July 14, 2006

Connecting C&I with EDPA

I’m trying to connect Joan’s integration pieces to Scott’s leadership pieces and I’m beginning to see why CASTLE is taught in both the department of Curriculum and Instruction and the department of Education Policy and Administration.

All the many classes I’ve taken in C&I, I’ve learned how to appropriately teaching with a technology can transform students learning with that technology. In EDPA I’ve discovered that leadership is not about getting people to do what you want but how to get the right system to do what it should be doing! Once you believe in technology C & I you can use the knowledge of EDPA to illicit change.

For example, a quasi-leader wants to illicit the change that every high school geometry teacher will use Sketchpad. EDPA will show me how to set foot inside the hairball that is school leadership and make change. C& I will show how and why teachers should pedagogically use Sketchpad in this manner. Because using Sketchpad in X manner is improving student learning. It’s not Sketchpad that’s doing improving learning, it’s the science of teaching with Sketchpad that needs to be rolled out to everyone., It’s not Sketchpad alone that is doing it, it’s how the teacher is using the Sketchpad that I need to communicate to the rest of my district. We should be showing how the teachers can use the technology to transform learning.

July 11, 2006

Mindtools and the Great Media Debate

Learning with Mindtools
I think it’s important that we shouldn’t focus on just the tool itself. Instead we should look at the development of the pedagogy surrounding the tool. The debate can’t be about whether to include the technology like a wiki or not it has to be about how to use the tool effectively. Therefore, I think my focus would have to be analyzing the way I could my pedagogy shape the way a wiki is used in a classroom. Take the three scenerios below.

Caution: This does not mean every technology should be integrated into a class, nor does this mean that every class needs to integrate technology. From the discussion in the classes, I think everyone is aware of this, but others in our schools might not see it this way. It’s not an all or nothing scenario. I feel it should look like a spectrum.

Scenerio 1: I give students a list of topics related to website development that students will use a wiki to collaborate and discuss on. I provide no framework for how the wiki will be evaluated or how it is tied to our class activities or instruction.

Scenerio 2: I give students a list of topics related to website development that I require students to have within the wiki. They are given 15 minutes at the beginning of class to build on their wiki with on their prior knowledge. I then review some concepts on website development. Following the instruction, students take 15 minutes to evaluate the wiki again, and make necessary changes and modifications.

Scenerio 3: I give students a list of topics related to website development that I require students to have within their wiki. They are given 15 minutes at the beginning of class to build on their wiki with on their prior knowledge. I then review some concepts on website development. Following the instruction, students take 15 minutes to evaluate the wiki again, and make necessary changes and modifications. Student are then asked to go and find further evidence that supplements or gives an alternate view that is expressed on the wiki.

The above scenarios were just off my head and are probably not research sound, and are not wildly innovative but each are using the wiki differently. Image if a wiki was used only by one person as a sort of knowledge management system and not as a collaboration piece. It’s a completely different situation. Which choice is more appropriate and will promote greater student achievement on a unit test. I’d rather debate that over which is better using to wiki or not to wiki?


Why I believe what I believe ... The Great Media Debate
In the field of Learning Technologies there was a media debate surrounding the question “Do media influence learning?? I’ll make a crude summarization of the debate. Take 5351 for a really good time on this debate. Some (Richard Clark) argued that regardless media doesn’t change a learning. And others (Robert Kozma) stated that media do change the way we learn. There were a great many others that wrote somewhere in the spectrum. Fortunately, David Jonassen’s wrote an article saying both sides were completely missing the point. I don’t see research that tries to compare the use of using a tool or not, but it is often the discussion in technology programs. Instead, we should be examining how the tool is being used and whether it has sound pedagogical implications. See the synopsis below. (If my 5351 professor is reading this, I hope I got this summary right)

Richard Clark, Professor of Educational Psychology and Technology, USC
Photo Source: University of Southern California
Media DO NOT Influence Learning
Clark might argue that it media alone does not influence learning because learning is indicative of the teachers quality of teaching. For example, you can teach addition of 10’s by using cubes and rods (groups of 10 cubes). The teacher can facilitate learning the use of media. Even if a teacher uses electronic manipulative on a software program the learning does not change it’s the same.

