Thursday, December 9, 2010

Final Posting

I really enjoyed learning about all of these technologies this semester, and it really made me feel more secure in my decision to pursue an educational contract major in visual literacy. Technology and visual literacy go hand in hand and this course was really helpful to me even though I'm not going into teaching per se. I think these websites and technologies are really useful for students as well as teachers. I think that they really helped me with my other courses, projects and study skills in general. The use of Dipity timeline was quite helpful in studying for art history exa,s. zamzar helped me add sound clips to other presentations etc. I've taught a lot of my friends about these resources too and they are all utilizing them as well. Knowing that there are resources out there like this is very reassuring and I can't wait to see more developed.

Final Posting

Coming into this class, I was not sure what to expect. I anticipated that we would do a series of projects that would teach us how to use technology in the classroom, but I never guess that my entire view of teaching and technology would be altered. Not only have I gained a skill set that will undoubtedly help me to succeed in both student teaching in my own future classroom, but I have also accessed a whole new world of technologies to use in everyday life. For example, I have been using Google maps for many years, but up until I was working on my final project I had absolutely no idea that I could create my own map with placemarks and paths to follow. I am extremely excited to use these websites and technologies in the reminder of my academic career and professional life.

Final Post

I have never felt very confident with technology in the past, but after taking this course, I really feel like I've mastered several essential technologies. It was very beneficial to practice using wikis and blogs because they are so versatile and can be used in so many ways in the classroom. I also really liked learning how to make a photostory. I've already used that technology in writing one of my lesson plans for the Science Curriculum class. But for me, the most important project we did was the Smartboard project. It was very frustrating at times, but I discovered so many functions and features of the SmartNotebook software that I didn't know about before. It is highly likely that I'll be expected to use this technology in my student teaching and my future classroom so I'm very glad that I've gained some experience with it. I'm also glad that I was able to problem solve and brainstorm with the SmartNotebook software to get it working for me. That was a very valuable experience.

Final Post

I entered this course thinking it would be just another technology course like I took in high school. I am SO glad I was wrong. This course has taught me more in one semester than I learned in four years of technology classes in high school. I know how to use applications that I will definitely use in my classroom. Not only will I use the applications, but I may also use the actual projects I have made. This Google Earth project will really come in handy when we talk about different places in France. I feel much better about student teaching (the SmartBoards worried me last year) and being the head in a classroom. I've been recommending this class to my education major friends because it is so beneficial. Knowing how to use these technologies will definitely make me more successful in teaching.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Final Posting

Liz Exo

Looking back on this semester and all of the projects we have worked on, I feel so much more equipped as a future teacher. Everyone claims that technology is the future, but I didn't really know exactly what that meant in regards to education. Now I have so much more knowledge about the up-and-coming technological trends, like Google earth and photo story, for example. From this class I have not only learned how to use these technologies, but I have also learned how they can be applied to different subject areas across the board. Another lesson I learned was about patience and adaptation. Although I was initially frustrated with my blog account not working, I learned to be patient with technology. Also, I learned that being flexible and being adaptive to each situation is key; to solve my blog account issue, we decided that I would email my blog posting each week. This taught me that sometimes you just have to work around the problem and do what you know how to do.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Website Lends and Ear to Student Woes- Then Reports Trends to Schools

Liz Exo’s Blog Post:

Currently working for 10 college campuses across the nation, Sill is a website where students can submit their personal problem and concerns, where they will be received and replied to by trained student supporters on campus.
The article discusses the benefits of this website; colleges can finally find out the real problems that students are facing- the problems that they don’t know who to talk to about. Allstop, creator of Spill, says that colleges can use this information to help with their campus’s “student retention, risk mitigation, and suicide prevention.”

The responses to the anonymous Spill posts are written by trained students. Each post has 4 to 6 responses, giving different perspectives on the issue and hopefully gets the poster more engaged.

I personally think this is a great tool that will help the college or university become more in sync with their student body. Allstop says that only “15 to 20% of students feel comfortable talking face to face with a school counselor,” so I think that Spill would be a great asset to those students that need help but are too embarrassed or shy to talk to someone in person. I see this as a great use of technology in the educational field.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Text messaging: a lecture hall epidemic?

This month a study was released that examined the in-class texting habits of students from Wilkes University. Two psychology professors created a 32 question survey to study the texting habits of this Pennsylvania University. The survey was answered by 269 students and the results were very alarming to many professors. Over 95% of participants said that they bring their phones to class and 3/4 of the survey noted that they had been distracted in class by a ringing or vibrating phone. Deborah Tindell, one of the professors who created the survey, noted “It’s becoming a bigger issue as cell phones are changing...Technology has changed pretty drastically in the past few years. … You used to have some proficient texters, and that was it. Now, almost everyone does it.”
Nine in ten students in the study said that have sent and received text messages during class. A very small portion of these students, however, believe that professors should allow unlimited texting in class as long as it does not disrupt the learning of other students.
Alarmingly, "Research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that half of teenagers surveyed send 1,500 text messages a month, and one-third of survey respondents send 100 texts every day, or 3,000 per month."
Another professor at the University argued that students who text frequently in class should automatically receive failing grades in the class despite their scores on papers and tests.

I have very mixed feelings about this article. On one hand, it can be very frustrating when there is a person sitting next to me in class who is texting profusely on a phone with loud clicking buttons that vibrates or makes a noise every time they receive a text. This person is unlikely to be paying attention to the professor and is becoming an obvious distraction to people around them. Conversely, many students check their phones once or twice a class and type short responses and then put their phone away. Oftentimes, this can be done without creating a distraction or detracting the student from what is going on during class. I am very guilty of the later habit, however, I feel as though this behavior is becoming a normalized part of our culture. Outside of class, students are connected to their friends 24/7 via text messaging and Facebook. For example, my best friend goes to school in Carbondale but I talk to her nearly all day using text messaging, Facebook posts and Skype. When we are so connected to others using cellular devices at all times, it seems nearly impractical to not respond to them just because we are in class. I never respond to my friends to be rude to my classmates or because I am bored in the class, but rather because I am so used to responding and people in our generation typically expect an immediate response when they sent a text message.
When I look at this topic from the perspective of a future educator, I can see how this behavior would be undeniably frustrating. I imagine that it is also very distracting for professors to look into their crowd of students and see them all ignoring the lecture and texting instead. I completely disagree with the professor who strongly believed that students who text deserve a failing grade automatically. I feel as though there are better ways to handle the situation than throwing and "F" at the student. The professor could easily pull the student aside and ask them to cease their in- class texting. If the student is not compliant, then the professor can enforce more serious consequences. The survey even mentioned that if professors set a "no texting" rule in their syllabus during the first class period, students will be extremely respectful of the professors wishes. Personally, when I know that a professor will not tolerate texting, I do not look at my phone for the entire period. When a professor does not set this president, however, most students do not feel as though they are restricted.
Overall, I think that very brief texting in class is not a serious issues. Sometimes there might be an important situation that a student needs to deal with in the moment. However, texting can get very out of hand when students spend their entire class period texting, are not paying attention to the professor and are distracting other students.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Professor's Rant: Instant Viral Sensation

Mark Talbert, a professor at Cornell University, had a bit of an outburst during one of his lecture classes. A student was yawning - an "overly loud yawn", as Talbert puts it - and he finally had enough. He began asking the class who yawned, and when no one stood up, he asked the other students to identify who was disturbing the class. The video of the rant lasts for almost 3 minutes, and during this time he tells his students that if he hears another of the yawns, the student should "get up and walk the hell out." He also warns his students, "Don't push me to this point again."
Not only is this highly inappropriate, Talbert should have realized that almost every student has a cell phone with them (and on) during classes; especially lecture classes with over 200 people in them. Asking students to leave if they need to yawn is one thing; yelling at the entire class and cursing is definitely another. I watched the video and felt really bad for the students; it was terribly awkward and Talbert was frightening. And to threaten students? While I'm sure he didn't actually mean to threaten them, that is exactly what "Don't push me to this point again" sounds like. This video is just another testament to the fact that everyone - teachers and students alike - need to be careful of what is said in public. One never knows when he is being recorded.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spill: anonymously share you problems and recieve help from other students

Resources for college students needing help with personal problems is typically available through professional counseling on campus. However, a lot of students don't take advantages of these services. 82% cite that embarrassment was the number one factor as to why they haven't utilized counseling services before. A new website available on 10 campuses nationwide (thus far) allows students to ask other students for advice and help anonymously. Students post their personal problems on "Spill" and receive responses from trained student supporters within 24 hours. If the school subscribes to the service, any student with a .edu e-mail address can "spill". Each Spill is responded to by 4-6 student volunteers that are trained in effective listening and writing empathetic responses. This allows the spiller to see different perspectives on their problem that might be able to help them more.

