Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The rest of the day Tuesday

The first session was Ranting and Raving to Applauding and Praising: Chronicles of a Technophobe (Rice, Johnson, Ezell, Johnson and Houston) that talked about transitioning from traditional instruction to online instruction. It was good to hear that many of the things that we are doing at the U of A when we are working with our people are the same things that others are doing and also finding success with. Things such as ensuring that there is an understanding as to how communication will be carried out, clear language in all documentation and support were all identified. They also found that personal contact is also important, either by voice or face to face. The rest of my sessions all had some element of gender to them. Something I wasn’t really thinking about at the start of the day. I went to a session on laptops (Effects of Laptop Computers on Elementary Student Achievement and Attitude, Jace Hargis). Politicians need numbers that they can point to. So that they can judge “effectiveness” by some dollar measure – looking back at that keynote… this is certainly one of those things that makes us angry. But what found interesting in the session is that they found that laptops helped young boys get hooked on school (grade 1) and older girls (grade 4/5) stay interested in math, science and technology. This got me thinking – is the magic here the prolonged exposure for girls and early exposure for boys (I think so). After that session, I was in Global Citizenship: An unintended consequence of information literacy instruction for graduate teacher education students (Jade Winn) and she found that among other things, females tended to be higher scoring when it came to social justice scores in terms of global citizenship. This got me thinking about why, and then in the session, collaboration was made mention of. That twigged in a previous hallway conversation about how girls tend to take to collaborative tools and fly with them (after all, txting was supposedly started in Japan by teenage girls with their dads’ old pagers). After this session I was talking to someone from Germany who also has done some stuff with Lego and found that there is a very marked difference between boys and girls in how they work with Lego. This got me thinking about two things. The first is that we should take a look at how gender plays out in terms on our robotics course and how we will never really get around gender issues and how that at best we can understand the differences and ensure that there are ways to eliminate barriers where they need not exist. The second session that I was at after that (Gender, Ethnicity and Socio Economic Status: Are All High School Students Receiving the Same Training in Computer Technology? Elsa-Sofia Morote) summarized another interesting idea that played into what I had been thinking, that confidence is something that needs to be addressed. Males and females are different in the way the report their confidence and how their actual knowledge is reflected. It seems that girls are under confident and perform better than they expect and guys are often the other way around. I’ve seen this myself, so it was just another piece of the puzzle of the day. The last session of the day before the digital storytelling workshop was “A Pilot Study Promoting Technological Opportunity, Interest and Access for Adolescent Girls Using Video Game Design Software” (Jennifer Vermillion) that asked questions about how biological sex may modify one’s actions subliminally (Sadker study). Vermillion went on to talk about how there seems to be a culture of disinterest among girls toward technology based careers. She found that interest peaks at about grade 4/5 (right when math, science and technology scores are falling according to the other session) and is bottomed out by grade 8. She also found that girls at this age are likely however to use technology for collaboration and when they see some measure of “real world” relevance to what they are doing (according to my friend who teaches Jr. High, it’s the girls with the cell phones in schools). She also found that girls are less likely to take risks with technology and blame themselves for inadequacy. So it seemed that all the morning sessions knit together in an interesting way. But with all the attention on the girls, I do have one request for any who are reading. Please don’t forget about the boys. Technorati Tags: ,