Robert Kozma, Emeritus Director, Center for Technlogy in Learning
Photo Source: Center for Technology in Learning
Media DO Influence Learning
Kozma argued students will learn in a completely different way when they use media. For instance, if you give a student a handheld device (PDA) students will learn a much different way because of the multiple affordances available to learners. The learning process changes.
David Jonassen, Director for the Center for the Study of Problem Solving, University of Missouri
Photo Source: Univesity of Missouri

You're All Wrong!
Jonassen was the outcast of this debate and basically told everyone writing they were wrong. He said the comparison between learning with media or without media can’t be made. Using a cross media comparison (learning with a tool or without a tool) teaching and learning is completely different! We should not focus on the value of the tool itself, instead, what pedagogy should be used when using this tool.
Don't Get Me Wrong
I’m not meaning to devalue the discussion we’ve had about innovations (Rogers) these are important indications of what technologies should be adopted and which we should wait on. I believe the integration efforts tend to focus a lot on what the tool does, but it’s not the tool that changes learning it’s the teaching (pedagogy) with the tool that effects learning. This is why I think the RAT framework is so important! It is a scale of sorts that tells that how we (I) as a teacher are using technology - Replacement, Amplification, Transformation.

Being Young and a Leader

“If you’re under 30 and in a leadership role you’re in the wrong place!?
As I recently heard in class, “if you’re under 30 and in a leadership role you’re in the wrong place!? Out of spite I could make the inverse remark, “Unlike those over 30, I am the only one that still cares!? As was eluded in class, it’s not a particular person that devalues my age; it’s the system in place. Being young indicates I don’t have much experience. But in our education system when we get inexperienced staff or students with little prior knowledge our goal should be to bring them up to a desirable knowledge base? I might not be experienced, and might not have authority, but I do have energy to participate in the decision making process, why discourage that?

I don’t have the authority or background research articles (data) to make knowledgeable decisions that technology is being used properly. But in my immediate environment (what I see and hear), elementary skills like knowing that value of Ctrl + C or Apple + C ;-), what the “Ins? key does, how to find a file that I swear I saved on my computer, or plugging something into the appropriate outlet makes me somewhat of an innovator compared to others in authority. Why do I not have some authority on how to make decisions to help teachers integrate some technology into their teaching?

LT, Not the Center of the Universe

We’re not the center of education world? Are you joking?!?
We would be joking ourselves if we think the learning technologies field is the ONLY field that thinks their research (passion) is what leaders should really be listened to. Think about pushes for Literacy Coordinators, Early Childhood Intervention Programs, Professional Development groups, just to name a few! Everyone thinks their particular field will transform learning. “If we just did “X?, everyone would be learning!? Reserch shows we’re not being heard and when the LT field gets the opportunity to be heard, we can easily mess up.

As Dr. Drahier warned on Monday night, many schools are making macro type innovations compared to micro type innovations? The more macro innovations that are flops, Los Angeles reading program, Waterford Early Reading Program Evaluation the less likely others will value the use of integrating technology. Technology is underrepresented at administrative and superintendent positions. Largely, I have a passion for the field of Learning Technologies and don’t want to see my field loose credibility from those that buying lots and lots of tools where no one uses or are using them ineffectively. Further, unlike some of those in power, like Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), I can determine the difference between an e-mail and the Internet. I know what is fluff and what is solid.

You don’t know nothing!

Calling Happy Luddites
Major research fields in education (AERA) http://www.aera.net/ CAN’T collectively agree on what we know to improve student achievement. I’m sure we can make the claim and prove through data that technology can improve learning to some degree. Others can also show that technology has not improved learning. (Please don’t yell that I should check my facts, I haven’t taking the data driven decision making course…I think I might find the answer there.) Moreover, I haven’t seen anything from learning technologies research that comes out and says using technology will improve student learning significantly. Unfortunately, a technology innovator can’t conclusively make the claim that using a technology “widget? will improve student achievement. If you think I’m being harsh review Todd Openheimer ~ The Flickering Mind or listen to him on NPR then check out Standford Professor, Larry Cuban’s ~ Computers Oversold and Underused.

