Issues in Educational Technology Karen Todd EDU 707 December 7, 2012
Introduction Technology is a necessity in education today. The incorporation of effective use of technology is required for student success. However, this is not an easy task. A lot of training, funding, time and effort is required to use technology successfully in the classroom. In addition to those barriers, using technology brings on situations in the classroom that have many educators apprehensive about changing their teaching methods for the use of technology. Teachers have to be cognizant of how the students are using the technology and the capabilities of the technology. Students are becoming quite good at using computers, the internet, and tablets to cheat and participate in potentially harmful situations. However, with proper training, time, and experience teachers can effectively and efficiently use technology in the classroom to meet the needs of their twenty-first century learners. Access •
How do we, as educators, ensure that all of our students have access to technology?
On the first day of school my principal stated that equity does not mean equality. I had to stop and think about this, as it was an eye-opener. I always thought that if something was equal everyone had access and things were fair. Everyone has an opportunity; however, it’s not always equitable. Our students from well-educated families will thrive more than the ones who are less fortunate. It is inevitable that those with resources will prosper more than those who are the “have-nots”. However, the community, schools, administrators, and teachers need to step up to the plate to ensure access for all. The community provides access for all of those willing and able to access the public library. We cannot ensure internet access and technology in the homes of all the disabled. There are ample opportunities for those students attending schools to get the access and equipment they need. Additionally, as public education teachers, we should, and can, offer extra hours where students and parents can come in and access the internet with the aide of the teacher. We need to eliminate the “shame” factor for these families. No one should have limited access due to language barriers, disabilities, or economic status. Integration of Technology into the Curriculum We need to ensure that we are using technology appropriately and effectively in the classroom to maximize student learning and student growth. We should not be using technology in the classroom for the sake of using it. Teachers need to have a clear purpose in mind when implementing technology and they need to be using assessment measures to determine if students are truly learning from the technology. It would be an oversight and a disservice for students to use a simulation, SMART Board activity, etc. and not use a formative assessment measure to ensure the learning goal was met by the student. This assessment may take a different form from the traditional classroom paper and pencil methods that teachers are used to, but it needs to happen. Often times, technology that is used in the classroom has built in assessment measures and data can be collected on students to be used to plan further instruction. Furthermore, if a program or aspect of technology is not creating opportunities for learning gains, the teacher needs to reassess the situation and research other more effective ways for
students to learn. As stated in Collins and Havlerson article, “… one of the great advantages of information technology is customization. Computers can respond to the particular interests and difficulties that learners have and provide content on any topic of interest” (p. 2). We can create lessons and instruction to fit the unique needs of our students to help make sure we are using the technology effectively and efficiently. The best practice we can use to ensure using technology positively impacts learning is professional development. We hear, so often, teachers are hesitant about the inclusion of technology into their curriculum and classroom and this may be because they are not confident with the use of technology. Teachers who are advocates of online learning need professional development to ensure they are engaging learners in effective instruction that meets the objectives set forth by the state. Teachers also need time for collaboration with colleagues to get more teaches onboard for what is right by students. Administration needs to see the benefit of online learning and communicate it to parents and the community. When all parties are onboard with a goal, and support is prevalent our students will ultimately get the best education that they deserve. Collins and Havlerson stated it perfectly in their article when they claimed, “education is a lifelong enterprise, while schooling for most encompasses only the ages from five to 18 or 21 years. Even when students are in school, much of their education happens outside of school” (p.2). We need to prepare students for life not the next standardized test and technology is a tool in their preparation. Cheater’s Amok How do you handle cheating in the classroom with the use of technology? Technology has definitely increased the ease of cheating among students of all ages. Students, unfortunately, don’t see the repercussions of cheating and therefore do not consider it a major problem. I had a discussion recently with my eighth grade students who argued with me that you could not cheat on homework assignments or classwork, only tests and quizzes. They admitted to taking another student’s paper and copying it, but did not consider it cheating because it was not a “major” assignment. I was dumbfounded. Additionally, I have still seen “traditional” ways of cheating in eighth grade. I recently caught two students taking notes on their arms, pulling down their sleeves to cover their notes, and then going to another classroom to take their assessment. Cheating is prevalent in middle schools with and without technology. Combatting the cheating in the classroom is a difficult task. As teachers, we make thousands of decisions a day and this is one more thing that we have monitor and make decisions about that impact our students. I make the common sense test taking precautions in my classroom to help eliminate cheating in my classroom. I move students away from other students, use multiple versions of tests, and use effective test questions that require students to explain their reasoning rather than circle a multiple choice answer. However, students are getting sneakier and sneakier regarding cheating. The coke bottle example had me shocked, yet wondering if students have that much time into create cheating tactics, such as modifying drink labels, they could have spent the time studying and actually learned the material.
