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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.

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Relative Advantages of Instructional Software in the Classroom

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Admittedly, I am seeking a Master’s degree in Educational Technology.  It can be inferred that I find value in technology in the classroom.  In today’s technological world, the real question is why wouldn’t a teacher want to integrate technology?  There are many studies that indicate that financing, access to technology, and administrative pressures prevent teachers from incorporating technology.  Perhaps some of those stopgaps would be eliminated if those in power knew the relative advantages of using instructional software.

Instructional Software in the Classroom

For instance, drill and skill software offers unique advantages over manual skills practice in the classroom.  Without software, the teacher has to monitor each student and check for understanding individually.  The advantage of drill and skill software is that students get immediate feedback on their progress.  Additionally, students are able to work at their own pace and move as quickly or slowly as they need.  This approach offers differentiated instruction for those students who need it.  In my AP Literature and Composition class, I have incorporated the use of software for vocabulary drills.  My students use Quizlet to test vocabulary that they may encounter on the AP Exam.  Here’s a quiz that we used recently.

While there are many different types of software available including tutorials, simulations, games, and problem-solving software; teachers need to be aware of what software is available to them.  Success stories of how other teachers use software can provide inspiration for teachers to incorporate their own technology.  Education Week did a special report on Multimedia Transformation that includes wonderful success stories.  Some of the technology doesn’t qualify as instructional software, but it’s a great place to start looking for inspiration.  I also like Glencoe’s online tips for integrating technology into Language Arts classrooms.

I don’t have statistics to support my claims that instructional software works in the classroom, but I can speak from experience saying that software engages students.  They are excited to be on computers in a room when they are normally not allowed or able to access technology.  Student enthusiasm rises enough that complacent or withdrawn students engage with software much more than they do with other classroom activities.  If I had to list the main relative advantage of instructional software, it would be that software motivates students to paricipate by engaging them with the content.

For more information on the relative advantages of software integration, click this link to see my SlideRocket presentation.

EDTECH 541: Acceptable Use Policy

September 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Like many people, I have been required to sign my employer’s Acceptable Use Policy statement, sometimes on a yearly basis.  The nature of human beings dictates that some people can and will use resources poorly.  In response to the poor use of technology, institutions have had to implement policies that dictate the proper use of their resources.

My understanding of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is that it simply contains the rules and/or guidelines for using computers and networks belonging to a certain entity.  In my lifetime, I have signed AUPs for several of my employers stating that I will use their technology responsibly, for business purposes, and I will not use resources that might lead to harm.  Harmful resources include visiting sites that might contain viruses, sexually explicit content, or sites where I can make personal judgment statements that my conflict with those of my employer.

AUPs should contain a section that clearly explains the policy to the user.  This includes highlighting consequences should the policy be violated.  The AUP should link back to the general behavior policy of the school or business to show that technology use is linked to expected behaviors.  Also included in the AUP should be a definition and example of use that is approved and acceptable.  This section should also include examples of what is not acceptable use.  For instance, it is not acceptable to visit pornographic sites or sites that contain foul language and inappropriate images.  It may be unacceptable in some institutions for people to visit sites that allow music and movie streaming or even social media sites.  These rules should be clearly stated so that there is no confusion on the part of the user.

In the interest of writing a AUP for a school, students need to know exactly what they can and cannot do.  The AUP should link technology use to the student code of conduct, list acceptable behaviors, and enumerate the consequences for students who do not follow the AUP.   Also, schools need to keep in mind that “media have no intent…people do and the policy is made for people. Real people with real language that can be understood by parents, students, and teachers” (techlearning.com, 2012).  Students generally respond positively to a positive and friendly tone, so writing the AUP in this manner is advisable.

The AUP should simply advise users about their role in using technology responsibly.  Regardless of who the user is, the tone, word choice, and syntax of the document should be easily followed and friendly.

Here are some Acceptable Use Policies that I have become familiar with:

Boise State University Acceptable Use Policy

Google Gmail Acceptable Use Policy

Flickr Acceptable Use Policy

Arizona Department of Education Acceptable Use Policy

Reference:

Tech & Learning. (2012, June 3). Looking to create a social media or BYOD policy? Look no further. Retrieved from: http://www.techlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=67&EntryId=4355

Vision Statement EDTECH 541

September 9, 2012 Leave a comment

The question of whether or not to integrate technology into education has almost become obsolete in 2012.  Rather, education should be asking how technology can be properly, appropriately, and effectively integrated into education.  The contemporary personal use of all types of technology makes the absence of technology in education problematic.  Students are using technology in their personal lives, but often have to disconnect from technology in their classrooms.  The fact that they use and like technology makes it an obvious motivator for participation if integrated properly in the classroom.  Not only does technology integration motivate students by gaining their attention, but also it engages them through hands-on practice and connects them back to their personal lives making the technology more relevant (Roblyer and Doering, 2013, p. 25).  Incorporating technology can be one of the best ways to ensure that students are engaging with the curriculum in meaningful ways.

