Blog Self Evaluation

May 9, 2010

This is the only blog post I feel uncomfortable writing. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn or judge my own work. Working in an academic environment as a faculty member I have plenty of colleagues who provide feedback and judge my work.

I think that my blog posts have been very strong and that I have either met or exceeded the highest standards on the grading rubric. My biggest weakness was responding to the blog posts of others – though I believe that I did meet standards for this area as well. I would give myself a grade of 147 points for my blog work this semester.

Course Reflection

May 3, 2010

This class certainly gave me a work out like no other! This was a very labor-intensive class and I felt the assignments really tested my abilities as an instructor as well as a creative instructional designer. I’m exhausted and feel like I got every cent out of my tuition!

I can go on and on about the academic side of what I learned in this class but I was really impressed with how this class forced me to think creatively about integrating technology into the classroom. The project-based learning I experienced in this class gave me ideas for using technology-based assignments to challenge my own students. I also learned that as an instructional/educational technologist it is important to keep up with trends in the field. The effective use of technology in education demands adherence to AECT standards, creative thinking, collaboration with others in the field, and on-going professional development.

The required course work demonstrated mastery of AECT standards through project-based instruction. Again, this was labor-intensive and extremely effective. There is no question in my mind that this project-based style of teaching and learning is far superior to the traditional lecture method. In this class I took the role of active learner rather than passive learner. Rather than defend/contend AECT standards in an academic context – say through a research paper – I was able to actually practice AECT standards in my projects. This approach taught me how to apply these standards in a practical context. I found this to be a very effective method for teaching the proper application of AECT standards.

Professionally, I have actually started to take action integrating technology into my 1 credit information literacy class. Traditionally this class is taught as a 50 minute lecture with homework assignments that test basic information literacy skills. I decided to make this class more project-based and let students learn through guided self discovery. My lectures are usually 15-20 minutes long – this includes class announcements and assignment explanations. My home work assignments are more intense than what is traditionally assigned. I require students to blog about database functionality and resource comparisons. Students are also required to present their understanding of catalogs, databases, and Web resources through screencasts. I even required students to use social networking sites for academic research. These small projects require more time and effort from the students but their high performance suggests that they are enjoying the challenge. Besides, who really wants to listen to a 50 minute information literacy lecture each week?

Theory certainly plays a role in my approach for integrating technology into the curriculum. Roblyer (2006) presented excellent strategies for integrating technology into the curriculum. I found Roybler’s strategies to be more practical than theoretical – though his strategies are largely based on sound theory. Roblyer certainly gave me some great ideas and his ideas were instrumental in the creation of several of my projects for this class. As a true academic theorist Richard E. Mayer is the one that has influenced me the most. Clark & Mayer (2008) wrote extensively on many of the multimedia theories Mayer applied over the years. I found Mayer’s multimedia principles to provide outstanding guidance for developing effective multimedia lessons and assignments.

Integrating Technology in the Curriculum was a tough and challenging class. Learning to think creatively, apply AECT standards and sound theory to projects – on top of learning new technologies- was very challenging and very rewarding. I credit this class for transforming my information literacy class from a lecture-based class to a project-based class. The theory and creative problem solving I learned in this class also has me thinking about how I can deliver one-shot information literacy classes online and using mini projects for assessment. I’m very happy I took this class and would recommend it to anybody who is serious about effectively integrating technology into the classroom.

References

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-Learning and the science of instruction (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Roblyer, M. D. (2006). Integrating educational technology into teaching (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Technology can enhance learning for special needs students

April 27, 2010

Special needs students will always struggle with education in one way or another. The gaps presented by varying disabilities can make learning difficult if not nearly impossible. In decades past hard work and determination were the only real assets teachers and special needs students had to overcome these obstacles. But times are changing and so is technology. New possibilities exist today that were only a dream not very long ago. Technology in education has become so powerful and innovative that special needs students and their teachers can bridge major gaps in learning and come away with an effective and rewarding educational experience.

Students with mild disabilities benefit tremendously when teachers integrate technology into the curriculum. At the primary and secondary levels, students who struggle with developing reading skills can find reading more engaging when using interactive story books. Software products exist that are specifically designed to remediate students’ reading abilities – giving teachers more time to devote to other areas (Roblyer, 2006).

