Monthly Archives: July, 2013

EDTECH541 – Final Reflections and Self-Evaluation

Part 1: EDTECH 541 Final Reflection

Although this is only my second semester in the EDTECH program, this has probably been my favorite class so far.  It has given me the opportunity to explore and learn about the vast number of resources available to educators.  I’ve read and heard about many of the resources but have not taken the time to delve into many of them.  This course finally forced me to try things like creating a wiki, social bookmarking, screencasting, collaboration, and multimedia presentations and applying them to classroom curriculum.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have learned about using Web 2.0 tools to promote 21st century learning skills.  I’m beginning to truly grasp their importance and most of all the importance of sharing this concept with my colleagues, most of whom, like myself, have not understood the role technology must take in education. 

Initially, I came at this course as a Computer/Technology teacher, attempting to integrate classroom curriculum into my technology lessons, the opposite of what was being asked of me.  Through practice and discussion with Dr. Gerstein I have now come to the understanding of what it means to integrate technology into the classroom.  Going into the new school year I will work at finding ways to integrate technology into the classroom curriculum and will strive to work with classroom teachers to share my newly formed knowledge in how to effectively integrate technology into their teaching.

As I look back through the course and reflect on the AECT Standards, I realize how much this course has impacted my ambition of mastering many of the AECT Standards.  The following standards have been met through the EDTECH541 coursework.

Standard 1 Design:

Each of the projects this semester involved an aspect of design.  In order to maintain maximum effectiveness and efficiency of technology integration I had to consider the characteristics of my learners along with the objectives of the instruction.  This information was then used to plan activities that engaged and motivated learners.

Each of the projects this semester involved an aspect of design.  In order to maintain maximum effectiveness and efficiency of technology integration I had to consider the characteristics of my learners along with the objectives of the instruction.  This information was then used to plan activities that engaged and motivated learners.

Standard 2 Development:

The nature of this course required the development of materials using each of the technologies in standard 2.  From the creation of worksheets and how to guides, to the use of Web 2.0 tools to create screencasts, podcasts, and interactive presentations, each of the 4 areas of development were achieved.

Standard 3 Utilization:

With so many resources available and new ones coming available every day, it was vital that I evaluated material before using it in instruction.  Throughout the course I have made decisions about which tools and forms of technology best fit the learning situation.  I have compiled a list of useful resources I have found over the duration of the course and plan to use them with students and share them with colleagues.

AECT Standards

Standard 1: DESIGN

Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to design conditions for learning by applying principles of instructional systems design, message design, instructional strategies, and learner characteristics.

1.1 Instructional Systems Design (ISD)

Within the application of this definition, ‘design’ is interpreted at both a macro- and micro-level in that it describes the systems approach and is a step within the systems approach. The importance of process, as opposed to product, is emphasized in ISD.

1.1.1 Analyzing: process of defining what is to be learned and the context in which it is to be learned.

1.1.2 Designing: process of specifying how it is to be learned.

1.1.3 Developing: process of authoring and producing the instructional materials.

1.1.4 Implementing: actually using the materials and strategies in context.

1.2 Message Design

Message design is embedded within learning theories (cognitive, psychomotor, behavioral, perceptual, affective, constructivist) in the application of known principles of attention, perception, and retention which are intended to communicate with the learner. This sub-domain is specific to both the medium selected and the learning task.

1.3 Instructional Strategies

In practice, instructional strategies interact with learning situations. The results of these interactions are often described by instructional models. The appropriate selection of instructional strategies and instructional models depends upon the learning situation (including learner characteristics), the nature of the content, and the type of learner objective.

1.4 Learner Characteristics

Learner characteristics impact specific components of instruction during the selection and implementation of instructional strategies. For example, motivation research influences the selection and implementation of instructional strategies based upon identified learner characteristics. Learner characteristics interact with instructional strategies, the learning situation, and the nature of the content.

Standard 2: DEVELOPMENT

Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to develop instructional materials and experiences using print, audiovisual, computer-based, and integrated technologies.

2.1 Print Technologies

Print technologies include verbal text materials and visual materials; namely, text, graphic and photographic representation and reproduction. Print and visual materials provide a foundation for the development and utilization of the majority of other instructional materials.

2.2 Audiovisual Technologies

Audiovisual technologies are generally linear in nature, represent real and abstract ideas, and allow for learner interactivity dependent on teacher application.

