Kristen Cavinder Frontiera 7/1/2012 Final Paper Educ 649 Introduction
When I started this class, I had been teaching kindergarten for two months in South
Central Los Angeles. I thought that I had been using technology to its fullest by incorporating YouTube videos into classroom instruction, using ST Math (Jiji) for supplementary math instruction and PowerTeacher grade book to track attendance and grades. This class has opened up my eyes to a number of different ways to better incorporate technology into classroom learning.
I am twenty-‐four years old and have grown up in a generation where technology has
rapidly advanced. When I was in elementary school, the “technology” present in our classrooms was overhead projectors, CD players and one big desktop computer. Because I didn’t grow up with an immense incorporation of technology, I have had to learn and evolve with the development of new classroom features. To me, it is exciting to learn and discover new ways to teach and utilize these tools to make my classroom more exciting, efficient and effective. I am on the computer constantly and consider myself well-‐versed in “figuring things out” through trial and error. I like to discover new websites or teacher tools online and play around with the website until I have mastered it. Thankfully, this class has taught me a more systematic way to learning about new Web 2.0 tools. Pros
There are many positive aspects of incorporating technology into the classroom-‐
learning environment. Specifically, through this course at Chapman I have learned about Coursesites, Prezi, Turning Point, Wix websites and online surveys. Technology can enhance a student’s learning experience by adding additional visual and audio support, and bringing experiences into the classroom that students wouldn’t have otherwise. Technology has the power to create efficient classrooms and give teachers tools at their fingertips that can make their jobs easier-‐ like grading technology (PowerTeacher or Thinkwave.com) that provide automatic calculation of grades and print reports with the click of a button.
Coursesites is a free website where you can basically create a class website
complete with uploaded documents, discussion features, in site quizzes and more. This is an extremely effective tool to use to communicate with parents and students when they are at home and puts information in the hands of students and parents from virtually anywhere. As a teacher it allows for increased organization and efficiency since you can store all of your important items in one place for students to view. You can also use many features within the website to assess students understandings of texts, like embedded chapter quizzes that are graded for you.
Two other positive aspects of technology that you can incorporate in a classroom
setting are Prezis and Turning Point presentations. Prezis are interactive PowerPoint type of presentations that present information to students in a creative and interactive manner and allow for embedded graphs, videos, pictures and text. Secondly, Turning Point slides can be used to measure students’ progress throughout a lecture or determine their level of
understanding throughout a presentation. Turning Point is extremely beneficial for large classes or discussions where the teacher wants to constantly check for understanding and engagement, or simply for opinion. Surveys can also be done quickly and efficiently with Turning Point and will provide the teacher with instantaneous graphs and displays data anonymously for the entire class to see, but the students or the school must purchase the clickers in order for it to work. Turning Point is something that I certainly would want to incorporate into my classroom if I had the opportunity and funds to do so in the future.
Wix websites are another wonderful piece of technology that teachers can use to
better their classrooms. They are one of my favorite technological programs that we have learned about this semester because they are easy to use, visually appealing and very functional. Wix allows you to embed videos, surveys, custom search engines, pictures, Prezis, etc. into your web pages and displays a variety of important informational pieces in one simple and easy to use place. I created a Wix website for my kindergarten class and then adapted it for our final project. It now includes Prezis of different teaching tools, a video demonstration of Whole Brain Teaching, pictures, a survey about summer, a custom search engine for kindergarten activities and more! This is a great tool for any teacher to use to build a website for her class. This type of website is a positive and healthy way for our young student to utilize the Internet to its’ fullest. I feel like if we as teachers can direct and re-‐direct students’ attention to healthy and learning-‐based websites, we can teach them to utilize the Internet for learning and growing.
Surveymonkey.com is another example of a positive use of technology. I can think
of numerous ways that teachers could use these online surveys in the classroom to
positively impact their teaching. First, teachers could use these surveys as a pre-‐ assessment of learning. In Transforming Learning with New Technologies, it states that, “Pre-‐assessments are part of prior knowledge-‐based learning, the idea that when teaching new concepts, teacher need to connect their lessons to what students already know or have been taught… Online surveys are an effective way to activate prior knowledge and involve students in the pre-‐assessment process” ((Maloy, Verock-‐O'Loughlin, Woolf & Edwards, 2009, pp. 315-‐316). Secondly, teachers could use this to evaluate their own success in teaching a lesson or administering a quiz. It is a non-‐threatening, easy way to receive student feedback and it can be anonymous or specified. Surveymonkey specifically is a free program that allows users to create 10 question surveys and poll up to 100 users. However, there are a variety of free online surveys that teachers can use. Often times you can even export data into excel files and display graphs based on survey results. Especially here at Chapman we have learned how to be teachers who constantly reflect on our teaching and seek to find ways to continue to improve our own practices. This tool could help us do this by getting feedback from peers or students. Cons
Even though there are so many wonderful ways that we could incorporate
technology into the classroom, there are some negative aspects as well. First and foremost, online security has and will continue to be an issue of extreme concern for classroom teachers and administrators. For example, I teach kindergarten in South Central Los Angeles and while many of students have been exposed to inappropriate things online, I cannot be responsible on school property if they are to find these things online. It is crucial
that teachers monitor students’ activities on the classroom and limit their ability to access certain websites. Certain websites have too many advertisements and make it too easy for students to click and wander away from their task at hand.
