EdTech 503 – Module 2 Reflection

This week, I had trouble with the reading, comprehension-wise.  I was unable to get the definition of “epistemology” to stick with me.  Here is the definition from Dictionary.com for the sake of posterity:

“Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that investigates the limits, origin, methods and nature of human knowledge.” (n.d.).

I was never able to tie all of the readings together, for either myself or the writing assignment, this week.  For instance, I am not 100% certain that Social Constructivism is a Theory and not a major school of thought.  However, I don’t think that it is a major school of thought.

The theory of Social Constructivism mirrors the way I think education should be and not necessarily the way that I actually perceive it.  What I mean by that is that I think all students should have as much support as they need, but only as long as necessary.  Personally, I didn’t receive enough support, up through junior high.  In high school, my scaffolding was probably a little over-constructed.  In college, the construction was still solid, but it was reasonable.  It took me a long time to learn how to be a student and I can now be successful, but that doesn’t mean that it is without some major effort. (Jonassen, 2012, Pg 272).
 
My difficulty may come from being a “methodical learner,” as a beloved teacher once referred to me.  At first I was taken aback – this was in high school and I was a rock star (weren’t we all) – but then I thought about it and he was correct.  I took (and still take) my time with things because I find them to be challenging, because I enjoy what I’m doing, because I want them to be done correctly, or it could be a combination of all of the above.
 
To be continued…
 
References:
  1. Jonassen, D., & Land, S. (Eds.). (2012). Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (2nd ed.). Routledge.
  2. The Definition of Epistemology. (n.d.).Dictionary.com. Retrieved June 21, 2012, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/epistemology?s=t

EdTech 504 – Module 1 Reflection

  • Where are you now, in terms of your own teaching and professional practice and the inclusion of educational technology in that process?

I don’t currently teach, but when I did teach, I was just getting into it.  Teaching, that is.  I had tutored students for years and sometimes was asked to find additional resources for students.  I usually did this online – I looked for worksheets or videos for them to use.  Sometimes I checked out the library for video resources on CD.

As an online instructor, I used a lot of words and not as many visual tools as I would have liked.  In our “Interactive Courseware Development” course, last term, I started to see how math could be made more tactile online.  It is possible to click and drag and push things around, in order to learn algebra; you don’t have to simply be told the steps.  That process is time-consuming, though, and as I start working on my own library of web things to include in my online classes, I will be trying to find some things that are already available that satisfy my vision of how math should be taught online.

So, that’s where I was when I stopped teaching online: burned out and not utilizing much technology in my high tech class.  There is sort of a misconception that you’re using educational technology if you teach online.    If the technology you’re using hinders the educational experience more than enhances it, it might be time to take a step back and re-evaluate.

  • What kind of change do you hope to see as a result of this class?

I think it is going to be a good class for reading, writing, and thinking about educational technology.  I am always hoping to become better as a result of my experiences – I think that collaborating with my peers will improve my thought and research processes in educational technology.

  • How might your knowledge and experiences influence the actions of those around you?

In terms of this class or in terms of my workplace(s)?  In terms of the class, I think it is neat that I’m working in areas other than instruction, right now – I hope it will allow me to provide a viewpoint that my classmates had not considered, down the line.

In terms of my workplaces, I think that progressing through these MET courses has helped to boost my confidence to some extent, and I’m more willing to offer solutions if I have them.  I can always, always use further writing and collaboration experience, so I’m excited to do that, this summer.

Tentative Project Plan – EdTech 512

1. What is the tentative title/ topic of the course?

  • Revenue Cycle Department: Customer Service Training

2. Who are your learners?  What age, context/ grade, how many students?

  • 30+ employees in the Health Information Management, Patient Financial Services and Registration departments.
  • Range in age from 20-60+ and vary in tech-savviness, personality and education.

3. Main purpose of the course?

  • To ensure that all employees are on the same page, in terms of customer service.  At present, processes vary among departments and among employees.

4. Will the course be self-paced or facilitated?  Fully online or blended?  Why?

  • Course will be fully online and self-paced.  At present, there is not someone available to train employees face-to-face in the art of customer service.  I hope to use a variety of media in the course, in order to cater to different learning styles.

5. Anticipated timeline for implementation?

  • Hope to implement course by the end of 2012, and have employees complete it early next year.

6. How many total hours of learning time are required in your course?

  • Compare course to a 3 credit, 12 week course.
  • In an online class, students will probably spend 2-3 hours on their class per week, for each credit.
  • Students should plan on spending 6-9 hours per week working on the class.
  • Students will spend a total of 72-108 hours on the class, over 12 weeks.

7. Are there content standards and/ or course objectives that must be aligned to the course outcomes?  List them if you know what they are.

