Thank you for visiting my learning log! I look forward to utilizing this tool and populating it with all the materials I learn to use throughout my higher education.
A link to my reflection journal for Edtech 521: Online and Blended Learning can be found at my reflection journal google doc.
Part One: Course Reflection
Throughout taking this course, I learned a multitude of ways to benefit all of my learners. Before taking this course, I considered myself to be pretty “tech-y” and able to integrate technology into my lessons easily. However, this course pushed me to develop lessons in which I was not as familiar with the technology and pushed me to create tools for use in my classroom that I didn’t already have. The adaptive technology project was definitely one that pushed me to explore all types of students I could have in my classroom, and I found this project to be particularly helpful in my development as an educator.
This coursework definitely helped me to attain mastery in the AECT standards for the master’s program at Boise State. I especially found that this course helped me to master Standard 2, AECT Standard 2 (Content Pedagogy): Candidates develop as reflective practitioners able to demonstrate effective implementation of educational technologies and processes based on contemporary content and pedagogy. This course pushed me to develop lessons that I have not developed in my time as a teacher, and really expanded my abilities as a teacher. I also found that I grew in my skills with AECT Standard 1 (Content Knowledge): Candidates demonstrate the knowledge necessary to create, use, assess, and manage theoretical and practical applications of educational technologies and processes. The application of the course projects for this course was awesome- everything I created I can use in my classes that I teach, which I really appreciate. Being able to apply all the things I created is important to me, and it made me feel like the work I was doing for my grad work would be useful in my job.
I have absolutely grown as a professional and gained a tremendous amount of knowledge towards educational technology and the implementation of technology tools in the classroom. As a building technology integrator, it’s important for me to know a lot of different technology tools for use in the classroom- I learned was to integrate technology into lessons for not only my content area, but for other content areas as well. The Content Area Learning Activities were especially helpful for this growth.
I’m not sure if my thoughts/practices have been necessarily impacted through this course, but I have been able to grow in my abilities towards integrating technology. I have learned a lot of different ways to grow my lessons and make them more meaningful for my students through technology use. Some of the lessons I would have done in the past are definitely improved as a result of my coursework, such as teaching parts of the atom or the history of nuclear reactions. I was also able to develop my lessons/projects with concrete use of theoretical practices- our course-text helped me with the process. I think it’s really important for educators to understand that the use of technology should be deliberate and theory/research based, so using our textbook as my base was helpful for me to thoughtfully create my lessons and ensure that the use of technology within them was not just for novelty, but for pedagogical purposes.
Part Two: Assess Your Performance
I found the blog portion of this course to be one of the more challenging aspects, as I’m not particularly reflective unless prompted to be. I usually found myself trying to get the blog portion of the course over with as soon as I could, so I generally started there. There were weeks that I really found the blog entries to be difficult to write, but that mostly had to do with what I had going on with my teaching job. However, I really liked that the blog forced me to review the text for the course, and it gave me a good theory-based starting point for doing my course projects.
Content: 65/70. I think some of my blog posts were within the Outstanding categories- I tried to link my real-life experiences with the prompts as much as I could, and I also tried to provide as much detail as I found to be necessary. However, there were a few weeks were I think my posts were more on the Proficient side of the rubric: to be honest, in those weeks I rushed to get the post completed and didn’t provide as much detail/insight as I could have.
Readings/Resources: 20/20. I really tried to utilize the course text and external resources in my projects. The course text really guided me in designing my posts and what I wanted to discuss; the external resources helped me take my discussions a few steps further. I cited everything in APA format and I am confident that they are correctly cited.
Timeliness: 19/20. I tried really hard to have my postings done early in the week (usually by Wednesday), but I know there were weeks were I couldn’t get to it until later. But, I tried my best to get them submitted to the edtech moodle forum by Saturday morning. Some weeks it was just really hard for me to juggle my grad work and my school work, so I did the best I could to get the blog completed early in the week.
Responses to other students: 25/30. I replied to 2 people for every blog post that we did, but I know that I could have spent more time on those responses to make them more robust and helpful in regard to feedback purposes. I find responding to other’s posts to be one of my weakest skills in this course- I generally agreed with everyone’s postings and what they had to say, so trying to go into detail with my responses wasn’t always as good as it could have been.
My school district provides a Dell Latitude E5440 laptop for teacher use, and I use it for both my work and my grad school materials. I did a little research before I explored the features and navigated to Dell’s website. On their Accessibility page, Dell states “Dell’s purpose is to deliver technology solutions that enable people everywhere to grow and thrive. This purpose includes making technology available that promotes accessibility by people with disabilities.” In addition to their commitment to accessibility, Dell also indicates that “Dell has also teamed up with Electronic Vision Access Solutions, an industry-leading provider of accessible plug- and play computers, to create computer systems designed specifically for people impacted by disabilities. Our plug and play solutions run right out of the box with application software, peripherals and assistive technology installed and configured.” While I don’t have the EVAS computer system available to use, I was happy to see that Dell included it on their accessibility information and provided additional resources if needed.
