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Chaos
By Stuart Norrington - 6 March 2008 11:16:52 AM EST

Chaos, is a fact of life. Marsh accepts that this is a part of todays students who may be referred to as the Dot Com generation. Is this a bad thing? I think not. To enable students to think laterally can become a powerful tool if the student is trained to filter the information he/she is reading. Wallis and Steptoe confirm this when they identify the need for students to become savy to abstract problems, of which I conclude Chaos on the internet is but one of these issues. So how do we sort the gems from the junk? Easy! From the beginning students need to be taught and exposed to the junk while they learn to apply the questioning skills discussed by McKenzie. Qood questioning like reciprocal reading strategies encourages the student to reflect and search for supporting facts before accepting at face value what is being thrown at them. Secondly students need to be taught how to recognise gems on the web. Stuart

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Re:Chaos
By Valentina wondracz - 6 March 2008 07:12:59 PM EST

Like a computer game the internet takes on the role as player 2 and challenges us player 1 every time we click on connect. students as a player are challenged to look for information amoungst the chaos of the internet and make a decision as to what is or isnt considered a gem. However despite the constant challenge faced as player 1 students will always return over and over again and well why not? March is right why would students go stright to the 'dated textbooks', ' filtered encyclopediaa' and ' middle - of - the - road magazines' when they have the internet so easily accesible at just the click of the mouse.This is why studnets are referred to a the 'dot com generation'. I agree with you stuart with good training from teachers and the ability to filter through the junk the students will indeed find gems. It is this training by the traditional teacher that will aid students and it is the endless options for information which will help to persuade the teachers to encourage use of the internet as a learning resource. Besdies Prenksy's title 'Engage Me or Enrage Me' is so true. Even through out his article he tries to explain and even convince us that the use of this resource - the internet is needed to keep the kids engaged and wanting to learn so why not use it to the advantage of the traditional teacher and challenge the students. Get them to sort through the opinions and facts and find the gems themselves while learning at the same time.Give the students the opportunity to acquire this suble intelligence of sorting through the chaos.

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Re:Chaos
By Stuart Norrington - 8 March 2008 06:59:47 PM EST

Hi Valentina, I waited for the others to post their thoughts but alas after two days of silence I have decided that its up to us to carry the flag. Although I agree with Prensky in principal I do have some reservations. Knowledge is a fluid source that changes direction as quickly as conceptual ideas change. Should we accept this as I think we should we should recognize that the internet in Prensky's article is nothing more than the latest change in direction. If we use the analogy of a river then we can see that there are many changes and tributaries of knowledge. Should students go with the current flow then they miss out of the infinite other possibilities of acquiring knowledge. Thus based on this I reject the notion that computer technology is the only way to engage students. Those students who believe so and I believe many do are victims rather than conquerer of the new technologies. How then do we strike a balance to this apparent discord? For me it all lies in the focus of rich open self guided activities that rely on many different sources (remember Gardeners theory of multiple intelligences)that provide learning opportunities rich in diversity using multiple technologies skills and formats. Perhaps I am being a little one sided. Perhaps Presnsky is only referring to traditional forms of knowledge transfer that became outdated many years ago (we hope) but I believe this form of communication still has a place (confirming your thoughts) as does direct instruction if it is focused in an appropriate way. That is linked to other learning styles, rather than the dominant form. Thus I agree with your thoughts that traditional teachers can use this new information highway. However to clarify that the chaos and junk are nothing more than a new direction for information transfer, that must be mastered by teacher and student alike before it becomes the gem it proposes / promises to be!

Stuart

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Re:Chaos
By Valentina wondracz - 11 March 2008 10:38:08 AM EST

i agree, agree and agree that knowledge is a fluid resource, that the internet is the new direction and it is not the only way to engage students. i however believe that in a classroom situation that the engaging of the students is up to th teacher. i think that Prensky is offering his view and opinion on the effects of this new direction - the internet. It is so easy for students especially of such a young age to be consumed by what new and whats in. i therefore now refer to McKenzie's article in that yes schools are wasting their money on these electronic resources that arent able to be used at their full capability. By this i mean as i mentioned in my earlier post that it is up to the teacher to teach these skills. Teacher would of course be required but time and money spent on doing so would ne be a waste as they will learn to guide the students through the junk and chaos of the internet. i also agree with McKenzie that the questions asked by teachers need to become questions that allow the students to think for themselves. No more spoon feeding like we had. the ability of a student to think for themsleves is of great value and thus would be a great accomplishment if viewed through the eyes of traditional education. independant thinking equals the ability to sort the gems from the junk and use resources other then the internet and therefore hope that in a classroom students will not be so consumed by the internet as a resource.

