Course Reflections

Posted May 11, 2010 by K
Categories: Assignment

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?

This has been an informative semester for me. I took EDTECH 541 and 502 concurrently; they were my first two EDTECH classes, and make up 2/3 of my requirements for an educational technology certificate. Having earned an undergraduate degree in technical communications in 2004, and as a digital nativist in my own time, I had been introduced to many elements of education-related technology already. However, I soon found that there was quite a bit left to discover!

Obviously, the various tools and resources that I experienced this semester are very valuable. While I was aware, obviously, of eBooks and videos (for example), I had never felt the impetus to create them myself. This course pushed me to do so, and showed me how I could do so easily and to good effect in my professional practices.

HOW HAVE I GROWN PROFESSIONALLY? HOW HAVE MY TEACHING PRACTICES/PHILOSOPHY BEEN IMPACTED?

As a result of these classes, I also found myself thinking more deeply about my own teaching philosophy – both as it does, and does not, relate to educational technology. My personal understanding of the educational system at large as well as my own philosophy of education have been deepened and expanded as I completed this course. I have given much more thought to making education relevant to a wide variety of students, using digital tools where appropriate, and to the current trends in school organization and curriculum.

Additionally, I have expanded my repertoire of digital tools, and am looking forward to putting some of them to use next year when I begin teaching a creative writing/online publications class that I proposed and created while taking EDTECH 541.

HOW HAS THEORY GUIDED DEVELOPMENT OF MY PROJECTS?

Hopefully, anything a professional educator creates is based upon good theory and practice. In creating my projects and activities this semester, I leaned upon my understanding of educational theories including Vygotsky and Gardner. I found that the resources available through the ISTE were extremely helpful and interesting, and gave me excellent ground to stand upon while proposing my upcoming course.

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Educational Multimedia Video

Posted March 3, 2010 by K
Categories: Assignment

MovieCamera_clipart This assignment proved much more difficult than I’d anticipated! The biggest challenge, as it turns out, is that none of our household computers were really up to the task of running video editing software.

The final product is not what I originally envisioned, but in the end I decided to take what I had accomplished and run with it. I had intended to add an introduction clip and a few voiceovers, but the file was getting prohibitively large and I already knew that I couldn’t make the deadline. (And this one wasn’t procrastination – I”ve been wrestling with this thing since Saturday!) File compression robbed the video of some of its video quality, especially on the text “slides,” but the content wasn’t affected.

Anyway, I can’t embed this video file into my blog, but I can provide you a link to BENEFITS OF MULTIMEDIA: A student perspective. Enjoy!

UPDATE: I’ve uploaded my video to TeacherTube. I’m attempting to embed it here; if it doesn’t show up, you can click straight through and check it out. I apparently made an error and cut my video with 3.5 minutes of nothingness at the end; there shouldn’t be anything after the reference list, so don’t sit around waiting for a zombie monkey to jump out at you or anything.

Spreadsheets and Databases in the Classroom

Posted February 22, 2010 by K
Categories: Assignment

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computers displaying dataWhat is a Spreadsheet?

Computerized spreadsheets are the digital descendent of paper spreadsheets. They consist of rows and columns wherein a user records and compares data (Rogers, 2010, para. 1). While they are traditionally used for numerical data, spreadsheets can also be used to store and sort text information. The most common computerized spreadsheet program today is Microsoft Excel; another popular program is Lotus 123 (para. 5). Google Docs has a free online spreadsheet program that is gaining in popularity.

In the classroom, spreadsheets can be used to collect, sort, compare, and calculate data. They can also be used to generate charts, tables, and graphs (Steffen, 2006). A relative advantage of using spreadsheets in the classroom is that they provide students with a visual, manipulate-able way to read and share information, improving calculations, and increasing organization.

What is a Database?

A database is similar to a spreadsheet, in that it organizes information in tabular form. However, it is designed to maintain large amounts of information organized into records. Each record corresponds to an item for which information was gathered and inputted into the database (Chapple, 2010, para. 2). For example, a business might keep a database of all its vendors and customers, with contact information, billing information, etc. The most common database software is probably Microsoft Access. Mac users may be more familiar with Appleworks.

In the classroom, databases can be used to keep track of students or projects. They can be used with tech-savvy students (or any students, if the database is set up beforehand) to compile customized sets of information. A relative advantage of using databases in the classroom is that they allow users to organize and manipulate large amounts of information. Students work at higher cognitive levels to compare and contrast data, rank importance,

How Do Spreadsheets and Databases Differ?

A database is, to use a popular expression, like a spreadsheet on steroids. Databases permit users to do complex actions, like retrieving records based on a certain set of criteria, updating multiple records, or cross-referencing records (Chapple, 2010, para. 4).

