EdTech 541: Course Reflection

Part One: Reflection

As I look back on this semester, I am impressed by the amount of knowledge I have acquired by taking this course. This has been one of the most practical, thought provoking classes I have taken in this program. The course was very well designed and was the perfect elective to take as a K-12 educator. I could see the value of every assignment which I really appreciate. Sometimes I feel that classes are filled with busy work that I do but don’t necessarily benefit from doing them. The final project for this class has provided me with an incredible collection of useful resources and practical lesson plans. I have learned about countless technological tools available for use in a high school math classroom as well as useful strategies for implementing these resources.

My attitude about incorporating technology in a high school math class has changed dramatically. I have always supported the use of technology in the classroom but I didn’t really think there were that many opportunities to do so within my content area. I went from thinking that technology would be nice to use sometimes to thinking that it is an imperative resource for a math educator. A student-centered, constructivist educational environment can be supported and encouraged with the right implementation of technology. The traditional teacher-centered approach is not ideal anymore and does not enhance or promote an effective learning environment.

I love that the knowledge and resources that I have attained in this course can be applied and used in the classroom on a regular basis. Most of the online resources I found are offered for free and are very accommodating for any level student. I worked extremely hard in this class to write practical, functional lesson plans and find useful resources. My only regret is that I am not currently teaching and am not able to use this material in a classroom yet. I plan to share my final project with colleagues so that I can share this knowledge and the lesson plans can hopefully be used.

While I was enrolled in this course, I expanded my knowledge of educational technology profoundly. In this process, I completed assignments that fulfilled several of the AECT Standards set for students in this EdTech program. Undoubtedly, I exhibited knowledge of and practice with achieving the design, development and utilization standards. However, the specific standards that were achieved by each assignment can be found on my final project website.

 

Part Two: Assessment

As a self-proclaimed “math person,” writing is one of the difficult tasks for me. I am not a naturally gifted writer and every week I had to dedicate significant time and effort to writing my blog posts. I learned so much through the process of researching for these posts and I loved reading my colleagues responses as well. Even though the blogging experience was not one of my favorite assignments, I benefitted tremendously and valued the learning opportunity. With that being said, the following scores sum up how I would assess my blogging performance.

Content – Proficient (67/70)

I gave every prompt considerably attention and thought. I researched and read many additional resources. I responded with personal insight and professional support. I know that I could have written more eloquently and communicated my thoughts at a deeper level though.

Readings and Resources – Outstanding (19/20)

I supported each and every blog post with professional resources. I included relevant quotes and researched additional topics for every prompt. Some of my resources were not as recent as they could be though.

Timeliness – Outstanding (19/20)

I posted every blog response within the given due dates that were assigned. Most weeks, I had my blog responses written and posted at least 48 hours prior to the due date. However, there was one week that I posted on the due date so I am not giving myself full credit.

Responses to Other Students – Outstanding (30/30)

I responded to at least two of my classmates’ blog posts every week. I responded with thoughtful, substantial comments.

Total = 135/140

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EDTECH 541: Accessible Computer Labs

Creating an accessible technology center in a school setting requires the application of universal design for learning principles. “Universal design means that rather than design your facility for the average user, you design it for people with a broad range of abilities. Keep in mind that individuals using your lab may have learning disabilities or visual, speech, hearing, or mobility impairments. Individuals from each of these groups will need access to the facility, equipment, software, electronic resources, and printed materials.” (AccessSTEM, 2013).  Acquiring, developing, and using accessible technology in an educational setting is not only ideal, it is legally required. “Section 508 requires that federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, and use IT that meets standards across six categories of electronic and information technology–desktop and portable computers, software applications and operating systems, web-based intranet and Internet information and applications, telecommunications products, video and multimedia products, and self-contained closed products (such as copiers, scanners, printers and information kiosks)” (Southeast ADA Center, 2006). The benefits designing an accessible computer lab for students will serve not only students will disabilities but essentially all students.

 

Designing a computer lab that is accessible will minimize the need for special accommodations for students with special needs. Students visit computer labs to access course materials, conduct research, complete assignments, use email, and participate in online classes and meetings.  It is important that every student that uses the computer lab “feels welcome, can get to the facility and maneuver within it, is able to communicate effectively with support staff, is able to access printed materials and electronic resources, and can make use of equipment and software” (Burgstahler, 2012).