Text-to-speech products are excellent for students with vision or retention problems. This technology is used campus-wide at UW-Stevens Point. Students can easily take advantage of this technology from any computer workstation on campus. Students with disabilities such as blindness or with learning disabilities have convenient access to the technology they need. Students without disabilities can also benefit from this technology especially in a case where reading text and viewing images simultaneously is required.

Students who are unable to write or type now have the ability to compose research papers, blog, and e-mail. Voice recognition software such as Windows Speech Recognition and Dragon Naturally speaking give disabled students the ability to use computers and compose papers and projects with their speech rather than their hands. This gives teachers more options for creative and engaging assignments and allows disabled students to work collaboratively with others who are not disabled.
Students with more severe disabilities have options as well. Alternative keyboards can be used for students who struggle with muscular and neurological diseases that impede gross and/or fine motor skills. Standing and motorized wheelchairs give disabled students more options for mobility such as rushing across campus or writing on a white board (Roblyer, 2006).

As educators we are morally obligated to educate students with special needs.
Technology exists that makes the education process easier for teachers and engaging for students. But many of us are slow to adopt. Even twenty years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act many children with special needs remain at high risk for being undereducated (Winter, 2008) . With technology product development aimed at students with special needs the possibilities are brighter with each year. With technology proven to help fill gaps for special needs students teachers must act now and begin integrating these tools into the curriculum.

References

Roblyer, M. D. (2006). Integrating educational technology into teaching (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Winter, J. (2008). How technology can help children of special needs. Retrieved April 24, 2010, from http://www.eduguide.org/Parents-Library/How-Technology-Can-Help-Children-of-Special-Needs-1439.aspx

How can libraries support the integration of the arts across the curriculum?

April 14, 2010

Integrating the arts across the curriculum can add excitement and drama to academic disciplines. A history class studying the Roman Empire must study the unprecedented achievements of art, architecture, and engineering of Rome in order to fully understand its significance in history. A math or science class can study the seven wonders of the ancient world and attempt to recreate the mathematical and engineering accomplishments of civilizations long past. The artwork of the Dark Ages perfectly captures a flat and desperate mood that any sociology, psychology, or history class can examine from various angles. Integrating the arts into the curriculum enhances student motivation, engagement, and learning and thus increases academic achievement (National Center for Technology Innovation and Center for Implementing Technology in Education, 2009).

By integrating technology and art into the curriculum instructors can give students a creative outlet for projects, teach practical arts-based technologies, teach creative problem solving skills, and create a vibrant and beautiful learning experience (Roblyer, 2006). More college-level instructors are assigning projects that require creative expression, visual punch, collaboration and technology. It is clear that instructors see the value of integrating the arts and technology into their academic teaching. Some academic libraries have started to respond to these needs and others are beginning to realize them. In fact, some librarians believe that visual multimedia projects have already began to phase out the traditional text-based term paper as a major project and that demand for multimedia equipment and support is high as a result (Mitchell, 2005).

Across the country academic libraries have started supporting multimedia and arts-based projects by creating multimedia labs and services. With the proper equipment, software, and resources students can create arts-infused multimedia projects. While this might look like an expensive venture it can be as small as one or two workstations, a digital camcorder and a digital still camera. As demand grows the workstations and equipment can multiply; in this regard a multimedia lab is very scalable and easy on the budget (Mitchell, 2005).

Several very successful multimedia labs exist that can serve as excellent models for any academic library looking to build a multimedia lab:

University at Albany Interactive Media Center: Circulates media equipment such as digital cameras, video cameras, and voice recorders. Computers and adjunct hardware such as webcams, USB-equipped turn tables, etc. is available. Provides a full instruction program instruction for multimedia software applications. http://library.albany.edu/imc/tutorials_handouts.htm

Northeastern University Digital Media Studio: Provides services, technologies and instructional support for digitizing and remixing various resources, enabling users to create new digital content. http://www.lib.neu.edu/about_us/digital_media/

University of Pennsylvania Vitale Digital Media Lab: Provides training, equipment and knowledgeable staff to assist patrons in working with digital media including video, audio, imaging, and web publishing. http://wic.library.upenn.edu/wicfacilities/lab.html

While multimedia equipment and software are necessary to complete projects that incorporate the arts, libraries also need to provide the “raw materials”. Photographs, digitized works of art, digital music, and digital video are all necessary components for arts-infused projects. Databases such as Artstor and Naxos Music Library can be helpful for integrating the visual and music arts into multimedia projects. Plenty of free art is available online through sites such as American Memory, Perseus Digital Library, and Wikimedia Commons. Librarians can easily create guides for digital repositories and databases of art and music to support the fusion of the arts into the curriculum.

