Challenges in Using Technology in the Schools

The New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition, defined major challenges facing educators with integrating technology in the classroom ranging from professional development to lack of accessibility for all students.  According to the report, the following are the top six challenges facing educators:

1.  Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline

and profession, especially teaching.

2.  K-12 must address the increased blending of formal and informal learning.

3.  The demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices.

4.  Institutional barriers present formidable challenges to moving forward in a constructive way with emerging technologies.

5.  Learning that incorporates real life experiences is not occurring enough and is undervalued when it does take place.

6.  Many activities related to learning and education take place outside the walls of the classroom and thus are not part of traditional learning metrics.

 As I read through these six challenges, I became fixated on digital media literacy.  Educators have a common goal and that is to educate the children.  Unfortunately they often fail to educate themselves.  This is evident when addressing technology in the classroom.  Many educators are reluctant to integrate technology in the classroom for various reasons. Technology is often viewed “in terms of a ‘side-car activity’ as adjunct to, rather than part of, the core curriculum,” according to Laurence Peters.   Some feel if they use Word periodically and have the students create a PowerPoint presentation, they are incorporating technology.  Children learn by doing.  This is impossible if the teachers themselves are unable to utilize multiple types of media to benefit the students.  “Learning by doing was a core theme of John Dewey’s work.  It is as important today as it was in his day.”  explains Bob Regan, director of K-12 education at Adobe Systems, Inc.

Learning how to use technology efficiently and effectively in the classroom takes patience and practice.  Regardless of how new the technology is, this money can be quickly wasted if the teachers are not taught how to integrate it into the curriculum.  Professional development is most useful but considering the financial status of many schools, this training is limited at best.  Teaching oneself how to efficiently use technology can be trying and at times completely frustrating.  One must be willing to step outside the box, often trying one approach after another until a solution is found.  Teachers must become proficient at using technology or else we are only hindering the potential growth of our students.

Reflection:

 When I was accepted into the M.E.T. program at Boise State University (BSU), I knew the importance of sharing as much information as possible with the staff I work with.  This new  knowledge, although in the beginning stages, has been met with varied responses.  I have provided staff training twice since the semester began and will continue to do so with the full support of our principal.  One trend I have noticed is a reluctance to try new approaches, which is somewhat difficult to deal with.  Too often, there is criticism before I am able to completely explain a new approach or medium to use in the classroom.  Other times, it appears everyone is on board.

Most recently, I shared with the staff the endless possibilities we would have at our school if we were to use Google drive for our students to conduct research and produce their assignments.  We have been using the Google drive in my classroom for the past two weeks.  The students are thriving with this new, reliable access both in school and at home.  Even if the other classes do not embrace this tool, my students have been exposed to it and have a working knowledge.  I highly respect the staff I work with and will do my best to convey the pros when carefully integrating technology other than using strictly Word and PowerPoint in the classroom.  Once I feel the staff is comfortable with using Google, I will demonstrate how circles can best be utilized.   I will show how circles,  created for all grade levels within the diocese, will all the teachers can collaborate statewide.

References:

Peters, L. (1995). Who’ll teach the teachers?. Educom Review, 30(5), 9.

Regan, B. (2008). Why we need to teach 21st century skills–and how to do it. Multimedia & Internet@Schools, 15(4), 10-13.

Xtranormal was used to create the video. http://www.xtranormal.com

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EDTECH 502 – The Internet for Educators

Throughout the 2013 spring semester, I have been creating an introductory webpage.  As this is my first attempt at webpage development, I have found it fascinating and trying at the same time.  The page may look very elementary to some; however I am pleased with the product and will make changes to it as my confidence grows.  Please click on EDTECH 502 to view the page.

 

Research in Educational Technology

Subject Area/Grade Level: Blogging in the Classroom for Staff and Elementary Students

Instructional Objective: Use blogs as an authentic learning and collaboration tool in elementary education. Apply and share content knowledge.

Research:

Utilizing a blog within elementary education is a topic I have been interested in but have not known how to integrate in meaningful way. As an educator, my goal is to prepare my students for life, not just the moment. The impact of blogging in the classroom has had mixed reviews depending on the experience level and willingness of the educator to implement the practice. Educators who are able to integrate blogging in an authentic manner experience a higher level of success than those who exercise complete control of the blog entries. Students learn best when their teacher models blogging, explains expectations, and responsibilities of blogging. Before a teacher attempts to integrate blogging, they must be confident in the practice.

Reflection:

As I worked my way through this assignment, I became more amazed at the online tools available to educators and students alike. Having the opportunity to utilize Google Scholar and the Albertsons Library for the first time was a fascinating experience. The resources available allow educators and students alike access to unlimited information. I found that by adjusting the search parameters, I was able to narrow the search or change topics completely. Another part of this exercise taught me although the citations can be easily inserted into a document, it is imperative that you double check for correct APA format. I cannot wait to tailor this information to a fourth grade level to share with my students. Sharing this new found information with my co-workers will be exciting as well. Regardless of grade level taught, I am confident the utilization of these online resources will be applicable to all students.

Quickly realizing how much catching up I need to do in order to be successful at integrating technology in the classroom. I have created a simple blog to begin this process. I am pleased with the outcome so far. The address is http://ascs4th@wordpress.com. If anyone would like to take a look and provide constructive criticism, it would be appreciated. I am very excited about the future prospect of blogging and the impact it will have on my students.

Annotated Bibliography:

Ferdig, R. E., &  Trammell, K. D. (2004) Content delivery in the ‘blogosphere’. The Journal 31.7, 12-20.

