Value-neutral: is neither good or bad, having no particular value, to be objective about the worth
Value-laden: based on personal opinion
Change agency: changing one thing to cause a change to another (i.e. change the use of a tech tool to cause a change in society – social networking)
What I learned through the selected readings
I read numerous articles while working on my definition of Educational Technology, but a few really resonated. Larry Cuban’s blog, School on School Reform and Classroom Practice, review of Jeff Dunn’s Evolution of Classroom Technology was very similar to the Looking Backward, Thinking Forward video. It was interesting to see the changes in “technology,” for many years, were primarily upgrades to the same basic concepts. The Magic Lantern was the precursor to filmstrips, and overhead projector merged with filmstrips to become interactive whiteboards. The major changes in educational technology aren’t so much the tools, as what we do with them.
My favorite of the sources provided was the NCREL critical issues. Several articles were very good; the one that really stuck out was the overview portion of Critical Issue: Enhancing System Change and Academic Success Through Assistive Technologies for K–12 Students With Special Need highlighted just what technology can be. It can be anything from a pencil grip to text-to-speech recognition. The definition of assistive technology with a change of a couple of words makes a great definition of educational technology: virtually and device that increases, maintains, or improves the capability of a student.
The second critical issue article from NCREL, Using Technology to Improve Student Achievement was also very interesting. It focused on the fact that the current generation of students has basically been wired their entire academic careers. The article references Prensky (2001) and McHale (2005) argument that since this generation has been “wired” basically their entire lives, they are fundamentally different from prior generations, and that our educational system is not designed to meet their needs. I can concur with that. Many students are much more tech savvy than their teachers or parents. Pre-school aged children are comfortable using Smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The students of today have been brought up with technology; it is part of how the interact with others. The education system needs to recognize and embrace this change in our students.
Where I am now, in my professional practice and the inclusion of educational technology
Currently as the reading facilitator and testing coordinator my use of technology in the educational realm is primarily through the use of student information systems, various electronic testing applications, productivity software, and lots of email.
The current reading program that my district utilizes requires teachers to input student achievement data through an online portal on a regular basis. As the facilitator I setup the teachers’ accounts and classes, manage student enrollment, and monitor student progress. Each quarter all of the students take a computerized reading assessment to determine growth in reading comprehension. I use the classroom data along with reading comprehension scores to manage student and teacher placement. In years gone by this process was done with pencil and paper test, and took many man-hours to complete. Timely feedback was non-existent. With the current use of computer-based assessments students receive instant feedback via a score, and I can determine growth at a glance.
In my role as testing coordinator, it is my responsibility to create a student information extract from the district’s student management system. I prepare the extract to meet the guidelines of the On-line testing company that we use for benchmark assessments, and then upload the file. It takes about an hour or two to do the extract and create the upload file for three schools, 40+ core teachers, and well over 100 sections. Since all of this is done electronically, the number of students, teachers, and classes does not have much impact on the amount of time it takes to complete the task. The hours it would take to create each course and section, input the student demographics, and then enroll them in a specific section of a course manually would be staggering.
Even though I am not using technology in classroom instruction at this time, I am still using technology to support education. In my definition I included the need for educational technology to assist in the collaboration and communication of learning. So, in that regard I do use educational technology!
What kind of change do you hope to see as a result of this class?
My goal is to develop a better understanding of just what educational technology is, how I can best utilize it to support the teachers I currently coach/mentor, and how I can prepare myself for my eventual return to the classroom. For 18 years I was a business education teacher, and used computers as part of my instruction for 16 of them. I cannot imagine teaching without technology, but I want to make sure that both the students and I use the resources at hand efficiently and effectively to improve learning. I want to increase my understanding of how to incorporate technology so students regard it as productivity tools not as toys.
How might your knowledge and experiences influence the actions of those around you?
One of the “other duties as assigned” is to assist faculty and staff with any technology issues they have. This ranges from showing them how to turn on their promethean projectors, printing a document from the Internet, inputting grades, to actually assisting them in creating multi-media presentations. As I learn about different tools I share and train staff. Some do incorporate it into their lesson, others do not.
My goal is to be able to influence the technology department and district administration to let us have our technology back. When I started at my current district we had a 1-1 laptop ratio. We hired a new consulting agency and now only have 2 COWs at my site (that is a 1-10 ratio). Two years ago teachers all had slates and dual pens for the Promethean boards, now teachers get one old style pen and with an administrative directive may get a slate. In times where technology use is expanding at an exponential rate, we are going backward at the same speed. With the accumulated research, resources and educational background I am building up, I am hoping it will be enough to convince the technology director, superintendent, and school board that we need to have not just what we had back, but have it updated, and to revamp our usage policy to reflect mobile computing.
Cuban, L. (2012, April 1). Evolution of Classroom Technology (Jeff Dunn) | Larry Cuban on School Reform
and Classroom Practice. Larry Cuban. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from http://larrycuban.wordpress.
Honey, M., McMillian Culp, K., & Spielvogel, R. (2005). Critical Issue: Using Technology to Improve Student
Achievement. North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved September 17, 2012, from http://
Reed, P., Clifford, M., & Svedkauskaite, A. (2002, December 1). Critical Issue: Enhancing System Change and
Academic Success Through Assistive Technologies for K–12 Students With Special Needs. North Central
Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved September 10, 2012, from http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/
Retterer, O. (2008, April 17). Instructional Technology: Looking Backward, Thinking Forward – YouTube. YouTube.