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Technology in the Classroom

July 20, 2013 | | Comments 0

by Ray Holt (c) 2013 ALL RIGHT RESERVED

“Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer deserves to be.”  (Thornburg)

“The teacher who constantly learns and grows becomes a professional educator.” (Wong & Wong, 2009, p. 298)

Technology in the form of computers has been in the classroom for over 30 years.  Ever since the Apple I was placed into every elementary computer in California, the commercialization of the classroom has not been the same.  Today there is more technology than a teacher could possibly use in a lifetime of teaching, and about every two years new technology is introduced hoping to make the classroom more efficient, productive, and appealing to the teacher and student, however, for most teachers is it an ever increasing source of frustration and confusion.  Students are eager to use technology and when technology is withheld for any reason they can become frustrated and unruly as they feel part of their normal life is being withheld in their learning process.  Using technology in a classroom is important for improved classroom behavior.

Students today grew up with technology.  They have no idea what life would be like without computers, video games, and cell phones.  Prensky (2001) first used the terms “digital natives” to describe students and the term “digital immigrants” to describe teachers.  Oblinger & Oblinger, (2006) called this generation of students the “Net Generation.”  Yet still, we expect students to come to class, sit still without talking and do “paper-based” homework.  Is it any wonder that today’s student can’t sit still?  Where is this technology? And how are we using it to enhance the learning experience of the student?  Are teachers capable of teaching with technology, or do we have to wait another generation for the “digital natives” to become the teacher base?  (Read More)

When considering technology in the classroom there are three aspects that need to be discussed: first, the hardware (what type of equipment does the classroom have? Is it Internet connected?); second, the software, or programs, available for the equipment; and finally training.  In most cases training needs to be teacher training; however, depending on the use of the software and the age of the student, the students might also need to be trained.

Using Available Technology

When a teacher arrives at a school they are usually stuck with the technology in place.  In an urban setting most schools have a computer in each classroom, administrative software, a “smart board,” a computer lab with a minimum of 20 computers and all class computers, and computer lab with internet connectivity.  In a rural setting there are limited “smart boards,” or the teacher computer is probably not working, or the computer lab is non-functional or out-of-date.  All of this can affect how a teacher views the use of technology in education.

Hicks (2011) in writing about tech-savvy teachers said, “Technology directly affects every aspect of life, and nearly every job option available to Americans today requires the use of some type of technology.  Thus it is imperative that we use technology in the classroom, as the ultimate success of our students depends on this fact.”  If, in fact, the ultimate success of our students will depend on knowing technology, then we as teachers are obligated to learn how we can use the available technology in the best possible way and to translate that knowledge to the student.

Erdogan et al. (2010) researched school administrators, teachers, and parents and concluded solutions to overcome disciplines and classroom management problems in technology-related classes. Included in these solutions were:

  1.  Improvement in teachers’ qualifications to teach or use the technology.
  2. Lack of classroom rules on usage of the technology.
  3. Using software to control computer usage as well as Internet usage.
  4. Reorganizing classroom/lab sitting plan to optimize minimum disturbing of students

Schools need to put in place a Teacher Technology Development program that gives incentive credits for teachers to learn the available technology, internet usage, and rules as they relate to course content.  I also think that certain students need to be screened as Technology Certified and given access to software tools available to teachers in order to assist their teachers and to help them develop skills for their future.  Each classroom needs to have several available computers where students can access lessons at the teacher’s direction.  Also, each school needs to have sufficient computer lab space for students to use for required lessons and for miscellaneous (entertaining, research, etc.) usage.  I am not strong on Internet limiting software but I am strong on user accounts and tracking.  Students do not need to be limited but they need to know their usage could be curtailed if they access inappropriate material.  Of course, hard core material should be limited.

Categories of Technology

According to Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski (2007) there are seven categories of technology and I added Teacher Administration.  These are detailed in Appendix A and listed below.  I have also listed uses of each technology for enhanced learning.

  1.  Teacher Administration

Student attendance, report cards, grade tracking, discipline report, parent/guardian information, teacher website, administration/teacher communication

  1. Word Processing applications

All forms of documents, creating charts and graphs, organization templates and flowcharts.

  1. Spreadsheet software

Organizing data, budgeting, all forms of financial learning, charts, graphing, math formulas.

  1. Organizing and brainstorming software

Used to organize random ideas, lists, and processes into logical and visual concepts. Useful learning tool for English, languages, social sciences, history, etc.

  1. Multimedia

Slideshows, videos, storybooks, albums, animation, music, simulation games, etc.

  1. Data collection tools

Surveys, applications, pre- and post-assessments, quizzes.

  1. Web resources

Any kind of information a teacher or student needs.  The challenge is for the teacher to keep the student focused on the Internet-based assignment.

  1. Communication software

Blogs and websites used to communicate between teacher and student. Email with parents. ePals (on-line educational pen pals) in other cities, states, and counties.

