Educational Technology

For the last assignment of EdTech501, I was asked to create a visual to represent my understanding of the definition of educational technology as articulated in the first chapter of Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary by Alan Januszewski and Michael Molenda. The chapter defines educational technology as follows:

“Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitation learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”

As I grappled with this definition, my coursework throughout this first class, and the rest of the reading, I was struck ultimately by the road that we have travelled to reach this point where technology allows for the facilitation of authentic learning. Education does not look the same as it did when I was a student, and that was not even that long ago. A powerful tool in this shift is technology, so my visual attempts to encapsulate the ways in which education has shifted to meet the needs of an advancing world. Technology serves to allow learners to be in charge of their own experiences and fosters creativity in unparalleled ways. I am intrigued and excited to witness and be a part of the ways in which technology continues to shape and change the way we learn and educate.

Educational Technology DefinitionTo create this visual, I utilized a free tool called Piktochart. I was briefly introduced to this tool through the creation of my last artifact to make visual representations of my school evaluation data. I was so impressed with the user-friendliness of this site and my ability to create beautiful, clean, organized graphics with ease. I could definitely see utilizing this resource in the classroom to have students represent data or create presentation visuals or final showcases. Graphic organizers like this one help both creators and viewers understand and access information in an appealing and straight-forward way.

3D Printing in an Elementary Classroom

As an upper elementary educator, I am in the business of making the intangible, tangible; the abstract, concrete; the imagined, real. As such, 3D printing is a technology trend in education that intrigued me. The more I researched, the more excited I became about the possibilities of bringing learning to life. I have honed my research to address three main questions:

  1. What is 3D printing?
  2. How can it be used in an elementary classroom?
  3. What are the learner benefits to utilizing this type of technology?

First, what is it & how does it work? According to the 2016 Horizon Report, 3D printing “refers to technologies that construct physical objects from three-dimensional (3D) digital content such as 3D modeling software, computer-aided design (CAD) tools, computer-aided tomography (CAT), and X-ray crystallography” (pg. 40). Essentially, it enables users to turn a two dimensional sketch, drawing, or design into a three dimensional, physical model. This type of “rapid prototyping” creates these models one layer at a time from a digital file. Finley of Edutopia delineates three different ways to create this original digital file: using a computer modeling program to create an original object, using a 3D scanner to take millions of measurements of a real world object, or using a editable template from sites like  Instructables, YouMagine, TurboSquid, CubeHero, or the popular MakerBot Thingverse community.

Check out this video to watch a 3D printer in action:

The applications beyond the classroom are extensive: everything from constructing parts of airplane engines and space exploration vehicles,

…to companies like BioBots using 3D printing to print human organs,

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Image Source: http://www.healthwareinternational.com/blogpost/how-can-3d-printing-revolutionize-healthcare-411

…to developing functioning prosthetic limbs

(edutopia).

Likewise, the applications within the classroom are extensive. For example, the technology can be used to teach the design process in a hands on and creative way.

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Image Source:  http://pbskids.org/designsquad/parentseducators/workshop/process.html

 

Students could follow this CityX curriculum to use 3D printing to explore the design process: http://www.cityxproject.com/toolkit/

For my artifact, I created a lesson plan that utilizes 3D printing by having students identify a real world problem and design something through TinkerCAD to solve their problem.

Check out my lesson here!

If I reflect on this lesson through best practices, then my activity idea effectively utilizes active learning. According to the Department of Education, (2006) active learning is the “process in which students are engaged in hands on activities rather than passively receiving knowledge” (pg. 6). My students could learn the steps of the design process by rote memorization of the steps, but according to best practices, students will better engage and learn when the activities involved allow students to ask questions and test their theories. Thus, 3D printing allows students to internalize the steps of the design process as they create in an authentic way.  

