anytime they want to. Moreover, if an article has a tremendous impact to students’ learning development, teacher can let students have a group discussion on Twitter in order to make sure every student reads the article.   
In addition, Twitter can be used as an assessment tool for teachers. Most of times, although students know how to solve a problem, they still have difficulties in illustrating the math concept behind that problem. Since students only can type 140 characters at a time on Twitter, teachers can ask students how they interpret a new math concept. For instance, if students learn a new math concept in class, they need to use their own words to interpret the new concept in a concise way. Therefore, students need to use limited words to illustrate their ideas and thoughts completely.
   No matter which media we are emphasizing, it has positive and negative approaches to adolescents’ development. Therefore, teachers and parents need to have a close conversation with adolescents, and to tell them to use various social media properly. As an educator, the most important and challenging instructional strategy is to appropriately incorporate social media in teaching in order to motivate adolescents to learn better in school.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Media and Technology Critique

Teaching is no mere task of presenting written works, helping students understand their value and purpose or creating exams which test students’ ability to memorize new vocabulary.  Teaching is the ongoing process of expanding an individuals mind through inspirational means of presentation.  As teachers, we must lead and introduce new ideas and methods of learning and practicing.  During our current time of technological progress, we must learn to adapt to our technological environment in order to successfully educate the media centered generation.
      Mass media has produced a generation of beings who are constantly fed new ideas and concepts without conscious realization.  According to the Digital Media Literacy quiz created by PBS teachers, in 2009, students between the ages of 8 and 18 spent an average of 10 hours and 45 minutes a day on all forms of media.  Teachers clearly have become limited to what they can control in their students choice of “academic” resources.  Instead of focusing on rejecting the use of media and experiencing failure with teaching, educators can strategically incorporate the most powerful tools for feeding students with information into their repertoire. 
     Of the many forms of media (television, video games, films…) social networking sites appear to be most useful in aiding the transition of academic learning through means of media.  Facebook, for example was initially intended and created for and by elite university students.  It served as a platform to share, comment, and expose information among peers.  Facebook has now become one of the world’s leading social networking websites for its innovative style of networking.  It gives individuals the power to express themselves the way they want to be seen, and attracts curiosity with each new update. 
     Facebook can therefore be a great tool for keeping students interested, engaged and on task.  It is much easier to connect to your students with something they already use.  Many teachers try to use platforms such as tumblr or epsilon to create a media centered component to their class.  The problem with this, however, is that students end up creating an account for a site they will probably never use again.   Logging-in to the site would feel like a requirement and tedious task.  Instead of attempting to use more professional platforms, teachers can use the site on which students are most often.  By doing so, students will be more likely to visit the class/group page created for the class or course since they are already logged on and it is being filtered through their “newsfeed”. 
     Teachers can easily post the days homework, this way students cannot create excuses such as “I didn’t hear it”.  Teachers can continue class discussions online, while introducing students to additional sources to help their studies such as videos and interactive websites.  Students can become familiar with their class peers [allowing students to build stronger friendships].  Finally, students and teachers can discuss making conscious decisions about the information they make public, or what they make available to some circles but not others
     Though heavily centered for social networking, a site like Facebook can become an educational tool.  Opposition to using such tools for an educational purpose is natural, however adapting to changing environments is logical.  Teachers need not reject the new trends of their students but embrace them.  Creating a personal connection or reference to class or lesson is the secret of learning.  Social networking websites have the ability to create such connection on a local and global scale.

Friday, April 6, 2012


            I believe Facebook can be a wonderful source to enrich a classroom’s learning environment. Because Facebook is still a trend, students will enjoy using it as an educational tool because it still feels relevant and current to their lives. There are many ways teachers can use the platform that Facebook has easily created for users, as long as teachers take the time to become familiar with creating a page. For teachers who incorporate units into their classroom, they can build a group page, where students can actively post instantly and have the freedom to post as much as they want about the topic. Let’s say a classroom is studying a unit on Egyptians. The teacher can give an assignment to the class to each write a three-sentence fact onto the page, and for the students to comment or leave questions under a post. This could create discussion, or would let the teacher know what the students were interested in, to help prepare for the next class with answers and more lessons. Other fun ways to post would be to upload videos, pictures, music, or links to other informative websites about the unit.

