Educ 5413 Su06:
Teaching with Technology

Helen Mongan-Rallis

Course Pages

UMD Links

Key Resources

Critical Reflection Blog & Online Discussion Assignment

Purposes of this assignment

  1. To engage in critical reflection about teaching with technology issues throughout our course (and beyond, although that's not part of the assignment!)
  2. To develop skills in the creation and use of a blog and online discussion forums.

Setting up your blog

  1. Create a personal blog using the free online blogging tool at or one of your own choosing (e.g., edublog or the U of MN blog). The WebQuest on blogs on our first day of class guides you in the development of a blog and in the overall process of setting this up. If you already have a blog, I encourage you to experiment using a different blogging tool other that the one(s) with which you are familiar.
  2. Email the URL of your blog to Helen at (be sure to include your name in the body of your email, as well as your blog URL).

Topics for your blog & online WebX discussions

Some required topics for your blog & online discussions will be assigned at intervals through the course, but please don't feel limited to reflecting just on what has been assigned. You are strongly encouraged to be creative in your use of your blog and to use it as a springboard for reflecting on any aspect of what you are learning in our class. Assigned topics will be posted here with reference to them in our course schedule. So keep tuned to this page!

Guidelines for length & quality

  • Daily blog should typically be long enough for you to explore the topic(s) in depth, so this typically should be at least a page in length (it's a good idea to write your reflections in a word processed document first, being sure to save it, and then paste this into your blog when you are done -- as you may lose your creative thought is you compose online and the server goes down!). Online discussion posts are typically shorter than blog posts, but for each discussion you will contribute several posts as you engage with others in discussing assigned topics.
  • Blogs and online discussions are a creative, reflective exercises in which you share your perspectives. There is no need to describe or summarize what you've read. Instead share your thoughts on the readings, comparing your views with those of the authors in assigned readings, in readings of your own choosing, and also with contributions of others in face-to-face and online discussions.

Link to rubric to guide you in assessing the quality of your entries and quality of the responses you make in commenting on your blog group members' blogs.

Day 1 blog topic (to be posted on your blog by 8:00 a.m. Tuesday June 20th):

In class we explored issues related to generational differences in the use of technology and what educators will need to be doing to meet the needs of students in this 21st century. Read the following articles:

Also do some googling to find other resources of interest to you on this topic (and skim the resources I have listed on our resources page on Teaching in 21st Century and digital age students -- you don't have to read all of these, but you may find these of interest).

Questions: In your newly created blog, reflect on how you might classify yourself (digital immigrant/native). To what extent are you like a digital native? An immigrant? How does this influence the ways in which you think about working with students who are digital natives? What changes do you think you'll need to make in your work with younger students so you can better meet their needs? Or do disagree with these and other researchers (like Diana Oblinger, who also writes on net generation issues), taking a more traditional stand that students today should be learning using more traditional methods? In responding to these questions, make reference to the assigned articles, to other readings, your experiences with technology prior to this class, and your thoughts about your technological literacy as you begin taking this class.

Day 2 & 3 Blog: (due Thurs June 22)

  1. You are off and running with your blog and your wiki now! Having tried these for yourself, seen examples of others's , and done some reading about blogging & wikis, what are your thoughts and reactions the whole concept of blogging and wikis in general and to its educational use in particular? In your response, refer to examples and also to reading you have done about blogging and wikis. (See the rubric for assessing your blog)

Reflection # 3: WebX discussion on balancing the oppressive and liberating aspects of technology

Note: this reflection should be in our 5413 WebX folder. Click on the folder "Discussion to replace Blog entry 3"" and then within this, join the discussion for your group.

Background to this discussion: Your first 2 reflections about your learning in this class were in your blogs. You also posted comments on the blogs of your peers, thus engaging in a form of online discussion, albeit fairly limited because of blogs were not really designed for communication among users, but rather for one way comments to be shared with the blog host about their post. So now I am asking you to take your reflection to the next level, using WebX so that your reflections are in the forms of interactive discussions among your group. I have divided the class into two groups (as 9 is too many to have in one discussion).

  1. Post your initial response to the questions I ask (by Monday morning, 8:00 a.m.).
  2. On Monday evening, read what others have said in their posts, and respond to them (similar to posting a comment on their blog) by Tuesday morning 8:00a.m. I encourage you to let the online conversation flow freely and naturally amongst your group, as if you were in a room talking about this topic. Let my initial question guide you, but not limit you -- so certainly expand the discussion and let it take off in directions that expand from the initial question.

Still use the same rubric that you used for your blogs as a guide for how to push yourself to engage in deeper reflection both in your initial post and in your responses to your peers.

A cautionary tip: I encourage you to make a copy of your posts and responses before you click the submit button in case your post gets lost in cyberspace. It is so frustrating to our your heart and soul (and mind!) into a post, only to find it is lost. So: go ahead and type in the little message box --> then highlight everything that you have written --> choose "Edit --> copy" and paste it into a Word document. Then click on "post message." If your message doesn't show up as being posted, you have it backed up on your Word document, and you can just reinsert it.

Discussion question: In a blog entry, "It's in the news!" Monica describes a dateline episode that she watched on sexual predators, and then an interview with a spokesperson from MySpace. Others of you have also touched on this issue of cyberbullies and cyberpredators in your blogs and in class. In our class you have explored some online social networks, photo sharing software, blogs, wikis, and how started learning about threaded discussions, online chat, voice and video over IP (aka VOIP). All of these can be used as powerful tools, but there is also the scary side of how these can be abused or can be used to lure users into areas that were not intended by the person using the tools (e.g. Ringo invites you to learn about "hotties"!). In sharing my overview of the tools in class (you can download a pdf of the the "So Many Tools" slides) I noted what Stephen Brookfield says about the importance of having a balanced perspective on both the oppressive and liberating aspects of technology.

Keeping all this in mind, and drawing on what you have learned from hands on experience, discussions, and readings in & outside of this this class, respond to these questions:

  • As you reflect on all of the tools you have learned about, what do you see as the liberating and the oppressive aspects of them?
  • What are your thoughts on how we, and educators (and for some, as parents) should be responding to cyberbullying?


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.