Monthly Archives: May 2017

What Catches Your Attention?

The past few weeks has certainly put a downer on my feelings and enthusiasm towards educational technology. As Elizabeth said, she feels like she’s been a bit of a “negative Nelly.” I feel the same way! It is disheartening to think about the challenges we are faced with everyday as we try to engage learning, make it authentic, and support creative thinkers.

Photo Credit: Flickr

I look forward to focusing on the great things about technology in the classroom next week. For now, I will share some of the interesting finds that I have come across along the way. One thing for sure is there are always interesting articles shared and answers to most (if not all) questions that educators may have available on the internet. I definitely find that networking through twitter and using feedly as a facilitator keeps information at my fingertips. If we as educators have questions or concerns, we can reach out to the many educators that we follow and the ones who follow us back. Thanks to feedly, (and using it regularly) my twitter followers have increased considerably.

  Photo Credit: jenhegna1 Flickr via Compfight cc

However, I do worry about not meeting weekly with fellow edtech enthusiasts to keep myself accountable. I hope that feedly and twitter will keep me in the loop. Any suggestions?

Like Andres shared in his blogpost,  I also found the conversation interesting concerning why schools are not allowed to invest in more educational technology. The discussion was disheartening to say the least. Not having the option to fundraise or buy new chromebooks, laptops or iPads is frustrating when we already have such a shortage.  I guess I can understand that the cost to maintain all the devices is a problem, but should it be at the expense of our students?

For most of the edtech my grade 4’s do, Chromebooks work well and serve their purpose. I do find they are user friendly, and I have very few problems with them (at least for now). Aside from the regular loss of wifi connection in one of our classrooms, students are able to navigate them without having to deal with too many glitches. Having the links so easily accessible to them in the toolbar saves time when they have multiple tabs open for Gmail, Google Classroom, Google search, and Blogger.

[url=https://flic.kr/p/8Kg9C6][img]https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4154/5084062389_93d986f86f.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/8Kg9C6][ - - - - - - - ] - Paz[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjmedios/]Alejandro Jöpia[/url], on Flickr

Photo Credit: Flickr

It is relatively easy to find support on line when it comes to what technology tools have to offer. I am looking forward to having time in the fall to look more into GAPS, and utilizing Chromebooks more. I know that I am unaware of many of the uses and opportunities that both of these have to offer. Elizabeth shared some great information about Alice Keeler and her Teacher Tech Blog. It will be a great resource to look at further.

I connected with the quote Elizabeth shared:

“My teacher could be replaced by a YouTube video.” by Alice Keeler

One thing I have understood about teaching is that it changes every year (technology or no technology). I try to stay relevant for myself and for my students. I definitely agree that teachers will not be obsolete any time soon, but the way we taught 20 years ago definitely needs to change.

Changing is never easy and takes time. Transitioning from a more traditional teaching practices to a more student centred approach is daunting and time consuming. In the article: Three Essentials for Success in a Blended (Literacy) Classroom the learning and teaching styles looks quite different. Many educators, including myself have to really understand the importance of how students learn and how their teaching pedagogy needs to advance.

When done correctly, any classroom can benefit from the blended approach, literacy classrooms especially. Literacy learning is unique in that there are both concrete and abstract concepts that work well in face-to-face teaching and in the digital space.

1. Maximizing Physical and Digital Space.

2. Fostering Collaboration and Communication

3. Accessible Texts and Materials

Just reading the 3 headings seems like it is relatively easy, but after reading the article it would take a lot of time and planning. I often like these articles, because of the way they are organized and laid out. It provides educators with a place to start, or continue from.

Each year, I make some progress in changing my style of teaching, advancements in provided a blended learning approach, as well as using the tools provided to me, like Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education. I would like to utilize these tools more, to further my own style of teaching practices and understanding of how they work. Recent and up to date articles that I find using feedly, or twitter are very helpful. I have found a useful article about Chromebooks through Free Technology for Teachers. It is called, “Great Tools for Making Videos on Chromebooks. Even though video production tools like iMovie are not available through Chromebooks, this article shares information and links on Twelve Tools for Creating Videos on Chromebooks. This provides more than enough for students to be creative and generate engaging videos to be proud of. The sight provides a summary for each tool, as well as direct links to each tool.

Overall, I find that I am interested in most things associated with teaching and I am curious to learn how it may or may not work for my students.

Does anybody else have concerns about staying up to date with technology after completing your master’s degree?

Do you utilize feedly and/or twitter regularly?

Please feel free to comment by clicking the title at the top!


Interesting Finds This Week!!

 

Photo Credit: vikapproved Flickr via Compfight cc

This week we decided to look at some interesting finds.  These statistics from our Canadian public schools are quite interesting.  Technology as we can see is becoming part of our every day lives starting at a young age. As educators I do feel it is our job to ensure that our students have the necessary tools and resources to be successful citizens in our society, teaching them the ins and outs of technology is definitely needed in today’s society.  Many jobs now days our taking to the online world… look at teacher’s for example.  In my experience at my school we are expected to check email daily, check google drive for announcements, book computers/other resources online, communicate with one another via online tools as we don’t always have the time to meet face to face, and the list goes on.

Photo Credit: We have moved! Please visit /highwaysengland Flickr via Compfight cc

To be honest, I have my computer and my phone attached to my hip daily, with the expectations and responsibilities of my job I need both my phone and my computer to get through my day successfully. This is just the beginning, I’m sure technology is going to continue to revolve and we need to start preparing and teaching our students how to use it properly, safely and most importantly how to be good digital citizens.

