EDLD 5306 Concepts of Educational Technology, January 2010 ----

Week 1: Texas Long Range Plan.
Greetings: I can relate to David Warlick, author of "Literacy in the New Information Landscape." I am always amazed at what our students know and can do! When the author described his son's use of a game as a movie set, I could imagine students in my classes explaining this to me and showing me their own creations. I agree that "our children and students are teaching us a about the new shape of information." We must help our "students know how to use appropriate tools to find information, decode it, evaluate the information to determine its value, organize the information to add meaning, process, analyze, synthesize, manipulate, mix and remix the information, and then express their findings in compelling ways using appropriate modes of communication." I also agree that "classrooms and libraries must become places where students can learn to work the information, not only the technique, but the responsibilities that information workers own." As we work with today's technologically savvy students, we must be up the the challenge. They bring us hard questions. I recently had a student ask how to create a movie from clips he saved on his phone. I gave him a few things that I knew, but felt inadequate. The cycle has shifted, they teach us (because students are not afraid to try new things or create and re-create things with or without instructions) and we teach others! Yes, the landscape has changed.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I was able to take my time to digest the assigned readings. I really enjoyed the article by Rina Kundu and Christina Bain, "Webquests: Utilizing Technology in a Constructivist Manner." I plan to do more research on the concept of webquests so that I can implement it in class. I like the idea of active engagement that goes beyond my usual way of presenting information, mainly via PowerPoint, is very appealing. Since I work with high school students, this should be easy to implement; the only problem I can foresee is blocks by the district. The student collaborate with each other, this will take it to a truly different level. Right now, all projects are completed by every student as an individual. Using the webquest method would require them to truly collaborate to complete a project as a group. That would eliminate a lot of duplication of work and since the district refuses to allow me to have a server, the overwriting or copying (or stealing) of another student's work.
I also enjoyed the article "Strategies to Put Instruction Ahead of Technology," by Eric Jones. Our district just invested in a lot of new technology for our new school. The training was rushed through; sort of like a drive-by. We went to short presentations, picked up a few handout, and did not touch any of what was presented. We basically sat in a group and listened to someone present a new product. So, the idea of "training the trainer" and allowing the trainer to stay at the school is a great idea. We have two tech person, but they have to teach their classes. If someone needs them when they are in their classroom they are smack out of luck.
Looking forward to next week....

Week 2: Star Chart for Memorial High School.
Sorry for being so late signing in....Short but busy work week. All of the articles were informative, as usual. Most were practical. "Do I dare...disturb the universe! (T. S. Eliot) As educators and technology leaders we will have to do just that! The Case for Open Source by Miguel Gulin: I share the sentiments of Mr. Gulin, that "Education, in particular, seems especially well positioned to benefit from today's open source alternative." The article points out that open source is beneficial as a collaborative communication tool. He gives the example of teachers working on curriculum and being able to share it without having to purchase proprietary products which have to be purchased and downloaded to every computer before it can be used. He foresees that schools can save a lot of money and have state of the art technology. I am a true believer in open source products. I have downloaded a few low or no cost items on my computer at home and at school (when I can bypass district blocks). I use PhotoFiltre instead of PhotoShop and I have students who swear by Gimp. Some of the previously proprietary services that are now open source was an eye-opener. I was now aware that Moodle was once proprietary. This is a technology I am anxious to learn and use. I have found, as Mr. Gulin stated, that the lack of standardization can present a problem. There have been programs that I have downloaded that I have had to remove because the service caused problems with other things on my computer. My problem is finding a source that is reliable and cookie free.

