Chapter 1 - Arc of Life Learning
Quote: “Furthermore, everything - and everyone - around us can be seen as resources for learning.” (Thomas, 2011, p.32) I chose this quote because this is how they define the new culture of learning. You aren’t only learning through books and from teachers. You are learning from others online and information is constantly evolving.
Question: Learning from others on online forums is the new culture of learning, but how do we ask parents to allow their children to talk to strangers online?
Connection: Through this master’s program I am constantly searching online for information to help me with certain topics, especially for my EDL600 class. Some of the topics are so complex and dense that looking up additional information allows me to make sense of it and piece it together. I’m no longer only learning from a textbook, but I’m going online and looking at other sources and learning from my peers. Learning is much more collaborative than it used to be. I depend on others for help.
Epiphany/Aha: I can’t wait to give my students the opportunity to discover this new culture of learning. I want to watch them succeed in finding information without my help either by researching online or getting feedback from others.
Chapter 2 - A Tale of Two Cultures
Quote: “Unlike the traditional sense of culture, which strives for stability and adapts to changes in its environment only when forced, this emerging culture responds to its surrounding organically. It does not adapt. Rather, it thrives on change…” (Thomas, 2011,p.37). I chose this quote because this is how the new culture of learning will look in a classroom. You do not know which way the learning will take you, it is a constantly changing path. Students will learn from how they achieve their goal, not just by reaching it.
Question: How do we do a complete 180 degree turn from a mechanistic approach to this new culture of learning? What are the baby steps in between these two drastic methods?
Connection: When state testing is over and the pressure to teach all the necessary material is relieved, I feel like I’m finally able to create a classroom environment that is similar to this new culture of learning. I allow the students to research ideas they are interested in. I allow them time to look up art projects they are interested in and it creates a classroom culture that is so interesting. I need to allow time throughout the year to do these types of projects, but feel pressured to get through so much material that I lose track of time.
Epiphany/Aha: The comparison between the new culture of learning and a science experiment was an epiphany moment for me. You have “very limited foreknowledge of what will result” (Thomas, 2011,p.37), and you are interested in the process, not the result of the experiment. This is how it should be in the classroom. We should help the students cultivate their learning, and not know the outcome because it isn’t the product that is valued, it’s the process of getting there.
Chapter 3 - Embracing Change
Quote: “As information is constantly produced, consumed, updated, and altered, new practices of reading, writing thinking and learning have evolved with it” (Thomas, 2011, p.42). I chose this quote because this is what we need to communicate about school if we are questioned about why we’re teaching differently. We’re teaching differently because information is constantly changing so we need to embrace the change and learn differently as well.
Question: I remember being told by professors in college that Wikipedia was not a credible source to use in papers. Is this still the case or have people started realizing Wikipedia is as credible as Encyclopedia Britannica?
Connection: This chapter reminds me of the SAMR model. Many of my colleagues are using technology in their classrooms everyday but they’re only using it to replace what they’d already been doing with traditional teaching (This is “S” in SAMR called Substitution). We need to not only use technology, but change our teaching as well to embrace the change in learning. Students should perform tasks that can be done on a computer, but can only be done on the computer. For example students can write a story, record themselves reading it aloud and draw pictures to create a presentation to share with their peers. This can only be done using technology.
Epiphany/Aha: The history of the advancement of the television compared to the internet was amazing! No wonder education didn’t change for so long; technology hadn’t either. Seventy years from the beginning of color tv to it being common in households compared to ten years from the beginning of the internet to it being common in households! Why is nobody talking about this type of change at schools? I feel like this is a huge aha moment!
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a
world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Here is an AppSlam for how to use Padlet and Google Presentation in the classroom as an educational digital tool.
Thom Markham (2015) discusses the current status of education by describing teachers as “under-empowered participants in a stagnant system designed to broadcast standardized information.” Markham goes on to add that “it’s easy to see why an undertone of resignation, cynicism, or even learned helplessness permeates too many conversations in hallways, staff rooms, and parking lots” and I couldn’t agree more. Teachers have such an important job to prepare our country’s youth for the future and yet many feel like we are helpless to actually make a difference from all the pressures to achieve certain goals. Even if administrators ask teachers to move towards project-based/inquiry learning, teachers are still required to teach an entire year’s worth of content to prepare students for standardized testing. With only 6 hours in a school day, there just isn’t enough time. Often times at my site, conversations between teachers consist of how tired, stressed, overwhelmed, disappointed, and helpless they feel. I have seen this school culture since I started teaching five years ago.
