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EDTECH 541: Obstacles to Technology Integration in the Language Arts

November 19, 2012 1 comment

While technology has undeniably aided teaching, it has introduced a new set of obstacles to teaching language arts.  Digital and information literacies are new types of literacy that need to  be taught alongside traditional reading and writing.  Roblyer and Doering (2013) note that “like the definition of literacy itself, the definition of digital literacy has changed over the years and now means skills in using the information that technological devices carry, in addition to skills using the devices themselves” (p. 267).  English teachers now have the task of teaching students how to read and how to do it using modern technology.  The task of teaching technology is rarely acknowledged in language arts teaching.  We didn’t have to spend a lot of our time teaching students how to use a book; however, depending upon access to technology and parental teaching, students are at vastly different levels of experience when it comes to technology.  Now students are receEreaderiving information from technology sources like emails, instant messages, and blogs.  “Since teaching students to make meaning from texts is primarily seen as the responsibility of English and language arts teachers, these shifting definitions challenge teachers to constantly rethink the skills they teach in order to make their 21st century students truly literate”  (Roblyer and Doering, 2012, p. 268).

The other new literacy facing language arts teachers is known as information literacy, which is the skill that requires people to recognize when they need information and be able to find, evaluate, and use that information (Roblyer and Doering, 2012, p. 268).  Information literacy is primarily a research skill, which is generally seen as a task taught by English teachers.  So, the obstacle becomes teaching student how to know when they need outside research, where to locate reliable research, and how to write research papers.

The confrontation of new literacies is compounded by the usual obstacles to teaching with technology:  limited access to technology, restrictive administrations, and finances.  However, the new literacies themselves become great motivation and reasoning for incorporating more technology in the classroom.

English teachers can answer the problems of these new literacies by relying upon technology itself.  Using the very sources of information that students encounter will not only incorporate the technology but also teach students how to use the technology.  Blogs and wikis can easily be incorporated into learning activities that satisfy digital literacy.  Also, technology can be the best response to research-based assignments with the use of bookmarking sites like Diigo and Delicious.  Teaching students to use the internet to conduct research helps they cultivate information literacy and develop traditional research skills.

While technology has introduced a new set of challenges for teachers, technology also solves those challenges handily.  The main task is getting teachers to understand the new literacies and respond to them through integrating technology.

Resource:

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

Schools and Walled Gardens

October 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Please click the link below to access my Voicethread presentation.

Schools and Walled Gardens

EDTECH 541: Relative Advantage of Spreadsheets in the Classroom

October 8, 2012 1 comment

As an English teacher, I don’t use spreadsheets for their traditional purpose in my classroom.  We don’t normally perform calculations that require the formulas and graphs used in spreadsheets.  However, I have found that teaching spreadsheets is very important.  I find that one of the relative advantages of teaching and using spreadsheets is building the skill of working with spreadsheets.  Students will need this skill in college and beyond in their careers.  My time in the business world showed me that workers frequently encounter spreadsheets in the workplace.  Thus, developing the skill to work with spreadsheets is important for students of all ages.

For my classroom, the relative advantage of spreadsheets is their organizational power.  Roblyer and Doering (2013) note that “whenever students must keep track of data from classroom experiments or online surveys, spreadsheets help organize these data and allow students to perform required descriptive analyses on them” (p. 126).  For English, I find that using spreadsheets to create graphic organizers for writing is very useful.  The built-in organization of columns and rows allows for easy creation of graphic organizers and sorting information by topics and themes.  Also, my students use spreadsheets to collect, organize, and sort data related to English projects.  While the calculation tools aren’t always used, the organized layout and sort capabilities are wonderful.

I confess that I don’t use databases in the classroom.  From the reading that I have done, I see that databases are larger repositories for storing and organizing information than are spreadsheets (Joan 2010).  Since my classroom doesn’t use large amounts of data, spreadsheets suit our needs.  Although, I can see how using online databases that work with spelling, grammar, and ebooks could be very useful for students.  This is technology that I need to examine more closely for inclusion in my classroom.