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Re:Chaos
By Valentina wondracz - 11 March 2008 10:40:20 AM EST

sorry in the 11th line i meant to write teacher training would be required.....

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Re:Chaos
By Stuart Norrington - 11 March 2008 10:15:32 PM EST

Hi, I like your comments however as stated Prensky's idea is not as valid as it first seems. We have discussed already some of the reasons but I now want to draw your thoughts to the implication of what will happen if students are allowed to be engages in the way Prensky has suggested. The result as I think you would agree would be a disaster. These students would be forever locked within the construct of the digital world unable to willingly participate in the real world preferring as Buckingham and Scanlon (ch9 Cyberlines 2.0 Languages and Culture of the Internet) prefer to call 'edu-tainment' where they search for cyber gems (see the game Croc , (crystals))rather than a literacy that benefits their physical existence. Perhaps I am again too critical and just attempting to force a point but in support of this I refer again to that gem Cyberlines 2 Todd. Negotiating the web: critical literacies and learning. Ch5. Here we see the classic example of reality where students accessing the internet are clearly not the bastions of computer 'IT' they claim to be. Alas her we see the reality of self empowerment crashing to the ground as they are exposed as followers of trivia and amusement. So back to Prensky, whom I have a rather distaste for at least in this article. So where to from here. I like your comments on McKenzie they are in accord to my comments above. However I feel we need to look a little deeper to see the strength behind Mc Kenzie's article. Here is the gem for ALL to see. Not only he suggesting training for ALL but the engagement of rich questions with high order thinking that will above all else provide us with the scaffold to reach and grasp the Gems of the net

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Re:Chaos
By Valentina wondracz - 12 March 2008 03:26:09 PM EST

ok so when u say 'locked' in the digital world and refer to the ongoing use of electronic programs opposed to the physical activity of literacy then yes i do agree with you however i stillmaintain that prensky's idea of engagement is important. i only mean to engage the students and not to lock them into thinking that the internet or any other electronic programs

filled with chaos should be used abouve journals, encyclopedias etc. as this may be i do not want to hold the child back saying that no internet is to be used at all. i can understad the distaste you may have in Prnsky's article and yes i do agree to a certain point with you. in fact i also definatley agree with you on McKenzie's article. McKenzies higway of questioning reasoning anf learning is a great tool for students. it also helps to support a comment in the Wallis and Steptoe article. the communication, teamwork, cultural and people skills that an individual should posses in life will be aided my McKenzies highway as i believe it allows for greater learning and understanding inside and outside the classroom. i believe that the continual world of chaos we are often faced with is not the only way but can be a very useful tool for education in many ways. again the findings of Willis and Steptoe from one of their research questions taken on a school say that the number one thing for learning would be technology. we cannot avoid chande but instead students and teachers together can accept, adapt and use it to their advantage. i therefores till argue that intraditional education thisa world of chaos and junk should be used.

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Re:Chaos
By Stuart Norrington - 12 March 2008 10:00:26 PM EST

Hi Valentina, Thanks for the reply. I think we are of like minds in many ways. Although I tend to argue a counter point from time to time just to provoke. I do agree whole heartedly that we must close the digital divide so that all can engage in the new technology being afforded to us. The reality is that like many I see wonderful opportunities for using technology so that the students can find and effectively assimilate their value into their own construct. Such opportunities like these we are currently being exposed to in our tutorials with Pam are good examples, there are of course many others. I accept that we are stuck with the junk and realise it it is part of the new learning environment inside and outside the class. To be able to filter this effectively as we have both discussed is and will remain the main focus of instructing children to use the web effectively, purposely and literally. This will unfortunately be my last posting as I am swamped to the gallows with my lessons plans at school. I will have a look on Sunday just to see if there are any replies from you or the others. See you on Monday Stuart

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Re:Chaos
By mordechai tenenboim - 13 March 2008 08:01:06 AM EST