 

All students must be able to readily access the computer lab which means that physical measures must be taken in order to ensure that all persons can use the facility. This includes making sure that the lab and its services (computers, printers, scanners, etc.) are wheelchair-accessible and all materials can be reached from a seated position. It is also important that protruding objects should be minimized to keep pathways open and aisles need to be kept wide and clear for wheelchair users. At least one adjustable workstation should be provided so individuals who use wheelchairs and users of various heights and body types can access the computer comfortably. It is also important that large-print, high-contrast signs should be used throughout the lab.

 

Many students with disabilities use assistive technology, such as text to speech, narration or closed captioning, that helps them access computer hardware and software. Many computers have this type of assistive technology built into their system. However, when necessary features are not built into the hardware, a variety of adaptive technology solutions exist to help the user. For example, students with visual impairments who cannot read screen output may use screen reading software with a speech output system and/or a Braille printer. Individuals who are unable to use their hands or who have poor fine motor control and cannot use a mouse or keyboard may use trackballs, switches or modified keyboards for input. For the hearing impaired, telecommunication devices should be provided as well. Burgstahler (2012) states it best when she says, “The vision is simply equal access. Everyone who needs to use your lab should be able to do so comfortably.”

 

Sheryl Burgstahler (2012) provides a great checklist in her article, Equal Access: Universal Design of Computer Labs:

“Although a lab cannot be expected to have specialized equipment for every type of disability on hand, staff should make equipment available that they anticipate will be most often used or that is available at relatively low cost. This might include

◦ an adjustable table for each type of workstation in your lab;

◦ a wrist rest and forearm rest;

◦ a trackball;

◦ software to modify keyboard response such as sticky keys, repeat rate, and keystroke delay (that may be available in the operating system);

◦ software to enlarge screen images (that may be available in the operating system), along with a large monitor;

◦ large-print keytop labels; and

◦ web resources that adhere to accessibility standards or guidelines adopted by the lab.”

This list provides a great starting point for anyone designing an accessible computer lab. When a lab becomes more established and as the needs of students vary, additional resources will need to added to lab. These may include text-to-speech software, scanner and optical character recognition (OCR) software, hearing protectors, alternative keyboards, or speech input software (Burgstahler, 2012).

Providing this equipment and all of these accessibility features may be a costly endeavor. While some of this equipment is low-cost such as providing joysticks, trackballs and wrist rests. The other technologies can be rather expensive. For example, the Kurzweil 1000, an OCR software system is $1,000 for one. Alternative keyboards range from $200-$1200 and an adjustable workstation will cost about $1100 as well. A good website to browse the costs of available assistive technologies is Boundless Assistive Technology’s site.

Resources: 

AccessSTEM. (2013). How can I design a school computer lab to be accessible to all students?. Retrieved from: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Stem/articles?1091

Burgstahler, S. (2012). Equal Access: Universal Design of Computer Labs. Retrieved from: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Technology/comp.access.html

Roblyer, M.D. and Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching, (6th ed.).   Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Southeast ADA Center. (2006). Accessible Information Technology Series: Providing Accessible IT in your Computer Lab. Retrieved from: http://adasoutheast.org/publications/itseries.php

 

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Edtech 541: Obstacles for Integrating Technology in a Math Curriculum

Whenever people try to change up the traditional method or approach, there is usually some objection and dispute in response. The typical remark of, “but we’ve always done it this way” seems to be enough justification for the opposing party. Integrating technology into a math classroom can be extremely beneficial but its greatest obstacle is battling this appeal to tradition. All the obstacles that stand in the way for technology integration for math can be traced back to this attitude and excuse.

First, there are many teachers, administrators, and even parents that fear technology; this fear cultivates an academic environment where it is acceptable and even meets the status quo to teach using traditional methods such as teacher led lectures, student worksheets and conventional assessments. According to Roblyer and Doering (2013), “technology can serve as a catalyst to move teachers toward an instructional style that is more student-centered, active and relevant to the world we live in”(p.310).  For teachers to want to change their practices and integrate technology into their curriculum freely, they need to understand the technologies available for a math class and the impact that these tools can have on student thinking and comprehension of math concepts. “Teachers require professional development and construction time to utilize technology effectively” (Technology in Mathematics, n.d.). The lack of training on incorporating technology resources is a major obstacle when trying to implement technology in the classroom. Most math educators know how to use graphing calculators for instructional purposes. However, many math teachers are not as knowledgeable on the use of online instructional games, manipulatives, spreadsheets, wikis, blogs, videos, and communication tools to enrich curriculum and engage students. “Professional development, the human infrastructure, needs refurbishing; it shouldn’t consist of random workshops or lectures that teachers suffer through on specific PD days. Rather, PD needs to be an ongoing activity that is focused on helping teachers adopt essential one-to-one technology” (Norris, 2011). The fear of using technology for instruction can be calmed if teachers are encouraged and supported to integrate 21st century teaching methods.

