Wednesday, October 31, 2012


ReadWrite published an article about the top ten most terrifying technology nightmares.  Although the list provides a humorous vision of our now dependant technological world, being it’s Halloween, I thought that I’d discuss my own technology nightmares.  Nearly every facet of my life involves technology, and while it’s soothing for me to curl up with my laptop before bed, if technology is malfunctioning, it can be the most frustrating thing ever!  Literally, I can visualize just chucking my computer through the window. 
ReadWrite’s top terrifying technology nightmare involves having Google compile information about you and use it to blackmail you.  I feel like certain websites sort of already do this, not to blackmail you, but to personalize your online experience.  Take Facebook, for example.  Since the creation of the Timeline, you only really see what’s going on amongst your top friends that you interact with most often.  They have even customized the advertisements based on what you most look at on your computer.  This isn’t considered a nightmare; this is good marketing. 
The most terrifying technology nightmare imaginable would be me, 25 first graders, and computers that aren’t working.  Being primarily a secondary teacher, I am not equipped with the tools necessary to fully manage young ones.  I see these young ones once a week, so I don’t have that much time with them.  When the students are distracted with computers, they are fine, but I wouldn’t have any idea what to do if something wasn’t working properly.  The first day of class with them I tried to have a discussion about rules, and students were hiding under tables and rolling around the floor.  S.O.S – literally,
The bottom line is that we’ve become so dependent on technology – for basically everything – that we’re unsure of how to even function without it.  Can you imagine going technology-free for a week, day?  Me either and the thought honestly makes me cringe.  Now, that’s a scary Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Smartphone

The “Evolution of the Smartphone” is an info-graphic that is basically a timeline in technological upgrades to the cell phone.  The info-graphic is written from HTC’s point of view and discusses key moments in history for the computer and telephone.  The Smartphone first took off around 1993 retailing at around $900.  Throughout the 1990’s, the Smartphone began to appear in movies but didn’t really become a permanent fixture until around 2000.  Looking at the info-graphic makes me think about my experience with cell/Smartphones in general, and I feel like the Smartphone didn’t truly become a common staple until around 2010.  My “info-graphic” timeline is extremely different from HTC’s version of events. 
Remember Zack from Saved by the Bell’s cell phone?  At this point in time, cell phones seemed like a far off wave of technology.  We barely knew that it was a cell phone because it just looked like he was holding a big piece of metal to his head.  My family got a bag phone that we kept in our car around 1997.  A bag phone was basically a cell phone in a bag that was portable.  Once I got my driver’s license around 2002, I got a pre-paid cell phone to keep in my car.  At all times, I had about 15 minutes to use – just in case of emergency.  When I went to college in 2004, I begged my parents for a cell phone.  It was a Motorola flip-phone that you could just answer and dial a number.  The first time I got texting on a phone was around 2007.  It was extremely limited and a pain to type without the QWERTY keyboard.  I first got an actual Smartphone in 2012 – the iPhone 4s.  It is true what they say; beforehand, you feel like the Smartphone isn’t really necessary, but once you get it, you don’t know how you survived so long without it. 

Monday, October 29, 2012


 In my current teaching position, I serve as an online classroom mentor for students taking Spanish.  While I do not actually teach them the content, I am responsible for making sure they are successful in the class.  The class is organized into 18 units of lessons, guided practice activities, assignments, quizzes, and educational games.  In Edutopia’s online article, “Blended Learning: Strategies for Engagement,” it presents different ideas to engage students in a blended online and bricks and mortar classroom. 

 A strategy for students was to differentiate instruction.  While I am not capable of adjusting the work load of students, I believe that the online instructors should pay better particular attention to the needs of each student.  Being that I personally monitor the progress of each student, Student A. may be on Unit 7 while Student B. may be just finishing up with Unit 5.  Spanish is difficult to learn in a regular classroom setting, and I imagine that learning it online is even more challenging. 

From the beginning of my educational education, professors have talked about differentiation.  In my teaching job last year, I differentiated instruction all of the time to meet the individual needs of students.  At that time, I was in my third year of teaching at this school, and I knew the students.  I knew their strengths and weaknesses as students.  Now, I’ve just started a new teaching position and am finding it difficult to individually challenge each student.  This is because I really don’t know the students. 

What is my point?  I find it difficult to assess the needs of my students that I see in my classroom every day.  I really just became good at differentiating instruction in my second year of teaching the same students.  I imagine that it is difficult to truly get to know the needs of your students as an online teacher.  Obviously you know if a student isn’t completing their work or performing in a satisfactory manner, but it takes more than that to differentiate.   It takes knowing students’ needs to complete an assignment successfully.  It takes altering your own teaching style to accommodate everyone.  It may be just a matter of giving a student more time or reducing the amount of problems, but it may be something more. 

