Futures of Education

Watching the videos and reading the articles about the technology that is making its way into education, I am beginning to realize just how much I don’t know and how much I need to learn and adapt if I am going to continue to be effective in the classroom. The videos this week were somewhat intimidating, as I am very unfamiliar with the technology being discussed in the videos.

My wife and I only recently got an XBOX 360 when her parents decided they didn’t have kids at the house enough and it would be better off with us. Even still, I’ve never even used the Kinect, much less considered its potential implications in the classroom. However, in listening to the video and reading the accompanying article, I can see where the draw would be to try to include this technology in the classroom. I don’t necessarily see this being a widely adopted tool, though I can certainly appreciate the suggestion in the article that this would be a great assisted technology for students who might use it to move a mouse with eye movements, for example. With the current crop of teachers embedded in the field still considerably older than the newcomers just entering the profession, I have to agree with Osborne that it is unlikely we would see much gesture-based technology being widely used any time soon.

The bit of technology described this week that I am most familiar with is the thin client, and that is primarily through WOU. When WOU initially adopted this technology a few years ago, as with anything new, there was a little bit of apprehension on my part. “What is this and how is it going to work for me?” After growing accustomed to it and seeing how seamless the transition was, the worry and concern naturally slipped away. While I don’t see this being adopted in my own school anytime soon, as we are simply too small an organization, larger districts, such as Salem-Keizer would benefit greatly from the many benefits of the increased flexibility and saved costs over time that this would provide.

It is unfortunate, but I think Osborne is correct when she says that there is still such a deep distrust of technology. Unfortunately for many teachers coming out of programs right now, there is a minimal inclusion of it in the college teacher preparation curriculum. Even here at WOU, there was only one class specifically devoted to technology in undergrad. We created a few different projects and I was introduced to some amazing programs, but I don’t feel I acquired any long-lasting skills that will benefit my instruction in the classroom. In this class, I have appreciated even just the opportunity to create and manage a blog for the classroom. While we did create a blog for undergrad, we used it once and then were on to another project. Although I do not understand all of the technology available to us as educators, I am finding myself trying to expand what I do feel comfortable with and am able to bring into the classroom and going forward from that point. We all have to start somewhere, right?

Article Review: An Interview with Flipping Teachers…

Article:

FLIPPING THE CLASSROOM. (2011). Educational Horizons, 90(2), 5-7.

NETS Standards Addressed:

NETS-T:

2) Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

3c) Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media and formats.

4) Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

NETS-S:

2) Communication and Collaboration – Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

3) Research and Information Fluency – Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

5b) Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.

6) Technology Operations and Concepts

Response to Article:

Until I started reading some of the article reviews from my classmates, I had no idea what a “flipped” classroom was. At least, I had never heard the term. Most college-level classes have at least some component of being flipped, with many online resources that contribute to the work that will be done in class during the next face-to-face session. I can certainly see the practicality of using this method with middle and high school students as well. In middle and high school classes, teachers generally have but an hour or so to facilitate lessons and provide support for students who are struggling with a concept. With class sizes in middle school pushing 40 students, teachers are being forced to maximize their time with students in unique ways. Although this type of teaching may not have previously been prevalent prior to university classrooms, it is one method that we are more likely to be seeing at lower levels in the near future.

One piece of advice that will stick with me the most from this article is the idea to flip just one unit that is already developed. My students have recently started blogging in the classroom and I see no reason why I couldn’t use the blog to post instructional videos that the students need to watch at home. The difficulty will be making sure all students have equal access to the internet at home, or are able to use the public library to watch videos. I know that I do have at least one student without internet access at home and will need to keep his access in mind as I am setting requirements for viewing any videos I post. While he would certainly be able to use the public library, I need to clarify with his parents just how feasible it is for him to be able to view these videos on a regular basis.

The main benefit I see to this type of learning in my own classroom is that, with a blended class, time is already divided between groups of students learning at different levels – normal for most classrooms today. However, when scaffolding an already blended classroom, the range of abilities is going to vary greatly. If I can utilize some of the time in the classroom to work with students who are struggling, rather than on facilitating content delivery, my time will be much more effective in the classroom. Additionally, with the traditional model of learning, if parents are unfamiliar with a concept or topic – which happens most often with math instruction, thus I would envision using this method with math for both math groups – they are pretty much out of luck as far as helping their children with homework is concerned. However, in using a flipped model, students and parents can watch videos together, allowing parents (hopefully) a better opportunity to assist their children when needed. While most of the “homework” will be done in class, if questions arise, parents have the same tools as students to be able to seek assistance.