Academic libraries made a commitment to supporting the academic curriculum since the inception of academic libraries. With the growing popularity of multimedia projects, visual learning, and the fusion of the arts in the curriculum, academic libraries need to step up and support these new changes in the curriculum.

References

Mitchell, G. (2005). Distinctive expertise: Multimedia, the library, and the term paper of the future. Information Technology & Libraries, 24(1), 32-36.

National Center for Technology Innovation and Center for Implementing Technology in Education. (2009). Integrating the arts with technology: Inspiring creativity. Retrieved April 14, 2010, from http://www.ldonline.org/article/Integrating_the_Arts_with_Technology:_Inspiring_Creativity

Roblyer, M. D. (2006). Integrating educational technology into teaching (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

What is the relative advantage of using technology in the classroom to make history “come alive”?

April 9, 2010

History is a subject that appears simple to teach: information is disseminated from teacher, or other information source, to student. If student regurgitates this information accurately in a test and she gets high marks. This view is an oversimplified yet it is a perception that exists – even among history teachers. History is actually a difficult and complex subject to teach and learn. Teachers must do more than simply disseminate information in order to effectively teach history. Students must understand how one event in history creates other seemingly unrelated events down the line. Instructors must teach complex concepts such as Marxist philosophy and connect these ideas with the rise and fall of communist regimes such as the Soviet Union. History is complicated. Is it easy to understand how the assassination of one man in 1914 lead to one of the moist gruesome wars in history? Technology can help enhance students understand the complexities of human history.

Timelines can be used in the classroom to help students visualize a sequence of complicated events. A lecture enhanced with a multimedia visual tool like a time line has proven to greatly enhance the learning process for students (Clark & Mayer, 2008). To further reinforce enhance the visual learning; students can be assigned with creating their own time lines using a timeline generator such as Dipity. This will allow students to understand time sequences and create relationships in changes over time (Roblyer, 2006).

Students can experience various events in history by taking virtual field trips. A history class in Amherst Massachusetts studying the Battle of Verdun cannot take a field trip to the battlefield without spending a lot of time and money. Baguettes, French wine, and airfare are expensive after all. Rather than travel to Europe students can be assigned with creating their own virtual field trip of the battle site. Gathering information, video clips, maps, and photographs and synthesizing these materials into a comprehensive virtual field trip inspires resourcefulness and creativity and takes the students to the battle site without the expensive airfare.

Technology can enhance collaborative group projects in history classes. Google Docs gives students the ability to collaborate on a single project from multiple computers. Students can easily maintain classroom-style communication from their homes to effectively complete group projects. The Flat Classroom Workshop has proven to enhance student learning by fostering online collaborative projects between students physically present at the workshop and others that were remotely present. The flat Classroom Workshop facilitators view their collaborative workshop a major success for education and technology (Cofino, 2009).

Digital storytelling can be a powerful project that inspires creativity and develops a personal connection between the student and history that a research paper cannot duplicate. A project consisting of a narrated slide show and one or two related videos can be a complex and challenging task. It can also be a lot of fun. Students who normally struggle with writing can often excel in digital storytelling projects (Sylvester & Greenidge, 2009). Roblyer, 2006 believes that digital story telling can help students compare and contrast the past and present, provide visual cues that reinforce concepts, foster skills in analysis and critical thinking, and make a personal connection with the project at hand.

Research is the foundation of history and technology has made research more accessible and efficient than ever before. Search filters such as Google Scholar and Google U.S. Government have made reliable scholarly and primary resources easier to find. Primary sources such as letters, photos, and even music can easily be found online through the Library of Congress. Library online databases also make scholarly and primary information more available and accessible to students. Students need to be taught how to identify good sources of online information and how to filter out the bad sources. Teaching students to distinguish between good and bad information sources builds analytical skills and information literacy skills (Roblyer, 2006).

Technology can indeed be used to inspire creativity and evoke a genuine interest in history. Modern technology facilitates collaborative and creative projects that were previously extremely time consuming or impossible to do. The relative advantages to integrating technology into the history classroom are clear. Making it happen is the challenge.