As I have been reading a variety of materials over the past few weeks I decided to look a little further into what Regina Public Schools believe in regards to technology.  To be honest, prior to this class I have thought lots about technology and incorporating it into my classroom, the how to, the different apps, resources etc. but it was not until now that I realized “hey I have all they great ideas, but now I need to make sure that I am following the guidelines of my employers and ensuring that I am implementing it in an appropriate manner.”

Photo Credit: rustyruth1959 Flickr via Compfight cc

Shared Vision:

Regina Public Schools believe:

  • curriculum framework and pedagogy
  • professional learning
  • bring your own device
  • innovation
  • digital citizenship
  • assistive technology
  • IT infrastructure and services
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Equitable access
  • Policies and procedures
  • Links were found at: http://www.rbe.sk.ca/technology_in_learning

I also decided to take a look at some interesting things that were both technology and physical education related this week.  All schools within Regina Public Schools should have access to a physical education resource called sparkSpark can be a very useful resource especially for beginner physical education teachers.  Spark has some updated information on their site that would be useful to beginner teachers and veteran teachers in the physical education world.  Many physical education teachers have the experience in the content however do not have any experience in incorporating technology into our classrooms.  The Spark Blog offers some insight and a variety of ways/tools that can be used along with the spark manual in including these resources in our class.  Some examples provided were:

Photo Credit: gherringer Flickr via Compfight cc

pedometers (ability to measure steps which is conveniently one of the easiest ways of measuring activity levels.  It is essential that teachers who plan to use pedometers in their classrooms that there are different targets based on children, abilities etc. therefore it is essential to keep this in mind when planning lessons.

heart rate monitors (again based on student’s target heart rate will vary.  This can be challenging to use but fun as we have more freedom to individualize programs, activities etc. to meet the needs of our students)

various apps (my fitness pal- can aid students in tracking physical activity as well as nutrition.  There are also other apps such as blastinmotion that may be helpful in improving specific skills for a particular sport and/or activity)

video resources (how to videos, YouTube etc. can be helpful in teaching our students a variety of activities, skills etc.  Video resources also allow our students opportunities to create their own videos for class as well.)

Games– Wii Sports, Dance Dance etc.  We can have a few students using the controllers while the other students follow along with the activity/movement on the screen.

Although technology can be challenging, especially to physical education teachers as often times we are faced with the dilemma of how to incorporate and does it really apply to our subject area, it is essential that we make an effort in including it into our classrooms and lessons as it creates a more dynamic classroom. By incorporating technology into our classrooms we might be meeting the interests and needs of all students rather than our students who are “natural athletes”.

Another great find this week was the creating animations through keynote.  Through this site you are able to sign up for an online class that will aid you in learning how to create animations through keynote.  By completing this course you will be able to:

“The course is comprised of 5 lessons containing 17 topics. Each topic will teach you a new skill and includes video explanations to help you step by step through the process. No experience using Keynote is necessary. The only requirement is that you have a Mac Computer with Keynote installed (that’s pretty much all of them).”

This online course offers an opportunity to create custom animations that will help our students discover and learn tactical concepts.  They will also be able to learn rules, and will allow the teacher a chance to access our student’s knowledge and understanding in regards to the material being taught.

Preach it!!!

“Since technology is so prevalent in many students’ lives today, integrating it into their exercise routines during PE class will help them set a good habit of allotting time out of their day to exercise even outside of the classroom. By teaching students how to use various forms of technology for their health, students are able to make use of the devices they own to maximize health benefits outside of the classroom on weekends, for example. Informing students of the available resources they have also eliminates them needing to go out of their way and find these resources to help them sustain a healthy lifestyle in the long run”  I love this quote and it is totally something I live by!! I want all my students to be able to live healthy active lifestyles in and out of school and by providing them with the essential tools and resources to do so will help them in being successful not only in my classroom but outside of my classroom, at home, and in the community as well!

Photo Credit: Monkiiiey Henry Clark Flickr via Compfight cc

I have been over the moon excited to be able to focus my last class on something I am so passionate about.  I hope that with all my new findings, resources, tools and support from my colleagues I will be able to successfully use technology in my classroom to benefit the teaching and learning that is happening in my classroom!


Why Technology

Last class Alec made a comment about why are we using technology.  There is no legal obligation, it is not a part of our curriculum, they are causing stress for parents, and teachers.  We talk about how it is the way of the future, but if the technology is constantly changing whose responsibility is it really?

I appreciated the article by Stager that he shared with us and I have used it this week as a jumping off point.  I went through his page and found an article about 1:1 Computing which was actually about the effectiveness of teaching keyboarding skills in the late 1980's.  The summation of the article sounds very similar to our discussion we are having around using personal devices within the classroom in today world.

There is widespread agreement that elementary school students need keyboarding skills. Whether keyboard familiarization is sufficient or whether students need touch typing skills depends on the nature of the school’s language arts and computer education curricula.
If we replaced the word keyboard with device the statement still stands as in today's culture.

There is widespread agreement that elementary school students need their own device skills. Whether device familiarization is sufficient or whether students need touch typing skills depends on the nature of the school’s language arts and computer education curricula.

