Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How has your opinion changed (or why has it stayed the same) over the past 11 weeks regarding Technology Integration?

       Prior to enrolling in this class, I felt that integrating technology into the classroom was essential in order to best prepare our young people for the "real world". Especially in these trying economic times, businesses are looking for ways to become more efficient in order to compete in the global economy. In order to give our students the skills desired by employers, I firmly believe technology integration should be implemented into the classroom. I learned so much more in this class than I had anticipated and this course took my belief in integrating technology into the classroom to a whole new level.Technology integration can provide educators a variety of ways to assess student learning as well as develop activities that require higher order thinking skills. Because most students today have used technology most of their lives, implementing it into the classroom is a way to engage students in their learning. I am very glad that I took this course because I learned so many practical things that I can take into my future career as an educator.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Literature Review #2

            This article focuses on colleges and universities and their practices of using technology to recruit students to their campuses. Higher education institutions across the country are looking to become as efficient and effective as they possibly can when it comes to recruiting students. However, few admission departments feel confident that they are fully benefiting from technology as it pertains to student recruitment.
            The article states that 88% of prospective students would be disappointed or eliminate a school all together if the schools website did not meet their expectations. This study suggests that the role of technology has a heavy impact on the decisions students are making as it pertains to where to go to school. This generation of college bound students is referred to as the Millennials.
This generation was born between 1982 and 2000 and constantly needs to be connected to their social network while having access to digital media. The authors state that by the years 2016-17 the percentage of students seeking a bachelor’s degree will rise by 26%. This data provides admission departments across the country with a great opportunity as well as a challenge to recruit students to their campuses. The article suggests that universities should combine their business marketing practices with technology in order to attract the best and brightest to their institutions of higher learning.
746 students were surveyed to explore the technologies experienced by prospective students during the recruitment process in addition to how much of an impact each of these experiences had in their final decision in regards to where they chose to attend school. Of the 746 surveyed, 60% were female while 40% were male and approximately 95% of those surveyed were either 18 or 19 years old.
The two technologies that were most experienced by students during the recruitment process were the school web site and email. Surprisingly, over 50% of those surveyed replied that these two technologies were the only technologies they experienced during this process. Not only was the school web site and email rated the most experienced by students, they were also rated as the most useful technologies they used during their recruitment process. Cell phones were rated third behind the aforementioned technologies, and no other form of technology was experienced by a third of the total students that were surveyed.
What was fascinating about this article was the lack of diverse technologies used to recruit a population of students who have been using several varying technologies most of, if not their entire lives. It was really amazing that over half of all students surveyed used only a web site and email during their college decision making process. This article illustrates the disconnect between “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants” in regards to technology. College recruiting is a competitive field, and many admission offices across the nation are looking for ways to use newer technologies to connect and attract these Millennials to their schools. 

Lindbeck, R., & Fodrey, B. (2010). Using Technology in Undergraduate Admission: A Student Perspective. Journal of College Admission, (208), 10-17. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

K12 Online Conference "Bridging History Using Web 2.0 Tools "

Bridging History Using Web 2.0 Tools by Robin Beaver, an instructional technology specialist, and Jean Moore, a seventh grade English and Social Studies teacher, illustrates how to integrate technology into an existing unit on Asia. This unit includes various activities including presentation and research and analysis of primary sources. Her goal is to create activities that encourage higher level thinking skills, collaboration, self direction, and provides for differentiation. 

The film begins showing multiple sites, where students can access countless primary resources to aide students in their research efforts. It also shows the students using a Webquest to complete a project about the Chinese cultural revolution. The authors illustrate how Glogster can be used in history research projects. This allows text, pictures, video, sound, audio files and hyperlinks and this free service also comes with 200 student accounts per teacher. One of the most fascinating parts of this video was where the class was able to have an online conversation with a Vietnam veteran. Rather than reading a book about or trading emails to communicate, these students were engaged in a real time conversation with a real life American hero. It helped the students gain a real life experience at what a young American soldier endured during the Vietnam War.
As a future social studies teacher, this video was very interesting to me. I actually bookmarked this one, because I know at some point in the future I will use some of the ideas presented in  this film to incorporate technology into the classroom. Most of history is well documented from a variety of sources. Instead of simply having students memorize facts, I like the approach the teachers in this film took in having the students seek out the information and data to complete any given assignment. These are the skills employers in the real world are looking for when making hiring decisions.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It is the responsibility of the teacher to provide equal access to the digital world to all learners? What does this mean? How does one accomplish it?