  • I have a large set of “Best Practices” that I need to condense, combine or par down.
  • These Best Practices include the following:

    • Optimal Market-Based Discount
    • Service Rendering Position
    • Pricing Transparency
    • Patient Advocacy
    • Hospital Sponsored Financial Aid
    • Debt Reduction Provisions
    • Expanding Your Patient Options
    • Collection Safeguards
    • Executive Compact
    • Clinical Awareness
    • Essential Associate Awareness
    • Community Outreach  and PR
    • Proper Facility Recognition
    • CDE Procurement
    • Demographic and Financial Verification
    • Real-Time Insurance Verification
    • Healthcare and Community-Based Risk Scoring
    • Financial Assistance Screening
    • On-Demand Billing
    • E-Cashiering
    • Patient Pay Receivables Stratification
    • Dashboard Reporting
    • Patient Pre-Processing
    • Check-In Patient Processing
    • Rapid Ed Intake and Checkout
    • High Risk Control Tower
    • Financial Discharge Process
    • Integrated Back Office
    • Patient Friendly Billing
    • Cost Effective Receivable Stratification
    • Agency Management and Filtering
    • Risk Realization Reporting and Feedback
    • Organizational Alignment and Governance
    • Supercharged Patient Advocacy
    • Pay for Performance
    • Training for Sustainability
    • Team Philanthropy

8. Adult learners: Does the course need professional development, undergraduate, or graduate credit tied to it?  Do you have this available, if needed?

  • I will probably have to figure out how to move the course to the hospital’s learning management system, Healthstream.  The hospital requires employees to complete a certain number of courses per year, and they track that.  Employees don’t actually receive transferrable credit for the courses.

9. In what platform will you host the course (mandated or your choice as designer)?

  • I hope to start out with Moodle, but I also want to learn more about the hospital’s proprietary LMS, Healthstream, and find out how I would go about building something for that format.

Edit (06/08/2012): the course will need to eventually be moved to Healthstream.  Most of the courses posted in Healthstream are first built in PowerPoint.  For right now, I’m still planning on Moodle, but with some investigation into the use of PowerPoint for this purpose.

10. Is this a redesign of a face-to-face or online course, or a totally new course?

  • This is a completely new course, in industry, subject matter and platform.

Pinterest

I have been trying to come up with a post about Pinterest, the social “pinning” site.  I have maybe half a dozen posts in various stages of writing.  I haven’t quite been able to finish one and have consequently become pretty bored with trying to eek meaning from the site.

Essentially, Pinterest is like a visual form of twitter and with sorting capabilities.  I think it is particularly useful for people people that like to cook, virtual book clubs and elementary school teachers.  While I was obsessed with pinning, I created an EdTech pinboard and tried to include related images, products and sites.

If you don’t get carried away, Pinterest can be a good way to keep track of things you like and actually, when I initially started looking at it, I found it be sort of cathartic to scroll through an endless page of things people like.  Now, I find it to be a little repetitive.

Are you interested in using Pinterest in your classroom?  If so, I would recommend first look at what other people have done:

  • Click here for a Pinterest board collecting different ways in which Pinterest is used in education.  For the purposes of this post, this link is sort of meta.
  • Last month, Edudemic wrote a post about how educators are using Pinterest.

Have fun exploring Pinterest and pinning all of the things!

Break

On a break before classes start up again, in early June.  Found a blog theme that I like and I hope to start to organize a few of the projects I’ve been working on, the last couple of terms, while I have some free time.

This past term was my second in the Master’s of Educational Technology program at Boise State.  I still have some work to do, in terms of time-management, but I ultimately came out of both of my classes on top.  The final verdict on my grades should be in, this week.

Learning to Blog

I have noticed that all of the people that I’m interested in finding out more about, within the field of educational technology, wind up having these extensive blogs that go back years.  So, I’m starting a spring/ summer project.  I’ll blog daily (or every other daily).  The posts will probably be [very] short, for a while, and interspersed with things from my classes.

This just seems like something I need to do, career-wise.  We’ll see how it goes :).  I also read recently that the best way to become a better writer is to write something every day, so that is a part of this newfound interest in blogging as well.

EdTech 511 – Project Description

Project Topic Ideas

Topic

Math Resource Portal

Goals

  • Provide information on a few common things encountered early on in one’s math career (more to be added; open to suggestions):
    • The concept of slope
    • Mean, median and mode
    • Area of polygons
    • Reducing fractions

Target Audience

Community college students enrolled in developmental math classes.  I wanted to make it something that could be used as learning resource in a Basic Math class, but also as a reference in Beginning Algebra.

Content & Methodology

I am planning on using Hypermedia.  This Portal will essentially be a museum of simple but important concepts that occur early in one’s adult math education.  At each stop, I hope to have a video, animation or interactive piece.  I like this methodology because the learners can “go wherever [they] want and in whatever sequence [they] want.”  (Alessi & Trollip, 2001, page 148.)  A menu will give students an anchor and allow them to either return the main page or move between “exhibits.”

For instance, in the area piece, I can use an outline of a polygon and have the student click to fill it with unit pieces.  When the polygon is filled, the area will be displayed.  A second polygon with different dimensions could be displayed below the first.  A prompt will be given below the second polygon and the student will be asked to enter the area.  Feeback about whether the answer is correct or incorrect will appear after the student hits enter or clicks on a “submit” button.

