Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chapter 6- Fostering Online Learning with Educational Websites and Apps

   Focus Question: What are different types of educational websites available on the internet? 
According to our textbook, there are 6 types of educational websites that are available for students and teachers. 
1. Lesson Plan Websites- Lesson plan websites give teachers ideas for classroom lessons and activities. They offer step by step procedures in teaching the lesson to students. These sites also give lesson extension ideas as well as interactive activities that the students can use. 
2. Student-to-Expert Communication Websites- These websites are a great way for students to connect with experts on particular subjects. They ask questions and receive answers electronically. On these websites, students can also be tutored in areas they are struggling in. 
3. Archival and Primary Source Websites- During research assignments, students can come to this website to find reliable primary sources. 
4. Skills Practice Websites- These websites give students extra practice on different academic material. 
5. Exploration and Discovery Websites- They allow the student to explore a subject in depth rather than simply finding the basic information. It offers interactive learning activities that make comprehension easier for the student. 
6. Real-Time and Recorded Data Websites- This gives the student a different learning perspective. These websites want to make the students feel involved while learning about different science topics. 

Digital Dialog 6.2: 
1. I do feel as though requiring all students to take an online course is a good educational policy. As the years go by, there are many technological advances. It is important to keep students up-to-date with new innovations. Online classes give students the opportunity to learn through the use of technology while learning technology itself. 
2. Virtual learning and online courses do prepare students for future careers. In many careers today, we are forced to use technology. If we introduce technology to students at a younger age, they will have better gain experience. They will also learn how to communicate through technology, which is another part of some career fields. 
3. I prefer a blended learning experience as opposed to entirely in-class or online. I think face-to-face social interaction is crucial for everyone. If we require online classes for students, they are losing out on personal interactions with their peers. In my opinion, face-to-face interaction is more beneficial than interactions through the use of technology. If we blend the learning experience, the students and teachers will get the best of both worlds. They will be able develop relationships and socialize in the classroom, and they will be able to use technology while learning. 

     This entire chapter is a great insight to the use of educational websites and apps in learning. The internet gives us thousands of tools that are beneficial for the students learning and for our teaching. Both teachers and students can use online bookmarking to manage the information that we find. In this course, I was introduced to Delicious. I have found myself using this bookmarking tool more often as I switch to different computers. I love how I have access to important websites and sources at all times. One part of the chapter that I was intrigued by was virtual field trips. I had never heard of this before, but the idea is genius. Unfortunately, not every student has the ability to go on a field trip to different museums or aquariums. With online field trips, students can visit different places all around the world without leaving the classroom. I would love to share that experience with my students in my future classroom. 
     I am a huge fan of incorporating technology into our curriculum; however I feel as though there should be a balance between the amount of technology and the amount of in-class interactions in a classroom setting. I think online classes are beneficial to engage learning through the use of technology. I also believe humans need to interact with one another face to face to create stronger relationships and connections. As a student, I learn better in a classroom than I do in an entirely online course. 
     I addressed the 6 types of educational websites for teachers and students at the beginning of this post. Each educational website has a different purpose and works in different ways. Teachers use these websites to enhance their teaching and students use these websites to enhance their learning. The great thing about these websites is that they allow students to learn through interactive activities. Engaging the students in different learning activities will ensure comprehension. 
     As a future teacher, I am beginning to realize the big part technology plays in school systems. Every teacher should take advantage of the online resources that are available to not only help teach a lesson but to help their students learn new information. 

                     Virtual Classroom - Year 12 by Mr Ush
                                        Virtual Classroom - Year 12, a photo by Mr Ush on Flickr.

Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin, Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2013). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 7- Exploring Problem Solving with Software, Apps, and Games

Focus Question: What are the standard and open-source software applications available on most computers?
     The standard software applications on our computers are indispensable tools. Different jobs call for different standard software. My most used standard software application is Microsoft Word. In fact, I am even using it as I type. Microsoft Word comes in handy when developing any type of writing assignment. It offers great tools such as paragraph spacing, different fonts, and a grammar and spell check. Doctors use software programs to collect data of all of their patients. Architects use software programs for designing their next big project. Accountant use computer software for tax preparation. Open-source software programs are available for public use. Certain organizations will make the source codes free for the user. These are basically alternatives to the standard software programs. OpenOffice is an alternative to Microsoft Office. Firefox is an alternative to Internet Explorer. These programs can be used in the same way, however they are sometimes more readily available.

