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Issues in Educational Technology

These are my thoughts and ideas in regards to discussion questions that were a part of Central Michigan University’s Education course EDU 707. The compiled information and questions are derived from articles and recent information that pertains to education technology. Please enjoy!

Richard Tank II December 7th 2012

As you begin your journey reading my responses, please understand a little of who I am. I am and high school teacher with 5 years’ experience. Being a young teacher and just getting my feet wet into the profession, I have witnessed a lot of changes in the past 5 years. Technology is ever apparent in today’s society, teaching, classroom and consumes our students and children. The demand to technology to enhance student achievement is what currently is being considered as the new break though in education and there are many means of this technology being used though out schools and districts across the county. The questions below will bring up many valid points in the discussion of technology playing such an vital role in education today. There will be information in support and also information against such technology use. Please remember that these are my thoughts and beliefs, so do not get offended by any of my responses. Please enjoy reading.

Technology Access Like most technology access issues, the first drawn into new technologies are usually white men, teens, and boys. Therefore, the industry appears to cater to that group with products, software, games, etc. This often leaves girls, minorities, the disabled, and, due to cost, the poor in untenable positions for getting jobs and advancing in the work place. This phenomenon is slowly changing for some, but not for all. The issue is equal technology access for all: How can we ensure access to the disadvantaged or disabled? To come out and state a solution as to how to ensure access of technology to disadvantaged or disabled citizens is not an easy task. The current pressure on education and society is to become efficient in using 21st century skills and needed to complete that is technology. The problem is that most individuals cannot afford or do not have constant access to technology. There are definitely resources out there that can help disadvantaged people, such as using public libraries and other private organizations that have access to technology that can be used without charge. When relating how we can get disabled citizen’s access to technology there is a bigger gap. I feel that there are sufficient amount of resources out there that people can utilize, yet they rather make excuses as when they can’t instead of why they are. The people who want to better themselves and their lives by being accustom to using 21st century technology will find a way to use if not get it for themselves. Integration of technology into the curriculum Teachers often do not know how to use effectively technology in teaching and learning. They often "plug students" into a drill/practice program and assume good things are happening. How can we be sure using technology in the classroom adds to the learning experience and actually improves student learning outcomes? What "best practices" can you find/propose to ensure using technology positively impacts learning? Computers are highly interactive and provide a variety of tools to accomplish meaningful tasks. Hence, they are more aligned with the ‘learning by doing’ view of education, than with the ‘absorption of cultural knowledge’ view of education that permeates schooling (A. Collins & R. Halverson) That statement from the reading really pertains to the ideas that I feel will add to the student learning outcomes. We are an educational culture that is just trying to keep up, instead of being an educational culture that is leading the way. Studies have shown and are becoming more

apparent and proven to show that technology is aiding education. Technology tools are becoming more readily available and more users friendly. As research still continues, I think we as educators need to utilize the technology means that we have to help educate students. All schools and districts are different, and some might have more technology than others, but the main fact is that teachers and all educators need to begin to use what technology they are presented with. If not there is going to be an even larger gap in student achievement. Cheaters While students always find ways to cheat in school, each generation finds new and novel ways to fool their teachers. Students use "crib notes," plagiarize obscure text or journal writings, and copy off others' work, are just a few of past practices. While these are still used by some, students have embraced modern technology to "beat the system. Since students are often more technologically advanced than their teachers, to-day's teachers find it difficult to monitor the cheating and often give up and ignore the problem. How has technology changed how you would give assignments or tests? Will you change how you view technology in the classroom now that you see how clever the kids are getting? The best defense is a good offense! When it comes to cheating, I feel if the teacher or instructor is knowledgeable about students and behavior they can simply pick up on if students are cheating. In the old days to cheat you needed to have 20/20 vision and another student who was close so you could look at their test. In today’s classroom and the use of technology students have numerous avenues to be capable of cheating. It was crazy to see that after watching the required video clip that there are so many other videos. I began to watch at least 5 other videos on how to cheat. The best combat is to be aware of students and their actions. Do not sit behind your desk or grade papers, but walk around the room and look for signs of cheating. Technology has changed the way that I give assignments, but has not changed how I test. I do not feel comfortable just yet using technology to test my students. I am sure there are very valuable technology tools that will help testing, but for now I guess I am old fashioned in that regard. I do list all of my assignments online so that students and parent can access the information at any time. It has proven to be helpful when students are sick and cannot make school. They then can access the information from the internet and not fall behind in class. Truly my mindset will change in regards to technology and students using it to cheat. I thought that I had an idea, but after watching numerous video clips I can only imagine how many other ways to cheat are out there and accessible to students. Educator Professional Development Often schools have received funding through grants or bond referendums to purchase new technology for the classrooms. However, often little or no professional development is offered to the teachers on how to operate even the equipment, much less on how to use the technology in teaching. What do we have to do to ensure teachers can integrate technology with classroom instruction? Will this ensure teachers can fully utilize the tools available to them?

