Category Archives: 3.4 Policies and Regulations

Policies and regulations are the rules and actions of society (or its surrogates) that affect the diffusion and use of Instructional Technology.

Obstacles of Utilizing Technology in a Classroom

According to the National Council of Teaching Mathematics, (2000, p 24), “technology is essential to teaching and learning mathematics; it influences the mathematics that is taught and enhances students’ learning.  Teachers’ attitudes play an important role in using technology in teaching and learning mathematics.”

Math is such a visual subject.  Technology can enhance the visualization of an otherwise complex topic.  For example, in geometry, Geometer’s Sketchpad can help students explore geometrical relationships and develop reasoning skills.  Olkun (2005), suggests that it is effective to integrate math content and technology in a manner that enable students to make math discoveries in a game or playful environment.

Obstacles to Integrating Technology in a Math Classroom

  1. Getting teachers on board — As mentioned above, technology is useless without teachers being on board.  How do we get teachers to buy in?  Providing thorough and continuous training is a first step.  Teachers are overwhelmed with work as it is, so the implementation needs to be as easy as possible.  Also, teachers need to be shown ways that technology can be used in the classroom.  There is no need to recreate the wheel, so providing a resource page of how particular pieces of equipment or software is used would be useful.
  2. Money — Technology is expensive.  However, there are many technology grants out there to help diffuse the cost.  Another important expense is technology support.  This is very important in ensuring that the equipment will be working consistently.  Teachers will not use equipment if it is not reliable.  Creating a technology expert, so to speak, within each department will help keep the costs down and have a go to person close by for all teachers.
  3. Filters — Many districts and school have filters on the internet to prevent students from accessing social media, youtube, etc.  This can restrict the use of technology within a classroom.  Removing these filters and providing students with knowledge of how to be a responsible digital citizen would alleviate this obstacle

The key to implementing technology in an effective way is to provide training and resources, show teachers the power of using it within their lessons, and collaborate together to share ideas.  Embracing technology for what it is — a means to enhance a lesson — will help alleviate the fear of the unknown.  It is not replacing teachers, it is helping us teach students in a way we could never do before.

 

References:

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000).  Principles and standards for school mathematics, Reston, VA.

Olkun, S., Altun, A., Smith G. (2005).  Computers and 2D geometric learning of Turkish fourth and fifth graders.  British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(2), 317-326.

Global Projects and Walled Garden Discussion

Here is my Voice Thread analysis of Global Projects and Walled Gardens.

References:

http://www.flatclassroomproject.org/

https://education.skype.com/

Internet Safety Guidelines–Tips for Students

The internet has become fast become THE place to gather and share information. Long gone are the days of searching for a book in the library to research a topic…or picking up a phone to get caught up with a friend. While it is very convenient, the internet introduces a whole slew of risks as well. This guide will provide some basic tips for students when browsing the internet with a little help from http://www.commonsensemedia.org.

Tip 1:  Recognize that any information you share online is NOT private.

First of all, recognize that college admission counselors, potential employers, your parents, etc. can see posted or forwarded information.  If you don’t want that group of people to see the things that you have done, then don’t post about it.  Many, many people have been burned by this idea that their information is private.  Your thought process before you hit submit should include “Do I really want my mother or potential employer to see this?”.

Secondly, the internet has allowed pedophiles to become more prevalent (or at least have access to more children).  Predators tend to create fake profiles to lure children.  How do predators select their children?  A list of some general criteria is here.  They tend to pick children via instant messaging, who are online quite a bit and who post personal profiles.

Thirdly, do not post any personal information about yourself such as your phone number and address.  If you post photos online, be sure that you are ok with everyone seeing them.

Tip 2:  The Golden Rule still applies when online.

Treat others as you would want to be treated.  This mantra tends to go by the wayside when people become anonymous posters.  Recognize that the people on the other side of the computer are still human beings with real feelings.  Do NOT say or post anything online that you would not say to that person face-to-face.

Tip 3:  Online cheating is still cheating.