Digital Dialog 7.2:
     1. I do believe there is an impact on the violence that is found in some video games. Research has showed that most children who play violent video games or watch violent television shows tend to develop more violent habits. I think that if children are constantly playing violent video games and computer games, they will think it is okay to participate in violent behavior.
     2. In my opinion, there are many educational advantages to games that introduce appropriate and useful situations. Some games teach children to cooperate, share, problem solving, and even resolving personal problems in a nonviolent way. I like the games that focus on developing positive characteristics of a child. If a game has taught a child problem solving skills, that child will bring that knowledge into the classroom.
     3. When I am a teacher, I will use the students’ interest of gaming when thinking of activities. A child who enjoys games would be more eager to learn through the use of games. I could assess my students with the use of computer activities. I could also give my students time to play educational games on the computer. Not only will they be learning new topics, but they will also be learning how to use technology.

     As teachers, we can use technology to teach students problem solving skills. There are many programs and activities on the internet that teach children about the curriculum topic while teaching them how to solve real life problems. The book introduces the 3 steps of the problem solving framework: understand the problem, use problem solving strategies, and check results. I can use these 3 steps in my future classroom when asking my students questions about particular topics. I would ask the student a specific question, they will have time to figure out the answer, and the we could reflect on their answer and decide why or how it is right or wrong.
     Software is one of the most important technological tools in society today. There are so many ways we can use software in teaching, learning, and our everyday careers. The use of software makes these jobs ten times easier. The great thing about software is that we have control over what it does. They are programmed to perform certain tasks; however we are the ones controlling its every move. We can customize and personalize our creations for different uses and situations. Before we use these software programs, it is important to evaluate them to see if they are appropriate for students and if the learning content is reliable. Students can create different charts and tables on these programs. This is a more interactive and engaging approach to exploring the subject matter.
     The book mentioned a debate about whether computer games could be or should be used as learning resources. I remember when I was younger; my parents would not allow me to have any video game systems such as PlayStation or Xbox. They believed that those programs had no benefit to my learning. They did not want to introduce me to the violence on these gaming systems. Looking back, I do understand why they made that decision with me. When I become a parent, I will limit the video games that my child will use. I do believe they can serve a learning benefit if used correctly. The educational computer and video games is a good learning tool for students. I would use appropriate computer games as an assessment and practice tool in my future classroom. Students can either work independently or cooperatively in computer games. 
     The graph below shows the percentage of children that become engaged by computer and video games, as well as other technological sources. You can see that the two categories with the most engaged children were both computer and video games. If a child becomes so engaged by these two items, it would be a great idea to incorporate this into their learning environment. 

                   University of Maryland Researchers Find Home Computer Use by Kids Brings Benefits, But Not to All by Merrill College of Journalism Press Releases

Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin, Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2013). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chapter 5- Teaching Information Literacy and Digital Citizenship

Focus Question: What are search engines, and how do they work?
According to our textbook, a search engine is a software program that uses networks of computers to access information from its databases. We often turn to search engines for answers to our most random questions. Students and teachers perform an information search to gather more information about a particular topic. When we search for certain things online, it is called information research and retrieval. This is when people search for information within smaller and more directed documents. If we wanted a wider range of information, we would conduct we information retrieval. There are a lot of search engines and databases that are useful for teachers and students.

Digital Dialog 5.2:
Cyber-bullying is a serious issue that has increased throughout the years of our technological advances. Children are being introduced to technology at a young age, and bullying is something that comes along with it.

1. In my opinion, bullying is caused by low self-esteem and a need for control. The bully who typically seems like the stronger figure probably has bad self-esteem to the point where they feel the need to pick on others. Kids also want to seem cool in front of their friends and they think that making fun of others will do that. I think if teachers address bullying when the students are at a younger age, they will be less likely to do it later on. If the teacher makes it known that there will be zero tolerance for bullying, it could try to eliminate it.
2. I think children should be educated on bullying as soon as they are old enough to understand. I think students in second or third grade are old enough to know better. I have seen prevention strategies in classrooms before. There are some teachers that do not tolerate it whatsoever. Immediate disciplinary action is taken if bullying is observed. Before it even happens, teachers need to teach acceptance of diversity and differences. If children learn to accept differences, they are less likely to target someone for his/her differences.
3. I will address bullying from the first day of school. Once students are educated about it, prevention can occur. As I mentioned in #2, I will talk about diversity and teach my students that every person is different and that it is okay to be different. I will also maintain a good relationship with my students so that they can come to me if ever in a bullying situation. I want them to feel safe when they are in my classroom, so it will be known from the very beginning that any form of bullying will not be tolerated.

