(541) Technology Integration Vision Statement

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Defending the use of Technology within Public Schools.

John Dewey in his 1987 article titled “My Pedagogic Creed” stated that “school must represent present life – life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the play-ground.”  Present life to students includes Smart phones, MP3 players and computers, all of which have the capacity to tear down any kind of boundary in order to gain information within seconds.  ABC News reported that students spend on average 75 hours per week using some form of technology that enhances their ability to connect with others and view multiple forms of media that can be accessed anytime and anywhere.  Without realizing it, students are being primed, not only for future careers, but also to live in a technology rich society.  So why not integrate technology into public education?

Student Motivation

When learning occurs through the use of technology, there are positive outcomes.  According to a report issued by Milken Exchange on Educational Technology, students who use technology achieve higher results, take less time to learn more and have better attitudes and attendance when there classes include computer based instruction.  Students are adapting to the change in instructional delivery methods and day-to-day usage of technology.  In short, students like technology, and they want to use it more.

Core Skills

Technology ought to be the backbone of the education institution.  Skills that were once relevant in the classroom are no longer valid and have made way for current 21st Century skills that include:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Creativity and Innovation Skills
  • Collaboration Skills
  • Information and Media Literacy Skills
  • Contextual Learning Skills

and according to The Partnership for 21st Skills students can learn these skills while preparing for higher education and future careers that includes a  globally competitive workforce.  Students are motivated to learn new abilities, some of which they already have and are eager to use in different contexts.

Schools have a responsibility to educate.  Education is not limited to subjects such as math, science or English but also includes life skills that allow students certain experiences that help them transition from one stage of their life to another.  The core 21st Century skills create avenues for such experiences to flourish.

Role Changes
The 21st Century has been a time of change:

Students now become the masters of their own destiny, choosing how to: “generate, obtain, manipulate, or display information.” This is highly linked to motivation and the ability to learn new skills in a changing environment.  Teachers are no longer the center of attention.  Through the use of technology, teachers become facilitators and as such have the time to scaffold students as they engage in project based learning.

Technology IS the vision of the future and education must not be left behind.  In a global economy, American students are no longer competing for jobs among themselves but with students from other countries.  That, in itself, is why technology should be integrated and instituted in order to give students an edge.

Guiding resources:
ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/WN/kids-electronics-study-shows-kids-spend-hours-day/story?id=9616699
Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description 
ED.gov: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/plan/2004/site/theplan/edlite-TearDownThoseWalls.html
John Dewey, “My Pedagogical Creed:”  http://dewey.pragmatism.org/creed.htm
The Milken Exchange on Educational Technology: http://www.mff.org/pubs/ME161.pdf
Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students:http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdTech/effectsstudents.html

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(503) Instructional Design Job Posting

The fictitious job vacancy can be viewed here: Job Vacancy-Instructional Design.

Reflection

The Instructional Design job posting assignment was interesting for multiple reasons.  Since commencing my Masters program I have heard the term ‘Instructional Designer’ being thrown around with such commonality; however, when I sat down to complete this assignment I was tasked with truly understanding what an instructional designer does and   their specific responsibilities that come with the title.  Reflecting back on this assignment, I now feel that I have a clearer picture as to some of the subtle and major differences between an educator and instructional designer.

I myself am an educator.  I do not and have never considered myself to be an instructional designer.  Yes, I gather content together and try to deliver it in a fun way that  creates learning for not just one group of people but for all groups of people.  This differentiated learning style allows me to incorporate a bit of technology here and there but I do not need to be tech savvy to be good at what I do.  As an educator I am responsible for the students that come to my class.  I assist these students with social and emotional issues that occur daily.  I mentor students.  As part of my job, I have the opportunity to create fun ways to deliver content that intends to reach every student.  This includes but is not limited to oral presentations, visual cues, reading and study guides etc.  Educators can make learning personal.

While conducting much research on instructional designers and their major functions I found that the expectations were somewhat different than those given to educators.  In my opinion, instructional designers seem to work their magic away from the lime light.  What I mean by this is that they seem to function away from the classroom, that they assist the faculty in course design and trouble shooting when things go wrong; however, it is the faculty’s main job to deliver the curriculum once it is in its proper format.  I also noticed that instructional designers needed to be more up-to-date with trends in educational technology.  Designers must be adept at using multiple learning management tools, web development and designing tools and furthermore be creative  when designing new and innovative applications to be used in an educational setting.  To do this, I found a common theme of previous education experience throughout each job posting.  With experience in the education field designers should also have strong skills in pedagogy and assessment in order to be successful.  I believe that these skills overlap an educator’s list of required skills.