Another obstacle that can prevent math teachers from integrating technology into their classroom is the time consuming nature of it. Teachers are already overwhelmed by the demands of grading, lesson planning, meetings, tutoring, and communicating with parents. Teachers rely heavily on previous lesson plans from year to year; this may lighten their work load but it also promotes that same appeal to tradition as the last obstacle. Integrating technology into the math classroom may add more work to a teacher’s plate but it also improves their students’ understanding of the material which is every teacher’s ultimate goal. Searching for and preparing technology rich lesson in a math class is not an easy task. “To successfully incorporate beneficial technology requires a large amount of time for production and preparation. A webquest, for example, may take several hours for even an experienced teacher to program, identify links, and upload to the internet. Often, even installing and setting up software is tedious and time consuming, leading many teachers to avoid technology integration completely.” (Issues and Barriers, n.d.). Math students usually rely heavily on teacher-led instruction, however, when the right resources are used in the classroom, students can participate more in the learning process. The lesson planning is not the only part of technology integration that takes up a lot of time; lessons that incorporate a lot of technology can take up a lot of class time. Many math curriculums are very demanding and teachers may fear that using the technology or additional resources may prevent them from covering the necessary material. Unfortunately, schools rely heavily on standardized testing results to receive the proper funding and resources each year. Therefore, it is critical that teachers meet the standards and cover all the necessary material prior to testing.

Finally, and most obviously, a significant obstacle to integrating technology into the classroom is the funding and accessibility issue. Not every school has access to a set of laptops or iPads at every class meeting. Not every student can afford a personal graphing calculator or mobile device. This is a huge hindrance for teachers who are trying to integrate technology to improve student learning. As a math teacher, I own a number of graphing calculators that I allow students to borrow, but that is not a permanent fix. It is really an issue for state and federal legislature to address. Unfortunately, they follow the mindset that ‘the education budget has always been a set number so what’s the need for increasing it?’ Again, that appeal to tradition can be traced to almost every obstacle for an educator trying to integrate technology. Hopefully, the education budget will someday allow for schools to overcome the digital divide and provide a technology rich education to all students.

The benefits for integrating technology into a math class are overwhelming. Even the National Council for Teaching Mathematics stresses that “technology is essential in teaching and learning mathematics” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p.310).  However, there are definitely obstacles preventing this integration into the math curriculum. Lack of resources, inadequate knowledge and skills, standardized testing demands, time, money and accessibility can all serve as significant barriers when implementing technology into the math classroom.

 

Resources:

Issues and Barriers to Integrating Technology. (n.d.) School Computing Wikia. Retrieved from: http://schoolcomputing.wikia.com/wiki/Issues_and_Barriers_to_Integrating_Technology

Norris, C., & Solowy, E. (2011). The 10 barriers to technology adoption. District Administration. Retrieved from: http://www.districtadministration.com/article/10-barriers-technology-adoption

Roblyer, M.D. and Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching, (6th ed.).   Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Technology in Mathematics. (n.d.). School Computing Wikia. Retrieved from: http://schoolcomputing.wikia.com/wiki/Technology_in_Mathematics

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EdTech 541 Relative Advantage of Technology in the Different Content Areas

The advantages for integrating technology into the curriculum have been discussed and agreed upon by many throughout this semester.  The integration of technology in the classroom engages the student, offers unique opportunities for learning and makes learning authentic and relevant to young people.  However, all of these benefits generalize the profound impact that technology integration can have on students. The reality is that technology impacts every student, every class and every teacher in a unique way. An English teacher incorporates technology very differently than a math teacher does. While both teachers may use technology in different capacity, the benefits their students experience are equally as significant.

One way in which technology integration across the content areas can benefit students is to involve and excite students that may not be as interested in that subject. For instance, if a student is not particularly fond of history, but a history teacher uses technology such as google earth to take students on a ‘field trip’ or a virtual tour of historic landmarks, then the student may be more engaged in the lesson and therefore learn more effectively. When teachers plan for instruction, they need to consider what motivates students to learn. According to Heafner (2004), “effective technology integration offers opportunities to enhance social studies instruction and to increase student motivation while preparing students with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to become good citizens, which are the fundamental goals of the social studies.”