If I reflect upon this lesson through the SAMR model, then my activity idea is at the modification level. This level suggests that the technology utilized “allows for a significant task redesign” (2:03). By creating an opportunity for students to use 3D printing to demonstrate their understanding of the design process, I am creating a transformative learning opportunity. While it is possible for students to understand and use the design process without 3D printing, this technology activates a different skill set and engages learners in the process in a different way. If you are unfamiliar with the SAMR model, check out this video to learn more:

   

Beyond utilizing 3D printing to teach the design process, there are other potential applications for once they have experienced how to design and create through 3D printing. Students could use the technology to supplement their learning of other grade level curriculum. For instance, in reading, they could practice visualization and create a tangible model of an important aspect of a novel, like this student that created the sled from The Giver by Lois Lowry:

sled

Image Source: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2015/06/3d-printers-in-elementary-school.html#.V1EMLxWDGko

Or, during a social studies unit, students could create artifacts based on the time period or people of study.

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Image Source:  http://clarkbarnett.com/techcamp/?p=148

Another opportunity for hands on learning is after a science study of forces and motion, students could design different types of wheels for a drag car that would make the car the most aerodynamic or fast.

Ultimately, the possibilities are endless as 3D printers help bring learning to life as students are able to turn their ideas and intangible thoughts into concrete physical representations.

Now that I have briefly outlined what 3D printing is and potential classroom applications, I am left with a growing conviction that 3D printing offers unparalleled learner benefits in an elementary classroom. 3D printing places students at the helm of their own learning as they become designers and makers. Students have the opportunity to become the leaders and teachers in the class as they share their ideas with their peers while at the same time facilitating strong grade level content knowledge. In these types of authentic learning opportunities, students are engaged in the process of watching the pieces of their imagination come to life.

References

Department of Education. (2008). Best practices a resource for teachers.Retrieved from http://www.publicschools.org/docs/curriculum/bpractices2.pdf

Finley, T. (2015, June 30). Jaw-Dropping classroom 3D printer creations. Edutopia. Retrieved  from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/jaw-dropping-classroom-3d-printer-todd-finley

K. Schrock. 3D Printing. (2014, September 20). Retrieved from http://www.schrockguide.net/3d-printing.html

K. Winsper. (2014, July 10). 3D Printing in the classroom is elementary. Fractus Learning. Retrieved from http://www.fractuslearning.com/2014/07/10/3d-printing-elementary/

NMC. (2015). Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 edition. Retrieved from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2015-nmc-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf

PBS Kids. Design squad global.. (2016). Retrieved from http://pbskids.org/designsquad/

Project Ignite. (2014). Retrieved June 3, 2016, from https://projectignite.autodesk.com/S. Martinez. (2014, March 7). 29 project starters for 3D printers. Invent To Learn. Retrieved from http://inventtolearn.com/3d-printer-project-starters/

T. Eichholz. 3D Printers in elementary school. Free Technology for Teachers. (2015, January 15). Retrieved from http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2015/06/3d-printers-in-elementary-school.html

Digital Divide/Digital Inequality

The objective of this project was three fold: research and learn about the Digital Divide and digital inequality, develop state-specific strategies and solutions to this growing problem, and utilize an online collaborative group to create a final presentation using a specific technology: Prezi. For our presentation, we focused on the state of Idaho and prioritized and developed a list of solutions to the inequalities of technology in access, equipment, and preparation.

The digital divide can be best understood as the growing inequity that technology creates in today’s world. Technology offers the potential to be a great equalizer, but more often than not, it serves to deepen the divide between haves and have nots as the rich get richer. Thus, a problem exists. Our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, eloquently expressed this idea: “If the technology revolution only happens for families that already have money and education, then its not really a revolution.”

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Beyond this divide, I was intrigued by the further distinction among internet users that is known as digital inequality. I was struck by the large discrepancies among the ways people utilize the technology that is available to them that leads to such further discrepancies in wealth and opportunity. This infographic of passive and active use reminded me of the importance of my role in cultivating active and competent users of technology. In my teaching, I need to create opportunities that allow for active uses of technology that allows for collaboration and creation, rather than simple drill and kill worksheets or even word processing.