Summary: Teachers who actively utilize blogging in the classroom are providing their students with an authentic writing and reading opportunity. Students who blog take pride in their work, increase their knowledge in the subject area they are writing about, and participate in higher order thinking. Blogs rely on hyperlinks which direct the both the writer and reader to greater sources of information. The possibilities for increasing knowledge with the use of blogs in the classroom are endless.

Hungerford-Kresser, H., Wiggins, J., & Amaro-Jimenez, C. (2011). Learning from our mistakes: what matters when incorporating blogging in the content area literacy classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55, 4, 326-335. doi:10.1002/JAAL.00039

Summary: As exciting as new technology is, mistakes are made and then must be corrected. In our haste to integrate the latest and greatest technology, there are times when it may not have a positive impact on student learning. During this study involving preservice teachers, blogging became just another assignment for students to complete. Another huge issue of this focus group was the divide between tech-savvy students and the technologically apprehensive students. Never assume that all of your students are on the same level regardless of their age or educational background.

McGrail, E., & Davis, A. (2011). The influence of classroom blogging on elementary student writing. Journal Of Research In Childhood Education, 25(4), 415-437. doi:10.1080/02568543.2011.605205.

Summary: Blogging in the classroom is an ever evolving means to improve writing literacy. Since the students are not just writing to their teacher, they gain a greater sense of connection to their audience. Students who blog become aware of who their audience is through discussion forums and feedback. Initially the quality of writing is very basic however as the school year progresses, the content of the blogs dramatically improve. Motivated by ownership, students are more mindful of what is posted and are more willing to share their voice. This in turn boosts confidence not only in writing but in the use of the Internet.

Poling, Catherine.(2005). Blog on: Building communication and collaboration among staff and students. Learning & Leading with Technology 32.6, 12-15.

Summary: The integration of blogging in the classroom is a growing trend in education. Students who blog, share their thoughts on a topic and learning strategies while actively participating in online discussion forums. Blogging is a means of communication that allows collaboration between staff members when face-to-face time is limited.

Tucker, J., & Courts, B. (2010). Utilizing the internet to facilitate classroom learning. Journal Of College Teaching & Learning, 7(7), 36-43. Retrieved from http://journals.cluteonline.com/index.php/TLC/article/view/136/130

Summary: Use of the Internet in the classroom is only successful if the teachers fully embrace technology. Schools must also have the financial means along with support personnel to maintain existing systems and upgrade when necessary. Systems that are not maintained are more of a handicap, making the integration of technology very difficult to those who realize the importance it. The Internet provides unlimited possibilities for educators to open doors for students but these doors cannot be opened unless teachers can access all aspects of the technology available to them.

Zawilinski, Lisa (2009). Hot blogging: A framework for blogging to promote higher order thinking. The Reading Teacher 62.8, 650-661. doi: 10.1598/RT.62.8.3

Summary: Introducing elementary students to the Internet is preparing them for life. A comfortable way to achieve this is through the use of blogging. A frequently used type of blog is the Classroom News Blog. This type of blog is used to post the daily events of the classroom to parents, students, and staff members. Other types of blogs include Mirror Blogs, Showcase Blogs, and Literature Response Blogs. During the course of this study, Zawilinski also found that student centered blogging called HOT (Higher Order Thinking) Blogging facilitated greater exposure to online reading skills along with an increased outlook on what was read.

AECT STandard:

4.4 Information Management – Acquire information for use in research projects from sources such as Google Scholar and Albertsons Library.

RSS for Education

Learning about the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) has been most intriguing although slightly stressful.  I realize now that after years of using the internet just exactly how much I do not know.  Often, I had seen the RSS logo and never paid any attention to it.  Obviously I did not understand what it was, how it could simplify internet usage, and ways I could incorporate it into the classroom.

English: This icon, known as the "feed ic...

English: This icon, known as the “feed icon” or the “RSS icon”, was introduced in Mozilla Firefox in order to indicate a web feed was present on a particular web page that could be used in conjunction with the Live bookmarks function. Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera and some other browsers have adopted the icon in order to promote a de facto standard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

RSS provides a readily accessible link for readers of your blog to immediately connect to content the author of the blog feels is important and useful to the reader.  The RSS links are real time, meaning that as the secondary webpage is updated, so is your link.  This provides the reader with up to date information, which I have found with regard to technology, is ever changing.  Once the author of the blog had identified the sites they prefer, the rest is up to the reader.  I fully intend to read the articles published in the sites I selected to be in my Learning Log bundle faithfully.

As I began to construct the bundle, my mind went directly to my classroom.  I have often worried about keeping my students safe on the internet and not had a solution as to controlling safe websites.  Needless to say, internet usage in my class has been limited.  Now with the knowledge I have gained during this exercise, I now have a way to do this.  Whereas we do a lot of writing in the classroom, research based writing has been very controlled and based mostly on articles I provide my students along with reading books on the subject of choice.  I now realize I can create bundles of safe websites for the students to read and conduct research.  This will be applicable in all subject areas and is something I intend to create immediately.  We are currently beginning a unit on energy.   I will locate sites which meet our needs, create a bundle, put a shortcut on the student computers, and then explain to the class how to utilize the bundle.  I am anticipating some learning curve on both sides but hopefully we will be successful and I look forward creating more bundles as time goes on.  I have attached a link to the bundle created in Google Reader.  Please click on the folder titled Teaching Resources for RSS links I thought would be useful.

Link to Google Reader Bundle