The text would provide guidance on how to find the area and describe several of the many reasons that it is useful to find the area of something.  It would also link to additional resources online.  For instance, Khan Academy has videos on many different mathematical topics, and their library is always growing.

I am not teaching, right now, but when I do start teaching online, again, I want to have some well-rounded resource that I can offer my students, whether I am teaching basic math or beginning algebra.  I have several go-to resources, but I want to try and find a variety of them, in order to cater to a wider variety of learners.

Something I can include as part of a description of each resource that is linked to would be whether it’s appropriate for visual, combination or aural learners, for instance, indicated with little icons: an eye, an ear, a hand or little computer mouse.

References

Sources Referenced

  1. Alessi, S. M., & Trollip, S. R. (2001). Multimedia for Learning: Methods and Development (3rd ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Reflection on Week 2 – EdTech 503

When I was writing my initial post for this week, I had convinced myself that I kind of knew what instructional design was. I think that is probably accurate, but I also realize that I didn’t have a thorough understanding of instructional design.

Now I have read through a lot of my classmates’ posts and thought about each of their term projects. Once in a while, I found myself thinking “Oh! I wish I thought of that!” I like the project I came up with, though, and I think it is along similar lines to those of my classmates.

One concern that I have about my project is that Google has been making a lot of changes, lately, and I wonder what their fledgling social network will look like in a couple of months. Should I have put my eggs in that basket, or should I have selected a potentially more stable project?

One of my classmates likened instructional design to a house and educational technology to the furniture in that house. Another person used a toolbox/ tools analogy. Both of these concrete and descriptive examples helped to solidify the link between instructional design and educational technology for me. I better comprehend that instructional design is something that is done when one wants to produce training for adults; plan lessons on fractions for junior high school students; or enriching summer activities for one’s own children.

Educational technology is used by the instructor to further facilitate learning. In addition, very few students – especially younger ones – have grown up without exposure to technology of some form and it is often their medium for interacting with the world.  It is only natural for them to be engaged in learning with the use of technology.

Reflection on EdTech 501 – Fall 2011

[Subject to a Little Editing]

My journey through this class was probably different from other students.  I came in knowing I had to be successful, this term, but really not 100% certain that I would be.  I attempted this class in Fall 2010 and wound up withdrawing from it right at the end.  At the time, I felt like I had sort of set myself up: I was settling into a new town, teaching online, and needing to find additional employment.  So, I had more going on than is typical for me, but I have also always had to work hard to be successful in an academic setting.  Not having been able to maintain the focus that the class deserved, I withdrew.

In March, BSU called me and asked if I was planning on re-applying.  I had always intended to re-apply, but I wasn’t sure when that would happen.  It is like any time you fall down: it’s embarrassing and it hurts and you don’t know – at the moment it happens – when you are going to stand up and brush yourself off.  So, when the edtech department called me, I decided that was the time for me to dust myself off and move forward.  I re-applied and was accepted – it appears persistence is still a factor in some aspects of life and I am so happy and grateful to be back here, again, and to have made it through to the other side.

I found Zotero to be a really useful tool, this semester, but I could only use the plugin on Firefox.  Diigo could have been useful, but our Beta group tried to use it with Google Docs more than anything else, which only worked on the Chrome browser.  There was a Diigo plugin for Chrome, but it caused Google Docs to crash and didn’t automatically display notes from my other group members, anyway.  Diigo did not ultimately get a lot of use from me, outside of assignment requirements.  All of this could have been frustrating and I really do wish there was a universal browser out there, one where all of the plugins and all of the websites work properly, but I like technology and I accept it with all of its imperfections.

Having seen some of the tools we used prior to the start of class – I used Zotero the last time I attempted the class, I had been messing with Google+ for a while before it was assigned as a tool to try out, and I used the same blog as my Learning Log last year – I was able to focus on other things.  I think the tools we used were great, though since I’m not teaching right now, I didn’t think a lot about how to incorporate them into my own classroom (but that doesn’t mean I didn’t take in what we’ve been doing and that I won’t revisit it when I am ready to start teaching, again) – I don’t have one.  What I did think about was how to better handle the volume of communication that comes with teaching a class online.  Dr. Schroeder did a fantastic job of letting us know how she was going to communicate with us and staying true to her intent, and it was obvious that the tactics she used made the whole process much more efficient for her.

Another thing that I tried to focus on was our group projects.  Though I have a tendency to take a backseat and let others drive when it seems like that is the best thing for the group, I really tried to make an effort to be present with our group and contribute as much as I could.  I don’t enjoy group projects, historically, but I really had a lot of fun, this semester, and I’m looking forward to more online collaboration in the future.  Working as part of a team is one of the most important professional skills that you can develop and as either an introvert or a closet extrovert, I make it a point to try and put myself out there.  I found the last couple days of class particularly fulfilling in working on moving our presentation over to Slideshare – I learned a lot about pushing a project through to completion and about a couple different types of technology – Slideshare and Audacity.

