Technology such as computers, tablets, and mobile devices have permeated American society over the past 20-30 years and adoptions are occurring more rapidly than any previous forms of technology in history. According to the US Census Bureau (2013), in 1984 just 8.4% of households reported having a computer at home. In 2011 that figure stands at 75.6%. Currently 91% of American adults owns some form of cell phone, while 56% of these are smartphones (Smith, 2013). And in a recent study Pew Internet researcher Kathryn Zickhur (2013) revealed 34% of American adults now own a tablet computer. This is up from just 3% in May of 2010. With technology such a large part of American society, and such rapid changes occurring within the world because of it, educators need to reconsider education as “ ‘learning to learn’ skills that will help citizens cope with inevitable technological change” (Roblyer and Doering, 2013, pg. 35). When technology is used efficiently and effectively the advantages of using it in educational institutions has the potential to answer some of the most difficult questions teachers have in educating their students.
Perhaps the best way to see its benefits would be to look at Universal Design for Learning or UDL. UDL is based on a set of three principles of curriculum development and instruction that gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn. The three guiding principles behind UDL are “1. providing multiple means of representation; 2. providing multiple means of action and expression; and 3. providing multiple means of engagement” (Rose and Gravel, 2010). Well-designed use of technology has the capability to affect all three of these.
Principle 1: Multiple means of representation
Everyone learns in a different way and some even have disabilities creating new challenges to learning. Technology provides a means with which to overcome these challenges. It allows one to easily display videos, animations or pictures to clarify a concept. It allows you to “go” places and “see” and “do” things not generally possible without recent developments and efforts in technology. It makes authenticates an educational experience. Advents in technology also ensure equal opportunities to those with sensory disabilities such as visual impairments or blindness. With it one can change the display size of text, change the contrast between font and text, or have text read aloud (Cast).
Principle 2: Multiple means of action and expression
Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences or the various theories and research on learning styles and brain-based learning are popular among educators. In this research, it is commonly agreed upon that children do not learn in the same way and they best express their learning differently as well (Jensen). Rather than moving all students at the same pace whether they are ready or not, some software or websites allow students to practice and move along at their own pace (Roblyer and Doering, 2013, pg. 49). Computers also allow students to express themselves differently. Podcasts, videos, slideshows, comics, digital art, even relaying concepts through video games like Minecraft. These all provide students the opportunity to learn or show what they know in ways that best fit them.
Principle 3: Multiple means of engagement
“He has no motivation.”
“She just doesn’t care.”
These things can often be heard from teachers referring to students, but technology has the potential to change that because it allows students to see the relevance of new skills and concepts, it gives students the opportunity to be active learners, provides extra motivation to at-risk students (Roblyer, Doering, 2013, pg. 51), and gives students a means to share their work to be viewed by people around the world (Markus, 2012). Motivation among other things leads to increased effort, persistence, and performance (Ormond, 2008). Motivated students are therefore engaged in their efforts.
Efficient and effective use of technology is vital to educational institutions if they are to prepare students for their ventures in the 21st century.
CAST (2011). Universal design for learning guidelines version 2.0. Retrieved from http://www.cast.org/udl/
Jensen, E. (n.d.). What is brain based learning?. Retrieved from http://feaweb.org/brain-based-learning-strategies
Markus, D. (2012, December, 12). An introduction to technology integration. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction-video
Ormrod, J. E. (2008). Educational psychology: developing learners (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/motivation-affects-learning-behavior/
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers.
Rose, D. and Gravel, J. (2010). Technology and learning: Meeting special student’s needs. Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/sites/udlcenter.org/files/TechnologyandLearning.pdf
Smith, A. (2013, June 5). Smartphone ownership – 2013 update. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Smartphone-Ownership-2013/Findings.aspx
Zickuhr, K. (2013, June 10). Tablet ownership 2013. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Tablet-Ownership-2013/Findings.aspx
U.S. Census Bureau. (2013, May). Computer and internet use in the United States: Population characteristics. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/hhes/computer/
Following my reading of Developing Effective Technology Plans by John See, the touch typing portion of my instruction may need revamped in order to integrate it more effectively into the curriculum (See, 1992). This itself may help motivate students to take typing more seriously, but for now I’ve taken an approach to motivating students under my current model of instruction. In this artifact I plan to highlight the research of gamification in the form of badges to increase to student motivation. More specifically I will describe how earning achievements/badges have motivated my students to learn and perfect their touch typing skills.