This new service will help both students and the schools alike. This service will help schools see what is really bothering their students and can aid in suicide prevention, risk mitigation, see suggestions for improvements in the school, and can boost retention rates. It also collects the data from all the schools and allows the school to see where students are having the most problems within their own institution and compared to the other subscribers to the service. It's great because it's non-threatening to students who are receiving help and allows the schools to see where help is needed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Educational Technology Can Lower Costs

On November 17th, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that schools are going to need to deal with their lower costs by increasing productivity; they're going to have to do more with less, essentially. Duncan stated that schools will probably have lower budgets for a long time, so they need to learn how to run effectively with less money. Duncan suggested possibly using more online texts, combining bus routes, and reducing personnel in order to deal with the lower budgets. He did acknowledge that becoming more tech-savvy may cost more money in teh short-term, but that it will be worth it in the long-term. I also really appreciate that he said that schools should consider having slightly larger class sizes instead of just automatically cutting music or art. I feel like cutting the arts is the easiest alternative for most schools, rather than the best alternative. The arts are really beneficial, so I am grateful that Duncan brought up that having a few extra kids per class may be less harmful than elminating the arts program.

Social Media Safeguard

Webroot has created a downloadable program that will have college students thanking them forever. Social Media Sobriety Test is a new online application that allows someone to choose a social networking site and the hours they wish to have a little bit of trouble logging on. For example, a person could choose Facebook and/or Twitter and the hours of 1-4 am. In order to log on to that site during this time frame, they would need to pass a series of tests that would be really difficult for someone who was inebriated. For all of those people who have a bad habit of drunk-Facebooking or drunk-tweeting, this could very well save them from a future job loss.
It is becoming common practice for employers to check candidate's Facebooks to see what kind of person he or she is. I went to see Lindsay Pollack speak last year, and she had said that employers call it "checking on [the candidate's] judgment." With job markets as competitive as they are, employers need to use every resource they have, which means that people need to start watching their social media outlets to ensure that they never have any problems. I feel that the Social Media Sobriety Test can be an easy way to help make sure that social media sites stay clear of all posts that could be deemed "bad judgment calls."

Smartphone Document Editing

Apparently Google docs has implemented a feature that allows smartphone users to edit entire documents from their phone. There are a lot of limitations and requirements that are needed in order for it to run properly, but honestly, I don't understand why one would want to. I understand the use of a smartphone in order to check one's e-mail etc and maybe shoot a quick answer back. However, to edit or compose and entire document on one's phone just seems a little silly to me. I have trouble grasping why this would be beneficial to have. As a country, we are way more connected and dependent on technology as a part of our everyday lives and we have more of a tendency to be workoholics than most other places. I think that having the option to edit documents in addition to all the other features on a smartphone could make that gap even greater. I'm all for technology progression, but sometimes I feel like certain advancements go to far.

Technology helping to redefine disability

Students with disabilities have long been unable to express their knowledge or gain new knowledge in traditional classrooms. Teachers committed to enabling these students have searched for ways to assist and empower them, and it looks like there's finally a way. According to Milton Chen, the senior fellow and director emeritus at the George Lucas Educational Foundation, rapid advancements in technology are helping to redefine ability and disability, with assistive technology devices enabling students with disabilities. For example, the Adaptive Captioning Through Interactive Video (ACTIV 2.0) technology can be used to make academic content accessible to learning disabled students through features such as alternative narration; regular, highlighted text; picture/symbol-based captions; verbal/visual cuing; interactive hyperlinks; and built-in quizzes. Other technologies, such as Signing Avatar, which is a software that can be used with 3D science and math dictionaries to help deaf or hearing impaired students, and Big Words, which is a software that can be used to teach polysyllabic words to students with disabilities, are also in the forefront of this movement towards technology for disabled students. John Kemp of Powers Pyle Sutter and Verville says that "giving students with disabilities more choice in how they would like to learn and which tools they would like to use in their learning process can go a long way in motivating them," which can often make all the difference in the classroom. Teachers should not only be aware of the possibilities of technology for learning disabled students, but should constantly be investigating and seeking it. One great resource is NCTI's TechMatrix, which provides free information on assistive technology for students with disabilities as well as for ELL students. I don't know how to add a second link, so here's the url for that:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Schools get smarter about ed-tech energy use

Schools across the country are starting to take measures to reduce both energy and costs by rethinking their information technology systems. The Rio Rancho Public Schools in New Mexico were featured in this article. The executive director of technology in this district noted that “we’re estimating saving about $30,000 per year, and that’s [mainly] by consolidating servers.” According to CDW Government LLC, If schools do not start taking action like Rio Rancho, greenhouse gas emissions from IT data centers will surpass those emitted by the airline industry in the next ten years. The district has found this project to be changing their school in many ways. The $30,000+ a year savings could be redirected towards something that the school needs such as extracurricular activities, paying teachers or new technologies. Another big expense for many schools is air conditioning. In the article Romeo, the executive director of technology, described how they are replacing light bulbs that emit heat with high efficiency LED bulbs.
I found this article very inspiring and uplifting. So many stories in the news show schools negatively through cutting programs and laying off teachers. We've also talked in class about how districts are building excessively elaborate school buildings but not having the funds to run them. This school on the other hand, is doing something extremely positive and effective for the environment and their schools alike. I hope that more schools can adopt this concept to improve our environment and redirect where money is being spend. It excites me to know that this New Mexico district is so focused on making such improvements.

Webquest Project Response

Prior to this project, I have always had really negative experiences with webquests. In middle and high school we did them for my classes, but they were mainly a series of websites on a worksheet that we had to find specific information on. Oftentimes, the links were inaccessible and the process became extremely frustrating. To be honest, I was not thrilled with the idea of creating my own webquest when the project was assigned. It seems as though many of my fellow classmates have also had similar negative experiences with this type of technology in the past. However, after beginning my project and taking note of what my classmates were doing, my opinions begin to change. I did not realize all of the higher thinking that could be involved in the project, considering the mindless tasks I was asked to complete in high school. I really appreciate the ways that students can browse the web and find information on their own. Sometimes teachers can get into the habit of just "spewing" information at their students. This can be overwhelming and not very helpful for learning. Webquests allows the students to work at their own pace and study the information as much as they need to.
To be honest, the webquest project has not been my favorite assignment. I have enjoyed projects such as smartboard and digistory because they involve more artistic and visual creativity. However, I will definitely incorporate the webquest technology into my future classroom and student teaching experiences.

Webquest Response

Before attempting to make my own webquest, I was really unsure about it. I had tried looking at some of the examples that are already available online and was actually really disappointed. The tasks on a lot of them sounded great. They involve higher order thinking, independence and/or group collaboration, an alternative method for gathering information that had the potential to be fun. However, I have some reservations about webquests. A lot of the ones I came across when trying to do research for my own had a lot of broken links. It's kind of a Catch-22, the internet is always changing, which is great, but it also makes creating online based lesson plans rather difficult. I suppose it makes a difference as to where the sources come from too. I tried to make sure all of the ones I used were either government based and/or from some sort of an educational institution because I think those websites change less often.

I also find graphic organizers extremely helpful, no matter what the capability is for a student. I feel like anything that can make something clearer and easier to grasp is necessary in the classroom for all students. It kind of amazed my how many different kinds of organizers were out there and how few I had been introduced to as a student. If I had had those I feel like I could have been a much more organized and overall better prepared student.