With statements like this I am starting to ask myself, why isn't there a technology component into curriculum?  With the ever evolving state of technology why are we not required to be teaching with it?  Society obviously demands the upgrades as we can never have one device for much more than 4-5 years before it becomes obsolete.  I would like to think that with a statement from Stager's article on keyboard typing is so connected to using our digital devices in school that it would have become a priority to the curriculum designers at this point.  On the other hand is it possible that technology really isn't that important and we don't have to teach with it to ensure the student's are learning the curriculum.  I know I was able to get through the curriculum just fine into the early 2000's.

With all the research I have done in the last number of classes and throughout this specific one almost every article shows that engagement increases with technology but the overall grades/marks/understanding the outcomes is not increasing at the same rate, but there is only ever a minimal improvement if there is one at all.

One of our catch phrases lately has been Collaboration and if you have followed me on my technology journey you will know that I try to incorporate and teach through this method as much as possible.  But my new found friendly neighbourhood blogger (Stager) has a great article on this topic.  I feel that collaboration is a method that helps me get through the curriculum at a faster rate while encouraging more participation from all the students.  Stager has a very different view of how we should be collaborating.  As I read his article I laughed for the most part, both at the article and also at myself because many of the things he was satirically writing about were the things I am doing to be an engaging teacher, and using collaboration to engage my students more... Maybe I need to rethink how I am encouraging and designing my collaborative groups....
Cooperation and collaboration are natural processes. Such skills are useful when the creative process benefits from interdependence. The best collaboration mirrors democracy when individual talents, knowledge, or experiences are contributed to produce something larger than the sum of its parts.  Work with your friends. Work with people you trust. Work with people who have different skills or expertise. If that doesn’t produce the result you desire, you will find others to collaborate with. That is how you learn to collaborate. You may teach it, but the students will not stay taught.

So what do I do from here.  I am certainly feeling juxtaposed in between my desires and what is actually important.  The important pieces are ensuring the curriculum is taught.  That is my job.  I have to get through the grade 8 Math, Science, and ELA curriculum's next year regardless of what mode of transportation I use, be that pen and paper, technology, or pencil crayons on cardboard.   I do not think the Ministry of Education will care as long as my students are "learning" the curriculum.  My desire is to go paperless.   To do so, I need to supplement my classroom with out of school devices.  Within our division we are allowed 1 Google Chromebook for every 5 students from grades 5-8 and 1 iPad for every 3 students from grades 1-4.

With the outcome based evaluating I feel that I am able to determine how a student is doing with the more written language, or produced materials they can show me.  Through using these Chromebooks I am able to monitor and track how much my students are doing as long as they are using their board approved username and password.  (The more I think of what I want the more I feel like I'm becoming Big Brother in Wells' distopian world). With using the technology I have at my disposal I am able to ensure those students who struggle with organization will at least have a searchable document when I am helping them, also those students who are functioning at a higher level will be capable of extending their learning and dive deeper into topics of their own inspiration.

When looking at the question of why use/teach with technology, I am thinking about Postman's article we read in an earlier class around technological change.  Reflecting on that article we need to be reminded (especially about his stance on the purpose behind the technology)

 there is embedded in every great technology an epistemological, political or social prejudice. Sometimes that bias is greatly to our advantage. Sometimes it is not.  
As long as we are focus on using technology to improve the quality education for our students, it is of benefit.  If we are choosing to use technology because it is easier for the educator, or it is only 'more engaging', but not providing evidence of improved understanding, then we need to re-evaluate how/why we are using this technology.

I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks of this class, as I am working on a document, and my final blog post as to how I plan on implementing the BYOD within my classroom, along with what specific apps and tools I plan on utilizing to provide a paperless classroom next school year.

Why Technology

Last class Alec made a comment about why are we using technology.  There is no legal obligation, it is not a part of our curriculum, they are causing stress for parents, and teachers.  We talk about how it is the way of the future, but if the technology is constantly changing whose responsibility is it really?

I appreciated the article by Stager that he shared with us and I have used it this week as a jumping off point.  I went through his page and found an article about 1:1 Computing which was actually about the effectiveness of teaching keyboarding skills in the late 1980's.  The summation of the article sounds very similar to our discussion we are having around using personal devices within the classroom in today world.

There is widespread agreement that elementary school students need keyboarding skills. Whether keyboard familiarization is sufficient or whether students need touch typing skills depends on the nature of the school’s language arts and computer education curricula.
If we replaced the word keyboard with device the statement still stands as in today's culture.

There is widespread agreement that elementary school students need their own device skills. Whether device familiarization is sufficient or whether students need touch typing skills depends on the nature of the school’s language arts and computer education curricula.

With statements like this I am starting to ask myself, why isn't there a technology component into curriculum?  With the ever evolving state of technology why are we not required to be teaching with it?  Society obviously demands the upgrades as we can never have one device for much more than 4-5 years before it becomes obsolete.  I would like to think that with a statement from Stager's article on keyboard typing is so connected to using our digital devices in school that it would have become a priority to the curriculum designers at this point.  On the other hand is it possible that technology really isn't that important and we don't have to teach with it to ensure the student's are learning the curriculum.  I know I was able to get through the curriculum just fine into the early 2000's.

With all the research I have done in the last number of classes and throughout this specific one almost every article shows that engagement increases with technology but the overall grades/marks/understanding the outcomes is not increasing at the same rate, but there is only ever a minimal improvement if there is one at all.

