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Synthesis Research Paper

December 29th, 2010 Comments off

This was a synthesis of the all of the research that I had done as part of this class. My focus was the effects of specific technology on student learning in a secondary (9-12) setting.  The PDF version is available here.

 

The Benefits of Technology in Secondary Education

Fabio Cominotti

Riverside High School

Boise State University


Abstract

This paper examines several studies about the use of various educational technologies, including web 2.0 applications, interactive white boards, and video games, and how they affect the learning outcomes of students. A study shows that student interaction is higher and student stress levels are reduced when a face-to-face, in-person class is supplemented with a required Facebook component at the beginning of the course (McCarthy, 2010). The same study shows that international students transition into the classroom activities and discussions with more ease. Several studies measure the effectiveness of increasing student achievement through the use of blogging and wikis for collaboration (Lou, Wu, & Shih, 2010) (Tse, Yuen, Loh, Lam, & Ng, 2010) (Judd, Kennedy, & Cropper, 2010). A different article studies the use of video games in the classroom as they relate to increased student performance because students become accustomed to learning due to the need to learn the rules and system of the video game (Amory, 2010).


The benefits of technology in secondary education

Now more than ever, schools and districts are looking for ways to improve student achievement. Since the “No Child Left Behind” act was enacted, failure of these efforts carries the possibility of penalties like loss of funding and accreditation. Now more than ever, schools and school districts need to find methods and pedagogies that will increase student achievement. Current educational theories place an emphasis on student motivation levels correlating to student performance. Many web 2.0 technologies can be integrated rather easily into the classroom. These applications offer the potential to raise motivation and achievement for students. The use of social networks, particularly Facebook is on the rise and many of today’s students make use of these services regularly. Facebook in the classroom or in conjunction with classroom activities could increase motivation for students. Blogging and wikis are two additional web 2.0 technologies that have a positive educational potential. Many students spend increasing amounts of time playing video games. The incorporation of video games into the classroom could increase student motivation and achievement. The key factor in student achievement is motivation. Current educational theories stress this. The incorporation of technologies, that students already dedicate large portions of their free time to, will increase motivation for students to participate in classroom activities. Increased motivation and participation will lead to increased achievement.

With the invention of web 2.0 technologies, social networking has skyrocketed in use.  McCarthy (2010) presented a pre-semester survey to both test groups in 2008 and 2009 which “outlined the student demographic and showed significant shifts in Facebook popularity and usage from the 2008 cohort…there was a much higher percentage of existing Facebook users within the group, 91% …compared to 75% in 2008”.   McCarthy’s (2010) study “also indicated that 61% of students logged onto Facebook at least once a day … compared to 35% in 2008”.  With this increasing usage of Facebook users, it only stands to reason that successful integration of Facebook into a curriculum would lead to an increased interest in participating in class assignments and activities.  Students already use Facebook every day and it’s apparent that the number of students using the service is increasing.

Social networks also allow users to interact with each other from the relative safety and anonymity of their homes or other places that they are comfortable with.  McCarthy’s (2010) study posed a questionnaire to the students about the quality of their experiences with the Facebook portion of the class.  In the 2009 cohort, the study found that 92% of students were able to increase their interaction with their peers and 89% felt that the Facebook usage generated “rewarding academic discussions that benefited” their studies (McCarthy, 2010)

High school is a popularity contest and it has been for a long time.  Students are less willing to take risks in school for fear of looking bad or foolish.  Facebook allows students to post and respond to others in a manner that doesn’t demand on-your-feet type of thinking and allows them to reflect and revise their response before writing.  McCarthy (2010) quotes on the study participants, “I really enjoyed this assignment as I find it quite daunting to speak up in front of a whole class, especially if at first you don’t know anyone in the class.”  This seems to be common in classrooms today.  McCarthy’s (2010) study shows that “there was a large increase in the academic interaction between local and international students …as well as general interaction, both academic and social, between peers”.

It is apparent from McCarthy’s (2010) study that students already use Facebook and probably other social networking sites and that when these services are used in a classroom in a blended style they lead to increased social relationships.  Without the awkward nature and fear of looking foolish, students might perform better and learn more.

