What have I learned?
There are three ideas that stick out to me when I reflect on my experiences with this class this semester. First, there are other ways to set up a classroom that would be fresh, innovative and conducive to learning besides the traditional desk and chair configuration. Second, a school’s AUP and/or the administration can be a huge obstacle in implementing social networking in education. Sometimes fear or misunderstanding inhibit 21st century learning from occurring. Third, I have been able to implement some tools in new ways that were already available to me but were being underused. I was very generic and unoriginal in my implementation. This course has helped me think about basic tools in new ways and come up with fresh ideas to utilize these tools differently in the classroom.
How does the course work demonstrate mastery of the AECT standards?
Standard 1: Content Knowledge
Candidates demonstrate the knowledge necessary to create, use, assess, and manage theoretical and practical applications of educational technologies and processes.
This standard is, in my opinion, the most connected to this course out of all the standards. Not only did we study theoretical applications, but much of our coursework involved creating materials to be used in our own classroom, or shared with other teachers. Our final project is a website containing lesson plans, projects and research for a specific grade level content area. We indeed applied our theories as we created and assessed educational technologies.
Standard 2: Content Pedagogy
Candidates develop as reflective practitioners and are able to demonstrate effective implementation of educational technologies and processes based on contemporary content and pedagogy.
Creating the content to be used with students is just the beginning. This course also gave us the opportunity to implement technology. Because the projects were focused on a specific content area within a chosen grade level, cohesive, coherent lessons were created, allowing pedagogical practice to take place. I found great satisfaction implementing the projects I developed in this course with students in my own computer lab. This course was designed to allow for practical application of educational technologies.
Standard 3: Learning Environments
Candidates facilitate learning by creating, using, evaluating, and managing effective learning environments.
Standard 4: Professional Knowledge and Skills
Candidates design, develop, implement, and evaluate technology-rich learning environments within a supportive community of practice.
Standard 5: Research
Candidates explore, evaluate, synthesize, and apply methods of inquiry to enhance learning and improve performance.
I feel like we were given the opportunity to apply this standard at various points throughout our study as we read chapters in the textbook, online articles, videos and digital resources. The standard of research was especially applicable during our Assistive Technologies assignment. Many resources were available as we explored the technology available to help those in many categories including: physically or mentally impaired, at-risk, or gifted and talented. This project required us to discover and experiment with the assistive technologies available to our students who need them.
How I have grown professionally. How my own teaching practice or thoughts about teaching have been impacted by what I have learned or accomplished in this course. What will I do differently as an educator as a result of this course?
The exciting thing is, I have already changed my instruction based on the content of this course. As a result of the projects assigned to us, I have used social media and collaborative spreadsheets with my 4th grade students to gather information about the counties of Idaho. My 6th grade students began blogging as well as creating Interactive Presentations for the 2nd graders at our school (which were a huge hit among 6th graders, 2nd grade teachers and 2nd grade students!) My ideas have been expanded to include everything from classroom design, to taking down the walled garden to implementing fresh tech ideas in my computer lab. Because of my participation in this course, I will continue to use technology in new and exciting ways with my students.
In a resource provided by our instructor this week, I heard a very simple definition of assistive technology, “It helps you do something that you couldn’t do without it” (2013.) I didn’t know how true this was until after completing this assignment. I have spent a few hours this week exploring the accessibility features on my computer. The operating system I use and am evaluating is macOS Sierra, version 10.12.4. I was surprised to find so many amazing assistive technologies built into this computer. Initially, I figured you would have to purchase some of them separately or at least download them, but there are a wide variety of tools already built into this particular operating system.
The assistive technologies are grouped by impairment. The first section I reviewed contained the vision impairment tools, and they include: VoiceOver, VoiceOver Gestures, Audio Descriptions and Siri. VoiceOver reads all of the text on the page. VoiceOver Gestures allows you to use the trackpad to read the text on the pages. Audio Descriptions allow you to watch movies with detailed descriptions of every scene on your Mac (only certain movies have this feature available.) Siri, which is a voice activated assistant that performs a number of tasks including sending text messages, finding files, searching the web and creating reminders, is now available in macOS.