Hi all. Sorry for the late reply, but I have been having lots of problems logging into LAMS. I only just sorted it out, so my replies might be a bit late. I agree with what Stuart and Valentina said about filtering the gems from the junk. However, students also need to be taught how to identify trust-worthy and reliable information on those websites. A lot of students would trust the majority of information from websites such as Wikipedia. (I was the same, until I found out, that almost anyone can add, edit or publish new items on the site, without it having to be verified.) Therefore, you can mislead a whole lot of unsuspecting people. One of the ways out of this problem, would be to teach them about website evaluation. One example is the site from Kathy Schrock. You both mentioned that the teachers should be the ones to train the students in sorting the gems from the junk. However, with today's generation, teachers are finding it hard to keep up with the level of technology that their students are at. So there would also need to be training for the teachers as well. Possibly some sort of teacher's in-service, which would allow the government to train teachers with all the new technology etc. Prensky has a valid point in the beginning about the "engage me or enrage me" type students. I have dealt with students like that. They were a younger age, so they were distracted by little things, such as a new watch that plays games. However, soon enough, these students will be distracted by the newer technology. Sometimes it is hard to engage students in a class without using technology. But they also have to learn how to use books for research etc. So we need to make it interesting and attractive to them. Maybe with a little preparation, a teacher can design a lesson, that would have one group of children sifting through the world wide web of information on a particular topic, while another group uses textbooks for the same topic. Then see who can find the more accurate information and which is quicker. (Sorting through the internet junk takes a long time).

Motty

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Re:Chaos
By mordechai tenenboim - 13 March 2008 08:33:45 AM EST

I actually like Prenksy's article and agree with the majority of it. However, there is a solution out there. We just need to find it. We should create something that both engages the students as well as teaching them. There's no point in them playing a game that doesn't teach anything. Maybe the educational games can be a reward for those children that do the work the "old fashioned way". Maybe that's one way of motivating them? Stuart, I agree with what you said, that it seems like Prensky is focused mainly on the computer technology side of things. But maybe he is just trying to prove a point with this one example. I am sure there are other ways to engage students. Like you said with your analogy of the river. There are plenty of things that they might miss out on, if they were to take that one direct path. What about things like e-books? They are basically books that have become electronic. (Similar to the articles and journals we can find online in our university's library). These are also ways of engaging students. They might think they are using the internet for research, however, if you show them where to search, e.g. Macquarie’s online library, then they will just be using the "outdated" texts, which have been published online. They see themselves using technology for their research, and the teacher can later on explain what an e-book, e-journal etc. is, and tell them that there are other ways of doing research besides for just the internet. Valentina, it is easy to say "no more spoon feeding", however, if the students aren't shown how to decipher information or how to filter it, then we would have all sorts of extra information that we never wanted in the first place. How often did you look up something in a book and find out something totally irrelevant to the actual item you were researching? With the internet, you can put tags on websites, that will make them come up in search engines when that tag word is typed. For example, if you typed "mail" into a search engine, you could come up with "Australia post", "email", "mail ordering" etc. Or if I had my own private blog and had the word "mail" as a tag, then that would also come up in the search. The internet isn't the solution. It is more of a help. It is more like scaffolding. The information is the primary thing, while the internet, which is just a tool, is the secondary thing. Students have to be taught, that the internet is NOT the solution to all their problems. However, by using the internet as scaffolding, those children that have trouble doing research, can possibly improve their work. But is shouldn't be the main focus of their research. Just a quick quote from the article scaffolding for success: "the student may use these sites as a starting point, extending further out into Cyberspace in search of something unusual. The scaffolding serves as an introduction, not as a corral." That is what should be taught to the students. The internet is okay to use, but it should not be their only source of information.

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Re:Chaos
By deeni kay - 14 March 2008 12:25:29 AM EST

The process of honing the ‘subtle intelligence to sort the gems from the junk’ is a skill students will use their entire lives. As you mentioned Valentina, Stuart and Motty teachers should be encouraging students to critically analyse texts, and even providing many other offline opportunities to make decisions and form opinions regarding the sources they interact with. Yet the difference between teaching this skill through the internet rather than a text book is that students feel more compelled to be interested in this device they use at home in their leisure time. As Prensky states, many a contemporary student’s attitude is “Engage or Enrage Me!” suggesting that they are expecting the teachers (like the interactive video/cyber games) to spark their interest, keep up to date with what is relevant and generally give them a good time. As Motty suggested substituting a text book (a learning device the student associates with boredom and obligatory work because they would never interact with one in their leisure time) with the internet (which is associated with challenging activities, independent learning and fun), the teacher is bringing the students’ expertise and leisure into the classroomthey might not necessarily think they are doing ‘work’. In fact this notion spans right across all KLAs (as suggested in TEP290). The idea is to have students engaged in fun activities that encourage practise of certain skills. If a student is participating in reading an e-book, exploring a web-quest or completing a LAMS sequence they are constantly coming into contact with valuable technology, information acquiring and critically evaluating skills, while having fun! Two birds with one stone!! I do agree however, that what we are talking

about is not the magical ‘solution’- just put them on and watch them fly. Like any other learning resource, I believe it is the quality of the teacher’s questions and assessment of the situation that will determine how successful utilising the internet is. It is just another means to an educationally gratifying end.

