EDTECH 541 Course Reflection

Part One

I believe my favorite part of this course has been all of the new technology tools I have used and discovered. I am going to be starting a new position as a technology integration specialist for my building in addition to teaching. I now feel more confident in taking on this role after having learned so much from this course. I have learned more about how to use technology in a way that is advantageous to my students rather than just recreating experiences that could take place without technology. I now understand the importance of taking the time to research and practice using technology before putting it in front of my students. Because of this course, I will now always ask myself “What is the relative advantage of using this technology?” I believe I have met the AECT standards through my coursework because it has taken a great deal of research and reflection to create lessons that incorporate technology and that I can actually use in my classroom. I believe that each of my assignments reflect current research and pedagogy, as well as effective incorporation and management of technology. Because of this course, I believe the way I teach as I enter my classroom in a couple weeks is going to change. I now see the value in letting my students take more responsibility for their own learning through the use of technology. I believe I will now take on more of a facilitating role than I have in the past. I am more excited to begin this school year than I have been in awhile. I cannot wait to incorporate more technology into my classroom in a more meaningful way.

Part Two

Content 65/70

I did often relate to real life experiences and share substantial information, but there are some posts that I could have maybe gone into a little more detail.

Readings and Resources 20/20

I completed each of the reading and often related to them in my posts. I also used some outside resources that I had found on my own. I believe all of my APA citations are correct.

Timeliness 15/20

I had all of my posts in on time, but they were often submitted on the due date which did not always give my peers much time to respond to them.

Responses to Other Students 30/30

I did respond to at least two of my classmates each week. I feel that I was sincere and detailed in the majority of my responses.

Final Score 130/140

 

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Obstacles & Solutions for Integrating Technology in Social Studies

There is a plethora of technology resources for social studies. There are primary documents, games, maps, and videos galore. It can be extremely intimidating and challenging to dig through all of these resources to find those that are the most beneficial for students to use. I see this challenge as being one of the most difficult for incorporating technology into social studies content. It is time consuming for teachers to sort through all of the resources available. It is also difficult to make sure resources are being used in a way that is truly advantageous to the students and not just to fill time or act as a substitute teacher. As I have been learning more about technology, I believe I have found a solution to this problem that will work for me. I have discovered tools such as Symbaloo or Diigo can help me sift through resources as I have time. When I come upon a resource, I can simply save it to one of these two sites and can revisit it whenever it is convenient for me. As I look through resources, I have begun to ask myself this question: “What is the advantage of using this resource for me and/or for my students?” These two strategies help make finding resources and using them in a purposeful way more manageable.

The other challenge I often face is that students believe everything on the internet is reliable information. There are many historical inaccuracies and other errors throughout the World Wide Web. It is important that we teach our students what constitutes a good, credible source and how to evaluate their sources. It can be difficult as a teacher to know how to implement technology and also how to teach our students how to use it. Professional development centered on technology can help greatly in this aspect. It is also good practice to always test and use technology yourself before placing it before your students.

Tina Heafner states, “research recognizes various negative outcomes of technology use as social isolation, all information is “good” misperception, information overload, and the time consuming nature of technology. However, effective technology integration offers opportunities to enhance social studies instruction and to increase student motivation while preparing students with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to become good citizens, which are the fundamental goals of the social studies” (2004).

Resources

Heafner, T. (2004). Using technology to motivate students to learn social studies. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 4(1). Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/volume-4/issue-1-04/social-studies/using-technology-to-motivate-students-to-learn-social-studies

Advantage of Using Technology in Content Area Learning

I have found using technology in my psychology classroom to be very beneficial. Technology allows me to do things in my classroom that would not otherwise be possible. Students can participate in simulations and experiments that we would not be able to provide without the use of technology. I believe technology also helps increase student interest and prepares them for the world outside the classroom. As stated in Edutopia, “Learning through projects while equipped with technology tools allows students to be intellectually challenged while providing them with a realistic snapshot of what the modern office looks like” (2008). Students may not always be required to recall the different theories and information as learned in the psychology classroom, but they will need to know how to use technology. “The myriad resources of the online world also provide each classroom with more interesting, diverse, and current learning materials. The Web connects students to experts in the real world and provides numerous opportunities for expressing understanding through images, sound, and text” (Edutopia, 2008). Technology provides students with a variety of ways to learn, demonstrate their understanding, and be assessed.

Not only is technology beneficial to learning psychology content, but it is also important to other content area learning. All teachers and subjects are required to cover the Common Core Standards, which center around reading, writing, and speaking skills. Using technology helps provide ways to cover these skills and standards in any content area. Roblyer explains that the definition of literacy has changed over the years, and it now encompasses not only reading and writing, but also being proficient in 21st-century skills, which include technology (2016, p. 261). Students better learn and understand information when they are able to see how it applies outside of the classroom. Stokes says, “knowledge and understanding are deepened when applied across different locations, contexts and activities. Technology can help teachers and learners capture, store, compare and integrate material from and across different settings – whether at school, on a field trip or at home” (2012, p. 4). It seems like some of the most common questions I am asked in my classroom is “why do we need to know this?” and “when am I ever going to use this?” I think those questions are answered when we relate the content in our classroom to other content areas. Students better see the importance and application of information when it is applied throughout all content areas. Stokes drives this point home as she says that linking different activities across learning themes helps “facilitate a deeper learning experience rather than a set of individual, disconnected learning activities” (2012, p. 4). I believe students get a richer learning experience when multiple content areas are integrated, and technology gives us tools that allow us to create those experiences.

