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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lit Review 2 - ). Interactive Whiteboards and the First Year Experience: Integrating IWBs into Pre-Service Teacher Education

This article focused on the issues that universities need to address during the implementation of technology, particularly interactive whiteboards (“IWBs”), and the challenges and opportunities it creates.  The article was based in Australia, where most schools have at least one IWB.  The question raised was how do we familiarize preservice teachers with the technology so they will not only be familiar with the IWBs but they can also utilize it to influence their pedagogical practices.  The article also discussed one university’s approach to challenging first year preservice teachers to become familiar with the IWB technology and consider the pedagogical implications.

This article was of particular interest because we recently reviewed an IWB and coincidentally some of the things that we touched upon in class were the focus of this article.  For example, while the IWBs are relatively easy to use, arrangements for appropriate training and support and allotting for sufficient time for preservice teachers to develop confidence in the technology.  Because IWBs are a relatively new teaching tool, teachers need to build up a repertoire of lesson plans to use with the IWB effectively.  It is during this time period that preservice teachers can devote the time and research to planning and preparing a lesson with the IWBs and enable the teachers to harness the full potential of IWBs.  Again, even though  the overall result will be a streamlined lesson plan, a serious investment in planning and preparation needs to be considered.

Some of the benefits of the IWBs are that they have the potential to enable teachers to cover lessons more efficiently and rapidly, but initially they require an additional investment of time in training and independent exploration to utilize the IWB effectively. That said the faster pace requires teachers to craft sharper questioning skills to elicit students’ understanding of the material.  Another benefit that was researched regarding the IWBs is that they increased student enjoyment and motivation for all classroom participants.  Throughout the article, IWB’s has potential to have a positive impact on learning, but the technology needs to link with the pedagogy.  Even with the article, further research is required to understand the use of IWBs affect on teaching and learning opportunities.

This article gave you something to think about when incorporating the IWBs into your lesson plans.  If you are one of those people, like myself, who like to jump into new things without giving full consideration to its impact, this article brings to light that, yes, this technology is great, but you do need to make the investment and do the work, if you want it to work.  Also too, you cannot avoid the new technology and for you to be a successful, effective teacher, you need to fully learn the technology and incorporate it as a large part of your pedagogy.  My best teachers in school and the two I learned the most from (Mrs. Grandfield 9th grade science and Mr. McCarthy 8th grade history), where heavy users of the overhead projector.  To me, the IWB is the overhead projector on steroids and the possibilities are excitingly endless.
Campbell, C., & Martin, D. (2010). Interactive Whiteboards and the First Year Experience: Integrating IWBs into Pre-Service Teacher Education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 35(6), 68-75. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Technology Integration ... Thoughts

I think that after the past 11 weeks, this experience has only reaffirmed my beliefs about Technology Integration.  I work in an office environment where for years I have seen people struggle with the idea of technology (we are an island of digital immigrants).  I have always thought the time and energy to resist the technology is so much more consuming then just acquiescing to the new tool.  This class has taking the kernel of my beliefs and they have blossomed into endless potential.  In doing the web quest, the one thing I thought was what a productive tool.  You could prepare lesson plans that could be used when you need to take a day off or it would help combat the time lost that is caused by snow days.  Technology is a powerful resource and can be utilized to cover complex lesson plans, communicate more efficiently with students with special needs and enable you to reach out to your ESL students.  This class has definitely opened Pandora’s box for me.  The seed has been planted so when I go further into my education program and I am preparing lesson plans, I will be thinking of ways to add technology to the mix.  The book and class discussions complemented each other and reinforced what we were learning.  I read mostly the entire book and it is a great resource and I will be keeping it for reference.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Equal Access Blog

Providing equal access to the digital world to all learners means giving all students fair ground to access it.  As a teacher that would mean designing your lesson plan with technology that can be accessible to all students.  There are many free resources available on the internet and I would incorporate them in to the lesson plan.  Also, if students do not have their own computers, I would schedule computer time within the classroom time or check with the school library to see when they have an open computer lab.  It would also make sense to contact the local city library and see what their resources are as well.  Technology nowadays is far cheaper and far more easier to access then just five years ago so family financial issues should not impact the access.  Also, I would encourage students not to print out assignments but to communicate them to me electronically.  I can remember the introduction of email to the office and the need to always print every email to read it.  Thankfully, with the evolution of technology and the idea of going green, having a printer is not as necessary as it was.  The need to move technology into the lesson plans is because it is a road map to the future.  If we are going to teach our students to survive in the future, understanding technology will be an integral component of their future success.  As a teacher, your students reaching their intended goals and accomplish objectives in the indicator if technology is enhancing learning.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blog about EdTechTalk - Conversations Show #91 2/6/2011

The topic of discussion was with Trung-Le, Designer with Cannon which has operations of designers around the world.  The discussion revolved around the physical space of the classroom.  The physical setup of classroom was established by the ideas of what a classroom should be in the 1940's when most of the schools were built after WWII.  The structure of most classes is the usual teacher in front, students in orderly rows facing the teacher.  The discussion revolved around how to change the room layout to engage students. 

