Archive for 3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization

EDTECH 501: As of then…

I was in eighth grade when I fell in love with—and got into trouble because of—a …calculator. This grey HP beauty that my mining engineer/surveyor father used and treasured was a formative part of of my affinity towards technology. It was wieldy by today’s standards, and featured popping buttons with color-coded functions.

My father was impressed with its ability to remember complex strings of entries and was fascinated with the full color user manual, all 120 pages! My friends were impressed with the ability of the display to spell a “swear word” when I typed in 7734 and turned the device upside down (that happened only once in class – the teacher confiscated the distracting gadget and my dad had to come retrieve his $200 calculator).

You can try out the HP-25, which was the same device but did not include the continuous memory. This link will take you to a Java simulation from the Museum of HP Calculators (Hicks, 2010). The applet code (Leinweber, 1998) is public domain. The simulation is not completely functional, but you’ll easily be able to perform basic mathematical functions. Mouse over for tool tips (displayed on the title bar of the window).

References:
Hicks, D. (2010). HP-25C. Retrieved September 6, 2011, from The Museum of HP Calculators: http://www.hpmuseum.org/hp25C.htm

Leinweber, L. (1998). HP Calculator Simulations. Retrieved September 6, 2011, from HP Calculator Museum: http://www.hpmuseum.org/simulate/simulate.htm#java25

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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 541 2011 Summer-y

I used to be an IT  know-it-all…one of those people whom others would seek out for technological advice and help, and for whom nothing could not be conquered with a work-around. But my days were numbered and  I knew with every passing week that my superior skills were evaporating into  the chasm of once-was.  So I decided to pursue another graduate degree and give my rusty mental circuits new pathways on which to travel.

EdTech541 looked interesting and right up my alley. With its promise of web design and technology integration, I greedily reached for the new information. Then my life hit a road bump and sent me in a new direction. Despite all the uncertainty, I was still able to produce a product that I will use in teacher professional development and other adult learning environments.

By week four, I had just found out that my daughter needed serious medical attention for what was initially presumed to be a common urinary tract infection. I toyed with dropping the courses, knowing that I was going to be driving a lot given the distance between specialists. I e-mailed my instructors asking if I should drop the courses, but heard no indication that I should do so, and after the weekend determined to go for it.  I had never struggled so hard in my life to understand concepts as I have this summer. I have been consistently late in my coursework in every class – watching my elitist ego plummet along with my perfect GPA. 

One can’t get too far in education without learning about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and this summer my educational goals were trumped by my family’s need. The constant stress and worry has put theory into practice.  My ability to learn was physically diminished as my clarity of thinking was constantly interrupted by professional, service, educational, and personal demands.  Lack of sleep robbed me of optimism. Every assignment took twice as long as it probably should have to complete , and I spent hours revising mistakes I had made. What I did learn was that I have become inflexible and (probably) unapproachable with my own face to face students. I want to remember my summer’s experience in order to give students the benefit of the doubt while at the same time, holding them accountable for the tasks that have been assigned.

One benefit was the hours spent in waiting rooms gave me time to read the course text. I am an ISTE member, and use the NETS standards (2010) in course development and teacher professional development, so I was excited to see the course text use these professional standards as a foundation for the tasks at hand.

I am trying to convince my technology committee, administration, and school board to allow personal mobile devices within the school building. I believe the future is now, and when we insist that our students disconnect from their devices, we are fostering a disconnect from their education.  This course has given me tools to use to present research-based evidence that technology integration improves learning. The key is planning. Teachers must plan for activities that are rich with technology rather than letting technology activities take the place of teaching.

I have always been partial to inquiry-based theories, although I am open to discussion about other schools of thought, as well. This might be evident in a review of my database lesson plan. Although not an original plan, developing the database lesson to fit students in our geographic area took time because I had to develop questions that could be researched and answered, and determine the modifications necessary to make it a local fit.  My most beneficial assignment was that in which we identified strategies across the curriculum. My resources page keeps growing – not to impress anyone, but so that I won’t forget what I want to take back to my colleagues in the fall. This course will be beneficial for years to come as I use the products that I developed in my job as IT coordinator.

