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Connor Berry Education 649 EDUC 649 Final Paper: Technology in Education When I entered this class to begin my Master’s degree at Chapman University, I was already a proponent of including technology in the classroom. I have always been technology savvy and I noticed the possible uses for technology in the classroom early on in my education at Chapman. Most of the rest of my graduating class never seemed to give utilizing technology in the classroom a passing thought and used traditional methods in all of our assignments. I also noticed that technology integration into the classroom was not a major objective of the Education department at Chapman. I quickly became the figurehead for using technology in each of my education classes, and I believed it too. I really believed that technology was not a tool that could be ignored in the educational setting, many people I knew brushed technology off as something that could not possibly be used in the classroom. I took it upon myself to show everyone that technology is nothing to be scared of and by fiddling around with a program for just one half of an hour, the mysteries of these tools would be cleared up. In Education 497 (a final reflective course before graduation) in the spring of 2011, the class was assigned free choice project. I chose to do mine on different technologies that could be used in the educational setting. I put together a PowerPoint with each slide displaying an example of how a certain technology could be used in the classroom. I hoped that my presentation could win over some of my classmates who had never considered using education in their classrooms before. As you can see, my initial thoughts of technology in education before this class were almost exclusively positive. I took this class because I was very interested it the subject matter and really wanted to learn about the types of technology that could be used in the classroom. Throughout the class I


was not disappointed, I was able to try out and discover all kinds of new technologies that I will one day utilize in my classroom. I am a major supporter of technology in education so most every technology that I worked with gave me some insight to its usefulness. In my preparation to become a teacher I have learned that presentation of material is the key to all success in education. Every activity can be engaging and every assignment can be enlightening, but the presentation of the material sets a solid base for all of that. There is no success in education without a solid presentation. For this reason I paid careful attention to any technologies that we covered in class that could be utilized to present material to my students. PowerPoints have always been a part of my arsenal of teaching tools that I use in my presentations and are very well known to me, but submitting my students to endless PowerPoint presentations, no matter how well made, will after a time become monotonous. In this class we went over several other innovations to spice up the classroom presentations. These technologies were TurningPoint and Prezi. TurningPoint was a very similar program to PowerPoint due to the fact that it is PowerPoint. What is different about this tool, however, is the level of interaction that it brings to the table for a teacher. It employs a class set of electronic number pads, or “clickers”, for lack of a better word. The students each are given a clicker to use for the duration of the TurningPoint presentation. The TurningPoint itself uses PowerPoint slides and includes questions, surveys, scoreboards, and many other tools that are controlled by the clickers. I find this to be an amazing idea for the classroom. This tool helps lessen the affective filters of students who would normally be suffering from fear of answering and presents an effective way to check for prior knowledge all together...in other words, a teacher’s dream. The second presentation tool that I really clicked with was Prezi. Prezi again takes its base idea from PowerPoint, however this program is much different. It utilizes a single page with all of the information displayed in different sizes on that


page. The screen zooms in and out to display the information set to show at that time. The interactivity of this tool is much less than TurningPoint, however, the effect a different looking presentation tool gives to a classroom of students cannot be underestimated. If used correctly, these three tools can be a brilliant way to present the material that the class needs to learn and I support their use in education fully. Another reason I believe that education is positive in the classroom is the amount of tools online that aid conceptualization. When looking for online games in this class I came across several sites that would be incredibly helpful to students attempting to learn important concepts. One of these impressive tools was called, “The Scale of the Universe” and was an incredible tool to use with students. It started out with a page full of things that a human could see such as a pencil and a plate. The tool gave the user complete control to zoom in and out and included a scale for reference throughout. By zooming in, the smaller things that were unable to be seen before came into view. A red blood cell, an atom, and other microscopic items were represented at their respective sizes. The same went for when the user zoomed out. Moons, planets, and galaxies all came into view as the screen zoomed out. I could just imagine the difference in a classroom where a teacher is trying to explain the fact that, “compared with Jupiter, the earth is very tiny”, using this new tool. The students could actually see that concept in action. The other amazing tool I found showed a triangle become a square become a pentagon and so on until the figure became a circle. What a wonderful way to present the fact that a circle is simply a figure with infinite sides. That would be unimaginably difficult for someone who is trying to draw up that concept on the board. There are things technology can do that a human just cannot do, the teacher must have the understanding and the control of the tools, but using this technology in the