One point that was mentioned is the setup of a kindergarten class makes more sense because it encourages collaborative learning and has less structure.  In kindergarten, subjects are generally taught together and subjects are not separated.  With first grade, etc. subjects are broken out and more structure and rigidness is applied to the curriculum.  The conversation revolved around making spaces that would enable students to utilize the space more efficiently.  With the use of space more efficiently, Le suggested that the hallway is a significant waste of space.  It is only used for a short time of the day and remains empty a majority of the day.  This space could be used for students to reflect on assignments for example and the teacher would be able to see them.  I thought that was a great idea.  One of the teachers mentioned that if is a hallway, the fire department requires that the hall be left clear.  Le suggested not designating the space as a hallway (just changing the name), but also working with your fire department and discussing the classroom needs.  Also, the term "learning studio" replaced the term "classroom" as it was limited to the preconceived notion of the generic square/rectangle.

The teachers that were participating in this broadcast mentioned what they were going to do to change their classroom.  They could not wait for Monday morning.  One teacher mentioned the desire to build a loft and I had a flashback because my own kindergarten teacher build a loft (with her husband's help) for our class and it was wonderful.  To get started, Le suggested asking the students what their needs are and building upon the student suggestions.  Each participant had some great ideas and the general discussion revolved around getting away from the generic format of the classroom setup.  Another point Le mentioned, which I thought an excellent topic, was ten ways to change your classroom but doing it safely.  Since a majority of the schools were built in the 1940's, the maintenance they need requires harmful chemicals which is bad for the environment, i.e., the floor cleaner for the vinyl floors.  Another suggestion was just interchanging the type of floor or wall with a product that does not require these harmful chemicals so they will not end up in the water or inhaled by the students and faculty. 

Again, as we strive with all technology and change, why not look at something as basic as a physical space.  If the future is going to requirement more collaborative working environments, why not begin to establish this now.  Again, some of these ideas were not that costly, something as simple as moving the furniture in a different direction.  More or less, teachers being more reflectively on their learning environment and how they can maximize its potential for their students.

This was definitely worth the listen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lit Review 1

Literature Review 1 - Equipping the Next Generation of Teachers: Technology Preparation and Practice

          This article begins with the premise that technology experiences during teacher training can help preservice teachers see connections between current technology applications and their appropriateness in the classroom.  According to a study in 2006, a 100% of all teacher preparation programs in the U.S. incorporate technology integration into their program.  There are a variety of strategies for incorporating technology in the classroom, i.e., courses specifically covering technology integration, blended technology skills and integration worked into courses, the infusion of technology with the entire program and field experiences.  Much of the research has focused on the variety of approaches, but the data does not provide insight into the effectiveness of each approach.  This study provided a survey to teacher educators in 4-year teacher preparation programs.  Then a specific group of teachers were followed up with an open-ended surveys that were interpreted and coded so the data could be standardized and compared.

One of the findings from this study was that 30% of the education technology faculty (“ETF”) surveyed believed that the most important topic addressed in their program was how the technology assisted the curricular.  One respondent replied that “we are not interested in technology for its own sake but … to accomplish content area standards.”   For some, technology is the means to the end to get through the curriculum and its use past that is little to none. A second finding was that the 20% of the ETF indicated that the most important topics in their programs revolved around using technology to facilitate professional growth and teach computer literacy.  This expectation sounds familiar to the course objective for an introduction to computers class circa 1990.  A third finding was that only 5% of those who responded reported that the use of technology was to meet the needs of the diverse learner. With the introduction of No Child Left Behind (“NCLB” and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (“IDEIA”) this use of technology was significantly underutilized. 

The study also collected data regarding where the ETF indicated change should be implemented.  Some ETF expressed a desire to have systemic technology integration, particularly in field experiences and methods.  It was believed that the payoff for incorporating technology experiences would facilitate deeper understandings in future teachers.  It was also believed that if the technology experience is positively incorporated it influenced the preservice teachers’ attitudes toward technology.  Positive introduction, along with the ability to practice, would increase the comfort level of preservice teachers with the technology.  Another point the ETF suggested was with the introduction of the technology curriculum and how it should include knowledge and skills used in the field.  Finally, the most urgent concern is the use of assistive technology to support students with special needs.  With the introduction of NCLB and IDEIA, teachers need to be able to utilize these tools to enable their students to succeed in the classroom.

I believe this article addressed a variety of valid points.  It is apparent that technology is still trying to find its place in the school curriculum.  For Digital Immigrant preservice teachers, technology needs to be introduced positively and at a speed in which it could be understood and retained.  One of technology’s best attributes, the rapid speed in which it changes and morphs, has a flip side in that the immigrants are missing the target.  If technology is just being utilized to conquer the outlined curriculum, to enhance your personal productivity or computer literacy or underutilized in assisting special needs students, it is going to fall short of its potential.  The feedback from the ETF overall addresses the concern that technology is here, how do we more efficiently incorporate this tool so we can educate tomorrow’s teachers to be effective technology teachers.  We need to close the education gap between Digital Immigrants teaching Digital Natives. 