WebQuest Reflection

I had no idea what a WebQuest was until we worked on it in class. I really wish that my teachers had utilized them on certain projects in high school. A WebQuest is, in a lot of ways, an eco- and user-friendly version of most of the hand-outs I received. A teacher would hand me a paper that explained the assignment and included most of the information I needed. A WebQuest is, to me, very much a hand-out, but is more explanatory and easier to comprehend. I love that it has the task, process, evaluation, conclusion and notes all in one place without wasting paper. A WebQuest is also, in my opinion, a better alternative to hand-outs because useful websites can be hyperlinked and if the students or teacher wished to, the finished assignments can easily be posted on a class blog for other classmates to evaluate and give suggestions. I think WebQuests are a really great piece of technology that can give a different feel to classroom assignments.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Webquest Reflection

Before working on this project, webquests had a rather negative connotation in my mind. The only time I had seen webquests were in my high school French class. The ones we were assigned only asked us to find information to fill in the blanks on the worksheets and we constantly had to search through poorly designed and confusing websites and had to work around broken or incorrect links. Because of that negative experience, it was really fascinating to see what webquests are intended to be. I think they are a fantastic way of facilitating higher level thinking and independent work. As Liz said, it's important for students to be able to find information on their own, rather than getting all of their information from the teacher. I think these webquests would be really empowering and interesting, as well as challenging, for students. I'm really glad that we made real webquests and have them posted online so that they are available for future use. If I ever teach in a middle school social studies class, I would definitely like to try and use my webquest in the classroom!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Liz Exo's Blog Post:

Before working on this WebQuest project and my WebQuest Tech of the Week project, I did not have that much previous knowledge about WebQuests. I had maybe done one or two in my high school or junior high years, but they did not involve that much critical thinking and were more worksheet-based. So, doing this WebQuest project helped me to see that there are many different types of tasks like creative, compilation, analytical, self-knowledge...etc. I think this is important to keep in mind because WebQuests should challenge the students to create something, rather than simply completeing a question-answer type of task. I also think that WebQuests are great activities to get students to interact and share their knowledge. It breaks the routine of the teacher being the primary source of information, which would keep the students more interested in learning.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Google Offers Free In-Flight Wi-Fi for the Holidays

This holiday season how airline passenger will be able to enjoy free wireless interest while flying. The article describes that, "This is the second year in a row that Google has offered free Wi-Fi, with the program expanding this year to three airlines - AirTran, Delta and Virgin America." The deal is supposed to last from November 20 through January 2.

Though this article has very little to do with education or our class, I'm still very intrigued by the concept of free wi-fi while flying. Oftentimes, while flying on long cross country flights, I get bored and wish that I could access the internet. The article brought up a good point that it would be useful to contact family members that a person is going to visit while they are in the air so discuss pick up times and last minute plans.

I'm quite impressed that google is taking such drastic measures to promote their name. However, a lot of people are going to benefit from the free internet and likely use their services. Way to go google.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

University web site addresses gender gap in “STEM” fields

Liz Exo’s Blog Post:

One of the ongoing issues in education is the gender gap. This article specifically targets the gap that is present in the science, technology, education, and math (S.T.E.M.) fields. This means that each of these fields are dominated by a specific gender, which sometimes makes it intimidating for the minority gender to want to study in that field.

This article discusses Arizona State University’s new web resource available to help close the gender gaps. The website will have “HerStory” video clips of women that have started up careers in these fields that are dominated mostly by males. These videos will depict women of specific professions, as opposed to women studying in the general field of math or science, for example. ASU believes that by giving examples of real women in specific jobs will help boost the morale of other women hoping to get into on e of these “STEM” fields.

I really think this is a great use of technology. It gives women a way to gain confidence that they can choose whichever field they want to study. I also think this article brings up another point; would this idea of “HerStory” videos be suitable for younger students as well? I almost feel that college may be a little too late to be providing the inspiration, so maybe ASU should look into using their idea for high school aged students.

Scientists move closer to live 3-D video

This article discusses the advances made by scientists towards creating live 3-D video capabilities for the internet. It explains that, if successful, the videos would resemble holograms. While the images would not actually be projected into the air, they would appear that way to someone looking at the screen. While this technology is still a work in progress, as the team working on it needs to gain more speed and more camera angles in order to create true 3-D video, it is well on its way to becoming a reality.
The article says that these videos would be used primarily in classrooms and laboratories, but also notes the implications they could have for advertisements, car and airplane design, and military training. I think that, if made readily available, this technology could have a huge impact in the classroom, specifically for science lessons. While it is currently possible to do virtual dissections online, there is much debate as to whether or not they are as valuable as real-life dissections. With this 3-D video technology, students could actually watch live dissections and get the full effect as if it were right in front of them. Similarly, advanced students could watch more involved procedures that they would not otherwise be able to witness, such as cadaver dissections and autopsies. This technology could also be useful for virtual field trips and conferences with experts and other students.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

‘Academic fraud’ filtering hopes to crack down on plagiarism

There is much said about tech savvy students who plagarize term papers, etc. and there is a concentrated effort made to lessen academic fraud. I don't think students are given enough credit for the work they actually do. I know of very few students who think so little of their education that they are willing to pay the price (financial and/or ethically) for cheating.

What concerns me more at times, is the way information is presented. I have often stumbled across tests and assignments and powerpoint presentations that some high school teachers have claimed as their own work, that has clearly been lifted "word for word" from someone else's website. The "tech-savvy" student who finds these instances is really getting mixed signals from their instructors.

It is okay to "borrow" complete lesson plans from someone else without giving credit, but it is not okay for the student to go to the same site and "borrow" the answers. I think that teachers should consider what their expectations are of their students and make sure that they comply with those expectations as well. For example, my sister told me that her AP teacher stood in front of the class one day and when on about how he had chosen specific picture in a powerpoint presentation for some very profound reasons - implying how long he had worked on getting the presentation "just right". Yet that same afternoon, as she was looking for information on something else, she stumbled across the exact powerpoint, with everything identical except the author. That same site had her AP History packets - which are assigned weekly and consist of 8-12 pages each of three and four part questions posted, along with the answers. We wonder what the consequence would be if she simply copied those answers and turned them in as her own.

I think we all have to remember that we each have a moral and ethical responsibility to ourselves and to others, to give credit where credit is due. It is fine to expand on someone else's ideas, but we should never claim them as our own.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blekko: The Newest Search Engine

Liz Exo’s Blog Post:

This article gives readers a look at a new search engine that may give Google some competition, according to the author. It’s called Blekko, and it has a few new “dimensions” that makes it interesting to new users.
The author of this article was originally skeptical about this new search engine, but he put it to the test and found that it can definitely compete with the trustworthy Google. So, here are some of the features of Blekko that are newer than what Google is offering;
The “tag” feature allows registered users to add important tags that may apply to the site they are looking at. As long as it is used properly, the tag feature would help let other web surfers know more about the site before they open it up.
The SEO (search engine optimization) feature is great for the owners of a website because it allows them to compare different sites.
The “IP” feature shows the IP address under which the current site is operating. If you choose to use the IP feature, you can see what other sites use the same IP address. This could be interesting to see if this would help you find extra websites, if you were doing a research task, for example.
There are other features like the links, chatter, cache, and spam feature that set Blekko apart from Google as well.
I think this search engine is an interesting concept, and I would love to hear if anyone has any input to see how this could be used in the classroom or maybe just for the benefit of teachers? I seem to think that these features could somehow be put to beneficial use.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Daytona State College - All eBooks

As my title alludes, Daytona State College is looking to get rid of traditional textbooks. The campus started using eBooks in several departments in 2009, and is hoping to be a 100% eBook campus by next fall.
Instead of each book costing students anywhere from $50 to over $200, each eBook will cost about $20. Students can either buy an eReader (like the Kindle or the iPad) at a reduced cost from the school, or read their books from one of the school's computers. Students and teachers could also print out their eBooks and place them in binders, if they so choose.
The CFO of Daytona State College is hoping that by having such a large reduction in costs for textbooks, more students will be able to stay in school.
No one is very sure about the success of this program, however; the National Association of College Stores sent out a survey to college students, which found that 74% of students prefer to have printed textbooks in class.
I have to say, I agree with that 74%. It would be really difficult to have to carry around something like an iPad to every class and/or to the library. I would be really afraid I would drop it. Every classroom would need to have a bunch of power outlets, also, just in case several students' eReaders were losing power at the same time. And, if the students doesn't buy an eReader and just uses a school computer, how would he be able to bring his book to class? There are positives to using eReaders, though; instead of carrying around 4 large textbooks, a student would only need the eReader and it is much more environmentally friendly. All in all, I am really unsure about how I feel about going 100% eReader on a college campus. I think it could have many more problems than benefits.

