Archive for 1.3 Instructional Strategies

EDTECH 506: White Space

The activity for white space clarified my vision of the course appearance. This portion of the assignment solidifies the main tenets of the activities, so I decided that keeping it simple and clean reinforces what my students are learning in the course’s printed materials and face to face skills practice. I allowed a generous amount of white space around the text to help the readers access the more “personally relevant” information (p. 274), and I placed the navigation buttons on opposing sides of the page to create a symmetrical appearance and help to balance the page (p. 275). Initially, I kept the circle that I had developed previously intact. My reviewer daughter suggested that I somehow emphasize the step I am on in the diagram, so I enlarged the yellow quadrant and agreed with her opinion. I will keep her change. I might also change the “Step 2 – Assessment” position to the center to further balance the white space.
Before:
ACEPAT1Click here for full size

After:
WhiteSpace Full SizeClick here for full size

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EDTECH506: Picture This

My adult learners are often fatigued when they come to my evening classes. Despite thier lack of energy, I need for them to be alert. To provide an energy boost and give them some mental stimulus, I choose to use patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme (p. 265). Not only does each color stimulate their senses, each color represents an aspect of pre-hospital care that few see. Red represents blood, blue represents courage, and white represents cleanliness or purity. I chose hues with contrasting values – the bright (high intensity) red and the deeper (lower intensity) blue. My assignment is a cardiac label that will be used to indicate blood flow, identify electrical impulse areas, and identify structures of the heart. For a representation of reality (p.254), I chose to use blue font to represent the unoxygenated blood returning from the peripheral systems. I then chose to use red to indicate oxygenated blood flow.
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance: lessons in visual literacy (2 ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill. Retrieved 2012

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EDTECH 506 – Natural Selection

There are many factors to providing critical prehospital care. EMTs must gain the skills necessary to quickly determine if a patient is in immediate need of advanced care. I wanted the design of the critical care page to be comprehensive, yet clean. As students enter their practical skills, they need to easily remember the information presented. There is a lot to remember in this section, so the design demands that a lot of information is concentrated in each section. I enhanced the text with contrasting colors for cohesiveness, but the sheer volume of text still needed something more to make the steps more concrete. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, I am seeking representative images to further solidify the different steps.
References
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. (Second.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Critical Care

There is a lot to remember in this section, so I concentrated a lot of information in one spot. In doing so, I also designed it to be concise and concrete with the white text dominating the field. The generous white space offsets the high contrast of the blue and red.

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EDTECH 506: CARP is not a fish

CARP design elements are used to better communicate a lesson or message through visual representation. Contrast. Alignment. Repetition. Proximity. Each of these elements impacts learning, and a good design will improve the course content. I chose grey-scale for my design, planning a contrast punch with black and white text and graphics. I chose the organized feel of rectangle shapes and symmetrical rows and columns they create, while using repetition to lighten the tense lines in the image. Each row a different color, but the proximity of clone like text boxes reveals the concepts therein are connected. In the end, I’m pleased with that decision feeling like I have met the first course goal – “to apply principles of visual literacy o the design of instructional messages.”

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EDTECH 506: The Shape of Things to Come

Sample of Unit page

Unit 3 – Bleeding Control and Shock Management


One of the first lessons I learned in elementary school was the use of shapes in art. Like many of my classmates, I happily drew triangles, circles, squares, and rectangles intermingled with lines of all lengths and thicknesses to represent happy families, houses, flowers, trees, and the bright shining sun. As time passed, I used ovals and more lines to practice the alphabet and numbers 0-9.

Shapes and lines continue to play an important part in my hobbies of photography and drawing. My eyes seek out and find shapes and patterns everywhere I look. This chapter has been by far a favorite as I gain new insight to some of the visual characteristics of shapes and how they communicate unity, emotions, or organization. I was intrigued by the examples Lohr sets forth in Figures 10-2 through 10-6 (pp. 251-255) and noted that I am usually drawn to those layouts that depict unity and those that separate and define. Therefore it was no surprise that I chose to use those elements in my own layout for my unit. I chose to use simple rectangles to organize the information on a standard computer display. Other units can be quickly accessed on the lower ribbon links. I like the way rectangles highlight and organize the information with clean lines. My use of color parallels the colors we use on our local EMS logo and ambulance. When my daughter pointed out that my page looked a little bit “cluttered” I added the broken circle in an attempt to unify the page elements and a solid line of a different color to separate and define the other units. I am pleased with the results, but knowing my penchant for revision, left the layers intact for future editing.

