Week 10: Futures of Education

When we look back and see how far we’ve come in regards to technology, we quickly realize how much can change in a short amount of time. We already see the impact of technology in our schools with the development of NETS and our newfound responsibility to ensure our students are technology literate.  And it is inevitable that technology will continue to grow and impact our lives, both personally and professionally. When reading articles and watching videos this week on the below topics, I found myself truly realizing that the way I teach today is not going to be the way I teach in 10 years, not just because of professional growth, but technological growth as well.

Thin Clients                                           

In the short video about thin clients by Logical Network Solutions, it is stated that, “computer literacy is a must.  Learning with it is as common today as learning with pencil and paper were 50 years ago.  The problem is how to budget for the best technology while reducing costs for energy, reliability, and ease of use.”  I think this pretty much sums up our biggest issues about technology and integrating it into our schools; we know it is crucial to have but we continue to struggle to find the best financial solution to obtain it.  The same video explains that thin clients “are hardware terminals without any software or hard drive.  Like an extension phone, one cord connects to the server for everything.” I think that that thin clients are a great invention as they allow us to free up space and run more efficiently.  I know that the districts I have worked in utilize this type of technology in order to connect the hundreds of computers they have (both for teacher and student use) to one server.   Thin clients make me think about how much more efficient we have become, and then I learned about virtualzation…

Virtualization

Virtualization allows you to have and run multiple operating systems at one time.  This means that it is more cost effective because you do not have to buy individual operating systems for each computer you wish to have.  Having access to multiple different operating systems would help our schools because it would allow for them to keep computer operating systems clean from downloads and such, helping our IT departments avoid time consuming work.  Having access to multiple operating systems allows for quicker and more efficient use of our technology, saving our students time, while introducing them to the operations of different systems.  It seems to me, though I have not used virtualization storage, that having everything in one space may complicate finding specific items if a recovery needs to take place.  I remember there being a huge IT meltdown at one of the districts I worked at because they worked for days and could not recover documents that were somehow lost.  I will need to do more research if there is a solution to this problem, but I would think that in a large district this could potentially be disastrous.

Gesture-based Learning                                                                                                   As I began to read about gesture-based learning I saw our future in education.  It was one of those moments where you sit back and really think about what our future classrooms are going to look like.  The notion behind students and teachers being able to engage with a virtual environment is the idea that it allows a more active approach to learning.  Students are able to take control of their education in a new and interactive way by engaging them, and hopefully not distracting them.  Specifically in regards to the Kinect educational system, it seems that there is still much that needs to be figured out in order to develop a truly sound system that can be implemented successfully into classrooms.  I believe that an interactive classroom is wonderful, but you have to make sure that students are engaged in learning, not just the medium in which they are using and therefore are distracted by the entertainment of it.

Learning Analytics                                                                                                    George Siemens establishes that “learning analytics is the use of intelligent data, learner-produced data, and analysis models to discover information and social connections, and to predict and advise on learning.” Data equals knowledge; knowledge helps us to better support our students and provides them with a tailor-made education.  This means that we need to gather information about our students and their learning gaps in order to better serve them.   Steve Schoettler stated that the summary of John Hattie’s report was that “the most important factor effecting student achievement is feedback.”  Feedback comes in the form of formative assessments that we can look at and determine the specific needs of a student and then provide them precise and detailed instruction.  It is clear that we have to use data more frequently if we want to see improvement in our students and provide them a better education—one they deserve.

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Week 9: PBL Resources

Week 9 Project-Based Learning Resources

1Design Your Project

http://pbl-online.org/pathway2.html

This is a great website that assists teachers in planning strong and well thought-out projects.  It helps you to stay standards-focused, while creating projects that engage students in genuine learning activities, teach 21st century skills, and require mastery. The easy-to-follow interactive graphic will help you get started with understanding the process and procedures of PBL. It also provides a search for projects developed by others (small collection) or the ability to contribute projects to the PBL-Online Collaboratory and Project Library. The focus of this site is on the teachers; therefore the NETS-T’s are what are met.  NETS-T 2 a/c is met because it helps to “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” which includes developing “relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools” (2.a).  Furthermore, it allows teachers to “customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles” (2.c).

2. Project-Based Learning from Start to Finish

http://www.edutopia.org/stw-project-based-learning-best-practices-new-tech-video

This 8-minute video will give you insight into a school in Texas whose sole instructional method is Project-Based Learning.  It will show you the process the teachers take when building team-teaching curriculum, as well as show you the student’s insights on the method and their learning.  It is a great way to see all the research in motion and help those of you who are skeptical to see the success of PBL live. The standard met with this site is NETS-T 5.a-c because it allows teachers to “engage in professional growth and leadership.” This is due to the fact that they get to see PBL in motion and see what other teachers are doing with PBL and their process on implementation.

