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August 6, 2006

Reflections: The Digital Divide (Tapscott)

It was interesting to note, while reading the article, just how quickly a technology article can become dated. The goals of the many organizations mentioned in this article was to become “wired?, however, today, the goal is to become “wireless? – not only organizations, but also entire communities and cities.

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I couldn’t help but think as I read the article, of the many things in schools we could do with computers. If you let yourself think of the vast possibilities, it is really mind-boggling. As I had talked with fellow students throughout the week, integration of technologies could, potentially, reduce or eliminate the problem with overcrowding in the schools. As schools become more tech-integrated, they could (potentially) offer on-line classes, thus reducing the need for students to be at a building 5 days/week. The problem becomes, though, what to do with families that are not “wired? (or wireless). However, this is not an insurmountable problem. Schools could find ways to provide computer access to all students (whether on-site or off-site).

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Another thought I had while reading this article: Technology is really a great eliminator or racial, economic, etc., etc., divides. If you didn’t know who I was, there would be little way of telling whether or not I am black, white, Hispanic, Asian, etc. All you could know about me is my mind (and my typing/grammar skills). This is incredible! When people have access, the only barriers that are formed are those of thought and theory, not of economic status or skin color.

August 2, 2006

Reflections: Equity Revisited (McGrath)

The article mentioned a finding that poor and minority students were more likely to be given an “excess of drill and practice and very little opportunity to use technology for higher-order thinking tasks?. When I read this, my first question was, “why?? Were the educators of these students less apt to use technology? (Was there something fundamentally different about the teachers?) Or, was there something fundamentally different about the student? (Did the students tend to display more behavioral problems? Hence, the teacher responded by demonstrating tighter control of her content?) Often times, when reading about differences between different groups of people (particularly in education), a fact such as this is stated, but we are still left with the big ‘Why’ question. It would seem to me that this is the big question… Is there something fundamentally different about these teachers? about the students? or is someone/group of people advertently or inadvertently trying to keep these groups where they are. Or is it a combination of these? Oftentimes, the answers to these questions are assumed. Great things have been accomplished in school districts that have incorporated data-based decision making practices. This article gives another example about how techniques/skills can be incorporated to increase learning and participation of at-risk learners.
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(p. 39): “In addition to traditional content, schools need greater emphasis on glob al awareness, economic literacy, and civil literacy.? I couldn’t agree more. To often students ask the question, “why do I need to know this?? Educators need to do a better job grounding their lessons in real-world issues.

August 1, 2006

Reflection: A Nine-Step Program

This sounds like an interesting program. Central to the program's success is the requirement that a group of teachers and an administrator attend. This would create an in-group in the school community, with the administer leading the program, which would increase the probability of the tools/skills being implemented in the school.

The website was also helpful. I have added this link to my del.ic.ious account (that I share with my school's tech lead), and I am sure that we will be accessing this site throughout the 06-07 school year.

Reflection: Technology Learning Principles for Preservice and In-Service Education (Hughes)

There are a couple of things that I would like to comment on for this article:

1) Throughout the Campus Week, I was continually identifying new ways to reach those in my organization who were slow to integrate new technologies in their teaching. Prior to this week, I had one "tool" to use with these types of teachers, now, I have several. One additional tool that I added to my tool-belt from this article, was to let the teacher identify the problem, and then demonstrate a tech tool that will assist the teacher in solving the problem (p. 348). As I have mentioned in previous entries, we have tech tools readily available to us, and many are using the tools. However, some are resistant. So, we have attempted to encourage them by showing them potential uses for technology in their classrooms. However, a frequent response is, "when am I going to have time to do that!" If we were to take a different approach - listen for problems and then suggest tech solutions to those problems, we would likely have a higher probability of success.

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2) Page 350 mentioned the student-teaching model. One issue that I have observed with student teaching, is that regardless of the tech training completed during the student-teacher's schooling, if the student-teacher is paired with a Luddite teacher (which, unfortunately, many seasoned teachers tend to be), all that tech training is put aside when the student is first practicing their skills. How many of these teachers then pick up the tech skills they learned prior to their student-teacher experience and use them in class? I don’t know, but I assume that the likelihood is diminished by a student-teacher experience that does not incorporate these skills.

July 29, 2006

Reflections: Conditions for Classroom Technology Innovations (Zhao)

This article points out many barriers with current technology integration efforts in schools today. There are many things that I could comment on in this article. However, I was particularly interested in the statement, "successful implementation of classroom technology was more likely to occur when teachers viewed technology as a means to an end, rather than an end itself." In my experience, the computer equipment is purchased, and then teachers are expected to justify the purchase (by tracking usage data). Fortunately, in my school the percentage of the time that the laptop carts are used is quite high. However, it may be better for school districts looking into the purchase of new technologies (particularly when funding is coming from the community) to explore how these new technologies could enhance /transform current educational practices prior to the purchase of the equipment. In situations where the latter is not practiced, technology integration is the end (i.e., increasing the computer usage), instead of the means (how to use technology to improve student learning).

