Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Technology/Classroom Technology
In today’s society, there is a growing need for technology in the classroom. Some teachers are at the cutting edge of incorporating new technology into their daily lesson plans. Also, since there is so much technology out there, what should teachers be using in the classroom? Let’s take a look at some of the more recent technology that is being used in today’s modern classroom.
Before a teacher can use recent technology effectively however, he needs to be able to use basic computer programs to enhance his teaching. One basic program with a number of applications is power point. According to Jamye Swinford in an Education World article on technology, power point can be used for many more things than just presentations. For example, one could make a Jeopardy style game to do a review. Excel is another program that can have huge benefits in the classroom. You can use it to collect data for science experiments. You can then make graphs and charts out of the data which you can teach students to interpret. Perhaps the most basic computer program is a word processing program which can be used in a nearly infinite number of ways, from simply typing up handouts for the class to anything you can think of. You could use it to have students create a newspaper from a time period they are studying. Or, more traditionally to write papers. You can have your students create fliers about a cause they are arguing to learn to use other media to persuade. Depending on the age and ability level of your students basic computer applications can be used to do almost anything to enhance the learning experience.
LiveText is a new emerging technology that allows students to create electronic portfolios online. The students will then share their projects with their teachers via LiveText. By sharing the documents with the teachers, it gives the opportunity for the teachers to assess the project without turning in a paper copy. By turning in projects online, this allows students to build an electronic portfolio which will give them the opportunity to look back and reflect upon their previous assignments. Live text provides three things for students: (1) demonstrate learning competencies, (2) display competencies, (3) a maintenance tool to document ongoing development (Banister et. al, 2006). Another important tool that LiveText comes with is unlimited storage space. Students can then upload as many documents as they need to the electronic database where they will be stored for as long as they are needed. For teachers, there is a template already built into LiveText for lesson plans. This will cut down the time that is needed to setup a lesson plan, which will allow more time to spend on other projects and grading assignments. There is, however, a downside to LiveText. Students must purchase a one time only subscription code that will give them unlimited access to the online software.
LiveText was originally designed to provide a secure, structured storage in cyberspace for use by elementary school students' work products. The idea was to show that students could understand and use technology. Founded in 1997, by undergraduate students at Illinois State University Department of Computer Science, LiveText was developed in the early days of the world wide web. The founders worked with professors under a grant from the Sloan Foundation to develop and deliver the first generation of web based classes.(Illinois State University)
LiveText is priced at eighty-nine dollars for a student addition that is valid until one year after you graduate your program. This seems a fair price considering the price of textbooks. Also, you can renew your subscription on a yearly basis after that. You also have the capability of allowing a visitor to view your files by giving them a password. With the password, your guest simply logs into LiveText using the password and can then review your files. This could be a very valuable tool for submitting your portfolio to prospective employers upon graduation.
Anyone in college has had at least some interaction with Blackboard. For students in high school, there is almost none. In my own high school experience, I had no idea what Blackboard was. I thought that Blackboard was what teachers write on in the classroom! This needs to change. We need to begin to expose students to Blackboard at a much younger age so that they can become familiar with it. Blackboard can be an effective tool when teaching. Students can basically “drop off” their assignments into the respective link. Also, students can take quizzes, post on discussion boards, and have active chats with their teacher and other students. By having all of this available online, the students have virtually unlimited access to their teachers and course materials. Blackboard also makes things a little easier on teachers. With online quizzes and assignments, they are automatically graded by the software and are posted in an online grade book. Instead of grading, teachers can now spend more time developing lesson plans, and devoting more of their time to their students. There is exciting news in Blackboard technology. Blackboard has just released a version designed specifically for students in K-12 schools. There are some advantages for this newer version, it “enables school districts to:
- Easily provide classroom materials online with students (without having to know HTML)
- Engage parents by allowing them to view student progress
- Enable 24/7 access to learning materials in a secure environment
- Offer innovative testing methods and self-assessments for individualized learning paths” (2006).
These things maybe great for teachers, students and parents but what does it all mean? It means that Blackboard is an effective tool that can be utilized by everyone being affected by the education process.