The next group of tools up for review were the hearing accessibility tools and they include: Facetime, iMessage and Closed Captions. Facetime is a video conferencing app that allows people with a hearing impairment to communicate using sign language. iMessage lets you write instead of talk to communicate, again assisting someone who has limited or no hearing. These two tools are also used by people without impairments, but they make it possible for people who can’t hear to communicate with others. Videos with closed captions are available for purchase on iTunes store and podcasts can be found at iTunes U.
Finally, I reviewed the physical and motor skills assistive technologies. Wow, exploring the accessibility features in this section was the most eye opening for me. I saw more clearly the ways assistive technologies make it possible for some people to do what would otherwise be impossible. I explored the following features: Switch Control, Dwell Control and Dictation Commands. Switch control and dwell control are fascinating features to me. Switch control allows someone with a physical impairment to control the mouse with the click of a “switch,” or a predetermined key. Dwell control is a new feature to macOS and allows people with head or eye-tracking hardware to move the cursor. Dictation commands let you talk where you would type. This tool allows you to write a report, search the internet or reply to an email using just your voice.
Experimenting with these tools was very eye-opening to me. I have had very limited experience with using assistive technologies, but this week I have learned that there are many tools available to assist people with disabilities. I have come to understand that assistive technology truly “refers to devices that are used by people with disabilities to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible for them to do” (2016.)
Assistive Technology. (2016, August 31). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://aem.cast.org/navigating/assistive-technology.html#.WO5HX1Pyui4
Assistive Technology: Resource Roundup. (2013, December 09). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/assistive-technology-resources
When teaching with technology, an obstacle for many teachers is time. Time is a scarcity for teachers anyway, but with the added time required to learn and implement new technology, teachers suddenly have even less time. Now, add the burden of constantly learning new tech tools because some of the topics covered in social studies, such as economics and politics, are constantly changing and teaching with technology becomes even more of an obstacle.
Finding quality resources relating to specific social studies topics is another obstacle. “Despite their obvious value and and relevance to future citizens, social studies themes and topics are not usually among those included in statewide assessments.” (Roblyer, 2016)
Because assessment drives instruction, money is usually spent on other subjects, leaving social studies instructors to find free or inexpensive materials. I had personal experience with this during our course of study this semester. It was difficult to find apps, websites, and software that relate to the specific topics of study I was seeking to create lessons for, such as, Symbols of the State of Idaho, Native Americans, and Citizenship.
The solutions I see to both of these obstacles are two fold. First, immerse yourself, as much as possible, into an online social studies culture. Teachers could follow blogs and subscribe to RSS feeds in order to stay as up to date as possible on the development of social studies technology. Making connections with several teachers who use technology in their social studies classroom and sharing ideas with each other would also be an effective way to combat the constantly changing, limited technology resources in social studies. Second, apply for grants to purchase your own social studies resources. Money is often available to those willing to work hard enough to find and then secure it. With some proactivity, the obstacles of teaching social studies with technology can be overcome.
Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching [eText]. Retrieved from www.pearsonhighered.com/etextbooks.
Clock image source: pixabay.com
Map image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Old-world-map.jpg
Relative advantage is “a term coined by Everett Rogers to refer to the perception by potential adopters of how much better an innovative method or resource is than the old one” (2016.) Reading chapter 12 of Roblyer’s book Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching has given me a clear and solid understanding of the relative advantage of using technology to teach social studies. In this blog post, I will present evidence that the use of technology can make social studies topics more relevant and authentic. Little time will be spent discussing how technology makes social studies more engaging, because technology is a tool that creates excitement among students on any topic of study!
Because Social Studies is such a broad topic, it can be difficult to summarize or specify the overall goal of studying this subject, but Roblyer gives a concise explanation of it’s purpose. “Social Studies instruction is designed to help us discover and better understand our world and it’s people…” He goes on to state that, “...technology-based strategies have become integral to this instruction” (2016.)