I got a dog in June and I have to credit her (and my very supportive and understanding little family) with keeping me sane, this semester.  She has truly saved me by dragging me out of doors when it’s pouring rain outside, when under normal circumstances I would probably just stay cooped up until the sun came out again.  She is always happy to see me, even if she doesn’t always like me.  That sort of consistent if not constant joy definitely cuts through the gloom of winter on the Oregon coast.

I’m looking forward to next term, already, and excited to have a group of people to share this important educational journey with me, despite our geographical disparities.

EdTech 501 “Bumper Sticker”

Seeing what other class members are doing, this isn’t the most creative thing I could have put together, but it was a fun break in a LONG, fulfilling week:

EdTech 501 Bumper Sticker

Extra Credit Project: the EdTech 501 Bumper Sticker

 AECT Standards

  1. 1.2 Message Design
  2. 2.3 Computer-Based Technologies

Technology Use Planning Presentation – Beta

Along with my wonderful teammates in the Beta group, I created this Slideshare presentation.  It is hard to believe the term is over.  16 weeks seems like a long time, but it flies by:

View another webinar from Sarah Miller
In case you are interested in viewing our presentation with speaker notes as well, here is our PowerPoint presentation as well.  I tried several times to embed our Google Docs presentation, but it would not take – I think WordPress is having an off day.

AECT Standards

  • 2.3 Computer-Based Technologies
  • 2.4 Integrated Technologies
  • 3.1 Media Utilization
  • 4.1 Project Management
  • 4.4 Information Management

Technology Use Planning Overview

1. Start with defining technology use planning–how would you describe it?

As it states in the “guidebook,” technology use planning is a way for us to evaluate where we are and where we hope to be, technologically speaking. (Guidebook, 1996)  It should lay out what kind of outcomes we want for our students or employees; what kind of technology do we need to have in place, in order for that to be accomplished. (See, 1992)

2. How might the new National Educational Technology Plan 2010 be an effective and powerful resource for technology use planning?

The National Educational Technology Plan (2010) is a big, overreaching document that describes a grand plan of what should happen, in order to meet the big goals that it lays out for us in the beginning. (NETP, 2010)

You could use a lot of what the NETP ’10 describes as headers.  For instance, if the goal of the NETP ’10 is to have “a core set of standards-based concepts and competencies that should form the basis of what all students should learn” maybe it should be tried out in one district or school, first.  Does this work?  Is this the way to go?  Is there a smaller scale version of this header – can we implement one standard per year, for instance.  These are things that should be considered, too; not just what our idealized educational system is. (NETP, 2010)

The “Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan” made a lot of good points about planning for technology implementation.  I like the consideration of motivational tools for faculty that are a tough sell.  (Guidebook, 1996) I have experienced this firsthand, but I see it as becoming less of an issue as time goes on.  Still, I believe it will be useful to have some tricks up one’s sleeve when you run into sticklers for “old-fangled” chalkboards and overhead projectors.

The guidebook also asks us to consider things like how we can best assess the present state of technology and future needs.  (Guidebook, 1996) I think we did a good job of doing that using the technology evaluation we did on a school (or other local institution), even though that was assigned after this blog post.  The technology evaluation provided a good background for us, in moving forward with thinking about technology use plans – in what areas is the school lacking?  In what areas is it excelling and can maybe provide information to other institutions?

In our final project, here, we have divided the work in our presentation.  The only thing I would change in that process would have been for us to all figure out what each of our strengths are and divide the work up that way.  I know that for myself, I was not necessarily the best person for the tasks I chose, but I knew it was necessary for me to contribute.  Sometimes that is the sort of teamwork that is needed as well – just jump in and contribute – we’ll work out the bugs, later.

The guidebook is pretty good about letting us know that a plan that works for one institution may not work for another one.  Be open to thinking “you know, for us, this is a really bad idea” or “hey, this would be a really good idea for this school even though this other school didn’t do it.” (Guidebook, 1996)

3. Do you agree with See about tech use plans needing to be short, not long-term?

Regarding Dr. See’s article, I am trying to fathom anyone spending 30,000-50,000 on a single computer. (See, 1992)

I think long-term goals are important, both in life and work.  It is clear that it might be foolish to write-up long-term hardware purchases – for instance, in the year 2025 I am going to purchase and iPad 2 for my math classroom.  This is ridiculous.  Steve Jobs’ predecessors will have us projecting apps onto walls from our eyeballs that we can interact with by then.

Things like the NETP mentions – having 60% of our citizens be college graduates by a particular date – that is the sort of long-term goal that you should be writing into your technology plan.  For an elementary school or junior high, it might be a little smaller scale – for instance, having 70% of a school’s 6th graders passing Pre-Algebra on their first attempt within 2 years.  That could be your long-term goal.  Maybe you purchase iPod touches immediately and re-evaluate your situation in 3 months.

Photo Credit: Kent K. Barnes / kentkb

4. What do you think about his comment that “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology?  Do you agree/ disagree?