There is another effective tool in the modern repertoire of teachers. Inspiration software is more of a study tool than it is anything else. Inspiration software “is a tool that helps organize thoughts--for teachers as well as for students” (Kurtz, 2003). Basically, Inspiration consists of bubble-maps that are created by the students or class as a whole. The teacher can then print out copies of the bubble-map for the whole class for use as study material. For quick brainstorming, rapid fire tool allows for ideas to get put down in writing quickly (Kurtz, 2003). Also, “the new version of Inspiration comes with more than 50 templates for use in language arts, social studies, and science” (Kurtz, 2003). By having plenty of templates to choose from, students and teachers both have the ability to generate ideas and plug them in to the blank areas on the template. The software “is wonderful for students who have a difficult time organizing their writing and research” (Kurtz, 2003). Inspiration software can be used by every area of teaching including special education, “with the added audio component that allows text to be read aloud, this program meets the needs of students within a broader developmental range” (Kurtz, 2003). Inspiration software is an important tool that can be utilized by any student or teacher for creating in class study materials. By using this interactive software, students can improve their grades significantly because they are actually participating in the learning process.
Unitedstreaming is a emerging technology that has impacted my life in a great way and it has influenced my own way of looking at teaching with technology. Unitedstreaming is an online service available to most schools that has thousands of videos, pictures, and songs that are all standards based, which means that all of the videos meet or exceed the Standards of Learning. Through Unitedstreaming, “teachers are learning to prepare lesson plans and student activities in print, graphic, sound and video formats to give teachers and students multiple paths for understanding and retaining content” (Reed, 2003). The videos on Unitedstreaming can be picked and then edited through Windows Movie Maker.
As a student using Unitedstreaming, it is easy to use, extremely addicting and most importantly, fun to use. Searching for videos on there can be a task but it is quite an experience once you have found the perfect one. After you find the videos, you can then edit them to make one continuous clip. This is a great idea for teachers who want to make a video about their subject matter. Also, it would be a great student activity/project for them to generate and get their hands dirty doing something creative. There are however some downsides to using Unitedstreaming in school. Streaming the videos takes up massive amounts of bandwidth and essentially locks up the school's Internet system. So just remember, it is always better to download your videos!
One of the newest technologies to emerge in the past year is TeacherTube, an online database of instructional videos. Modeled after the popular video website, YouTube, TeacherTube allows educators to “upload, tag, and share videos worldwide.” These videos range in subject from those instructing teachers how to use new classroom software or how to teach a certain type of lesson to movies that can actually be used in the classroom to help elaborate upon the subject matter. Not only can educators find videos to supplement their lessons, but those who upload their videos often include access to lesson plans, notes, and activities. The fact that this website is fully interactive means other educators and even students can comment on the videos and information and provide constructive criticism, leading to the material on the site constantly being upgraded and improved. This also helps to keep inappropriate videos at bay, by allowing users to flag ones they do not find suitable. Though new, TeacherTube contains a plethora of information for educators new and old.
There are so many new and emerging technologies in the teaching field that it makes it very easy to become overwhelmed with the deluge of information. There is a great quote about teaching that comes from the Chinese philosopher Confucius. He said. “Acquire new knowledge whilst thinking over the old, and you may become a teacher of others” (2000). There is a lot we can take away from this quote and actually apply it to the subject matter that I have been discussing. What Confucius is saying is that you must learn the new ways while retaining the old, then and only then, will you be a teacher.
Multiple Choice Questions
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- (2000, April). Retrieved September 21, 2007, from Teaching Quotes Page Web site: http://www.teachingheart.net/tquotes.htm
- Banister, S. (2006). Testing electronic portfolio systems in teacher education: finding the right fit. Action in Teacher Education, 27(4), 81-90.
- Kurtz, A. (2003). Inspiration 7.0. Multimedia Schools, 10(1), 63-64.
- (2006). Retrieved Sept. 18, 2007, from http://www.blackboard.com/company/press/release.aspx?id=878589
- Reed, R (2003).Streaming technology improves student achievement. T.H.E. Journal. 30(7), 14, 16, 18, 20.
- Illinois State University, College of Education http://www.coe.ilstu.edu/livetext/History.htm
- (2007). Retrieved Nov. 6, 2007, from http://www.teachertube.com/about.php
- Linda Starr. "Technology Integration Ideas that Work." Education World. Aug. 27, 2003. 12 Sept. 2007