Both gentlemen make good points on what we are doing wrong with technology in schools. Some are not using technology at all, others are not using the technology effectively. I’m not afraid to say that I’ve used technology ineffectively from time to time. I forced the use of technology more than it should have been in the classroom. Some times with some success, other times as a failure. I still have a long way till I’m using technology to transform learning consistently.

July 10, 2006

Do we have the time to learn these tools?

We talked a lot about tools and neat ideas to learn facilitate tech integration within classrooms. I’m curious as to what time is given to allow teachers to explore and collaborate on these topics. I caution though, that many teachers need something that is self explanatory where the “project? is easy to complete from start to finish. As Joan has made mention of in her writings, teachers have to be techo savvy in addition to knowing content and pedagogy. It’s important to develop provide the time or allow easy access for those to learn. If time or experience is lacking in any of those three areas we integration is likely not to be successful. As technology enthusiasts, myself and probably those in the class view these tools would rate these as excellent. There needs to be time devoted for someone or each person to explore topics.

July 5, 2006

Sounds Simple, Why Not?

The overview of the Phase 9 project seems like a general overview for technology integration projects. Although this article shows the effectiveness of technology program endeavors, each of the nine steps involve a great deal of time to implement. It takes a great deal of planning and an overall “buy-in? from an entire school district.

Phase 9, Phase 10....We'll just add another step!

Some areas that I particularly agreed with in this article was step seven, sharing of integration ideas. If a teacher is able to create effective technology integration, other should know about it. I also like that there is a central storage space that is reviewed.

The Internet is such a valuable tool, but often for me it becomes unmanageable when trying to find resources. My live bookmarks continue to grow and I spend a great deal of time sifting through what others ideas.

Reflection on Taylor, L. & Walls, R. A nine-step program: A successful, replicable model for professional development. Learning and Leading with Technology (32)8, p. 36-38.

Be the Innovator, Plan the Innovation, Use in the Right Context

Conditions for Classroom Technology Innovations

As Hughes discusses in here previous writings the effectiveness of technology integration is subject to a variety of factors content knowledge, pedagogy knowledge, technology knowledge. In this article, the article describes technology innovations dependent on the innovator, the innovations, and the context. I’d definitely agree with each of the factors outlined in this article. Below are the points I particularly agreed with.

Being a technology integrationist is more than just having a computer lab

The Innovator
Technology Awareness The more familiar a teacher is with a given technology or innovations in general the more likely technology integration would be successful.
Pedagogical Beliefs Being aware of ones pedagogical beliefs are generally more adaptive and flexible teachers. The success of technology integrations works best if the teacher’s pedagogy matches the technology. From the research I’ve reviewed, technology innovations are more successful when a teacher subscribes to constructivist learning theory.
Social Awareness School politics, you’ve got to love it! The more people you know the better. The more these people trust in you and what you are trying to accomplish, the better. The interaction between people and personalities is a factor that is often overlooked in technology integration, I’m glad the authors chose to include this.

The Innovations
Distance from School Culture – The technology is more easily innovated what it matches other projects similar to the immediate school culture and state standards. If a teacher is dependent on a technology, the technology must be supported at all times so that it could be fixed immediately if it is broken. This means teachers can work to integrate technology into the curriculum rather than just “adding the technology? on top daily activities.

The Context
Human Infrastructure When needed you need quality technology support staff to help when needed?
Technology Infrastructure Funding, funding, funding! Finding the money is always tough regardless of what area of education you are in. Finally, as the article points out there is a difference between access and easy access.
Social Support “innovation that were the most distant from the teachers’ existing practices and school culture were less likely to succeed, as were those innovations that were more dependent on other people and resources.? You can win the battle alone it takes a collaborated effort from lots of people.

Reflections on Zhao, Y., Pugh, K., Sheldon, S., & Byers, J. L. (2002). Conditions for classroom technology innovations. Teachers College Record, 104(3), 482-515.

July 3, 2006

Blend Content, Pedagogical, and Technological Knowledge

Using Technology when Appropriate
I’ll admit, I’m a techie of sorts. Additionally, I’m guilty of trying force technology into my classroom where it had not business. Rather, I would say using technology was not best suited to be integrated. For instance, I read so much about cognitive mind tools like concept mapping. I went right out installed a free open source concept mapping program Cmaps onto each student workstations and we started creating some concept maps about the history of hard drives in my computer hardware repair class, exciting I know! This class is very technical. There is not much information that is subjective, it’s pretty much objective.

