The Power and Limitations of Tools

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My students love when we get to introduce a new tool into the classroom. This fall, I introduced them to Kahoot! and they loved it. We had created a couple of Kahoots about academic vocabulary and math topics. However, my students responses are not recorded and therefore I struggle to use the tool as a means of remediation. Kahoot! as a tool is powerful because it allows students to engage with the content and everyone participates in the activity, however it is limited by what we can do with the data from the quiz session.

The more I investigate various technology resources the more I realize that there is no one application that will do everything that I want. I remember when I first started my journey towards a masters my first professors were in love with using Moodle as their student learning system. The university used Blackboard and I had explored options such as Edmodo, Schoology, and Sophia. How was I supposed to choose one tool to use in my classroom? What were the advantages and disadvantages of each? How would I decide? I started exploring each tool and testing them either by setting up both teacher and student accounts in my name or by having my students use the tools for specific assignments. The more I investigated, the more I realized that there would not be one solution that I liked better than the other. I would probably have to use a combination of all of them.

These tools have the power to motivate my students and to promote the learning that educators desperately want to see. The challenge as I see it is developing a way to keep all of these tools together and ensure that my students are directed there appropriately.

Filter Bubbles

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I remember reading somewhere that target once knew a teenage daughter was pregnant before her father knew. The father did not understand how this could be happening, but based on the purchases made with the target card, target could track trends and saw that it was likely that the teen was pregnant. This intrigued me. How could someone write programing that sophisticated? I now understand that it probably wasn’t as challenging as I thought it was, but the fact that a computer could determine this information before the human brain even processed the physical changes made me wonder. What other information is the system collecting about us? Is it a good thing that people are collecting this information about us or is it more of a problem?

During our courses, we have discussed that our students are growing up in a world where everything from the coffee they buy down the street (or at least their parents buy) to the background on their cell phone is able to be customized to that child. When I was younger, it was a big deal to even get my name on the back of my sports uniform and this has now become an expectation. Students are inundated with opportunities to customize things to fit their individual preferences and needs. Why can’t they expect the same thing at school? Even their internet searches lead to specific results tailored to how the students interact with various websites. What pages did the students look at last? What were the search terms they last typed in?

All of this data accumulation leads to the opportunity for companies and various associations to send specifically tailor results so that you receive information that is relevant to you. This can be a good thing in the sense that results will be more relevant to what I am looking for, but on the other hand, it will not expose me to what I don’t already know about.

When I look at my Facebook news feed, I see the posts of people that I have clicked on and recently viewed their profile. People that I haven’t looked at for a long time do not show up in my news feed. This means that if I want to find what is happening in their lives, I have to specifically search out that person and read what they have posted or been involved in recently.

How do I break through this filter bubble and create more exposure to information that is beyond what I traditionally look for? “In the filter bubble, there’s less room for the chance encounters that bring insight and learning. Creativity is often sparked by the collision of ideas from different disciplines and cultures.” (pg. 15) I need to work to break through this filter bubble and get into the area where I am exposed to differing ideas.