I don’t really agree that we should write in as many types of technology into our plan as possible – that seems a bit excessive.  I do agree that we should plan for applications and not for the software or hardware that we will use to those ends.  Plan for output and not input. (See, 1992)

5. What experiences have you had with technology use planning and what have you seen for outcomes (both good and bad?)

When I was first hired at a community college in 2008, they had been given grant money to use and decided they were going to use it build a “math technology lab” and hire me – the “math technology lab coordinator.”  They got some opposition from faculty and went ahead with it, anyway.  Almost immediately, it was made clear that I should keep a low profile and not draw attention to myself… I spent a lot of time tutoring students and learning how to deal with adversity in the work place.

Eventually, I was moved out of that position and into one where I worked largely on my own or with my supervisor, whom I adored, and everyone was happy.  The good outcome was that I started working with the one-woman distance learning department, in addition to working with my supervisor, and became familiar with the area that I’ve decided I want to spend my life working in.  The department head in the math department was also changed, eventually, to someone who didn’t mind working with a young-ish whippersnapper, and I was allowed to teach math online.

As I spent more time at the school, I heard about the plans for the grant money that paid for my position and I don’t think their planning was very effective.  For instance, certain people would ask for things for their area and get them, no questions asked.  I didn’t and still don’t understand this – I am  truly of the mindset that schools are for students and we as employees need to cooperate and come up with the plan that best benefits those students.

AECT Standards

Resources

AECT Standards
  1. 1.1 Instructional Systems Design
  2. 1.4 Learner Characteristics
  3. 2.3 Computer-Based Technologies
  4. 3.1 Media Utilization

Synthesis #5

Maloy, R. (2010). Teaching math problem solving using a web-based tutoring system, learning games, and students’ writing. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, 11(1-2), 82-90.

The authors introduced a web-based tutoring system called Amality to some rural fourth grade classes in Massachusetts.  This system used electronic characters that acted as coaches and gave hints to students as they worked through the problems.  Students were encouraged to use the hints even though they received fewer points if hints were used.  I imagine they emphasized that if they use the hints now, to learn the material and become comfortable with the testing style, they won’t need to use them later.

After using the software, the students’ previous test scores were fortunately available for comparison and they found that there was at least a 25% increase in all of the students and a 40+% increase in some of them.

The software was used in combination with a couple of math websites, math board games and creative writing activities.  In the writing activities, students were asked to create word problems for their classmates to complete for practice.  This setup enabled students to learn how to work with the math concepts in a variety of different ways.

Synthesis #4

Akdemir, O. (2010). Teaching math online: Current practices in Turkey. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 39(1), 47-64.

I taught math online for a year.  It was difficult and I wish I had time to really write about and process what I learned during that time.  I think I have learned more about teaching online classes this term while taking Edtech 501 online.  It was also difficult for me to take my first online math class, about a year or so ago.  I took the first and second term of undergraduate statistics online.  Again, I would like to take some time to really dig into that experience.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in math without taking a single class online.  I didn’t really start to explore online learning until 2007.  I didn’t teach math online until after I had taken at least half a dozen classes online myself, spent some time supporting teachers and students taking classes online, and had done a lot of math tutoring.  With these different experiences, I felt prepared to teach math online and I was successful for the most part.  Still, there was the matter of combining these experiences into a cohesive skill and conveying information without hand gestures or being able to watch comprehension ebb and flow on a student’s face.

In my next “crack” at online teaching, I would like to first put together some instructional videos myself, to begin with, rather than relying on what was available to me.

Study was the analysis of an open-ended questionnaire sent to participating instructors that culminates in the state of online math education in Turkey.  Article explained what participating instructors used to deliver online mathematics classes.  Technical assistance  received by those instructors in order to set up their online classes seemed to have an effect on the online classes that were turned out.  The type and complexity of the learning management system also affect the results.

One participant appeared to have fewer students in his class than the others, as he used email only to deliver instruction and grades, as well as receive assignments from students.  He also used individual projects for end-of-the-term assessments, whereas other instructors utilized standardized testing in classes with larger numbers of students.

The article said that these 4 instructors were teaching 300,000 math students online.  This makes me think that something was lost in translation or that Turkey is really densely populated.  Is it possible that Turkey had 300,000 online students total at the time of this publication?

The participant using email as his main class delivery system also said this individualized method of instructional delivery is very time-consuming.

The one overreaching conclusion the researchers drew from this work is that online math classes are more effective if they are well-designed.  So, while it doesn’t hurt that some of them are trying to be consistent by using the same learning management system, if each of the classes is not put together well, then they will not be as effective as one that is.

Synthesis #3

Franklin, T., & Peng, L.-W. (2008). Mobile math: Math educators and students engage in mobile learning. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 20, 69-80. doi:10.1007/s12528-008-9005-0

In the midwest, 2 middle school math teachers decided to work with a researcher to test out the use of mobile technology in their classrooms.  They were met with opposition only from the district technology coordinator, it seems.