There are specific ways that technology can be used to make learning in the social studies classroom more relevant. One advantage of using digital resources in the social studies classroom is how rapidly the digital information changes. Accessing digital resources allows us to stay up-to-date. This is especially significant because various topics within social studies, such as politics, economics and current events, change constantly (2016.) Another form of technology that makes social studies more relevant is simulation. Most social studies topics are complex, and simulations make these concepts more clear and meaningful (2016.) Finally, the use of Information Visualization Strategies allow students to represent data in an easy to understand form. Using graphs, spreadsheets, and timelines make information easier for students to analyze and represent. These are just a few ways technology can make learning more relevant.
Technology can also be used to make learning authentic. Learning can come to life as students take virtual field trips to visit places they would otherwise only be able to read or hear about. Adventure learning can bring places and stories to life as students experience these places in person or remotely. Digital storytelling allows students to personalize and internalize learning.
Technology tools should never be chosen to simply replace one type of learning in the classroom but should be carefully and mindfully selected. When selected wisely, technology can enhance learning greatly, as seen in the previous examples. The opportunities for motivating students, enhancing the relevancy of learning and making student experiences authentic are endless. Enriching the learning experience in the social studies classroom using technology is an exciting opportunity!
Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching [eText]. Retrieved from www.pearsonhighered.com/etextbooks.
One emerging trend in education is digital game-based learning. As with any topic, there are supporters and antagonists. After conducting some research of my own this week, I have come to the conclusion that there are several factors that have a greater impact on the effectiveness of game based learning than others. When these factors are considered, and implemented deliberately, game-based learning has a place in education.
In 2013, a meta-analysis of gaming was commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and conducted by the SRI research group. The preliminary results identified many benefits of using games in learning but also highlighted areas of concern that need to be addressed in order for gaming to have a positive impact. “According to the report, students who used games as part of learning always did better than those who did not but how much better depended a lot on the design of the game and how effectively the learning goals were incorporated into the game itself.” (2013, Oct. 1) As an educator and not a game developer, I can take this information into consideration and focus my time and energy on finding quality gaming resources.
Once well designed games are located, the advantages are abundant. Games can be used to teach problem solving skills, give students the opportunity to deal with real world problems and give them an idea of how school subjects are applied to life, provide meaningful learning, give students more exposure to problems and encourage students to experiment with and dig deeper into concepts.
No explanation of the benefits would be complete without mention of 21st Century skill development. Game based learning helps students develop creativity, innovation and teamwork. “As the authors of Assessment in Game-Based Learning describe, "proponents of game-based learning argue that we should prepare students to meet the demands of the twenty-first century by teaching them to be innovative, creative, and adaptable so that they can deal with the demands of learning in domains that are complex and ill-structured."
Analysts of the SRI research exert that because game playing is so common among so many youth today, there is, “an untapped potential for increased learning if games can be successfully designed.” (2013, Oct. 1) My take away this week is this: spend time finding a well designed game and then enjoy the benefits of game based learning.
Jamie Martines - Sep 15, 2016. (n.d.). Community College Pilot Project Finds Game-based Learning a Winner in Remedial Math. Retrieved March 3, 2017, from http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2016/09/15/community-college-pilot-project-finds-game-based-learning-a-winner-in-remedial-math/
Lee Banville - Oct 1, 2013. (n.d.). Research Shows Games Have Significant Impact on Student Performance. Retrieved March 10, 2017, from http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2013/10/01/research-shows-games-have-significant-impact-on-student-performance/
You can view the transcript to my VoiceThread below.
Walled Gardens Blog
Webopedia has defined the walled garden in this way, “On the Internet, a walled garden refers to a browsing environment that controls the information and websites the user is able to access.” (“Walled garden.”) Administrators and educators have used this concept to create an online setting that they view as conducive to learning; one that minimizes student exposure to inappropriate websites and images, keeps student information private, and eliminates distractions. But are these educators in touch with learning in the 21st century?
