I have to say, I’m not looking forward to the amount of reading in the course, but as I begin, I greatly look forward to the potential benefits of the knowledge and experience I gain here with Dr. Thompson. Prior to the course I’ve had little experience with program evaluation, and just one week into the course I already see where this process has been overlooked in my current district. I’ve always been frustrated by the purchase of technology just for the sake of having it in the classroom. It is irresponsible and ineffective. I’m hoping to take my experiences and possibly my evaluation results to the administration to demonstrate the need of evaluation within our district.
I submitted my paper today about educational game design variables and found the paper kind of difficult because of the small amounts of research on educational game design. There is a multitude of research on games and learning but little focuses on the content and appearance of educational games.
Having just been introduced to the concept of gamification this past February its great to have the opportunity to develop my own game, although I am finding this quite challenging as well. Games have so much to offer as far as learning. The design of “good” games gives the brain exactly what it craves, increasing attention and the want for more action.
Embedded here is my paper about educational game design variables. Through writing this paper I met AECT Standard 3.1 Media Utilization in determining aspects and benefits of well designed educational games.
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
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.
- Boost them up – give them a peak over the wall, demonstrate what is out there, point out the dangerous places
- 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
- 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
- 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?
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
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.
This assignment was difficult to begin as I was unclear about some of the terminology related to the maturity model benchmarks. It would be beneficial to see examples of what was meant in each section. Once I started going though, evaluation became simpler. I got a better feel for the rubric and could easily pick up on examples within my district of evaluation.
Due to the lack of a technology plan and lack of administrative support in the form of training on implementation of new technologies I had a feeling this district would score low. The low scores though are primarily because of the lack of training provided to staff. I think if staff had more training, many areas that received marks in the Emergent or Islands stages would easily move toward an Integrated or Intelligent range. The information gathered during this process could prove valuable in future arguments toward staff development in the areas of technology use and planning. Without it, most teachers will be stuck on their islands with no way off. Many will only see what is in front of them and will only use the technology for what they see as the intended purpose. They will forever be stranded with no chance of advancement for themselves or their students.
Defining technology use planning is not easy because of its changing nature. I found it best to put together a definition using the analogies provided by Anderson and using See’s suggestions for developing an effective technology plan (Anderson, 1999 and See, 1992). I would define a technology use plan as a short term plan or map that details the desired outcomes in using technology and provides a suggested route to achieve those outcomes. It is vital to have the entire map rather than one route to the destination. A single route ties an institution into one form or one brand of technology that may be discovered as ineffective in achieving the desired outcomes. As an institution follows its suggested route or working plan, they may also come across a cheaper more effective route to more efficiently achieve their goals.
Long term plans focusing on specific forms of technology simply will not work with the rate at which technological advances occur today. A popular phrase one hears today is that the technology you buy today is obsolete tomorrow. I recall purchasing my first big screen TV just last year. The day it was delivered I came across better deals with larger screens and newer features. This fact alone makes it challenging to even purchase new technologies. There always seems to be something newer, bigger and, better and there always will be. However, short term technology plans create the opportunity for easy accommodations to these changes in technologies and allow institutions flexibility in their purchases.
In conjunction with this idea I agree with Anderson and See that a technology plan must be about more than computers. The central focus must be the users and creating the opportunity for those users to achieve the desired results with the best technology for the job.
When creating a technology use plan, the National Educational Technology plan should prove to be a valuable resource. The NETP outlines the goals and outcomes educational institutions should attain with their technology.
Prior to this assignment I had really never heard of a technology use plan. I’ve never heard mention of one in our district and I’m not sure if we even have one at this point. If we do not have one I think it vital the district works to create one. Right now it seems like the district haphazardly throws money into new technology when it has funding available. There seems to be no consideration about what we would like students and staff to gain or achieve through using it. A couple of people, namely the superintendent and technology coordinator get together and decide what would get us the most bang for the buck and they make a purchase and hand out the equipment. There is no staff development, no guidance, just here is the equipment, this should make you a better teacher. As I enter different classrooms I often see $300-$400 dollar document cameras gathering dust or being used as an overhead projector. The principal wants each classroom to have a document camera and projector without any consideration to whether or not the equipment would even be used. I see thousands of wasted dollars that could have been used somewhere else. I’ve recently tried to turn the tech coordinator toward purchasing an alternative document camera for a quarter the cost of the current models. If we have to purchase them and they are just going to sit there, why spend so much? I think this quote from See in Developing Effective Technology Plans best sums up my thoughts on the current situation in my district; “Why not fund initiative, effectiveness, and success.” (1992)
Anderson, L. (1999). Technology planning: It’s more than computers. Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/articles/tpmore.pdf
See, J. (1992, May). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19, (8). Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm
U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2010). National education technology plan. Washington D.C: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf
Wow, I’ve learned so much through this assignment, but boy am I glad to be finished with it. On top of the hours and hours I spent researching and reading it doesn’t compare with what I could have done. It seemed like each piece I read lead me to another or started me thinking about other questions I then wanted to research as well. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!
As I mention in my presentation I had originally intended to research the inequalities in how the the internet is used among different genders, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education, income, etc. As I began my research I discovered the larger problem was the divide in access to high speed internet, an issue like most of the public I was fairly unaware of.
Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but I do not like to think of our government as a corrupt institution where politicians and executives aren’t always in their positions for the good of the public, but instead seek what is most beneficial to themselves. I am also stunned at the lack of effort by the government to provide the means and methods for all to have access to affordable high speed internet.
In the presentation below I highlight the current status of broadband access, the problems with providing the access, and some difficult but potential solutions to closing the gap between those with access and those without.
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.)
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