Technology Issues in Schools
Ashley Skene 12/6/2012
Introduction In this paper you will find suggestions and comments about current issues in the classroom right now about technology. Some topics covered are ethics, standards, how and when to integrate technology in the classroom and others. Some suggestions are for teachers, or administrators, and even parents. All of those people should be involved in a childâ€™s education and in order for a child to be as successful as possible they all need to work together. Hopefully there will be some helpful and useful tips here for you. Equal Access to Technology What could be done to ensure that people who have a disadvantage or disability have technology is fundraisers could be held to raise money to buy the supplies for them. A group could be formed or an organization could be created just for that purpose and they could have at least one in each state. The organizations could also ask for companies who make the needed technology to make donations. A lot of people are also unaware of the locations of their public libraries. People who have a disadvantage could go to their local libraries to use the computers for free if they can't afford one or internet service. Maybe if the libraries started advertising themselves on the television, radio and through fliers, more people would be aware of the libraries and it would come to mind as an option for them. I don't know about other public libraries but I know that mine holds little events for children on the weekends. This could be another way to get people to notice libraries as an option to use technology. Integration of Technology into Classrooms What we could do to make sure that using technology in the classroom adds to the learning experience and actually improves student learning is we could try teaching the first half of the year without it. That way we would have a control group of data to compare other data to. If we used a different class, it would be a totally different group of students and they may all learn differently. We also can't teach a group one concept without technology and then teach the same concept again with technology because the results would not be accurate. Of course the students would score higher the second time because they already learned it once and now it would just be a review or reinforcement. If we taught one class half of the school year without technology, which would give us data. Then for the second half of the year technology could be used. This way we could see if they made more improvement because the teacher would know their students and be able to make a good guess as to how the students would have done without the technology because they could find the mean of their scores. If the student does better than the mean of their scores from the first half of the year than there is a good chance that the use of technology improved their learning. Some best practices to use to ensure that using technology positively improves learning are that the teachers go to professional development classes to learn how to properly integrate technology Page | 2
into their class. If a teacher does not know how to use the technology properly then the students will not benefit. The teacher cannot spend most of their time fiddling with the technology trying to "figure it out" while the students are there because that will cause too many distractions and they will lose information. I also think that all teachers should be properly trained to use the device before they use it in the class. There are also some good sites out there that provide great lessons using the technology. I think it is also best when the students get to use the technology so they should also have time to play around with it to learn how to use it. Cheating Preventions To combat cheating in my class I would talk the advice of one of the articles. It said to do less multiple choice and true/false (which are easier to give the answers to others on) and to do more short essays. I might also possibly have a different form of the test for each class so that if the answers had been memorized in order, it wouldn’t work and I would be able to tell. If a student scored really high on several tests I might also talk to them about moving them up to a higher class because this one seems too easy for them. That might get them to start doing at least some of their own work. Another thing I could do is to have a “cubby” or something for each of the students to place any electronics that they might have with them. That way they wouldn’t be able to use it on the test. If I taught a math class I could stand at the door and clear the memory on all of their graphing calculators as they come in. One last thing I would do is none of the students would be able to leave until they have finished the test and I would be circulating around the room the entire time. The students usually cheat when the teacher is not looking and students have more opportunities now because I think there are fewer teachers that circulate during a test. Technology is keeping teachers on their toes more now since there are so many ways for students to cheat. I will not change my view on using technology in the classroom because incidentally the students are learning how to “problem solve” and they are learning new ways to use the technology. The students don’t really have good reasons for learning new ways to use the technology but they are at least learning. There was a comment in the last article about “they are only cheating themselves”. I have heard this comment being said to students and it doesn’t seem to be getting the point across. I think either that the students don’t care or that they don’t see how it is hurting them. Maybe there should be a lesson on this in the classroom or some kind of simulation to show how they are actually hurting themselves. Teachers’ Technological Knowledge I have seen a lot of new equipment being placed into classrooms and the teachers being excited to have something new in their room. I would guess that a few weeks later the equipment is still sitting there untouched. Most of the times the teachers are expected to learn how to use the new technology on their own time. They either have to find tutorials online or have a friend show them how to use it. A lot of teachers don’t have the extra time though. They already don’t have Page | 3
enough time to get everything done that needs to be done as it is. I don’t blame them for not wanting to spend extra time at school to learn how to use a new piece of technology. I know that some schools around where I live have late starts a few times a year. Since the staff has to report anyways that would be a good time to have them play with the technology. All schools also have staff meetings. That would be another good time to have a guest come in to demo the new equipment. As for making sure that the teachers are integrating the technology with the classroom instruction the teachers could put that into their lesson plans. Some schools around here require the teachers to turn in lesson plans and the teachers could just add in a side-note saying that they plan on teaching this lesson using “this technology by doing……” I think the biggest reason why teachers aren’t integrating technology into the classroom is because they don’t know how to use it or they do know how to use it but they don’t know how to integrate it. There could be several professional development days covering this topic where others could share their ideas and ways of teaching with technology. This will not ensure that teachers fully utilize the tools available to them but it will boost the numbers of those who will at least use the tools. Technology Competencies The reading talked about how the teachers need to incorporate technology into the classroom to help the students be ready for the workforce when they graduate. “The policy goal of the technology literacy approach is to prepare learners, citizens, and a workforce that is capable of taking up new technologies so as to support social development and improve economic productivity.” (United Nations, 2008) I agree with this because the work place does not want to have to waste time showing their employees how to use a computer or an IPad. Not only would the employer have to show them