Another web 2.0 application that can lead to increased student performance is blogging.  Two studies that took place in Hong Kong and Taiwan show that blogging in the classroom show increased performance in students engaging in reading or writing blogs.  In Taiwan, Lou, Wu, & Shih (2010) introduced blogging in Chinese to help students learning composition in Chinese to improve their composition skills.  Lu, et al (2010) found, “the statistical results show that he average post-test score is significantly higher than the average pre-test score…These findings reveal that after the blogging Chinese language composition instruction period, the students’ Chinese language composition ability was significantly enhanced”.  The study also found that “the students became more attentive to their writing after receiving Chinese language composition instruction that [utilized] blogging” and that “[the students] made significant progress in refining sentences, arranging paragraphs, and staying on topic.  In addition, the number of words significantly differed between the pre-test and post-test…This increase in length suggests that … participants not only made progress in the content of their writing, but also had more positive attitudes toward composition”(Lou, Wu, & Shih, 2010).

Lou et al. (2010) states that “the advantage of using blogging instruction is that students can learn from each other through posting their writings on the blog” and that “students had mostly positive feedback regarding the learning process, which indicates that students’ motivation to learn and composition abilities were enhanced after … instruction that [utilized] blogging”.  It is clear from this study that blogging has an impact upon student abilities and achievement and helps them to improve their writing abilities.  The ability to learn from each other is a commonly stressed element in today’s classroom and any technology that allows students to engage in this process should increase abilities.

Tse, Yen, Loh, Lam, and Ng (2010) conducted a study that measured 4th grade students behaviors that included reading blogs from the internet.  The study had 1,298 participants from forty schools.  The study found that “girls with ‘Medium’ level of blogging of ‘personal, friends, and classmates Chinese blogs’, ‘unfamiliar people’s Chinese blogs’, and ‘famous people’s and pop starts; blogs’ had superior Chinese reading attainment scores that their girl counterparts.”  The study also found that boys with a “‘Medium’ level of the blogging of ‘personal, friends’ and classmates’ blogs’, but ‘Low’ level of blogging of ‘unfamiliar people’s blogs’ and ‘famous people’s blogs’ had the highest level of Chinese reading attainment” (Tse, Yuen, Loh, Lam, & Ng, 2010).  This study makes it clear that reading other’s blogs increases reading levels.  From these two studies that measured reading and writing of blogs, it is clear that reading and writing levels improve when blogging is integrated into the classroom.

Yet a third web 2.0 technology that offers promise when integrated into curriculum is wikis.  Wikis allow for collaborative writing in an intuitive and convenient environment that does not have a need for individual group members to physically meet.  Judd, Kennedy, and Cropper (2010) conducted a study in which students were expected to write a collaborative paper using a wiki.  During the course of this study, “six hundred and ninety two out of 772 enrolled students (90%) participated in the task” of which they “created 2714 page versions during 1168 editing sessions resulting in the creation of 75 pages of content across the 30 groups” and “six hundred and twenty six (81%) students met the minimum required contribution of two non-trivial edits”.  This seems promising.  The anonymity of the online environment allows students to feel more comfortable participating and collaborating. Judd et al (2010) warn that “wikis are  widely promoted as ‘collaborative tools’, yet this and other research indicates that while aspects of their functionality can support collaboration, their success or failure strongly depends on the way in which individual activities are designed and implemented” and that “discussion aspects of wikis and the [socialization] of participants need to be supported”.  So while wikis offer the abilities to increase collaboration and achievement, careful instructional design that incorporates the social needs of students and careful structure of the activities may to be implemented in order for wikis to achieve their full potential as an educational tool.

Video games have become increasingly popular with advent of technologies that allow for three-dimensional graphics.  Many students today routinely play video games in their spare time.  Inherent to video games are the rules that are used to play the game.  Students seem to have no trouble learning these rules because they are motivated to learn them to enhance their game play experience.  Alan Amory (2010) conducted a study that used a video game system in a classroom that dealt with real world issues concerning several different health concerns.  The game, yKhozi-The Burning Ground was used.  It was designed for adolescents using the Game Object Model.  The concepts in the game dealt with in the game are transmission and biology of HIV / AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, biology and the mechanism of cancer and differences between viruses and bacteria and the role of protests in malaria (Amory 2010).  The results of the studies show that “teenagers…better understood a number of concepts when compared to the first year biology students”  and that “teenage participants … in this study scored an average of 57.1 ± 8.9% for the multiple choice instrument…This score is statistically similar to that obtained by first year biology students”.  This shows that video games can have a positive impact on student learning when used in the classroom.