One of our catch phrases lately has been Collaboration and if you have followed me on my technology journey you will know that I try to incorporate and teach through this method as much as possible.  But my new found friendly neighbourhood blogger (Stager) has a great article on this topic.  I feel that collaboration is a method that helps me get through the curriculum at a faster rate while encouraging more participation from all the students.  Stager has a very different view of how we should be collaborating.  As I read his article I laughed for the most part, both at the article and also at myself because many of the things he was satirically writing about were the things I am doing to be an engaging teacher, and using collaboration to engage my students more... Maybe I need to rethink how I am encouraging and designing my collaborative groups....
Cooperation and collaboration are natural processes. Such skills are useful when the creative process benefits from interdependence. The best collaboration mirrors democracy when individual talents, knowledge, or experiences are contributed to produce something larger than the sum of its parts.  Work with your friends. Work with people you trust. Work with people who have different skills or expertise. If that doesn’t produce the result you desire, you will find others to collaborate with. That is how you learn to collaborate. You may teach it, but the students will not stay taught.

So what do I do from here.  I am certainly feeling juxtaposed in between my desires and what is actually important.  The important pieces are ensuring the curriculum is taught.  That is my job.  I have to get through the grade 8 Math, Science, and ELA curriculum's next year regardless of what mode of transportation I use, be that pen and paper, technology, or pencil crayons on cardboard.   I do not think the Ministry of Education will care as long as my students are "learning" the curriculum.  My desire is to go paperless.   To do so, I need to supplement my classroom with out of school devices.  Within our division we are allowed 1 Google Chromebook for every 5 students from grades 5-8 and 1 iPad for every 3 students from grades 1-4.

With the outcome based evaluating I feel that I am able to determine how a student is doing with the more written language, or produced materials they can show me.  Through using these Chromebooks I am able to monitor and track how much my students are doing as long as they are using their board approved username and password.  (The more I think of what I want the more I feel like I'm becoming Big Brother in Wells' distopian world). With using the technology I have at my disposal I am able to ensure those students who struggle with organization will at least have a searchable document when I am helping them, also those students who are functioning at a higher level will be capable of extending their learning and dive deeper into topics of their own inspiration.

When looking at the question of why use/teach with technology, I am thinking about Postman's article we read in an earlier class around technological change.  Reflecting on that article we need to be reminded (especially about his stance on the purpose behind the technology)

 there is embedded in every great technology an epistemological, political or social prejudice. Sometimes that bias is greatly to our advantage. Sometimes it is not.  
As long as we are focus on using technology to improve the quality education for our students, it is of benefit.  If we are choosing to use technology because it is easier for the educator, or it is only 'more engaging', but not providing evidence of improved understanding, then we need to re-evaluate how/why we are using this technology.

I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks of this class, as I am working on a document, and my final blog post as to how I plan on implementing the BYOD within my classroom, along with what specific apps and tools I plan on utilizing to provide a paperless classroom next school year.

Finding some interesting things along the way…

Over the past year, I’ve been analyzing and learning about tech in the classroom from different angles and perspectives. Today’s post however, will take on a somewhat different and more flexible approach, as I’ll be spending my time discussing some of the interesting finds I’ve come across over the past few weeks in my directed reading course.

Oh hey, check what I found!
SOURCE: GIPHY

Tuesday night’s class was very helpful to me because the discussions that came up during the meeting brought to my attention some aspects of tech I failed to even think about or address in my blog a few weeks back. The discussions we had in class definitely allowed me to connect more of the dots to some of the questions I had asked myself in my previous posts (take this one for example).

Dr. Alec Couros joined us this week and mentioned a few interesting facts relating to tech availability.

Dr. Couros shared an article with us that ended up bringing some interesting things to my attention.

Big Settlement For Los Angeles School District Over iPad Controversy

“The L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) bought approximately 40,000 iPads at $768 each, and pre-loaded with software from Pearson, a major textbook publisher and online educational tool creator. But while all iPads and mobile Apple devices use its iOS software, the problem wasn’t with Apple but Pearson’s product that teachers complained was scarce on content, riddles with bugs, and difficult to use.”

In this example, we see how even purchasing state-of-the-art tools can result in some major issues. The L.A. school district bought these devices with the intention of having them perform one simple task. Although Pearson is partly to blame here, this example shows us that we can’t always rely on tech for the answers and solutions were looking for. In this case, the school district dumped A LOT of money into this investment only to encounter these major issues of functionality and reliability.

One of the other interesting points that came out of our meeting on Tuesday related to attaining tech and other digital tools for the classroom. For my blog post last week, I brought up how we could apply for technology grants or seek outside funding to purchase class computers, laptops or tablets.

My classmate Kyle however, mentioned how some districts actually have rules and restrictions relating to these types of classroom purchases. I learned that the reason for which teachers are sometimes restricted or flat-out denied permission to make these types of purchases is in part because school boards are often unable to repair or provide support to devices as they may sometimes differ from the “universal” brand or model that they are trained to repair and support. What this means is that for school boards, having teachers bring new types of personal devices (primarily laptops and tablets) can lead to more problems than anything else.

Denied!
SOURCE: GIPHY

Let’s take the RBE tech support for example. For them, bringing in devices that they haven’t worked on could potentially require additional training and additional costs (warrantees, software issues, machines that are more vulnerable to viruses, etc.). For a school board, this isn’t necessarily solving any problems, but causing new ones instead. This could potentially lead to you not being able to do much with that grant you were just given by Best Buy. Bummer.

Dang!
SOURCE: GIPHY

This actually reminded me a lot about the L.A. school district article, as it addresses some of the same issues regarding support and functionality.