Image: Brick Wall, Flickr
While these types of administrators and educators are well-intentioned, their idea of learning may merely be outdated. By prohibiting their students from participating in the social networking community they are actually hindering progress while their intent is to foster growth. Just because social networking isn’t a traditional approach to education doesn’t mean it’s bad or ineffective. There are many benefits to social networking and it definitely has it’s place in education.
Image: Black and White School, Flickr
I have been living within the confines of the walled garden and was completely oblivious to that fact! I have been encouraging students to collaborate and interact, but within the confines of ther school. I feel a little like a fish who’s spent her last few years milling around a fishbowl while others were enjoying the freedom, wonder and beauty of the ocean. I had no idea what I was missing! Social Networking in education is the transition of our little fishes from their bowl to the ocean. Students who experience this transition will find themselves in awe, wonderment and fascination with the outside world. Social networking is an outstanding way to enhance education for a variety of reasons. I would like to focus on two.
Image: Yellow Fish in Tank, Flickr by Craft0logy
First, social networking creates opportunities to build student’s communication skills and understand different points of view (“Social networking as a tool.”) The use of social networking as an educational tool will allow us to reach beyond physical barriers to connect with people from other classrooms, cultures and communities. By creating learning opportunities for our students in classrooms around the globe, we are opening up a whole new world to them. These kinds of learning experiences take students to places they may never go and allow them to see people who would otherwise remain invisible to them. For example, students can have a live farm experience as they take a virtual field trip to a farm in Kenya via Skype or visit a primate rescue facility in the UK. These are just two examples of thousands that are available in the online world. (“Connecting a classroom.”)
Image: Ocean, Flickr
Next, social networking allows students to “practice the kind of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today” (“Social networking as a tool.”) Students will use social networking in college, among peers, and in the workforce. Many of our students are already involved in social networking on a personal level, it will be to their advantage if we teach them how to network educationally and professionally. According to one study of social media in education, “the strongest determinant of students’ success in college is their ability to form or participate in small study groups.” These study groups may very well communicate and collaborate online. The Department of Education has noticed a deficit in the way technology is being used to educate students and they are calling for change. Their National Education Technology Plan 2010 demands "revolutionary transformation rather than evolutionary tinkering." The plan encourages all states and districts to experiment with social networks and other Web 2.0 technologies "both within and across educational institutions" to expand collaborative learning opportunities for students and to create communities of practice among K12 teachers. (“Social networking as a tool.”)
Image: 21st Century, Flickr: Greenberg
The benefits of social networking in education are staggering. Improved communication and technology skills, increased student collaboration, increased student engagement and participation, exposure to diverse views, and … to name a few. When comparing the benefits with the dangers, or in many cases “supposed dangers,” the imbalance is preposterous. There are enough tools in place that allow educators to participate in online communities while keeping students safe. That is no longer a valid argument against using social media in the classroom. If safety is your main concern, then start big. Not every educator will find it within their comfort level or means to implement unique, individualized social networking experiences for each student, so simply engage on a classroom level. I know that’s how I plan to begin!
Image: Social Networking, Flickr
Walled garden. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2017, from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/walled_garden.html
Social networking as a tool for student and teacher learning. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2017, from https://www.districtadministration.com/article/social-networking-tool-student-and-teacher-learning
Study suggests benefits of social media in the classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2017, from
Crowley, B. (2016, April 29). Connecting a Classroom: Reflections on Using Social Media With My Students. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2015/09/09/connecting-a-classroom-reflections-on-using-social.html
What is an Acceptable Use Policy?
An acceptable use policy (AUP) “outlines, in writing, how a school or district expects its community members to behave with technology.” (“1-1 Essentials”) It is common for schools and districts to outline both acceptable and unacceptable use, being careful not to create a negative tone by only listing the dont’s. Encounters with inappropriate material, digital citizenship, network fraud and protecting personal information are just a few of the many topics that should be included in a comprehensive AUP.
Creating the AUP is only the jumping off point. Using the policy to teach students appropriate and responsible online behavior is the next crucial step. Depending on the age and maturity level of students, this conversation will look and sound different. In the 12 technology classes I teach, we learn, review and sign the AUP before we access the internet or any of the school’s technology tools. The same AUP is used for students K-6, but the explanation and discussion of the AUP is simplified depending on the age of the students. At the end of our discussions and lessons, all students sign the AUP.
