Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How Schools are Putting the IPad to Work

Liz Exo’s Blog post:

I read the article about schools, mainly universities that are implementing IPads into the school. In the article the author describes the ways in which the IPads are being put to use. First off, they are being used as recruiting tools to get prospective students to go to their university. The students have a choice of purchasing a laptop or an IPad, which is about half the cost. Also, IPads are being used to increase classroom participation. There is an application on the IPad that allows for the teacher to ask the students quick true/false questions or even short answer questions throughout the hour, so that students that normally don’t participate can be held accountable. Other advantages to the IPad are that it can take the place of a traditional textbook, and that it is less distracting than a computer with internet.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for new technology in the classroom, but I am a bit wary about the idea of the IPad completely taking over the classroom. Personally, the idea of the IPad replacing textbooks makes me nervous. For some reason, I am not as comfortable reading online as I am reading through a textbook. I don’t seem to concentrate as much, and I think being able to write in the book helps me take in the information more easily. Also, I wonder where the funding for all of these IPads is coming from? Personally, I think that money could be used for education in other ways that buying the latest technology.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Secondary Ed Sections

I found this reading to be interesting and very useful. There were tools I had never even heard of mentioned in the reading, such as the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Scale, which is a really helpful tool to develop writing skills. I also had no idea that grading software exists; with this software, there is no need for a teacher or TA to do any grading whatsoever. The teacher can focus on lesson plans more than would be possible if he was trying to grade 100 papers as well as get the plans completed.

The reading also increased my knowledge in the areas of classroom response systems and Wikis. I have seen these before, but only because the Office of Residential Life uses a classroom response system during spring training and as RAs, we use Wikis to make any reports to ORL.

There was also valuable information on note-taking and writing tools for students mentioned in the reading. I never would have thought about using the Track Changes tool in Microsoft Word to help students learn to ignore unnecessary information by simply striking it out with this tool. Using PowerPoint, a student can make his own combination notes, which can help a visual learner to connect photos to the information he needs to learn. The AutoSummarize tool is also beneficial when a student is writing a paper because he can use the tool to ensure that he is, in fact, making his point as he believes he is.

I had no idea about most of the technology the reading discussed, and had it not been for IWU, I would have known even less. It is really important for more shools to start using technology in different ways. It is not fair that certain students have access to more technology, while other school districts are still simply writing on white boards and chalkboards.

E-Books make readers more social

This article attempts to make the point that by reading an e-book (such as the Amazon Kindle or the iPad), people who are reading in public are now more approachable. The author states that people reading in public often seem unapproachable or "too busy to talk." He makes the point that when people are reading e-books rather than paper books, one might be more apt to approach them and engage them in conversation.

I do not however, necesssarily agree with this statement. Whether someone is reading a paper book or has an e-book in front of them, the majority of people are not going to interrupt that person. In our society, interrupting someone is considered very rude -- no matter what he happens to be holding.

The author also attempts to prove that e-books are removing the stigma of reading in public and seeming to be a "loner." I do not see a difference in reading a book or an e-book; either way, one is reading. I did not even realize there was a stigma of reading in public, but a dermatologist the author interviewed stated that "there may have once been a slight stigma about people reading alone, but I think that it no longer exists because of the advancement of our current technology." I do not understand how technology could simply remove a stigma of reading alone in public; even with a Kindle or the iPad, one is still reading in public.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

El Ed Chapters 7 & 8

I found these chapters very interesting and informative because they propose ways of using word processing in the classroom that are very different from my own experience in elementary school. In fourth grade, I did the Mavis Beacon typing class, but other than that, my only memory of using word processing was to type up pre-written reports at home. Word processing was not regularly used the classroom.
In these chapters, however, the author presents many ways to integrate word processing into the regular language arts, math, and social studies curricula, which I think is very useful. I especially like the Virtual Email activity on page 97. When I was in elementary school, we did a similar activity in which we wrote letters to historical figures. That was a very useful activity because we not only researched the historical figure and displayed our knowledge, but also practiced social activism by writing the letters and were able to hone the real life skill of letter writing in the process. I think it is fantastic that this exercise is given a tech-savvy makeover in this chapter. The children in classrooms today will most likely write more emails than letters in their adult lives, so practicing email conventions is extremely important.
I also appreciate the point the author makes about children being able to edit and embellish more easily when using word processing. Even as a college student, that is very important to me. I always type my assignments rather than handwriting them because it is easier for me to get my thoughts down then rearrange them, explain them, and correct them using a computer. I think that teaching students that skill at an earlier age will definitely be to their advantage.