Mobile devices were used by the students to record videos that explained different math concepts from their classes.  One student said that he was able to learn about absolute values over lunch by watching another student’s video.

The teachers seemed to really enjoy watching students cooperate and help one another out with learning how to use the software and mobile technology required for this project.  This included iPod touches for student use and using Powerpoint, Moviemaker and iTunes to create their videos and upload their “podcasts.”

While it wasn’t the focus of the research, necessarily, the students seemed to gain a deeper understanding of the topics they made videos about because they had to “dig in” a little bit.  The educational ramifications of using mobile technology in a math classroom might be the subject of future research.

School (i.e., Hospital) Evaluation Summary

I evaluated a local hospital.  I was able to connect with someone, there, that works closely with their information technology department.

I know we were to put this together in order to profile a school, but I think the principle is the same.  To be fair, if I were going to profile the little college I work at, I think we would come out as “Islands” overall.  We all have access to the internet and email, but we don’t all use it.

All students have access to the internet and registration can be done on the computer, but not all students choose to register online.  Not all students have email addresses (but they will all have email addresses beginning in January of 2012).  I have a hard time understanding why students do not get an email address set up, but it is probably similar to the reasons why some staff members do not use the email address that is provided for them.

I was unable to connect with the information technology department at the college, so I did not have as much information available to me as I did for the hospital that I [occasionally] work for.  This evaluation is therefore focused on the hospital.  I classified it as low-level intelligent, with suggestions for improvement.

Bookmarks in Delicious

Delicious is a great tool for research. As long as you remember to use tags, you can sort links into useful groups for reference. For instance, if I had a student researching a variety of different cats, she could break those cats up into categories such as:

That way, I can visit each of those links and see that she has found an adequate number of cats in each category.

The tags could also be group names in order to divide students up into smaller groups to work in.  Any useful links that the group finds, they can bookmark with Delicious and tag with the appropriate tag for their group, so that all group members can refer to it, much like what we’re doing with the edtech501 tag.

Another way that delicious might be used in the classroom is by the instructor for the students.  I can post a link to tags that I feel would be useful for students in their research work or that might generally be of interest, while we are studying a particular subject.

Synthesis #2

Wolf, M. (2010). Visualizing math: How intelligent tutoring technology can help math-challenged students. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 33(4). Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVolum/VisualizingMathHowIntelligentT/219106

I am unable to discern whether the author teaches online classes in addition to his web-enhanced or hybrid face-to-face classes.  He uses mywebstudytutor and demonstrates how it helps his students.  It looks like he can supplement whatever materials are already provided in mywebstudytutor with his own material, whether those are visual aids, worksheets,  slide shows or customized quizzes and tests.

Mywebstudytutor provides the author with diagnostic feedback and releases new material to students based on their skills – either their weaknesses or strengths.  Over the years, the author has been developing his own supplemental material for his students and using mywebstudytutor, he can head some of those requests off at the pass by using the program to identify where his students are struggling and having the materials ready, ahead of time.

Synthesis #1

Silk, E. (2009). Designing technology activities that teach mathematics. Technology Teacher, 69(4), 221-27.

Often times, when you learn a new math concept, someone tells you what it is, shows you how it works and then expects you to be able to apply it.  You don’t learn the concept because you need it in order to solve a problem.  You learn the concept and you are then to use it in order to solve an applied (usually a dreaded and not always realistic or applicable “word”) problem.

The author presents and alternative to this situation by asking students to make two robots dance in sync.  They didn’t say this is how you are going to use proportions to make these two robots dance.  Instead they presented a design problem that would have to be solved using proportions.  The author provides proposed guidelines for others, including how to maintain student interest and how to explain the project to others.

The author acknowledges that redesigning a robotics project is both time-consuming and requires much effort.  The author believes the effort and time is worth putting in.

RSS Feeds for Education

I have been using Google Reader for a while, now. It has all of my written news and entertainment in one place. So, when you scroll through some of my list of shared items, you probably will not find anything inappropriate, but you mind find several items unrelated to education. I collect the artsy, weird and interesting things that appear in my feed:

Sarah’s Shared Items – Google Reader

I also went through my list and removed a few shared items, to make it even more education-centric. I would like to find out if it is possible to make different lists of shared items without using a new Google account for each, so that I could keep my personal, public list, but also have lists for sharing with my students or colleagues.

This is definitely something that would be of great use to online teachers of history, psychology, general science, etc. In addition to connecting with other educators by following their blogs, the instructors can comb through their news feeds on a daily or weekly basis and share pertinent articles, stories or videos with their students. They do this without having to create a separate account to follow things that they want to read for themselves.

It would be a good way to showcase the work of your students. If you have them working on their own blogs and are subscribed to them, as we are in EdTech 501, you can share good examples of this or that in your shared items, as the students are working.

Using a feed reader such as Google reader saves a lot of time. I do not have to go to each of the websites I’m subscribed to, and check to see if there are new posts or items. Just one glance in the left hand column of my Google Reader window I know that Technology Teacher has not posted anything new, this weekend, but The Comics Curmudgeon has several new posts.