Flipped Learning – Week 8 Article Review

Article

Pape, L., Sheehan, T., & Worrell, C. (2012). How to do more or less: lessons from online learning: save time and money in your classroom while increasing student engagement and digital age competencies. Learning & Leading with Technology 39(6), 18-22.

NETS Standards Addressed

NETS-T:

1) Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity – Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.

2) Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

NETS-S:

2) Communication and Collaboration – Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

4b) Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.

4d) Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.

Response to Article

Until recently, I really had no clue what flipped learning even was. If I’d had to guess, I would have thought it meant the teacher becomes the student. However, as I’ve been reading a few posts from classmates who have been exploring the topic, I am finding myself fascinated with the concept for a few different reasons. In particular, I love the idea of students gaining knowledge from and utilizing online materials outside of the classroom so that the time spent inside the classroom can be maximized with one-on-one and small group work based on need.

Recently, I created a classroom site on Kidblog.org, a closed-gateway website that hosts blogs for school classrooms. The website came highly recommended by a colleague who had recently implemented the same website in her 3rd grade classroom. On Kidblog.org, all students have a unique password to login to their page. Anything posted on the site in inaccessible to anyone without a password to login. I was also able to create a parent login that allows parents to view what is being posted, but does not allow them the ability to comment. All posts by students must be approved by me, prior to them being visible on the website. Although I have only posted a couple of messages to students thus far, I can certainly see some of the possibilities for its use after reading this article. As I progress with utilizing this tool in the classroom, I will surely find newer and more engaging ways to work with students and provide them alternative outlets through which lesson content can be disseminated.

I think one of the things I appreciate most about the article is the vast number of resources the authors provide for use within the classroom. Many of the websites listed are familiar, such as IXL, an online math website aligned to the Common Core Standards that provides students with access to practice materials across all K-8 math concepts. Students are able to work with concepts they need additional practice with, or can challenge themselves by tackling a new concept yet to be learned in the classroom. As I go forward and consider ways to flip lessons in my classroom, a suggestion taken from http://flipped-learning.com/?p=883 for the elementary school classroom, I now have an arsenal from which to have some guidance. I hope to be able to offer my students some alternatives to the “boring” lessons we have been suffering through so far this year.

Egyptological Excavation – Mummies, Pyramids and Archaeologists, OH MY!

Article

Garran, D. K. (2008). Implementing Project-Based Learning to Create “Authentic” Sources: The Egyptological Excavation and Imperial Scrapbook Projects at the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School. The History Teacher (Long Beach, Calif.), 41(3), 379-389.

NETS Standards Addressed

Teacher Standards:

T-1) Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.

T-2c) Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources.

Student Standards:

S-2c) Develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.

S-3) Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate and use information

Review

The greatest thing about this article for me is that it comes from a teacher at a charter school and contains projects that she herself has designed and implemented in her classrooms. So often, the articles reviewed to get ideas for the classroom come from professionals who are either far removed from the classroom setting or who have written their research results in language I simply cannot understand at times. It was refreshing to have an interesting article with real projects that can be implemented in or modified for my own classroom even now in fourth and fifth grade. However, I love the way Garran very clearly describes the processes for the inquiry-based projects exploring some of history’s greatest civilizations, such as Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome.

In the Egyptian excavation project, students are introduced to the processes of pyramid building and mummification. They use digital tools to build their own virtual pyramids, mummify virtual bodies and solve a mystery similar to a WebQuest using a BBC website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/. As students delve deeper into the project, they create their own “authentic” Egyptian artifacts, maintain and archaeological journal and write their own magazine or newspaper article describing their “findings.” The project for Ancient Rome is similar, with students keeping an Emperor’s journal, recording a timeline of events from the era and designing a map of the area at the time.

The potential for such projects to be included in any classroom are vast. I envision utilizing a similar process in the Native American unit my students will be undertaking in January. As students get older, the limits of project-based learning are grossly expanded, limited only by the ability and interests of the students. With very little direction as to what the final product needed to look like, I did have two groups of students last year that opted for more of a project-based learning approach to the Native American unit. I plan to use both of those projects as examples with my students this year. One group took the entire class on an Alaska Airlines flight over the Inuit/Eskimo territory and pointed out highlights and made observations as we flew over the tundra. Another group created their own Jeopardy-style television game show, with all categories relating to aspects of tribal life, that was repeatedly interrupted by news stories about fighting breaking out among various Native American tribes. I hope to use some of the ideas Garran provides in this article to guide my own expectations and introduction of the project this time around.

