End of an Era

ESWDE 5622 has been a memorable class.  I accidentally took the second class (ESWDE 5623) first so last semester I felt like I had no clue what was going on.  This semester was way too many a-ha moments where I finally figured something out from the previous teacher.  Professor Kerr probably thinks I am crazy just by the amount of times my light bulb went off in class.  I liked the five image project.  I liked the Personal Learning Network.  I am not fond of blogging.  Our final project was a real team effort and I can’t wait for it to be seen.  I mean, smart boards are really not that exciting but my first time on a YouTube video was (for me anyway)!    I do have to give Professor Kerr props for being able to take such a varied group and teaching us all.  Most of us are technical education teachers working in a career center, the rest of us are working towards a bachelor, none of us are in the same program.  I think most classes (once you get to this level) the students are all working in the same program and many already know each other.  This class, not so much.  Even better, I am pretty sure this was one of Professor Kerr’s first live teaching gigs, so I am thinking he may be a natural.  I realize that some of these Workforce Development strands are going away (Mine!) and I think that might be a sad loss to the College of Education and Human Ecology.  This “teaching adults” field takes a special breed of people so I think they should continue to offer these programs.  Trainers need direction just like anybody else.  I have sat in too many classes where the trainer was a subject matter expert but so not a trainer.  So this was kind of a rambling post but I guess I had a lot to say.  Thanks!

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And the topic is still spreadsheets

So this week I am back from a two week trip and the topic is still spreadsheets.  I work for the United States Property and Fiscal Office for Ohio and the sole purpose of the organization is to keep track of the federal dollars and federal property that the State of Ohio uses to operate the Ohio National Guard.  So we were counting money, land and equipment from the beginning.  Once again, I remind you that started working right out of high school in 1985.  In 1985, we were not using personal computers.  In my organization input came from a data punch card processor, and a whole department was dedicated to it.  That is my background information.  In the YouTube video “History of Excel” on Excel Talk (Really?) that we watched for class, how we got here was discussed as well as where we go from here.  The presenter says she is not sure how Excel can be improved upon, the implication being that we won’t ever use anything but Excel or an Excel-like product.  Isn’t it ironic that she is presenting on the history of Excel, starting with Babylonian stone tablets.  Do you suppose the guy carving those tablets ever expected to do anything different?  Like paper?  Paper would have been a “disruptive technology”, right?  Isn’t the next big thing too bizarre to even consider?  I mean voice activated software is already here and instead of typing our data and formulas into spreadsheets, we could be having conversations with computers to achieve the same results.  Just like the punch card technology is obsolete today, won’t the electronic spreadsheet technology be obsolete some day?

Technology and what it could do for you!

This week is pretty open what we want to talk about (our topic for the next two weeks is spreadsheets and Mr. Kerr doesn’t want to read that many blog posts about spreadsheets!) so there was a term I saw from this week that caught my interest. Disruptive Technology.  Sounds scary doesn’t it?  Well, what it means is “disruptive technology is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry.” This definition came from Whatis.com, an IT resource.  Another part of this definition was a list of examples like, computers, email and smart phones, that kind of stuff.  It just made me think how my childhood was so much different from my kids, mostly because of technology.  I mean, I am not so old that I don’t remember before TV’s but I do remember TV before VCR’s or DVD’s.  I also remember TV before cable, before remote control!  Ok, now I am definitely dating myself.  I also think about how different my kid’s classroom experience was from my own, just because of computers.  And now, even more, my kids were out of high school by 2008 and some of the things we have talked about this semester were not available for their use, like podcasts.  This reflection has made me also realize how a trainer (or teacher) these days needs to stay in front of technology to be able to take advantage of the new stuff as it comes along.  To be as effective as possible, you need to embrace the disruption and use it.  Don’t fight it and waste the energy that you could be using to implement the newest technology.

My boring competencies list

So this week we were asked to reflect on our class learning so far and to determine if we felt we had met the competencies provided in the syllabus. Also we were asked if we would change anything.  I won’t bore you with the entire list but I will say I came into the class already able to 1) Perform desktop publishing functions related to educational settings 2) Demonstrate knowledge of design principles 3) Demonstrate proficiency with word processing 4) Demonstrate proficiency with presentation software and 5) Develop records for charting student progress using a spreadsheet program.  How did I get to be so smart, you ask?  Well, I have been in the working world for about 30 years and was on the job before Word, Power Point and Excel showed up.  I have learned through many versions and am pretty comfortable with these programs although I have never had formal training on any of them.  The desktop publishing and design principles I have picked up since starting here at Ohio State (but again not formally trained).  In this class I did get a really good sample of the “available graphics software programs for educators” which is another competency. I will admit I have not yet practiced “Create computer graphics for educational uses” only because I haven’t needed to yet but I imagine I will and soon.  The last two (ok, maybe I will bore you with the list of competencies) are about the best time and use of “digital imaging techniques and equipment in educational settings” and these are the two I am most shaky about.  I think it means knowing when, where , why and how to best use digital imaging techniques in the classroom.  Maybe Mr. Kerr would tell you that I have done all of these things and more but I wasn’t aware of it if I did.