To conclude, the three major differences between an educator and an instructional designer are as follows: 1) Teachers primary concern is what happens in the classroom and how it affects the students in it while the instructional designer concerns themselves with creating and developing curricula and instructional materials.  2) Instructional designers use proven methodologies and design principles to create such instructional materials while teachers must use their own educational beliefs/philosophies to make quick decisions regarding issues in the classroom.  This requires educators to be flexible while holding to the standards the school has set.  3)  Technological differences are evident.  Instructional designers are current in their technology training and are required to continue being current to stay competitive in a global industry.  Educators have limited exposure to such training and with current budget cuts, professional development opportunities are few and far between for most educators.  This particular difference causes me to question the gap between a well-trained instructional designer who provides digital curricular to ill-prepared teachers.  To me this makes no sense and provides an indication as to how well such curricular is being adopted into certain school districts.   Should it be the job of the instructional designer to not only design and create such materials but also to train others in the particular functions and specifics of the course curricular in order for teachers to truly integrate it?  Should there be an extension of instructional designers whose main responsibility is to learn the newest applications and then mediate between the instructional designer AND then train the educator to successfully use them in the classroom?

Job Posting Resources:

Instructionaldesigncentral.com

higheredjobs.com

simplyhired.com

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(504) Connectivism Theory Synthesis Paper

As part of the curriculum for EdTECH 504, I co-authored a synthesis paper on Connectivism, an emerging educational theory.  The paper can be viewed here.

Reflecting on this project has given me the opportunity to consider how connectivism has actually benefited me and how it will continue to benefit me as I seek my graduate degree in Educational Technology.


							
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(504) Module 4

Module 4

For Module 4 Reflection, you need to critically analyze the connections among emerging technologies, learning theories, and theories of educational technology. Use what you have learned to extend these linkages to your own classroom instruction.

During module 4 I have spent the time emerging myself in research.  Because of the nature of the module, I have taken the time to reflect on specific elements of the connectivism learning theory and, furthermore, I have had the privilege to work with a class mate to co-author a paper on this particular learning theory.

Connectivism is an emerging theory.  It was created out of the need to incorporate a learning theory that captured new learning and social technology such as wiki’s, blogs, facebook, youtube etc.  The one thing strikes me the most about this learning theory is that it requires students to have the freedom to choose what tools they will use to learn.  This factor gives students responsibility and accountability and furthermore connectivism takes learning out of the teacher’s hands and into the learner’s hands.  This is a liberal way to approach education and while it may have been considered in the past, there is a definite shift in how education is delivered now and in the future.  This is attributed to technology that allows limitless boundaries and effective tools in which to connect to information and like-minded people which help a learner to build on the knowledge.

So the question is this:  Am I ready to whole heartedly adopt such a theory into my teaching style?  While co-authoring the paper on connectivism, I realized that applying the theory into education is quite simple.  As a teacher, I must ensure that students have adequate resources and the ability to connect to others.  If students can connect to others, the freedom to choose how they learn, and allow students to bring in a diverse selection of readings and other media that assists them in building their knowledge then connectivism has been apparent.  I question though how well connectivism works with other theories such as constructivism.  I also question how well connectivism works with the absence of technology.

To conclude, this module has reinforced the importance of analyzing each theory in order to effectively consider what elements of the learning theory can be used in your personal teaching style or within your classroom.  On the surface, each theory seems like it would not work in my teaching style; however, when I researched each elements, I saw different components that would work with my teaching style.

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(504) Module 3

Module 3

In your Module 3 Reflection extend your linkages between theories of learning, theories of educational technology and your own classroom instruction or professional practice.

I begin my Module 3 Reflection by saying how intrigued I am at the concept of the jigsaw activity.  This basic activity allows groups of learners to become an expert in a specific focus and then share that information with others.  After reading chapter 8 on Distributive Cognitions, I see the connection to the jigsaw activity and the theory in multiple ways.

Cognitive Distribution can be looked at in two different ways: System Theory and Cognitive Theory.  While System Theory takes a look at the bigger picture (the whole jigsaw activity), Cognitive Theory looks more closely at the finer details (individual chapter summaries).  Of course, Distributive Cognition also includes technology or ‘artifacts’ to not only communicate this information but to assist in building up our cognitive inventory to be used later.

During this module I have really focused on how Distributed Cognition plays a role in education.  I work at a local High School and can truly say that technology is somewhat misused. Information displayed through technological means in order to teach students does not constitute a solid and reasonable definition of DC.  Distributed Cognition requires a constructivist hands on; real world approach which provides students with activities where they can form learning groups and use multiple forms of technology and social media.  By providing students with this form of learning, students will be able to correctly analyze data, work as a collaborative unit, transfer knowledge when artifacts are unavailable, and form opinions, arguments and inferences.  This is the direction I want my students and my teaching style to head.

In reflecting back over the last few weeks I have noticed a reoccurring theme of authentic learning while studying various theories of learning.  It is this authentic learning that engages students and sets them up for the rest of the life.  This 21st Century learning pattern is found in many of the chapter outlines posted on the jigsaw activity website which, to me, suggests that it is not only important but it is the future of education.  I am wondering if every educator got the memo.

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(504) Module 2 Reflection

Reflection 2

For your Module 2 reflection activity begin creating linkages between your own epistemological beliefs and your classroom instruction. Do you see inconsistencies in what you do and what you believe? See if you can extend your thinking to include ways in which you incorporate technology into your curriculum. For example, drill and practice software used for test preparation and/or remediation fit most behaviorist learning theories which fall under objectivist epistemologies. Would this necessarily fit with your own beliefs about the nature of learning?