Because the computer runs on Windows 10 operating system, the accessibility features are (for the most part) standard with other Windows 10 operating systems. Windows describes their accessibility features in categories with accompanying descriptions of the features outfitted with the operating system.
Based on the information I received from both manufacturers, I decided I wanted to try the Speech recognition feature, High Contrast Themes, Magnifier, and Narrator.
The speech recognition feature was at first hard to find, but after a control panel search it came up right away. It was nice that it allowed users to set up multiple types of microphones, including the built in laptop microphone. It was easy to configure and set up, and it worked relatively well to access the computer. I think it would have worked much better if I had a headset microphone (suggested when I was setting it up). The High Contrast themes were a nice visual feature for those visually impaired, and there were 4 different types of themes that varied slightly in the contrasting colors. It was easy to apply the feature and it was definitely easier to see things on my desktop and my browser. I really enjoyed the magnifier feature (I could see me using this at some point), it was really easy to use, to navigate the pages, and to turn on/off. It was also nice that you could modify how much the magnifier was magnifying. The Narrator feature is one I am familiar with (it’s really easy to turn on by accident, so many of my students have accidentally turned it on and I’ve had to turn it off for them). The narrator feature works great and reads well based on where the cursor is/what is selected. It can be a little overwhelming, though, because if you move the cursor too quickly the narrator starts to interrupt itself.
Overall, I found the accessibility features on my computer to be easy to select and set up, and they worked relatively well. I think there are definitely other accessibility features to maximize the computer for an individual with disabilities, and I would be interested in exploring these features as well.
Accessibility Windows (n.d.). Accessibility Tools for Windows | Microsoft. Accessibility Windows. Retrieved from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Accessibility/windows
Dell (n.d.). Accessibility. Dell. Retrieved from http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/uscorp1/accessibility
For me, utilizing technology tools in my science classroom is second nature. I always look to find simulations, videos, interactives, and digital games to help my students understand the concepts we discuss in class. However, I understand that this is not the case for many teachers in sciences. Many within the field of science education are “stuck in the stone ages” and don’t want to adapt as technology changes. However, if we look at science as a subject, advancements in it have been defined by new technologies. With technology rapidly developing, many science classrooms are not keeping pace in terms of instructional technology to use, which is due to a multitude of reasons.
Some still teach science as they were taught, with lectures, book work, labs, and tests. While some of these teaching methods can be helpful in teaching science, the use of technology tools can be very valuable to help students. Many science teachers are hesitant to teach using new methods and new tools because it’s different than how they learned the concepts- that doesn’t necessarily mean the old methods are no longer correct, but it means that there are better ways to do it. Teaching polar/nonpolar molecules can be confusing and abstract if taught “traditionally,” but the use of simulations can help students to visualize what is occurring to make a molecule polar or nonpolar. Dolores Gende discusses the values of simulations in science, stating that “Simulations allow students to visualize concepts that appear on textbooks or hear from their teachers in lectures. By using the simulation they can see a concrete situation that helps them build a mental model.” (2011).
Technology in the classroom can also be applied to digital lab tools, such as probes and interfaces. The use of probes in the classroom can allow for deeper inquiry into science, as described by PASCO: “Research evidence demonstrates that sustained, guided student use of technology tools for data collection, analysis, and visualization helps deepen students’ understanding of science concepts.” However, some teachers choose to use traditional lab tools and collect data manually (or totally forgo experiments that require such tools). Thermometers can be used for collecting temperature, but the reading of it isn’t always the most accurate and they have limits for heat capacity- a temperature probe can collect data over time so second-by-second changes are accurately recorded, allowing students to extrapolate trends in the data with huge data sets. Another challenge with the use of lab probes is the cost- they are not cheap, and many districts can’t afford to get class sets of such equipment.
Even though technology and science often go hand-in-hand, technology isn’t always utilized in the science classroom. Resistance to change and supplementing lessons is an issue that I can see in the field, but the use of technology can definitely help promote student understanding of concepts. The use of probes can be extremely helpful for extending lab experiments and allowing students to gain more in terms of data and understanding, but not all districts can afford them and many teachers choose not to use them.
Gende, Dolores (1 Apr. 2011.). Science Simulations: A Virtual Learning Environment. Powerful Learning Practice. Retrieved from http://plpnetwork.com/2011/04/01/science-simulations-a-real-way-to-learn/
Why Use Probeware?: PASCO. Pasco.com. Retrieved from https://www.pasco.com/about/probeware/index.cfm
Science and technology are two disciplines that go hand in hand. Without advances in technology, we would still think that everything was made of Air, Water, Earth, and Fire per Aristotle’s teachings. However, as we have made advances in technology, we have made advances in science (and vise versa): scientific discoveries and the pursuit to better understand the universe has been made possible via technology. Thus, it is obvious to most educators that, in order to best teach scientific concepts, technology should be utilized.