Digital access, collaboration a must for students

This article was written in response to a survey refereed to as “Speak Up 2009: Creating Our Future: Students Speak Up about their Vision for 21st Century Schools,” which is the latest education technology survey put on by Project Tomorrow. According to the survey. Students are emerging as "free agent learners" which are students who increasingly take learning into their own hands and use technology to create personalized learning experiences.
I think that this article is articulating everything that we have been talking about in class. The survey stresses that using technology in the classroom is becoming increasingly important to students.

The survey noted, "Students, regardless of community demographics, socio-economic backgrounds, gender, and grade, tell us year after year that the lack of sophisticated use of emerging technology tools in school is, in fact, holding back their education—and in many ways disengages them from learning." I feel as though this statement alone expresses everything that I have learned so far in my education classes. In order to close the achievement gap and ensure that our students are succeeding to their highest potential we need to find innovative ways to incorporate technology in the classroom. This semester has really taught me the many ways that I can accomplish this very goal. The report identifies three essential elements of a new emerging student vision for American education. They are:
  • Social-based learning: Students want to leverage emerging communications and collaboration tools to create and personalize networks of experts to inform their education experience.
  • Untethered learning: Students envision technology-enabled learning experiences that transcend the classroom walls and are not limited by resource constraints, traditional funding streams, geography, community assets, or even teacher knowledge or skills.
  • Digitally-rich learning: Students see the use of relevancy-based digital tools, content, and resources as a key to driving learning productivity, and not just about engaging students in learning.
The article also noted "[that] while the three elements offer the potential for remarkably new approaches to teaching and learning in a classroom, students likely will see the use of these emerging technologies as a “natural extension of the way they are currently living and learning outside of that classroom.'"

Overall, I was really impressed with the way that this article truly describe everything that we have been learning in class. I'm really glad that we post all of our stuff online so that we can access these resources and use them in our future classrooms.

Monday, November 1, 2010

State data systems present privacy concerns

This article was all about privacy concerns that are taking place in the state of Indiana with school data systems. Kalina stated "We are truly paranoid about privacy and maintaining the integrity of the system." There has been great concern regarding keeping student records in online data systems. Last year I remember receiving an email from IWU explaining that someone had "accidentally" forwarded a document full of student information including addresses, social security numbers and academic info to a plethora of people on campus. Getting this email was honestly terrifying. How could someone "accidentally" send this type of information. As a student, I was frustrated that the university that I trusted with my personal information had betrayed this trust. After this incident I'm still really hesitate to submit anything to the university online. The article suggested that "Having as few people as possible have access to student-level data is probably the best thing you can do to make sure you maintain [data] privacy and security." Though this statement may seem obvious, in IWU's case apparently the person who was supposed to be in charge of this information misused the privilege whether on accident or not. Overall, great precautions need to be taken before I will feel comfortable with student records being available on online data bases.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Universities commit to open-access journal movement

This article discusses the move made by a dozen major American universities towards making academic research material available online free of charge. These universities, which include Duke, Harvard, Cornell, MIT, University of Michigan, and University of California Berkley, among others, have signed the Compact for Open Access Publishing Equity (COPE), which means that rather than paying $10,000-$20,000 in subscriptions each year, the universities will cover the costs of publishing the articles themselves (about $1,000- $3,000) and will be able to access the other open-access articles. This movement, which is essentially "increased open access, means more opportunities for the research of our faculty and researchers to reach a wide audience and have a meaningful impact on the world,” says Peter Lange, Duke's provost. I think that this movement encompasses everything that is right about today's movement towards technology. Technology should be enabling and encouraging the sharing of knowledge between scholars and learners alike. The increased availability of professors' research will no doubt enrich the education of students and lead to more progress for other professors, as it should.

School Leaders’ Opinions on 21st Century Skills

Liz Exo’s Blog Post:

As it is probably clear to most of us already, with the new century came new technology and new technological skills to be learned. This article discusses the possibilities of creating new assessments that are directed towards new technological skills. 43% of the schools that responded to the survey stated that their school district already implemented new assessments to test skills like problem solving, teamwork, and critical thinking.

The article also discusses the issue of cyber bullying, and it states that 34% of school districts said that anti-bullying and other computer safety policies have already been implemented.

A final point brought up in the article revolves around the push towards electronic “textbooks” if you will, rather than traditional printed books. The problems that would need to be addressed before making the switch would be to make sure each student has equal access to the internet outside of school, which seems to be a problem for many low-income areas. It is interesting to note that 24% of schools that responded to the survey said schools should move towards electronic reading because textbooks are boring. However, I feel like this may be a controversial issue. I personally have trouble reading long texts online, because I feel like if I cannot write on the text (underlining or highlighting important information) I have a lot more trouble understanding and remembering what I read. So, besides the issue of availability, educators should look at all perspectives before making the switch.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Metal Detectors are No Longer Enough

School districts have begun using x-ray machines in schools to increase the level of safety. There have been over 100 installed in Illinois, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, and New York. People who support using x-rays in schools argue that this way, security officers can see what is in a bag, rather than just knowing that there is metal in it. While this makes sense, I went to a school that had no security checks at all. The thought of metal detectors is strange to me, but to put an x-ray machine in a school? It would make me feel as if I was trying to get on a plane, not go to class. I feel very mixed about this issue; I feel that it is a good idea, and that certain schools probably do need this amount of security, but at the same time, it could really disrupt the way students enter school. Is there going to be a machine at every single entrance? I went to a very small school and we still had 8 or 9 doors around the building. A school would almost have to block off every entrance other than the one that had the machine to truly keep the students safe. And blocking off these entrances could create a huge line of students waiting to get into the building.

New Possible Changes for Higher Education

The University of Phoenix, the nation's largest online university, will begin offering a free, 3-week trial run for potential students, in which time they will be able to tell if they can handle online courses and at the difficulty level of the university. This program is in response to the federal government re-evaluating its regulation of for-profit colleges and universities, due to the amount of debt students are leaving with. The company that runs the University of Phoenix, Apollo Group Inc., thinks that the government’s re-vamping of colleges and universities is only going to lower the chances of lower-income students to be able to get into college. The university is going to have fewer people enrolling, which translates into less revenue.

This program ultimately comes from the fact that the government believes that universities are recruiting students that simply are not ready for, or cannot handle, the life of a college student. These students drop out without another, better-paying, job prospect, but still need to pay back their students loans. When students cannot pay back their loans, the loan goes into default and taxpayers end up paying for it. The government has decided that if students are leaving a college or university with too much debt, or if too few students repay their loans, it will limit the amount of federal financial aid a school receives, which makes it harder for lower-income students to attend. Because of the new changes to the school, Apollo Group expects the enrollment rate at the University of Phoenix to drop by 40%, which of course lowers the amount of revenue the school receives. Investors are worried this trend is going to continue in the world of higher education.

While I agree that students do leave college with too much debt, I do not think it is right for the government to without federal financial aid that is given to students. What will happen to lower-income students that try to get into a school like Wesleyan? Because in general, our students do leave college with quite a bit of debt, that means that if we are affected by this change, some of our financial aid could be getting cut. I know that if it were not for my financial aid, I could not afford to come here, so what will happen to the lower-income students? Are they expected to go to a cheaper school that may not have the academics that we have simply because they are lower-income? I sincerely hope the government realizes the problems with this new plan before it gets implemented at any other schools.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Purdue’s student achievement technology goes national

Students at Purdue University have developed an educational technology that they claim will "boost retention and success." The new tool, Course Signals, is intended to inform students of their grade status by using a color coded system that displays green when a student is passing, yellow when their grades are falling and red if they are failing. As of right now, Course Signals is becoming available through a partnership between Sunguard Higher Education, which is the same system as MyIWU. The cool thing about it is that the system will give tips and resources in whatever area may need improvement. The system seems like it is aimed towards college educators and students, but I don't feel like that is where it would be most effective. Yes, it would be nice to know grades in college, but I don't feel as though many professors would take the time to update something like this unless many students were in jeopardy. I believe this best place to utilize such a tool would be in a middle school or junior high setting, so students can learn to be accountable for themselves and learn to adjust and fix whatever the problems may be based on the suggestions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Google Reports on Government Requests and Censorship

Lately, Google has been receiving criticism from transparency and privacy advocates for complying with government requests to block Internet traffic to certain websites. In response, Google has created a new tool called the transparency report ( The report shows when and where traffic is blocked and annotates the blockages when possible. For example, the report shows that YouTube has been blocked in Iran since the presidential election in 2009. The report also features a map that shows every request made to Google by governments. I think that this tool could be extremely useful in the classroom. It provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the governments and societies of other countries within the framework of technology and freedom. Students could learn about current events, geography, constitutional law- all while discussing the benefits of technology and the opportunities it provides us.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Students say video lectures allow for more napping?