As I began my first year as a computer/technology teacher, I followed the plans laid out before me from a colleague that’s had a chance to work through numerous strategies and ideas to help students along with touch typing. I moved through the semester employing her methods and found they just didn’t fit my style and under my direction, I was not seeing the progress I wanted. Often times, I would catch students doing whatever they could to stall from opening the typing program. When they were typing, I caught students peaking at the keys or blatantly ignoring my requests to have their fingers on the home row keys. I frequently attempted to communicate the importance of typing skills to their future in education and in their careers, but this hasn’t worked either. Nothing I could think of was motivating my students to put forth more effort.
Upon returning from the Ohio Educational Technology Conference in February, where I first encountered the term gamification, I took a different direction in an effort to spur progression through their touch typing lessons. I listened to Dr. Sean Dickers (S. Dickers, personal communication, February 12, 2013) talk about students spending hours playing video games where they received little to no reward aside from personal satisfaction in overcoming a challenge and earning achievements to increase their score. This point hit me. I went back to school in search of motivational ideas and strategies to encourage a more focused effort on their touch typing.
In this search I came across a reading about classbadges.com in one of my RSS feeds. The idea sounded appealing so researched further before implementing the idea with my classes. Here is what I found and experiences so far:
My primary aims for beginning a badge system were to give students a clearer picture of their goal and their progress toward the goal. Research has shown that badges are successful in establishing clear goals to be achieved (Antin & Churchill, 2011; Siering, 2012). By creating badges for my classroom I’ve established clear goals for students to examine and work toward achieving. Many of my typically unmotivated students can tell me about the hours they’ve spent trying to beat a video game. And for what? What do they get? A virtual trophy? More coins? An achievement icon and points to add to their gamer score? Essentially nothing, but it doesn’t matter to them. They beat the challenge and they have the record to prove it. They are the type of people who as Ling (2005) puts it, “consume” goals (Ling, 2005). Their primary interest is achieving the goals, and they put time and effort into doing so. Their reward is satisfaction in achieving the goal and overcoming the challenge set forth before them (Antin & Churchill, 2011).
Badges also allow users to track progress toward a larger goal (Antin & Churchill, 2011; Siering, 2012). Fortunately, the typing program I use has a built in feature to allow students to see progress toward their initial goal, but it does little to recognize an achievement once the goal is reached. This is where the badge system provides that little extra push. For students motivated by grades and being at the top of the class, badges provide that status symbol (Antin & Churchill, 2011). I’ve established badges for those wanting to go above and beyond the expected goal. Earning this badge gives these students bragging rights for their higher achievements without having to brag. Their badge speaks for itself.
My secondary goal is to get students to spend more time practicing typing. When using the computer at home students easily revert to old habits and forget all they have been taught, earning a badge provides the extra motivation and reminder to keep practicing their keyboarding skills no matter where they use a computer. Earning badges has been shown to increase the amount of time one spends on an activity (Koo, 2012). As you will soon read my badge system has been effective in at least creating the desire to spend more time engaged in typing. In the future I would like to implement an online practice area that allows me to track time students spend on typing it home. (In hindsight, it would have been beneficial to research to implement this before the badges program and see if use increased.)
To pilot this project this year, I started out with my third grade students. In second grade these students began touch typing by learning their homerow keys. They spent the entire year on this lesson as it is the most difficult because of the number of keys they learn in one lesson. Touch typing is exciting at first and students love it, but for many the excitement fades quickly in second grade when the newness fades and they aren’t seeing progress. They lose the desire and motivation to continue learning. I saw this with my third graders and wanted to start something to create a challenge with an attached achievement. Something that would also allow them to track their progress and provide some form of extrinsic motivation, albeit in the form on an electronic badge.
Students were excited about the program upon the introduction. They wanted to see the badge and wanted to get back to typing to try and earn the next, or possibly first badge. I usually begin class with ten minutes of touch typing, which is typically greeted with moans and complaints. Since implementing classbadges, students are quick to login and start typing. Rarely do I hear the complaints and groans unless it is because they just missed a lesson and were close to passing. I have also seen a desire to practice more. Numerous students have approached asking how to use the program at home, which sadly they cannot. I have directed students to the numerous sites available for free though to practice typing on line. Before school lets out, I will try to put together a list of sites I recommend for typing practice over summer break.
I know badges are not the answer for all students and it will take some more time to judge its effectiveness, but so far I feel a more positive attitude toward the time spent practicing and I’m hearing more desire to type correctly. I also like the ability I have to easily track progress and provide means for students to check and show off their own progress as motivation to continue typing. Badges and insignia have been used for years in the military to denote rank, skills, qualifications, missions, etc. Just looking at a uniformed military member with numerous badges and insignia respect is commanded for the authority they have gained in the time, training, and experiences they have encountered to earn their badges. I see class badges in the same light, although at a much different level. When students reach a specified benchmark or have mastered a specific skill they deserve some recognition and for some, a badge is just enough to push the student on. They will know that when others look at their badges they will know the time and effort put forth to obtain it.