 AGronseth, S., Brush, T., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A., Strycker, J., Abaci, S., Easterling, W., & ... van Leusen, P. (2010). Equipping the next Generation of Teachers: Technology Preparation and Practice. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27(1), 30-36. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blog 3 - K12 Online Conference Reflection

Constructing Digital Commonplace Texts Using Diigo, VoiceThread, VideoAnt, and YouTube Annotations the Classroom

This K12 Online was of interest to me because we just discussed VoiceThread at the last class and I was curious to see how to utilize these tools.  The key benefit to these tools, I believe, is that today’s students are digital natives and we need to think more like them and make a compromise if we want them to succeed.  As teachers, we are limited by the allotted time each day to teach a subject and this enables the discussion to carry over.  I think the use of the term “more bang for your buck” is applicable.  Instead of students not thinking about what was covered in class until the following day, it reiterates the material covered in a format that is on their playing field.  This technology introduces short snippets, but powerful, it is a great way to review new concepts covered in class.  I envision it like tugging on the student’s pant leg to remind them “do not forget this.”   Also, all students have an individual learning style and this allows you a variety of ways to get to them. This is an efficient, cheap remedy to reinforce and keeps the discussion moving (the bang for your buck).  Giving students time to mull over what was discussed the day before does not let the topic go cold.

With Diigo, interactive annotations via comments, stickie notes (if I had a dime for every important stickie note I misplaced throughout the years), is an idea that originated from writers far before technology, who annotated their working copies of their books.  This is an invaluable tool because it helps the reader to get a better understanding of what the author’s intent was (getting inside the mind of Shakespeare or better yet James Joyce’s Ulysses).  It also encourages group discussion in a format that does not intimidate students ( and I would assume it would help with bullying issues).  It allows students to express their opinions and the teacher to have a reasonable level of control over the discussion.  Dialogic interaction is what the presenter called it.

When we reviewed VoiceThread in class I wondered to what potential could I use this.  Now, I think it could be endless.  First, to be a teacher in this new technology age, I think it is no longer about memorizing and regurgitating your lesson plan, but it is about knowing what information to cut and paste as the sum of the parts are far more valuable than the parts themselves.  Teachers’ resources are stretched thin, and using items like this, sharing with your PLN, allows you not to necessarily do all the legwork with the lesson plans (from autonomous to collaborating).  I compare this to when word processors were introduced to offices and repetitive text was placed in a boilerplate format.  You would, of course, have to tweak the information, but you did not have to reinvent the wheel, just adjust the spokes.   There is no shortage of knowledge to teach, we just need to put it in reach of the students.

VideoAnt, only if that was around when MTV came on the air.  Actually, Pop up Video on VH1 is a rudimentary version of this.  I find this a great resource because you can assign videos to watch, guide the students on what items you want them to focus on ... all this in a technology that is cool, fun and neat (maybe groovy) so I think it would keep them more engaged.  You can get their feedback as well and monitor their understanding of the lesson plan.  YouTube Annotations is along the same ideas but you can take your own videos and annotate them.

All these tools have the potential to be invaluable assets in the classroom.  My goal is to become more familiar and comfortable with them so I can maximize their potential in the classroom.  I do not consider myself computer illiterate, but at the same time there is so much out there.  How do I cut through all the fat to get to the meat of it all?  I feel like a kid at the penny candy store with five bucks in my hand, wide eyed, staring at the candy counter not knowing where to begin, but excited!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reflection - Digital Nation

My thoughts after watching Digital Nation, was not necessarily the flipside of technology, but the speed in how it have occurred and the gluttony of it. For instance, the MIT students who were convinced that they were “multitasking” and not “distracted” learners were a prime example of the overuse of technology. The same goes for the person talking or texting on the phone while driving, which is now comparable to drunk driving. The concerns of the professors teaching these students said the students of today are different in that a majority are now just passing.

I agreed with the movie that technology can be addictive, just as anything can be addictive if not used in moderation as over use has its consequences, i.e., poor grades. I think it has it place, but as we have preached for years for people to have a balanced diet, a balanced life style is also a necessity. In some ways, we are behind the technology fast track, whereas it comes in fits and bursts, but after watching this movie, there is a benefit to this. Korea being a technology leader technology has evolved very quickly and internet cafes is a good example of the mismanagement and lack of structure and discipline for technology. You may be worse off with it then you would have been without it. I work all day in front of a computer and the last thing I want to do when I come home is sit in front of the computer. We need to use this technology as a means to an end and not the end all and be all. 

In the movie when they were talking to the gamers who had played for hours and hours but had not met face to face, something is lacking. I am not a doctor, but that is so one dimensional, folks, life is messy, chaotic and far from anyone’s control. There is something to be said for human interaction or interactions with living things. Until we can create the technology to make us immortal, the virtual world has a place but it’s not “the place.” I think the piece about “Bubbe,” we want to feel connected to something real, we just want to be anonymous?

Lastly, the piece on the military drones killing enemy forces was disturbing. Whether you are fighting the world’s biggest evil, you’re taking a life, you need to at least give the person the respect of looking them in the eye before you do it. Again, life is messy and technology should not be there just to do our dirty work.