2.3 Computer-Based Technologies

Computer-based technologies represent electronically stored information in the form of digital data. Examples include computer-based instruction (CBI), computer-assisted instruction (CAI), computer-managed instruction (CMI), telecommunications, electronic communications, and global resource/reference access.

2.4 Integrated Technologies

Integrated technologies are typically hypermedia environments which allow for: (a) various levels of learner control, (b) high levels of interactivity, and (c) the creation of integrated audio, video, and graphic environments. Examples include hypermedia authoring and telecommunications tools such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web.

Standard 3: UTILIZATION

Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to use processes and resources for learning by applying principles and theories of media utilization, diffusion, implementation, and policy-making.

3.1 Media Utilization

Utilization is the decision-making process of implementation based on instructional design specifications.

3.2 Diffusion of Innovations

With an ultimate goal of bringing about change, the process includes stages such as awareness, interest, trial, and adoption.

This course coincides with Boise States Department of Educational Technology mission and the College of Education’s conceptual framework.

 

Part 2: Assess Performance

Content

Proficient: 85 points

I feel my responses were thoughtful with connections to my thoughts and experiences.  I do not consider myself good at elaboration, interpretation and analysis so some of my comments may be considered somewhat brief and superficial.

Readings and Resources

Proficient-Basic: 25 points

This is probably the area I struggled with most.  I feel like I used knowledge and information from the course readings to form a basis for my comments and I referred to this indirectly but very seldom recall quoting and citing texts directly within my responses.

Timeliness

Outstanding: 25 points

My responses were made in as timely a manner as possible.  I tried to respond early to my classmates and attempted to select those with few previous comments.  This was not always possible as one had to wait for initial postings.

Response to Other Students

Proficient: 25 points

I believe that I made the required postings for all the assignments with the exception of one.  I was out of town for a week and looked over the requirement and failed to make comments. The responses I did make were of sufficient detail to address and respond to the post.

 Total: 160 points

Language Arts in the Digital Age

Arguably, or perhaps not, English and Language Arts instruction is the most vital area of instruction for students.  After all, if students cannot read or write, they are not likely to succeed in other content areas.  That being said, a lot rests on the shoulders of English and Language Arts instructors, especially with the changes brought about in the information age, such as portable and handheld devices and the internet.  These new devices and changes in the way people communicate have posed new challenges to teachers in the form of “new literacies.”

As stated by Roblyer and Doering (2013, pg. 268), the primary responsibility of English and Language arts teachers is teaching students to make meaning of text.  This means as the literacies change, instruction must change to ensure the success of students.  A hornbook, an innovative and useful piece of technology in the 1600’s has little use in education today besides that of an historical artifact.  It will not help students of the 21st century learn to navigate digital text.  Is the same true of print textbooks?  The technologies have changed and so must the instruction if we are to prepare the students.

One of the obstacles to this change could be a generation of teachers unfamiliar with the new technologies and some of whom possess an unwillingness to learn.  I’ve often heard the grumbles, “Why do I need this.”  “I don’t care about that, I’m retiring in a couple years.”  I would argue that most of these teachers still have a passion for teaching and seeing their students succeed but because of the approach with the new technology, often times throwing new gadgets and devices into classrooms and saying “if you use this you will be better teacher and it will raise test scores,” teachers are resistant and cannot see the benefit of changing something that already works for them, especially when they are not shown how it can be used to aid their instruction.  The technology is also new to many teachers.  Even in my pursuit of a degree in early childhood education in 2004-2008, I do not recall learning about using social networking in the classroom, ebooks, iPads, even interactive whiteboards were just making their way into the program.  I did however grow up with video games and computers making the transition to new forms of technology somewhat easier.  To overcome this obstacle districts must to a better job in providing professional development for teachers in the areas of instructional technology.  Rather than just placing the technology in the classroom and telling teachers to use it. They must train teachers by showing them how the technology is helpful and relevant.  A language arts teacher would be much more likely to use their Smartboard if they knew the benefits of going through the editing and revising process with the technology.  They need to see the new and beneficial uses

Another way to overcome the obstacles of integrating technology in the Language Arts is for teachers to make use of personal learning networks, PLN’s.  Educators have always worked together to help one another with ideas and strategies on what works in their classrooms, but this often only existed within a school building or a small group of educator friends, or perhaps at a large conference.  The existence of social networking connects teachers all over the world.  If you have a question about how to integrate blogs into your writing lessons, simply post the question on a forum and get responses from teachers who already use them effectively in their classroom.  PLN’s give you access to creative, innovative educators all around the world, who post their ideas and strategies to their personal blogs giving you strategies and ideas that have already been tested by other educators.  No longer are educators limited to a small circle of fellow educators, but ideas can be exchanged across the world instantly.