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Re:Chaos
By deeni kay - 14 March 2008 12:26:55 AM EST

This point has been ‘touched’ on, however I don’t think it has yet been ‘nailed’. (Bad joke I know, but I smiled thinking it up!) The crux of March’s comment, as I have taken it, is that the internet’s prime downfall is that it is as clear as mud when ‘viewed through the eyes of traditional education’. When any education system starts believing that ANY learning resource in its pure form (text books, worksheets, primary sources etc.) is transparent, then I believe there is a big problem. All learning resources are ‘chaos’ until a teacher gives some purpose to them. A child could be faced with what traditional education could see as a well-sourced and well edited text book and still have great difficulty attempting to gain any useful information from it. As suggested by McKenzie, it is really the “Art of Questioning” that makes all the difference. To elaborate, the world is embedded with ‘opinions’ rather than facts (not to mention that the ‘fact’ of today is the out-dated ‘opinion’ of tomorrow). This attitude should really be our approach to all learning resources. Once such a mind set is established, we can then focus on what really must be taught: critical evaluation of ALL material. This ‘subtle intelligence’ aka higher order thinking should be encouraged where ever possible. Not only does the notoriously untrustworthy internet present the perfect opportunity to use these skills, but the teacher can model how a student should be reading any source (scaffolding as Mckenzie puts it). It was suggested earlier that time and money could be potentially wasted in endeavouring to show teachers how to deconstruct websites and databases, but I believe this is something they should already be doing regardless of the text type! It is necessary to question the legitimacy, bias and relevance of any given text. I believe it foolish to think that the internet is the only learning resource that is full of ‘junk’.

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Re:Chaos
By deeni kay - 14 March 2008 12:27:27 AM EST

There were also some comments regarding the potential for students to become ‘locked in’ by the internet if it was relied on to any great extent. Prensky, I think, tends to go out of his way to present the ‘child’s perspective’, envisioning this wonderful utopia of awesome 1337 (LEET) cyber/video games that teach everything while the children are role playing and scaling the plat-formed multi-verse. I agree with Stuart, this vision is far fetched and unrealistic, not to mention the potential of a generation boxed away behind their computer leading a ‘Second Life’ (you should all look up this very disturbing internet ‘game’). More over students, especially during early stage 1, stage 1 and even stage 2, need constant, explicit instruction. A computer has not the capabilities to assess a student as efficiently as a teacher which suggests that their progress may deteriorate or might even come to a complete halt. The computer in this case doesn’t engage them any longer as they cannot understand how to complete the task. The computer cannot change its methodology. The teacher can. Edu-tainment to even a moderately high degree, in this light, is doomed for failure- that is until it is capable of regular assessment of the student upon which it can alter its activities to suit the situation. The teacher should still be a compulsory learning resource in the classroom. Yet in defence of Prensky, it is always very important to give a voice to those not in a position to have a say.

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Re:Chaos
By deeni kay - 14 March 2008 01:23:23 AM EST

An interesting point arose when Stuart began mentioning that the internet could be but a passing phase, the new fad on the block that has swept unsuspecting students into its fickle tide. Valentina then mentioned that this is something we can capitalise on; if they are interested then why not engage them through this link?? Yet, as Stuart highlighted, we might be unintentionally closing them off from other sources of information by exposing them too readily and regularly to this cyber, intangible thing so that their experience of the ‘real world’ is limited. At this point I would like to suggest a theory that I have heard in tutorials: the internet is not a database of information (although it could be perceived as such). Rather it is the result of a lot of people sharing a lot of stuff. It is very important to leave behind the idea that the internet is ‘an encyclopaedia’ simply because that was not originally (nor is currently) its sole purpose. The World Wide Web is merely a means to connect people and what they have to give (embracing this idea should help discourage internet information naivety). What this notion also allows for, if perceived with an innovative mind, is another way to encourage living. Yes, the

