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October 2, 2006

Equity Revisited...McGrath

This article analyzes information from enGauge 21st Centry Skills: Literacy in the Digital Age, Connecting the Bits, and Learning for the 21st Century for ways of teaching with technology that will benefit all learners. The author concludes that the 3 studies share the following: use prior knowlege, use technology in a way that you would in the future...to communicate and to help you understand, and present knowledge/project to others.

I think these 3 ideas are great, but I think the author watered them down a little too much, even in her terminology. I still like the approach of the enGauge article in which they have the areas divided into 4 groups: Digital Age Literacy, Inventive Thinking, Effective Communication and High Productivity. I agree you need to use a students prior knowledge as a basis and then build upon that. I also think you need to have the students look at the future and predict what kinds of things they will need to know based on what they think will happen in the future. I am sure they would come up with similar ideas.

I also agree that Project Based Learning (PBL) could be utilized more often. I would like see this as a combined effort between the teachers and the "community" to find projects that show why learning in school is important and what learning is important. In school we rely so much on that delayed gratification that it is no wonder students lack interest in some areas. As teachers we keep saying, you will need to know this for the test, but then students don't realize how often in life you run into a "test".

Random thought...maybe we shouldn't have testing anymore. Maybe we should have evaluations in which you are to "find an answer" to a question. Time of course is of essence bacause in quite a few jobs, the more you can do , the more you get paid. I really don't know if we can eliminate testing all together because of all the time it would take to conitue to reteach everything from the beginning. (addition, subtracation, etc.)

The equity though, would be great. If we could figure out how to stimulate students so they wanted to be in school and they wanted to learn, that would be awesome. If PBL would help that, then maybe we should be doing more projects. If we did more PBL then maybe we would get the at-risk students to stay on track. If they felt more responsible for a project would it be enough for the student to make it to class everyday?

Technology Learning Principles...Hughes

There are 4 Learning Principles suggested in this article:
1. Connecting Technology Learning to Professional Knowledge
2. Privileging Subject Matter and Pedagogical Content Connections.
3. Using Technology Learning to Challenge Professional Knowledge
4. Teaching Many Technologies.

I think all 4 tend to overlap.

The first principle, "Connecting Technology Learning to Professional Knowledge" would probably be done automatically. Anytime I learn something new, I want to know how this will apply to me, this includes learning new technologies. My automatic reaction is "How will this help me be a better teacher?" If I don't see a purpose in learning, then I am probably not going to learn how to use it in the first place.

The second principle, "Privileging Subject Matter and Pedagogical Content Connections" shows a good example of why teachers should work together. If departments work together on their "projects" they will be combining the best of all of their ideas. I see the problem more so as we are dividing up the chapters and each person in the group will take two chapters, rather than using the group work to come up with the best "technology-pedagogy" connection.

The third principle, "Using Technology Learning to Challenge Current Professional Knowledge" is closely related to the first principle. I see this principle as teaching the technology and hoping this will help the teacher to come up with their own idea of how to use it in the classroom. I also believe that learning to use technology, even if it is for personal use, will help a teacher to become a better technology integrationist. Once you have the background in how tools/toolbars work, that transfer of knowledge to other programs saves so much time. You are also exposing yourself to various options that may transfer between programs too. (For example, if you learn to use Photoshop Elements, you are then able to transfer the knowledge of toolbars, layering, filtering, pixels, etc to other programs where you may work with the same concepts even if you aren't working specifically with pictures. You may be using clipart and another "flipchart" program for animation.

The fourth principle, "Teaching Many Technologies" requires the teacher to be a learner for "many technologies". Oftentimes the problem is convincing the teacher to spend the time to learn the technologies in order to make educated decisions about their technology integration. I find this extremely frustrating, probably because I am willing to spend some time to learn/investigate software/technologies just to see what some of the benefits to it are. so that I would know whether I could use it in my classroom.