In this chapter, I have realized how lucky our generation of teachers is. We have the use of technology and with that come the internet! The internet makes researching information so much easier for teachers and students. Teachers use different search engines to try to find ways to better their instruction. Students use search engines to gather information about topics and lessons. When gathering all of this information, we must develop digital and information literacy. It is important to be able to not only locate the information, but to gather it and evaluate it. Along with focusing on the standard reading and writing skills, students are also learning about retrieving and analyzing online information. When evaluating online information, the students must decide how reliable it is. If we teach children how to steer clear from false information on the internet at a younger age, they will use this information throughout their high school and college years. For our website evaluation assignment, we learned about the criteria: Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Currency, and Coverage. Prior to that assignment, I never took the time to evaluate a website based upon those five categories. I will always keep them in mind when gathering information from different websites. When we teach our students about researching information, it is important that we focus on copyright and plagiarism. These two offenses can result in serious consequences. I wish I had learned about citations at a younger age because I have used it so often throughout my school tears. As we incorporate technology into our classrooms, we must teach our students to use it in the correct way. Cyber-bullying may be a result with technology use, however early prevention is key. 

Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin, Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2013). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chapter 4- Designing Lessons and Developing Curriculum with Technology

Focus Question: How are lesson planning and student assessment enhanced by technology?

Classroom instruction includes 3 categories that can use technology as an enhancement. To develop a lesson, the teacher must first focus on the academic content (what to teach). This is where the teacher must decide which content to put into her lesson. He or she must choose what will fit in with the required curriculum standards. These standards are very vague, leaving majority of the decision making to the educator. This is where technology comes in. There are many curriculum resources available for teachers. He or she can use online databases, blogs, search engines, academic websites, and classroom technology tools for finding information. The next step in creating a lesson is the method (how to teach). During this step, the teacher focuses on the goals of the lesson or why the lesson is being taught. This is also where teachers will decide their teaching method. This is how they want to convey the information to the students, for example: group activities, case studies, journals, discussions, and lectures. Technology can be used during this step with the use of presentation software (PowerPoint). The third and final step that uses technology as an enhancement to lesson planning is the learning assessments. Student assessment is important and is basically the main reason for teaching. Teachers need to be able to know what the students have learned. Teachers assess their students’ knowledge before, during, and after lessons. This allows them to see their academic progress. We can assess students while using technology. Teachers can give online tests and quizzes and they can also use technology to record student grades. As you can see, technology plays a big part in creating a lesson plan as well as assessing students. Technology makes lesson planning and student evaluating 10 times easier because of the resources available. 

Digital Dialog 4.2:
As a future educator, I am an advocate for active learning. I believe that we cannot fully assess a student’s intelligence with a multiple-choice standardized test. I think performance-based evaluations would be more useful for students considering the theory of multiple intelligence's.

1. I do not consider myself to be skillful at taking multiple-choice tests; however there can be strengths and weaknesses for this type of test taking. Multiple-choice exams would be beneficial for students who are linguistically smart (word smart). Students who have great attention spans and love reading would most likely do well on these types of tests. This test form would not help those who learn better actively. An overall weakness of multiple-choice tests would be the strict scoring.
   2. As I mentioned in #1, paper and pencil tests would be best for students who are great readers. Students who are more athletic and active would benefit more from performance-based evaluations.

3. As a student, my teachers had used performance-based evaluations on occasion. In health science classes, I had to point to parts of my body and identify my bones. In my high school art classes, I was evaluated based upon my art projects. I never received a paper-pencil test in those courses. I have also been evaluated by creating and presenting multiple projects, such as poster boards, PowerPoint, and a new type of assessment for me are these blog posts. In this class, we are evaluated based upon our journal entries rather than a standard test. When I become a teacher, I plan to incorporate performance-based assessments whenever I can. Even though I would love to eliminate the boring paper-pencil and multiple choice tests, I still feel they are important in our school curriculum. 

