August 2, 2005

Reflective Self-Evaluation

As I began the Facilitating Tech. Integration course, I didn’t really view myself as a technology leader at my school. I thought that I was simply a teacher who was interested in learning how to better use technology in her classes. I feel like the view of myself has changed as a result of this course. I think that my role at school is to be a technology advocate.
I don’t really think that my view of the technology issues my school faces has changed as a result of this course. The issues at my school are still the same. As I mentioned in class, I teach high school English to at-risk, pregnant and parenting teenagers at an alternative school in Richfield. The fact still remains that we are desperately in need of better resources for our students and for our staff. I do believe that the way I will be handling these problems is different now. After taking this course, I feel like my voice is stronger. We were given many readings to complete for the course, and each one helped to strengthen my resolve. I feel now that I need to be an advocate for my students and for my school, to make sure that our needs are being met.
The course increased my awareness of many technology leadership issues that we, as a nation, face. I was most affected by the reading by D. Tapscott, called “The Digital Divide”. This digital divide is what I am most concerned about at my school. My students fall into the “have-nots” in most instances and I definitely see them as being “have-nots” when it comes to technology. In order to best prepare my students, they really should have adequate access to a wide variety of technologies through our school. Many of them do not have this access at home, and school seems like the best place to introduce them to technology. At the present moment, though, we cannot do that. Although it would be easy to read the Tapscott article and feel disheartened, it makes me feel determined to speak up for technology at my school. I also want to do everything I can, with the technology we have, to integrate technology lessons in my classes.
Another idea that made a difference to me were some of the frameworks for technology integration that I was introduced to in the course. I think that our country has the wrong idea about technology. It seems like we simply want to throw money at the technology “problem”, but we aren’t adequately training our teachers to incorporate it into their classes. Hughes’ framework, RAT, made the most sense to me. It helped me to take a look at how I am using technology in my classes. I think this would be a great framework for schools to use as they assess their technology integration. So often, we see technology as a cure-all; this is misguided. Technology is really no replacement for good teaching. I think, though, that technology can really enhance lessons and, as the framework suggests, transform the teaching and learning that is occurring in the classroom.
What I learned in Tech. Integration, relates very well to my every day challenges as a teacher. I think, as a result of the course, I am going to be more aware of my own tech. integration and the challenges that my school faces with technology. As I mentioned, the RAT framework, is really going to help me examine how I am using technology. One way I am planning to better incorporate technology is through the use of blogs. This was simply a tool used in our course, but, for me, it seems like a simple and attainable way for me to use the technology we have to enhance my students’ skills with computers. Although it is a little thing to do, I think it is a great start for me.
I feel that the course has influenced my vision for technology at my school. Although I was, at times, feeling quite pessimistic about technology at my school, I feel I have been given tools to increase my optimism. I know we have a long way to go, but the information I have been given will increase my own technology integration and I plan to become more of a leader and an advocate at my school. I feel like the knowledge I now have will make it easier for me to start the dialogue at my school and my district about the importance of technology and the steps we need to take to be fully integrated. I know that simply throwing equipment at our school will not do what we need; we need to work as a team to make sure it is used and is helping to, at least, amplify what we are doing in the classrooms.
I know that we still have a long way to go in this field, but I am leaving this course excited for the future. I know what we need is attainable, and I will make my voice heard about the issues that we are facing. This course has helped me change the way I view myself and technology integration in my field and at my school.

Posted by kows0005 at 11:42 AM

July 16, 2005

Reading 10--Zhao, pugh...

I think the study was interesting because it addresses some of the practical issues of technology integration in the classroom. One thing that I had never really thought about was in the "Innovator" section. I think this is a mistake I have seen quite a bit, including in my own teaching. The idea is that teachers need to choose technology that is compatible with they own pedagogical beliefs.

Posted by kows0005 at 10:16 AM

July 15, 2005

Reflection 7/15

I really can't do much commenting on my school's use of assistive technology, because, although I work in a special ed. district, my school does not deal with these technologies at all. I can say that I was really amazed at the videos we watched in class. I really had no idea that some of this technology was available, especially the instrument adaptor. I found that to be so incredible and am really glad those kind of things exist. As for the video on websites, that definitely gave me some thoughts on how important it is to make sure school websites are accessible for the visually impaired. That was not something I was aware of before.