Schools are the traditional location to teach young people skills that will travel with them through life.  Thus, teaching students proper and responsible use of technology should be another goal of education.  Education needs to integrate and use technology in order to make this happen.  While many schools do have computers, they are not used effectively across the curriculum to enhance learning.  Many reasons for the lack of technology integration stems from the deficiency of knowledgeable teachers and support systems for technology integration.  The National Education Technology Plan (2010) notes that “although we have adopted technology in many aspects of education today, a comprehensive infrastructure for learning is necessary to move us beyond the traditional model of educators and students in classrooms to a learning model that brings together teaching teams and students in classrooms, labs, libraries, museums, workplaces, and homes—anywhere in the world where people have access devices and an adequate Internet connection” (p. 51).  Schools need to make technology integration a priority by investing in technology resources as well as training and incentives for teachers to use technology effectively.

Studies show that proper integration can enhance learning as well as increase standardized test scores, a goal that most administrations already pursue.  Fadel and Lemke (2006) conducted a study of the research available on technology integration.  Their findings indicate that “overall, across all uses in all content areas, technology does provide a small, but significant, increase in learning when implemented with fidelity […] Most educators are looking for the value proposition that will significantly advance learning, teaching, and school system efficiencies (p. 15).  Educators as a whole are interested in any kind of enhancement that can increase student understanding.  Technology integration must be focused and specific to “address the needs and challenges of specific schools and serious attention paid to leadership development, professional development for teachers, school culture, curricular redesign, and teacher preparation (Fadel and Lemke, 2006, p. 15).

Meaningful integration includes designing technology into curriculum and careful selection of technology that enhances current curriculum objectives.  Technology can make teachers more efficient in their trade as well as motivate and energize students toward their school subjects; an end that justifies the means if enhanced learning is the product.  Any career a student chooses to pursue is going to use some form of technology:  “The challenge for our education system is to leverage technology to create relevant learning experiences that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures” (NETP, 2010, p. 9).  Educators must accept the challenge to engage students meaningfully in the technology that they will encounter in life after graduation.  A focused and appropriate introduction to effective technology can both serve instructional goals and create a population of responsible technology users.

References

Fadel, C., & Lemke, C. (2006). Technology in schools:  What the research says. Cisco Systems.  Retrieved from http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/docs/education/TechnologyinSchoolsReport.pdf

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

U.S. Department of Education. (2010) National Education Technology Plan 2010 Executive Summary. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010

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

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

Elements of Educational Technology

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

The ever-evolving definition of educational technology currently includes thirteen different elements that together comprise the scholarly definition applied to the field. Educational technology’s official definition discusses the relatively new idea of facilitating learning for learners rather than controlling learning.  As an element of the definition, facilitating is extremely important to the overall understanding of educational technology because it has implications for the learner, designer, and educator.  As defined by the AECT, “educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008).

Facilitating recognizes the learner’s role as a part of the educational process.  Rather than a mere recipient of knowledge, the learner becomes a constructor of that knowledge along with the traditional resources comprised of the teacher, textbooks, and other content (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008).  The facilitating approach creates a more authentic learning environment as it allows learners to explore their learning environment rather than simply react to a series of predetermined stimulus or content.  The learner is able to make choices and impact their own learning as much as the curriculum designer and teacher.  More importantly, the learner is able to make their learning relevant to their own lives and experiences.  “Authentic learning involves exploring the world around us, asking questions, identifying information resources, discovering connections, examining multiple perspectives, discussing ideas, and making informed decisions that have a real impact” (Callison & Lamb, 2004).  Furthermore, Herrinton and Oliver note that “authentic context is valued by students as an element of a multimedia learning environment” (2000).

The AECT element of facilitating is so intimately related to the definition of educational technology that it cannot be separated without rewriting the definition entirely. Indeed, the definition actually states that educational technology is the study and practice of facilitating learning, so this element is critical to an accurate understanding of educational technology itself.  The definition of educational technology and the element both suggest that it is not enough to teach facts and figures.  The instructor must provide the map for the learner’s exploration of the content and facilitate the learner’s journey toward knowledge in a holistic and authentic manner that reinforces the relevance of content to the learner.

My experience as an online facilitator reinforces the idea that facilitation is a stronger instructional strategy than merely “say and spray” lecturing.  My students can work at their own pace, engage as much or as little as they want with the content, and find personal relevance.  Januszewski and Molenda state the importance of facilitating rather than controlling learning (2008). I agree with this idea provided that the facilitation still creates a framework and boundaries. An educational environment with no controls whatsoever seems to be a dangerous enterprise as experience has taught me that students need a controlled environment in order to open themselves to the learning process. That being said, I agree with the AECT’s decision to add facilitating as a key element. My goal is to be a stronger facilitator and leave the lecture at the door.

Callison, D., & Lamb, A. (2004). Authentic learning. School Library Monthly, 34-39.

Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational technology, research and development, 48(3), 23-48.

Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Chapter 1: Definition. In Educational technology: A definition with commentary (pp. 1-14). NY: Lawrence Erlbaum, Inc.