DigitalDivide_Infographic.png

One of the distinct challenges of this assignment was learning to collaborate in a strictly online setting. In most other settings, I utilize technology to enhance and complement my collaborations with colleagues, but in this setting, due to the fact that my group mates live all across the west coast of the United States. As a team, we needed to learn how to be accountable to one another and accomplish tasks in a equitable way without being able to meet face-to-face. Google Hangouts became a key facilitator of our interactions. Though technological communication made this project and collaboration possible, I think I still prefer the efficiency of face-to-face communication as, at the very least, a complement to online communication.

Throughout the creation of this artifact, I was reconnected with Prezi as a presentation tool. When watching and creating presentations, I like clean lines and a minimalist style, so sometimes the zooming and theatrics of Prezi overwhelms me. However, I am content with the layout choices we made as a group and our goal to include minimal text on each slide. I also learned how to incorporate narration, which was a new skill for me. Though I think if I created this artifact again I would use another multimedia outlet, perhaps Adobe Spark, I am overall pleased with the presentation we created.

As we researched and collaborated, I was struck once again by the importance of this work in my own teaching. I recognize daily the effects of the digital divide in my own classroom and actively seek to create equitable learning opportunities for my students. As such, this research only further increased my understanding of the problem and my potential role in the solutions. If we had more time for this project, I think I would focus my research more specifically on the ways the digital divide plays out in Oregon and/or my specific school community. I plan on extending my understanding and application of this research as I continue to meet the wide range of needs within my classroom.

Here is the link to our group’s Prezi for your viewing pleasure.

 

RSS in an Upper Elementary Classroom

It’s all Greek to me…

Before this week, I did not know much about RSS. To be honest, I knew it existed, but not necessarily what it was, did, or how it could be beneficial to me. I spent a fair amount of time researching the concept and have boiled it down to a simpler way to receive information. Instead of having to seek out information, new posts and updates are localized into one, user-friendly feed. One video I watched compared it to the relationship between Netflix and a video store. RSS is Netflix because the movies come to you, while traditional methods of scouring and searching for recent updates and posts is the video store because you have to put on pants, go out, and rent a movie. Check out the video here if you’re new to RSS:

 

… But if I can do it, so can you!

For this assignment, I explored the RSS reader called Digg Reader. This reader proved to be extremely simple to use and set up. I particularly enjoyed the Google Chrome extension that allowed me to add to my feed just by clicking on a button when I visited an appealing site. Previously, I relied on bookmarking to save my favorite sites and blogs, but Digg Reader has proved to be an organization lifesaver. Here is a screenshot of my Digg Reader feed:

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.15.16 PM

Take a peek into my plans…

As an elementary educator, I became intrigued by the possibilities of RSS professionally and in my classroom.

First, professionally, I love the idea of having my favorite blogs and helpful resources in a centralized feed. Instead of spending extra time migrating between websites or having to remember helpful sites or blogs, I can organize my professional blogs in one place and in different categories. Currently, I have three folders: Techy Tech, for educational technology blogs, Fifth Grade, for grade level specific blogs I have previously explored, and Learning Logs, for the learning logs of my Masters program peers. Similar to my Facebook feed, I can select one of my categories, or view all of my feeds simultaneously, and the most recent posts are listed chronologically. Each post includes the title of the post along with a short preview of what the rest of the post includes. The ease of navigating this feed allows me to compare lots of different blogs I enjoy in a localized place. Now, instead of flipping back and forth and sometimes never finding anything, I can scroll through a list of recent postings and select those that appeal to me.