There are literally countless ways that technology can be incorporated into any classroom. Science teachers, particularly, have a myriad of resources available for instructional purposes. “New technology tools for visualizing and modeling, especially in the sciences, offer students ways to experiment and observe phenomenon and to view results in graphic ways that aid in understanding” (Edutopia, 2008). Students of all learning styles can be engaged through the use of technology. There are thousands of simulations and experiments available for students to participate in and view using technology in science class. Online labs and scientific investigations benefit visual and kinesthetic learners by allowing them to see and discover the concepts for themselves. When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, the role of teachers morph into that of an adviser, content expert, and coach and the learning becomes more student-centered (Edutopia, 2008).

“Properly used, technology will help students acquire the skills they need to survive in a complex, highly technological knowledge-based economy” (Edutopia, 2008). In today’s world, it is crucial that students possess 21st century skills including information literacy, media literacy, and digital literacy. The research and collaboration skills that students attain during their time in school helps prepare them for the work force and higher level thinking. English and Foreign language classes implement technology in ways that particularly help students develop these skills. Technology used in a language arts classroom enables media like video and pictures to be used for educational purposes, allows students to collaborate in ways that were before impossible, and provides tools to increase student productivity (Wikia, n.d.).

“The most important part of developing a technology-based unit is to identify how it will be used in the curriculum. Once teachers understand the capabilities of the technology, they must then take advantage of these resources as tools for learning, communicating, handling/managing information, and solving problems. Schools must use computers as a means, not an end. These new capabilities will allow the teacher and the school to restructure the way instruction is delivered to students.” (Kind, n.d.) This statement perfectly states the truth and it is an important lesson that teachers and administrators need to learn. Technology should be integrated into the curriculum to make the instruction more effective not because of its novelty or because it is being forced into the curriculum standards. A math teacher may use instructional game software to promote problem solving while an English teacher will use collaboration tools for peer reviews; these are examples of how the capabilities of the technology can be used differently but effectively in every discipline.

 

Resources:

Heafner, T. (2004). Using technology to motivate students to learn social studies, 4(1). Retrieved April 11, 2014  from http://www.citejournal.org/vol4/iss1/socialstudies/article1.cfm

King, M. (n.d.). Integrating technology Into the curriculum. Retrieved April 11, 2014 from http://www.scribd.com/doc/15709322/Integrating-Technology-Into-the-Curriculum

Technology in Language Arts. (n.d.). Wikia. Retrieved April 11, 2014 from http://schoolcomputing.wikia.com/wiki/Technology_in_Language_Arts

Why integrate technology into the curriculum?: The reasons are many. (2008, March 17). Edutopia. Retrieved April 11, 2014 from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction

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Edtech 541 Walled Gardens Reflection

Please view my voicethread presentation link above to listen to my reflection on walled gardens and social media use within schools. The following is the list of resources that were referenced for this reflection.

Resources:

Davis, M. (2010). Social Networking Goes to School. Education Week. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 from http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2010/06/16/03networking.h03.html?cmp=ENL-DD-MOSTPOP

Edwards, T. (2010). The Role of Technology and Social Media in Mathematics Teaching and Learning. Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 from http://aims.muohio.edu/2010/09/13/the-role-of-technology-and-social-media-in-mathematics-teaching-and-learning/

Matthews, B. (n.d.). Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media—Teaching Tools? Really?. Design Science Inc. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 from http://www.dessci.com/en/company/training/misc/mathtype_with_social_media-full_handout.pdf

Picardo, J. (2010). Microblogging: making the case for social networking in education. Box of Tricks: Education and Technology. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 from http://www.boxoftricks.net/2010/02/microblogging-making-the-case-for-social-networking-in-education/

Smith, F. (2007). How to Use Social-Networking Technology for Learning. Edutopia. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 from http://www.edutopia.org/how-use-social-networking-technology

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Edtech 541 Internet Safety Guidelines

As a teacher, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of your students. This used to just involve keeping your classroom door locked and keeping tabs on how many students you allowed to leave your room at a time. However, in today’s digital age and with the ever-changing educational environment, the use of the internet can pose serious dangers for students. As many educational opportunities and benefits that the internet offers, there are probably just as many problems and controversies that exist with internet use. It is a teacher’s duty to provide a safe learning environment for students. Therefore, teachers must be aware of the risks involved with internet use in the classroom. When planning a lesson that involves internet use, teachers should educate and prepare their students ahead of time on the acceptable uses and expectations involved. The following list provides teachers with a few guidelines for to follow when integrating the use of internet in their curriculum. (Cannaday, B., Neugent, L., McGraw, T., et al., 2007) (Morris, 2012)