Posted by kows0005 at 12:14 PM

July 14, 2005

Class reflection 7/14

As I approach this blog, I really have to work to keep my cynicism in check. I wanted to comment first on the article "Learning for the 21st Century". I almost started laughing when I picked up the article and opened it to the 2nd page. The corporate sponsership of this information is pretty incredible. I am sure these companies are doing plenty, financially, to help achieve the lofty goals that they describe in their "Six Key Elements of 21st Century Learning". My negativity, unfortunately, kept ringing in my ear. How much are they actually doing to assure that these goals are met? Or do they simply get to draft the ideas and sit back, waiting for the educational system to work it all out?

As negative as my thinking may be about the article, I feel that there are some important implications of this article in education. Our society places a big emphasis on what businesses want out of our educational system. If these corporate powerhouses want our students to be equipped with "21st Century Skills", then, by-golly, we are going to do all we can to make sure they are.

My frustration comes into play because my school and most of my students are part of the digital divide. I teach at an alternative school populated by at-risk students. Our computers are out of date, which, we have been told, is supposed to change in the near future. We don't have many of the great tools that many of the other schools have. I know that my students NEED these tech. skills in order to break out of the cycle of poverty. My school is in Richfield, blocks away from the enormous Best Buy campus. We have been written grants for their tech. foundation and have been turned away every time.

On a much more positive level, I know that there are practical ways that we, as a school, can work to change this. First, I think our teachers need to become better educated about technology and how to use it in the classroom. If we are more educated about how tech. can transform our school, we will be more likely to fight for it. Part of my way of changing this was taking this course. I am lucky to be somewhere that my voice is heard and what I say may make a difference. With some of the information I have learned in this course, I plan to make myself a voice for technology and its importance to our students.

Another way to bridge this gap is finding a source of funding for the technology we need. Our district has told us that our school is priority when it comes to updating equipment. I have to believe this is true.

Getting parents onboard is another way to bridge the gap. If we can get our parents to believe in the importance of tech. learning, they can help their studetns believe it, too.

Posted by kows0005 at 12:14 PM

July 13, 2005

Reflection on 7/12 class

I was interested in many things that happened in class today. First, I think it's pretty funny that scholarly journals and standards are talking about tech. integration, yet there are few that actually define what that means. I think that having a clear definition for tech. integration would be really important at a school, district, state or even a national level. I would like to help my own school define what this means and develop a plan to better integrate technology into our program.

The group criteria, created during the class activity today, was another thing I found interesting. The activity really got me thinking on how we, as educators, use technology in our classes and schools. I really believe that if technology is simply there for the sake of itself, then it is not worth having. I think that is should enhance what is already being taught.

Of all the frameworks we talked about, the RAT framework actually gave me the most to consider. As I have said before, I don't necessarily see myself as doing a great job with tech. integration in my classes. I think that, typically, I perform at about the amplification level in the instruction category, which I think is OK. I am not sure, though, that my students' learning is amplified by the tech. I use. This is something I need to do more thinking about, as I consider how to better incorporate tech. into my curriculum.

Posted by kows0005 at 9:58 AM

July 11, 2005

Technology Integration

To me, technology integration means that technology objectives and individual subject (English, Art, Science, etc.) objectives are being met simultaneously. There is no "computer lesson" or "media lesson" that lives seperate from the rest of the lessons in that class. Technology integration is more a way of teaching; this style incorporates technology into everyday activities. Technology would enhance the lessons already being taught. Ideally, if technology is fully integrated into a class, students would become comfortable and proficient with many different computer programs and technological tools that they could use in their schools and possibly in their lives.

Posted by kows0005 at 10:27 AM

Reading 9-- 21st Century Skills

One thing I liked about this article was that they emphasize the importance of teaching the basics along with technology integration. Frequently, it feels like this becomes an either/or debate, when to really teach both things well, they should be taught simultaneously.

I appreciated the examples of what some states are doing to improve in the area of technology. Alabama surprised me in that they are training students to teach their teachers about technology. I find this very interesting. So many students know more about technology then their teachers. My students frequently teach me new things on my computer, which I always appreciate.

Posted by kows0005 at 9:48 AM

Reading 8--Taylor

If anything, the website they mention in this article sounds like a great tool to help integrate technology into my classes. I will definitely want to look this website up. I like the way these units and lessons are created: the nine step program sounds very thorough. Another important component of the program is the emphasis that the program places on incorporating state and national standards into the units. I wonder if any schools in Minnesota have participated in the program and if so, what were the results?

