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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.