Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Professional Development

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Professional Development and Overcoming Instructor and Administrative Assistance[edit]

Classifying technology learning for educators[edit]

Technology can be used as a wonderful tool to support instruction in kindergarten through 12 classrooms. It can bring a prospective that is not normally available in a non-technology classroom. Technology has the opportunity to prepare our students for the demands placed upon them by the “real world;” enhance communication; enrich lesson plans; and diversify instruction. Based from Rem Jackson’s (2002) article, “Just in Time Web Delivered Instruction,” Walter McKenzie suggests a startling notion: Seventy percent of the jobs available in the workforce will somehow be related to the acquisition and manipulation of digital knowledge. Workers will need to be able to access information, evaluate it for its worth, use it in creative ways, and be flexible enough to change their work product as the information changes. Ninety percent of those jobs will go unfilled if this need is not addressed today in the schools.

We, as educators, are not preparing our students in the classroom for the demands our students will meet in the workforce. Technology is a tool that is essential to the growth of our students’ potential. Instead of the normal “drill and kill” technique of teaching, technology allows students to research and evaluate information and make a decision based on the information that is found. Technology also spawns better team-working capabilities for students. Students using technology in their education will have to rely on others for information to be successful. Therefore, they will need to effectively communicate with others to reach their goals.

By interweaving technology in everyday classroom lessons, students will have better chances to collaborate on common tasks. A student will also enhance his or her communication skills to transfer information and find support for his or her ideas. McKenzie (2012) suggests, They create collaborative online projects that involve students in long-term problem-solving and product-generating tasks that utilize Internet resources and a variety of digital communications.

Communication is not just with verbal contact with other students. It is also the ability to use media, internet, and digital communication for more information. Technology will not only allow the students access to more information, but more ways to interpret and use information given. How a teacher delivers information is also changing with technology. Again, drill and kill, was once the way America educated its children. Today, rote memorization is still expected with some tasks. However, we are now looking for students to explain how they arrive at different conclusions. We want them to use critical thinking skills to support claims. We want them to seek outside the textbook and “look outside the box.” Well, we as teachers need to do the same.

Many of our boxed text series now include a technology component to help enrich the series. These enrichments are only the starting point where teachers may integrate technology in their lesson plans. Yet, before teachers can use technology effectively, they need to be provided the tools in order to succeed.The tools most commonly needed to successfully use technology in lesson plans are at minimum: a computer; television; and a television-computer connector or an LCD projector. These tools help the teacher explore while teaching. The Third Millennium Education Project suggests:

"The first important thing about educational technology is to replace it with learning technology. The shift from a technology of teaching to a technology of learning is an important trend we should encourage."

By providing these tools to teachers, they can focus more on the technology of learning instead of the trying to teach technology. Teachers coming out of teacher preparation programs are being taught how to teach in many different ways to appeal to all learners. If teachers use more technology in their instruction, they will find they can appeal to their visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners all at the same time. Using technology can help teachers explore the solar system by using a computer program that will travel through the universe. It can also help explain how the allied forces invaded Normandy during World War II by showing an interactive map. Teachers can appeal to all learners by using programs for geo-boards and help explain important mathematical concepts. The possibilities are endless for way to help change teachers styles of delivery using technology. In this paper, I have explained the benefits to the students by using technology. I will also share where I believe teachers should strive with technology based on my research. I base much of my suggestions from McKenzie’s article on teachers being “techno-constructivist.”

Scott Noon from Connect University created four stages of teachers with technology:

  • Preliterate Users- Those who have little training or wish to avoid technology all together.
  • Software technicians- Teachers who can use basic programs such as Word, e-mail, and surf the internet.
  • Electronic traditionalist- Teachers who are proficient in technology, but mainly use it as an extension of everyday classroom functions
  • Techno-constructivists- These are the teachers who integrate technology into the curriculum so that it not only complements instruction, but redefines it.

Scott Noon has developed a wonderful framework so teachers may progress from stage to stage. I believe, me included, that many teachers entering the teacher workforce today are in the electronic traditionalist stage. How we shift from that stage to techno-constructivist is the battle. McKenzie (2012) defines techno-constructivist as, “More than anything else, becoming a techno-constructivist is an attitude. It is the ability to open up to the new possibilities presented in this age of wonder.” I think many teachers need to follow McKenzie’s definition and have a change in attitude. He suggests four many ways teachers can use technology in a positive manner to redefine their instruction methods. Those four ways to use technology:

  • Online Projects
  • Virtual Field Trips
  • Virtual Simulations of real-life experiences
  • Promote information literacy through online activities

Teachers have the ability to take their students anywhere they care to go. Many teachers need to be pro-active in changing the attitudes of themselves as well as their communities. In a time of increasing cuts, technology is a way to provide a higher level of education at a lower cost. Field trips in many schools are become obsolete because of the rising cost and liability of conducting them. However, students will still have the opportunity to see first-hand, via technology, the wonders of the world. However, it depends on the teacher to unlock those potentials for his or her students. When they unlock those doors, the potential for the real world will be opened; lesson plans enriched; communication skills heightened; and the ability for diversified instruction obtained. Technology is the tool by which the world can come to the classroom.

Gardner and Veenema (2001) said it best in their article “Multimedia and Multimedia Intelligence” when they said, “Technology does not necessarily improve education. It could become a valuable education tool, but only if we use it to capitalize on our new understanding of how the human mind works.” Here is where most educators struggle with implementing technology. As Richard Clark (1994) has argued, “Learning is not the receptive response to the instruction's ‘delivery.’ Rather, learning is an active, constructive, cognitive and social process by which the learner strategically manages available cognitive, physical, and social resources to create new knowledge by interacting with the information in the environment and integrating it with the information already stored in memory (Shuell, 1988). These three researchers are not claiming that technology does not assist in learning, it is just not the silver bullet that will solve all the pains in the classroom.

In closing, technology is often looked upon as the solution to the problems in the classroom. Schools and educators routinely spend millions of dollars each year buying technology that they do not understand. They try to put in the hands of teachers that are software technicians or at best electronic traditionalist. The technology is mostly under used by teachers because they have not developed ways to incorporate technology to enhance the learning experience of the students. As Millennials move into leadership ranks of schools and institutions, we will begin to see the benefits of a generation that has had technology at their fingertips since they were born. Our schools will continue to become more integrated with technology and data. Educators will be able to leverage real-time data coming from technology tools in the classroom to differentiate lessons, reinforce personalize learning, and make performance decisions not only on the students, but the teachers in the classroom. In order for techno-constructivists to take control of the educational process, leaders of both the school and teacher unions that are electronic traditionalist or below need to get out of the way. In the beginning of this decade, techno-constructivists were spread in small populations in schools. Now, they are the becoming the majority and require the tools in order for their lessons to be fully realized.

Works Cited Jackson, Rem. (n.d.). Just in Time Web Delivered Instruction. T.H.E. Journal. http://www.thejournal.com/magazine/99/mar/industry.html

May, S. M. (2003). Integrating Technology Into a Reading Program. T.H.E. Journal. http://www.thejournal.com/magazine/vault/A4352.cfm

McKenzie, W. (2012). Are you a Techno-Constructivist? Education World. http://www.education-world.com/a_tech/tech005.shtml