classroom can be very effective. This is another reason that I saw to be pro-technology in an educational setting. The next technology I see promise for in the classroom is Twitter. This is a somewhat controversial choice, and for good reason. Many say that Twitter is a technology that has no real value and is simply a way to spread pointless blurbs online. Before putting thought into it, I would have been inclined to agree with this diagnosis. The most experience I had with Twitter before researching it myself was the fact that every time I watched SportsCenter I would see a news story about how some athlete had written something on Twitter that they were forced to apologize for. Nevertheless, my roommate works in entertainment marketing and was a big Twitter user. One day I had him teach me about it and started to see some possibilities for it. It was not until we discussed it in this class that I really decided it could be helpful in education, though. The ability to have an entire class connected to an online forum has immense benefits. Students would never have to worry at home about a confusing assignment or project, if any questions arose, they could simply Tweet the question and 30 students and a teacher would immediately be at their assistance. A teacher could also Tweet quick reminders every now and then about the content of class or any updates with the school. I also brought up the idea of following local politicians and government officials (which would coincide with several state standards) for updates and to become involved...like in my school days when we would write letters to congressmen, but this would be much more involved and has the potential to be of greater importance. Above all else, Twitter in the classroom could be a way of bonding the class together in some way. Even parents would benefit from the class’ Twitter group; during field trips the teacher could Tweet updates to ensure everyone is safe. For any of this to even be remotely possible, however, the Twitter used in class would need to be isolated to that class and


that class alone. I believe that is the enlightenment about technology that I received in this class; technology is a wonderful tool as long as the teacher still maintains control. If the technology is isolated and the teacher can control the content and usage than there is no problem with technology in the classroom from my perspective. As with anything on the Internet, danger and negatives are everywhere. This class really displayed this for me throughout our education of the different technologies. For example, I have explained how Twitter can be a wonderful way for students to be in touch with politicians and such in the local area of the school. During a class discussion (actually a Twitter discussion) Professor Howard brought up the issue of even that being dangerous for an educational setting. He brought up the example of former Congressman Weiner. The intentions of having students follow politicians on their Twitter accounts may be good, but the reality of the Internet is that it anything goes and there is no guarantee, no matter how hard you work, that something damaging won’t slip past your defenses and on to your students. I feel that this is the most significant con for the usage of technology (primarily web based ones) in the classroom. Another con that can be associated with technology in the classroom is the ignorance of teachers. The teachers are the ones who control the classroom; they always know what is going on and help the students through the material. Consider, then, if the teacher suddenly lost control of the whiteboard, or couldn’t figure out how to use the bulletin board. What would happen if a teacher attempted to use technology in the classroom and did not fully understand it? The teacher would lose control. This is a huge problem that faces teachers who have not learned the technology they are using in the classroom sufficiently. I became aware of this primarily when we began work on the Wix websites. I had never created a website before and when we started to create, I was a little slower than I normally was when using technology. I began to think about


using Wix in my classroom while not fully understanding it. For me to fully give my students the benefit of an online tool such as Wix, I would have to know the program inside and out and be able to address all of the problems the students would run into while using it. Teachers’ limited knowledge of technology is another negative to its use in a classroom. One more con that I considered while taking this class was the fact that some technologies used in classrooms seem to diminish the individuality of the student in favor of simplicity for the teacher. When we were looking online for education links to place in our social bookmarking sites I came across one that could be used to organize the classroom into groups based on ability level. Each student inside that group would then have some data entered on their performance and finally this data was graphed. It was a great way to show the ability levels of the students in one’s class, but it really did not consider the individual student, it simply generated numbers and ranks to replace that student. Teachers need to be smart with the technology they use in the classroom. If the program they find helps students conceptualize material or understand difficult assignments, then that program is probably helpful to the class. If, however, the program found does nothing to help the students grow as individuals and students but simply makes a teacher’s job easier, that program needs to be removed from the classroom. Without smart analysis of online resources, technology becomes a negative for the classroom. After considering all I have learned in this class and searching my beliefs about using technology in the classroom, I have come to the perspective that technology in the class is necessary, but needs to be approached with responsibility. My case, to those who would doubt technology’s usefulness in schools, would be that technology is not going away. It is here to stay and there is nothing anyone can do about that. In that case, why would a teacher shy away from


technology? It is irresponsible for a teacher to be a staunch opponent of technology in the classroom primarily due to his or her own lack of knowledge on the subject. A teacher’s job is to use all resources available to teach students about the world. Technology is now an undeniable part of the world; it is only natural that technology now becomes a part of education. My main advice to anyone who is considering using any form of technology in their classroom is to spend half an hour to an hour using the tool on their own so that they have a firm grasp of the resource and understand any safety precautions before they present it to the students. There is so much information out there for us to access, this new generation can be better than the last and the best so far, we as educators have the burden to show them the way, we must be unafraid of anything new in the world, we must embrace it and make it part of our teaching strategy.


EDUC 649 Final Paper