I have given tests online using computer software our district purchased. I have not caught any students using outside sources while online to aide them in their tests. However, I know students are becoming more apt to cheating using a variety of techniques. I will not stop using technology because students are using it to cheat. Our school bans the use of cell phones and other electronics in the classroom so that helps eliminate cheating using technology, although I am sure students still find ways around it. I think that it is the teacher’s job to ensure, as best as they can, that cheating is not taking place in the classroom, and to attend to the situation of cheating in a serious manner. Too often my students say that teachers catch them and do not do anything. Cheating is unfortunately inevitable in schools, we as teachers need to continue to do all we can with technology and monitoring strategies to help eliminate and discipline those caught cheating. Educator Professional Development To ensure that teachers are effectively integrating technology with their classroom instruction, trainings to meet the teacher’s needs must be provided. We are constantly asked, as teachers, to differentiate our instruction and to work to meet the diverse needs of our students; however, this rarely happens for us teachers. There are many times that we sit in professional development trainings having already learned the information or the information does not pertain to our current teaching situation. We can always benefit from trainings and can take one thing with us to add to our “tool-box” or implement in our classrooms. However, imagine the impact professional development opportunities would have on teachers when they meet their direct needs. As discussed in Judi Harris’ article, “One Size Doesn’t Fit All”, there are many different types of professional development that would fit individual teacher needs. We need to embrace these ideas in our schools. Technology is often bought but never used; teachers have to rely on each other for technical support, or teachers have to teach themselves how to use the technology. Additionally, teachers sometimes lack the full integration of technology into their classroom. Teachers need to be afforded the opportunities to attend trainings that are individualized to meet their diverse needs, just as we do for our students. The effective training and implementation strategies will assist teachers with the ability to integrate technology; however, it will not ensure teachers fully utilize what is given to them. Teachers need to be held accountable by mentor teachers or administrators if technology implementation is truly valued in the school system. We want continued support from the community and families so we need to ensure we are effectively using the resources they are providing for us. Too often we pretend to use the technology or say we are using it, but it is just sitting in our classroom. It is not an easy task, to learn and use new technology, as time is always of the essence, but if we truly believe technology is the way of the future we need to use it to our advantage and to meet our students diverse learning needs. We, as teachers, need to be advocates not only for the trainings regarding new technology, but the effective implementation of the technology. Competency Standards for Teachers Teachers are the key factors in any classroom and they are the ones that create the learning opportunities for the students. As the report states, “the teacher is responsible for establishing the classroom environment and preparing the learning opportunities that facilitate students’ use
of technology to learn, and communicateâ€? (page 1). If we are making technology a key component of teacher education programs and the continual professional development of our teachers we will be able to serve our twenty-first century learners. We want to equip our students with the skills necessary to be successful members of society and we need technology to do that. Our schools and districts may not be able to provide for us all of the trainings and information that we need to implement the technology successfully into our classroom, so we need to ensure that we are going the extra step to do what is right by our students. The Common Core State Standards that we are starting to implement have technology embedded in them. Society sees technology as an essential part of life so we need to prepare our students for this. It is no longer going to be adequate to state that every classroom has technology and students have computers available for use if we are not teaching our students how to get the most out of the technology. We need to teach our students the skills for research, practice, problem solving, and higher-order thinking with technology. Teachers need to create situations for knowledge deepening and instill life-long learning in their students. When this has been done we can confidently say we are meeting our studentâ€™s needs. Social Networking Teaching our students how to use the internet in a responsible and respectful matter will not only benefit them in classroom it will also help them outside of school. The article goes back and forth discussing positive ways to incorporate technology into our classrooms, but is quick to inform us of what we need to be cautious regarding the use of technology. I think it is important for teachers, administrators, and parents to understand there are risks to using these internet tools, but this