            After the unit, teachers and students can debrief about the unit and discuss how Facebook was used, and the pros and cons of using it in a classroom setting, and also the use of it outside of school. Teachers can facilitate the discussion and ask questions that might provoke responses. Questions like, “Have you ever heard people use the phrase, ‘Once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever?’” “What do you think that means?” “Do you think people think before they type?” “Is instant information a good thing?” “Finding media (pictures, videos, etc.) is pretty easy to find and post these days. What can be some problems that arises from this?” Many times people post on the internet without really thinking about where it came from, or how their posting can be detrimental to others. Hopefully, these discussions will allow time for students to reflect on themselves as media and technological users, and become more aware of how they interact with the media and technology in the
As students are developing into young adults, many are still searching for
their identity, and want to attain more attention on themselves because they want to feel significant. Most often, they will post things on the internet about themselves, like written information or photos, and are unaware as to how hurtful it can be to him/her later on in their lives. Using media in the classroom will allow time for teachers to further discuss these issues, and help relate to their developmental needs. You might say things like, “It’s fun to post pictures of ourselves online, but what are some ways we can be safe with how we go about posting ourselves online and letting the world see?”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Media Critique

With the high development of the modern society, educational teaching approaches are no longer instructor-as-authority-and-expert pattern. Technology-supported instruction has been widely introduced and accepted in today’s classrooms. Especially in the field of second and foreign language education, digital media, such as Internet, play an important role in the learning process. As both a life-long language learner and a student major in foreign language education, I strongly advocate for the Internet as a more motivational and effective way to study foreign language under the guidance of a teacher.
First, by adding sight and sound to the boring knowledge and facts, Internet has led a great revolution in the way of learning. Compared with the traditional way, surfing the Internet holds its own advantages. For instance, with the help of this new digital tool, teachers are not merely transmitters and students are not only recipients. Instead, teachers can let students choose their favorite movies and then assign them some films that related to the lesson they learned recently. Therefore, students will not only have a better idea how to use the language in a communicative setting but also will broaden their horizons. Through this kind of high-interest instructional strategy, students will devote themselves into this new engaging learning process.
Moreover, unlike printed books, an Internet -based learning environment will satisfy adolescent’s diverse learning levels and needs. Teachers can guide different level learners to use different online sources to improve their language study. For example, teachers can choose some target language songs for novices to arouse their study interests. And for intermediate level students, teachers can recommend to them some good foreign websites and let them read updated articles and listen news report with subtitles. What is more, students can even download movies that have bilingual subtitle so that students will have a better understanding of culture and be able to know how to use slang and master the standard foreign language in a pleasant atmosphere. As for the advanced learners, educators can suggest they search more sophisticated topics, such as presidential debates and dramas in order to let learners have a deep look at the politics of the foreign countries and analyze their literacy.
However, despite the internet's advantages for gaining information and knowledge, there are also flaws. Sometimes, students passively accept all sound bites, masses of advertisement, and fragments of information etc when surfing the Internet. For instance, instead of in-depth knowledge, what students get is only popular culture which can be easily appreciated by the majority. The completeness and depth of information have to submit to the entertaining and intricate plot. That’s why it is also teachers’ responsibility to organize group discussions in class and let students write short response paper for the purpose of thinking carefully, and generating their own ideas, approaching the real essence of learning---critical thinking and creation.
To sum up, powerful technology such as Internet can enhance largely students’ learning ability and help them effectively gain knowledge under the appropriate teachers’ guidance. Nevertheless, reading textbooks cannot be completely replaced by Internet and still occupies its dominant position as a way of learning. In the final analysis, the best approach of learning is to be informed by Internet and be enlightened by books.