It is also a good way to organize information. You can categorize feeds by subject or by what you are using them for. I have a folder for EdTech 501 Learning Logs. I also have a folder of my “Favorite” feeds, which DOES include some educational feeds. I think RSS is a powerful tool – I don’t know how varied its uses are, but I think the things that it can be used for are significant.

Horizon Report Tech Trend

Here is the link to my “Lesson Plan” for week 7 of EdTech 501:

Lesson Plan – Area of Polygons

I like the template and I would probably use it, again, if I were teaching and regularly creating lesson plans.

I chose to use Khan Academy in my lesson plan, in an effort to integrate technology into my classroom. The author uses a variety of explanations in the video, from stating that the area of a square is the base times the height to illustrating why the area was 64 m^2. I think this visual tool would be useful and in reaching more students than if I were simply lecturing to the students. It might not be that much different from an explanation that I would give, but it would be different and that other perspective could make all of the difference. A video also allows to rewind parts of it and play them again, if a student wants to see what the author was saying, again:

I also tried to incorporate the use of manipulatives into my lesson plan, as I know that some students learn best by getting their hands dirty and building the answers themselves.

What I learned about the technology is simply the wealth of information that the author has amassed. If you want to learn something, there is a video there that will at least give you an overview of the subject you’re interested in. If you are a teacher wanting to clarify a particular concept, it is possible that you WON’T find what you are looking for, here. You will undoubtedly find something close, but if it’s not exactly what you need, then don’t settle. You will find something better or create a video yourself – your students deserve that effort.

Another plus from this website is that there are practice problems available and teachers can track their students’ progress. I think this is new from the first time I visited this website, but it is a great addition, especially for online instructors or classroom instructors looking for additional activities for their kids.

Digital Inequality Assignment

Updated with embedded video: 10/04/2011

Here is our Digital Inequality project.  My group members were Dann Mosteller, Randi Lembke and Erin Okazaki.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

One of the articles (Expanding the Digital Divide, Cooper, 2004) that we were given as a resource did a really good job of articulating the urgency associated with digital inequality and the digital divide.  Before reading it, I was someone that did not want to “force” technology on anyone.  I still do not want to do that – I want people to use technology or find ways to gain access to it because they want to and it is wonderful.  However, I understand that people in disadvantaged communities do not necessarily have access to everything that they need to and it is important for them to become moderately technologically savvy in order to carve out their niche in this world.

My group was great to work with – I think we cooperated well together.  I wish we had been a bit more in sync.  One person did so much initial work on the project, during end of the first week/ beginning of the next week.  I was feeling kind of guilty because I was still trying to wrap my brain around some of the reading.  The rest of us moved in and put work into the project, however, and I believe the work was evenly divided.  One member in particular did a great job of communicating with the entire group, even though he eventually wound up being 10 or so time zones ahead of us.

I have worked with a group online, before – I  took a couple of Educational Technology classes at another school, a couple of years ago – and we used our group as a way to foster meaningful discussions in the class, for the most part.  Working as a group is vital, especially as we move forward with our programs.

Voicethread was interesting to use and a group multimedia presentation is a really good use of this technology.  I think that we could have learned a little more about Voicethread, but for the basics of putting the slides together and making comments, it was pretty self-explanatory.

AECT Standards:

  • 2.3 Computer-Based  Technologies
    • If you are reading this blog post and/ or you saw our Voicethread presentation, then you will know that we used computer-based technologies to deliver some learning materials on the subject of digital inequality to your computer screen.
  • 3.1 Media Utilization
    • Particular to this project, we used web-based tools and video to convey information to our classmates about digital inequality.
  • 4.1 Project Management
    • I believe my group members had an equal hand in project management on this assignment.  We all controlled the outcome of this assignment, and we all put effort into planning how this assignment would move forward.
  • 5.1 Problem Analysis
    • This came into play as we decided what elements to include or leave out of our presentation, as well as when we were determining the best way to present the information we did want to convey to our classmates.

Plagiarism Video Created Using Xtranormal.

I identified 3 types of plagiarism in this video. One was plagiarism that occurs because you blatantly use the work of someone else and do not give the author(s) any credit.

Another type of plagiarism that is probably more common is plagiarism through paraphrasing or editing. If you take the information from one of your sources and either change the words or rearrange them, but you do not give credit to your source, then you are still plagiarizing.

Finally, there are several degrees of self-plagiarism. You might find, while working on your new article, that you can re-use descriptions of equipment that you are using in your studies, as well as procedures. This is fine – the APA Style Manual says so. You can also use your old work as you would any source. Where you run into problems is when your old work starts to take over your new work, and you are left without any original ideas in your new publication.

While working on this video, the concept of plagiarism was solidified for me – it is not something that is often at the forefront of my mind. I think I had an idea that self-plagiarism was something that was frowned upon, though I didn’t know it was called self-plagiarism.