Technology equipment, software, and the Internet are tools that a teacher must make useful for instruction. Each teacher must learn to use these tools for the benefit of teaching and student learning.  Technology is a great tool to use for differentiated learning.  Different students can be working on different lessons at the same time.  Internet-based and local software programs are available that can easily be adapted to the learning level and style of each student.

The Flipped Classroom

Learning at home and doing homework at school. That is the new paradigm of a classroom.  Students are given on-line lessons to complete at home and during school class time the teacher helps the students with any questions and homework.  The huge advantage of the flipped classroom is that students can learn at their own pace, can rewind and review teaching lessons all they want, and can do this on their own schedule.

On the Flipped Classroom website (http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/) the following chart is presented as a model for the flipped classroom.  The site mentions that “Educational technology and activity learning are two key components of the flipped classroom model.  They both influence student learning environments in fundamental ways.”

Technology in the flipped classroom is used by the teacher and student.  The teacher prepares lessons by video, PowerPoint, or document and uploads these onto their website or emails them to the student.  The students use their home computers or their mobile smartphone to access and view the lessons.  The teacher has the entire Internet available as a learning library for the students.  Lessons as well as a complete curriculum can be delivered in the flipped classroom model.

The most well-known classroom website is Khan Academy (http://KhanAcademy.org).  This website offers over 4,000 video lessons in over 30 academic categories with content from elementary to college level.  Teachers can even setup their own virtual classrooms, have students enroll, and then monitor their progress as well as statistics on how easy or difficult the student had with the lessons.

A Look into the Future

What will the classroom look like 20-30 years from now when the children of today’s students are in high school?  From my 40 years in the technology field it has been my experience that major changes in our use of technology occur at least every five years. This would mean that in 20 years we will see four more significant changes in technology.  I think most of these changes will be in mobile computing.  Smartphones will get smarter and smaller.  Desktops will virtually disappear and will be taken over by the smartphone.  Tablets, pads, and smartphones will all merge into one small smart device.  Already, many of us shop and bank on the Internet. In 20 years this will be the only way to shop and bank, as well as to be educated.  I think the traditional classroom will give way to the mobile devices and the Internet.  Students will learn and assess from any location they chose.  Students will be motivated to learn as this will be their only pathway to a job. Most new jobs will be on the Internet and can be performed from any location.  Teachers will become facilitators of on-line learning.  Curriculum content will give way to information access on the Internet.  Our acceptable and usable knowledge-base will be on the Internet.  Most, if not all, of the details of our lives will be Internet-based.  Transportation and mobility will be unnecessary except for visiting and vacations.  No more standing in lines or sitting in classrooms.

Technology has and will continue to change the way we live and learn.  Schools, administrators, and teacher must keep up with the advances made. Learning delivery systems will change quickly and will be readily accessible everywhere.  Teachers that do not keep abreast of technology advances will be replaced.  Teachers in the future will need to be skilled in on-line curriculum development and mobile computing.  Teachers that know technology and can use it as a learning tool will have students that are excited about learning, especially if the student can be a participant in the using of the technology.

 

Appendix A – Technology Applications Names

(all names below can be searched on the Internet)

Teacher Administration & Education Resources

Moodle, The Global Schoolhouse, Blackboard, Univ of Wisconsin Stout, NASA Coop Learning Rubric, EDDIE Awards, BESSIE Awards, Tech Learning, eSchool News, CodIE Awards, Discovery Education’s The Parent Channel, EduCause, Curriculum Mapper

Word Processing

Microsoft Word, Oracle Open Office, Word Perfect, Writeboard, Backpack, YourDraft, JotSpot

Spreadsheet

Microsoft Excel, Oracle Open Office, Google Spreadsheet (on-line)

Organizing & Brainstorming

Kidspiration, Inspiration, Inspire-Data, Microsoft Visio, CmapTools, SmartTools, Word Drawing, Logger Pro, Yahoo Calendar, Google Calendar, Calendars Net, Blinklist, Kaboodle, By Kids For Kids, Blogster, My Web Inspiration, Gliffy, Bubbl.us, Ning, Time Toast, Timerime, XTimeLine, Preceden,

MultiMedia

Powerpoint, Animoto, Prezi, Slideshare, United Streaming, The Internet Archive, Google Video, A9, Creative Commons, Hyper Studio, Animation Factory, Webmonkey for Kids,  Animation Inspirations, National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, Clay Animation in PowerPoint, Primary Access, Digital Storytelling, Google Earth, Picnik, Aviary, FotoFlexer, School Tube, Cam Studio, Jing Project, ScreenR, Screen Life, Spore

Data Collection Tools

Survey Monkey, Pollcat, Web Surveyor, Profiler Pro

Web Resources

Rubric Builder, Math Playground, Explore Learning, Vantage Learning My Access (writing program), Cut The Knot, Brain POP, BBC Skillswise, Global WRITeS, DreamYard, I Know That, Know It All, Surviving Everest, Interactive Mathematics, DigiTales, Our Timelines, iCan Film Festival, Note Star, Google Docs, Think Free, Think Tank, Cornell Notes, Rochester Institute of Technology, Summary Frames, Flashcard Exchange, Wizards & Pigs, Mousercise, Lever Tutorial, Kitchen Chemistry, Stellarium, Zoho