This also led me to think about how obsolete our tech becomes in a matter of years. The following article got me thinking a lot about the quality of the tech we are providing our students:

BYOD – Worst Idea of the 21st Century?

If we’re going to provide students with tech, it should be of best quality, otherwise why bother? Furthermore, if we aren’t going to provide students with tech, and we’re taking the BYOD approach, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves what type of tech our students are bringing into the classroom?

Failing to realize that not everyone is bringing top-of-the-line devices to school could result in issues with compatibility and functionality. Students from higher income families bringing in brand-new state-of-the-art tech can be problematic for families that don’t have the means to afford these types of tools.

This might not cut it….
SOURCE: GIPHY

I’ve actually experienced these issues myself, as some students will often bring the latest Apple phone and products, while others will still be using older IPhone 4 models. At first this might not seem too serious of an issue until we start running newer software and apps on these devices that simply don’t work or are not supported by older Apple products/models. This often results in students not being able to use their personal tools and devices the same way a student with a “better” device could. This brings up all sorts of questions, whether it’s about student equity or the fact that simply bringing a device to class doesn’t always cut it.

This article definitely got me thinking about the whole “quality” argument. I mean… what is quality?

SOURCE: GIPHY

You may have bought the most powerful laptops in the market, but how long will this tech put up until it becomes completely obsolete? In connection to my previous point about tech support for devices that may differ from those your school board may use, this could further lead to these devices breaking down and becoming utterly useless due to lack of support.

Please stay on hold while one of our highly trained representatives gets back to you
SOURCE: GIPHY

Whether the tech isn’t being maintained or updated, these devices have a short lifespan and become difficult to use the older they get, especially if we aren’t actively taking care of them.

Another interesting point that came from our discussions brought up the quality and functionality of our products. We brought up netbooks, and whether or not they are that useful at all, or if they’re simply glorified web-surfing devices. Although these devices are excellent tools for simple word processing projects and research, they are unable to run legitimate PC or APPLE software. If you are wanting to do some photo or video editing, or you’re wanting to try your hand at some 3-D animation or coding, you’re not really going to get too far with these things. The computing power is nowhere near as adequate as it should be to be running those types of programs.

Feelings of inadequacy
SOURCE: GIPHY

This led to another interesting point: if these devices are unable to provide its users with an adequately powerful and up-to-date creative tool, what’s the point of really using these things?

I’ve actually experienced a few issues relating to these very same problems in my class.

This fall, I had my class create video artifacts for their health projects. Students were given the opportunity to use digital tools on the Chromebooks we have at our school. A lot like some of the video artifacts I’ve done for my previous tech classes, I showed the students how to use a couple of the tools I’ve used to create my own videos.

Although my students ended up creating some cool videos, the process was actually very tedious and frustrating for them and myself.

First of all, the tech is not strong enough to process the large volumes of data that usually go into video editing. Files were taking fifteen minutes to transfer from their phones to the computers. Kids were unable to use certain files, and converting them was taking so long, that many of them ended up having to do these things at home on their own computers. To make matters worse, since so many students were connected to the internet, and there was such a high volume of data taking up the bandwidth, even the WIFI was cutting out.

What this actually ended up leading my class to do was use their own devices to create their videos. Most of them have IPhones, which means most of them were able to do their assignments on apps such as iMovie. Luckily for me, everyone had a device (and ones that were capable of performing these tasks with relative ease).

Watch your step!
SOURCE: GIPHY

So how useful were the netbooks in this case? Not really to be honest, which is a little frustrating considering these tools have replaced the laptops we had a few years ago. I understand why school boards often make these types of purchases, but it is a little frustrating to realize they can’t do some of the things you’d hope they’d be able to do.

I really appreciate the discussions we’ve been having in class, it’s definitely opened me up to new angles to some common issues we experience when working with tech in a classroom. In the coming weeks, I am hoping to make more connections to my area of focus and draw more conclusions from some of the observations I’ve been making.
Thanks for reading everyone, have a great week!

Dre


Battling the Cons of Technology

My focus this week was on how to effectively find solutions for the Cons that I found last week.  My major frustration was around the disparity of access when it comes to technology within my room.  Many of the sources I read talked about the variety of students not having technology for mostly socioeconomic factors, but in my experience when dealing with 12-14 year olds there is often a set family values around technology.  Whether it is due to responsibility, protection, desire, or a litany of other reasons for a child to have or not have their own device.

What I have found this week revolves around the importance of utilizing technologies within the classroom and the benefits behind them.  I am hoping that with this type of knowledge the parents/caregivers of the students will be more open to sending a their children to school with a device.


When reading a paper on a 1 to 1 initiative that took place in Michigan the authors found that:
In looking at student benefits, the FTL students reported that the laptops helped them learn more and made them more interested in learning.  Most students were confident that use of the laptops would increase their future work opportunities. (Lowther, 2012, p. 27)
When looking at the engagement of students as an educator that is one of the most important pieces for me.  If a student is engaged and interested in what they are doing they will get more out of that particular assignment or reading.  What becomes difficult for the educator is how we assess the learning of each student.

Another reason for incorporating technology within the classroom is to help our students prepare for their future.  With the every changing landscape of education and the fast paced nature of our society now we need to give our students every opportunity to be working with the potential tools they will be required to master within their careers.
“Learning is complex work and like other forms of skilled and technical work it requires that the person performing the job understand and be comfortable with his or her tool set.” Alberta Teacher 2011
The document this quote is from is the BYOD Guide from Alberta.  They go on to share some constructive points as to why BYOD is valuable and important.

