How far behind the times am I?

This should also be titled, “Or what I can learn from my students.”

I am a pessimist by nature. I admit it. I have this negative streak a mile wide. I always feel like more could be done and in a better way. Maybe I’m not a pessimist, maybe I’m just never quite satisfied because I know the world can be a better place.

The point? I often think that students lack in their ability to be creators. They seem to take shortcuts and take the easy way out. Usually, their use of technology is novice level at best, and I have little to learn from what I see them do. It is mostly me showing them how to do things.

However, today I was inspired by a student who created a video for his senior project. He just switched his product and topic and was very excited to get to work. He showed me how to do video-in-video using iMovie. I had no idea this was possible. Then I saw him editing the video on youtube and using all these tools that I didn’t even know existed.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 2.52.58 PMSo now I’m optimistic that students can learn new things on their own and trump me with their use of technology, which is my hope. But I’m also pessimistic. If I don’t know this stuff about iMovie and youtube, what else don’t I know? I was going to draw this giant image on the chalkboard showing how much we can actually know about everything, which is very little.

I’m inspired as I continue on this journey of education. I now have a new toolkit to share with students, and I know that each day, I may learn something new and cool from my students.


Complexity: A world too full of choices?

This writing stems from an article in this month’s Car & Driver. They ran a comparison test between all the major electric cars on the market. Fiat, Chevy, Ford, Smart, among others were tested. After reading the article, I was bothered by one thing. Here were all these electric vehicles built for the sole purpose of economy and fuel saving; however, all of them were only sold at the highest trim levels available. This included touch screens, electric everything, and all the luxuries available. I found myself asking why? If I want to buy an electric car, I want it to be simple. Light. Cheap. All of these cars were in the $30,000 range, and while the gas equivalent mileage was good at about 100 mpg, I still feel like the manufacturers are missing the point. These cars are just another example of the rise in complexity of everything in our modern lives. I got to thinking, where is this complexity taking us?

I know, I probably sound a bit old- fogeyish, but I wonder what the consequences of complexity are on our minds? When I was a child, there was one kind of Snickers bar, there were two kinds of M&M’s and choices were simple. Now, when I take my kids to the gas station, there are literally hundreds of different kinds of candy to choose from. Of course, the complexity doesn’t end with candy, this is just one simple illustration. Think about entertainment, the internet, all the choices we are faced with daily. What does this do to our ability to make thought-out and deliberate decisions?

When faced with too much, do our brains just shut down and take whatever is offered? Think about it. Who has time to sift through all the facts and information available on any given consumer choice? Does this information overload affect even bigger decisions like who to vote for or whether or not to vote at all?

I have students who write about how they do not care about politics. They have simply tuned out of everything remotely political. They feel disenfranchised, as if none of their ideas matter. I work with teachers who feel this way about the educational system. We are bombarded with these new studies, standards, and tests. Faced with all of this, what can we do to sort through and find meaning?

I have no answers. I just want to ask the question.

Metacognitive of My WordPress Theme

I am looking at my WordPress site, and I’m thinking, “Twenty Twelve” theme? Really? And you call yourself a techevangelist?!”

And I am wondering if my choice of theme says something about me and my abilities as a technology infused educator? Sure it does. Don’t all of our choices ultimately say something about us?

I could certainly find a cooler, hipper theme that might better represent my world according to me. But when I originally chose Twenty Twelve, I did so with the thought that the simplicity of the theme allows the words to speak for themselves.

Maybe it’s now “old school cool.” After all, we’re in the year 2014. A Twenty Twelve WordPress theme is ancient by modern Web 2.0 standards. (Are we still on Web 2.0? Did I miss the update to 2.1.1?)

So what does your WordPress theme say about you? Are you a modder who creates her own theme? Do you just go with the theme you are handed by the WordPress gods? Do you dig deep for the slickest theme you can find created by some other modder out there in the cyberverse?

And what does that say about you?