Week 3: Create wikispaces site.
WOW!!! The articles for this week are really awesome. I agree with the person who said you have to print them and mark the heck of them because that is exactly what I did! "Blogging and RSS" by Will Richardson was a great article with lots of information I did not know about but can not wait to try. I liked that with blogs "...teachers and schools are starting to experiment with the technology as a way to communicate with parents, archive and publish student work, learn with far-flung collaborators, and 'manage' the knowledge that members of the school and community create." I also love the idea o blogs for student portfolios. Blogs would be a great way for teachers to share ideas, especially since you can add videos and PowerPoint presentations (like we did last week). Also, on NPR today I heard that the Pope wants to start blogging!
My students are responsible for creating and keeping an electronic portfolio. If we had access to blogs, that would be a great way for students to store, publish, and share their projects. We are using Edmodo to share journals, pictures, files, and small Web sites. We just started using Thinkquest to publish Web sites. The students can know show their projects to family and friends, they just have to remember their user names and passwords to access the site. The idea of creating a blog would eliminate the need for two or more places to publish/store student work.
I also can not wait to try RSS now that I know what it is about. The idea of creating RSS feeds for homework is awesome. I plan to "start small and experiment" which is what I do with all technology.
Final Thought: My 1-year old grandson refused to be still so that I could focus on my notes for the mid-term; so I turned on the iTunes player and started playing classical music (which he loves because of Classical Baby) and turned on the visualizer. He was still enough for a few minutes while I reviewed notes.
The idea of digital natives became real and practical to me at that moment. My grandchildren have been exposed to technology from the day they were born. My 4-year old grandchildren have been drawing and playing games online for more than 2 years. My grandson is very proficient. He uses the mouse like a pro; his sister is not quite that good with it and gets frustrated. The articles I read this week will resonate with me for quite a while. I, the digital immigrant, need to make sure I do not get bogged down in traditional learning and teaching. Just as my daughter-in-law and son work with their children to expose them to technology I must make sure I learn new things. This week's articles were thought-provoking. They are causing me to get more information about Web 2.0 and to pay more attention to technology in the news. My students were already talking about the iPad before the press release and continuously ask me what I think about other new innovations in technology.

Week 4:
Sharon, I agree with your quote from "Cyberbullies..." by Hitchcock, students do forget "that the Internet is international and that anyone online, anywhere in the world ... can view their information." I did not realize that "MySpace was not designed as a hangout for kids and teens. It was created for musicians ..." My 30 year old son, who is in the entertainment business, has had a MySpace account for many years. There is 10 year gap between him (the eldest child in the family) and my daughter (the youngest). My daughter's friends try to chat with him because they know her. He has had to change his profile to private to keep kids from trying to chat with him! He also has to be very conscious of what he puts online because he is in the business and your online presence is usually your calling card. He had to stop using an e-mail he created in high school because of the user name he chose.
I agree with Mary about putting things on my Facebook page for the world to see. I use my initials and maiden name for my online name. Only people who know these things or people I invite can find me.
I encourage my students to be very careful what they put on-line. We have a Thinkquest account and an Edmodo account. With Thinkquest, students are on-line with students from around the world; Edmodo is limited to just that class and period. I look at online activity daily on both sites. The good think about Thinkquest is that I am in control and I can send a message to report when students get unsolicited requests. With both, I can pull the plug, so to speak, if I feel that a student has posted anything inappropriate. High school students also like trying to shop or fill in job applications on-line; they do not realize that anything done in a computer lab is seen by many in the district. I am the one called to task for them being off-task.
In the article "Evidence of the NETS*S in K-12 Classrooms: Implication for Teacher Education", the authors, Niederhauser and Lindstrom used "NETS*S as a framework to analyze ways that teachers integrated instructional technology use and provided opportunities for their students to develop NETS*S competencies." The study was very interesting. In the study, the researchers asked for information from volunteers about their use of technology in their classroom. The purpose of the study was to help develop guideline for preservice teachers and the programs that prepare them for the classroom. "NETS*S (National Education Technology Standards for Students) were developed to provide standards and guidelines to help teachers effectively and meaningfully use technology with their students." I like that the competencies are grounded in "constructivist instructional philosophy and a view that the purpose of schooling is to prepare students for a changing workplace." I printed and posted the NETS*S chart in my classroom at the beginning of the school. (Click the link for a copy of the NETS for Teachers chart.)
As I read the article I reflected on my classroom experiences. I had to ask myself:
  • am I helping my students develop advanced skills;
  • have I given them projects that enhance collaboration outside the classroom;
  • are my students developing critical thinking skills;
  • are my students ready to participate in a global community;
  • are they actively engaged in meaningful research; and
  • can they identify and creatively address problems?

