Archive for 1.4 Learner Characteristics

EDTECH506: Concrete and Concise

There are many factors to providing critical prehospital care. EMTs have to know how to determine if a patient is in immediate need of advanced care. The students taking this course will refer to this condensed chart which follows Lohr’s three C’s. 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. I initially had the blue text fields extending out to the edge of the page, but decided to increase the white ground a bit to balance the high contrast of the blue and red after my reviewer complained that it “hurt his eyes.” I decided the problem was one in which the figure and ground competed (p. 102). When I reduced the width of the blue, I found that the text was enhanced by the white space around the blue text box.

I analyzed the figure to see if I had unintentionally created a visual conflict. Originally, I had. The blue textboxes made the graphic look like a US Navy add with the blue and white “stripes” creating a 1+1=3 phenomenon (p. 100). My reviewer’s complaint told me that the figure and ground were causing visual conflict. The revision is much better – allowing the learner to “focus easily and quickly on [the] key message.” (p. 105).

Overall, I am pleased with this part of my project. I used the same colors as prior projects to begin developing a color theme of red, white, and blue to match that of our ambulance service. It will work because it is easy to read and put into a logical format. These are not cardinal elements, so leaving them unnumbered helps to reduce the tendency to rank the elements.

References

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. (Second.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

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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 506 Learning by Design

Visual representation plays a vital role in my life. I remember putting on my first set of glasses and realizing for the first time what a difference detail makes in our world view. That impression gave way to a lifelong study of detail that impacts every aspect of my life. The past weeks in this course are no exception as I considered what is universal design, what would be a useful unit of instruction, and how might I best represent myself through visual clues. After submitting the project plan, I nearly changed topics when reading the typography assignment. How might I create what I might consider illustrated text that conveys meaning. I was surprised to find that the exercise, though challenging, was a pleasant task.

Four Words

Vital words for bleeding control and shock management unit of instruction.


When referring to Mayer’s (2001) research, Lohr emphasizes that “visuals be designed so that they support cognitive processes of selection, organization, and integration” to maximize learning (2008 p.63). Using that formula, I hope to create a unit of instruction that will be easily remembered, and easily implemented when conditions call for it. After all, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Reference
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 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: 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 504: Elements of Educational Technology

I face thousands of decisions every day, most seem inconsequential, but others are more significant.  The significance rises with the benefits and risks associated with the decision. When others are involved, I feel an increasing burden and responsibility.  My decisions are then based on what is important to me, and what is important to me is my values.

According to Janawuski and Molenda “…ethical practice is less a series of expectations, boundaries, and new laws than it is an approach or construct from which to work” (pg 3). I like to think that my values guide my decision-making at work, at home, and in my community.

In my position, I honor three commitments as I serve students and staff.

1)      My accountability extends to the individuals within my scope of practice who entrust me with confidential information.

2)      My local community–as well as society in general—depends on me to be trustworthy to provide services and technological products using public funds.

3)      My work ethic and my dedication to continuing education bring honor—or dishonor—to my profession.

There are many creeds that help define how we should live, but my personal favorite is by an unknown author:

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

References
Januszewski, A. and Molenda, M. (2007). Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary. AECT.

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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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EDTECH 541: Extraordinary Times for Extraordinary Needs

At any given moment, lives change.

I serve as a volunteer advanced EMT on a rural ambulance. During my eight years of service, I have experienced exhilarating triumph and painful tragedy. With each call I become more acutely aware of both the fragility and the resilience of human life. I have learned that it takes only one act (intentional or unintentional), or one bodily systems failure to change lives. A stroke may leave an individual unable to use his right arm. In most activities, this impairment may be minimal – but in other activities which require the use of both arms, this loss puts our friend at a disadvantage with others – it becomes a disability. If the impairment or disability inhibits the individual from fulfilling a role, it becomes a handicap  (Robleyer & Aaron, 2010).

This change impacts the individual, his loved ones, and his environment. The impact can be temporary or permanent.