While there are many technologies that exist that students use regularly and in increasing amounts of time, not all are suitable for integration into instruction.  Many web 2.0 technologies can improve student performance since many students already use these technologies and the use of them in the classroom increases their motivation which in turn increases their participation which increases achievement.  The study conducted that used Facebook clearly showed that students became more at ease and participated more in class when Facebook was integrated alongside with traditional classroom discussion in a blended format.  Their decreased anxiety leads to more challenging and rewarding academic and social interactions with their peers.  Blogging clearly shows to increase both reading and writing scores and wikis can increase collaboration and socialization if the activities are designed properly.  Video games used in the classroom that present information relevant to class show an increased level of attainment that is comparable to college students.  Taken in the grander scope of things, these technologies have to be carefully designed and integrated in order to achieve maximum results.

Further research is needed in the field of wikis.  While wikis offer excellent opportunities for student collaboration, it is apparent that the design of the activities is of paramount importance to the success of the project.  It would be beneficial to study which general types of activities are successful or not.  Additional research is also needed in the area of video games.  While video games have to potential to increase achievement in education, it is unclear as to what types of video games can help and in what areas of education.


References

Amory, A. (2010). Learning to play games or playing games to learn? A health education case study with Soweto teenagers. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26 (6), 810-829.

Judd, T., Kennedy, G., & Cropper, S. (2010). Using wikis for collaborative learning: Assessing collaboration through contribution. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26 (3), 341-354.

Lou, S.-J., Wu, S.-C., & Shih, R.-C. (2010). Adoption of blogging by a Chinese language composition class in a vocational high school in Taiwan. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26 (6), 898-916.

McCarthy, J. (2010). Blended learning environments: Using social networking sites to enhance the first year experience. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26 (6), 729-740.

Tse, S. K., Yuen, A. H., Loh, E. K., Lam, J. W., & Ng, R. H. (2010). The impact of blogging on Hong Kong primary school students’ bilingual reading literacy. Australasian Journal of Education Technology, 26 (2), 164-179.

Additional Sources

Farmer, B., Yue, A., & Brooks, C. (2008). Using blogging for higher order learning in large cohort university teaching: A case study. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24 (2), 123-136.

Ladyshewsky, R. K., & Gardner, P. (2008). Peer assisted learning and blogging: A strategy to promote reflective practice during clinical fieldwork. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24 (3), 241-257.

 

 


Tech Use Plan (Draft)

December 28th, 2010 Comments off

This was a final project for EDTECH 501 – Introduction to Educational Technology. I created a presentation that I, as a technology coordinator, could present to my current school district. It does not include the actual plan as that is a long process, but it includes the framework and initial focus points.

Originally, this project was created using a combination of Microsoft PowerPoint and VoiceThread. I have exported the project into several formats below.

PDF
PowerPoint
MOV-HQ
MP$4-MOB

 

 

 

 

 

Watch at VoiceThread.com

 

If you have flash enabled you can watch the embedded version below.

 


Technology Use Plan Critique

December 27th, 2010 Comments off

This project was completed as preparation in the completion of my own technology use plan draft and outline. I chose to critique a current and existing technology use plan that was in place by the public school system in DeWitt, Michigan. I’ve linked to the DeWitt Public Schools plan below as well as my critique of the plan.

 

Dewit School Tech Plan PDF Dewit Public Schools Technology Use Plan

Dewit School Tech Plan PDF My Critique

 


ISTE Standards and Needs Assessment

November 9th, 2010 Comments off

In order to determine what students and staff need are with a needs assessment, however what type of assessment should be conducted and what areas of technology should be focused on.  It’s fine to do needs assessment on use of digital cameras and scanners, but if students and teachers need to be more knowledgeable in the area of software application, then the digital scanners and cameras assessment would not be suitable for evaluation.  Technology standards play an important role in determining criteria for needs assessment.  The ISTE standards seem like thorough and well developed goals to strive for.  These standards set the benchmark for what we as educators need to teach to each other and to our students.