type of outdoors, run around, remain social and engaged in life ‘living’. Blogs. Although personally I only really became engaged with them at the onset of this particular course, blogs have been present on the internet for years (maybe even decades). Myspace, Blogger, Facebook (I’m not sure if that last one is a ‘blog’…) are all online journals/scrapbooks of sorts. Consider what compels people to use these: another way to assert their identity (or alter-identity), they enjoy becoming connected to people they would not otherwise know (bands, people from overseas), they keep in contact with people whom they would not otherwise communicate with (past school friends or work colleagues). All these people sharing experiences… but what experiences are they sharing? Experiences This communication medium encourages people to attend events in orderϑof LIFE to discuss them after, take photographs to have them shared and commented on, learn new skills and interests to reflect on their progress with like-minded people, live life first to display their day’s experiences when they’ve reached home. No, I do not believe that opening the www. window of the internet shuts and locks the door of your study/bedroom/office. In contrast, it encourages you to go and look for the keys to your life so that you may enrich yourself and your online personality. How does this relate to schools? Education is also, to an extent about ‘sharing’ experiences. Why else do we teach students to compose the myriad of text types mentioned in the syllabus, or encourage individual expression in art, music or drama? More over the material that the students are engaging with, the ‘information’ that is handed down and ‘fed’ to them; history, maths and science, are all basically experiences of other people that are ‘shared’ to enrich others’ lives. It would be almost against what appears to be natural human mentality to withhold another, very effective means of ‘sharing’ life. Our last tutorial was lead by a very inventive woman (I looked for her name but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be mentioned on Blackboard) who discussed fine art and music in the classroom. Prior to this tutorial I considered both these topics to be almost the antithesis of internet or technology usage. I was mind-blown. Including digital cameras, programs such as photoshop and garageband, downloadable video clips as well as the presentation medium powerpoint, this woman reconstructed my beliefs about the ‘traditional’ arts in less than two hours. They were not video/cyber games but the lessons encouraged the attitude of ‘experiencing and sharing’, and my goodness it sounded engaging! Students would create their own art (be it fine art or music), record it and then share it via the internet. Also to turn the equation around, the students might engage with someone else’s experience (another recording) and then evaluate it as such. The same approach could very well be taken with the internet as a whole. Use it as a motivation for students to experience life/school then share their gained knowledge. Alternatively they could engage in someone else’s shared experience, whether it is art or an article, and in turn share their reflections on it. In keeping this attitude, students will be simultaneously encouraged to live their own lives in hope of communicating their experiences later, as well as viewing others’ communications as subjective works for evaluation and reflection.

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Re:Chaos
By mordechai tenenboim - 14 March 2008 04:11:00 PM EST

I agree with Deeni about our last tutorial. Personally, i didn't think that creative arts could be used so well in conjunction with technology. I think we all enjoyed learning about garageband and other programs that we might use when we become teachers. It gives a fun twist on education. The students are learning as well as having fun at the same time. If someone was to walk into our tutorial class while we were working on garageband (with our headphones on), they would probably assume we are a bunch of anti-social students, playing games. However, we were actually doing productive work, and enjoying it too. Learning CAN be fun. It is up to the teacher to make it interesting for their students. Reading a book and answering questions isn't as much fun as meeting the author, writing your own novel, or other activities. I'm not saying we should give up on the pen and paper, textbooks etc. However, there are also ways to insert bits of technology and other activities into the lesson to make it different. I had a look at that atomic learning website, and i think it will be very useful to both teachers and students. I could spend hours, if not days, just sitting and sorting through that site. That is a site i would reccommend to other teachers. As time goes on, and technology becomes more advanced, we will need to keep up to date with it. There are soo many different issues. Another issue, is privacy. (One reason why people might want to create an avatar). So is there a solution to this whole chaos that we are discussing? Is using the internet the answer? If not, then what is? Will this ever be solved??

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Re:Chaos

By deeni kay - 15 March 2008 12:05:46 AM EST

As dramatic as it is ending the discussion with erotesis, I felt compelled to ‘solve’ the rhetorical. The teacher is the key. It is we who must take the plunge and learn the strokes in order to successfully swim to the right port, scaffolding the way for the students to come. We must make an effort to keep updated about the changing technology, the new programs available and seek to be trained in such things (Atomic Learning website: http://movies.atomiclearning.com/uk/home/ ). We must also make it our duty to relentlessly pursue the latest trends, interests and talents of our students so that we are offering subject matter and methods relevant to their lives. It is through this medium that they will learn the skills to extract and convey information, taking an educated critical approach to all texts they encounter. Actually the word ‘solve’ suggests there is a single answer. I do not believe there will ever be one but many answers to engaging students, keeping up with the constant evolution of technology as well as harnessing the power of the internet. Perhaps ending with a rhetorical question was most appropriate after all; we must continue to unceasingly reassess our approach to the transference of knowledge, finding more exciting and efficient ways to teach our students.

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