  • Educate yourself on the Acceptable Use Policy of your school and the ways in which the internet is being used by your students.
  • Internet use should be tailored to the student age group.
  • Student technological interactions in the virtual world can be negative and spill over into the real world.
    • Be aware of the issue of cyberbullying and take any reports of this by parents or students seriously.
    • Teach students about proper netiquette.
  • Students need to hear the rules often.
    • Be clear and consistent with the expectations of students in regards to internet use.
  • Maintain open communication with students to encourage them to tell you about any problems they may experience.
  • Maintain your digital reputation.
    • Choose secure, smart passwords and usernames.
    • Don’t friend or socialize with students on social media outside of the classroom.
  • Monitoring is crucial.
    • Limit time and availability.
    • Place computers in a location that you can watch them surf the web.

Students need to be educated on the threats that exist on the World Wide Web. Young people can be very naïve to the ways of the world and need to be taught how to protect themselves and treat others online. Unfortunately, the trusting nature of children can be detrimental online if kids are not aware of the dangers of predators and identity thieves that are present in the vast arena of the internet. Students also need to be careful with how they treat their peers on social media and instant messaging; they need to understand that what they type cannot be taken back and that their words can have a lasting impact on someone else. Cyberbullying and netiquette should be talked about openly and extensively by teachers and parents alike. Finally, students should be taught about plagiarism and how to use internet resources appropriately. They should understand that plagiarizing is a serious offense, no different that stealing, and is never tolerated by their school. The following list provides students with a few tips for using the internet in a safe and appropriate manner. (Cannaday, B., Neugent, L., McGraw, T., et al., 2007) (Knorr, 2012)

  • The Internet is a powerful tool that should be used wisely.
    • Visit age-appropriate, educational sites
  • Students need to know that not all Internet information is valid or appropriate.
    • Think about what you read and where you find it.
  • Students should be taught specifically how to maximize the Internet’s potential while protecting themselves from potential abuse.
    • Report suspicious behavior
    • Never give out personal information
  • Internet messages and the people who send them are not always what or who they seem.
    • Be aware of the lack of privacy
    • Never chat with someone you don’t know
    • Never open an email from someone you don’t know
  • Predators and cyberbullies anonymously use the Internet to manipulate students. Students must learn how to avoid dangerous situations and get adult help.
    • Be careful of what you say and how you say it
    • Practice good Netiquette
  • Students need to know which internet activities are safe and legal.
    • If you wouldn’t do it in real life, you shouldn’t do it online. 

These guidelines should help teachers and students when they are using the internet in school. When used in an appropriate manner, the internet offers opportunities and capabilities that most educators never dreamed possible. It is a shame that there are so many risks and dangers associated with its use. Due to the nature of this technology however, we educators must look out for the safety of our students.  “Issues such as cyber bullying, sexting and plagarism are only going to become more prominent as children’s access to technology continues to increase. It’s so important that teachers are equipped to teach about these issues as a preventative measure and follow-up issues as they occur” (Morris, 2012).

For more information regarding internet safety please visit the following sites for wonderful resources for students, teachers and parents.

Internet Safety Grade Appropriate Resources: http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/children/Grade_Appropriate_Resources_Grades_9_12.pdf

Netsmartz Workshop: http://www.netsmartz.org/Educators

Virginia DOE Guidelines and Resources for Internet Safety: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/safety_crisis_management/internet_safety/guidelines_resources.pdf

 Get NetWise: http://www.getnetwise.com/

SafeKids.com: http://www.safekids.com/

 

Resources:

Knorr, C. (2012). “Internet Safety Tips for Middle School Kids.” Retrieved on March 14, 2014 from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/internet-safety-tips-for-middle-school-kids.

Morris, K. (2012). “10 Internet Use Tips for Teachers.” Retrieved on March 14, 2014 from http://primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au/2012/10/18/10-internet-use-tips-for-teachers/.

Cannaday, B., Neugent, L., McGraw, T., et al. (2007). Guidelines and Resources for Internet Safety in Schools for Virginia DOE’s Division of Technology and Career Education. Retrieved on March 14, 2014 from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/safety_crisis_management/internet_safety/guidelines_resources.pdf.

 

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Edtech 541 Relative Advantages of Hypermedia VLOG

This is my Video Blog discussing the benefits of using multimedia in the classroom.

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