 


Publications in the Field of Educational Technology

October 5th, 2010 Comments off

The field of educational technology is vast and covers many different areas. The number of publications, journals, and websites that are available that cover educational technology is just as vast. A simple Google search for educational technology yields over 69 million results. That is a vast and murky bog to wade through, however there are a number of indexes and directories that can assist with narrowing down the selection to a manageable number as well as weeding out the less credible sites and journals. One of these directories is the Educational Software Directory (2010). This site lists many websites, publications, software, tech tools, and journals. The directory lists thirty different scholarly journals that publish peer-reviewed research studies from all over the globe including Australia, The United States, and Great Britain. There are wide number of other directories. A search for educational technology publications or educational technology directories will yield many results.

There are a number of e-magazines and print magazines that cover issues and new trends in educational technology. EDTECH Magazine provides articles and opinion pieces about EDTECH and offers several different focuses including higher education and K-12 education. There are many such magazines and websites that offer similar content.

When it comes to peer-reviewed research journals, the availability is not as large, but still respectable. (“Educational technology journals,” 2008) lists journals published in Australia, Great Britain, Canada, The United States, and other countries. There are journals that focus on a specific topic like computer assisted language learning. There are journals that publish studies pertaining to computers in the schools. The categories go on.

When it comes to publications for and pertaining to educational technology, the possibilities are virtually endless and range from publications that try to encompass the entire field to publications and journals that narrow the focus down to a specific type of technology. There are research base, peer reviewed journals throughout the world and there are more typical magazine format publications with articles and editorials. The bottom line is that there are resources out there in the form of publications, it just depends on what purpose needs to be fulfilled.

5 Sites that I found the most beneficial:

  1. I discovered the site, Educational Software Directory.net (2010) was a good place to start looking and finding my way through the bog. Under its publications tab, there is a list of a number of different publications that focus on educational technology including a sub-section listing scholarly journals that provide peer reviewed studies pertaining to the field of educational technology. Most of these journals and publications require a membership or subscription, however they do have some that do not.
  2. Another good site that is the International Society for Technology in Education (2010). This site is a vast resource for educational technology tools and books as well as news and event listings.
  3. Tech and Learning (2010) offers reviews of many educational technology products as well as forums discussing current Edtech issues and blogs from current leaders in the educational technology field.
  4. EDTECH Magazine (2010) has a number of articles and opinion pieces focusing on the use of educational technology in the area of high education. It has a little bit for everyone from teachers to IT administrators. Another version of EDTECH Magazine (2010) focuses on the K-12 system
  5. The Educause review (2010) features many articles dealing with educational technology and the open source movement. It is a great place to keep up on current educational technology issues and projects.

References

Educational software directory.net. (2010, August 12). Retrieved from http://www.educational-software-directory.net/publications/journals

Educational technology journals. (2008, March 17). Retrieved from http://www.educational-software-directory.net/publications/journals

Educause review. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/er

Edtech. (2010). Retrieved from http://edtechmag.com

International society for technology in education. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/welcome.aspx

Tech and learning. (2010). Retrieved from http://techlearning.com/

 


The Digital Divide

September 28th, 2010 Comments off

I’ve heard the term digital divide before. I knew that it described the have and have-nots. When I first heard the term, it described those that had computers and those that didn’t. Now it has grown to include those that have access to high-speed internet at home and those that do not. Thinking back to the days of my dial-up experience and thinking about what I now do with my internet access, I shudder to think of those that cannot afford broadband access. It was interesting to learn that the have-nots not only refer to those that cannot afford the service, but also those living in areas where the service is not even available. I recently moved to a small town in the middle of Wyoming. There is only one provider here that offers broadband service. It’s expensive and somewhat unreliable in the tiny town that I live in. For some time, I did without access while waiting for over a month for the company to get an overworked technician to my house. That month was a difficult one. I don’t want to think about what it would be like to not have this access all of the time. I don’t think that I could conduct my life without the internet and I certainly would not be able to have the same level of digital convenience.