Liz Exo’s Blog Post:

This article describes the ins and outs of video lectures. InterCall did a survey on college students and in their results, over half said they “learn more effectively and improve their grades” when lectures are posted online. This seems to make sense; if students can review the material online again, they can better absorb the information. However, the online lectures have turned into an excuse for skipping class altogether. InterCall also reported that a majority of the students said they would only go to class that day if there was an exam scheduled or if they had to borrow notes from a classmate. This means that online lectures are allowing for students to be lazy by doing a minimal amount of work for their classes.
What really disturbs me about this trend is its implications for the future; if college students would rather take a nap to skip class, how are they going to fare in the real world when they have real jobs? I think this shows the immaturity of a lot of college students.
So, although I do think there are many advantages to the online lectures, I think we need to find a way to keep students in class and only using video lectures as a supplement to their classroom participation.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gates Foundation launches $20 million program to expand technology use

Liz Exo’s Blog Post:
This article focuses on the advancements in technology use that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plans to fund to help with college readiness and completion. The Gates Foundation really wants to help out with this cause because, although access to higher education has become more available, by age 30 fewer than half of Americans have earned a college degree. So by funding the use of up-to-date technology for postsecondary education, we can hopefully increase the amount of students that earn a college degree.
Here is the proposal that addresses some specific challenges that should be taken on in the postsecondary education world:
1. Increase the use of “blended learning models” (this means combining face-to-face learning with online learning)
2. Strengthen students’ engagement through interactive technology
3. Support the availability of high-quality open courseware
4. Help institutions, instructors, and students benefit from learning analytics, which can monitor student progress and customize personal support.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Integration of Web 2.0

This article focuses on schools that are beginning to accept Web 2.0 into not only their classrooms, but into the district in general. In a compendium, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) profiled 6 different school districts that are embracing Web 2.0. This compendium includes a profile of each school district, the ways in which Web 2.0 is incorporated and librarians’ takes on the importance of school media centers when it comes to implementing Web 2.0 into the school districts.

The article acknowledges that Web 2.0 does still have problems and that it is not perfect yet, but also points out that the benefits far outweigh the possible harms. The author also grants that the integration of Web 2.0 will differ greatly; some school districts will be totally open to Web 2.0 and will change lesson plans and teacher tools to incorporate it, and others will only incorporate what is easy for them to do. There will always be different levels of implementation.

I think the article makes a very valid point; some districts will want to change their methods of teaching and will want to integrate Web 2.0, but other districts will wish to stay with the white board and overhead projectors. A lot of school won’t have the financial resources to make the switch, or the teachers may not want to change their methods. I do, however, think that the districts that do incorporate more Web 2.0 will continue to grow and test scores will continue to rise; and the districts that don’t incorporate Web 2.0 will see the difference. Web 2.0 gives students another method of learning; Web 2.0 is hands-on in a way that has not been possible before and I think it can really help students who haven’t necessarily found their perfect learning style yet.

facebook for school?

This article proposes that facebook, or other social networking, if used appropriately, can be beneficial in a school setting. They suggest that by using a group filter or lists to restrict access to certain content of facebook, it could be used as a means of communication to organize group projects and other similar activities. They are adding features such as group chat and document sharing, similar to google docs. The question is whether this is a good idea or not. As of right now, most schools have filters that will not allow access to facebook at school. If the restriciton is lifted for educational purposes, how will that affect learning and the school environment?

From personal experience, I feel that by restricting something, it makes students want it more. I think lifting the ban on it all together might make this less of a problem. I remember in high school people finding proxy sites in order to get around the firewall so that they could use facebook, but it was typically for school related purposes like getting word out about a game or extracurricular event, or trying to track someone down for information for the yearbook. More and more society in general is using facebook to organize things such as events. It's an easy way to get word out about extra-curricular activities for people still in school, but maybe not so much for curriculum based usage. I do feel that there maybe should be some sort of facebook tutorial or something about internet safety presented in classes, because, as much as educators don't want to admit, things like facebook are part of our culture and society and most people don't really know how to use it correctly. Only five percent of facebook users actually take advantage of the privacy and safety controls, which is a very minute number when one thinks about it. The executive director for the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use "From [an online] safety perspective, I think this is really helpful, because it will allow young people to set up groups based on degrees of trust,” said Willard. “[But] there are other Web 2.0 platforms that I think are far more geared for effective educational use. To my knowledge, Facebook does not have a team of educational professionals who are working with [the web site] to design specific educational products.” Which is why I feel that facebook should be allowed in high school, but maybe only after school for extracurriculars rather than classroom related things. I still think google apps and other similar, free internet sites would be better suited for that purpose.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Technology access law helps those with special education needs

This article described a new law that will give Americans with disabilities better access to critical technologies. Personally, I found this interesting because a close family member of mine is handicapped. Oftentimes, new pieces of technology can be overwhelming and confusing for him to navigate and understand. I would be very grateful if companies could create software and devices that are more user friendly.
Especially as a future educator, I am saddened to know that a lot of technologies are literally inaccessible to so many people. I'm actually surprised that more hasn't been done up until this point with technology for disabled people. Technology can be a great asset in the classroom to people who may not always be able to do the same things as the rest of the students. For example, a student who has difficulties speaking can use a keyboard projected onto a screen to convey his or her ideas to a classroom and therefore can be a very active part of class conversations.
Overall, I am excited to see the changes that will be taking place in the technological world to make devices more accessible not only for the disabled, but for everyone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Online Privacy Education

This article focuses on the Rutgers University tragedy and asks the question: Do we need to provide more online privacy education to students? A student, Tyler Clementi, was filmed by his roommate and one of the roommate's friends without his knowledge or consent, and a video of Clementi having sex was posted on the internet. A few days after the video was posted, he committed suicide.
This incident is causing leaders on college campuses nation-wide to consider making online privacy education necessary for incoming students. I personally think this is a great idea. I don't know how many people realize that even if you delete a Facebook comment or a Tweet, it doesn't matter. Someone, somewhere probably saw it the second that person posted it. Just because someone thinks a phrase is harmless, or an act is a joke or that it's just between friends, as soon as it is on the web, anyone can see it. I think it is really important for students to know things like that. Even if most students know this information, a lot don't. I'm sure the roommate who posted the video never realized that people all over the world would be - or could be - looking at his Twitter account page or his Facebook wall, but they are. Posting one video, or making one comment can literally change a person's life. It definitely has changed the lives of the students at Rutgers University.

SmartBoard Response

I am very glad we worked with SmartBoard in this class. I was not familiar with SmartBoard when we started, because at my high school we were still using overhead projectors in every classroom.

I feel that this technology is in the beginning stages and that it will keep getting better and be easier to use and better to teach with. SmartBoard has the wonderful ability to cater to different learning styles at once because of the combination of visual, auditory and hands-on aspects of the software. I was always really lucky in that I am generally an auditory learner, but most of my friends are visual learners. The fact that SmartBoard can include videos, pictures, and even demonstrations can really help visual learners whereas sometimes a plain white board or an overhead projector just aren’t good enough.

Even though this technology is fantastic, there are always downsides. For me, the main downside was the difficulty I had including multimedia in my project. I am not very good with computers, so I had to make a lot of phone calls when I couldn’t transfer a YouTube video into a flash file or into just an audio clip. Fortunately, I have friends that are good with technology, but some people may not have those resources. Also, when my file got too large, my computer would either freeze or totally shut down when I was trying to transfer my file onto my flash drive.