Alberta BYOD Guide pg. 4, 2012
Continuing with the idea that technology is the way of the future... (sorry it that was cliche). We need to be teaching differently.  I've talked about collaboration in some of my previous posts from prior classes, and I am trying to teach students how to work collaboratively, but it is a process.  Dre, one of my colleagues/peers, shared an article around how effectively students are utilizing the technology within their studies.  A majority of the evidence showed that students were not very proficient with the tools that they are supposed to be using.   Although the authors did share this sentiment:

Photo Credit: ImgFlip
“High levels of smartphone use by teens often have a detrimental effect on achievement, because teen phone use is dominated by entertainment, not learning, applications.” (Barnwell 2016). But perhaps this is a “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” dilemma. Teens were never asked or charged with using smart phones for learning so their lived experience and reality command a different use. Well-orchestrated and deliberate learning applications for smartphone use in classrooms could change this.



Photo Credit: Teachers With a Sense of Humor
Within my post last week I also focused on the idea that BYOD can cause unwanted distractions within the classroom.  Now if you are an educator in this day in age you can be certain that there is always something that will be the next big thing in you classroom.  I personally do not believe that technology is the only thing that is going to "distract" our students from getting their work done.

I believe Liz posted this article on dealing with digital distraction within the classroom.  This is a great way to teach moderation and when technology is appropriate or not.  Just because we plan on using technology to help our students learn does not mean that it will always be the most effective mode of transportation for the information we are attempting to share with the kids.  Take this article on the spinners as an example.  While the concept behind the spinners is meant to aid certain students, but when they are being used improperly they have become a major distraction for many if not the majority of classrooms in every building.  I have seen the same thing within my classroom when I use technology.  If I am not using the tech in a meaningful, productive, and engaging manner, the students are very quick to using the "tool" improperly.

Finally I leave you with this idea.
Today’s path–a breakneck pace through a required curriculum aimed at enabling students to pass cheap bubble tests—is antithetical to the effective use of technology. Instead, students in East Palo Alto, Greenwich, Mumbai, Shanghai and London should be connected, working together on projects to, for example, analyze acidity in rainfall or traffic patterns or election results.  (Technology in Schools: Problems and Possibilities)

If we are going to be using the technology, lets make it beneficial, for the students, while creating and developing the skills that we are attempting to develop for their futures.

Battling the Cons of Technology

My focus this week was on how to effectively find solutions for the Cons that I found last week.  My major frustration was around the disparity of access when it comes to technology within my room.  Many of the sources I read talked about the variety of students not having technology for mostly socioeconomic factors, but in my experience when dealing with 12-14 year olds there is often a set family values around technology.  Whether it is due to responsibility, protection, desire, or a litany of other reasons for a child to have or not have their own device.

What I have found this week revolves around the importance of utilizing technologies within the classroom and the benefits behind them.  I am hoping that with this type of knowledge the parents/caregivers of the students will be more open to sending a their children to school with a device.


When reading a paper on a 1 to 1 initiative that took place in Michigan the authors found that:
In looking at student benefits, the FTL students reported that the laptops helped them learn more and made them more interested in learning.  Most students were confident that use of the laptops would increase their future work opportunities. (Lowther, 2012, p. 27)
When looking at the engagement of students as an educator that is one of the most important pieces for me.  If a student is engaged and interested in what they are doing they will get more out of that particular assignment or reading.  What becomes difficult for the educator is how we assess the learning of each student.

Another reason for incorporating technology within the classroom is to help our students prepare for their future.  With the every changing landscape of education and the fast paced nature of our society now we need to give our students every opportunity to be working with the potential tools they will be required to master within their careers.
“Learning is complex work and like other forms of skilled and technical work it requires that the person performing the job understand and be comfortable with his or her tool set.” Alberta Teacher 2011
The document this quote is from is the BYOD Guide from Alberta.  They go on to share some constructive points as to why BYOD is valuable and important.

Alberta BYOD Guide pg. 4, 2012
Continuing with the idea that technology is the way of the future... (sorry it that was cliche). We need to be teaching differently.  I've talked about collaboration in some of my previous posts from prior classes, and I am trying to teach students how to work collaboratively, but it is a process.  Dre, one of my colleagues/peers, shared an article around how effectively students are utilizing the technology within their studies.  A majority of the evidence showed that students were not very proficient with the tools that they are supposed to be using.   Although the authors did share this sentiment:

Photo Credit: ImgFlip
“High levels of smartphone use by teens often have a detrimental effect on achievement, because teen phone use is dominated by entertainment, not learning, applications.” (Barnwell 2016). But perhaps this is a “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” dilemma. Teens were never asked or charged with using smart phones for learning so their lived experience and reality command a different use. Well-orchestrated and deliberate learning applications for smartphone use in classrooms could change this.



Photo Credit: Teachers With a Sense of Humor
Within my post last week I also focused on the idea that BYOD can cause unwanted distractions within the classroom.  Now if you are an educator in this day in age you can be certain that there is always something that will be the next big thing in you classroom.  I personally do not believe that technology is the only thing that is going to "distract" our students from getting their work done.