Communications

Email, website (WordPress, FreeWebs, iWeb, TOWeb, SiteSpinner, Cool Page), blogs (Teaching Blogs), Ms C’s Geoblog, Mr Mackey’s Science Blog, Room 613 Talk, Mr Wright’s 3rd Grade Class, Elizabeth Fullerton’s English IV weblog, Wikis (for cooperative learning), Instant Messaging, Video Conferences, Skype, ePals, Keypals Club, Intercultural E-mail Classroom Connections, WebQuests, Instant Projects, Campfire, FlockDraw, Scribblar, Dabble Board, Dim Dim, Todays Meet, Voice Thread, Weebly

On-Line Certificates

Education Oasis, AAA Certificates, American Greetings E-Cards

Web-Enabled Simulation & Inquiry Games

Girl’s Inc. TeamUp, Civilization III, Building Homes of Our Own, Jigsaw Classroom, Smog City, NOVA Building Big, Zoo Matchmaker, Windward, Hurricane Strike, Explore Learning

 

Appendix B – Common Sense School Rules for Devices in the Classroom 1

 Laptops, including tablets, are permitted in classrooms for basic educational purposes. Other devices, such as Blackberries, iPods and other smart phone may be permitted for specific activities.

  • Devices must be used in the classroom only for specific, educational purposes as specified by the teacher.
  • Personal communications (Facebook, email, chat) or digital entertainments (such as games or movies) are never permitted inside the classroom, unless for specific educational activities authorized by the teacher.
  • Teachers should develop routines and procedures defining when and how computers should be used in their classroom.  It is the responsibility of the teacher to clearly establish and communicate these expectations.
  • Computers should be treated as basic educational tools. Access should not be denied as a punishment, nor granted as a reward.

(1)   Reproduced from: Mister Peters, Managing Your 21st Century Classroom ver 2.0 April 2012. A Slideshare presentation.


Appendix C – Classroom Rules for Electronics
2

 Laptops or tablets, are encouraged. Smartphones may be used at designated times to update homework or To-Do lists.

  • You must enter this classroom with all devices off, and leave the classroom with all devices off.
  • No games, entertainment, or personal communications in the classroom. EVER.
  • No taking pictures or video of others without their permission.
  • You are accountable for your words and conduct both in class, and online.
  • Computer problems are NEVER an excuse for late or missing work. Save often. Leave yourself extra time. PROBLEM SOLVE.

(2)   Reproduced from: Mister Peters, Managing Your 21st Century Classroom ver 2.0 April 2012. A Slideshare presentation.

 

Appendix D – Ask the Experts for Technology Tips (tips from this author)

For Teachers: Before calling IT support and ruining your day without your expected technology follow these steps first. The problem may be very simple.

  •  Make sure all power cables are securely plugged into the proper power outlets.
  • If you have surge protectors or a battery backup make sure they are turned on and all wires plugged in. Wires work loose from classroom movements, students, and custodians.
  • Have you turned on all of your equipment (computer, monitor, projector, smartboard, wireless mouse)?
  • Wireless devices (keyboards, mice, pointers) have batteries that periodically need replaced. Keep an extra set of batteries in your classroom.
  • Wireless devices connected by Bluetooth or Wi-Fi usually requiring some type of “pairing” or connecting. Confirm if this connection has been made.
  • If all equipment appears to be powered up (by visually checking lights, screens, or by hearing sounds) and you still see nothing on your screen then check your screen intensity control.
  • Confirm all external equipment is plugged into power, the computer and turned on. This includes printers, scanners, projectors, and routers. Smartboards and projectors have wired connections that should be checked.

Some equipment requires regular maintenance, such as copiers, printers, and projectors. Keep extra supplies in stock for ink, toner, paper, light bulbs, etc.

 

References

Erdogan, M., Kursun, E., Tan Sisman, G., Saltan, F., Gok, A., & Yildiz, I. (Spring 2010). A qualitative study on classroom management and classroom discipline problems, reasons, and solutions: A case of information technologies class. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 10(2), 881-891. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ889196.pdf

Hicks, S. D. (2011). Technology in today’s classroom: Are you a tech-savvy teacher? The Clearing House, 84(5), 188-191. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00098655.2011.557406.

Oblinger, D. G., & Oblinger, J. L. (2006). Is it age or IT: First steps toward understanding the net generation. In D. G. Oblinger, & J. L. Oblinger (Eds.), Educating the net generation, pp. 8-16. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/educatingthenetgen

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Introduction. In Using technology with classroom instruction that works. p. 12. Figure 6. Denver, CO: MREL.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants [Entire issue]. On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/

Thornburg, D. David Thornburg quotes. Retrieved from http://thinkexist.com/quotes/david_thornburg/

Wong, H. K., & Wong, R. T. (2009). The first days of school. How to be an effective teacher. Singapore: Harry K. Wong Publica

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