I am fortunate to be in the situation that directly relates to fusing technology into teachers. This year we have moved into a new high school that is full of advanced education technology. The problem we are facing is trying to get all of the technology working properly right now. There are numerous teachers so fed up with the technology that they state that they do not even want to use it now. There is a pretty steep learning curve for all of the technology that we have in each room, and we must stay patient. I feel that our administration could do a better job in training us on the technology rather than just throwing it at us in a one hour web lesson and then telling us to “just practice with it”. Granted I learn very well by experimenting with new technology, but having a good starter course that consists of a PD day would be much more beneficial. The most important aspect I still feel is on the individual teacher and their willingness to accept the new technology and incorporate it in their teaching techniques. The only means that I see working to ensure that teachers utilize the tools given to them is to have the administration hold them accountable for teaching with the technology. Every teacher has evaluations and as for my district, we must provide lesson plans for the week to our principal each week. I think that if a principal looks for and requires technology lessons incorporated into the normal lessons that would be a great way for teachers to be forced to use the tools. As teachers use the technology more, I feel that there mindset will change from it being a hassle to efficiently using technology to enhance students learning. Standards for Educators To live, learn, and work successfully in an increasingly complex, information-rich and knowledge based society, students and teachers must utilize technology effectively. Within a sound educational setting, technology can enable students to become: - Capable information technology users - Information seekers, analyzers, and evaluators - Problem solvers and decision makers - Creative and effective users of productivity tools - Communicators, collaborators, publishers, and producers - Informed, responsible, and contributing citizens Through the ongoing and effective use of technology in the schooling process, students have the opportunity to acquire important technology capabilities. The key individual in helping students develop those capabilities is the classroom teacher. The teacher is responsible for establishing the classroom environment and preparing the learning opportunities that facilitate students’ use of technology to learn, and communicate. Consequently, it is critical that all classroom teachers are prepared to provide their students with these opportunities. “Teachers who show competence with the knowledge creation approach will be able to design ICT based learning resources and environments; use ICT to support the development of knowledge creation and critical thinking skills of students; support students’ continuous, reflective learning; and create knowledge communities for students and colleagues.” The statement from the reading I feel makes a very valid point, but it also points out the obvious. If a teacher is a “good” teacher they will try new technology and resources to enhance their students learning capabilities. The word knowledge creation can come in many forms and