Overall however, I think this is a great new piece of technology that is only going to get better. This is potentially the beginning of a new era in education, in which we can cater to all learning styles at once.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

College Yearbook Collections Go Digital

Making old yearbooks and course catalogs available online is a truly excellent idea. It makes information about the universities much more accessible from an academic standpoint as well as being a great way to preserve memories. If primary sources aren't digitized, they are only available to a very limited number of people at the university. They're usually kept in private collections, and very few people know where to go to access them, or that they even can. In high school, I was on the yearbook staff and one of the coolest things we got to do was to look through the old books, and use them as resources. If you don't have a book available, you can't do that. Last semester my roommate was in a course about the Black Jazz Age and one of their assignments was to write as though they were a person living during that time period. She chose to be a student, but had to jump through numerous hoops to try and track down information about schools during that time. Having resources like yearbooks and course books available would have made it easier then trying to track down phone numbers and send e-mails to get said information; and could even make assignments like that feasible and much easier to achieve with younger students. It could make for a very fun lesson.

Smartboard free write response

Smartboard software is an excellent teaching tool, when it works. I was really excited to learn about all of the interactive features that are already included within the program. I didn’t realize there was quite so much just available right there at your fingertips. The number of tools and interactive activities that you can just plug stuff into was great. It was also fun trying to find online resources that could be fun to do “hands on” by literally clicking on the Smartboard. I think the number of multimedia components that can be used and taken advantage of on a Smartboard is great, but utilizing all of those was quite the feat. I had a number of problems, I feel like it may have been because I tried to include too many elements. I had the whole file wipe out on me at one point, which was really discouraging, but I guess that’s a price to pay when working with technology. On the plus side, the internet is a really great resource for trouble-shooting. It’s very likely that others have had the same problem as you, granted it took me three or so hours to fix one of my problems trying different things, but I was still able to.

Before starting this whole unit, I was a little concerned that smartboards wouldn’t lend themselves very well to teaching subjects like math or music. I kind of just thought it was a fancy, interactive version of power point, and I’d never seen a math or music presentation before so I was really worried. To my surprise it actually worked out quite nicely. Liz’s presentation included a lot of the same ways we learned to conquer those subject areas hands on, but by using technology. Instead of trying to keep track of a hundred small coins, you can do it all on the smartboard etc. As far as music, being able to used sound clips with images is a lot cheaper than having actual instruments to demonstrate. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to have each child try a virtual piano keyboard than to get each student one etc.

Overall, I think smartboard would be a great asset to every classroom. In the long run, the benefits outway the initial costs, I’d say.

Do students need more online privacy education?

I think that online privacy education is something that should be used in every school. It obviously become a huge problem in colleges because of the sexual videos and images being posted. However, I'm becoming concerned for middle and elementary schools having similar problems. In reality, many children are engaging in sexual activity at younger ages. Without proper education, they could easily disclose this same personal information online which could result in the same tragedies that have been prevalent among college campuses. Besides posting inappropriate videos and pictures, online bullying has become a great concern over the past several years. If we are to incorporate e-mail, blogs and other types of online technology in the classroom, we must ensure that our students are properly educated in online conduct.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Smartboard Project Wrap-up (Liz Exo)

Before this project, I was not really familiar with smartboard, other than having heard about the basics uses of it. To me, it just seemed like a more expensive whiteboard. But after doing the project and learning about the endless tools and applications, I've realized that interactive whiteboards are a very efficient way to teach. I really like how online videos can be linked onto the slides,and I think that there are so many interactive/multimedia options available for the teachers to use within their lessons. Not only does it have so many options, but I also really like how it is such an interactive experience for the students themselves- nothing gets students more interested in learning than using the "coolest" and latest technology!
Overall, I think that interactive whiteboard technology is the future of education, and educators should not hesitate to learn the many uses it has to offer.

Notebook Project Wrap- Up

Overall, I have really enjoyed learning to use the notebook software. I like creating these types of presentations because I can be really creative and incorporate many tools that are useful. Prior to this course, I could not have imagined all of the things that can be done on smartboards. For example, the amount of games and activities that already come with the software are truly outstanding. I'm glad that I was able to use videos to demonstrate the ideas I was talking about.
After watching everyone else present their projects, I have gained insight into other tools that I could have used in different ways. In the future I would like to use more of the screen shade and side-by-side screen functions so that students can be doing more than one thing at once and can reference previous slides to help them with an activity. I'm excited to learn about more types of technology and the tools that are available online as resources in the classroom. Prior to this project, I would have never imagined using Panoramio or artPad in a formal presentation.
I'm frustrated, however, with the amount of problems that I encountered while trying to create my project. The combination of notebook and my mac caused the program to shut down and lose my work multiple times. At least I am now fully aware of how these problems can be detrimental when trying to use new technologies.
Overall, I think that I will use the smartboard quite frequently in my future classroom.

Smart Notebook Project Reflection

I'm really glad that we did a project on the SmartBoard software because I think it will be extremely useful and relevant in my future as a teacher. This project not only allowed us an opportunity to practice using the software, but also made me aware of the huge range of resources available on SmartNotebook. I had no idea that there were so many templates and activities at our disposal. It really made me think about how kids will learn the best during a lesson, and I think that it is through interactive activities, which the SmartBoard can provide. There were some technological challenges throughout this project, but they provided opportunities to brainstorm solutions and discover alternate ways of doing things. I think that the time spent on this project will make me more likely to use the SmartBoard in my future classroom and more adept at doing so.

Social media blackout eye-opening, “annoying”

Liz Exo’s Blog Post:
Recently Harrisburg University banned access to any and all social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, AOL…etc.) on the school’s network for an entire week. It was meant to serve as a reminder to students to see just how much they are hooked on these websites and how much time they spend on them during class or instead of focusing on academics.

The point of this experiment was not to show that Facebook or Twitter has a large impact of student grades (because research has shown that it really does not affect grades), but rather to make students more aware of how it distracts them during class. Many college professors have noticed that in lecture classes students just log in to facebook and ignore the lecture.

After the week ended, students reported that the ban was “annoying,” and students still found ways around the ban (using private networks or blackberry phones to log onto facebook). The article also leaves us with something important to think about… should the students’ bad reactions to the ban warn us about how students will adjust in the workplace?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Schools still conflicted over Web 2.0 tools

This article discusses the use of Web 2.0 tools, such as blogging, social networking, and collaborative authoring software, in classrooms. While some schools are working to adopt these technologies, many schools and many individual teachers are resisting.The principal investigator for the Consortium on School Networking (CoSN) says that one main reason for that resistance is that teachers have to cede some control and let students explore their own learning, which can be very difficult. He also points out that many Web 2.0 tools do not fit neatly into established classroom practices. Rather, teachers must start to think differently about learning and the roles of teachers and students, which is a huge challenge. While the usefulness of Web 2.0 tools in actually teaching content can be fairly debated, the point that I find unquestionable is that kids need to be taught in an environment that is "in tune with the world in which they live," which now includes vast amounts of technology. If school is completely irrelevant to students' lives, they will either lose interest in school or be unprepared for the real world.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Children like eBooks, Parents? Not so Much…

Liz Exo’s Blog Post:

Are eBooks the next new thing in education? This article poses a few new thoughts to think about as an educator. Some tend to think that these new electronic readers will make reading more “fun” for students, and that they will be prompted to read more, simply for enjoyment. Since reading “for fun” has declined in its popularity as a pastime, technology may be the way to spark more life back into this traditional hobby. If I were a younger kid, I think that reading would be much more appealing on a iPad or a Kindle, just because it’s something new.
However, parents do not really agree with this new trend. Studies show that only a small minority (6 percent) actually owns an electronic reader, and 76 percent do not plan on buying one. So what makes this such a fun and exciting thing for younger generations, but not for adults?
I personally think it is a generational thing. Older generations are not as open to the latest technologies simply because they have not been brought up with as much of it as younger generations have. So, the moral of the story is; if we can use this technology to get younger generations back into reading, we should really try to implement these eBooks into the world of education.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Video Lectures