Plagiarizing from a website is the same as copying passages from a book.  In this day and age there are many software packages out there that will allow a teacher to compare your paper to the internet to see if any of the text is virtually the same.

Tip 4:  Be aware of scams and potential viruses.

There are many illegitimate websites out there whose main function is to download a virus to obtain your information.  First of all, make sure you have proper anti-virus and anti-malware software.  Secondly, do not download anything from sites that aren’t reputable.  If you are not sure, ask your teacher or your parents.

The key to being a good digital citizen is to USE YOUR HEAD!  Think before you post and before you start browsing in unchartered territory.  If you are ever unsure of whether you should, you likely SHOULDN’T!

Resources:

http://www.gcflearnfree.org/internetsafetyforkids/1.6

http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/internet-safety-tips-high-school-kids

http://www.fbi.gov/fun-games/kids/kids-safety

http://www.netsmartz.org/internetsafety

Acceptability Use Policy

Preparing students for the 21st century workplace involves teaching and exposing students to various types of technology they will encounter.  Students should feel comfortable being able to email, share documents, present information electronically, research online, etc.  School districts are providing more and more technological resources in the form of computer labs, laptops, mobile devices, and so on.

Opening up the world wide web for students can open up a can of worms so to speak.  How can we ensure that students are using the technology responsibly?  One measure is to have a very clear and concise Acceptable Use Policy.

The National Education Association suggests that an effective AUP contain the following six key elements:

  • a preamble,
  • a definition section,
  • a policy statement,
  • an acceptable uses section,
  • an unacceptable uses section, and
  • a violations/sanctions section.

Students need to be aware that when using technology in a school, it needs to be specifically for school use only.  Districts have the ability to track all computers history which helps alleviate some of the desire to roam throughout the internet.  The key is to ensuring students use the internet properly is that they are TAUGHT specifically what it means to be a responsible user.  Students need to be expected to uphold that behavior and if they don’t there are consistent and clear consequences.

At the beginning of every year, my school teaches a responsible computing portion of our freshman seminar course.  This provides a means to present our guidelines to all students.  Examples of poor behavior are given and the consequences that follow.  Students are expected to treat others online as they would in person.

Some examples of AUP’s:

  1. SVVSD Laptop Policy
  2. Colorado State AUP
  3. Brush School District AUP
  4. Colorado AUP general guidelines

 

References:

Getting Started on the Internet: Developing an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).  Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml

 

Technology Use Planning Overview

image source: NETP 2010

The general goals of an educator have remained the same over the last century. Our goals include preparing students for the workforce or college. My mother graduated from high school in 1947. In speaking with her, the goals of her school were to help them in reading, writing, typing and basic math skills. The opportunities for women in that era were generally limited to nursing, teaching, or secretarial work. As an educator today, I am preparing students for a much different workplace. Employers are expecting skills on a resume to include exceptional problem solving ability, adaptability, critical thinkers and a knowledge and comfort level with the use of technology.

Technology has changed the way we think and communicate. It has also made a monumental impact on education. In preparing students for the next phase of their life, it is imperative that educators consider how to incorporate technology in their everyday lesson plans. It is a daunting task. How do we go about doing this in an effective way? We need a plan — a technology plan.

In 1992, Dr. John See was one of the visionaries who began the discussion of developing an effective technology plan (See, 1992). He believed that a technology plan must have short term goals. I agree with this idea completely. Technology evolves and changes continuously. Much of the technology today likely will be obsolete in five years from now. Hence, this is why a short term plan is important. I do believe, however, that a long term vision is important. This long term plan would likely be more general in nature and not include specific types of technologies.

In designing a technology plan, everyone from the administration to faculty need to be on board. We need to answer several questions in our plan:

  • How do we use our current technology? Do we use it to its capability?
  • How does technology enhance a lesson plan?
  • How are we going to provide tech support for this technology? Is there training involved?
  • How do students currently use technology out of the classroom? What do they already know?

The National Educational Technology Plan (2010) created a concrete model for the design of a good technology plan. They discuss the engagement, assessment and implementation stages which are very useful to follow in developing our own goals.