I believe Liz posted this article on dealing with digital distraction within the classroom.  This is a great way to teach moderation and when technology is appropriate or not.  Just because we plan on using technology to help our students learn does not mean that it will always be the most effective mode of transportation for the information we are attempting to share with the kids.  Take this article on the spinners as an example.  While the concept behind the spinners is meant to aid certain students, but when they are being used improperly they have become a major distraction for many if not the majority of classrooms in every building.  I have seen the same thing within my classroom when I use technology.  If I am not using the tech in a meaningful, productive, and engaging manner, the students are very quick to using the "tool" improperly.

Finally I leave you with this idea.
Today’s path–a breakneck pace through a required curriculum aimed at enabling students to pass cheap bubble tests—is antithetical to the effective use of technology. Instead, students in East Palo Alto, Greenwich, Mumbai, Shanghai and London should be connected, working together on projects to, for example, analyze acidity in rainfall or traffic patterns or election results.  (Technology in Schools: Problems and Possibilities)

If we are going to be using the technology, lets make it beneficial, for the students, while creating and developing the skills that we are attempting to develop for their futures.

How to prevent the Cons PART II

Hey everyone, after reading through some of my work, I wanted to continue my reading. I decided to include a couple of extra links to some resources I read this week. This is a continuation of my blog post from yesterday. You’re more than welcome to check it out if you haven’t done so yet.

Pros And Cons Of Using Education Technology
This was a good read because it brought up some common pros and cons of bringing tech into the classroom. As I was addressing the cons of tech a few weeks ago, I found that this article mentioned a few things worth reiterating. For example, this blog talks about social disconnect:

With too much exposure to technology, the student’s ability to verbally communicate can be affected. If you give students assignments that use technological tools and online collaboration, their method in learning and interacting with others will become limited.

The article also touches base on one aspect I skimmed through a few ago relating to work preparation:

For some academic professionals, lesson planning can be overwhelming when adapting technology in education. It requires time to learn how to utilize the tools.

One of the biggest challenges I found about planning for blended learning IS the fact that preparing your lessons and laying down the ground work necessary for putting an online-heavy course together requires tons and tons of time. You need to also keep in mind that things don’t always run smoothly and you need to allow yourself enough time to factor in any trial and error that may occur. Some of my first experiences creating my own digital content, blogs and online courses were quite frustrating. I must have spent half my time trying to figure things out. Creating your videos for example can be really fun and rewarding, BUT it does require you to set aside enough time to get these things rolling. I remember having to convert video files for hours JUST to make them work in whatever program I was using to splice them all together.

There’s truly no easy answer to this solution other than you planning ahead and taking into consideration that you may end up spending a lot of time figuring things out. If you’re going to plan an entire course, perhaps the easiest and best time to do it is during the summer holidays. This is a dilemma in itself, because not all teachers are going to be willing to put the time and work during their personal holidays to put together a course or online unit. I think the easiest way to plan ahead is to always be one or two steps ahead of the game. Having at least one unit on the go, and one in development can help you manage your time. Realistically, once you’ve created a few courses, creating new ones should theoretically become a lot easier and less time-consuming since you already know your way around the platform and the tools you chose to work with.

Blended learning also doesn’t have to be super complex. Blended learning can actually eliminate a lot of the tedious tasks teachers often dread in class.

The second additional resource I read can be found here:
4 Ways That Cash-Strapped Schools Can Address the Homework Gap

This article addresses some of the availability questions I asked myself a few blogs ago. It discusses student equity and how we can level the playing field for everyone. These are definitely solutions and preventative measures that are worth knowing about, as they can definitely help address some of those issues.

“But when we dig in and ask more detailed questions, only 52 percent of our students say they have regular, stable internet access that’s uninterrupted and they can use for homework if needed every night,” explains CIO Sarah Trimble-Oliver.

The district has since provided 1,000 blended learning students with hotspots and laptops.

The article suggests surveying our students about what type of tools and internet availability they have at home. You can’t expect to implement blended learning into the classroom if students are unable to access or do their work outside of school. The article also gives suggestions on where to find access to the internet, which is definitely a useful tip:

Whether it’s a library that loans out hotspots or a local church that acts as a safe Wi-Fi hotspot, schools are finding ways to partner with community organizations and businesses to offer affordable, or even free, reliable high-speed internet access to students after school.

The article also addresses the question about funding and how teachers can seek out funds through third party organizations and grants:

After applying to the state to approve internet hotspots as a device the district can purchase with Title I funds, LCISD provided 200 high-school AP students with hotspots and laptops. Over the summer hotspots and laptops also help pre–K and kindergarten students prepare for the new school year.

As the next few weeks unfold, I’ll continue to revisit some of my previous posts in hopes to boost content and bulk up my research. I’m really looking forward to seeing what else I’ll stumble upon my quest. Thanks for reading everyone and have a great week!

Dre


Why NOT to Integrate Techonlogy

*Sorry this is a week late.... I thought I hit publish when I closed out my window and apparently I did not.*

So my premise for this week and mostly for this study is to take a pessimistic viewpoint of technology within the classroom.  I want to find as many reasons not to integrate technology as I can in hopes of finding the best methods for smooth integration beginning in the fall.

There were a variety of peer reviewed articles that I worked through this week.

1. Cell Phones in the Classroom: Teachers’ Perspectives
2. In-class multitasking and academic performance
3. Examining the impact of off-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning

I also found some blogs that I found as useful in terms of integration into the actual classroom.  One of my favorites was The Pros and Cons of Technology.

Ultimately between most of the readings I found that the distraction factor is huge when we look at how the tools are being used during class time.