After creating and teaching the AUP, the next part of successful implementation is follow through. The folks at Common Sense Media remind us that “an acceptable use policy is only as strong as your commitment to enforce it.” (“1-1 Essentials”) Therefore, someone, or a group of people, should be appointed to enforce the consequences set forth in the policy. Let students know they are being monitored and then apply consequences as necessary.
As the use of the internet and technology tools are implemented in education, we are faced with a difficult challenge as dictated by our friends at Common Sense Media. “Today’s educators have the tough job of maintaining the delicate balance of protecting students while providing access to the digital world. Educators need to be comprehensive yet not limiting when creating a stimulating but safe learning environment. An AUP is a first step in framing these opportunities.” (“1-1 Essentials”)
What Should be Included in an AUP?
“The Acceptable Use Policy for Internet use is one of the most important documents a school will produce.” (“Getting Started”) With this in mind, here are some common elements of Acceptable Use Policies:
1-to-1 Essentials - Acceptable Use Policies. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups
Why Have a Technology Policy in Your School or Library? | Librarians. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2017, from http://www.scholastic.com/librarians/tech/techpolicy.htm
Education World: Getting Started on the Internet: Acceptable Use Policies. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2017, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml
Links to Acceptable Use Policies
1. Compass Public Charter School
2. West Ada
3. North Star Charter School
4. Liberty Charter School
I’ve been teaching in the classroom for eight years. Six of those years have been spent teaching technology skills to young learners, and I can’t imagine a curriculum without the Basic Suite. The Basic Suite includes word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. While there are many technology tools available for use in education today, the benefits of these three types of software, for both teacher and student, should not be underestimated or overlooked. The development of these software tools as a cloud based suite has made them even more appealing.
Roblyer reflects that, “Perhaps no other technology resource has had as great an impact on education as word processing.” (2016) Any teacher actively involved in the classroom in today’s world is most likely in agreement. Word processing has simplified the life of the teacher and the student. The teacher sees that the benefits of word processing are numerous and have made tasks like writing lesson plans, creating materials for those lesson plans and tracking student behavior more efficient. To truly appreciate the ease of use of a word processing software, imagine making changes to a hard copy during or after the creation process in the same way we edit a digital copy. Editing digital text is made simple as the user is able to copy/paste large amounts of text, easily erase several words or an entire paragraph with the stroke of a key, insert a page or a table at any location during any time of the creation process, and change font style, color and size. In order to accomplish the same tasks on a hard copy, the user would need markers, scissors, tape, glue, and whiteout, and the final product would be sloppy and messy. The result of using the digital features available in a word processing software is a neater, more professional looking product in less time.
In addition to the outstanding editing capabilities of word processing, the benefits of the cloud based versions make it an even more irresistible resource. It allows students to share their document with teachers for immediate feedback. Teachers can access the document from any computer with an internet connection and make suggestions on the student document that become visible immediately. Peer editing can happen in person or via the internet as well. Students can even participate in a group project, working in a document simultaneously or individually as time and circumstance allows.
The next resource in the Basic Suite is the spreadsheet, one of my favorite and most frequently used tools! At the beginning of each year, I create a spreadsheet for every class and section I will teach. As a technology teacher with 12 classes, changes are constantly being made throughout the year with enrollment. Having a digital copy of my gradebook makes it simple to remove or hide a student who leaves the school, and add a row at any spot in my spreadsheet for a student entering the school. I can also easily track the progress of my students by highlighting pertinent information about students, such as: who has met the typing goal, has a missing assignment or is struggling in a particular subject. I also often create rubrics for individual assignments or projects. At the bottom, under the points possible column, I enter a formula that calculates total points from the points earned in each category for that assignment. Spreadsheets make my life as an educator more simple, organized and efficient.