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EDTECH 504: Building a Framework for Lifelong Learning

I like to think of myself as a constructivist teacher, but state mandates, pressing schedules and demanding standards often cloud my purpose. I agree with Vygotsky, Bruner (to some extent), Maslow, and Gardner, but I find Piaget’s four stages of cogntive development (Leanord, 2007) rather confining in application. I am also a proponent of brain-based learning, and have spent years researching how our brains anaylyze, accomodate, and evaluate new information.
One way I expand students’ understanding is to make their thinking process visible. Students demonstrate different thinking processes by mapping their problem solving aloud or on paper. When they are learning new thinking operations, I provide scaffolds by utilizing process worksheets and cues. Exercising quality thinking and providing meaningful purpose motivates the students to improve their thinking and provides better cognitive skills to apply toward subject-matter learning, or the content of the lesson. To make sure I plan activities that develop quality thinking, and to better develop my constructivist teaching approach, I try to consistently practice reflective assessment. Students write in journals and think about the processes they used to gain a new skill. Unfortunately, this reflection is sporadic, and oftentimes is used as an afterthought to more objective forms of assessment.
I am happy to say that I have been commended for creating a secure community environment where students take thinking risks and accept the risks taken by their peers. Risk-taking is evident by the quality of interaction between me and my students, and between my students and their fellow classmates. I envision extending that level of secure classroom to promote the different intelligences within that community. Ideally, learning is concentrated on higher levels of thinking, such as understanding, analysis, application, and synthesis of ideas and skills. That learning is reinforced with the ability to practice reflective thinking.
At risk of contradicting Phillips position that I as a teacher “treat the curriculum of an educational institution as vehicle for furthering the socio-political interests and goals of a ruler or ruling class” (Phillips, 2009) besides development of quality thinking, I also plan situations for social interaction to take place and further develop communities of practice (Barab, 2000). The first element of interaction is the implementation of rules, or guidelines, with specific and reasonable consequences for breaking those rules to be applied consistently. Even after ten years of classroom experience, I find myself inconsistent in applying consequences for minor infractions. Once rules are established, I promote social interaction with active classroom discussion on controversial or value-based topics. For example, I posed to my seventh grade math class, “ethical standards are necessary in a school setting” and randomly divided the class in to two groups; one for pro, one for con. The groups had five minutes to research online and come up with an oral argument for their assigned position. Being able to argue for something one believes in is a skill; being able to argue for something one does not hold true is an art.
When the groups have completed the assignment the concept of ethics will not only have been learned, but experienced. At that point, I guided reflection of the groups as to what processes they put into practice to arrive at the level of learning they achieved. In the future, I would like to add a self-reflection on how the groups did in arriving at the level of the class as a whole, and determine what actions could be taken next time for even further learning.
As a teacher, I have the responsibility to provide experiences that scaffold future learning. Furthermore, I must be a reflective practitioner in order to keep growing. In my classroom, I expect my students to learn and to recognize different thinking processes to fall back on when they encounter an unfamiliar situation or problem. They will learn how to interact with others through good communication skills and respect for diversity, and learn to draw off each other’s strengths to complement individual weaknesses. They will develop self-esteem and take pride in their accomplishments. It is my goal to fulfill my teaching responsibilities and to motivate students to fulfill their learning responsibilities. My actions in planning, delivery, and assessment will be based on those aspects, and I will continue to strive for personal and professional development to achieve my goal. I would like to define education as that which is gained upon application, synthesis, and reflection of an experience. I have a duty to teach students how to inquire, think, and know – and then how to analyze, apply, synthesize and evaluate so that they, in turn, can contribute to organizational, social, and global values.