One negative aspect of technology that I do not want to incorporate into my
classroom is social media like Twitter and Facebook. I think that both of these websites are flooded with opportunities that would lure students away from the possible positive learning content they could gain from them. They are filled with advertisements and Facebook specifically can tailor their advertisements to target specific audiences, like teenage boys or adolescent athletes, etc. This is a slippery slope and could easily get teachers into trouble. Further, Twitter is an effective way to keep up with daily happenings of friends, but when used as a classroom discussion tool, it leads to further isolation and less communication between classmates. Communication done online does not teach students listening and speaking skills-‐ they aren’t even required to listen to each other. They can choose to read others’ comments but they also can type simultaneously which negates the effectiveness of meaningful communication.
Another con of using technology in the classroom revolves around the possibility
and likelihood that technology can and will fail sometimes. There are days when you cannot connect to the Internet, or a computer breaks and no IT tech person will be there to aid you in fixing the problem. In this situation, if you are too reliant on technology, you will be up a creek without a paddle. This is why I believe that we cannot do everything online. There still needs to be a human factor in education-‐ we need to learn to talk, communicate, interact and work cooperatively with each other, in addition to learning how to chat online,
conduct a course using Adobe Connect and respond to a blog post. The harmony that can occur with the perfect balance of technology and “old school” teaching could be the solution to closing the achievement gap and running a successful classroom. We must be careful however not to sway to far one-‐way or another.
Teachers need to be discerning with the content they allow and encourage to be
used in their classrooms. Burbules and Callister discuss four types of “troublesome content” that includes, “misinformation, malinformation, messed-‐up information and mostly useless information” (as cited in (Maloy, Verock-‐O'Loughlin, Woolf & Edwards, 2009, p. 128). These categories include information that is not true, old, harmful, disorganized, trivial or ambiguous. We also need to teach our students how to decipher between good and bad information. We need to direct students to trustworthy websites and help them learn what to look for when researching, playing educational games and learning how surf the web safely. The amount of bad information that is available online proves the security risk and potential negative drawbacks to allowing students to use the computers. In my opinion, it would be great to get parents on board to continue the teacher’s classroom philosophy of Internet use when their child is on the Internet at home too. Conclusion
Overall, I am firm believer that technology is an extremely beneficial tool that we
have been blessed with as teachers. We can leverage so many resources with just a computer and the Internet and we can provide a wide number of tools for our students to use without paying a dime. However, we must monitor and carefully select the ways we
use technology and introduce it in our classrooms. If I were to speak to a new teacher about incorporating technology into her classroom, I would say, “Do it! But proceed with caution…” because I think that technology can enhance and aid a teacher to teach more efficiently and effectively, but it cannot replace our ability to connect with students and help motivate, inspire and transform their lives. We must use it as our helper, not our dependency.
To a teacher who is undecided about education, I would also explain how many
wonderful resources there are online that can help you! I would encourage her to build her own Wix website, to make Prezis for her class, administer online surveys and quizzes and allow her students to play educational games online. Also, I would point out websites that could help her develop lesson plans, keep track of grades and measure students’ progress as well as keep her own documents in order. I think the key is being patient and taking the time to truly master the different resources available. I would definitely tell a teacher who is on the fence about incorporating technology to give it a try-‐ the worst that can happen is that you fail, and often times as teachers we do. That is the beautiful thing about a new morning and another day to try again and improve our practices. We need to constantly reflect and find new ways to excited and inspire our students. If a student is inspired by technology and comes alive by using an online game or tool, then we should be open to utilizing it for their sake. We need to constantly evolve with our students to stay up-‐to-‐date and relevant.
The last thing that I would tell someone who is unsure about technology is about the
journey I have been on in learning how to use it an incorporate it. I went from using only
Youtube videos and online grading systems to now, six week later, knowing how to build websites, Turning Point clicker presentations, Prezis, Surveys, Voice Threads, Coursesites, Edmodos, Wix websites and more! Learning how to best incorporate these items into your daily and weekly routines in the classroom takes practice and patience, but it is easily doable. Teachers need to continue to find ways to relate to students and provide them with meaningful instruction that is differentiated and taps into multiple intelligences and technology can help us do that. I plan to be a teacher who effectively uses technology to its’ fullest from now on!
Reference: Maloy, R. W., Verock-‐O'Loughlin, R. E., Woolf, B. P., & Edwards, S. A. (2009). Transforming learning with new technologies. San Francisco: Pearson Education Canada.