EDU 707: Technology Issues

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Discussions from the course

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  • Simon Nortman EDU 707 | 12-2012

    I m a g e c o u r t e s y o f F l i c k r C r e a t i v e C o m m o n s

    Educational Technology Issues

  • Technology is ever-present in todays society. We interact with all different kinds of technology each and every day, whether its watching TV on our iPads or taking a Bluetooth call in our cars, we are surrounded by visionary hardware and software. It is not surprising that technology makes its way into the classroom and transforms the way we view teaching (It changed the way we shop, communicate, and do business, why not teaching?) What is surprising is the complexity of the issues that are brought up by introducing technology into the classroom. Its not as simple as saying, Put the Smartboard over there and dock the iPads on that table, and BAM- technology for teachers! Now students will improve learning! As I have learned from this course, there are many issues that teachers face with introducing technology in the classroom, and I was able to reflect on how I felt about those issues. Equal Technology Access to All I have had an interesting experience these past couple of weeks in regards to access to technology. It began with a Meet the Candidates Night that I was helping organize for candidates for our Board of Education. One candidate wasnt going to be able to attend, so I was in charge of making sure that he could Skype in. Well, that was a massive ordeal! I had to talk to numerous IT techs and even the superintendent to allow access to Skype and a laptop. In the end the moderator didnt allow it, but the frustration that I felt being denied access to something that at home I go on all the time was upsetting. If I couldnt gain access, how hard it must be for disadvantaged and disabled students? I think a way to improve access for the disadvantaged is by providing them more opportunities to experience technology and have more chances to access the web. With a new TV studio opening up in my school, I plan to get some students who are interested more involved in understanding how the tech works by providing time before and afterschool for students to practice with the equipment. Just like Jocelyn Goldfein mentioned in the video, more opportunities to learn will truly help. I also feel that districts need to be more aware of current software that can help disabled students, and not block all sites that may be harmful. Do the research; dont just blanket 90% of the Internet with a firewall. Just simply becoming aware of technology could help. Integrating Technology into the Curriculums To make sure that technology in the classroom adds to the learning experience and is not a hindrance, a few things needs to happen. First, schools need to make sure that their infrastructure will be capable to handle the influx of data (i.e. streaming

  • videos, teleconferencing, running graphically heavy programs). Setda.org mentions that having a good, stable broadband network will lay a proper foundation for future tech. Secondly, there needs to be proper training for educators to handle new software and technology. I found that I needed to spend a good portion of time with my Smartboard to be comfortable enough to use it efficiently during a lesson. I feel that this is currently the largest problem in my district; the lack of training is stifling the progress of integration. One innovation that I came across while reading the Setda.org article was the idea to use a unique statewide student identifier. In order to determine whether or not the use of technology is improving education and learning, there needs to be some kind of accountability. To be able to keep track of student progress through data (something that my district is BIG on) would be extremely helpful. Teacher training, the ability to assess, and a strong up-to-date network will all help insure that technology improves education. One other facet that I feel should be addressed is the allowance of specific sites through school networks. I hate the fact that a lot of my educational art websites are blocked, and nearly every site that hosts videos is also banned. Supervisors and directors should also be informed on Web 2.0 in order for teachers and students to utilize the web at its full potential. Cheating in the Digital Age After watching the impressive video on YouTube of a student replicating a coke bottle label to hide his notes, I came away both impressed and sad. Impressed, because the amount of effort and ingenuity to come up with and execute the idea was smart. Sad, because that student could have spent that effort studying the notes, thus understanding the math that it takes to be a commercial graphic designer! Fortunately, I teach art only up to fifth grade, and the potential for this type of cheating to happen is very slim. I do give out quizzes and tests, but I do not allow for any food or drink in my classroom. This is not to say that I havent caught cheaters, on the contrary, I have caught many. I feel like they think, Its only art, and there wont be any consequences. Which is why I provide consequences such as lower grades and phone calls home. I try to provide as much information as possible during the course of a lesson through technology that there would be a less chance of students wanting or needing to cheat. Speaking of technology, I do now give my fifth graders quizzes online through Google and other sites. What is great about this is that it is harder for student to

  • get away with looking at someone elses test, i.e., computer screen. This may not be the case if I was teaching Math, as one can get a calculator on the screen easily, but for art it works well. I can also bring up analytics to see how my students perform on a question-by-question basis in real-time. Yes, there are now many ways that students can cheat using technology (graphing calculators, copying websites, online test taking, etc.). But there are also technologies that can identify these cheaters, such as plagiarizing software. There will always be cheaters because there is always some people try to find the easy way out. Its how one deters cheaters through consequences and using the technology against them. Cheaters will not deter me from using technology in the classroom; I will just have to be one step ahead of them! Developing Technology Professionals Technology in the classroom is a hot topic and has been for quite some time. The introduction of Smartboards and more recently, iPads, into the classroom has breathed new life into old practices. It really makes me happy when I can take my students through a tour of a museum to show students a Mark Rothko, and they get a sense of scale and texture. But what if I didnt know how to go to that website? Or use the notebook software to take advantage of video capture? Without proper guidance and learning of how to use the technology, its like purchasing a computer to simply play solitaire on it; you could do it, but what a waste of potential. To ensure teachers can integrate the technology in their classrooms (and not to just play solitaire), proper professional development needs to be offered by districts. Fortunately, my districts computer teachers offer courses on how to use a Smartboard for beginners, to more advanced training for experienced teachers. I think it is important to provide individualized courses so that the varying degrees of skill can be addressed. Also, varying types of training is essential. As mentioned in the One Size Doesnt Fit All article by Judy Harris, ETPD can be offered as instructor guided to collaborative learning. More money needs to be spent on training, not just the technology. I understand that technology is expensive, so if districts buy the tech, why wouldnt they also invest in proper training? Will professional development ensure that teachers will utilize the tools provided? If teachers are open to the courses, absolutely. But teachers also have to take some responsibility. For example, when one buys a video game, it comes with instructions that tell you the basic controls, the goals, and everything else you need to progress in the game. But unless the player spends the time to explore, practice their moves, and figure out some aspects of the game on their own, they will not become an