            Standardized Test Close-Up by biologycorner
           Standardized Test Close-Up, a photo by biologycorner on Flickr.

Lesson planning is a huge part of teaching. I have always known how important lesson planning was to the curriculum, but I never really thought about how technology could enhance it. Most people take classroom technology for granted. We don’t realize how big of an effect it has in our classrooms today. Technology makes lesson planning and student evaluation way easier. I can’t even imagine how teachers did it before the new advances. Technology also makes it easier for teachers to meet educational standards.
In my Intro to Teaching course last year, I was introduced to measurable student objectives. I was happy to see this reintroduced in this chapter. Setting student learning objectives creates an instructional goal for the teachers. It is an important part of creating a lesson plan because it focuses on what the student will get out of your lesson and what they will be able to do afterwards.

The rest of this chapter addressed the controversial assessment topic. Many people have different opinions on how students should be evaluated whether it is by standardized tests or by performance. I do not want to go to in depth here because I could talk about this all day. The main thing I wanted to point out here is that no matter what form of test you prefer, each can benefit from the use of technology. We can use technology for preparation for these assessments. We can also use technology for the test itself. Technology is a fast and efficient way to test a student and retrieve a score. Online tests and quizzes can usually grade right after submission. 

Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin, Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2013). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chapter 3- Transforming Learning with Unique, Powerful Technology

Focus Question:
What are the essential ideas for teachers from research on the science of learning?

-Research on the science of learning focuses on active engagement of the students. Active learning means that each student is involved in the learning process both physically and cognitively. Research shows that physically participating in a lesson is more effective than just sitting behind a desk for hours at a time. Metacognitive thinking is when students can assess their way of thinking. This allows them to identify what they already know and what they still need to learn. These two concepts are important in a student-centered teaching approach. In this philosophy of teaching, the teacher creates situations where students can problem solve and participate in class discussions.

-The four learning theories: behaviorism, cognitivist, constructivism, and constructionism are used in many classrooms today. Each theory uses technology and computers in different ways. In the behaviorism theory, learning is said to be a process of memorizing. The computer systems are carefully arranged and controlled. The computer is the source of knowledge. In the cognitivism theory, interaction is emphasized. This strategy uses active learning and metacognitive skills. The constructivism theory manipulates the surroundings in a different way for each student. The constructionism theory says that learners build their own knowledge. This strategy believes that students will benefit more from the knowledge that they build themselves rather than being forced.

-The science of learning also ties in with the five types of unique, powerful, and transformative learning in NETS-S and the 21st Century Student Outcomes: critical thinking and problem solving, digital literacies, communication and collaboration, creativity, and digital citizenship. These five categories use digital technology to propel new learning and organizational change.

Digital Dialog 3.1:
    When it comes to learning, I prefer visuals and interactions. There are certain subjects that I can learn better by reading a book. I prefer to learn visually when learning new math concepts and when being taught how to create something. I also like the use of visuals when learning about art. I prefer to learn history by book because I feel that history lectures do not capture my attention. Recently, I have learned how to create a rubric using Rubistar. The YouTube video with step by step instructions made it easier for me to learn. I could easily follow along and see how to start from a blank page. I have also recently learned how to create measurable learning objectives using an online tutorial in my other class. When I become a teacher, I plan on adjusting the lesson and activities to benefit all different learning preferences. I can use computer visuals for directions and then have the students perform a hands-on activity.

    In this chapter I have learned about the four learning theories and how they use technology to enhance learning. The two teaching philosophies, teacher-centered and student-centered use technologies in different ways as well. Student-centered teachers use technology as an aid in class discussion, while teacher-centered teachers use it for lecture purposes. I find it interesting how two opposite teaching approaches use the same technology but in different ways. The picture below is an example of what a student-centered classroom would look like. The desks arranged in a circle allow open discussion and interaction amongst the students. In this chapter I have also learned more about the 4 instructional methods to engage students in learning. I personally favor the one-on-one tutoring method. I think students benefit from one-on-on help from the teacher. 

             Circle of Desks 1 by perkinsy
                           Circle of Desks 1, a photo by perkinsy on Flickr.

Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin, Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2013). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.