 


Educational Devices

September 14th, 2010 Comments off

Today’s newer devices like the smart phone, mini-computers, and tablet devices have great potential for the educational setting. They provide an interaction that incorporates all three learning modalities and therefore increases learning. However, just because these devices exist and have tremendous potential does not mean they will be utilized. As Rieser pointed out, the increase of computers in the schools did not have an impact on the use of the computer in schools. Many educators do not want to incorporate new teaching methods, styles, and devices into their classrooms. It’s this attitude that has to eliminated. I feel that the ease of use of modern educational devices will help to diminish this thinking, but other steps must be take to get these beneficial educational technologies into our schools.

Mandatory training and implementation could be one solution. The school district that I work at requires all teachers to submit their lesson and unit plans to an on-line standards mapping application to better track the teaching of standards and help point out deficiencies. Many teachers grumble about this (including me) but it is beneficial and has helped the district increase proficiency in a number of content areas.

 


What We Have Learned from the History of Educational Technology

September 13th, 2010 Comments off

With over one-hundred years of development, the field of educational technology has come far, but one thing that we have learned is that the type of media that instruction is present on is important. Based on Gardner’s research and theories about multiple intelligences and Brandler and Grinder’s research into learning modalities, we know that each medium will not be a an effective delivery tool for every student no matter how well designed it is. To be effective and deliver high quality instruction, any type of educational technology has to incorporate learning activities that address each of the three modalities (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic). Educators have to also be aware of each student’s area of excellence to determine if the medium is effective for that student.

With the advent of the internet, multimedia applications, and web 2.0 applications, the potential impact for digital media is staggering. Applications can be designed with a multi-modal approach and increased student interaction. These applications can then be launched and delivered over the internet to involve and engage the student in an interactive, student-directed, student-centered activity to maximize learning.

Let’s face it. Students use these types of applications everyday like Facebook and Twitter; iTunes and Xbox-Live; and YouTube and Google, so the opportunity to introduce similar applications that target learning across the intelligence spectrum and incorporate all there learning modalities is huge and one that we cannot ignore.

 


Facebook Apps for Learning

September 7th, 2010 Comments off

I read the article from TOPYX about Facebook applications for learning and education that Dr. Hutchison posted on twitter. I was amazed and excited to find out about the learning potential that Facebook has. The apps that it offers could be very useful to me in my classroom. I’ve already set up a Moodle site that has a community forum and chat, but to incorporate facebook into my curriculum would motivate my students and possibly get them to participate more in classroom activities outside of class on a regular basis. I only know a few students who do not participate on Facebook. It’s all the craze right now and I can see why. Digital identities are important to the adolescents of today since they spend a great deal of their time in the digital world.

The article has spurred my mind to think of other possible uses that Facebook could bring to the classroom like a forum that students will actually use, a place where students can get help from each other, or a resource for them to use (via the applications). The only obstacles that I can foresee are parental disapproval, the potential for students to get sidetracked, and the fact that my school and many others routinely filter and restrict access to Facebook on school computers. The school content filter might not be that big of a hurdle since what I’m envisioning is a place for students to use outside of school hours, but getting some parents on board (like my wife) so that their children can set up and use a Facebook account might be a little more difficult. As far as students getting sidetracked, well students will always sidetrack themselves if they don’t want to do something and Facebook is always there for them to goof around on anyway. My hope is that since they are on Facebook anyway, they might utilize it to help them complete assignments or get help and advice from each other. We’ll see. I might implement the use of Facebook and Twitter into my curriculum.

 


Greetings

September 7th, 2010 Comments off

My name is Fabio Cominotti.  I graduated from the University of Idaho in May of 2010 with a degree in secondary education.  I’ve always been interested in and enjoyed using technology.  Whether it was running my own business upgrading and building PCs for clients or just playing video games, technology has always been a part of my life.  While I may have been an anomaly while growing up, today’s adolescent has much more technology at their fingertips.  They use it everyday and in almost every aspect of their life.  Why should school be any different?  If educators force them to unplug when they enter the front door, they will be disappointed and less motivated to learn.  By incorporating technology into curricula, teachers can engage students in a way that they are accustomed to.  This increases enjoyment, comprehension, motivation, and interest.  Basically, it increases learning.

My goal is to learn new and innovative ways in which to incorporate technology into my classroom and maybe even start teaching online.