Antin, J., & Churchill, E. F. (2011). Badges in social media: A social psychological perspective. Retrieved from http://uxscientist.com/public/docs/uxsci_2.pdf
Koo, G. (2012, March 7). Games, badges and learning valuable games. Weblogs at Harvard Law School. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/games/2012/03/07/games-badges-and-learning/
Ling, K., Beenen, G., Ludford, P., Wang, X., Chang, K., Li, X., … & Kraut, R. (2005). Using social psychology to motivate contributions to online communities. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 10(4), 00-00. DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2005.tb00273.x
Siering, G. (2012, March). Gamification: Using game-like elements to motivate and engage students. Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://citl.indiana.edu/news/newsStories/dir-mar2012.php
The precursor to this assignment, the 2012 Horizon Report K-12, excites me about the future of education. If only we didn’t have to endure all the growing pains and oppositions to change.
I am currently a K-5 computer/technology teacher so I chose to look into the challenge of teaching digital media literacy skills. Many are under the impression that using technology in the classroom is enough to prepare students with the skills and knowledge they will need in their future. Research shows that educators need to “teach about media and technology” rather than with it (Hobbs, 2010). I feel I am guilty of this and I know that very few if any of the elementary teachers in my district are instructing about using technology. With so much available on the internet and the ability for anyone to publish information and content, its vital to teach students to think critically about how they use digital media.
Through this assignment, I am now more aware of my responsibility to prepare my students about media and technology, not just how to use it. I want to teach my students how to think critically and to ask questions about what they consume and to be responsible and respectful in what they create.
Buckingham, D. (2009). The future of media literacy in the digital age: some challenges for policy and practice. Euromeduc, Media Literacy in Europe: Controversies, Challenges and Perspectives, Bruxelas, Euromeduc, 13-24.
Martens, H. (2010). Evaluating media literacy education: Concepts, theories and future directions. The Journal of Media Literacy Education, 2(1).
Hobbs, R. (2010). Digital and media literacy: A plan of action. A White Paper on the Digital and Media Literacy Recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. http://www. knightcomm. org/digitaland-media-literacy-a-plan-of-action.
(I’m still having trouble publishing to YouTube. I’ve also tried to use the embed feature from xtranormal but that didn’t work either. For now, here is a link to my animation.)
WOW!!! As I talked to each of the classes I was overwhelmed by the excitement and desire of so many students to participate. This is going to make the selection process very difficult because it will leave so many disappointed students. I’ve taken many things into consideration when selecting students for the group because I wanted a good mix of students, so I was careful when choosing.
This weekend I am going to finalize the selections and do my final revisions on the parent letter. I’m awaiting the codes from TeacherGaming LLC so I can play the game myself and learn a bit more. I’m already prepared for some students knowing much more than I do, but that should promote a good learning environment.
As mentioned before, upon returning from the Ohio Educational Technology Conference, where I heard and saw many sessions about games and learning, I came home fired up and ready to find ways to apply this research in my school. I soon realized how difficult this would be considering the current staff. I continued to research the idea anyway and came across the game Minecraft.
Now, I’d heard of the game before, but never tried it. After reading about the game and its educational values I decided to try the game myself. As I played the game I knew I had to figure out a way to get this into the school. I put together an informal request to the principal pointing out the value of the game and the idea of starting an after school club and asking if there was money available to make a purchase or if she had any ideas of where I could go to make a request. I got the response from her saying that the club sounded like a great idea and that the money was available so I could just fill out the requisition. I put together the requisition and placed the order for 25 licenses plus the MinecraftEdu custom mod through minecraftedu.com on Tuesday and I’m currently waiting for account codes.
Although this assignment took considerably more time than the previous ones I found it useful in getting back into the mindset of an active researcher/learner. Having been out of school for only a few years I couldn’t believe I had forgotten as much as I did about researching and citing sources. It was good to get back into the swing of locating scholarly research and learning about the many fresh new ways to do so with the advances in technology and the number of publications now found online.
In order to stay relevant to my students and in today’s society and in order to prepare my students for the 21st century I must stay current on today’s technology, educational and otherwise. Growing up a “gamer” and still enjoying a good video game, this research intrigues me. Despite some gray areas such as what to do about topics needing covered for the current format of standardization tests, I see great potential in video games leading to deeper, student centered learning, while promoting many of the skills contributing to their future success.
Finally, throughout my journey in this course I’ve found and subscribed to many useful resources, of which I can now add Google Scholar email alerts. Now, if I only had time to read even a small portion of these!
Link to Wentworth C – Annotated Bib