many good teachers have found or utilized ways to create knowledge, now it is using newer technology based tools to present the information to the students. Another interesting statement was: “Perhaps the most significant goal is for students to be able to determine their own learning goals and plans—the ability to establish what they already know, assess their strengths and weaknesses, design a learning plan, stay on task, track their own progress, and build on successes and adjust to failures; skills that can be used throughout a lifetime to participate in a learning society.� I do not agree with this, because I do not feel that students are capable of choosing their own learning goals. I see them not setting the bar high enough for themselves and I think overall it would be a disaster. Social Networking and Internet Safety How can we ensure our kids are safe using the internet? Has the World Wide Web allowed access for kids that can cause more harm than good? The article definitely points out many factors that affect teacher and students internet usage in a school setting. The simple thought came to mind when reading this article about students in general. Every day we as teachers try to do and teach the right things so that students can and will pick up what ideas and concepts we are trying to portray to them. We try to teach respect, good manners and tell the students to make the right decisions when no one is watching. The ideas behind those concepts just tend to be natural amongst teachers. The crazy thing is that when using the internet we lose those concepts and fail to teach the students the proper way to use the technology. Why is that I am not sure, because we can teach students to use the internet and technology with a sense of respect. Decisions on whether something is right or wrong can still apply to when someone is using technology or the internet. If a teacher is going to use technology or the internet, they will need to be able to use it in a positive manner so that students will then do the same. Students have always learned from eh teacher, so nothing is changing with technology being incorporated into classrooms. If a teacher uses technology appropriately, then the students will learn. Classroom Ethics Today teachers face new and complex problems with the infusion of technology in the classroom. Students often know more about the technology than their teachers and are able to do things online without the teacher knowing. Students visit web sites that explain or demonstrate methods of disrupting school such as The Big Book of Mischief or The High School Terrorist Handbook. In addition, there are many sites online that allow students to purchase papers for assigned work from a teacher or they simply copy and paste large portions of text from web sites and turn it in for their own. Some teachers complain that some students simply print out web pages and turn them in as their own work. Finally, students share music online as MP3 files, pirate software, and hack into sites around the Internet. How do we teach ethics to today's students? How can we protect our classrooms against illegal use of technology in the classroom? Every day in most classrooms we as educators try to teach our students ethics. We have the students raise their hands when asking a question, we have them ask politely to go to the

bathroom, and we have them sit and complete work in a calm orderly fashion. Then why when turning to technology do we as educators stray so far away from teaching ethics. In this week’s readings, I found the three facts listed for teaching responsibility really interesting. The first was having students learn about the value of others work or created items that are online. The second was to have students ask for permission about the appropriateness of work. The last referenced how to teach students the proper way to request permission to use some sources technology. If you sit back and look at those three facts to help teach responsibility, they match fairly well with the normal ethics that we try to instill in our students every day. Whether we as educators need to become more educated on technology or we just need to quit using the excuse that technology is difficult. Legal issues are soon going to engulf the news channels about copyright and plagiarism in schools. We as educators need to teach like we are, but be able to teach the same with more advanced tools and not shy away or let students get away with things we know are wrong, but not sure how to enforce. Censorship Today, the public and the legislators have become increasingly concerned with young people on line and what they may view. This is tempered by groups like the ACLU who argue that any limiting on the Internet will infringe on an adult's right to view objectionable materials. The issue does not stop at pornographic materials, but also includes personal viewpoints [e.g. Stormfront or the ACLU], information meant to help people [e.g. AIDS pages], religious pages [e.g. Christian or Islam pages], photographic sites [e.g. Flickr], ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative sites [e.g. National Organization of Women or the Eagle Forum]. This may be the hottest educational technology issue in the United States today. What issues will be faced by educators in using the Internet and "cyberspace" in schools?

There will always be discussion and disagreements about how and why technology sources should or should not be used in a school setting. The main issue that I feel will come into light in the next years will be the apparent rights movement that students “have a right to view what they want”. Schools that imply blockers or software that prevents students from accessing certain material will be evaluated very closely. The problem that we are currently dealing with is there are some students who can bypass the current systems and always seem to be one step ahead of school programing. As we have covered in previous discussion questions, I really feel that it will come down to ethics. The public as well as educators really need to focus on what is right and wrong, not necessarily the tools that can provide us the choices to be right or wrong. There will always be decisions made about what is right or wrong, and there are numerous tools and gadgets that can aid in the choice we make, but we still have a choice. As I always tell my students, where we are today and tomorrow are all pending on the choices that we make every second. Where are you going to be?

Issues in Educational Technology  

These are my thoughts and ideas in regards to discussion questions that were a part of Central Michigan University’s Education course EDU 70...