Schools should be full of life and energy. Students should come to school excited to learn about things they’re interested in. Teachers should come to school excited to support their students in their personal growth towards these goals. Markham (2015) offers some remedies to the current school culture to help move toward a positive goal. He suggests appreciating the present moment in teaching, contributing to a global vision, redefining the term smart, and living the collaborative reality. With the integration of technology and the internet, the possibilities are endless with what teachers can accomplish with their students. Working on these four goals is worthwhile for any teacher because it will lead to better learning and a better school culture.
Amongst teachers, we need to come together to help each other move towards a more positive goal. Yes, standardized testing is something we need to prepare our students for, but with the adoption of the Common Core, we have a little more freedom now in how we teach our students. The Common Core focuses more on real-world problems than the previous standards, which is a positive move. It is still content-based and students must learn the content throughout the year, but we have the freedom to teach students the content through real-world applications. Teachers should feel comfortable sharing their ideas and methods with each other to reduce the competitive nature of our profession. We are a team, with a unique skill set, that needs to work together to make a difference. Teachers do not want a school culture that makes us feel like “under-empowered participants.” We want to be active participants in a school culture that can transform the world. Markham (2015) states, “Tapping the deepest energies of teachers, or any employees, requires a connection with big, meaningful themes that promise a significant, positive effect on the world.” We, as teachers, need to come together to move towards this type of learning/school community. Conversations between teachers would be more uplifting, open, and supportive. It will prepare us for the unknowns in the future of education, but our vision will be colored with positivity and eagerness.
Markham, T. (2015, February 11). Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education ‘Story’.
Retrieved June 20, 2015, from
Everyone knows about google. It is a company that provides internet support through search engines, cloud-based systems and much more. They are number three of the world’s most valuable brands and number one of America’s best employers (“Google on Forbes Lists,” n.d.). When trying to get a job at Google, the number one quality they are looking for is learning ability. Second most important is leadership ability, but not in the traditional sense. Google hires people who can become leaders when necessary when working with members of a team. The least important quality they look for is expertise because expertise can be acquired over time (Friedman, 2014).
Google’s philosophy for hiring employees is fantastic. Expertise used to be the most valuable quality in employees, but how do you gain expertise when first starting out? You learn it. If you aren’t able to learn certain things, you won’t succeed. Therefore, expertise is not the valued quality, it is learning ability. The same goes for students. Successful students are not the students who walk into class already knowing how to complete math problems. Successful students are the ones who do not know how to solve the problems, but learn how to do it, then complete the problems.
I believe I prepare my students for getting a job at Google to some extent. I teach my students that hard work, perseverance, and creativity are how students do well in school. Good grades always come from students who show all three of these qualities. Now, good grades are not the only thing students should be striving for, and I’m learning this. However, students get the highest marks in academics and citizenship skills if they work hard, persevere, and are creative. I have my students create presentations on various topics and I allow them time to add pictures, transitions, animations and more. Some students are able to branch out and be creative and some students need more prodding. This is something I want to continue to support my students in.
Our district is focusing on 21st century skills, also known as the four C’s: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity (“An Educator’s Guide to the ‘Four Cs,’” n.d.). I believe these four qualities go hand-in-hand with what Google is looking for. I implement projects in my classroom to allow for collaboration and communication between my students. I provide real-world problems that give students the opportunity to use critical thinking skills. And I give my students opportunities to creatively demonstrate their learning using technology on google documents, presentations, forms and sites. I also realize that all of those sentences begin with “I give/implement/provide my students with…” which is something I will be working on next year. I would like to have my students be more active in their learning and develop their own projects, problems and products. I believe this will better prepare them for a job at Google. However, I’m relieved to know that I am somewhat preparing for the future. Now, I just need a little bit of fine tuning.
An Educator's Guide to the "Four Cs" (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2015,
Friedman, T. (2014, February 22). How to Get a Job at Google. Retrieved June 20, 2015, from
Google on Forbes Lists. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2015, from
Our class read The 20Time Project by Kevin Brookhouser and tweeted our reactions. I created a storify to capture the tweets of my peers and my reactions to the information.