how to use the technology but they would then also have to show them how to use the software. I’m sure the employers would rather just have to show the employee how to use the software. I also liked how in ICT Competency Standards for Teachers, it talked about how technology should be used in the classroom but it shouldn’t be used for everything. “Changes in classroom practice involve knowing where and when (as well as when not) to use the technology for classroom activities and presentations and for management tasks.” (United Nations, 2008)A lot of the teachers who are against using technology in the classroom is because they don’t know how to use it and they think that they will have to use it for everything. The technology should only be used when it would make the most sense and it would be the most beneficial to. It also mentioned that visualizations would be most beneficial for science and data analysis tools would be the most beneficial for mathematics. Teachers need to be aware of what tools would work best with their content areas. I do think that technology when used correctly can be used to increase problem solving skills and making students better information seekers. In the US I think we should work more on getting Page | 4
the students to be better problem solvers, information seekers, analyzers, evaluators and more responsible citizens. The students I have been seeing in the classrooms really don’t have any of the skills and it is scary. The students want the teachers to give them the answers and I think that is partially our fault. We are so rushed with trying to cover all of the material that we are supposed to that we don’t have time to let the students think or come up with the answer on their own. In consequence we are training our students to not think on their own. I think it is going to be a major problem when those students are put out into the real world. Internet Safety Kids need to be taught how to be safe because there won’t always be someone in the room with them while they are on the internet. They need to be shown what to watch out for, what not to click on and they need to know why. We have a habit of telling children not to do something but we forget to tell them why or we say, “Because I said so.” We need to tell them about the dangers on the internet or otherwise they will not understand or see what all of the fuss is about. The last comment of the article was about losing a teachable moment and I agree. If we only ban the students from using the site, than who is going to teach them how to use them properly? Who is going to show them how to get everything they can out of a site? They need to be taught how to keep their personal information private and how to stay safe on the internet. If you know how to use the internet properly because you are very knowledgeable about it than the internet is a very good resource to use. It can cause harm if someone has not done their “homework” to check out certain sites before using them in class. You have to be able to warn your students of what not to do or what to be aware of. You can create a page on Facebook just for your class and everyone who joins the page can’t see each other’s profile pages. They can join the page and everyone still has their personal information on their profile pages private. They don’t have to become friends on Facebook to join the page. Students are missing out on opportunities to learn how to communicate with other students through the internet. They are also missing out on opportunities to communicate with students in other parts of the world which would give them an authentic lesson on the world. “Tolisano launched her “Around the World With 80 Schools” project. Tolisano says she sets up a meeting between classes using Skype. Students prepare a list of questions (What’s the weather like there? How big is your town or city? What continent are you on?) and chat with students in Canada, Finland, New Zealand, and Spain, among a long list of others.” (Davis, 2010) They would miss out on a lot of information and even more updated information than
what they would get in a classroom without the internet. Teaching Ethics One way that I think we could teach ethics to students is that the teachers for one grade level could get together and trade some of their students’ papers (with the names crossed out). The teachers should write a number in a corner of the papers so that they can tell whose paper it Page | 5
really is. These papers should have been graded in their original classroom too. Then they could go back to their classrooms and have the students take a paper. Have them put their name on it and turn it in for a grade. That classroom teacher will grade the paper and return it to the student in their class. After the student gets the paper back they should be told that students in another classroom turned in plagiarized work. Then tell them what that means. I would have the classrooms then go visit the other rooms and have the work lying on the desks to see who had whose work. I would basically have them act out what actually happens and then ask them how it felt to have someone use their work. Something else that teachers could do is make the consequences for illegally using technology more severe. I would also have them teach students in younger grade on what not to do so that maybe it finally sinks in that stealing another’s work is not ok. Students don’t realize that not everything on the internet is for us to take and use. I think that since the work is not physically in someone’s hands that it is up for the taking. All students want to do is get the work done quickly with little effort because they would rather be doing other things that they enjoy. Maybe teachers could help by having the students do less busy work and explain the reasons behind doing the work. Limiting the Internet I’m sure in the years to come educators will be faced with many issues in using the Internet and “cyberspace” in schools. As of right now educators are faced with many concerns in the classroom such as what type of parties they can have, what can be taught and who doesn’t have to participate in saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Certain families don’t celebrate all or any of the holidays and that has to be considered when planning parties, some parents get upset when they are told that the students will be learning about the Big Bang theory or even evolution. Not only do educators have to help keep the students safe online from hackers and pedophiles, they also will probably have to start limiting the type of research that can be done and limit the sites that students can go to. I think keeping the students safe from the “bad people” is a good thing but when you start limiting resources and knowledge, the child’s learning is being hindered. The students don’t have to believe everything they are taught but they should know about it so that when they are older and someone brings the subject up at work, they know something about it. This of course would be for students that are maybe 8th grade and older. There is too much information out there that younger students don’t understand yet and that should be kept for a later time. What I am trying to say is that not only will schools have to figure out which sites are appropriate for their students but they will also have to decide on when would be the best time to allow them access to that information. Conclusion There were several issues and concerns covered in this paper about how to use technology in the classroom, who is responsible for training the staff on how to use the new technology and what Page | 6
kind of access students should have to the internet in school. Most of this was just my opinion on the matters and what I think should be done. I also made comments and suggestions on what schools should do to help the staff and the students benefit as much as possible.
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Davis, M. (2010). Social networking goes to school. Education week: Digital directions, Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2010/06/16/03networking.h03.html United Nations. (2008). ICT competency standards for teachers. Educational, scientific and cultural organization.
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