I take for granted that my students know traditional computer software.  They grew up with computers so I assume that they are proficient with Word and Excel.  This notion couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Students can access these programs on their home computers; they may even be able to perform simple functions.  However, my last class essay has proven to me that students need guidance in the nuances involved in programs like Word and Excel.  Learning to aggregate and sort data is an important skill that will transfer to non-classroom situations.  Students have to know about the ideas behind data sorting before they start thinking about sorting on a larger scale.  This is one of the advantages of using spreadsheets.  Students begin to think about data sets, sorting, and configuring information in new ways.

Reference:

Joan. B. (2010, Dec. 25). Difference between spreadsheet and database. Retrieved from: http://www.differencebetween.net/technology/difference-between-spreadsheet-and-database/

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

EDTECH 541: Powerful Presentations

September 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Powerful presentations can have a powerful impact.  I once saw Ben Zander, the conductor for the Boston Philharmonic, give the presentation of a lifetime with only a piano on the stage.  He had no presentation tool.  Conversely, I saw Alisson Rossett, a professor of instructional design, use PowerPoint in ways I didn’t think it could be used.  The presenter makes the presentation.

That being said, I think that presentation tools can greatly enhance today’s classroom.  Personal experience has shown me that students love visual aids.  I can show a black and white video of the 1950’s McCarthy trials or a Disney cartoon.  Of course, students like the color of Disney better, but they would rather see a black and white video than hear me lecture at them for 50 minutes.  They engage with media!

I use presentations daily.  I mainly use PowerPoint, and I confess that I don’t spend hours on them.  However, I have used Prezi and Animoto with great success as well.  Students like to see something visual.  It engages them in the conversation, which I feel is the most important part of any lesson.  The relative advantage of using presentations is that they give the students a point in which to focus their attention.  Properly created presentations that aren’t loaded with text, can give students thoughtful information to consider while I present relevant content verbally.  This approach helps to enhance students’ ability to multitask by giving them information to view on the screen and having them take notes on the auditory part of the presentation.  Students engage with class content more deeply when it’s presented to them using a presentation tool.  Additionally, I become a more creative person with presentations as I strive to add images, graphics, and videos that will spark the interest of my students.  The bottom line for teachers is that presentations are a great way to engage students with the content.

My interactive presentation can be found here.  I hope you like Chaucer!

Technology Use Planning Overview

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

The term “technology use planning” can best be described as an ongoing, fluid plan for how to use technology in education.  The planning includes the budgetary and spatial requirements for technology as well as the plan for implementation of those technologies.  The idea of technology use planning assumes incorporation of technology but also a careful analysis and plan of how that technology will be used.  John See makes a good point that effective technology plans should be output based starting with the goals or competencies that we want to accomplish rather than the actual technology needed.  This concept is the “planning” part of the process as it assumes a broader knowledge of both the curriculum and the desired learning outcomes (1992).  The technology becomes a vehicle for arriving at that outcome rather than an outcome itself.

The National Educational Technology Plan 2010 can be very effective for technology use planning because it acknowledges several important facts.  One such fact is that students have completely different technology experiences in and out of schools.  There is a disparity between the technology they are allowed to use in school and what they freely use outside of school.  We need to plan for better integration that includes technology that students will encounter in their daily lives.  The NETP also recognizes that faculty need training and support for integrating technology.  It reads, “The best way to prepare teachers for connected teaching is to have them experience it. All institutions involved in preparing educators should provide technology-supported learning experiences that promote and enable the use of technology to improve learning, assessment, and instructional practices.”  We cannot forget that our technology use planning should be focused on the users of the technology.  Anderson notes that a technology plan should be less about computers and more about people (1999).  This is for both planning and execution purposes.  Finally, the NETP includes specific goals and recommended actions that institutions can put into place to help them with their own planning.