Snapchat is a free app that allows users to message images and videos (up to 10 seconds long) to a controlled audience. After the allotted time has expired, the videos and images disappear. I am a user of this app and love it. Casey Neistat (2014) created a video to describe how Snapchat has “murdered” Facebook because it allows users to connect in new and preferred ways. Photos and videos can no longer be logged and scrutinized like earlier apps such as Facebook and Instagram. Since the images disappear, users are less worried about how they look (Madrigal, 2013). Users can send images only to certain friends or upload them to their “stories.” Stores allow all people that you are connected with to view the posted images and the images stay posted for 24 hours before being erased. The addition of “stories” to the app caused higher usage (Neistat, 2014). Users can digitally follow what their friends have done throughout the day by watching their stories. It’s an easy and entertaining way to stay connected. Like Twitter and Facebook, it is a platform that allows all types of audiences to connect with each other (Madrigal, 2013). However, Facebook and Instagram have information about users posted and their posts are backlogged. Snapchat allows users to connect simply by having the person’s phone number or Snapchat username. This allows users to avoid sharing certain information about themselves with their connected friends.
There will always be new and different ways to digitally connect with friends. Casey Neistat (2014) points out that the first platform was Friendster, which was trumped by Myspace, then Facebook, Instagram and now Snapchat. Once a new, trending app is created, older ways of connecting are used less and less. This is the digital age in which everything is new and evolving. Snapchat will be around for a while, but ultimately, if the trend continues, it will be overshadowed by a newer platform. To stay up-to-date on the latest digital tools, it takes a lot of work and effort. I became a Snapchat user because my younger sister wanted to send me snaps. She told me how much she liked it so I downloaded it. I am not one of the most avid users, but most of my friends use the app and it allows me to stay connected even without texting.
Sending images or videos of your day is a powerful way to communicate. It’s as if you can go through the day with your friends alongside you. Many of my teacher friends have it as well. Recently I went on a field trip that one of my colleagues was unable to attend. I sent snaps throughout the day to her to show her how it was going. It’s almost as if you are recording your day and your friends get to play it back. Neistat states that there is no other video app that allows people to tell a story like Snapchat. I know I will not be able to keep up with the trends of technology forever because they are constantly changing. In the meantime, I know I have earned a little credibility with my students because they know I use Snapchat.
Madrigal, A. (2013, November 15). What Is Snapchat? Retrieved June 11, 2015, from
Neistat, C. (2014, October 1). Snapchat Murders Facebook. [Video file]. Retrieved from
Michael Wesch (2011) produced another thought-provoking video called “Rethinking Education” to discuss how knowledge is created and consumed in today’s society compared to how it is taught in universities. The video describes today’s knowledge database as a radical form of knowledge that is all created from collaborative input (Wesch, 2011). Information is provided through digital tools that allows collaboration between peers to create a knowledge database (wikipedia) instead of a select group putting together a database (encyclopedia). This is a problem because the formal education system has not caught up to the changes in information sharing and creation (Wesch, 2011).
The video challenges the audience to rethink universities and how they would be rebuilt using technology to prepare its students for the real world. It does not go on to suggest how these changes would be made. It is kind of intriguing to think about. Even though I teach elementary school, I face the same problems. Universities have large classes and the easiest way to assess them all is to tell them what to study and assign a multiple-choice test. I remember being in a large lecture hall of up to 200 or more students when I was in college. How would a professor have time to teach and assess all those students if they were given projects to complete? As an elementary school teacher, I feel the same. I don’t have over 200 students, but with 34 students and a multitude of topics to cover in one year, how can you create projects for students to complete using Web 2.0 tools and fully assess their capabilities? I’m not saying it’s not possible, but with all the pressure teachers feel from administrators about meeting rigorous standards by a certain date, we don’t have the freedom to alter the way we teach and assess. Maybe this is the first step in the process. We need to lighten the pressure of standardized test scores. Or maybe we need to create tests that do not require knowledge-based answers, but instead process-based answers. If students have access to google on a daily basis, why can’t they have access to it for tests? Then the tests can be based more on the process of acquiring information instead of being based on how much knowledge was acquired. I like the way this video challenges the audience to rethink the formal education system. Something does need to be done. The next step is to find out how to begin the education reform.
Wesch, Michael. (2011, January 24). Rethinking Education. [Video file] Retrieved from
Dr. Michael Wesch’s presentation on TEDxKC is an awe-inspiring video. He presents a fantastic viewpoint of today’s learning compared to today’s world and argues that the two do not mesh. Students sit in a classroom and are told to “bow to the authority and follow, follow, follow” (“TEDxKC - Michael Wesch,” 2010). However, in the real world many people who are not “the authority” have managed to make significant world change and inspire others to do so. They did not accomplish this by bowing to the authority or being followers. Teaching students to only follow and do what they’re told is not preparing them for the real world anymore. This worked in the era of the television in which only “significant” people could make a change, but not anymore (“TEDxKC - Michael Wesch,” 2010). Wesch shares an example of a spoof commercial made after Dove soap releases a commercial about the media affecting girls’ body images. The spoof points out that Dove soap uses palm oil that is taken from places like the Indonesian lowland forests and leads to deforestation and has negative outcomes (“Dove Onslaught(er),” 2008). This ultimately led to greenpeace meeting and collaborating with Unilever (Owner of Dove) to help stop the deforestation in the Paradise Forests. This was due to the overwhelming number of views and support by viewers of the video. People like you and I. We helped make social change and it wasn’t by being followers.
