July 15, 2005

July 15th Reflections

It was interesting to view and learn about all of the various technologies that are available for students with disabilities. It has been quite a long time since I have taught in the special education classroom or since I have had a student with physical disabilites in my class. With so many different technologies available I am curious as to how difficult or available they are to students who need them. whe I spoke with a teacher working in a deaf school she mentioned that she had yet to see anything integrated in her school due to costs.
It is always fun to learn about new technologies that I am not aware of. I have yet to work with a Smartboard but would like to. It seems like a great way to integrate tech. with my classroom teaching. I also like the egg timer and the google mapping. After viewing each one I could think of so many ways I would use it in my teaching.

Posted by matul008 at 12:19 PM

July 14, 2005

July 14th Reflections

There are so many aspects to the digital divide with each district/school having it own issues. When I look at the schools I have worked at in the past few years I would have to say that accessibility and teacher knowledge of the technology would be the key factors. When the only computers a school of 500 students has is a lab of 25 computers is the access really there. When I taught at an elementary school in Arizona the students had computer class once every two weeks and during that time the students spent half the class playing games. The software was outdated and so were the computers. There was a single computer in each classroom but the time constraints of each child using it were enormous. Most of the teachers did not even sign up to use the lab as the computers would so often crash and the software available did not correlate with their curriculum. When it came to this school in particular I would have to say outdated equipment, amount of equipment, and professional development were the main factors. Working on each of these would be the first steps in diminishing the digital divide.
The 21st Century article may not have a huge correlation with the digital divide and how it is affecting schools and districts but I do think it is important. The article outlines what students are going to need in order to be prepared for the outside world. Teachers, administrators, and the community as a whole need to be aware of what faces students and what type of learning needs to take place. It brings to light that technology is going to be a major factor for those in the workforce of the 21st Century.

Posted by matul008 at 12:14 PM

July 13th Reflections

I found today's topics quite interesting. As we learned about and discussed the topics of What is Technology Integration? and How have researchers been
studying it? I thought it was interesting that there is a huge focus on how technology is not being used and/or is being used incorrectly. Technology is such a large and complicated learning tool to take on. For a teacher with little to know technology training or experience it can be completely overwhelming. Integrating technology into a classroom takes time, technology “know how”, and the knowledge of how technology can enhance a lesson or unit.
As we discussed the focus of technology research and the fact that we are looking more at student tracking and test scoring I have to wonder if we are truly heading in the right direction. It was brought up that there are holes when it comes to the focus of technology integration topics and I would have to agree. As I research the topic of tech. integration in the science classroom I am having a difficult time finding actual research studies. There are a number of articles out there and many of them bring to light the same problem, where is the research?
The topic of professional development in the integration of technology interests me a great deal. Placing computers in schools and classrooms is only the first in many steps when it comes to tech. integration. I have read some fascinating articles that list the necessary characteristics of professional development when it comes to tech. integration but have found that schools and districts are so often not aware of them all. This is an area I would like to learn more about.

Posted by matul008 at 8:32 AM

July 12, 2005

June 12th Reflections

Looking at the mind map we created it becomes apparent that there are numerous facets to consider when evaluating a specific technology. It is important not to use a technology for the sole purpose of motivation or the novelty of it all. In articles I have recently read it is stressed that teachers need to stay within their teaching philosophy when integrating technology. If the technology causes a teacher to go outside of his/her philosophy it will cause problems. The mind map also reflects the other significant aspects to consider when integrating technology. Each is important and should not be left out.

Posted by matul008 at 12:13 PM

July 11, 2005

What is Technology Integration?

The integration of technology into the classroom involves many facets. It includes the training of teachers, the inclusion of technology (hardware and software) in the classroom and school, access for students and teachers to the technology, and the use of the technology throughout the curriculum. When the technology is integrated it becomes an intregal part of the curriculum as it supports it and enhances it. I think it is important to note that technology should be used when it is an important contributor to the curriculum and not just something used for novelty.