Don’t Take It Personal…

Article

Chun, C. (2005). Don’t take it personal, it’s just our bad ass ways. Educational Perspectives, 38(2), 34-37.

NETS Standards Addressed

T-1) Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity – I am only including the main component of this standard, as I feel that every aspect of the standard is demonstrated in this article. Chun definitely hooks her students in this fashion.

T-2b) Develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress.

T-4b) Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.

S-1b) Create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

S-2a) Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.

S-4b) Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.

S-6) Technology Operations and Concepts – Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.

Review

For my topic this time around, I decided to look at the use of project-based learning at the middle school level.  This article by Cynthia Kelley Chun actually describes an alternative program at the high school level, but it fit with so many of my interests for my career goals that I couldn’t pass up the chance to review it. In addition to this class, I am also currently taking ED 636 – Leadership and Policy in a Diverse Society. Much of the discussion there relates to the socioeconomic and cultural imbalances that tend to permeate some of our school systems. Additionally, two of my greatest areas of interest in the use of digital media and technology in the classroom are music and video. This article includes each of these three components.

I think what I love most about the project Chun created with the students in the alternative learning center (ALC) for at-risk students is the fact that she gave them a relatively open-ended project and they picked it up and just ran with it. The kids were asked to create a video that they felt spoke to the meaning of the program they were all enrolled in. Students who had previously had very little interest in school or in working hard to meet a goal were finding themselves in the computer lab at all hours of the day, editing their videos, splicing their music and collaborating with their peers to meet a goal that they bought into and that they were proud of. To take this even further, Chun required the students to do a self-evaluation of their work on the project, to which end she remarks about how seriously even some of the most difficult students took that component of the project.

Although Chun initially had some trepidations about the choice of music some of the students used in their videos, as their song choices contained some strong language, she reflected on her reasons for her concerns and realized that, taking the intended audience into consideration, which to the students, the audience was their peers within the program, she had to let go of some of her concern.

I love the idea of creating a project such as this. Were the technology available at my school, I would absolutely consider something authentic along these lines. Students crave choice. Teachers don’t always provide enough of it when assigning projects in class. It is amazing to hear about how a group of “misfits” took a vast idea given to them by their teacher and turned it into something special.

Article Review – Mobile Technology

Article:

Roschelle, J., Rafanan, K., Bhanot, R., Estrella, G., Penuel, B., Nussbaum, M. & Claro, S. (2010). Scaffolding group explanation and feedback with handheld technology: impact on students; mathematics learning. Educational Technology Research & Development, 58(4), 399-419.

Summary of Article:

Researchers wanted to explore the use of a mobile, hand-held device to gauge the value of feedback provided to small groups of students working together in a fourth grade classroom on fractions. They compared the performance and assessed the learning of two groups of students. The first group was provided wireless handheld devices (not identified in the article) running the Eduinnova software program, designed to provide feedback to small groups of students and described as Technology-mediated, Peer-Assisted Learning (TechPALS). The control group of students being observed worked individually on a laptop program working with fractions at the same fourth grade level, though this program only provided feedback to students individually, not in collaborative small groups.

NETS-T Standards Addressed in Article:

1c. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students; conceptual understanding and thinking, planning and creative processes.

2a. Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.

2d. Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching.

3d. Model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning.

NETS-S Standards Addressed in Article:

2a. Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.

3c. Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.

3d. Process data and report results.

4d. Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.

6a. Understand and use technology systems.

6b. Select and use applications effectively and productively.

6d. Transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies.

Response to Article:

One of my biggest areas in which I struggle in my classroom is with collaborative grouping for mathematics instruction. Teaching a blended class, there are two different curricula that need to be taught and addressed, combined with the many different ability and interest levels, which provides a difficult learning environment for someone not terribly confident with mathematics instruction. I was always good at math but I lack a lot of confidence in teaching math. However, I do feel fairly confident in my abilities with different technologies and have started to introduce different media into the classroom. If I could find a way to bridge the two areas and utilize mobile wireless technology with my math instruction, I could potentially find myself feeling much more confident about my abilities. This article appealed to me because of the interest and performance of the students who were using the collaborative TechPALS program to facilitate discussion of a difficult mathematics concept.