Reflecting on the last two weeks I can clearly see inconsistencies between the way I deliver content to students and the way I feel content should be delivered to better prepare students.  I am sure that there are multiple reasons for why I do this but I feel that the foundational cause is directed to my inexperience and limited pedagogical skills.

My focus over the last two weeks has been to study the various rooted and emerging theories along with their individual models of instruction and to place myself among them.  Although I see myself as a combination of a “part of this and part of that” I like to think that I take more of a Social-constructivist approach when teaching.

After completing the required reading, and taking time to reflect on my own beliefs of education, I drew mostly from the Social-constructivist theory due to the emphasis on ‘real world’ application and the belief “that knowledge is situated through experience.” (Barab, Duffy, n.d.)  As teachers we seek to provide experiences for our students through engaging and “authentic learner activities,” we allow students to create their own identity “through their relationship with the world.” (Barab, Duffy, n.d.) It is this learning-by-doing attitude that we best prepare our students for the real world.

I question though:

  1. How do I properly integrate real world situations that students can take ownership of rather than fictitious scenarios students find mundane?
  2. Do I rely more on ‘practice fields,’ ‘communities of practice’ or both?
  3. How, as the teacher, do I create student collaboration with professionals in the field of study?
  4. Does Social-constructivist theory have a place in mainstream public schools or should this theory be set apart for emerging signature/magnet schools that can afford to establish relationships with local and worldwide organizations, universities and large companies to maximize real world learning?

As I continue to master this theory (among others) I am excited at the possibilities of researching certain current events, connecting with a network of schools that are like-minded and giving the students ownership of the project in order to find the solution.  I also want to learn how I can create an atmosphere where by reciprocal teaching can flourish in my classroom.

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(504) Module 1 Reflection

Reflection 1.

  1. Where are you now, in terms of your own teaching and professional practice and the inclusion of educational technology in that process?
  2. What kind of change do you hope to see as a result of this class?
  3. How might your knowledge and experiences influence the actions of those around you?

“Technology is being credited as one of the major reasons for the increased work productivity and economic success of the United States.”

(Valdez, Mcnabb, Foertsch, Anderson, Hawkes, and Raack, 2000)

Prior to taking this graduate class I was firm in my beliefs and self-created definition as to what Educational Technology was, how it could benefit every learner and the direction this new discipline was heading.  Reflecting upon the last two weeks I have found that my definition has been built on shaky ground; however, my ultimate focus is still the same- to ensure that the use of educational technology directs and prepares students for technology rich vocations.

After receiving my undergraduate degree in 2009, I emerged myself in education, specifically working with both underprivileged and special education students.  I have seen firsthand the importance of integrating technology into the classroom as an aide to learning and communicating.  While I look forward to teaching, this experience has provided me with a way to gauge and asses: 1) How well teachers are prepared to use technology in innovative ways 2) How receptive students are to new technologies as a way of teaching and enhancing learning 3) If the technology is effective in reaching its desired objectives.  To highlight one of many frustrating problems I have seen is the lack of hands on experience students receive while attending public schools.  This notion of student activity and responsibility, to me, should be referenced in any educational technology definition.

In reading the required articles I found Luppicini’s article most important as it fell in line with the social and historical aspects I tend to focus on.  Personally, this article excelled my thoughts in the direction of social sciences and in particular technology “that would aid in preparing future professionals for the field.” (Januszweski, 2001) This idea, coupled with others, provides the underlining reason for 1) studying the theory behind this emerging phenomenon and 2) clearly defining the role of how technology will generate such outcomes desired by society.

I agree that technology is the systematic “processes and products to serve human purposes embedded in socio-environmental contexts.” (Luppicini, 2005)  Agreeing to this notion opens a floodgate of questions and further complicates reaching a solid definition.  The key point is clarifying “human purposes” which is by far the broadest and indefinable term.  While technology evolves, so do human requirements and each individual (such as honors and special education students) require technology that caters to their specific needs.

By completing this class I want to:

  • Become a more competent teacher based on the theories I become familiar with through research and then connect such theories to broaden my pedagogy.
  • Answer the question as to how (and why) “the success or failure of technology is more dependent on human and contextual factors than on hardware and software”? (Valdez, Mcnabb, Foertsch, Anderson, Hawkes, and Raack, 2000)
  • Further cement my current outlook on the use of technology which enables lifelong learners to be successful according to society’s expectations and rules.

In doing so, I hope to assist in moving the educational field forward with attractive, hands on instruction which aides students in their post secondary education endeavors.

References:

Valdez, G., Mcnabb, M., Foertsch, M., Anderson, M., Hawkes, M., and Raack, L. (2000). Computer-based technology and learning: Evolving uses and expectations. Revised Edition. Naperville, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service Number: ED456816).

Luppicini, R. (2005). A systems definition of educational technology in society. Educational Technology & Society, 8 (3), 103-109. Retrieved August 26 from http://www.ifets.info/journals/8_3/10.pdf

Januszewski, A. (2001). Educational Technology: The Development of a Concept. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.

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