Reflections: How to Become a Technology Integrationist (Hughes)

As I reflect back on this article, and our discussion in class, I recall the discussion of some of the criticisms of the theory: specifically, that "Technology Knowledge" should be an independent category at all.

On one hand, I can understand the criticism, out of the three categories, TK is the most fluid. As was mentioned in the article, overhead projectors could at one time be included in this category, but no longer so. Likewise, one day e-mail may no longer be considered TK, but merely something that is essential to the teaching/learning process.

However, as is stated in the article, the purpose of the framework is to provide a "formative self-evaluation" instrument for teachers. Therefore, the TK category is a necessary category. The level of technology integration by a teacher cannot be assessed without consideration to technologies available.

Overall, this framework is also useful for those who are attempting to encourage the Luddites of education to expand their tech knowledge by providing a framework when discussing the advantages of incorporating technologies into their teaching practices.

July 14, 2006

Reflections: 5th Day (Friday)

Mentoring
In efforts to cut costs, districts often cut funding for mentoring and other collaborative programs. The outcome is often that new staff are disconnected from one another, and thus cannot learn from one another.

Students Teaching Teachers
I have used this approach with several EBD/High IQ students I work. These students are typically more tech savvy than the teacher, and therefore look for ways to entertain themselves when the class is covering fundamental computer topics. I have had one student identify security holes in our network. I am hoping that he will eventually work for Symantec.

July 12, 2006

Reflections: Third Day (Wednesday)

I enjoyed the discussion about application of the RAT and Jonassen's MindTools frameworks. Throughout this week, I repeatedly have had a small number of teachers in mind who are technological Luddites. I now perceive that some of their objections to new technology is that technology is a fad that will hopefully pass away so we can go back to learning how to read and memorize math facts. Whenever I (or other "techy" people) suggest a new way of teaching utilizing technology, they may perceive the change as merely replacement with no benefits. (In other words... why should I use Excel to add numbers, when I can do the same thing on a chalk board. Is it simply because 'you' think it's cool? or is there some other benefit?)

I now can structure conversation about the benefits of integrating technology by identifying the broad change categories: replacement, amplification, or transformation. If the use of technology is simply replacement, I must identify ways that the replacement is beneficial to the teacher, school, or district. If I can think of no ways that a replacement is beneficial to anyone (what is the Relative Advantage - Rogers) then maybe the Luddite teacher has a point. On the other hand, if benefits are identifiable, these frameworks will better facilitate that discussion.

July 10, 2006

Monday's Class (7/10)

Today we looked at a variety of lesson plans involving technology. I personally viewed a French lesson using Inspiration, a math assignment using an informative website and excel (to find and chart the mean, median, and mode), journaling using blogs, learning fractions using KidPix, and a music lesson utilizing PowerPoint.

I have had previous experience with all of these technologies with the exception of KidPix. I was most intrigued with the use of blogging, particularly as it relates to my home school setting. We have students who struggle with writing (and qualify for Special Education assistance) take an intensive writing course. Blogs would help assist these students in writing and revising. Most students are aversive to paper and pencil writing tasks. The possibilities of spell check, peer review, and the public nature of the post could assist these students develop these writing skills.

July 7, 2006

Reactions to: (Jonassen) Computers as Mindtools for Engaging Learners in Critical Thinking - 1998

This was a very interesting article! I appreciate the author’s argument that “we should assign cognitive responsibility to the part of the learning system that does it the best?. Since I was a student in high school, I have never understood the necessity of memorizing a list of facts, only to be forgotten shortly after the quiz. Students need to demonstrate mastery of concepts (not the memorization of mere facts). One of my instructors used to repeatedly tell me that I didn’t understand something unless I was able to teach that topic. However, teaching does not require rote recital of facts (I may utilize my PowerPoint notes, or a website for details), but I must understand the concept (how to use those details). Jonassen, Car, and Yueh argue that we should let technology do what technology is good at (storage/recall), and let people do what they are good at (judging and organization). I couldn’t agree more. In fact, for this blog, I have utilized spell check (something that I am not the best at), and dictionaries (recital of word meanings) to formulate/organize this entry (something that I am good at). We should teach our students to do the same.

Reactions to: Constructivism: Implications for the Design and Delivery of Instruction

I was reading this article at the same time I read James Gee’s article “High Score Education? (EdPA 5309), and I couldn’t help but think of the overlap. Video games utilize constructivist learning, in that the player is given a problem, some scaffolding (usually the first few introductory levels), and is left alone to solve the problem (beat the game). Video game players are drawn to this approach because they take ownership of their performance in the game. Likewise, when a learner is given ownership of a problem, their investment in the learning increases dramatically.