I agree with See that plans should be short; however, I think there should be long-term evaluations built into the plan.  For instance, as See mentions, a five-year plan would be completely obsolete five years from now as new technology emerges so quickly that we cannot conceive today of what will be available five years into the future (1999).  However, I believe that we should also have a long-term goal of continually evaluating our technology use plan and making changes to it to address both emerging technologies and the efficacy of the current plan.

I couldn’t agree more that effective plans focus on applications.  I see this daily in my own school.  Our technology is monitored by a person who doesn’t teach and is mostly concerned with accountability for the hardware.  As a result, we have computers available, but we have so severely limited the access to them and their access to applications that they become merely, to use See’s word, keyboards.  As I said above, if we could design our desired outcomes and then plan how to achieve them using technology, education becomes more about the learning and less about face or seat time in front of the technology.

Other than my own teaching, I haven’t had much use with technology use planning.  However, I am constantly amazed and dismayed at the narrow-minded thinking that goes into using technology in education.  I recently had to restrict my students from using electronic devices to access e-books for my literature class. Teachers are not to allow students to use any form of technology except the laptops that we check out on a cart.  I wasn’t told if this was due to bandwidth issues or viruses introduced into our network from outside devices.  Because there was no explanation, it seemed like we are just trying to limit exposure to these devices.  I have students that use electronic dictionaries and thesauri during writing assignments, e-books for in class reading, and i-pads to write papers.  These are devices the students bring with them, and they want to use them!  It’s hard for me to plan for technology use when I am discouraged from allowing students to use technology.

Anderson, L. S. (1999, February). Technology planning: It’s more than computers. Paper to accompany keynote address in Singapore.

See, J. (1992). 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). Transforming American education learning powered by technology. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010

RSS Feeds for Education

October 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Hi Everyone,
I loved the RSS assignment. I honestly marvel at people who have the time to search the web for information. I have those friends who must spend hours just searching for the latest articles and videos. Hopefully, they are set up on something like Google Reader because I can’t imagine the time they’d spend without a reader. I really like this option for keeping up to date on the things that I want to know about without having to go find it on a constant basis.
Here’s the link to my shared items:
Darla’s Shared Items

I think that teachers could easily use RSS in the classroom. There could be a class blog posted or moderated by the teacher in which the students all need to subscribe. Similarly, if a class is using a particular weblog for information for course projects, the RSS could simplify the process of accessing required information. Since I am a high school teacher, I am leery of requiring my students to access anything on the web that has any type of insecure information. So, I would have to give a lot of thought to making a RSS feed required.

Students could be subscribers or contributors to a feed. Just as our class has a WordPress bundle, this could be an exciting way for students to become authors and readers of each others work. I also think that students would be encouraged to create blog/journals to reflect on their classwork and or topics of interest to them. So, the RSS feed becomes a great tool for students to use in collaborating and even peer reviewing each others work.

Truly, I feel that the best thing to be gained from knowing and using the RSS is knowledge. I am often completely unattached to the digital world purely because I lack the time to search the net.  Using RSS feeds is a quick way for me to get the information I need from the people or sites I value. It’s a tremendous time saver that delivers knowledge to the reader.

Horizon Report Tech Trend

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

This week I researched various technology trends.  As my classroom isn’t as technologically savvy as I would like, I made use of a technology that we can use.  My lesson plan (linked below) has students using Kindle for PC to read and analyze a literature text.  In a previous lesson, I demonstrated how to access and create an account on Amazon, download Kindle for PC, and “purchase” a free book.  The lesson below makes use of the Kindle for PC as we read and analyze the text in class.

This type of lesson is very important to show students that technology is evolving with books.  Many students think of books as old and tired because there isn’t anything flashy about them.  Incorporating lessons that use books and technology together can help to show students that books have a relevant place in today’s technology.  This makes teaching an learning more interactive and fun for students and teachers.

I would really like to do more of this type of lesson in my classroom, and it has given me ideas on how I might accomplish this type of lesson in a technologically stunted environment.

Tech Trends Assignment