EDU 625 Unit 2 Reflection

Key Issues and Concepts

With the ‘invention’ of the internet just 25 years ago, gathering and analyzing content has changed significantly.  Digital literacy and citizenship is being taught more regularly at all levels with the hope that users can decipher which content is valuable, credible and applicable to their needs. Although I think that some of this unit’s tools were more interesting or applicable to my own work, I found several to be less desirable or credible for some of the reasons mentioned below.  The following are considerations when evaluating online content and tools:

  1. Is the information current?  Is there a date on the site as to when it was last updated?
  2. Is there a sound writing style for the site or product?  Is the site design appropriate and acceptable or is it distracting or uninviting?  Are there grammar issues?
  3. Is the site/content ‘pitching’ something or trying to persuade you to make an investment?  Is it just an advertisement?  Is there a cost or is it non-profit?
  4. Does the site or tool use references or citations when necessary or are wild claims made with no support?
  5. Is there any acknowledgement to competitors or the other side of the ‘argument’?
  6. Is your personal information shared?
  7. Is there an author for this content or tool?  Is the information peer-reviewed or is the author accomplished or published?
  8. Is the tool or product from a .gov or .edu site which tends to be more credible?  Or is it from a .org site which tends to be more for-profit and may have an agenda?

Image

 

(Picture taken with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)

Many of these questions can be used to discuss with students or teachers to differentiate between credible content and content that may have other motives. In our technology literacy courses at the middle school, our students are given ample opportunity to learn about and identify content that is both credible and not credible.  The result is a more informed and responsible user that can quickly identify information that helps build their argument or critique someone else’s ideas (P, 2014).  Many of the survey and mind-mapping tools referenced this week are free however more robust versions are offered at a cost to the user.  This does not necessarily imply that the tool or product isn’t credible rather that the organization or individual seeks compensation for profit. 

My Experience in this Unit

As part of my investigation for this unit, I used Google Forms to create a survey for my boy’s tennis team that I coach.  Google Forms is an easy way to collect information and the results are funneled directly into a customizable spreadsheet.  A Google account is free and it offers email, cloud space, a calendar, access to an entire app suite and many other collaborative tools. As with anything new there is a slight learning curve but Google is user-friendly and has many helpful resources to assist any learner.

I attached the survey and results in the discussion board thread to share with my classmates.  I didn’t use any of the mind-mapping tools because the questions from my survey were all open-ended.  However, I did like Instagrok and I would consider using it as a mapping tool for almost anything. 

Image

(Picture taken with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)

Observations and Questions

When gathering data in any organization it’s imperative that the conclusions drawn from the data are reliable and valid.  The data must measure what it’s intended to measure and deliver consistent results over a period of time or multiple tests (Cherry).

Using surveys and mind mapping tools are an excellent way to gather and organize data in a visually engaging way. I will refine my survey for next season and deliver the same way as my players were far more engaged completing this electronically. They also liked being able to see a spreadsheet with everyone’s responses which led to better discussion on how we were going to accomplish our goals.

The only question I see as it pertains to the school district I work in is continuing to find appropriate blocks of time to deliver opportunities to learn new technologies like Google Forms or Survey Monkey.  There are so many tools to choose from as well and there is much needed guidance to direct teachers to find the most appropriate tool to assist them and their students.

Conclusions

This unit has been extremely valuable and applicable to my field as an instructional technology specialist.  Allowing opportunities for investigation and reflection affords the learner the chance to actually ‘figure things out’ and to see how a tool could be used to enhance instruction and improve student learning.  Mind mapping in particular fosters an environment of engagement and allows for visual organization of complex ideas or problems.  Google Forms is also an easy way to collect information quickly and share it with any number of people.  Collecting results couldn’t be simpler as it automatically populates a spreadsheet with the results to analyze.

Resources

Create your own Google Form: https://support.google.com/drive/answer/87809?hl=en

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab: How do you know if a source is credible? https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/02/

Reference

Cherry, K. (n.d.). What is reliability?. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/researchmethods/f/reliabilitydef.htm

P, M. (2014, January 29). How can I tell if a website is credible? Retrieved from https://uknowit.uwgb.edu/page.php?id=30276

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