I learned a lot about saying what needs to be said in this kind of medium. Originally, I had a little robot humor about RainX at the end of this video. I liked it, but I didn’t keep it because I wanted to focus on the information I was required to convey.

AECT Standards:

  • 1.2 Message Design
    • In this project, we were asked to inform an audience about plagiarism.  This is easy enough to do in text form, but we were asked to create a dialogue and present it in the form of a video.
  • 2.4 Integrated Technologies
    • Computer-based text and video were used in this assignment.
  • 3.1 Media Utilization
    • My computer, peers, and the xtranormal.com website were utilized in this assignment, with the end result being that we all became familiar with the concept of plagiarism.

EdTech 502: Projects

Original (09/10/2011): Hi.  In our EdTech 502 class, we’re creating a website with links to the various projects we’ll be working on.  I noticed that another of my classmates had started posting her links to her learning log.  I thought this was a great idea and thought I would follow suit and share with you what I am working on in that class as well.  Here is the main, plain page.

I haven’t decided, yet, whether to create additional posts as the projects are created, to update this post with further links, or to post comments to this post.  Time will tell – right now, I am thinking about doing dated updates and seeing if that will simply bump this post up to the top of my posts, again.

Enjoy and thanks for following my journey in this program.

Update (09/12/2011): Here is the page with CSS added.

Update (09/26/2011): Here is my Netiquette Guidelines page.

Elements of Educational Technology

I think of educational technology as this broad field that at its most fundamental, serves to facilitate learning.

AECT actually defines educational technology as the following:

Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008, p. 1)

When I was working in Coos Bay, one of several projects that I worked on was a cognitive training computer lab for basic math students.  In theory, students would strengthen some of the areas of the brain that are important for learning mathematics.  If we were successful, those students would go on to earn better grades in the second term of basic math than the previous year’s students.

I wish that I could provide some results of that endeavor, but the project lasted all of a couple of terms because of push back from other areas of the college, as well as our lack of selling points [that would have convinced our co-workers to buy into the program].  Had it been successful, however, it would have been a great way to facilitate learning with software – giving students practice with skills that are innately used in a basic math class.

Facilitation of learning is a relatively new trend in educational technology, but educational technology is also a relatively new field.  Prior to 1972, the word “facilitate” didn’t exist in the definition of educational technology, though the 1970 definition is more flexible and alludes to it, stating that “it means the media born of the communications revolution which can be used for instructional purposes alongside of the teacher.” (Commission on Instructional Technology, 1970, p. 21).  This definition hints that technology could be used to help or supplement the process of learning.

The expanded version of AECT’s definition of educational technology states that “facilitating includes the design of the environment, the organizing of resources, and the providing of tools” and further demonstrates the complexity of the field we work in.  Even the 1977 definition agrees:

Educational technology is a complex, integrated process involving people, procedures, ideas, devices, and organization for analyzing problems and devising, implementing, evaluating and managing solutions to those problems involved in all aspects of human learning (AECT, 1977, p. 1).

While working as an online algebra teacher for Southwestern Oregon Community College, I lived the term “facilitation.”  Online learning is about making learning accessible for your students.  In the first couple of terms, I used a software package called MyMathLab.  It was all-inclusive, with videos, extra practice, tests, homework-checking, and grade-recording – it was literally too good to be true.  Upon realizing its flaws, I switched things up and stopped using it altogether.

I think there is a fine line between facilitation, enabling and controlling.  Technology should be used sparingly, especially initially.  I sometimes wonder if some of the difficulty I had as an online teacher had to do with me trying to hard to control the environment that I was working in.  I was my first time to teach more than one student at a time and somehow, I thought if I told students how to turn their work in and what format I wanted it in, they would do that.  Instead, I got responses from them saying another teacher did it this way or they would rather do it that way.  I guess it is also a matter of knowing what to control because rather than sticking to my guns, I caved on letting them submit work in a variety of ways.  At such a low level of mathematics, I don’t know if this was the best decision.

Ultimately, I stopped teaching online, in order to work on this program and grow as an educator.

People that know me know that this educational technology program is perfect for me.  My family has known about my career goals and the different paths I have attempted to go down, sometimes with some success and sometimes meeting a brick wall.  I guess I have been lucky in terms of the level of understanding that I have been met with – if I get the inevitable questions, I usually describe the job I’m interested in doing and how this program will help me get to that point, rather than trying to explain the program itself.

I am a facilitator.  I am here to make sure you are able to register for classes.  I am here to make sure you are able to access your online classes.  I am here to provide you with more information, in an effort to better understand the stuff you are learning in your math classes.  This term “facilitation” is fundamental to my career and after about four years of learning about this field and making sure that my work in education is at least loosely tied to my goals in this program, I think of myself as an educator and a facilitator.  However, I also know enough to know that I need to learn much more.

References:

  1. Google Image Search
  2. Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Chapter 1: Definition. In Educational technology: A definition with commentary (pp. 1 – 14). NY: Lawrence Erlbaum, Inc.
  3. AECT