This article discussed the increasing availability of video lectures, as opposed to live lectures, on college campuses. At first, the concept seemed useful and appealing. One of the main points was that working students could schedule themselves for longer hours and watch the lectures at a time that was convenient for them. Also, if students needed more time to take notes or missed part of an explanation, they could simply rewind the video and watch it again, rather than being left in dust. Students also reported that they got better grades when they had access to video lectures, specifically because they could use them to study for tests. However, as I kept reading, I realized that there are many negatives to video lectures as well. Students reported enjoying video lectures because they didn't have to wake up early, could wear their pajamas 'in class' and could take more naps during the day. While that may sound appealing, it does students a disservice as they will be ill-prepared for the real world and become increasingly self-indulgent. Also, students miss out on the opportunity to ask teachers questions and interact with them, as well as their classmates. Overall, this issue is still a tossup for me. I think responsible students could definitely benefit from the availability of video lectures. However, I also think that it could actually take away from the learning experience for other students.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What May Be "The Best College Class Ever"

The University of Florida has a very controversial class on its campus at the moment. The students play StarCraft, a popular computer game, for course credit. The class' instructor, Poling, says that the video game helps develop students' "on-the-go decision making skills, resource management skills, and penchant to analyze ever-changing scenarios." Students will not only have to play the game themselves, they also go through other classmates' plays anid determine which decisions were intelligent and which skills need to be developed more thoroughly. Poling's class also requires group work and written assignments.
Advocates of technology-based education are hoping that Poling's class will change the perceptions of these types of classes. If his class has the correct ratio of academic challenge to gaming, technology-based classes could become more accepted in the academic community.
While I understand that this class is more than just playing a computer game, I have a little trouble viewing it as a "real" college course. I do not see how a class where one plays a computer game and assesses others' gameplay can be on par with history classes or calculus. I think that bringing more technology into classes is almost always a good thing, but I do not think that going as far as centering a course around a computer game is where our technological advancements should be headed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gearing Up for the New School Year

I am really glad I read this article because it shows how technology can be used in a really practical and low-budget way. The teacher who wrote the article explains that this year he is adopting the mantra "Get Teched Up!" and will be integrating technology into his classroom in new ways. He plans on scanning all of his curriculum materials to create pdf files, creating a website that will be used for posting homework and other assignments, and using a ceiling-mounted projector (though not an interactive white board). The fact is that not all schools have the resources to give each teacher a Smartboard or to hand out laptops or ipads for students to use. That doesn't mean, however, that teachers won't be able to use technology to benefit the kids. This article discusses free or inexpensive ways that teachers can use technology, which may end up being as useful and practical, if not more so, than knowing how to use fancy and expensive technologies.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Story behind a Wikipedia Entry

Liz Exo’s Blog Post:

I was really interested to read this article for many reasons; first of all, Wikipedia seems to be under such a hot debate in the world of education. As a student, I find Wikipedia to be useful when researching basic information about topics that are unfamiliar to me. It’s a great place to start, in my opinion. However, throughout high school all of my teachers have strictly denied Wikipedia as a credible source, saying that anyone can add information to the pages. While this is true that anyone can edit a Wikipedia entry, there is a story behind it.

In the article the author says that the ability to continually edit Wikipedia entries is very beneficial. From a historical perspective, it is really important that we document what everyone has written about a certain topic. For example, the author writes about the Iraq War Wikipedia entry, and how all of the edits have been documented in a series of books. This means we have everything that was written about the war in a physical copy. This allows us to look back into history to get the whole picture, as opposed to history textbooks that sometimes just give one side of the story. So overall, I think Wikipedia is changing the way we document our history, and it’s for the better.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spell-check use on writing exam prompts debate

I found this article on eschoolnews, and was completely baffled by the concept. The Oregon Department of Education has made a decision that allows students to use spell-check for an online version of their standardized tests. Apparently, these tests place a heavy focus on punctuation, capitalization and other elements of writing that are easily corrected by spell-check. Also, in order to make this fair, students who are taking the taking the paper test will be allowed to use a dictionary to fix their errors.
I feel as though this is a completely ineffective decision and will prove to be more of a detriment to student progress than an aide. Though we live in an age where technology is used in everyday life, it is still necessary to understand the fundamental components of writing. Additionally, this creates an unfair discrepancy between those taking the test online and those taking the paper version. Though a dictionary can be helpful, it will not recognize errors for the students as a spell-check program would. In other words, the student would have to know that the word is spelt wrong in order to look it up. In my opinion, this will create an array of completely unreliable test scores.
Technology can be very helpful in the classroom and is now necessary for students to use. However, applying technology to standardized testing in this way will not help to demonstrate anything that the student knows. Instead using spell check on these tests will simply show that they student understands how to use the spell-check function on the computer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Twitter Article: Welcome back to school "reform"

This entire article is about what happened this summer with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Race to the Top intiative. The author blogs regularly, and this article is from one of her blogs; she took the summer off, so this post is mainly her catching up on what happened.
She makes it very clear that she disagrees with these intiatives, stating that teachers are losing the chance to teach what they find to be important and only being able to teach those areas that will help their students score satisfactorily on the state achievement tests. I completely agree with her; I find it ludicrous that teachers are being evaluated on their students' ability to be good test-takers. It is not fair that schools are having their budgets cut and teachers are being placed on probation because they are not teaching to the test. I wish there was a way to evaluate teachers in an effective manner without relying on test scores. Standardized tests can only prove so much...
The author also discusses the ways certain schools and even the government is handling the results of the standardized tests. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan rewarded the Los Angeles Times for listing in the newspaper names and pictures of teachers they deemed inadequate. Furthermore, major civil rights groups issued a statement discussing their opposition to NCLB and Race to the Top and scheduled a press briefing, but were "persuaded" by Duncan to cancel the briefing and release the statement without incident.
I completely agree with Ravitch in that NCLB and Race to the Top are hurting our schools rather than helping. One can only hope that as schools fail to meet the government's expectations, Secretary Duncan and President Obama re-think their methods of "helping."

It's Elementary - Chapter Twelve

Two of my favorite resources that recently become available to educators and students are E-mail and Blogging. In this age of technology, students are constantly using the computer in a variety of ways. Oftentimes, students are using technologies such as E-mail and blogging in their personal lives anyways. I feel as though these two can be a powerful tool in keeping students engaged in their schoolwork.
Oftentimes, in high school, I wished that we had access to an E-mail account that connected us to our teachers and fellow students. Oftentimes, there was an instance where I had a brief question about an assignment while I was working on it at home that could have been easily resolved through a quick E-mail response. I believe that using E-mail has great potential for collaborative learning. As the text mentions, E-mail can be used to discuss books or class topics. Also, the concept of using E-mail to communicate with another class is a modern take on the traditional 'pen-pal'. However, using E-mail can immensely speed up this process and allow students to get immediate response from their peers. This can build strong connections and and relationships that are invaluable to our students.
Through my college career, I have found that blogging can be extremely helpful in the sharing of information between students. Multiple courses at IWU have allowed me to practice this tool. Like E-mail, I have found that this can be a quick way to share information with my peers.
However, both of these technologies have a downside. Teachers must monitor to ensure that students are not making inappropriate comments. Especially in a time where online bullying is quite prevalent, we must protect our students from hurtful comments.
Overall, if monitored properly, I feel as though E-mail, blogging and other online resources will completely change the way that students and teachers interact and learn.

It's Elementary - Chapter Seven

This chapter brought up ideas that I had never considered in relation to word processing. Personally, I prefer writing my ideas with a pencil and paper before I type an assignment into a word document. However, Chapter 7 enforced the benefits of using word processing with students. I began to realize how poor spelling students can become overwhelmed an 'bogged down' trying to spell correctly and look for their errors that they actually accomplish very little work. Also word processing can help students to find alternatives for words that are continuously repeated throughout the assignment.
Most importantly, my attention was brought to the fact that using word processing can 'level the field' for evaluating writing. Oftentimes, we can pass judgment on a student's work based on their handwriting without even realizing we are doing so. When a student has very messy and illegible handwriting, teachers will overlook the quality of the content that they have written. On the other hand, when a student has very neat handwriting, it is easy to overlook errors and give a good grade simply because the page looks more appealing. In this respect, using word processing can be very beneficial to our students success.