REFERENCES:
Barab, S., & Duffy, T. (2000). From Practice Fields to Communities of Practice. In Jonasson, D. & Land, S. (Ed.), Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (pp. 25-55). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrencw Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Leonard, K., Noh, E.K., & Orey, M. (2007). Learning Theories and Instructional Strategies. In M. K. Barbour & M. Orey (Eds.), The Foundations of Instructional Technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/itFoundations/
Phillips, D.C., “Philosophy of Education”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

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EDTECH 501: Technology Use Planning Overview

The National Educational Technology Plan (2010) offers a non-prescriptive means of achieving the goals set forth by our nation’s educational leaders. Using it as a referance point provides a common lens through which to view our own objectives and progress towards those goals. In our district, technology planning committee members print out key segments to research and discuss at committee meetings. This blog features the main categories within this post to define how technology planning, implementation, and evaluation impact instruction and student learning.
Innovate and ScaleTeaching: Our district is miniscule. With 57 students in our junior/senior high school, technology offers students a competitive education that would be unavailable without synchronous and asynchronous online learning. Teachers are isolated in their subject areas, teaching six different flavors of their content area daily. Thanks to technology, the days of one person spewing forth knowlege are gone. From cutting-edge industry practices to details of ancient museum pieces, content delivery is supplmented with the vast resources of the Internet that brings a world of knowledge and ideas into the classroom.
Prepare and Connect: I am part of a team of instructional technology leaders made up of teachers, administrators, and other stake holders. Currently we are in the midst of developing a three-year tech plan to replace the existing plan that has met its useful life. Our past technology plan was designed for five years, as the State of Idaho had requested at the time. We have found it to be insufficient to address our expanding use of technology, even though it was beneficial in guiding our newly formed district in the path we are currently taking (our district is in its fifth year).
Infrastructure: Access and Enable: Previous to working in education, I worked in business management. One of the mantras of the day was to think/plan/act/evaluate with the end in mind. I believe that guideline rings true today. Even though we are designing a written technology plan, it’s the structure of our organization’s mission and vision statements that drives the adjustments needed when a new route or detour presents itself.
Assessment: Measure What Matters: Our committee recognizes that the planning stage is ongoing and needs flexibility as technological advances continually change the educational landscape. Because of this elasticity, we believe our tech plan should be designed for not longer than three years, which is in agreement with See (1992). I also am in agreement with See’s comment that “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology.” Our committee strives to evaluate the effectiveness of current technological practices and endeavors to use technological and traditional methods to measure student achievement. The following example is how teachers in our dstrict have implemented student reponse pads, or “clickers.”
Productivity: Redesign and Transform After a committee determination that our district, teachers, and students would benefit from student response pads, we purchased a set for every classroom. The grant was written in such a manner that professional development for the integration of the devices was paramount to the technology. The first year, contracted trainers worked with teachers and teachers worked with one another redesigning their delivery and assessments to accomodate the devices. We experienced great success, with 75% of the teachers actively using their response pads and using the resulting data to steer their instruction. Students reported especially liking the instant feedback aspect of the systems. Three years later we have one teacher regularly using the response pads. What happened? Two key factors came into play resulting in technology without application: 1) administrative changes; 2) staff retirement, relocation, and replacing. The new staff does not have ownership in the decision, so they are reluctant to implement the devices because they do not see the added value. The unused clickers are waiting to shine, and Karen Roberts (1990) has provided me with 13 ways to bring them out of the storage closet and back into the hands of the students.
The National Education Plan (2010) and the articles provided at the National Center for Technology Planning have added insight and inspiration to the planning process that we are currently undertaking at our district.

Resources:
Robertson, K. (1990). PROMOTING TECHNOLOGY: 13 WAYS TO DO IT. Retrieved November 3, 2011, from National Center for Technology Planning: http://www.nctp.com/html/promoting_technology.cfm
See, J. (1992, May). Developing Effective Technology Plans. Retrieved November 8, 2011, from National Center for Technology Planning: http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm
U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2010). National Technology Plan 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2011, from ed.gov: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf

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EDTECH 501: Digital Equality?

