Category Archives: Ed Tech 541- Integrating Technology into the Classroom Curriculum

Integrating Technology into the Teaching of Science

One of the best parts of being a Science teacher is that my students get to investigate the world on a regular basis.  So much of science is based on observing the world around you, asking questions about that world, investigating your questions and drawing conclusions from those investigations.  It is formal inquiry at it’s best.  For most students, however, there is a limit to what they can see.  Even now, in the 21st century, most of the world we experience is fairly limited in scope.  We know our houses and families, our schools and friends, but only rarely get to peek to the world beyond.

Assuming one has a curious and inquisitive mind, this is where technology can step in and pay huge dividends in the science classroom.  While I am a firm believer that the bulk of science that our students do should be hands-on work, there are many ways that technology adds to that experience.

Looking into Other Worlds

As stated, our view of the world is fairly limited.  Technology allows students to look into the heart of an atom or out into the unknown reaches of the galaxy through experiences like Absorb Learning’s atom tutorial or the Hubble Deep Field Academy.  The fact is that resources are being developed all the time that broaden students world and what becomes observable.  This broader view leads to more interest and investigation on the part of the students.

Learning from Others at Your Own Pace

Another wonderful aspect of technology integration is the fact that students learning is no longer limited to the teacher’s experiences.  Nowadays, students can learn from MIT professors or experts on subjects from around the world.  They need only reach out (with guidance) and follow their path at their pace.  Unlike any other time in history, students can truly follow their passions as far as they desire.

Using Inquiry to Learn

All science education should be inquiry based to some degree.  Technology integration supports such learning by allowing students to learn through experience as they tweak conditions in simulations, design and run experiments online or use tech-based data collecting in their own in-class experiments.   Technology supports a number of various ways for students to both gather information about their world and to visualize that information as they work to draw conclusions.

The fact is that the list goes on and on.  Students can utilize tutorials to gain better understandings of concepts, make connections and develop learning projects with partners around the world or simply track their own learning through the keeping of a blog.  Technology has always played an important role in the teaching and learning of science and that connection is growing deeper every day.

Resources

Haury, D. L. (1993). Teaching Science Through Inquiry. ERIC CSMEE Digest (March Ed 359 048).

Roblyer, M.D. & Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Internet Safety for Students

The following post is a guide to internet safety for students in high school.  It was completed as part of work in Boise State Ed Tech 541.

As young adults in a connected world, you likely spend a fair amount of time online.  Whether you are gaming, connecting with friends or doing research for school, there are some things that you must keep in mind to develop a safe and healthy online presence.  Much of the advice boils down to common sense, but there can be aspects of working and living online that are trickier to pick up on.  As you work your way through cyberspace, keep the following in mind:

  1. Be Respectful– Always be respectful of the people you are talking to and talking about online.  Because online work creates a sense of distance and anonymity, many people say things they would not normally say to someone in a face-to-face situation.  When working online, what you write and what you post will likely be permanently out there for all to see (even if you delete it!)  Be smart and show the world you best side.  Also, refrain from tagging friends in pictures.  Let them make that decision on their own.
  2. Be Safe– As most people know, there are many dangers out in the cyberworld.  While making connections with people can be very rewarding and helpful, never give out personal information.  Using your first name only (or include last initial if you have to), keeping locations and addresses to yourself and not sharing other personal details are all great ways to stay safe.
  3. Be Smart– As you search for content on the internet, you will very likely come across information from questionable sources.  Now that anyone connected to the internet can share their opinions, it can be difficult to determine what is fact and what is opinion (or fiction).  Always ask yourself “who posted this?” and “why did they post it?”  Being aware of your virtual surroundings is an important skill to develop in this modern world.
  4. Be Careful– While much of what you do on the internet poses little danger, you have to be aware that there are very real dangers.  Emails and other downloads can contain viruses and other malware that can harm your computer or send out personal information.  Never open emails from unknown senders.  Delete them immediately.
  5. Set Limits– As young adults, you are gaining more and more independence.  With this independence comes the need to set limits for yourselves.  Just like overindulging in food can have negative consequences, overindulging in time online has potential negative impacts as well.  Set limits for both work and social time online.  Take the time to meet friends in person, not just online.

For more information on Internet Safety, visit the following sites:

Resources:

Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Internet safety tips for middle school kids. Retrieved July 15, 2012, from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/internet-safety-tips-middle-school-kids

Common Sense Media. (2012, June 19). Parents’ Guide to Protecting Kids’ Privacy Online. Retrieved July 14, 2012, from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/parents-guide-to-protecting-kids-privacy-online

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (2012, July 12). Netsmartz Workshop:  Safety.  Retrieved from http://www.netsmartz.org/safety/safetytips.