Posted by matul008 at 10:26 AM

July 9, 2005

The Digital Divide

The topic of the digital divide is something I have read about before. The article brings to light the fact that there is such a divide between those with access and those without. And the fact that even though a computer is within reach doesn’t mean that access is being granted. I have such a difficult time when schools say they are integrating technology while their students may get on the computer for an hour once a week. This may be due to lack of computers, Internet access, and/or teacher training.

The article does a great job of pointing out that technology is not the latest fashion or “in thing” to be had but instead it is a door to opportunities in education and possibly future employment. How many jobs on the market are being given to foreign peoples because we are not providing Americans (of any background) with the necessary skills. In today’s world a person needs to be somewhat computer literate if only to get through high school and/or college.

Another aspect of the article was the description of how placing computer access in the community (and schools) must go beyond just the computers. In both instances training and technical support needs to occur, along with continuous funding. Corporations need to become involved and for more reasons than good publicity.

Posted by matul008 at 10:51 PM

Conditions for Classroom Technology Innovations

I liked this study a great deal. It highlights the difficulties teachers have in implementing technology in their classrooms and all of the facets that need to be taken into consideration. How often do we as teachers attend a conference, become excited at the thought of integrating a new concept or technology into our curriculum only to find that we did not take into account all of the necessary components? The integration of technology is not something that is going to happen over night and there are so many components to it that we as teachers need to be aware of.

There were many points outlined in the study that I found to be significant.

“When the value of technology was limited to peripheral functions, such as adding novelty to teaching, the likelihood of success was greatly reduced.”(pg. 492) I have witnessed this in so many situations. Teachers just want to add a little something new to their teaching but find that without integrating technology for true teaching purposes they end up with a botched lesson or unit. The technology becomes more of a hindrance than anything else.

“In contrast to Kathy is Willa, whose pedagogical beliefs were not consistent with her project. Her project originated from on in-service seminar.” (pg. 493) In-service seminars are great at inspiring those who attend them, but how often do they go beyond the inspiration and delve deeply into all of the facets of what they are proposing? The interest to integrate technology may begin at an in-service but before true integration can occur the teacher must know all he/she is getting his/her self into.

“To make computers work teachers often need to continuously interact with technicians and administrators, two groups of people teachers have not traditionally had close relationships with.” (pg. 494) I have experienced this many times and made sure that I kept in close contact with both. At one school I had the son of the man who was the head of technology. He was the individual who was responsible for keeping the systems and computers working. I learned quite quickly to use this to my advantage. I also learned that a plate of homemade cookies went a long way.

I think it is also important to stress the fact that a teacher’s relationship with his/her colleagues can make a significant difference. Also important is the presence of a translator. This person should be available in every school and district. So many teachers do not, and are not interested in, integrating technology due to the lack of guidance they have. Technology is an intimidating and often scary thing to bring into the classroom. With so many aspects that can go wrong a teacher needs someone to support him/her.

Posted by matul008 at 11:05 AM

July 5, 2005

How to Become a Technology Integrationist

I enjoyed that way the article described the different kinds of knowledge that teachers develop. Technology pedagogical knowledge (TPK) seems to be where a number of teachers are right now. It is that beginning stage that is not too intimidating and does not necessarily require a great deal of technology know how. I have found that many teachers remain at this level and feel that it is as far as they need to go. Many school districts are only requiring their teachers to integrate technology to this level while confidently stating that technology is being used in teaching. I realize that it is a beginning but I find it disappointing.

Technology content knowledge (TCK) is the next level. I look at this knowledge to come from teachers who are becoming confident with using technology and have the drive and desire to integrate it even more. The Polar Husky Expedition is a great example of TCK in that teachers with a base knowledge in technology can easily implement the lessons from the expedition website into their curriculum. By doing so this allows the teacher to expand his/her knowledge of a content area and technologies.