Science concepts at the molecular, atomic, and subatomic level are often impossible to visualize because they are extremely abstract: Quarks, forces [that are invisible], light that cannot be seen, and other concepts are challenging for students to understand. The use of technology, like simulations and guides, can help students to understand what is occurring at the smallest levels in the universe. According to the Minnesota STEM Teacher Center, “Technology allows teachers and students to model and explore concepts that are otherwise impossible or difficult to explore, to support student inquiry and to clarify and display student thinking” when looking at science education.
Science concepts can also be easier understood when using technology to collect data: the use of probeware and other devices in the laboratory can aid students in understanding how the numeric data supports the theories/laws that are often studied in the science classroom. “Technology is not a replacement for teaching, but a tool that can be used by students and their teachers to enhance learning” (Minnesota STEM Teacher Center). In my own classroom, we use Loggerpro and Vernier lab probes to better collect data and analyze it to apply it to scientific concepts.
Overall, the use of technology in the science classroom can supplement learning by “Improving data collection, visualization of abstract phenomena, and simulations
of experiments that would otherwise be impossible in school classrooms” (Bull and Bell, 2013). I find that I use technology on a regular basis in the classroom to ensure that my students are understanding the concepts being discussed as best as they can. Science is a truly engaging subject, and the use of technology can supplement that engagement by allowing students to do and see things that would be impossible without technology.
N.a (n.d.). Instructional Technology in Science | Minnesota STEM Teacher Center. Scimathmn.org. Retrieved from http://www.scimathmn.org/stemtc/resources/science-best-practices/instructional-technology-science
Bull, G., Bell, R. (2013.). technology in the Secondary Science Classroom, Chapter 1. Static.nsta.org. Retrieved from http://static.nsta.org/files/pb217x-1.pdf
Game based learning is nothing particularly new in science education. In order to keep engagement up, teachers have been utilizing game-based learning without technology for years (element bingo, electron configuration battleship, and others). However, with society shifting towards a more digital environment, both in school and out of school, the evolution of game-based learning in science is turning digital.
Games aside, science has utilized technology through simulations since the internet became widely available. With concepts such as atomic structure and chemical bonding being impossible to witness, students often have a difficult time understanding what is occurring. Technology has served as a wonderful addition to many science teachers’ lessons to help their students understand.
The use of games in science is, as described by Ming-Chaun Li and Chin-Chung Tsai, “digital games [are] utilized to promote scientific knowledge/concept learning, while [others] … [are] implemented to facilitate the students’ problem-solving skills.” Within their research, they reviewed relevant research Game-Based Learning (GBL) in science education. One of the points they discuss as part of their research is the criticism of traditional ways in which science education is taught, by having students rote memorize materials through worksheets. Indicated in their research is the ability for GBL to promote problem-solving and critical thinking skills that are otherwise not utilized through worksheet-based practice.
However, Li and Tsai point out that much of the research currently used as defense for game-based learning is not necessarily sound: for example, 30% of the studies they reviewed did not have a learning theory to guide their study (cognitivism, Gardner’s MI, etc.). In addition, Li and Tsai discuss that much of the assessment of the games is still knowledge based, which is the same rote memorization that traditional worksheets provide. The games in question are not being assessed for how they teach students to problem solve or critically think about questions being asked- essentially, the studies are using it as a replacement for traditional learning activities.
Liz Kolb, and educator and professor of teaching, uses GBL in her classroom as a way to help students focus on the learning as opposed to the grade they earn. Especially in the high school environment, kids are obsessed with the grade they learn, despite them not really understanding the content. Liz describes how she utilizes badges and experience points as opposed to traditional A-E grades for learning activities. Her quests allow students to move at their own pace and learn the material in an order than makes sense for them- however, she does point out that too many choices is overwhelming and resulted in students not knowing where to start. In all, her experience has been a positive one: “Ultimately, students did focus more on academic and grit skills (especially when I began returning quests instead of simply assigning low grades to mediocre submissions).”
Overall, I think that the use of games in education, particularly in science education, can be meaningful and often helpful for some. It is a way to engage students and get them interested in the topic being studied, but as described by Li and Tsai, many are just using it as a replacement for traditional activities that promote rote memorization. If GBL is to be used and be worthwhile, I believe that it should be transforming the way our students learn and preparing them for the real world experiences they will soon have.
Kolb, Liz (20 Mar. 2015.). Epic Fail or Win? Gamifying Learning in My Classroom. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/epic-fail-win-gamifying-learning-liz-kolb
Li, M., Tsai, C (1 Dec. 2013.). Game-Based Learning in Science Education: A Review of Relevant Research. SpringerLink. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10956-013-9436-x
Here are my comments on the concept of a walled garden with internet usage. I also discuss the use of social media in the classroom.