The three principles of the Eduinnova software the students were exposed to are: a) “students need repeated practice in…asking questions, giving explanations, and discussing disagreements,” b) feedback is important in order for students to improve, and c) cooperative learning structures group feedback in such a way that it facilitates discussion, questions and explanations of disagreements. (p. 401) These principles could certainly help guide some of the instruction and assessment in my classroom if I can incorporate similar devices and technology into my instruction. In the short time since this article’s publication, there have been great strides in the availability and functionality of mobile technology, with the evolution of iPods, iPads and other similar tablet hardware. Additionally, the evolution of the software applications that come along with these new devices makes for grand possibilities for providing students with meaningful feedback in a way that will foster their understanding and their willingness to collaborate with their peers, rather than feel pigeonholed by individualistic feedback that does not allow for discussion with their peers.

The results of the study indicated that students using the TechPALS technology demonstrated significantly greater gains in post-assessments for the fraction units evaluated. The increased sociability this type of feedback generates is certainly conducive to a fourth and fifth grade classroom such as mine, where the social aspect of education is at the forefront of the students’ agenda every day when they come to school. The one thing the article does indicate is that the learning gains noted in the study are not generalized to schools with more significant behavior management problems, which is certainly a factor in my own classroom. There is still a possibility that such technology may translate to similar gains in my environment. It will be interesting to see if I can find a way to bridge some of that gap that exists for my students and my own instructional methods and confidence were I to be able to incorporate similar technology into my daily routines.

Vocabulary Learning By Mobile Assisted Content Creation – Article Review

Wong, L. H., & Looi, C. K. (2010). Vocabulary learning by mobile-assisted authentic content creation and social meaning-making: Two case studies. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5), 421-433.

In this article in Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Wong and Looi discuss two case studies that look at the use of mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) in the elementary school classroom. The first case study follows a group of 40 eight-year-old students utilizing an HP Pocket PC to enhance a traditional lesson about prepositions. In the lessons, students used the mobile devices, which were equipped with camera, wi-fi and internet, to take photographs that depicted each of six prepositions included in the lesson. They then wrote sentences that described the photos and had to create an illustration of their story using the Sketchy animation tool on the devices.

Although the intention was for students to use the Pocket PCs to capture images depicting the prepositions – including over, under, behind, below, and inside – that were naturally occurring, students found it difficult to see these words being displayed in on campus activities and they then used themselves to act out the words in relation to objects on campus or to each other. Students enjoyed working in collaborative groups as opposed to working alone on these activities and add that they like sharing their animations with their classmates to show what they had done.

The second of the lessons in these case studies followed a group of 40 eleven-year-old students who had been issued smartphones by HTC to facilitate learning about idioms in the Chinese language. These devices were equipped the same as the pocket PCs with camera, wi-fi and internet. Students used the smartphones to track instances in their lives where they notice the idioms they have been learning about being depicted. Unfortunately, the article does not specifically indicate what the idioms students were learning about are. In addition to taking photographs and creating an animated project similar to that from the first case study, students in this class maintained a wiki space for each of the idioms where they were able to share their work online with their teachers and peers. Their biggest complaint about the project was that their parents were nervous about them taking the phones out with them wherever they went and many of the students were only allowed to use them at home or at school, minimizing the variety of images compiled for the project.

NETS STANDARDS ADDRESSED:

This lesson addresses many of the different NETS-T and NETS-S standards throughout its inception and execution. On the teacher side of things, the teachers here were able to “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” (NETS-T-2). Students participated in an authentic learning experience with technology they are likely to encounter in their own lives and use these tools to maximize their comprehension in the Language Arts content area. Each of the individual aspects of this standard were also met with this project: a) adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools, b) technology-enriched learning environment that allowed students to pursue individual curiosity and manage their own learning, c) personalized learning activities addressing students; learning styles, working strategies and abilities using digital tools and d) students were provided with different assessments that were used to guide learning and teaching.

In this one lesson, each of the NETS-S were addressed to an extent. Among these standards, students created original works as a means of personal and group expression in the Sketchy animations they created (NETS-S-1). Students used digital media – the wiki spaces – to communicate and work collaboratively, publishing with peers employing the digital media online and with the smartphones themselves (NETS-S-2). Students used digital tools to gather, evaluate and use the information (NETS-S-3) in both of the case studies in that they utilized the pocket PC and the smartphone to record and analyze their data.