is what our students are experiencing. We can offer them education on how to use the internet appropriately, get the most accurate information they are looking for, and be able to experience situations virtually they may otherwise not get to experience if we are allowed to use these sites in the classroom. Teachers need to take the time and energy to investigate the programs they are using in their classrooms to know how to set the privacy and what the site is capable of doing for them and their students. A lot of sites have a variety of choices for settings regarding who can post and view the information. We need to be aware of how it works so we can be ready to handle any problems that may occur. It is a double edged sword in a lot of cases because while as teachers some of us see the need and know the success the technology can bring our students, we have very little support in this regard. We can use the studentsâ€™ mistakes as teachable moments and create learning opportunities for students. Blocking students from these sites does not allow us to teach them how to use social networking and other sites responsibly. The use of the internet allows students, and anyone, access to virtually anything and we need to educate students on the proper use of the internet and all it offers. The ability to use Web 2.0 tools and other social networking sites with the intent to build student success should be permitted. Classroom Ethics The key for ensuring students are using technology appropriately is to explicitly teach them what is legal to do and what is not. The access to papers, assignments, music, etc. is numerous and we
need to instill in our students the importance of using original works to complete assignments. Additionally, they need to be taught explicitly how to credit the author of something they are using to support their claims. I dealt with a situation in eighth grade Language Arts when a student copied and pasted directly from a website and claimed it as their own. Of course they did not receive any credit for the assignment and disciplinary action was taken by the school. This is something that needs to be consistent in schools and with each case of plagiarism or cheating. We need to have plans in place for when these situations arise to show our students the seriousness of their actions. We cannot ignore these situations because we deem it a minor infraction. Monitoring student computer use and checking papers and assignments for plagiarism is also an essential component when protecting out classrooms against illegal use of technology. Ignoring the situation is the worst possible solution. Morals and ethics teaching in schools is a fine line. However, as educators, it is part of our job to ensure the safety and dignity of our students. We need to teach them how to cite information they use and explain to them the seriousness of cheating. We do not want them to find out when it is too late. Censorship Censorship of the internet is a highly debated topic in today’s schools. Some people feel access should be open to all while others believe we should have filters that block ALL inappropriate content for our students. This is a hard battle to fight because if we use a filter that is too restrictive our students miss out on opportunities to use Web 2.0 tools, for example, that allows for personal expression and communication with their peers. Additionally, sites may be restricted for teachers that enhance the learning taking place in their classrooms. This is too restrictive. While I do not believe the entire internet should be open and available for students in schools, I do think that we need to use filters that allow for use of Web 2.0 tools, videos, and communication tools that are effectively enhancing classroom instruction. If we take situations that happen in our classrooms that may not be deemed inappropriate or disrespectful and use it as a teachable moment a lot of problems may be alleviated. I know at my middle school students and teachers sign a detailed “Technology Agreement” forms that describe all of the activities that are permitted as well as those that are not. Proper discipline that is consistently used when rules are broken will also help to curb the inappropriate actions of students. There are laws that are put in place that do not allow American citizens to do certain things until we reach a certain age. Isn’t this related to filtering what students can and cannot experience online? Again, this is a touching subject because who decides who makes the decisions about what is blocked and what is not? This will continue to be a battle in education as technology continues to advance.
References Collins, A. and Halverson, R. (2010) The second educational revolution: rethinking education in the age of technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26:18-27. Davis, M. R. (2010). Social networking goes to school. Digital Directions, 3(3), 16,18,20,22-23. Retrieved from https://blackboard.cmich.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp? tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=/webapps/blackboard/execute/launcher? type=Course&id=_50343_1&url=. Harris, J. (2008). One size doesn't fit all. Learning and Leading with Technology, 22-26. Retrieved from http://etpd.blogs.wm.edu/files/2010/06/Harris-DesigningETPD2.pdf. United Nations Educational, S. A. C. O. (2008). Retrieved from UNESCO website: http://cst.unesco-ci.org/sites/projects/cst/The Standards/ICT-CST-Competency Standards Modules.pdf.