A few months back I watched an interview with Roger Ebert, a high-profile movie critic who spent a lifetime providing movie goers details about the latest box office releases without giving away the plot. His account of his experience with jaw cancer was touching and inspirational. His face, surgically shaped into a comical expression of happiness, fit well with his positive outlook on life. His voice had vanished and in its place was a technological wonder—a text-to-voice application that allowed this man his vocal contributions, and he was making every word count.

Anyone who performs a comprehensive search of emerging technologies will find that no matter the disability, technology can facilitate a better living experience than one would have had just a decade ago. Astounding!

For whatever reason, human nature causes most people discomfort around those who experience physical or mental disfigurement.  In all but rare situations their voices go unheard. It’s about time we listen because in the next moment, the lives that change might be ours.

References:

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

 

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EDTECH 541: Will the Wall Come Down?

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA, 1999 (106th Congress (Senate), 1999)) is a federal law enacted by Congress to address concerns about access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers. Unfortunatelty, Web 2.0 venues demand something that private and public sectors alike share; walled gardens. The Children’s Internet Protection Act mandates public schools have in place a filter to prevent predators from accessing impressionable children, or from children accessing the wealth of pornography and other harmful content.  According to the Pew Internet and American Life project,  learners are connected while not in school, with more than 80% of participants reporting they sleep with a cellphone by the bed. Today’s typical teen sends approximatelly 1500 text messages monthly. Mobile devices are closing the gap in the digital divide by giving less priviledged members of society access to the Internet. The rising popularity of social networking sites emphasizes that today’s students are social learners (Bull, 2010, pg 28-29).

Rather than pushing against the tide, schools can embrace the benefits of social networking technology in a safe and controlled environment designed specifically for the unique needs of K-12 education. These tools help support diversity and the development of communities through safe user friendly platforms that encourage dialogue and the sharing of perspectives, ideas and events.  Such environments can be found with educational vendors such as Gaggle.net. (2011)

A brief skim or an in-depth review of any day’s current events quickly reminds us of the myriad ways we share our home planet with others who–despite our differences in culture, ethnicity, and demographics–are likely to share foundational values of stewardship, spirituality, democracy, diversity, and language. Niel Postman (1995) identifies those values as “the five inclusive human narratives” (pg 144). 

Great and simple minds struggle to answer the ethical dilemmas which confront us at every angle, giving rise to questions such as those that Walter Parker, Akira Ninomya, and John Cogan (1999) framed in regard to societal equity and fairness; balancing privacy with open access to information; meeting human needs in the face of a fragile environment; coping with issues relating to the growing population, genetic engineering, and poverty; keeping local values while developing shared global values; and making ethics-based decisions on the issues?

In their Learning and Leading with Technolgoy article “Save the World with Web 2.0” Lauren Cifuentes, Zahira Merchant, and Omer Faruk Vural (November, 2010) maintain that human narratives merge well with the ethical questions to form an “activity framework for preparing students for global citizenship (pg 34).” Sample activities include having learners research the importance and impact of an issue prior to promoting their cause on social networks, blogs, wikis, global networking, and other Web 2.0 venues to raise awareness and save the world.(Lauren Cifuentes, 2010). When browsing for content enrichment, teachers find similar activities, but are stifled by policies and procedures that prohibit most Web 2.0 applcations.  When will the wall come down?

 

RESOURCES:

106th Congress (Senate). (1999, January 19). S.97.AS. Retrieved June 28, 2011, from Library of Congress: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c106:S.97.IS:

Bull, G. (2010). The Always-Connected Generation. (K. Conley, Ed.) Learning & Leading with Technology , 38 (3), 28-29.

Lauren Cifuentes, Z. M. (2010). Save the World with Web 2.0. Learning & Leading with Technology , 34-35.

Social Learning. (2011). Retrieved June 28, 2011, from Gaggle.net: https://gaggle.net/home/gaggle-apps/social-learning/#features

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