Hard Drives, How can you build a concept map on them?

I found that my students were creating concept maps that were no different than visual representations of linear notes they could have taken from a textbook in outline format. I was making the connections for them, they did little conceptual thinking and prior knowledge work. This article reminds me of that occasion, and encourages teachers to choose to use technologies only when it enhances student learning.

By combining content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technology knowledge, it’s more practical to see how to become a technology integrationist. This visual blend is what is needed for integrationists to understand, myself included. I believe you must be success in all three areas to successfully integrate technology. Consequently, a good first step to this is investing more time in helping teachers become technology integrationists within their own content areas.

Reflections on Hughes, J.E. (Draft). How to Become a Technology Integrationist: A Framework

Integrate through Content Areas

Providing a framework
As Hughes points out “(technology learning programs) lack an overall vision for what teachers will do with these technologies once they are learned.? Additionally, I think you must consider what your technology integration framework would be. Hughes previous work with the RAT (Replacement, Amplification, and Transformation) framework helps show how teachers choose to integrate technology into the classroom.

RAT: Replacement, Applification, Transformation

Why is technology integration not happening?
Hughes presented technology learning principles in two respects: having another person provides a technology connection and having the process be self-initiated.

In my experience with colleagues if technology integration is not easy to do, it will not be done. The preparation for the teachers must already be done or teachers simply won’t invest their time into the idea. Considering the additional responsibilities that many teachers have, it is surely not laziness that prevents technology integration, it’s the inability to show how it will improve student learning and why teachers should invest their time to do it..

Sadly, I still think many teachers utilize technology for the WOW! factor. Additionally, these examples use technology as an addition to the curriculum not a true integration of the technology. As the article highlights, student teachers will utilize pre-existing examples of technology integration however, it’s often difficult for student teachers to generate their own ideas to integrate technology.

Pre-Service and In-Service two different worlds.
To provide value to technology in the classroom it is almost necessary that teachers learn to integrate technologies within their content area. During my pre-service teacher education program I had one general technology course entitled “Computers in the Classroom.? As many other programs are designed, we learned basic technology tools in an isolated environment with little connection to our content area. Although our assignments utilized cognitive mindtools like concept maps through software like Inspiration, developing Webquests, and learning about the benefits to blogging, there was little focus on connecting these technologies to my content area.

As in-service teachers learn to integrating technologies, you must have a professional development model that supports inquiry based learning, allowing users to have an ongoing learning experience. At my high school, our technology coordinator requests a technology wish list from each department. This wish list is for both hardware and software needs that are meant to promote student learning. Additionally, we’ve developed a learning academy for teachers utilizing the new technologies. These teachers are asked to provide periodic training sessions for other interested teachers.

If educational technologies are destined to be used as change agents we must not crave new technologies for administrative purposes. The technologies must be cognitive mind tools for the students to learn with technology.

Reflections on Hughes, J. E. (2004). Technology Learning Principles for Preservice and Inservice Teacher Education. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 4(3).

July 2, 2006

PBL: Peanut Butter Learning?

Don't be confused PBL stands for Project Based not Peanut Butter learning.

As a Business Technology teacher project based learning is so beneficial to students. As the article illustrates, PBL provides an authentic learning environment. When you consider what portion of material students retain the next day, the next week, the next year it is likely they won’t remember the answers to the odd questions from page 225 in their textbook, however, if student are given a guiding questions to investigate there will likely be a greater number of things learned and discovered along the way. Retention is huge in PBL.

I do have some concerns about PBL. Creating a meaningful project takes a great deal of time, I think this is a huge turn off to many teachers. Additionally, curriculum standards are often predetermined and teachers are not given the opportunity to explore PBL because it does not easily match the status quo. Unlike the traditional core high school classes, I teach in an elective area which fortunately allow me to have some say over the material I’d like to cover.

An area of education where technology and PBL blend really well would likely be Adventure Learning. Projects like Artic Transect 2004 and Go North! allows educators to use the Internet as an instructional media will providing timely learning activities for students.

Trigger - A Polar Husky Adventure Guide!

PBL supports the essential elements of how people learn, technology helps aid in the journey.