I performed an assistive technologies review three years ago when a student of mine  was involved in a water rescue. He experienced severe back injuries from a diving accident and is quadriplegic a resulting tracheotomy left him speechless. At the time tablets were not yet on the market, but he did have a school-issued laptop for at-home and school use. To repeat the research such a short time later has fostered astonishing results. Technologies such as voice to text (or vice versa) that were unavailable or were cost prohibitive at that time  now have presence in the $.99 iApps-Market.  I found the authors of our text making an interesting observation about beginning with low-tech solutions before moving into high tech as the needs dictate (p. 412)

I found blogging to be a perfect fit for reflection, but having to blog for a number of courses along with discussion forums left little allowance for reflective practice in such a compressed course. Even without other events in my life, writing takes time and revision and I always feel my blogs are somehow lacking consistent depth and detail. I do however, prefer the conversational style of a blog over the formality of an essay, as Richard Mayer (2004) is quoted in our text.

As I pointed out earlier, timeliness was lacking in all that I did this summer. My responses are lacking as well. Of the 235 points on blogging, I would be surprised to receive 180 points.

All in all, it has been a great course. The instructor modeled the concepts taught and I would highly recommend it to colleagues whether or not they plan to teach or develop online courses.

References:

International Society for Technology in Education. (2010). Standards. Retrieved June 13, 2011, from ISTE: http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-students.aspx

Mayer, R., Fennell, S., and Farmer, L. (2004). A personalization effect in multimedia learning. Journal of Educational Psychology. 96(2), 389-395.

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

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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: Would You Like a Nectarine?

 I stopped at a roadside fruit stand last summer. The air was heavy and warm and the aroma of nectarines and strawberries embraced me as I walked into the darkened building. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness from behind sunglasses that I forgot to exchange for my “other” glasses, I made out piles and piles of fresh produce. Southern gospel music played at a too-high volume on an old cassette player while green bottle flies landed on first one piece and then another of cut “sample” fruit, gleefully rubbing their tiny forelegs in anticipation of the juicy nectar.   The price was well discounted if I could afford the time and energy to go and pick my own fruit. I had time, and couldn’t resist the unexpected opportunity to traipse out into the orchard in anticipation of biting into a sun-warmed nectarine.

The owner, dressed in long sleeved plaid shirt worn under  faded denim overalls connected on only one side by some sort of “work around” where the original fastener had given way, led me out to a section of maybe a dozen nectarine trees. Peering out from the brim of a sweat-stained ball cap, he began “These here are Red Havens—they’re a bit early, but you’ll find a few that are ripe.”  Turning, he pointed to another section, “Those over there are ripe, but they aren’t as sweet and juicy as these…but they will keep longer.”

Smiling, he handed me the cardboard box that had previously held bottles of Jack Daniels whiskey. Cardboard dividers made compartments perfect for keeping fresh nectarines from bruising.  “Over here’s a ladder if you want to get up higher; I think that tree has quite a few ripe ones on the south side.”  Realizing I wasn’t in a big rush, he warmed up as he pointed here and there to the ripening fruit explaining how I would be able to see crimson freckles and smell the ripeness before I touched the fruit. If it was ripe, it would be sure to detach itself from the tree into my willing hand. I picked as he talked.

The digital future stretches before me with limitless opportunities. Each day I behold another use for technology – another venue for distributing information to myriad learners. Asynchronous versus synchronous, Apple versus PC, Telepresence versus self-direction, apps versus books. Choices flood the digital orchard.  My vision is to be a teacher to those who would learn. My vision is that my course design will lead learners to a set of specific objectives. The owner of the orchard did not lead me to apples, cherries, or peaches. He knew I was seeking nectarines, so he took me to the fruit and allowed me to pick while he provided guidelines, visual references, and learning.

Online learners need objectives – needless energy is spent trying to sift through the maze of information that is available when objectives are unclear. Well developed courses provide direction and clarification as well as satisfying the need to know that we learners are seeking. I have found that standards help me in providing clear objectives and relevant assessments. For my secondary education students I follow the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), 2011)and the International Society for Technical Education (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011).

If my vision becomes reality, my students can anticipate the best there is to be had…would you like a nectarine?

Works Cited

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). Standards. Retrieved June 13, 2011, from ISTE: http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-students.aspx

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). (2011). Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Retrieved June 13, 2011, from Core Standards: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_Math%20Standards.pdf

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