Monday, September 13, 2010

CH 12 (Elem)

Liz Exo's Blog Post

This chapter really opened my eyes to the many ways that we can incorporate the internet into classroom learning, even with younger children. Since I plan to be a teacher around the first grade or kindergarten level, I would need some resources that are easy to use with younger children. I think is a great website that can engage pre-reading students and get them on the track to becoming readers. I also like that it has good viusal learning techniques where students can get immediate feedback and can learn the information by seeing it in more concrete forms, rather than hearing it.

I also thought that the email idea was great! It's like a pen pal system, but online. It sounds so much easier and efficient to use email to connect with other students from basically anywhere in the world. I think students would be interested in using this tool, and since the correspondence is a lot quicker, younger students don't have to wait weeks to get another letter back. Not to mention that you can use email correspondence to learn about different cultures from students across the globe!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

El Ed Ch 12

I found chapter 12 very interesting and informative. The websites given all seem to be great resources and it really showed me that the Internet holds perhaps even more educational potential than I realized. However, it is true that "[a]s students gain experience with the Internet... teachers need to recognize that even elementary students now need skills in efficient and effective searching, evaluating sources for bias and authority, and ethics" (Hamilton, 12). When I was in elementary school, the computer class teacher taught us everything that we needed to know about the computers, which really just included typing, and the librarian taught us about researching and finding sources. Today's elementary students need to combine those two lessons, and in many cases, it needs to be taught by their classroom teaches, as Hamilton suggests. At first, that thought was a little overwhelming for me, since I haven't been formally trained in information literacy or teaching information literacy. But I looked at the website that the book offered in that section and found it extremely useful. I loved the graphic organizer that they used to categorize the lesson plans. It would make it very easy to find a lesson that teaches the exact skill your students need. Also, I was pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of lesson plans available.
The other part of chapter 12 that stood out to me was the idea of using to teach a lesson, thus making the internet more relevant to the lives of the students, making maps more accessible, and teaching the use of a website that the students will no doubt use in the future. This idea could be used for lessons in many different subjects. For math, students could calculate distances and travel time between various locations; for social studies, students could learn general map skills and geography; for language arts, students could write a story based on their maps; for art, students could draw or paint maps of their own. I think it would be really valuable to use in several different subjects in order to show students how the subjects can be connected.

(I liked the title to the information literacy lesson page because it moved a little bit from the link the book provided.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

El Ed Chapter 12

I took a look at quite a few of the websites mentioned in the reading, and I'd have to say I was pretty impressed. All of them offered different forms of learning the lessons, and all of them were very interactive and fun. This book is a little old, so some of the sites have even more to offer now then when the book was published, which is great. I really like that these can be used as extra practice at home, or an assignment to supplement coursework in school. The student gets the instant feedback they crave and they're great study tools.

As far as teaching internet safety, I much preferred the cybersmart website ( to the netsmartz workshop. I found it more resourceful and easier to navigate. It also had lesson plans with activity sheets and information on which goals and standards are being addressed based on the national standards.

I work with websites a lot for my art major and often have the problem of not being able to access my bookmarks in class etc. The websites that allow you to keep track and save them are a really great resource for teachers and students alike.

I’m also a big fan of the use of e-mailing and web chatting with other students. When I was in 7th grade, we did a whole project in which we communicated with students from Azerbaijan via e-mail in order to learn about their culture, and vice versa. It was really cool and one of the things that stuck with me the most from that class. The only real issue in this is finding a contact for this to work as you don’t want your students communicating with completely random people. I’m fully behind the utilization of these resources, but it is something that will have to be monitored very closely.

Blog Post: Ch 11 (elem)

Liz Exo's

This chapter was really informative to me, and I really liked how the chapter gave a lot of specific examples as to what to use databases and spreadsheets for. It's also really helpful and convenient that under each example they give the grade levels that could appropriately use these ideas. I especially like the idea of creating an acrostic on a spreadsheet. It may take me some time to figure it out, but I think it would be a great way to incorporate technology into the Language Arts/Writing portion on the school day.

I also really enjoyed the idea of using spreadsheets to graph weather changes for younger students to show the changes in weather. This is a pretty abstract concept for younger students, and by graphing the temperatures, students can physically see how it changes with the seasons. I just think this was a really neat example of how we, as future educators, can incorporate technology into everyday lessons.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ch. 8 - Reinforcing Effort

The reinforcing effort chapter is all about teaching students that effort is a key ingredient in success. The act of reinforcing effort helps students to comprehend that there is a relationship between the two.

There are a few easy methods to help students see this correlation. Teachers can make a rubric showing what they believe to be "good" to "unacceptable" effort in any category that they believe to be important in classroom success. They can then give the students blank spreadsheets so they can rate themselves. After they have graded themselves, the students can highlight the Total Effort and Grade cells and create a new graph in which they can see the coorelation between the effort they expel and the grades they receive. Another example the authors gave was a math teacher who used his unit on graphing to help his students see that in the relationship of effort and grades, when one works harder, his grade is generally higher than when one doesn't work as hard.

It is also imperative to show students success stories of older or past students. When students see that their peers have overcome the same problems they have now, it is easier for them to believe they can succeed, too. Rather than just telling your students of success stories, there could be a section on the school website where teachers submit stories of their students. Teachers can also send out surveys to older students asking about how they overcame difficulties by hard work; teachers can then show their younger students the results of the survey.

Until reading this chapter, I never thought about needing to teach students that effort is necessary; it was always so obvious to me. But just because something was obvious to me, that does not mean that every student grows up with parents teaching them that hard work is the only way to achievement. I was lucky in that my parents instilled a great work ethic in me; but I now see that as teachers, we may have to do the same for our students. Using other students' success can be useful; instead of students just assuming, "Well, I'm a girl so I can't be good at math" or paying attention to other stereotypes, if a younger girl hears the story of a girl going to State for math, the younger girl may begin trying a little harder in math class. I also love the idea of using graphs and charts to show students the coorelation between working hard and achieving what they are striving for. As students grow older, this will probably be the most effective method for teaching students what hard work can do. When students see their grades raising as they put in more effort, that is probably a much more profound realization that simply hearing about a success story of another student.

Using Spreadsheets- El Ed Chapter 11

When I was younger, I definitely got frustrated when trying to play with word art or the shapes on Word when trying to create some sort of web or timeline or just creative text because it was impossible to get things lined up just so. I never thought to try and do it on a spreadsheet, it makes so much sense. Everything gets perfectly aligned and there's no struggle getting everything to print from one page because it will pretty much do it for you because multiple pages are accessed at one time, which is awesome.

We definitely took advantage of using spreadsheets for math related topics like graphing and money management, but this really broadens what can be done over all the subjects.

Friday, September 3, 2010

El Ed Chapter 11

I really liked some of the ideas in this chapter. I think teachers often assume that data bases and spreadsheets are too complex for elementary school students, but this chapter offers some really great uses for them in the classroom. I think my favorite idea is the webbing and timeline. As a middle school and even high school student I struggled to create neat and professional looking timelines in Microsoft Word, which I found nearly impossible. It never even occurred to me to try using Excel or another spreadsheet program. If I had the background knowledge of those programs from elementary school, it would have been very helpful. I also loved the ideas for graphing, especially the example about graphing genres of books read. What I like about that is that it combines the technology of the spreadsheet, the mathematical concept of graphing, and reading, which is associated with language arts. I think it is really important to show students that all of those areas are connected.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

GPS keeps track of Palos Hts. School bus riders

Liz Exo’s Blog Post:

If the world of education could implement technology to do anything, the GPS tracker is the best idea ever. The article describes how certain Illinois school districts are putting tiny GPS cards on each student’s backpack, and this chip can track when and where the student gets on and off the bus each day. Coming from a family with very cautious parents, I can immediately see how much less stress parents would have to deal with in regards to letting their children take the bus to and from school. I am absolutely all for this type of technology because it gives everyone involved the peace of mind that their children/students are getting where they need to be in a very effective and safe manner. Although this technology is expensive- costing one district $16,000 for 10 buses- I think it is totally worth it. Safety should be of the utmost importance, as I am sure most people would agree.