  • expert. Professional development is like reading the instructions, but integration occurs after time and exploration is spent. Competency Standards for Educators I definitely agree with the ICT standards, and found them to be nicely laid out. I feel it is the responsibility of the teacher to introduce technology and make sure that students are using it effectively. In Finland, teachers are highly praised and are given the responsibility like a parent, even being called first if one of their students ends up in the hospital. Like Finland, I believe that we should be the guardians of our students and be the first to introduce technology as a learning tool. In order for this to happen we need to make sure teachers are fluent in using technology. What we need to focus on in the U.S. is the establishment of a good curriculum like the ICT in all public schools. The policy and vision was very clear in the report, and the elements that make up the vision need to be implemented. A strong basic knowledge of technology needs to be instilled in all teachers, whether youre a high school math teacher, or an elementary art teacher like me. Students need to be able to feel like their teacher knows the latest tech, and be comfortable using it. The future of American students lies in their ability to be productive in society, and society is now global because of technology. How will students ever survive using technology in their future careers if they dont get exposed to it in school? The teacher should be the model learner, just like the standards outline. Social Networking in Schools After reading the article, Social Networking Goes To School, I felt that it made some good points about the pros and cons of introducing social networking in schools. Having sites like Ning and VoiceThread in school can be very beneficial in teaching, as it can bring collaboration across students, teachers, and even other countries. However, I did not agree with the use of Twitter and Facebook like New Milford High School. Those networks can definitely bring concern regarding contact between teachers and students, and teachers in my district have been fired from their position due to activity on those sites. In regards to the discussion board questions, I think keeping our children safe and making sure access to the web does not cause them harm can be alleviated by teaching children the dangers of social networking and how to be responsible. Parents play a huge role in this effort, as currently students get the most access to

  • these sites at home. Unfortunately, some parents are not educated enough in cyber bullying and the intricacies of social networking. I think this actually makes a stronger case to incorporate educational social networking in schools, as teachers could then teach students how to properly interact on social sites. Also, I think that there should be mandatory classes in school that educate students on using specific social sites. For teachers outside of school, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are great social networks to gather ideas and share knowledge amongst ones peers. Even using social networks for professional development can be a wonderful tool in progressing teacher education. I understand that districts have to filter and block, as they are afraid of what students can come across, and I too experienced the frustration of trying to get sites unblocked. The Role of Ethics, Technology, and the Classroom

    Ethics should have always been taught in school at an early age, even before technology became more prevalent in classrooms. Students should know the difference between using ideas for inspiration and flat out copying word for word what someone else has written. Technology today makes it that much easier for students to plagiarize, as students feel confident in trying to find obscure articles that the teacher will not be able to locate. Teaching students, starting with kindergarten, that it is not right to copy someone elses work and claim it as their own will instill a solid ethical code. I also feel that respect needs to be emphasized more in the classroom as I am seeing a disturbing trend with my students of having a lack of respect for art supplies, art history, and each other. Another way to protect our classrooms from illegal use of technology is by using that same technology to the teachers advantage. There are anti-plagiarism software programs such as Turnitin and Grammarly.com that scan papers to check for plagiarism. This software is becoming more sophisticated as more and more people try to take the easy way to write papers. Harsher consequences should also be implemented to deter unethical studentsI dont think giving students a zero has the impact it once had. Censorship The issues that arise from educators using the Internet at school seem to be hotly debated. Censorship, what we can and cannot show, is an issue that is a constant battle amongst teachers and the district that they work in. For example, as an art

  • teacher, I use my Smartboard to display artwork and images from various artists. My districts network blocks some of the sites that are amazing for looking at artists work. The reason I receive from the technology supervisor for the blocked sites are that they could potentially contain harmful content, and the possibility of nude paintings. Is it ok to censor famous artwork? And in an elementary school, shouldnt the teacher have control of the content? On the other side of the debate is accountability. Educators have the responsibility of taking care of their students in their classroom. If a student is on a computer and they are able to get to a chat site or a site that is questionable, what kind of backlash will that teacher get from the parents and the administration? It is hard to be on top of all students, especially if you are in a computer lab- students are capable enough to find ways to conceal what they are doing. Maybe this is why districts put such a harsh firewall up on networks. I just feel that technology supervisors need to be more informed about what sites are valid and educational, and not block everything that has a video on it (YouTube has a great education video website which is currently blocked by my district). References Davis, M. R. (June 2010) Social Networking Goes to School. Retrieved from

    http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2010/06/16/03networking.h03.html Goldfein, J. (Oct. 2011) Giving STEM Roots: Fostering and Overcoming Obstacles.

    Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lQruH79y6Y Harris, J. (2008) One size doesnt fit all. Learning and Leading with Technology. 22-

    26. Re...

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