     I believe educators primary focus should be preparing their students to become positive productive members of society. In our ever changing world people need a variety of skills to become appealing to employers. I am in complete agreement with that principal from the Digital Natives film I watched who said employers are not looking to hire people who can sit back and memorize a bunch of facts. Social skills, team building, and the ability to use various technologies are essential skills many employers are seeking when hiring.
    I think it is the responsibility of the teacher to try to incorporate each of these skills into the classroom to prepare our youth to enter the "real world." Teachers should not integrate technology just for the sake of it, but use it to teach children how to use it productively. Due to a variety of factors, there is quite a discrepancy amongst schools in the availability of technology for students. I feel teachers need to be aware and sensitive that their students come from a wide variety of families and not all students will have access to the same technological devices. In my opinion, if a teacher is integrating technology as part of an assignment, the resources need to made available to all of the students. I would hate to see a child receive a "bad" grade due to factors that are totally out of their control. In my opinion, I feel the responsibility of ensuring students have the access to new technologies that will enrich their lives lies more on the district and/or administrators who are determining where the funds are going rather than the teachers.
     However, I feel teachers need to see the big picture and focus on developing children into becoming productive members of society. Skilled individuals whom employers are fighting over to join their workforce. If the resources are there for the children, educators must use them to enrich and develop our young people for their future. Not doing so, is only doing a disservice to the children.

Literature Review #1

           While I was browsing through journals online via the Shapiro Library, I was able to find many articles relating to technology and its role in our children's educational experience. However, the subject of cyberbullying has really began to pick up steam in the national press as well as in school districts across the country. Not too long ago there was a student at Rutgers University who committed suicide after becoming a victim to cyberbullying. There was also a story a while ago where a parent of a young girl's classmate created a fake myspace account and bullied the young young girl so badly she also took her own life. Next Monday, at the middle school in Raymond, where I am currently employed, they are having a bullying awareness day. This subject has been so prevalent recently, I wanted to expand my knowledge and awareness of this issue which is affecting too many of our young people.
            This article begins with some really telling statistics which caught my attention from the get go. According to the 2007 Bureau of Justice Statistics' Indicators of School Crime and Safety Report reported that approximately 28% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 had been bullied at school during the past 6 months. The article defines cyberbullying as willful and and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. Cyberbullying involves using communication technology to harass, intimidate, threaten, or otherwise harm others. Cyberbullies are using technology because they can remain relatively anonymous while harassing others. Many youths are using computers and cell phones with very little, if any supervision from their parents, teachers, or other adults. It is also much easier for some to say things virtually rather than upfront face to face with that persons. These are some of the factors that are leading to such an increase in this behavior.
           Adolescence is a time in an individuals life when identity development is very important. Young people tend to seek behaviors in which make them feel better about themselves and try to avoid those in which make them feel bad about who they are. The articles cites several studies that link victims of bullying to lower levels of self esteem. These studies make sense when applied to real life. What child is going to feel good about themselves when somebody is sending them texts making fun of them? How is a child going to focus on his school work, when in class he is sitting next to another child who is spreading horrible rumors about him on the internet?
           The author sites a survey from 1,963 middle school aged children about the prevalence of cyberbullying in their lives. The data was really an eye opener for myself to take in. 23% of those surveyed said they had posted something online about another person to make people laugh. 18% received an upsetting email from someone they knew while 16% received an instant message that upset them. Across all of the questions in this study roughly 10%-23% of students surveyed were either participating or fell victim to cyberbullying. While I was aware somewhat of this issue and the increasing prevalence of it, this data really was an eye opener for myself.
         Cyberbullying is a very serious and real problem I think much of society somewhat ignores or is just not informed enough about the topic. I know now personally, I will try to identify signs or signals of this behavior while working with our youth. I am glad this is getting national press and schools are tackling this issue hands on. Parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, mentors, etc must all work together to fight this type of behavior. I know as educators our time with students is very limited, however, we must be aware that this is going on and try to see those warning signs before another horrible tragedy takes place as a result of cyberbullying.

Patchin, J., & Hinduja, S. (2010). Cyberbullying and Self-Esteem. The Journal of School Health, 80(12), 614-24.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

K12 Online Conference "Engaging our Youngest Minds"

Engaging our Youngest Minds by Angela Maiers outlines the importance of "passion" in the educational experience. The author talks about how integrating technology into the classroom alone is not enough to engage our students in their learning. Educators must know their students and their passions in order for them to become fulfilled members of society. She outlines the story of a young child whose passion for science drove her to investigate about the needs of animals in danger. Instead of using technology as a way to learn information, technology can be used as a way for students to connect with others around the world who share similar passions. This child inspired the author to honor the talents and passions of all of her students.