Reflections on McGrath, D. (2004). Equity revisited. In Learning and Leading with Technology 32(2), p. 36-39.

Access is not enough!

The digital divide reborn?
Some ten years from when some of this data was collected the issue of net neutrality has resurfaced. The struggle to keep the Internet free and openly accessible to all participants is being documented on savetheinternet.com. Check it out. I do believe schools districts and those in PK-16 would encourage some form of government Internet control. It protects students and makes acceptable use polices easier to enforce. If you need example just see the headaches that sites like Myspace.com and Facebook.com are doing to students and schools.

What does today’s digital divide look like?
I’d believe we need another examination of where the digital divide is currently at. For instance, the article mention how competition drives the market making products better. Currently open source software is giving this theory a run for it’s money. This software is developed jointly between users that observe a license like the GNU license. Largely, this license allows users full access to a free program, the source code of a software program, as long as users do not charge others for using the software and that they share modifications they make to the source code with other users. The general public can visit websites like sourceforge.net and have access to a wealth of software programs free of charge.

Digital Natives
I subscribe to Podcast from these professors at Fordham's Regional Educational Technology Center in the Bronx. I’ve often heard them use the word “digital natives? to describe those that may or may not have access to technology but are more or less ignorant about the capabilities of a given technology. As this article states, “new media require the active informed, literate participation of a user.? This is so true in today’s digital media where we have access to self-controlled media in Podcasts, RSS feeds/readers. It’s creating a large communities of students that are in the “know? and those that have no clue.

But access is not enough!
It’s not simply about having access, it’s what is done with the access that counts. During the Clinton administration the PT3 (Preparing Tomorrow’s Teacher to Use Technology) initiative dumped a large pool of money into schools giving them access. But after the millions of dollars that were spent in schools, there is still nothing that shows how this access is helping students learn. The quest for access to all continues, some examples of this would be MIT’s $100 laptop, numerous cities providing inexpensive WI-FI for citizens, and the availability of affordable high-speed Internet. Unfortunately, many are still tring to provide access, when access alone has not proven to effect student learning.

MIT's $100 laptop prototype

Closing the digital divide will help but not solve
The real world examples of the digital divide like Kidzonline, Plugged-In, CyberEd, and Jimmy from Bogotá show the benefits of closing the digital divide; however, technology is surely not a save all for every student. If there is a struggling student of low socio-economic status in an underperforming school, providing a computer to this individual will not likely not dramatically transform the situation they are in. They still have barriers to overcome but now they are equipped with a computer. In each of these situations, I believe it was the environment and community which made a difference for those students not access to the equipment.

Closing Arguments
This article is getting dated and it would be interesting to see what the current research shows on the digital divide today. I’d suggest that the gap has grown in specific pockets areas where there has been an effort to close the digital divide. Much like the achievement gap I believe the digital divide is often cited as effecting student achievement, likewise we still haven’t been able to fix either.

Reflections on Tapscott, D. (2000). The digital divide. In Technology and Learning (pp. 127-154). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

July 1, 2006

The Blog Begins

With about a week before CI 5344 begin, I begin a new blog over some summer readings I’ve recently completed for K-12 Technology Integration.

It's about time, to begin blogging again!

I'm not participating in the CASTLE certificate program, rather I’m taking CI 5344 and EDPA 5310 as part of my MEd in Learning Technologies. Although I'm not sure the backgrounds of those coming to CASTLE, I look forward to learning from the experiences those in the CASTLE program will bring to the class meetings. I teach Business Technology (Computer Networking, Computer Repair, Visual Basic.Net Programming, Webpage Design) at Wayzata High School. Consequently, technology is a great motivator for my students and myself. Naturally I encourage the use of technology in myclassroom. When appropriate, I'd like to see others effectively integrate technology into the K-12 helping students learn with technology not from technology.

I’m interested in being a change agent in my school, but as a relatively young new teacher, this may be difficult to accomplish. My hope is that my MEd experience will help provide some tools to move toward this goal of effectively integrating technology into the K-12 environment.

If you'd like to read through other blog reflections I've made on other UMN LT courses head to my Learning Technology blogs on blogger or just subscribe to the RSS feed. I'm no expert but sometimes you can get ideas from others. I'd love to read your thoughts, too!