References

Chapple, M. (2010). What is a database? Retrieved from http://databases.about.com/od/specificproducts/a/whatisadatabase.htm.

Rogers, C. (8 February 2010). What is a spreadsheet? Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-spreadsheet.htm.

Steffen, P. (2006). Integrating spreadsheets in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.amphi.com/~psteffen/excel.html.

TeAch-nology (2007). Using computer databases in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.teach-nology.com/Articles/databases/.

Instructional Software in the Language Arts Classroom: Relative Advantages

Posted February 16, 2010 by K
Categories: Assignment

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The use of instructional software in the classroom can enrich the material and supplement instruction.

Tutorials, educational games, simulations, databases, applications, and drill/practice programs are available for practically any subject area. Some subjects naturally lend themselves to certain types of software; there are, for example, many more games available for social studies classrooms than for language arts, and math teachers can choose from multitudinous drill programs.

In the language arts classroom, applications and tutorials are the most common useful software offerings. There are a variety of programs available to help students strengthen their skills in language arts – various drill/practice programs that build grammar and vocabulary knowledge, for example. For the purpose of this post, I would like to move past these programs and focus on applications that take student writing outside of the five-paragraph essay and into the expanding “real world.”

Most schools make Microsoft Office programs available to their language arts students, but there are many other applications that can be used to good effect – particularly now that online publication and “new literacy” is becoming an important skill in the secondary English classroom. The frosting on that particular cupcake is that bringing Web 2.0 applications and software into the classroom increases motivation and engagement, hence improving performance.

I have witnessed the powerful, positive effects that the introduction of blogging can have on a classroom. Using a teacher-controllable platform like Edublogs, students have control over their own little piece of the Internet. They go from being a voiceless teenager to a published author with the click of a button. What’s more, their writing is no longer incubated in a vacuum solely for the benefit of their teacher; other students, and even readers outside the school, read and interact with their work. Blogging gives equal class-discussion standing to the shyest and quietest students. It has measureable effects on fluency, creativity, and peer responsiveness – and underlying all this is the enormous benefits it can have on students’ confidence in their own writing.

If you are interested in bringing blogs into your classroom, I recommend starting with free Edublog accounts. If it seems to be right for you, write that grant and get funding for an Edublogs Campus subscription, which will allow you greater control and connectedness at your school.  Although I have not used them myself, there are other school-centered blogging platforms such as ClassPress and 21Classes that might be a better fit for your needs. You can also use a regular blogging platform, such as WordPress or Blogger, although they offer less options for monitoring and teacher control. Another option that I have used with fairly good results, although it did end up being much more work than I’d anticipated, is to build a blog platform through a customizable social network like Ning.

For more information, check out these resources by Glencoe, Tech&Learning, PBS Teachers, the Western Australia Department of Education, and TeachersFirst.

Software Budget Proposal

Posted February 16, 2010 by K
Categories: Assignment

TroggleOne of our assignments was to create a proposal for educational software that would be purchased with a $10,000 (maximum) grant. My software budget proposal, which I wrote with my regular English classes and my proposed Creative Writing/Online Publications class in mind, comes out to $9999.18.  It includes three applications (for web design, podcasting, and blogging), one database, three drill/practice programs, one game (three cheers for Word Munchers!), and one tutorial.

What Principles Should Guide Tech Integration?

Posted February 9, 2010 by K
Categories: Assignment

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As with any new tool or resource, integration and implementation should be done judiciously and with a full understanding of the rationale behind it. As pointed out in Deubel’s article, these tools “should not be implemented just for the sake of adopting technology” (2010). Otherwise, schools run the risk of chasing trends fruitlessly, becoming reactionary and chaotic collections of gadgets and doo-hickeys instead of dynamic learning environments.

There are three essential principles that should guide technological integration in the classroom: content, added value, and assessment (Dexter, 2002). This parallels the relative advantage charts, where content –> problem, added value –> relative advantage, and assessment –> expected outcome.

Content: What Are You Trying to Teach?

Teachers should consider what their learning outcomes are – true in any situation, but particularly important when considering the integration of instructional technology. Associated with this is understanding what cognitive skills are being exercised in an activity. Different technologies will be helpful – and, of course, unhelpful – depending upon whether students are practicing recall, analysis, or creation. As Sara Dexter points out, “When learning outcomes drive the selection of technology in a classroom, the educational technology will be a better fit for teaching and learning, supporting the achievement of the designated outcomes” (2002).

Added Value: What Will Technology Bring to the Classroom?

The next principle involves determining what result the technology will have in the classroom – what the relative advantage of integrating said technology would be. A convenient reference for this is Andrew Church’s Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, which shows how different technologies might be utilized in order to exercise different skill sets (2008).