I agree with the points the author is making in this presentation. Many successful individuals I know have followed a passion of theirs that has driven them to pursue and obtain their goals in life. Too often I have seen and reflect back on teachers who never really took the time to learn about their students' interests. Too often they will simply teach straight from the standards with little interest if any at all about what interests their students. With standardized tests among other things on place, I understand that teachers have materials they are required to teach their students. However, if individual passions were included in lessons from time to time, students may feel more engaged and interested in their educational experiences. This presentation reminds me of an orientation I attended last year at a school in South Carolina. The principal told us that one of the most important things to do is to "know your students." Build a connection with your students and more times than not your students will work hard for you.

Individuals all have different passions and interests. Sports and the Civil War have always been very interesting to me. Looking back, I wish I had a teacher who took the time to learn my passions and incorporated them into my learning rather than the usual lecture and book work lessons. If we can identify students' passions and assist them in acquiring more knowledge about their interests, I believe our students will be more engaged and driven in their pursuit of their life long goals.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Digital Nation" Reflection

            When I was assigned to read “Digital Nation” for class I expected or assumed that the film would outline or detail the positive aspects technology is having on peoples’ lives.  However, I was surprised by the some of the content of the film. “Digital Nation” highlights some of the concerns associated with many of these new technologies in addition to the positive impacts technology is having on societies across the globe.
            It was fascinating to see the treatment methods that were being used in South Korea. In my personal life, friends and I have often talked about how little we see children and teens playing outside. Growing up in a rural community, I would ride my bike four miles into the nearest town to meet up with my friends. We would play basketball and swim all day long. When I go home to visit, I often drive though the small town of Pemberville, Ohio and see very few children out playing on a beautiful summer day. Currently, I am working as a paraprofessional at a nearby middle school and daily I witness firsthand the detrimental impacts video games have on some students’ academic progress.
            I think the school program in South Korea that teaches children how to use the internet in a responsible way is a creative idea. Stressing internet etiquette and manners to children seems like a good idea; however, I question how effective this practice alone will be without reinforcement from these children’s parents? It really is fascinating to see elementary aged children creating blogs so easily and I just created my first blog a few days ago! That really was an eye opener.
I firmly agree with the principal who said employers are not looking for workers who know how to sit quietly and memorize a bunch of facts. Employers all across the nation train and provide their employees with the necessary materials to get the job done in a time efficient and productive manner. These are the type of skills children will need to acquire in order to become positive, productive members of society in this ever changing world and more specifically in our American economy.
              I thought it was very sad to see that man who was playing a video game online as many as four times a week, then precedes to say, hold on a minute I have to hug my boy goodnight. I can definitely see how compulsive gaming can have a negative impact on peoples’ lives. Many of these people talk about their “virtual” friends and how they are closer to their online friends than their “real” life friends. How are these people spending quality time with their families? How are they becoming the best workers and members of society that they can become? This segment of the video was very troubling to me. It is almost like some of these people are escaping reality in an attempt to create a new life for themselves. How can we as Americans strive to compete in the global economy while people are spending so much time in a “virtual” world?
            I do believe that technology can help businesses become more efficient while reducing costs. I do not really understand how using avatars to simulate a meeting is effective, however, using video conferences and conference calls can be an efficient means for conducting business. With that being said not every sector of our economy can thrive only in a virtual world. To compete in this global economy we are living in, we must continue to build and manufacture goods that people from all over the world will desire. In regards to our military, I believe we must give our bravest and finest men and women the best possible tools in order to protect our great nation in the safest manner possible.
            I believe these new technologies like many other items in our world are generally good in moderation. Technology can enrich our lives in powerful ways; however, I do not feel we should use technology as a means to escape our lives for a new virtual life and reality. Now that live in New Hampshire and most of my family is back home in Ohio, I love the fact that I can email or Facebook a family member as a way to stay in touch while I am away from home. However, when I do go home to visit, I use very little if any technology because I want to enjoy the people, places and natural landscapes my home area has to offer. I feel that educating people about the potential negative aspects of technology can help alleviate some of the concerns that were raised in this film. People who live in a free society have the ability to live life as they wish, but raising awareness of these aspects of modern technologies may prompt individuals to take a second and assess how they are living their daily lives.