Finally, one of the biggest hindrances to integrating technology into the language arts curriculum is the availability of the technology itself.  Many classrooms only have one or two computers creating a planning nightmare to get students on the computer to read and write.  Schools also have limited lab space available.  I suspect that with the advent of online standardized testing effective in the 2014-2015 school year in the state of Ohio, there will be more lab space or mobile labs available for classroom use.  Low cost alternatives to desktop models such as Google Chromebooks, will allow schools to increase their computing power while eliminating the need for more lab space.  This issue of teacher training still exists however.  Even when the technology is available teachers must be trained in how to integrate it into their curriculum.

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers.

Breaking Down the Walls: Social Media and the Classroom

In this VoiceThread I describe my rational for breaking down the walls that block access to so many great resources in many educational institutions.  There is a transcript of the text below.

(It seems that you cannot embed VoiceThread content into WordPress.  I attempted to find some workarounds, but was not successful with these either.  So… here is the link to my VoiceThread.)

When thinking of a walled garden I think back to the Disney movie Aladdin. Princess Jasmine has been stuck in the palace walls all of her life and wants out.  She wants to do something on her own.  She wants to experience life outside the walls.  What happens though when she sneaks out?

She almost loses her hand for taking an apple, which she assumed was OK to do.  The people outside the palace were much different than what she was used to.  It was a different culture.  Jasmine was not prepared to communicate with them and she didn’t know how to properly interact with the people outside the palace walls.

Isn’t this what we are doing to our children or students? By avoiding the topic and blocking the sites we make them more vulnerable.  Yes, we must protect them but as I mentioned in my post Internet Safety, the best way to protect them is to educate them so they can make responsible decisions when they are on their own.

By keeping them within the walls, are we really preparing them for what they will face?

Are we truly doing what is best for the child?

My answer to that would be no.  And there are two reasons I have come to the conclusion that the walled gardens should be opened up to students: Safety and Learning

Safety

You may be wondering how opening up the walls makes things safer.  Well rather than letting kids sneak over the wall and encounter new situations on their own, I propose we teach them how to use the media.  I will continue with the Princess Jasmine analogy.

  1. Boost them up – give them a peak over the wall, demonstrate what is out there, point out the dangerous places
  2. Take their hand – lead them outside the walls, don’t go far at first, guide them through, practice together, show them what to do in a bad situation, keep practicing and venturing further
  3. Loosen the grip – you’ve given them the tools and knowledge, now they need to experiment, they will still help and guidance so stay within sight, talk about their experience
  4. Let go – it’s a big world out there, but at least you can say you’ve done what you can to equip them, they are still bound to make mistakes, but they will learn.  They weren’t going to stay in the garden forever.

Beth Holland in her article Teaching Toddlers to Tweet? Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students recalls how as elementary students we were all taught the “social media” of our time.  We learned to write letters, answer a telephone, or maybe send a thank you note.  Shouldn’t we be teaching today’s students how to use the social media of their time and how to use it safely?

Learning

OK, I can’t resist, sappy love song aside, Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” describes the “dazzling place”, the “thousand things to see”, “new horizons to pursue” and much more.  The internet is the same way.  Outside of the walled garden exists a fantastic world of learning and education.  Do we really want to limit what students can learn?  Is it appropriate that we are not teaching them how to succeed by collaborating and interacting with others around the world?  Isn’t our job to put them on the magic carpet and show them the world?

If we are to teach students how to use the Internet for what it is, a vast information network and collaboration platform, what good are we doing them by keeping them within the walls?

I grew up in a district with very little ethnic diversity and teach in a district with even less diversity among the student population.  I see great potential in programs like K-2 Building Bridges to Tomorrow and A Week in the Life… from Flat Classroom or ePals, to connect and educate our students about the world outside our small community.