One statement confused me, namely "Design activities tend to present the most complex and ill-structured problems that people encounter." I need help processing this one; I may be over-analyzing it (as I tend to do). I think it means we have to prepare our students for projects that are complex with no easy answer or quick solution.
The article also mentioned the level of scaffolding we provide for our students - too much and they will not try, too little and the task is frustrating. This is my quandary. My students wait for me to tell them every step. They do not remember steps from the previous class session. This may be due to block scheduling. For example, I have to tell them to close their Web sites before they leave the class so that the next person who uses the computer does not overwrite their work. I have to tell them to "open their sites" to work on them. Things which should be intuitive are not.
So, when I reflected on my classroom practices, I think I fell short and need to re-think my approach as it relates to NETS*S competencies. I also feel that preservice teachers do need to know this so that they will be effective.
Final Thought: This week I learned valuable information about Copyright, Fair Use, and Intellectual Property. As a Web Mastering teacher, my students must get information from the Internet. Copyright and Fair Use can be a slippery slope, especially trying to get students to remember all the sites they used to create their site. Most just want to cite "google" or "yahoo" and not deal with citing sources. Intellectual Property was an eye-opener; this was information I was unaware of. I found it interesting that students "retain the rights to anything they create, as authors and inventors."

The articles on cybersafety were also very valuable. My students have completed the PBS online safety quiz and printed the certificate. The articles helps me help my students to be safe online. Students have to be reminded to not use their last names on anything online. But, I was unaware that predators look at other things to try to entice kids to meet them, like if they write about a bad experience in their lives! I liked the idea of "implementing an Internet Safety program in your school ..." ~Joseph.

The NETS*S article futher inspired me. I especially liked that it is grounded in constructivist and its "...view that the purpose of schooling is to prepare students for a changing workplace." If anyone wants the url for the NETS-T poster it is http://blog.learningtoday.com/blog/bid/20783/Free-National-Educational-Technology-Standards-Poster-for-Teachers.

Week 5:
"Bridge the Digital Divide for Educational Equity" by Mason and Dodds states that "Students' technological savvy has challenged schools to make greater use of computers and the Internet in their curricula. Unfortunately, not every student has the same access to it, and the inability to keep pace has created a digital divide that continues to widen." The information in the article has made me re-think how and what I allow students to do in the lab. Many students want to complete job or college applications online. I am leery of this because they are putting private information online for many to have access to. The article states that many students need to work on the computer at school because there is no internet or no computer at home. This is certainly the case for many in our school. Our school population is the most diverse in the region; we also have many economically disadvantaged students. The fact that school is their primary source of computer access does not surprise me.
The article also states that "...many students with disabilities cannot use or participate in online activity because the equipment in their schools is not compatible with their learning or physical needs." I have two students in wheelchairs, one severely handicapped. I have tried to show them basic computer shortcuts because they have a hard time using the mouse. The students have aides; this has been a lifeline for the severely handicapped student but his aide has been doing too much of what he can do on his own! The handicaps are physical, not mental. Both can perform on grade level and have passed TAKS. Both enjoy uploading Web sites onto think.com and chatting with peers on edmodo.com.
Finally, an important point that the article made is "Failure to provide adequate technological resources for all translates into failure to provide quality education, creating an even greater divide between affluent and poor school districts." It further states that "Solutions to technology inequalities ultimately rest with principals in their role as instructional leader." I agree with both these statements and think they need no explanation.
Final Thought: My how time flies!!! This week I learned that we must bridge the digital divide to ensure that there is educational equality for all students. When we read this the first thought is ethnicity; but equality for all includes our special needs students. I think we forget that they are technologically savvy also. They love what every kid loves, games, gadgets, etc.
I also learned that principals are in control of technology-integrated schools as the educational leader. The principal has to keep all parties happy, the techies and the teachers.
The last article suggest that wireless may be the solution for:
  • overbooked labs,
  • saving cost on new school construction and modernization projects,
  • providing teachers access to grades and folders outside the classroom, and
  • helping administrators perform classroom observations and monitoring student discipline and behavior.

Our school has several mobile labs. The only problem is keeping the computers charged and (sometimes) connectivity issues. I think that all core classes need mobile labs, especially those that have to take TAKS.