Google’s new algorithmic search

Recently Google came out with a new searching algorithm. This new algorithm changes what results pop up at the top of the page. This new page layout presented by the algorithm is “top heavy” which means that it effectively punishes the sites with alot of ads on the top of the page, by pushing them down on the results.

What does this mean? Less ads primarily, but I’m not entirely sure that this will effect. our searching capabilities too much. As for helping or hurting students and teachers, I’d wager to say that there is no difference, because we still will find what we are searching for.

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Online Courses, are they effective?

This question does not have a simple yes or no answer. The answer of whether or not an online course will be effective is determined by the individual.

If and only if the student has a strong desire to learn will the online classes even have a chance to be effective.

Also it has to do with the individual teacher and how much information they can relay without face-to-face interaction.

Come to think of it, there is one more way that this arrangement could be successful and that is if the parents take a very active part in the students learning, and take over, much like the student is being homeschooled.

But, for the most people, I feel like online classes won’t work, both student and teacher must be held accountable in order for a successful online course.

Classroom Message Boards

A classroom message board could be an excellent tool for the teacher to assess the class’s knowledge of the subject. While I have never personally been a part of a class that a message board, I can certainly see the benefits of it.

The teacher could pose a question to the class that can cause a class discussion/debate on the board. This would allow each student to see what their peers believe and respond in full response, without being cut off by anyone. This also allows those that may not be willing to speak up in class a chance for their opinions to be heard.

I think the best type of class for this to be used in would be History, because each student could bring perspective and can do extra research to prove a point or to bring up a new one. However, I think math could be the worst for this because it is so matter of fact, if you know the answer you know the answer, there is not much background information out there to improve understanding like there is in History or a Science.

Instant Gratifaction

In my last blog post, I eluded to this a bit, but I need to discuss it a little more. Instant Gratification is  provided by search engines, such as Google, and our ability to use them from our phones. Because of instant gratification as long as we have cell service we can search for the answer to a question and get almost instant answer and a website that verifies the answer.

It is obvious that instant gratification is amazing in day-to-day life, but how does it affect education?

Possibly the biggest benefit for the student when using a search engine, is instantly finding sources for a paper or other project. A process that used to require going to the local library and spending hours pouring over many books to find a good a reliable source, can now be done in minutes.

It can also help students find homework help finding sites such as mathway.com to help with math, and Wikipedia is always a favorite to get quick answers to just about any question.

However, with all of the resources at our fingertips, the question that has to be asked is, are students really remembering things?

If the answer is yes, then there is problem at all and this really and truly is a good thing. But, if the answer is no, something needs to change. The argument could be made that, if I searched and found it so easily, why should I remember it if I can just look it back up just as easily?

There, in my opinion, is the biggest problem of instant gratification, it is too easy.

So, I  guess I have more questions than answers now, because problem, is also the greatest advantage of instant gratification.

Google Glass

Okay, so anyone who has any interest in technology and Google’s enterprises is familiar with Google Glass, which, apparently will allow you to record anything or “Google” anything on the fly and give you everything that you are searching for in a display on the glasses.

These glasses certainly will provide the next level of instant gratification that our cell phones have been bringing us closer to over the past few years. And it will also certainly provide another driving hazard because search results would block the road. But, as a future educator my question is, How will this affect education?

I’ve already mentioned instant gratification, meaning once you ask a question you get an answer, this could be applied to instant research as well as a greater potential for students to find a teacher’s mistake. The students could also record what the teacher says and does for future reference.

However, it could also be the source of infinite distractions of the students and infinite problems for teachers, because of the instant gratification offered by the Google Glass. All a student would need to do is ask it to “Google” anything under the sun, and he/she has it in front of  them.

While this is a great new technology, I feel like the distractions they will cause will be bigger than the positives offered by the Glass. So, I don’t forsee them being allowed in a classroom any time soon.

Project Based Learning vs. Traditional Instruction

This week I have done a good bit of looking into Project Based Learning, particularly on the Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX for short) website. I love the wide variety of stuff that they have on this site and for all of the major subjects.

The question is, is it better than traditional instruction? Since I have never really experienced a class that is strictly project based, I can only answer theoretically, the answer I think, is yes. The next question is: Why?

Surely there are a few different reasons, but the biggest one, in my opinion, is student engagement. Let’s just think for a minute, how engaged were you the last time that you sat in an hour long lecture? Now how engaged were you the last time you worked as a member of a team, trying to put together a project? To me, there is no doubt in my mind that for engagement project based learning is way better. The more engaged the more that is learned, the more learned the better the test scores, The better the test scores the better the retention rates and college acceptance rates. So as a high school teacher, why wouldn’t you want your students engaged?

Another positive, is that it teaches the students valuable work skills, such as collaboration and decisiveness. When working on a project as a team, students must work together to get the common goal of a good grade. In the work-force they must also need to know how to collaborate to make whatever company that they work for better. It can also teach decisiveness, how important is this fact, should it be something that is emphasized, something that is put to the side, or should it even be mentioned at all? That is something else that can help in the student’s future in the workforce.

One more thing that I just thought about that this project based learning helps, public speaking. If you have the student’s present their projects they will intuitively learn how to speak in front of people, especially if you invite guests to the presentations.

Given all of this, I believe that Project Based Learning has a huge potential to help students learn. But, do I believe that traditional instruction (lectures) should be removed all together? No, I don’t. Especially in my subject of math, I feel as though some introductory lecture will be necessary. But only enough to give the student’s the knowledge of how to do what I need them to do, then we can go into a project.

So, I believe that the future of teaching is project based, but lecture cannot be entirely removed (from all subjects at least) because I believe that a well done lecture can help prepare for the project to be done.

ALEX Lessons and Podcasts

The Alabama Learning Exchange or ALEX for short is a great resource for teachers as it has a great myriad of lesson plans, games, and podcasts that can be used in a classroom. Being a future math teacher, I was surprised when I first saw the large amount of material on ALEX that is for each of the Math classes.

This is a great example of a Geometry lesson plan that ALEX has supplied. It is a unit that is based on Geometric Symmetries, specifically reflections. This lesson plan fits in with the Alabama Geometry Standards numbers 3, 4, and 5. So it is a key lesson in the early portion of the Geometry class.

This is an awesome podcast done at Childersburg High School that works with a lot of the same Geometry that the lesson plan does, with the big difference that the podcast shows them putting the lesson into application by way Quilts.

ALEX is a great resource for teachers of all disciplines thanks to the wide variety of lesson plans, games, and podcasts that it contains. I know, I only showed two Geometry lessons, but if you don’t believe me, go check it out for yourself.