References

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-Learning and the science of instruction (2nd ed.).  San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Cofino, K. (2009, September 27). Reflections on the Flat Classroom Workshop. Retrieved April 8, 2010, from http://kimcofino.com/blog/2009/09/27/reflections-on-the-flat-classroom-workshop/

Roblyer, M. D. (2006). Integrating educational technology into teaching (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Sylvester, R., & Greenidge, W. (2009). Digital storytelling: Extending the potential for struggling writers. Reading Teacher, 63(4), 384-395.

Simulation Observations

March 26, 2010

I made my observations as screencasts.  Please view and enjoy!

Ordering Percents, Fractions and  Decimals

Probability Simulations

Percent of Change

Describing Data Using Statistics

Integrating Technology into the Language Arts

March 18, 2010

In information literacy instruction the use of technology is mandatory. Most library resources are available online and live “how-to” demonstration has been the norm in information literacy instruction for over a decade. Right now most librarians are trying to figure out how to further integrate technology into the information literacy classroom. But how can English classes take advantage of technology to improve reading, writing, and higher order thinking? Is the use of technology all smoke and mirrors or are there merits to integrating technology into language arts classes?

Any time disruptive change is brought into the mix – in this case technology integration – nay-sayers will try fight against such change. Regarding the language arts, some believe that technology is contributing to the demise of the English language. Garrett (2008) believes that the use of abbreviations and phonetically spelled words in term papers is a result of text messaging and instant messaging. Garrett also believes that the spelling and grammar function in Word is overused and that misused, but correctly spelled, words go undetected (Garrett, 2008). Is technology to blame in these instances? Is it not up to instructors to teach students when and how to use formal writing styles?

Other teachers find the tools available in programs like Word invaluable in the language arts classroom. For instance, Borsheim, Merritt, & Reed (2008) found the comment feature in Word to be helpful for commenting on students’ rough draft work as well as forcing students to be very specific when commenting on one another’s work. In this case the technology enhances the peer review process by providing a structure that makes students create very specific comments on each other’s work.

Some, like Garrett, might argue that the informal writing practiced in text messaging hurts the writing process. Others, like Borsheim et al. (2008) believe that technology serves only to enhance traditional literacy objectives: “ Writing a thesis statement, synthesizing information from a variety of sources, and supporting an argument remain at the heart of the process” . Technology can enhance this process by scaffolding the development of these traditional skills and give the students more hands-on experience with the writing process than ever before. Students become better at using and organizing information and readily use technology to facilitate collaboration and revision throughout the writing process (Borsheim et al, 2008).

Multimedia software and hardware can also greatly enhance the classroom experience for language arts classes. Regan (2008) experimented with projects that require the use of multimedia software to illustrate scenes from books. Regan felt that these projects deepened the students’ understanding of plots and characters. Borsheim et al. (2008) found that requiring students to use casting technology (video and audio) to deliver speeches created a desire to deliver a perfect speech because of the permanent nature of the speech and the extended audience it reaches. Robyler (2006) found that script writing for videos is an effective way to engage students in written communication and that many editing packages such as iMovie make video editing simple and allow students to focus on the writing process.

Both Borsheim et al. (2008) and Roblyer (2006) agree that the use of technology facilitates a constructivist model of learning where students learn through experiences rather than through straight lecture. The constructivist model is particularly useful for collaborative projects that emphasize writing as well as other skills. Borsheim et al. (2008) and Roblyer (2006) believe that the hands-on experience that technology can facilitate fosters a much deeper learning of such skills.

Roblyer (2006) also notes the importance of electronic reference resources such as online encyclopedias and dictionaries to enhance writing. Online article databases and reference tools give students quick and convenient access to information necessary for completing term papers. The convenience of making such information available online gives students more time to focus their energies on the writing process.

Integrating technology into the language arts can create a powerful and engaging classroom experience for instructors and students. When technology is used as a means to achieve instructional goals a very potent classroom experience can be created. The traditionalists and nay-sayers may not agree and they may never agree. As educators our students are our top priority. Engaging and motivating students are essential components to effective teaching. Research shows that technology integration can greatly enhance the language arts classroom. As teachers we should embrace this notion.

References
Borsheim, C., Merritt, K., & Reed, D. (2008). Beyond Technology for Technology’s Sake: Advancing Multiliteracies in the Twenty-First Century. Clearing House, 82(2), 87-90.

