Archive | November 2011

Blog or not to blog….that is the question!

What are uses and benefits of technology use(s) in K-12 and higher education settings beyond just uses with students in classes? How can technology and social software improve education and educational experiences in areas not related to just use with students in classes and by students for academic purposes?  Remember, teachers, administrators, school boards, parents also influence schools and schooling.

The link includes: good old technology tools that led to where we are today with iClickers, iPads and handheld computers.



To answer Professor Kinzer’s questions briefly on examples of technology, social software in particular, used in less-academic oriented contexts:

  • Christine H.’s article on admission’s offices using SNSs to reach out to prospective students.
  • There was a presentation in the MSTU 4000 Core seminar about a tracking pen that could be used to record all students’ work and how the tracking pen is being adopted by android so that parents can track what their students are learning and producing. This is a classroom experience but the parents are getting access to what is happening inside the classrooms when they cannot be there physically to monitor their children’s work.
  • If you think about it DOE’s requirement for teachers to use Teacher Ease was to provide parents access to their children’s academic progress.
  • From a personal anecdote, private institutes in South Korea give students cards they swipe when they arrive and leave the institute to confirm their whereabouts for the teachers, instructors and parents.
  • TC has the text message TC alert system that notifies students and staff about emergencies such as the snow day from last year.
  • In the Chronicles article this week: “Hoping to capitalize on students’ preferred technology, colleges sell cellphone plans that supply campus information” (para. 1). I get a discount for using AT&T’s service because there is an affiliation with Columbia. This is a way college campuses could make money by pairing up with corporate(s) to get more customers, students who probably will be “loyal” customers in the sense that they would be rigorous cell phone service and data users. In this way colleges and other educational institutions can disseminate information about their colleges and events that occur on and off campus.

I am glad that Schroeder’s (2010) article discussed the drawbacks of using social software in the educational environment because we do tend to focus on the benefits of technology integration because in this field we are strong believers that technology does and can have more benefits in many contexts including within educational institutions. However, unfortunately our public education, if anything, is a far cry from an environment in which technology is effectively and efficiently integrated. I was having a two-hour long discussion/debate with a current special education middle school teacher in the Bronx, my roommate, about her perspective on technology in the classrooms. And I realized there are so many drawbacks of technology, which are not discussed enough. We kind of touched that a little bit last week during class by addressing the CONCERNS of the parents who are not so eager to immediately allow their kids to jump on the band wagon of Internet use in all kinds of contexts and situations.

As I started reading Schroeder’s (2010) reading for this week I could not help but notice what we do for our class. We all have our own blogs and continue our class dialogue(s) throughout the week on different topics but still within the same realm of educational technology and its social impacts on us, the society. I also could not help but think how useful this blogging requirement has been for me. A lot of the times once class is over it is so easy to drop the discussion(s) which, of course, is never over. However, the blog in particular has allowed us to continue the discussions and debates we have had, open up new topics in relation to our readings, and share related weblogs, wikis, websites, articles that come into the picture as our discussions go deeper and more complex.

As Schroeder (2010) puts it “As social software allows large numbers of students to not only present their own insights but also consolidate and refine each other’s contributions, the enthusiasm about the potential impact of these applications on teaching and learning seems to be well justified” (p. 160).

The Improved Learning section in Schroeder’s (2010) article really resonates with me because I feel like that is what I have been gaining from my peers in this class via our blogging activities. Lindsey D. wrote on her blog last week that her benefit of the class network is that she can read and connect with the rest of the class and her classmates’ thoughts through the blogs.

However, as mentioned in the article, in relation to blogging, there is an uneven participation among students, potential that some students stay hidden behind the “collaborative work” that goes on in the class as a whole, etc.

So while we can see clear benefits in this class, at least for me, the instructor or anybody in the educator position and title need to clearly understand the risks and drawbacks of these social software tools. This is a good lesson for me because I tend to ignore the drawbacks as opposed to address the drawbacks and improve from the potential disaster the drawbacks could cause.


Social capital maintained based on appearances???

This week’s articles really got me thinking about the kinds of relationships and social capital I maintain, keep and/or manage with my friends, families and acquaintances on and offline.

Starting the Hancock (2007) article on online dating I was concerned about what the gender differences might represent on the values we prefer as a society. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out females, no more than males, tended to deceive their counterparts only slightly that the deceptions (such as height and weight) would not even be recognizable by the naked eye. Though it was interesting that women lied more about their weight more so than men did and men lied more so about their height than women did. I believe this is because there are different kinds of expectations for women than men in our society. Females are expected to look thinner, tidier, prettier, cleaner, etc. more so than what is inherently expected for males in modern society, at least, in my opinion. As a female I catch myself in surprise judging females if they are overweight, sloppy at times and making up excuses for men if I spot them with a beer belly, with a stain on their shirt, with a bushy, unkempt hairstyle in the morning, etc. What does that say about what we came to believe whether consciously or subconsciously of how we are “expected to appear in public?”


“Extensive research in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology suggests that men and women use different strategies for enhancing their reproductive fitness, according to the requirements of their biological makeup. In general, men look for youth and physical attractiveness in their partners, whereas women look for ability to provide and indicators of social status, such as education and career” (Hancock, 2007, p. 450).


This is EXACTLY why women are more likely to care about their appearances because that is what men, in general, look for in women. Ahhhh what a pity! However, such an interesting study, I must say.


As I started to tie Hancock’s article with Ellison’s (2007) article I wondered if we were more likely to try harder to maintain a relationship and therefore social capital with people based on their appearances. And then I got a little scared.


FB is a unique tool for me and obviously many people find it fascinating, useful, fun, etc. I find it useful because it allows me to maintain many “weak ties” and bridging social capital as Ellison (2007) describes. When I took a closer look at whom I maintain the online to offline relationship with I realized that a lot of my friends were attractive, accomplished men and women. Obviously the scale of attractiveness is very different person to person but it made me wonder…am I self-selecting whom to hang out with because of what I might be perceived as by hanging out with certain types of people with certain looks and resumes?