Online learning seems to be the pathway to enlightenment for some and the pathway to, well….disenchantment for others. Still others may never know because they don’t have the opportunity to–or choose not to–pursue the experience. After spending several weeks trying to collaborate with my virtual team across time zones and amidst the normalcy of chaos at work and at home, I realized that online learning is far more difficult than face-to-face learning. This coming from a veteran digi-learner, no less, who lives in a society whose core values lie in industry and growth.  All this collaborating and near-instantaneous global publishing is made possible by technology that was unavailable to me after graduating from high school in the early 80’s. However, not knowing your peers and instructors impersonalizes the learning experience in a way that creates a digital divide of its own. 

The primary digital divide I noticed when researching this project is that of those who use technology and those who don’t (by choice or by circumstance is irrelevant). To what future are our digital natives (Prensky, 2001) embarking? What of our society’s values will they retain, and what values will they relinquish as the digital nature of information seeps into every aspect of their lives. Will they be more comfortable collaborating with virtual peers, or will they long for the person to person interaction that only a traditional course can offer?

After completing this assignment with four highly competent digi-partners, I am of the opinion that there is less a digital divide than a digital inequality. The inequality stems from those who know how to, and have a desire to, manipulate the myriad venues of information to gain new understanding and knowledge and those who mainly use the speed and accessibility for social pursuits.

Because I prefer balance, I felt that our final choice would address the needs of the inequality,  yet bridge the gap left by the digital divide.  Watch our VoiceThread presentation, and let me know what you think.

REFERENCES
Prensky, M. (2001, October 5). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrents. On the Horizon. University Press. Boston Retrieved September 25, 2011 from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

 

 

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EDTECH 541: Considering the Outcomes

Social networking, Cloud-based computing, mobile devices, and Internet access offer myriad opportunities for my students to explore math on a whole new level. Excitement builds as I evaluate web sites, develop the LMS, and plan the online activities for my hybrid Algebra class.

Unexpectedly, I hit a policy barricade, beyond that a Family Rights and Privacy Act and Childs Internet Protection Act (FERPA/CIPA funding compliance barrier, and then headlong into firewalls and filter walls. Anticipation turns into frustration. How I will cross these obstacles becomes part of my planning and preparation.

Knowing I will have to have administrative and Board approval, I consider what solutions I will offer to provide relevant standards-based learning opportunities for student success. I have learned from Robleyer and Doering (2010) that I can use an evaluation tool to predetermine how to navigate the Internet and safely bypass common problems.

I work in reverse order, determining what content is relevant to my course. The Cisco ASA firewall, ESET Anti-virus,  and WebSense internet filter work in tandem to protect our network and our users from the obvious risks of offensive subject matter, malware threats, privacy and financial compromise, or illegal activities, but sometimes they also prevent access to desirable or allowable sites. In response, I create a WebPortal which features the sites I have planned to use in my instruction. To avoid syntax errors, I carefully check the URLs one at a time to ensure they are functional. Using the URLs featured in the portal, I submit a whitelist to the filter.

One-third of my students have an IEP, one-third test within “proficient” levels, and the remaining third are “advanced.”  Meeting the diverse needs of this student mix is going to be challenging. Eric Lawson’s article in the March 28, 2011 Technology & Learning prompted a grant to purchase iPads for a pilot program. The grant was funded. Eager to implement the recently purchased devices, I now have to consider what I must do to add the 3G access to our network. I call our consultants and they walk me through a process that allows our filter to work remotely so students can take the devices home, but remain accountable with publicly funded devices. I work with our administration to develop a new responsible use agreement for staff and students, confident that students will “love to use these handheld devices to learn about core curriculum standards within the classroom”(2011).