Technology pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) is the level I strive to be at when I return to teaching. This should be the goal of every teacher who wants to integrate technology successfully in his/her teaching. Developing lessons focuses not only on technology or content but instead on both.

In closing, I want to say that I love the definition of a Technology Integrationist. The key word in the definition is “only.” This is something that to me should be posted in every teachers’ lounge, mentioned in every technology resource book, and declared at any and every technology training conference or session.

Posted by matul008 at 8:34 PM

Technology Learning Principles for Preservice and In-service Teacher Education

I enjoyed reading this article as it focused on some facets of technology in education that seems to be ignored too often. I am reminded of the research I found while writing a paper on professional development in technology integration. Defining the school and/or district’s vision for technology integration is important. There must be a clear vision of the district/school technology plan along with an understanding of what roles staff and teachers are going play in reaching the goals of the vision. Unless the administrators, especially principals, are not invested in the process the professional development of technology will not be successful. There also needs to be a message from
administration that is clearly stated and articulates how new technology will be used and how the culture of the school will most likely change. According to Stager (1995) the message must clarify the curricular content and specify the outdated methodology and content that will be replaced as technology is introduced. This will clarify for those skeptics the need to change and the need to get themselves “professionally developed.”

In Principle 1 it was emphasizes that there is the need for teachers to learn about technology “in context” as opposed to a decontextualized technology tool. I couldn’t agree more. There must be an instructional focus during technology training that directs teachers to consider their curriculum first and then assists them in addressing the best way to integrate the technology (Guhlin, 1996; Persky, 1990). It is important not to focus only on the computer software and applications but to give teachers a reason for using technology. Concentrating on skills such as work processing and spreadsheets alone is problematic as it offers little experience for teachers to transfer their learning into their classrooms (Shelton & Jones, 1996). By providing teachers with the connection and reasoning for technology understanding and usage, the building of a meaningful context for the learner results.

Having taught for twelve years I look back to the training I received at the University of Nebraska. Technology was never an aspect of any class I took. I typed all of my papers on a typewriter. Principle 2 hits on this with the recommendation that pre-service teachers receive specific educational technology courses and/or content methods and content courses that acknowledge the role of technology. One thing that may keep this from occurring is the training of college professors in integration of technology into their instruction. While working on my Masters in IST it has been made apparent to me that some instructors still do not feel comfortable integrating technology into their instruction. Blackboards and overheads continue to be the resources used to present material. I have to ask if this is the same in the entire educational department and if so do we need to begin with those that teach the teachers first?

I appreciate the fact that the article brought up the need for technology advisors. Providing qualified support was a factor I found to be crucial when it came to technology professional development. An effective way to align staff development with the district/school goals is to have a person with experience in both curriculum and technology (Kinnaman, 1990). Teachers need to be trained not just how to use the equipment but how to specifically integrate it into their lessons. A teacher who is just beginning to use technology is more likely to begin using it in his/her curriculum when there is someone to turn to for information along with reassurance and emotional support (Pearson, 1994; Persky, 1990).

Posted by matul008 at 5:22 PM

Equity Revisited

The Equity Revisited article hit on some important points. I liked the focus on Project-Based Learning, a teaching strategy that more and more schools seem to be discovering. I researched PBL and gave a presentation on it during a class last semester. I found some fantastic information and examples on the www.edutopia.com website. Project-Based Learning and technology is a natural pairing that works. As pointed out in the article, it not only increases engagement but it also gives students the opportunity to use higher-order thinking instead of the standard rote learning. I am sad to say that I know of a number of teachers who are intimidated about pairing the two and leaving behind their lessons that have not changed in the past 10-20 years. But change is good, and in order to give our students what they need to succeed in the 21st century we, as teachers, need to make the necessary changes also.
One more point that the article made that I find essential is the relating of what is taught to that of our students' lives. There needs to be a connection and reasoning for what is being learned. When students understand why they are learning a certain topic, unit, or skill there is a higher level of understanding and motivation that occurs.

Posted by matul008 at 1:56 PM