Walled Gardens Voicethread Post

Voicethread on Walled Gardens

This post is a Voicethread completed as part of work in Ed Tech 541.  The topic is on the opening of so-called “walled gardens” in school settings.  (I attempted to embed the voicethread, but had no luck.  Sorry about that.)

Ed Tech 541- Multimedia Video Blog

This video post was created to answer the question of “what are the benefits of incorporating multimedia in the classroom?”

(The links embedded in the video don’t work.  Sorry about that.)

Acceptable Use Policies

While many in the education world debate how large of a role technology, specifically the internet, should play in the education of today’s students, few argue that connection to the world at large should be eliminated.  The fact that we now are encouraging and even teaching our students to access and leverage information on the Internet for their personal learning, mean that we must also take the time to create safeguards for the students and for the educational institutions providing the access. The standard method of accomplishing the latter is for the institution to develop an Acceptable Use Policy or AUP.

Not every AUP is identical.  Lisa Nielsen encourages schools to create AUP’s that take into account and address each communities needs by encouraging input from all users of the technology.  On the other hand, many schools and school districts put such decisions and policy making in the hands of lawyers and those less involved in the on the ground use of the technology.

Whatever the method of arriving at a school’s AUP, Education World encourages schools to include the following aspects in an AUP:

  1. Preamble- Sets the tone for the AUP and establishes the purpose, process of development and the goals of the AUP.
  2. Definitions- Helps create clarity by defining any specific terms that have the potential for creating misunderstanding.
  3. Policy Statement- Provides an overview of what the AUP covers and the services that fall under it’s policies.
  4. Acceptable Use Section- Outlines what the institution deems appropriate and acceptable  in terms of student and employee use of school networks.
  5. Unacceptable Use Section- Delineates what students uses are not appropriate for use on school networks and provides examples of such uses.
  6. Violations/Sanctions Section- Describes the outcomes of unacceptable use of the computer network.  Outcomes may be specific or simply refer violations to other school disciplinary systems.

While this set of guidelines are a great start in terms of establishing an AUP, care must be taken to provide each educational community with a set of rules that protect the students and the school and encourage appropriate use.  It is important to listen to the stakeholders and to adapt the policy over time as needed.  While they may not be integral to drafting such a document, getting feedback from school attorneys on the document is a key step.  Once established, introducing the policy to the school community should be done in a thoughtful manner.

Below are examples of Acceptable Use Policies from a variety of educational institutions

References:

EducationWorld. (2011).  Getting Started on the Internet:  Developing an acceptable use policy (AUP).  Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml

Edutopia. (2012). How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/how-to-create-social-media-guidelines-school

The Innovative Educator. (2012). Looking to createa  social media or BYOD policy? Look no further. Retrieved from http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/06/looking-to-create-social-media-or-byod.html

Vision Statement

Image Credit: Lisa Andres

There has been a shift in the world of education that has created both new needs and new opportunities.  The fact that many students now live their lives in a world in which technology is so pervasive has created a reality to which our educational systems must adapt.  While, as Collins and Halverson note, “the school system has evolved to adapt to incremental changes,” (62) the world has been changing at an incredible pace.  The time has come for students to be prepared for a new world and it is up to the educational systems to adapt and meet this need.

Edutopia points out that “The acceptance of change is a major requirement for technology integration.”  Our educational system must begin to understand that change is not only inevitable, it also can be seen as an enormous opportunity.  There is no doubt that many can see the need for our students to improve in order to keep pace with their peers from other nations.  The National Education Technology Plan 2010 (NETP) makes clear reference to this point.  Technology integration, when done properly, helps students to develop the skills they will need in their ever-changing world.

Moreover, technology goes well beyond need to opportunity.  The rapid evolution of means of connecting with people from around the world has opened up possibilities that students and teachers of previous generation could not have imagined.  Students today can play the role of learner and teacher.  Their work can be shared globally, just as they can tap into resources of experts and peers throughout the world.  Bonk points out that this “sudden trend towards sharing educational resources…is fueling change in education and opening new doors to optimism and human potential” (15).

Making technology an integral part of the learning process serves everyone.  Students are able to learn to effectively and responsibly utilize various forms of technology in their lives to enrich their world experience.  Teachers are able to better meet individual needs and to keep focus on learning rather than the plethora of tasks that pull them away from that objective.  As a whole, the nation and the world become better able to connect and to learn from one another.  The time to embrace the opportunity at our feet has come.

Resources:

Bonk, Curtis J. The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.

Collins, Allan, and Richard Halverson. Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America. New York: Teachers College Press, 2009. Print.

Edutopia. (n.d.). What is technology integration? Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-importance

Edutopia. (n.d.). Why do we need technology integration? Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description

U.S. Department of Education. (2010) National Education Technology Plan 2010 Executive Summary. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010