We were asked if we would change anything and I will answer a resounding NO, with one caveat! I learned a lot in this class about where technology and education meet.  Stuff I will probably use later (not like algebra) but this class is actually a part one to a class I have already taken and I got way more out of this part one class than I did the part two class so I would suggest making ESWDE 5622 a prerequisite to ESWDE 5623, so people don’t accidentally make the same mistake I accidentally did.

PBL and Vocational Education

So this week’s topic is assessment, Project Based Learning (PBL) and the Maker Movement. I think most are aware that I am not yet a teacher and don’t intend on teaching but would like to participate in Acquisition Training for new Contract Specialists for the Department of Defense.  I know that is a pretty specific goal, but there is more than “one way to skin that cat”.  All that being said, I mostly feel very uneducated about education.  This is my third semester in the Corporate Development program and I learn more every semester.  This semester, my other class is in Workforce Development and we have traveled all across Central Ohio visiting places that participate in Workforce Development.  We recently have been to the Eastland Career Center and DeVry University.  Ok, finally to the point, maybe.  Isn’t PBL and the Maker Movement some version of what they are using to train people at Career Centers and Tech Education locations like DeVry?  After reading the video and articles presented, it seems as if it is “application based learning”, a buzzword I recently heard at DeVry.  If I am on the wrong track and my idea is scoffable, remember the disclaimer from above, but I don’t think I am far from the truth.  Non-traditional, hands-on and student centered are all terms that would describe both PBL and tech education.  So, I guess what I am really trying to say is that while tech education is waning somewhat and fighting to stay relevant by being a stepping stone to college, the traditional path has turned to the “application based learning” to keep itself relevant as well.  I find that kind of ironic from my mostly un-educated viewpoint.

The Book Wars in my head

So this week’s topic is e-books. I have to grudgingly admit I am a huge proponent of e-books from a student aspect.  Last semester I had a class with one book that I rented from Amazon for $18 for the entire semester and another book that was an open resource on the internet – no cost.  How many classes can you say that!  Not so many for me, but it did open my eyes to the possibilities.  This semester I went first to e-books where I could.  Not only is it way more cost efficient, it is also much better on the back.  I use a Kindle, so one Kindle is way easier to carry than so many books.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore books. I have a regulation at work that I still get in paper, even though it is available in electronic form.  There is just something about thumbing through a regulation looking for answers that you just can’t get electronically.  I still have a library card, where I do most of my pleasure reading, proven by the stack of books on my bedside table.  I use my Kindle for pleasure reading as well because most publishers don’t publish the little novellas that come out between books in a series.

But I digress, kind of. I think I am not the only book nerd in the world, and I would bet that most college educators might be book nerds as well.  And that is what will keep e-books out of the classroom for some time.  When your favorite thing to do is book shop at the beginning of every new semester (yes, I know – book nerd!), an e-book just isn’t as satisfying.  I know it’s cheaper and I know my back will thank me for it but an addiction doesn’t speak common sense.

I think e-books are the way it will be and they are a good thing.   But for now, I think the tradition still outweighs the practical, at least for the book nerds.

Social Media and Old Colonels

So this week I need to comment about social media in the classroom. I am not currently teaching but I can relate this back to my office situation.  So I work in a relatively small office in a small organization, there are ten of us in my department, and we seem to be divided in age.  About half of us (and unfortunately, I am one of them) are over forty and the other half are not quite or just at thirty.  I think this gap just becomes more apparent when you start talking social media and what you can do with it. The National Guard only recently started using You Tube and Facebook to disseminate information and I think that that reluctance is a reflection of the older staff at the headquarters level.  It seems like they are entering the “electronic age” unwillingly.  Now I realize that the military can’t conduct business using social media due to security issues but it could be used as a marketing tool, an information center or maybe even recruiting could start with social media.  In contracting, we work with the civilian sector more because our actions need to be transparent, and our younger members are way more comfortable using the social media tools that are lately available.  I think that as we swap out the old colonels with younger colonels, what is now innovative will become old hat.  I don’t think this is all due to age, I think some of it can be blamed on an opposition to explore new options.  I personally like social media and have a Facebook account (which I use regularly).  My boss (who is younger than me!) does not, but I believe he is trying to actively maintain a curmudgeon persona.  But I do think that the person who is more open to change is more resilient and better able to handle anything thrown at them, including social media.