Deubel’s article lists several key questions to be answered before integrating new technology. If the teacher can answer yes to at least one of the questions, then the technology may be helpful to students. These key questions explore whether the technology would assess prior knowledge, enhance organization of information, promote active engagement, provide feedback, acquire monitoring/evaluating skills, and adjust to student differences (2010).

Within this principle lies the critical point in the integration of educational technology. There are many exciting digital toys available to us, and more are created every day. The savvy educational technologist must carefully filter which of these gadgets will and will not bring any added value to the classroom. It’s bursting with potential and features, but will Google Wave actually benefit the average history class (O’Donnell, 2009)? As cool as it may look, does the English classroom really need a combination taser/MP3 player (Newman, 2009). Wait – don’t answer that…

Assessment: Will Technology Help Assess Student Learning?

Assessment is one of the fundamental elements of instruction (Danielson, 2007). A professional educator is constantly assessing student ability, knowledge, and learning – all a part of what one of my favorite professors called “knowing your students”. Another part of assessment is that a well-constructed activity will provide assessments directly to the students, allowing them to see how they are progressing.

Two of Deubel’s key questions ask whether a new technology will “provide the instructor with relevant information about students’ knowledge and skill level” and “provide frequent, timely, and constructive feedback” (2010). The critical issue, then, is whether a particular tool or resource will help teachers with effective assessment, and/or whether it will provide students with the tools for self-assessment.

References

Churches, A. (2008). Bloom’s Taxonomy blooms digitally. Tech&Learning. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/article/8670

Danielson, C. (2007). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Deubel, P. (2010). Technology integration: Essential questions. Retrieved February 6, 2010, from Computing Technology for Math Excellence Web site:  http://www.ct4me.net/technology_integr.htm

Dexter, S. (2002). eTIPS-Educational technology integration and implementation principles. In P. Rodgers (Ed.), Designing instruction for technology-enhanced learning (pp.56-70). New York: Idea Group Publishing.

Newman, J. (2009). 10 totally ridiculous combo gadgets. PC World, November 27, 2009. Retrieved from http://www.pcworld.com/article/183001/10_totally_ridiculous_combo_gadgets.html

O’Donnell, E. (2009). Google Wave and schools. Teaching matters: Innovating for student success. Retrieved from http://www.teachingmatters.org/blog/google-wave-and-schools

What is Technological Literacy?

Posted February 8, 2010 by K
Categories: Assignment

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The definition of literacy has changed as new tools have entered the educational environment. According to the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory and the Metiri Group, contemporary literacy includes “scientific literacy, economic literacy, technological literacy, visual literacy, information literacy, multicultural literacy, and global awareness” in addition to the more traditional reading/writing literacy (Deubel, 2010). This technological literacy, also called digital literacy, refers to a person’s ability to find and assimilate information online, to successfully accomplish tasks using digital tools, including the creation of new digital documents, and to make judgements about the content found online (Jones-Kavalier & Flannigan, 2006).

It is no longer sufficient to teach our students how to decode information they find in a book or how to write a paper using pen/paper or a word processor. Students need to learn how to research and communicate using existing and as-of-yet unimagined digital technology, which means that they need to learn more than “how to use this application” – they need to learn how to learn new applications. A low-tech correlation is the student of music; a piano teacher strives to teach her students how to play piano, not just a given set of songs. A well-trained pianist can teach himself to play any song within his range of ability, and a well-trained 21st-century student can teach herself to use any digital tool or resource.

Technological literacy builds upon the commonly-accepted cognitive hierarchy of Bloom’s Taxonomy, as adapted for the digital age by Andrew Churches. As we see in the diagram below, technological literacy concepts are present at all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – from bookmarking and searching, to linking, tagging, blogging, podcasting, and even computer programming (2008).

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy Map, created by Andrew Churches in 2008

Ultimately, in order for our students to be technologically literate, we must go beyond putting them in front of computers. Our students need to learn to create and collaborate online, to be critical and thoughtful researchers and problem-solvers, and to be good “netizens” who exercise courtesy, judgment, and safety in their online activities (ISTE, 2007).

References

Churches, A. (2008). [Diagram illustrating activities and objectives within Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy]. Bloom’s digital taxonomy map. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/article/8670

Deubel, P. (2010). Technology integration: Essential questions. Retrieved February 6, 2010, from Computing Technology for Math Excellence Web site:  http://www.ct4me.net/technology_integr.htm

International Society for Technology in Education (2007). The ISTE national educational technology standards (NETS-S) and performance indicators for students. Retrieved February 6, 2010, from http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForStudents/2007Standards/NETS_for_Students_2007_Standards.pdf

Jones-Kavalier, B.R. and Flannigan, S.L. (2006). Connecting the digital dots: Literacy of the 21st century. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 2, 2006, pp. 8-10. Retrieved February 8, 2010, from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0621.pdf