Virtual Schools

This article discusses virtual schools in Oregon. While only 1% of students in Oregon are currently enrolled in an online public school, there has been much debate in the state over the place of these schools among the already existing brick-and-mortar public schools. The article explains that virtual schools "employ teachers who provide lessons online using electronic documents, videos, e-mail, telephones and Web cameras." This sounds like the epitome of using technology outside of the classroom, but members of the Oregon Board of Education worry that this development could be harmful to the existing schools because their funding is based on enrollment, so if too many children opt to enroll online, schools will lose funding. So, the questions they have been debating are whether or not they should cap the number of students that can choose that option, how the virtual schools should be funded, and how the virtual schools should be managed for quality. I, however, am stuck on the question of whether or not it can actually be beneficial for individual students to attend online schools. Maybe I'm just being old fashioned, but I feel like kids need daily interaction with people other than their families in order to develop socially. Even most homeschooled children interact with other kids ad adults through park district programs, church events, or academic clubs. Will that be the case with students of virtual schools? Also, there will probably come a time when those students attend a real school, even if it's not until college. And at that point, I imagine the students would be unprepared to work with others in a classroom, share a professor's attention, or use a regular textbook.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What’s more important: School buildings or the teachers who fill them

While browsing eSchool News yesterday, I came across this article. Since reading, I have been continuously thinking about the impact that this will have on students. The article describes how many school districts, including one particular school in Los Angeles, are beginning to build new extremely extravagant and high-tech school buildings. These multi-million dollar facilities feature commodities such as "atriums, orchestra-pit auditoriums, food courts, even bamboo nooks". I was very surprised to discover that amenities such as wireless internet, and high-tech systems are becoming normal in these schools.

Though all of these features may sound exciting, useful and 'cool', they are coming at a very high cost. The article states that, "[in our country] Nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed". As a future educator, I find this information quite alarming.

In multiple school districts around my hometown, teachers are being laid off, art and athletic programs are being completely taken away, and the school years are actually being cut shorter to reduce costs. At the same time, these districts have elaborate plans in place for new 'state of the art' buildings.

After reading this article and comparing it to my own experiences, I have began to form many opinions and questions about the issue. I can't imagine that students are actually going to benefit MORE from a 'high-tech' building than they would from a highly effective teacher or extracurricular activities.
Though this whole course is about using technology as a key element to teach in the future, I feel as though a good teacher and experience in the arts, athletics or other clubs can be more helpful.

Obviously, technology is a great tool for teachers... is a fancy 'high tech' building REALLY better for a students success than an inspirational teacher?

Why not keep and hire more great teachers and encourage extracurriculars rather than a fancy school building?

Is a pretty building actually going to keep a student in school and help him/her succeed in life? ...I don't think so.

What do you think?

source used:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Reaching the Last Technology Holdouts at the Front of the Classroom"

I stumbled upon this article over the summer, and even though it's talking about college professors, I think the overall theme of the story is really pertinent to all levels of teaching. The article suggests that the lecture method really isn't working at the college level, for students that choose to be there, so why should it work for elementary or middle school students who have no choice in what they have to learn? It's becoming harder and harder to hold the attention of students and the ever-looming distraction of all the technology that's out there isn't helping. If incorporated into what they're learning, it'll be easier to engage students. The comparison of the doctor using old practices really hits the message home that teachers in general need to stay up to date on the latest practices and technologies. Would you want a doctor to prescribe something that was considered safe back in the 60s but has since been determined harmful? I didn't think so. So why should educators be any different? I completely agree that outdated teaching practices is basically malpractice in the fact that we're not preparing students for the ever-changing world of technology if, as teachers, we aren't prepared for it ourselves. I'm not saying that technology needs to be incorporated into everything, but straight lecturing is not effective because it only works well for students that are auditory learners.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Technology Integration

What do you think are the benefits and challenges in integrating technology in teaching?