Using spreadsheets with students has its advantages as well. I love using spreadsheets in the computer lab to reinforce mathematical concepts the students have learned in the classroom. In the younger grades, students play Battleship to help them understand coordinates. We take surveys or use data provided by the teacher and organize it in a spreadsheet. Then, we manipulate the data by calculating the sum, difference, product, quotient, average, etc. Story problems come to life as information is organized and manipulated by students in a spreadsheet. Data can be further visualized and analyzed as students create graphs. All of these tools combined are engaging students in math, which I believe is one of the greatest benefits of the spreadsheet.
The third resource in the Basic Suite is presentation software. Perhaps because of its overuse in the past, and the variety of alternative methods for presenting information to students, this is the least used software in my classroom. Even though I rarely use it, I can clearly the advantages. In my computer lab, I use it as an instructional tool for younger students as an excellent way to experience their first research project. I have them participate in an animal research project where they select an animal, gather facts (teacher directed, of course) and organize those facts into a presentation in order to share the information they have gathered.
I appreciate and agree with the summary offered at the end of the the chapter in Roblyer’s book in the overview of the “Basic Three.” He states the “benefits of these programs include improved productivity, appearance and accuracy, and more support for interaction and collaboration.” (2016) This is why life without the Basic Suite is practically unimaginable!
Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching [eText]. Retrieved from www.pearsonhighered.com/etextbooks.
As a technology teacher of 3rd-6th grade students, I am interested in and fascinated by this report. For the past two years, I found the results both educational and informational. I have an obvious interest in the emerging technology trends, short-, mid-, and long-term, and hope they influence what students learn in my computer lab. While studying the report, my first thought was this: I have noticed the recent push for coding and have been involved in that movement. For the past three years, students at our school in 1st-6th grades have participated in the “Hour of Code” (sponsored by code.org). In the fall of 2016 we held an after school program for 5th graders to experience coding through the use of laser technology and a website called Scratch. I am constantly thinking of methods to teach students coding. Because of my experiences with and my perception of the coding trend, I was surprised to discover that the panel members of the NMC Horizon Report 2016 categorized coding as a short-term trend (2016.) I assumed coding would be around for a long time and would be a lasting part of education. This certainly doesn’t mean I can’t continue to provide coding experiences for my students, but it has caused me to wonder if coding will fall out of focus in education.
As I continued to study the Horizon Report, I turned my attention to one of the long-term trends in education, redesigning the classroom. Currently, there is a movement toward student-centered and collaborative learning and I feel like I’m being left behind! Our school, and my computer lab, are old school. The fact that the students come to a separate classroom to learn technology skills is itself proof of that. In addition, my lab is setup as most classrooms are today with the whiteboard at the front of the room and students seated in neat, organized rows. When I instruct, I stand at the front of the room and insist that all eyes are on me...etc. I would love to change this! I want to be a part of the movement. I want to redesign my learning space. Is it possible? Can I gain the support of our school board and administration? If I don’t have neat rows, how will I maintain structure, control the climate and hold the attention of my students? What other challenges will I encounter?
As all of these thoughts cross my mind, the reality of participating in this movement is both exciting and scary! Fortunately, there are resources available because there are plenty of people who have blazed the trail. Change has happened and is happening in our country and around the globe. Accounts of innovative individuals who were willing to try something new can inspire and ignite a change in us. One such account by a woman named Erin Klein who used her background in interior design to make changes to her learning space can be read here. Not only was she the driving force behind change in her own classroom, she is now helping other educators redesign their learning space.
With all of the positive research that is being conducted and results that have been gathered, I still have questions. Have teachers managed to maintain the same level of discipline and sanity in these classrooms? What is it really like in this redesigned learning space? Are there students who take advantage of the ability to sit or lie comfortably? Are students as focused in these new learning spaces as they are in the traditional classroom? Is this a movement where, like so many in education, we will swing to the opposite end of the pendulum only to discover that we have gone overboard and need to swing back from where we came and land closer to the center? Whatever the future in education holds, there is no doubt that we are eyewitnesses of tremendous changes in education, and it is an exciting time to be a teacher.
Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummins, M., and Yuhnke, B. (2016). MC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium