Instructional Media or “What’s an Overhead?”

Blog Roll

April 26th, 2010 · 1 Comment

I couldn’t help being truly shocked, as well as puzzled by one of my classmate’s Blog posts this past week. There was such frustration in the tone of the Blog post, that I had to weigh in with a comment, which can be found at the bottom of the link. Jamie Horvath wasn’t being heard either. There’s so much to be gained having teachers fluent in technology, and we’re not talking about reluctant teachers here. The Blog post was a plea for help, and the teacher’s school district just didn’t sound like they were about to budge from the “We gave you new MacBooks, what more do you want?” point of view.

But school districts have to make choices, and I know that many of them south of the border have their hands somewhat tied by a ridiculous law, some Orwellian sounding thing like “The We’re Leaving the Kids Behind and the Staff aren’t Getting any Help, just Hardware…” or some such legislation.

But seriously, here’s an initiative that would actually help the children, by helping the teachers to be better models of what a 21st century learner could look like, since students themselves aren’t really sure, other than it might look a lot like Facebook and Twitter. We can be more than that with our students, if the training we have makes us confident about technology, knowing full well that most of our students are light years ahead on the tech part, but still need the guidance of a confident teacher to make tech experiences lasting learning experiences.

Edutopia has just published a Blog post about whether teachers should be forced to receive technology training. Edutopia, the website of the George Lucas Foundation, which is subtitled What Works in Public Education, often presents challenging discussions to encourage public discourse. What do you think? Read their post and weigh in with your vote to see the results of those who have taken it. You’ll be surprised, perhaps, about what the readers of Edutopia are saying. Would tech training help teachers be better at Differentiated Instruction? There are already technology standards for teachers that are drafted by the ISTE. The School Districts need to ramp up the help they give to teachers to better help students use technology.

Tags: Differentiated Instruction

Google Docs- the indispensable teacher tech tool

April 11th, 2010 · No Comments

UPDATE! Google has just announced new features for its Google Docs, including new formatting tools in documents, a drawing program, and real-time collaborative editing!

I have Richard Byrne’s wonderful Free Technology for Teachers Blog feed in my Google Reader and check his posts every day. There seems to be so many wonderful tech tools that he is able to share with the wider educator community. I often favourite his posts so they show up in my feed as well.
A recent post included a link to a 33 page free Google for Teachers guide. I think most teachers will find it useful.
You can use the link or see it embedded below. Your choice. I hope you choose to get on the Google Docs bandwagon.


Google for Teachers

Tags: Web2.0

Murray’s Corollary to Kranzberg’s First Law of Technology – Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.

September 24th, 2009 · No Comments

“It doesn’t just make learning relevant; it makes teaching relevant as well,” says Susan Thompson in the ISTE’s Learning and Leading with Technology Journal, writing about Global Project Based Learning (GPBL). The counterpoint, by Kevin Scott, is the argument that GPBL is not a panacea for motivating all students, is so challenging to implement that it fails struggling students and does not always help them achieve mandated standards. If it’s so great, and the risks large, and the technology frequently prone to failure, it begs the question- why do teachers do Project Based Learning, let alone with a global focus?! Murray’s Corollary says that if technology can mess something up, it will, only faster!
There are often more obstacles than rewards and the learning curve is noticeably steep in GPBL. Technology, time, time zones, misconceptions, cultural awareness, cultural in-sensitivities, language barriers, collaboration skills, to name a few, seem almost insurmountable. With proper training of teachers (it’s appropriate at this moment to drop a shameless pitch for Wilkes University and this course at this point!), as well as proper preparation and anticipation of the challenges, GPBL can, and will be successful for our students. There are, after-all, huge rewards, as Thompson suggests, for both students and teachers.
The rewards of seeing students develop understandings about people and places and things that could not be otherwise learned is paramount. Developing an awareness of communities beyond one’s own locality is perhaps one of the greatest challenges to human existence. Solving climate, energy, economic, environmental and social problems without a global perspective will be near impossible as globalisation levels all playing fields. Our students deserve this kind of education. It’s their destiny. It may well be our destiny to provide it, and, as Thompson points out, make teaching relevant at the same time.

References

ED Teacher’s Guide to International Collaboration on the Internet– Pg 12. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2009, from http://www.ed.gov/teachers/how/tech/international/guide_pg12.html

Melvin, K. (1986). Technology and History: Kranzberg’s Laws. Technology and Culture, 27(3), 544-560.

Thompson, S., & Scott, K. (n.d.). Is PBL Practical?. Retrieved September 24, 2009, from www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Publications/LL/LLIssues/Volume_35_2007_2008_/AugustNo1/35108s.pdf

Tags: Project Based Learning

It’s not about the technology redux (but it sure helps!)

September 10th, 2009 · No Comments

The justification for using project-based learning is simply this- that the learning is applied to authentic situations and can then be transferred to others situations, because it is now embedded in the learner. This then, is real learning and is supported by various research studies. Mathematics was better understood especially in analytical applications in a British study. An SRI study showed project-based students using technology significantly out-performed non-technology students in the areas of “communication skills, teamwork, and problem solving” (PBL Research Summary, 2009). The Vanderbilt study in 1992 showed improved academic skills in a variety areas. Other studies support these ones. Studies suggest that project-based learners, in the case of school laptop based programs, achieved higher state test scores, became better self-directed learners, demonstrated greater engagement, higher-order thinking skills and analytical thinking.

What is also clear (and this may seem to oppose my previous post comment about technology) is that technology played an important role in these studies and that although PBL can be successful with minimal technology to support it, PBL is significantly more successful when there is a variety of technologies in place. What I meant in my previous posting is that PBL is not “about” the technology. We don’t choose the technology first and then decide what focus our PBL will take. Rather, the technology is just a tool to achieve the goals of the PBL.

References

PBL Research Summary: Studies Validate Project-Based Learning | Edutopia. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2009, from http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning-research

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (n.d.). Educational Leadership:Reshaping High Schools:Put Understanding First. Retrieved September 10, 2009, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/may08/vol65/num08/Put_Understanding_First.aspx

Tags: Project Based Learning

Back at School

January 19th, 2009 · No Comments

It’s time for school, children! I am back in class, this time taking EDIM 507 or “Using Technology to Support Creativity.”

The class consists of mostly American teachers with 3 Canadians thrown into the mix. The focus will be on how globalization impacts what happens in education. Should be some opportunities for some excellent dialogue.

Tags: Uncategorized

New Job Too!

October 30th, 2008 · No Comments

A lot has happened this week. Take for instance the fact that I am now a student at Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA. Not only am I studying Instructional Media on-line, I have a new job to go with it. I shall become, as of January 1st, a Resource Teacher- Instructional Technology, otherwise known as a Tech Coach in these parts. I shall be travelling about the Peel District School Board ( a vast area covering 776 square kilometres west and north of Toronto) visiting schools and assisting teachers with the integration of technology.
It is exciting that these two things have happened at the same time. I shall be looking forward to many new and exciting challenges and experiences.

Tags: Uncategorized