Garrett, J. (2008). SOS: Written English Is in Trouble. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 45(1), 8-9.

Regan, B. (2008). Why We Need to Teach 21st Century Skills–And How to Do It. MultiMedia & Internet@Schools, 15(4), 10-13.

Roblyer, M. D. (2006). Integrating educational technology into teaching (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Integrating the Internet into the Information Literacy Classroom

March 12, 2010

Integrating the Internet into the Information Literacy Classroom

Let’s Keep the Garden Gates Open

March 4, 2010

In higher education it is common practice to allow all members of a campus community open access to the World Wide Web. The rationale is that in a place of higher learning the free exchange of ideas is necessary to foster higher order thinking. Most academics will agree with this rational, thinking most students, faculty and staff are mature enough to handle open access to all that the Web has to offer. Campus administrators (most being former teaching faculty members) will generally agree with this rationale unless pressure from the campus and surrounding communities is overwhelming. It is this public pressure that plagues public libraries and schools and forces administrators to create a walled garden online environment.
One of the immediate benefits a walled garden environment offers to public schools and libraries is safety and security. Parents don’t have to worry about their children exposing themselves or others to unsavory information such as pornography or ultra-violence. Teachers, librarians, and administrators can rest easy knowing they won’t have to deal with any angry complaints from parents or community groups angered that these public institutions offer free and open access to such….filth (Webopedia).
On the other hand the walled garden environment puts a choke-hold on the free exchange of ideas that is so valuable in education and fundamental in American libraries. How can students and the public learn about the world around them when the garden walls are opaque and the light of the world can’t shine through?
As our world becomes more interconnected through trade, government, and information sharing , students and the general public are exposed to a great deal of global issues. Students have actually benefitted greatly from connecting with students from other parts of the world to share ideas about global issues. The Global Education Collaborative is a project dedicated to connecting students and teachers on a global level to learn about and discuss global issues such as the ethical use of technology (Meech, 2009). This is a great example of a successful project that reaps the benefits of connecting people globally to enhance the educational experience.
Online collaboration tools were used extensively in the Flat Classroom Workshop with smashing success. Face-to-face and virtual collaborations made the project-based experiment engaging to students and teachers. Participation between students from in -the -classroom and virtual students was outstanding. Students and teachers alike came out of the workshop with a heightened sense of global citizenship that otherwise couldn’t be realized without open internet access (Cofino 2009). To deny such open access and collaboration between students, teachers, and even the general public would be a step backward for education.
Social networking sites such a Facebook are sometimes considered a potential source of danger to children and teens. Strangers, after all, can play the role of Pied Piper and lure young gullible students into a world of pain. Of course the Pied Piper has been around much longer than the internet and danger from such people has always been a problem. We just need to teach our children not to engage with strangers – in person or online.
Rather than focus on the dangers of social networking sites, we should think about how these tools can enhance the teaching and learning experience. Social networking sites, when integrated with the classroom, can enhance communication between students and teachers. These sites help to bring the full classroom experience home by making communication and information sharing easy. Education-focused blogging tools such as Edmodo enhance student/teacher communication and create a more personalized educational experience where students feel more connected with their teacher through use of this technology (Technology and Education box of Tricks, 2010).
Rather than restricting access by creating a walled garden, why not simply create policy that bans the viewing of pornography on public computer terminals? Let students know that surfing school computers for pornography will result in suspension. Let library users know that viewing pornography is against policy and that viewing such material on public computers will result in the revocation of computer privileges. The dangers that free and open access present do not compare to the educational benefits that free and open access allows. We need to keep the garden gates open.

Cofino, K. (2009, September 27). Reflections on the Flat Classroom Workshop. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from http://kimcofino.com/blog/2009/09/27/reflections-on-the-flat-classroom-workshop/

Meech, S. (2009, October 7). Ethical use of Technology – Internet Safety – Digital Citizenship. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from http://globaleducation.ning.com/group/ethicaluseoftechnologyinternetsafety
Technology and Education Box of Tricks. (2010, February 16). Microblogging: making the case for social networking in education. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from http://www.boxoftricks.net/?p=1727
Webopedia. (n.d.). Walled Garden. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/walled_garden.html

Vodcast: Benefits of Multimedia in the Classroom

February 25, 2010