Posted by kows0005 at 9:45 AM

Reading 7--Hughes (Draft)

As I read this article, I realized that I have quite a long way to go before I am functioning at the TPCK level. Currently, I function at the TPK level. I think this is mainly due to two things: lack of knowledge, on my part, of ways to better integrate classes and, of course, lack of funding for technology in my district. I am really excited at the prospect of growing in this area and I hope that this course helps me become better at integrating technology into my teaching.

Posted by kows0005 at 9:41 AM

Reading 6--Hughes (Technology Learning)

I found myself nodding in agreement to most of the things written in this article. The principles for technology learning were good descriptions of things that would help me as I integrate technology into my classes. I find that when I am taught a particluar program, I am more motivated to learn and I learn it better when it has some connection to my subject area. I am also more likely to seek out technology when I know it will some how enhance my ability to teach or will enhance my students' ability to learn.

I also think that inservice and preservice teachers should be taught many technologies with the idea that they will have more to work with when the time comes for them to implement technology in their classes.

One problem I have always run into is budget contraints. I might learn about a great new product or program, but I will not implement it because my school doesn't have the funding for it. I find this to be extremely frustrating as I try to become a technology integrationist.

Posted by kows0005 at 9:38 AM

Reading 5--McGrath

I agree with McGrath's assertion that technology is a great motivator for at-risk students. I know that a favorite thing for my students is getting to go "into the lab" for a class activity. They really enjoy projects where they can do web research. I believe that with better access to technology, alternaitve schools could do some great things with problem-based learning and other ideas.

Posted by kows0005 at 9:29 AM

Reading 4--Tapscott

As I was reading this article, which was written in 2000, I wondered if the statistics of computer use and accessibility has changed in the past five years. I have noticed a significant changed in these two tahings in my experiences in the public schools but am not sure if it has changed across the board.

I do agree with the assertion, in the article, that much of the technological gap does not have to do with a lack of motivation, on the part of the schools, teachers or students, but a lack of funding for technology. As an alternative educator, we have an extremely limited budged for technology. There are many things I would like to do with my students that are impossible because of the lack of technology at my school. Even things as simple as teaching students to create presentations with Powerpoint are currently impossible. I would love to see these problems resolved so that I can better integrate technology into my teaching.

Posted by kows0005 at 9:27 AM

Reading 2--Jonassen

Jonassen's article was interesting to me for a number of reasons. The main reason was because the author describes the the use of technology to be part of a constructivist teaching style. Too frequently we have students use computers and technology in a passive way. They are not engaged in the learning process but are using technology to "teach" them something. This article suggested using computers as "mindtools" where the students become actively engaged in their own learning. The students use the computers to show what they know. I think this is one area where I strugges with the use of technology in my teaching. I would like to use computers as a tool as the article suggests.

Posted by kows0005 at 9:22 AM

Reading 1--Duffy

Although some of the concepts in this article were familiar to me, a few were not. I am familiar with constructivism and find the theory to be quite interesting. I feel that I try to teach under this idea. It is my belief that if the student isn't actively engaged in the learning process, they don't internalize what is being taught. I find this to be especially true in my work with at-risk teens. These students have been "turned-off" by school in one way or another and must be all the more engaged for learning to take place.

One idea that was new to me was the idea of learning mediated by tools and signs. Although the concept may be common sense, I found the idea that the tools we have not only change how we learn but they change what we learn as well. The examples of the hammer and computer/word processor were very helpful.

Posted by kows0005 at 9:15 AM

July 2, 2005

Entry #1 7/1/05

As I prepare myself for this course, I find myself to be a bit nervous. I feel fairly well versed with technology. I use it every day in my work and I feel like I get by quite well. I am worried that I will not have the proper skills for this course, though.

I am also feeling excited to learn new skills in the area of technology. I would like to learn how to better incorporate technology into my curriculum and am particularly curious on how to do this on a tight budget. I work in alternative education, and we tend to have very little money for technology. I am hoping to learn some creative ways to get around this.

Mostly I see technology as a great tool and a wonderful way to enhance my teaching and the students' learning. My desired outcome for this course is to find new ways to use technology to better my teaching skills.

Posted by kows0005 at 7:46 AM