Second, I am interested in using RSS feeds to help students access kid-friendly news. One of my goals as an upper elementary teacher is to cultivate a strong love of reading. I believe that part of that cultivation is giving students choices in deciding what to read and RSS offers a great tool to do just that. A classroom RSS feed that students can access allows them to have engaging and relevant content at their fingertips, for FREE. From the initial setup, the possibilities are endless because, essentially, students have a platform from which to read and interact with a variety of texts right away. One lesson extension would be to have kids find an article, read it, and respond to what they read in a blog entry. Then, students could read and respond to each other’s blog posts, or just read what one another are reading. In this example, RSS serves as a springboard to authentic reading and writing opportunities. One blogger I currently subscribe to, Brad Wilson of 21Innovate, created a great list of kid friendly RSS feeds to subscribe to that help students find articles they are interested in. I have shared his list below:
Current Events
Scholastic News Online (feed link)
Weekly Reader (feed link)
The Week in Rap (feed link)

Interesting News/Magazine Style
Tween Tribune (feed link)
Dogo News (feed link)
National Geographic News Bites (feed link)
Ripley’s Believe it or Not (daily cartoon) (feed link)
Ink Splot (feed link)

Sports
Sports Illustrated for Kids
Dogo News Sports (feed link)
SI Kid Reporter Blogs
SI Kids Radio

Another way to utilize RSS with students is using it to streamline research or information gathering. Currently, my class website often has a collection of links to other student approved and accessible websites for students to go to learn more about the topic of study. RSS offers a simplification of the research process because students would receive a preview of the web content to see if it is relevant to their topic, but it would be focused to teacher selected and approved sources. Therefore, it allows for both teacher guidance and student choice. For example, during a science unit on adaptations, I could set up an RSS feed with Science News for Kids, Science Buzz, Discovery Channel Headlines, and others that would allow my kids to seek out current information that is relevant to our class exploration.

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Picture courtesy of Science Buzz.

Furthermore, RSS allows for differentiation of content, specifically students who are unable to read a text could access audio-based content. For instance, the Colonial Williamsburg RSS audio feed is an exciting tool for my 13 Colonies unit because it would allow my students an additional way to access the social studies content. Technology in all its forms, but particularly RSS, offers unique and practical differentiation opportunities.

Finally, RSS offers great potential for broadening student’s horizons. Currently, I teach in a fairly homogenous, affluent community, so it is essential to my teaching that I expose students to cultures and experiences different than their own. Through RSS, I can create authentic opportunities for students to formulate their own opinion and examine where it fits into a larger, global dialogue. For example, during my Native American unit, students could explore RSS feeds like Cherokee Nation or First Nations History to compare and contrast their lives with the lives of people of a different culture. In this way, RSS feeds would both make the world a little smaller and my students a little more globally minded and culturally sensitive.

RSS seems like an essential tool to navigating a world of information overload for educators and students alike.

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Picture courtesy of Caltech.

References:
http://eduscapes.com/sessions/rss/
http://www.21innovate.com/write/cool-learning-dynamically-delivered-rss-feeds-for-upper-elementary
http://digg.com/reader
http://www.caltech.edu/rss
http://www.sciencebuzz.org/
http://www.problogger.net/what-is-rss/

 

Annotated Bibliography: 1:1 Computing

The goal of this annotated bibliography was to explore a topic of both interest and relevance to me as a means to engage in the scholarly dialogue about a specific aspect of educational technology. After extensive research and topic narrowing, I decided to research a topic relevant to my personal journey with educational technology: 1:1 computing. Is it worth the investment? What does it take to be successful? How can teachers utilize this tool to engage students well?

Through my exploration of many sources, I found that 1:1 computing is a valuable tool, but like any tool, if used incorrectly it quickly becomes ineffective or even dangerous. The sources I explored ultimately cited the importance of intentionality to the success of a 1:1 program: intentionality with teacher professional development, intentionality with lesson planning, intentionality with teaching strategies. My research confirmed that this intentionality is a worthy investment, however, because 1:1 computing offers such clear benefits to cultivating 21st century thinkers and learners.

Through the completion of this annotated bibliography, I re-familiarized myself with the nuances of APA formatting as well as utilized a new research tool: Zotero. Wow, do I wish I knew about this during my undergrad experience! The ease at which I could store and organize sources of interest, as well as create my reference list was essential to my success with this assignment.

Please explore and enjoy my annotated bibliography.