Holland, B. (2013, June 18). Teaching toddlers to tweet? Introducing social media to elementary students.  Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/introducing-social-media-lower-elementary-beth-holland

Reflection:

This article fits under AECT Standard 3 Utilization because it involves decision making regarding opening up web access to use social media.  Ultimately it would lead to implementing new policies for staff and student access.

Internet Safety

Internet safety is perhaps one of the largest concerns on the minds of parents and educators, and if it is not, perhaps it should be.  The news often contains stories of young students committing suicide because of their feelings of despair after being cyber-bullied.  Stories of sexual predators being caught after attempting to set up a meeting with who they thought was a young girl or boy.  And stories of child pornographers being arrested.  This does not include the cases where incidents occur and perpetrators are not caught.  Now try to shelter a child from the internet.  It is nearly impossible.  Students can connect from their cellphone, laptop, iPad, Nintendo DS, Xbox, televisions, even their mp3 player.  You don’t have internet at your house you say?  Well what about the library, school, coffee shops, Starbucks, McDonald’s, a friend’s house.  It seems as though everything has connectivity, and with the exception of those in rural areas, you can connect from anywhere.   

Don’t go lock your child in their room, because, well that’s illegal, and they would probably find some way to stay connected anyway.  Now, I don’t say this to scare you away from the internet, but to raise awareness that it can be a dangerous place if children are not educated and prepared to use it.  I think the best way to tackle the issue is to follow the advice from Jacqui Murray in her post “How to Instill Digital Citizenship in Students.”  In this post Jacqui suggests we teach children to treat internet safety like neighborhood safety.  I will use this premise to create a guide to talk to your children about internet safety.

Most of you did not let your toddler freely roam the neighborhood.  You kept them close and as they learned not to play in the road, not to talk to strangers, or to stay within a certain area they earned more privileges.  With those privileges also came more responsibilities. 

“You can do to the neighbors, but stay away from Mr. Smith’s across the street.”

“You can go to your friends, but first I want to meet them and I want to know where you are going.”

“If something happens and you want to leave, please call me.”

So, what are the rules?

  1. When at home, ask permission.  – This sets up a standard that you care about the child and want to know what they are doing.
  2. “Look both ways before crossing the (virtual) street” (Murray, 2013) – Be careful about going to new websites.  If it seems unsafe or makes you feel uncomfortable back up by pressing the back button.
  3. “Don’t go places you don’t know” (Murray, 2013) – Don’t go to sites or click on links you aren’t sure about.  These can contain software that may harm your computer.
  4. “Don’t talk to Strangers” – Unlike walking on the street, it is very difficult to tell who may be trying to talk to you on the internet, even if it is a name you know.  It is best not to talk to strangers and tell an adult if someone is trying to talk to you on the internet.
  5. Think before you act – It’s great to think you may have won a computer or a maybe even money, but these are advertisements.  Just like that delicious ice cream cone on the television that makes you want to go buy one, advertisers on the internet do what they can to make you click their advertisement and go to their site.
  6. “Play [nice]” – It’s always important to treat your friends with kindness and respect.  The same is true on the internet.  Never bully!  And help one another out.

It is vital that we teach students how to use the web.  Ignoring the issue and attempting to keep them from it, will only exacerbate the issue.  Begin teaching these skills early and talk about them often with your students and children.

Here are some more resources to educate yourself and your students.

NetSmartz – Netsmartz has numerous resources for students, parents, and educators.  This is the best resource I have come across related to computer and internet safety.

Webonauts – This is a role playing type game from PBS Kids.  The students will get to create a character and encounter different situations where they must make the appropriate decisions related to web safety.

Internet Safety for Kids and Parents– Kidshealth.org provides resources to many informative articles.  The articles can be read or students can listen to them as they are read aloud.  I have found that this motivates them to read more articles. 

BrainPop Jr. Internet Safety – This is a video for students (probably younger students K-3), but follows the same ideas as those from Jacqui Murray.

Murray, J. (2013, July 2). How to instill digital citizenship in students. Ask a tech teacher. Retrieved from http://askatechteacher.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/how-to-instill-digital-citizenship-in-students/

Multimedia In the Classroom

I created my video blog using my built in webcam. I wanted to use wireWAX to add interactivity with my links and some videos. It seems like a great service, but the way the “tags” work, I couldn’t add the elements when I wanted them to appear into the video.

As an alternative I used the annotations feature in Youtube. Please leave your comments.