This is probably the number one worry of teachers who consider implementing classroom technology: the concern that students will be too busy tweeting and Snapchatting to pay attention to the lesson. Students’ innate curiosity, coupled with their tech savvy could lead to more online socializing in environments where devices are easily accessible.         Blog
When students were polled in a study it was found that
Photo Credit: MediaBistro
While texting was the most popular activity during class, students reported using other technologies as well. They reported using Facebook, email, and searching for content not related to class, with 28% stating that they use Facebook and email in class and 21% stating that they search for content not related to class at least some of the time they are in class.       (In-class multitasking and academic performance)


Now this study was focused mainly on senior students or 1st year post secondary students I feel the numbers could be extrapolated to represent very similar stats within a younger demographic.  Within the study around off-task multi-tasking they found that

the correlational and self-report studies above suggest that off-task multi-tasking in the classroom is most likely detrimental to learning.       (Examining the impact of off-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning)
With these facts on the table I found it interesting that there are so many teachers that are blindly pushing forward to incoprorating technology within their classrooms.  I myself have seen a large portion of my students demonstrating all of these "off-task" behaviours within my classes every week.  The majority of my experience would be students using Snapchat or Youtubing songs.  

I believe that many of my students could benefit from using the technology but I am not teaching the students how to properly use the tools within the classroom.  

One of the next major barriers I found was the Disparity of Access among each of the students and teachers within a school.  
Many of the teachers reported that access and cost—traditional first order barriers—were the major barriers to integrating cell phones into the classroom not only for themselves but also for students.  (Cell Phones in the Classroom: Teachers’ Perspectives )
This is a huge factor that concerns me when looking into integrating technology to the point of going paperless within my classroom.  How can I effectively run a paperless classroom if all of my students can not access the digital content consistently.  Even though I am fortunate enough to work within a higher socio-economic area, there are still families that for either financial or family value situations (where the parents feel their 12/13 year olds do not need a personal device), that every student may not have access to a device.  Our board policy only allows a ratio of 1 laptop per 5 students in grades 5-8 and 1 iPad to every 3 students for the primary grades.  I am concerned with how to demonstrate the efficacy of technology within a classroom to convince the families that their students need to learn how to use these devices.

I feel that my journey is going to be surrounded by these what if scenarios and one of my biggest hurdles will be communicating to the families that technology can be a benefit if used properly. 

Why NOT to Integrate Techonlogy

*Sorry this is a week late.... I thought I hit publish when I closed out my window and apparently I did not.*

So my premise for this week and mostly for this study is to take a pessimistic viewpoint of technology within the classroom.  I want to find as many reasons not to integrate technology as I can in hopes of finding the best methods for smooth integration beginning in the fall.

There were a variety of peer reviewed articles that I worked through this week.

1. Cell Phones in the Classroom: Teachers’ Perspectives
2. In-class multitasking and academic performance
3. Examining the impact of off-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning

I also found some blogs that I found as useful in terms of integration into the actual classroom.  One of my favorites was The Pros and Cons of Technology.

Ultimately between most of the readings I found that the distraction factor is huge when we look at how the tools are being used during class time.

This is probably the number one worry of teachers who consider implementing classroom technology: the concern that students will be too busy tweeting and Snapchatting to pay attention to the lesson. Students’ innate curiosity, coupled with their tech savvy could lead to more online socializing in environments where devices are easily accessible.         Blog
When students were polled in a study it was found that
Photo Credit: MediaBistro
While texting was the most popular activity during class, students reported using other technologies as well. They reported using Facebook, email, and searching for content not related to class, with 28% stating that they use Facebook and email in class and 21% stating that they search for content not related to class at least some of the time they are in class.       (In-class multitasking and academic performance)


Now this study was focused mainly on senior students or 1st year post secondary students I feel the numbers could be extrapolated to represent very similar stats within a younger demographic.  Within the study around off-task multi-tasking they found that

the correlational and self-report studies above suggest that off-task multi-tasking in the classroom is most likely detrimental to learning.       (Examining the impact of off-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning)
With these facts on the table I found it interesting that there are so many teachers that are blindly pushing forward to incoprorating technology within their classrooms.  I myself have seen a large portion of my students demonstrating all of these "off-task" behaviours within my classes every week.  The majority of my experience would be students using Snapchat or Youtubing songs.  

I believe that many of my students could benefit from using the technology but I am not teaching the students how to properly use the tools within the classroom.  

One of the next major barriers I found was the Disparity of Access among each of the students and teachers within a school.  
Many of the teachers reported that access and cost—traditional first order barriers—were the major barriers to integrating cell phones into the classroom not only for themselves but also for students.  (Cell Phones in the Classroom: Teachers’ Perspectives )
This is a huge factor that concerns me when looking into integrating technology to the point of going paperless within my classroom.  How can I effectively run a paperless classroom if all of my students can not access the digital content consistently.  Even though I am fortunate enough to work within a higher socio-economic area, there are still families that for either financial or family value situations (where the parents feel their 12/13 year olds do not need a personal device), that every student may not have access to a device.  Our board policy only allows a ratio of 1 laptop per 5 students in grades 5-8 and 1 iPad to every 3 students for the primary grades.  I am concerned with how to demonstrate the efficacy of technology within a classroom to convince the families that their students need to learn how to use these devices.

I feel that my journey is going to be surrounded by these what if scenarios and one of my biggest hurdles will be communicating to the families that technology can be a benefit if used properly.