I’m getting closer to my objectives, but my most important task lies ahead of me. I must address the human element of this course. Even though my students immerse themselves in social media at home, their ability to use digital tools as a classroom resource is limited. Responding to the findings of a Cengage Learning/Eduventures survey (2010) entitled “Instructors and Students: Technology Use, Engagement and Learning Outcomes, William Reiders, executive vice president for Global New Media (Cengage Learning) states that, “Clearly, students are asking for better guidance, support, and training in using digital tools in the classroom and we, as an industry, need to pay attention and effectively respond to those needs in order to improve engagement and learning outcomes.”

In my opinion, my biggest responsibility is to provide training, model appropriate use, and enforce rules of netiquette, safe browsing, and responsible use of technology so that together we can soar into the 21st Century as learners and consumers in the digital age.

References

Brown, L. (2010, April 7). Debunking the Digital Native Myth: Higher Education Students Ask for More Support in Using Classroom Technology. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from CENGAGE Learning: http://www.cengage.com/trends/pdf/Survey Release and Results.pdf

Lawson, E. (2011). iPads, iPod Touches, and iPhones as Assistive Technology in Education. Technology and Learning .

Robleyer, M., & Aaron, D. (2010). Educational Technology Into Teaching (Fifth ed.). Allyn and Bacon, Pearson.

 

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EDTECH 541: Microsoft Windows Vista Adaptive Devices

I hear my keys chatter as I type endless characters on the white field of the screen. “Tap, tap, clickity, snap.”  As I mentally prepare for the activity I am about to embark on, I am suddenly aware of the ease at which the words flow beneath my competent fingers, my mind, miles ahead, pausing as though to allow those fingers time to catch up. I read with perfect clarity a screen with small print due to its high resolution. I am blessed.

What would I do if my fingers were stilled in some tragic accident?  How would I form words if the river of thought was dammed by a stroke?  Would my thoughts come with such clarity if I could no longer read what I was writing, reviewing, editing?

I begin looking into alternatives that Microsoft provides on Windows Vista machines. The Portal is the Ease of Access Center located on the Control Panel.  When selected, a mechanical female voice greets me, somewhat reminding me of an android from Star Wars. She begins reading the options  “Start mag-ni-fy-er. Start nar-ra-tion….The sound drones on, ending abruptly with the de-selection of a checkbox.  I feel slightly guilty in the ensuing silence, knowing that my blind grandfather would have appreciated the independence such a voice allowed.

If one of my students were blind,  a station could be set up to operate without the monitor, saving scarce dollars.  Another tool for those students with vision loss is the magnifier which enlarges the output  on the screen by 2-16 times. The magnifier tracks either by the cursor or with key strokes. Browsing the Internet is made more appealing with the narration function paired with caption reading.  Students can perform individual research online without the dependency on an aide or their peers.

For those students whose vision is clear, but experience diminished fine motor skills an on-screen keyboard replaces the physical keyboard, allowing keystrokes via an alternative input device such as voice control, mouth wand, or some other specialized hardware. A student of mine who suffered a diving accident between school years came back in the fall suffering from quadriplegia. I researched the assistive technology and found many of the standard technologies that come with today’s Windows Vista to be unavailable or very expensive at the time. We saved many dollars borrowing physical devices from a state university lending program.  I would have liked very much for the on-screen keyboard to be available as he had a tracheotomy and was unable to speak, but he could use the keyboard well with a specialized touch device. 

Another standard feature in Windows Vista (and other previous versions) are sticky keys and filter keys. These settings have helped our students with limited motor skills since I began teaching 10 years ago. The sticky keys enable a student to enter shortcut key strokes one at a time rather than the controlling command key(s) (usually control, windows, alt, shift, or some combination of those keys) having to be held down while a hot function key is pressed.  The filter keys ignore repeated keystrokes such as one might get by holding down a particular keyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

For those who are able to speak but are limited in their typing, speech recognition technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Microsoft has been very proactive in serving consumers who need alternate methods of using the computer.

Apart from optional closed captioning, my students who experience hearing loss can depend on visual clues that replace system sounds and alerts.

Microsoft continues to develop new technologies, but in my opinion they lag behind Apple’s aggressive pursuit of assistive technology.  In a perfect world we would have no need for these technologies, but my world isn’t perfect, and our district’s network is PC.  So we move forward as best we can.

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