This example sheds some light on the way media works today. We have so many more ways to connect, organize, share, collect, collaborate and publish ideas that we can have different contributors from all over the world come together and make something beautiful (“TEDxKC - Michael Wesch,” 2010). If this is what is happening in the real world, why aren’t we teaching this in schools? Wesch (2010) goes on to articulate that we need to teach students to be knowledge-able instead of knowledgeable. Students don’t need to sit in a classroom and learn what the teacher tells them (knowledgeable) as much anymore. They need to be able to learn how to find information that is important to them and will be relevant to their lives (knowledge-able). Wesch suggests that teachers should work with students to try to embrace real problems that we don’t know the answers to by using relevant tools. A scantron test is not relevant in real life. A youtube video that will be publically published online in order to help solve a real problem is something that is relevant. This is a skill that students need practice with and cannot learn from a teacher telling them how to do it.
I completely agree with Dr. Wesch’s argument. Students are still being taught what they should learn instead of learning what they are interested in. I teach fifth grade so it is difficult to imagine not teaching them math, language arts, science and social studies everyday out of a textbook because that’s what I have been trained to do. Instead, teachers need to look out into the community with their students, see real problems and work together to try to fix them. I’m not sure how I would begin with this, though. I am still expected to use textbooks and get through an allotted amount of material before state testing in April/May each school year. However, I would love to have small projects throughout the year to help expose students to this type of learning. Wesch states that students need practice in the skill of knowledge-abillty to become good at it. I would love to do my part with my students to get them started on practicing how to be knowledge-able instead only knowledgeable.
Greenpeace. Dove Onslaught(er). [Video file]. (2008, April 21). Retrieved from
TEDx Talks. TEDxKC - Michael Wesch - From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able
[Video file]. (2010, October 12). Retrieved from
Dave White at the University of Oxford (2013) offers an interesting dissection of the way people engage with the internet. He provides a continuum between the two ways of engaging with the internet. One he describes as a “Visitor” on the internet. Visitors go online, perform whatever task they need to accomplish, and leave without leaving a trace that they were there. The other side of the continuum he describes as a “Resident” of the internet. Residents have a presence on the internet and live a part of their lives online. Residents remain visible online while visitors do not see the need to engage with others on that platform (“Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’”, 2008).
For myself, I am very tech-saavy but I am definitely closer to the visitor side of the continuum. I have accounts on facebook, instagram, and twitter but mostly use them to peruse what other people post and to keep up on current events. I rarely comment or engage with many people outside my friend group. I upload pictures, but my profiles are all private and only people I allow can see my page. I use google drive regularly in my classroom and share/edit/comment with my students on their work but it is within a closed system and I do not post anything publicly to the web. While I have a classroom website that is open to the public, I do not use it to engage with others. My website is a place for me to share information or certain websites with my students.
Visitors are described as “unlikely to take advantage of any feed based system for aggregated information you may put in place. They are also unlikely to blog or comment as part of a course” (“Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’”, 2008). This describes my method of learning. I am not as comfortable posting questions on a blog or networking site to find answers. I am more comfortable looking up credible sources and attempting to find answers through them. As a learner, I am far more comfortable gathering information that I need from the internet, synthesizing it, and producing a product that will only be for my professors to read. The thought of posting my thoughts and comments publicly is difficult for me, but I can see the value in it.
I know being a visitor and not over the age of 30 is maybe unusual but White explains that it has little to do with technological skill level or age. I am an example of this because I am good with technology and enjoy using it, but do not necessarily have an online presence. White states that most people over the age of 55 are visitors, but not always, and not everyone under the age of 25 is a resident (“Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’”, 2008).
This master’s program will definitely challenge my way of learning and engaging with the internet. I will no longer be able to go online, accomplish a specific task and log off without leaving a trace. I will have to maintain my identity through my weebly website and comment and post on my peer’s blogs as well. This will allow me to move towards the resident end of the continuum.
Visitors and Residents [Video file]. (2013, May 31). Retrieved from
White, D. (2008, July 23). Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’”.
[Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index.php/2008/07/23/not-natives-immigrants-but-visitors-residents/