Andrew Miller, the author of the article, says that targeting online work keeps students engaged and keeps online learning individualized.  How can you target your students and individualize instruction if you don’t know them?  The Spanish instructor that I work with has minimal contact with the students.   Differentiation is key to the success of any student, but a relationship with the student must be developed in order to understand their needs.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Jon Mitchell’s article, “Confessions of a Professional Internet Addict,” may be a satirized version of himself as an Internet addict, but his message and circumstances present a real-world problem.  Sometimes, we get so involved in the different chatting websites, friend finders, and gaming websites that we’d rather spend our time doing that instead of spending our time interacting with real people.  The Internet is an extremely useful tool, and you can literally spend hours doing nothing, but why do we want to spend our lives doing nothing?
While I was engaged, I was obsessed with bridal blogs, DIY crafty websites, and anything that offered advice for throwing a classy and affordable wedding.  Now that the wedding is over, I spend my time looking at home decorating blogs, DIY crafty websites, and anything that offers advice for decorating a home on a budget.  It’s so tempting to look at because the Internet offers a solution to anything.  My husband and I would go out to dinner and both just look at our iPhones the entire time – not because we didn’t want to talk to each other, but because we were so engrossed in what was happening online.  Eventually, we made a rule to put our phones away during dinner and once we get in bed.  It is simple, but it makes us live in the present and enjoy life – together.
Mitchell says, “So much of my life takes place online that I’ve lost touch with the boundaries. I no longer know where my obligations lie, with my “real” life or my “virtual” life. What’s real and what’s virtual?”  I feel like many people have lost touch with the present and developed a new sense of “reality.”  I still believe that friends are people you go to lunch with, not someone you meet at 6pm in a chat room; I still believe that best moments in life are moments you share with the people around you, not being curled up with a computer.  I don’t know about you, but I most remember the times from college where I was laughing with my friends – not typing on a computer.    

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Facebook Phenomenon

Facebook began as just a social-networking site where college people could meet other college-aged people.  Today, it has grown into a multi-million (billion?) dollar empire that connects people from all over the world to chat, play games, etc.  When Facebook was created, Mark Zuckerberg was just a Harvard college student, and well, we know how the rest of that story worked out. 
What is easy to forget is that Facebook is a business.  Not only have so many people become dependent on updating their status or profile picture, there are people constantly trying to improve our Facebook experience.  They want people to be dependent on the website for a social life.  While changes may initially be groaned upon, people will eventually accommodate themselves to the changes and continue on. 
In Dave Copeland’s article, “Facebook Turns Corner on Mobile Revenue Concerns,” he discusses how Facebook’s third-quarter earnings have increased, thanks to mobile advertising revenue.  Initially, revenue seemed stagnant, but as technology emerges and improves, people will conform to changes.
Now that Facebook earns a remarkable income on advertising, games, and so much more, who knows where they will go in the future?  Social networking has become the norm of 2012, and I’m sure Facebook will continue to improve the user’s experience.

Confessions of a Reluctant Apple User

Confession:  I use a PC.  When I went off to college in 2004, I took my HP laptop computer with me.  Throughout all of college, my friends had MAC computers and iPods, but I was very resistant to make the change.  Even though my HP laptop was falling apart and overheating after four years and my friends were still happily trucking along with their MAC, I refused to budge.  I felt confused and vulnerable when I took that one college class where we had to use a MAC.  Even though I teach technology to my students, I didn’t get my first iPod until 2012.  Shortly after, I got an iPhone.  After I realized I could hook my iPod to my car stereo and read books on my phone, I was completely hooked.  J Now, I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

As Titlow explained in his article, “Apple’s Slow but Radical Overhaul to Education,” even though Apple is faced with plenty of competition, Apple is still the company that comes out with new and innovative technology.  Apple has revolutionized technology by incorporating iPads and digital textbooks into classrooms.  Even the author of this article admits to feeling skeptical.  I think I was so hesitant to try an Apple product because it was new.  To me, what is new is scary! 

The bottom line is that Apple is always bringing out the big guns to one-up their competition.  Then, the competition will come out with a similar product that usually doesn’t work quite as well.  The Apple products that I have purchased I have been extremely happy with.  For all of you reluctant Apple users, give change a chance.  Once you get past the initial feelings of hesitation and self-doubt, you’ll love it.