Copyright, Creative Commons and Primary Sources

Copyright, Creative Commons and Fair Use

In the first copyright video, there wasn’t really all that much information that was new for me. Much of what was covered in the video has been covered in many of the Ed program and MSEd program classes here at WOU as we have conducted research and done lesson planning. It was, however, interesting to see some of the restrictions on multimedia use in the classroom. I love using music and video in some of my lessons and was unaware of some of these restrictions, such as 30 seconds for music clips. Thinking back, I don’t believe I have ever had cause to use more than that, although I have used entire sections of lyrics found online. Furthermore, I wonder how these restrictions may have to change with the introduction of programs such as Spotify, which allows the user to listen to virtually any song at any time for free, up to 20 hours per month unless you pay a subscription fee. Because these materials are readily available online, do they become more accessible for classroom use?

The cartoon video I thought was great for students of all ages. I think it demonstrates well NETS-S-5-a: “Advocate and practice safe, legal and responsible use of information and technology” in a way that younger students will understand. The draw of the cartoon characters is likely to keep them entertained at the same time they are (perhaps unwittingly) learning about responsible digital citizenship.

The two videos about creative commons have very different intended audiences. I cannot imagine using the interview with Dr. Lessig with my students. It is much too dry for the attention span of a ten-year-old child. However, it would be more appropriate for use with other educators, who are seeking to “continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources” (NETS-T-5). As teachers, it is important for us to model the appropriate use of copyrighted material in the classroom. Students must be aware that we are following the legal requirements of copyright and fair use laws if we are expecting to be able to hold them accountable for the same.

Privacy – or not

There are 57 different signals that Google looks at to determine what results to provide for a search?! And what is returned on my search sitting at home on a Toshiba laptop using Firefox is going to be different from what I find at work on my HP desktop using Google Chrome? And if I drink my coffee with my left hand, I will get this result. If I drink with my right, I will get that result. Then, if I drink tea instead of coffee, I will be shipped off to Abu Dhabi in a box with a little black and grey tiger striped kitten.

I find Pariser’s dissemination of the algorithms dictating search engine results and Facebook News Feeds (we already knew it did that with the ads on the sidebar) somewhat disturbing. As a teacher, I am expected to Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility (NETS-T-4) for my students. To that end, I should “advocate, model and teach safe, legal and ethical use of digital information and technology.” (NETS-T-4a) However, I find it hard to explain to my students exactly what “safe, legal and ethical” means in light of this information. I have to explain to my students that they should be following a specific ethical path when I feel that some of the biggest online companies in the world seem to be shattering those privacy barriers with a golden sledgehammer. Perhaps I am drawing a very thin line between these two ideas. I knew internet companies track what I do online so they can offer me all these great deals. After registering for the Warrior Dash, I noticed ads popping up on all kinds of websites I visit for the Spartan Race and other similar events in the area. Peculiar? Apparently not so much, according to Pariser.

I thought Hasan Elahi’s approach to the situation where he was being investigated as a terrorist by the FBI was a fantastic opportunity to show students one of the many different ways technology can work for them. Elahi refers to himself as an artist, then notes that most people assume that means he paints. However, his turning to digital art is a great opportunity for students to recognize the possibilities that lie before them.

Thinking just in terms of the NETS for students, Elahi’s project emulates NETS-S-1: Creativity and Innovation in that he has created an original work as a means of personal expression. His website has become his own original digital masterpiece that puts much of his life on display for the world (or FBI, CIA and NSA at least) to see. Putting this information out there for the world to see, Elahi is also giving an example of NETS-S-2: Communication and Collaboration, as he is using digital media to communicate and contribute to the learning of others. As an instructor at the University of Maryland, his students (and those of us in this class, for that matter) are able to learn more about the ways digital technology can be used. Additionally, he is showing how we could demonstrate NETS-S-6: Technology Operations and Concepts, as he selects and uses applications effectively and productively. Of course, there are numerous other ways Elahi is able to exhibit both the NETS-S and NETS-T that are too many to mention all of them. What I appreciate most is still Elahi’s referring to himself as an artist because he absolutely is. There is such a presupposition that artists paint, draw, sculpt or otherwise, but digital art is only now becoming fully acknowledged when someone refers to themselves as an artist. If you haven’t had an opportunity to check out his website yet, it’s definitely a trip. Stop by and see where he’s at right now.