See believes that providing the infrastructure is not enough. It is not the point of a technology plan. As the famous Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” A school with a lot of technology is just that — a school with technology. For technology to be useful, both teachers and students have to be able understand how to use the technology effectively. It needs to be integrated in all different curriculum and used consistently.

I have been fortunate in my career to be employed by forward thinking and innovative districts. Part of my job as a math/technology teacher is to be the district technology representative for my building. I am part of a group of individuals that is constantly reassessing current technology use and sharing best practices for using technology within our schools. It has been a great learning experience for me as an educator. My goal is to give all of my teachers the tools/ideas needed to enhance the educational experience for our students. I want them to be excited about the opportunities it creates as opposed to the initial increase in their workload. It allows us to speak directly to authors, talk to survivors of the Holocaust, etc. in a way we never did before. It brings education alive!!

See, J. (1992, May). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19, (8). Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2010). National education technology plan. Washington D.C: Author. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf

Digital Inequality Assignment

This assignment asked us to create a hypothetical task force to research the issue of Digital Inequality.  We chose to research the issue as it pertained to the state of Tennessee.

Throughout the last decade, internet use has opened up a wide spectrum of opportunities.  We are able to communicate, research, shop, look for employment, etc. more easily.  Can I imagine living without it?  Never!  I am one of the fortunate ones.  This assignment opened my eyes to the Digital Divide and the Digital Inequality that exists in our world today.

According to numbers released last year by the Department of Commerce, 40% with annual household incomes below $25,000 in 2010 reported having wired Internet access at home, compared with the vast majority — 93 percent — of households with incomes exceeding $100,000.  That is incredible when you think about it.  So, what do we do?  As part of the task force, we were asked to look at seven possible options for reform. The options (as well as our rankings) are listed below:

  1. Install computers in all public libraries in the state and expand the hours when the computers are available. (Ranked #3)
  2. Expand staffing and other resources so that public schools can be open to the public after normal school hours, on weekends, and during the summer months. (Ranked #7)
  3. Provide individuals in disadvantaged communities with computers. (Ranked #6)
  4. Provide high-speed Internet and mobile access for all state residents.(Ranked #1)
  5. Subsidize Internet Service Providers to provide low-cost Internet to all state residents. (Ranked #2)
  6. Provide information literacy courses to enhance computer skills and enable knowledgeable use of digital technologies.(Ranked #4)
  7. Develop free online educational content, giving first priority to content most relevant to lower socio-economic groups before content that is relevant to the rest of the public. (Ranked #5)

Our task force evaluated each option and ranked accordingly.  Our general feeling was that the majority of options were much more realistic if coupled with another option.  The goal of our task force was to provide access (reducing the Digital Divide) as well as providing instruction for use (reducing the Digital Inequality).  One without the other is pointless in my opinion. As you can see with our rankings, our priority was to provide access to the infrastructure first and foremost.  We chose to offer internet at users homes first as opposed to extending the hours of public facilities for convenience purposes.  Our second priority is to provide courses to help the public use the internet to its best capability.

So, how many of my own students are in this situation?  I don’t know, but I need to find out.  I teach in a relatively rural area in a lower-middle socioeconomic area.  We definitely have a “haves” and “have nots” differentiation between many of our students.  My plan is to somehow incorporate a survey within a lesson in our English classes (they see all students) to determine my next step.

I really enjoyed collaborating with others (our alpha group) from all over North America on this project.  That is incredible in itself.  It is very easy to use and can definitely extend the learning of us and our students as well.  We had planned on using narration (either Camtasia or VoiceThread) for our project, but ran out of time.  I am having my students use Voice Thread as part of a Linear Programming group project and it has been a great tool to learn for myself and my students.

Standards Addressed:

2.4 Integrated Technologies:  We integrated different technologies (email, chat, videoconferencing) to produce and present information.

3.2 Diffusion of Innovations: We identified strategies to implement change.

4.2 Resource Management:  We discussed the cost effectiveness of different strategies and prioritized them accordingly.