References

Edutopia. (2008). Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons are Many. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.

Stokes, K. (2012). Decoding learning: the proof, promise and potential of digital education. Education Journal, (149), 8-12.

Social Networking and Walled Gardens

https://voicethread.com/app/player/?threadId=8022882

If for some reason, the embedded Voicethread above does not work, you can access it here.

Resources

Adobe Youth Voices. (2016). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from                      http://www.adobe.com/corporate-responsibility/education/adobe-youth-voices.html

Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, Social Media, & Technology Overview 2015. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/ 

Renfro, A. (2013). Trending Reasons to Teach Social Media in Schools. Retrieved from http://gettingsmart.com/2013/08/trending-reasons-to-teach-social-media-in-schools/

So You Want to Do Mystery Skype? (2011). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from https://pernillesripp.com/2011/10/25/so-you-want-to-do-mystery-skype/

The My Hero Project. (2010). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from           http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=442694

Acceptable Use Policies

The internet has brought about many advantages, but with those advantages have also come some risks and disadvantages. As we incorporate the internet into educational institutions, it is important that we identify these potential issues and take measures to inform and protect our students. Roblyer identified several of these potential issues that can arise from the internet. They include accessing sites with inappropriate materials, online predators, privacy issues, cyberbullying, viruses and hacking, fraud, online plagiarism, and online piracy (2016, p. 174-177). In addition, we must also worry about the digital footprint our students are leaving and their online behavior and citizenship. This list can seem extremely overwhelming. How can we protect our students and ourselves from these issues? One possible answer is through acceptable use policies.

An acceptable use policy is a set of rules that restrict the way in which the internet or network is used and provides guideline for how it should be used. Many school districts have their students, parents, and staff sign an acceptable use agreement. It is important for schools to have such a policy in place so students and staff members understand what acceptable behavior regarding the school network is and what the consequences are if they choose to engage in unacceptable behavior.

As I looked over the policy for my own school and compared it to that of other schools, it was interesting to see how different each policy could be. My high school has a fairly detailed plan that covers many of the issues mentioned above, but it has one major weakness. The school district does not provide a copy of the plan to students and their parents, and it is not easy to find on the district website. The paper they ask students and parents to sign states that they agree to follow the policy, but if they want to actually read the policy, they must find it on their own. Ulysses S. Grant High School in California has their policy posted online where it is easy to find, but it is not very extensive. The other two plans I found were from Upland High School and St. Vincent- St. Mary High School. Both of these plans were very well written and covered nearly all potential issues. Upland High School even included some Netiquette tips for students to follow. You can find the links for each of these plans below.

Technology  is ever changing, so our policies regarding technology must change as well. It is important for policy makers to ” take proactive measures to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of all entities involved, from the school district to the student, are adequately addressed and reassessed on a regular basis” (Flowers & Rakes, 2000).

Acceptable Use Policies

Minico High School (Begins on page 18)

Ulysses S. Grant High School

Upland High School

St. Vincent- St. Mary High School

References

Flowers, B. F., & Rakes, G. C. (2000). Analyses of Acceptable Use Policies Regarding the Internet in Selected K-12 Schools.Journal Of Research On Computing In Education, 32(3), 351.

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.

Relative Advantage of Using the Basic Suite in Learning

I have used various forms of word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation software throughout my education experience as a student and a teacher. Throughout my high school and the majority of my undergraduate experience, I used Microsoft Office software. Towards the end of my undergraduate studies, I was introduced to Google Suite, and that is what I choose to use in my classroom now. There are many advantages to using Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms.

Roblyer states that “teachers choose [these tools] not only because they have qualities that aid classroom instruction and help make classroom time more productive, but also because they give students experience with 21st-century tools that they will see again and again in their workplaces” (2016, p. 109). I believe this statement to be very true. Even greater than the many advantages that this software can bring to classroom management and instruction, is the advantage of preparing students to be successful in the future. Students are going to see and use these tools again upon graduation and being familiar with them will allow students to be competitive in the business world.

Another important advantage that Google Apps offers is that of teamwork. The Google Suite offers many features for collaboration. Those features allow students to work together in real-time, which fosters teamwork and problem-solving skills. The ability to work with others is another key aspect to being successful in today’s society (Regis, 2015, para. 6).

In my classroom, the use of Google Apps has helped me be more organized and productive. I am able to keep better records, communicate with students, staff, and parents, and work from anywhere. My students are also more organized and have access to their assignments outside of the classroom. The appearance of my students’ work is also significantly improved when they use basic suite software. I do not have to struggle through trying to decipher some of their handwriting, which makes my job a lot easier. The use of Google Apps in the classroom simplifies many of the mundane tasks teachers must do, and allows teachers to spend more time focusing on instruction and their students.

Resources

Regis, Devin. (2015, January). The benefits of google for education in higher ed. Retrieved from http://www.universitybusiness.com/article/benefits-google-education-higher-ed

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.