3. Practical PBL: Four Tips for Better Implementation

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/4-practical-pbl-implementation-tips-adrienne-curtis-dickinson

This is blog a written by Adrienne Curtis-Dickinson, a high school social studies teacher in Bellevue, Washington.  It is refreshing to have a first-hand point of view from an actual teacher and not just a researcher.  She does a great job at providing a simple breakdown of four insights she has for the PBL beginning teacher.  It can be overwhelming to try a new teaching method, and it is sometimes helpful to have someone who is an expert give you their “now that I know” personal experiences, so you feel like you are going in already understanding what the do’s and don’ts are and how to handle situations. This site meets NETS-T 5.a-c because it allows teachers “engage in professional growth and leadership.” This is due to the fact that it provides an opportunity for teachers to connect to another teacher and receive professional insight into PBL implementation.

4. Edutopia PBL

http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning

Edutopia defines PBL, “as a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills while working in small collaborative groups.” This is a site containing wonderful educational content for teachers. This link takes you directly to the section devoted to PBL, where you can find the history of PBL, experts, and research.  It also provides you links to a variety of other PBL resources such as interviews, articles, project examples, etc. NETS-T 2 a/c is met because it provides teachers the opportunity to “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” by looking at project examples, which includes developing “relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools” (2.a).   It also allows for teachers to “customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles” (2.c) because using PBL allows students to engage in their learning. NETS-T 5.a-c is met because it has teachers “engage in professional growth and leadership” by reading articles and research.

5.  BIE Institute for PBL

http://www.bie.org/index.php/site/PBL/overview_pbl/

You should definitely explore this website full of great PBL information.  This is a one-stop shop for everything PBL, including the BIE Project Based Learning Handbook, which gives you the ins and outs of PBL.   You can download documents and forms such as planning forms, student handouts, and rubrics.  There are plenty of links to navigate that takes you to an abundant of resource information that will help support your PBL endeavors! NETS-T 2 a/c is met because the teachers can “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” which includes developing “relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools” (2.a).  This means that teachers can “customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles” (2.c) because using PBL allows students to engage in their learning. Lastly, PBL meets NETS-T 5.a-c because it has teachers “engage in professional growth and leadership” by providing the handbook and downloadable resources.

6. PBL Exemplary Projects

http://www.wested.org/pblnet/exemplary_projects.html

Want practical PBL ideas? This is the place for you! This site is the creation of a group of experienced teachers, educators, and researchers whom you may contact as resources. This people are actively doing and creating new exemplary PBL projects, pre-service and continuing teacher professional development, and integration of technology into the curriculum. There are great ideas, examples, and even rubrics for you to use as is or as starting points for your own ideas for middle school and high school. NETS-T 2 a/c is met because the teachers can use the ideas provided to “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” which includes developing “relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools” (2.a).  Therefore, teachers can “customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles” (2.c) because using PBL allows students to engage in their learning. NETS-T 4.b is addressed as well because PBL allows teachers to “address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.”  Lastly, PBL meets NETS-T 5.a-c because it has teachers “engage in professional growth and leadership.” This is due to the fact that the site offers links to professional development opportunities.

7. 4Teachers.org

http://4teachers.org/projectbased/

This site is a great place to gather more information about PBL, such as how it helps foster motivation and how you can use the multiple-intelligences with PBL.  It is important to make sure that PBL is for you and fits your teaching style, and I think reading this information will help you decide if it matches your current motivational strategies. This PBL site meets NETS-T 5.a-c because it has teachers “engage in professional growth and leadership.” This is due to the fact that it provides learning for teachers on how PBL is motivational as well as how multiple intelligences can be used with PBL.

8. Houghton Mifflin’s Project-Based Learning Space

http://college.cengage.com/education/pbl/index.html

This site from publisher Houghton Mifflin contains some good resources for investigating PBL and how the Wisconsin Center For Education Research developed it. There is a link to some comprehensive projects which is always a great way to look for something useful for your own classroom and allows you to not have to “reinvent the wheel.”  Having information from a well-establish publisher of educational materials allows you to know you are obtaining accurate and valuable information about the teaching method. This PBL site meets NETS-T 5.a-c because it has teachers “engage in professional growth and leadership.” This is due to the fact that is provides an opportunity for teachers to learn more about the history of PBL and it’s how it was developed.  It also provides some project ideas that allow teachers to gather ideas.

9. PBL Checklist

http://pblchecklist.4teachers.org/index.shtml

If you are anything like me, checklists help you organize your thoughts and the steps you need to complete a task.  This website does so for project-based learning which is a great way to help any teacher get started because it creates a downloadable grade-level appropriate checklist.  You can customize each checklist for each project as well depending upon the type of project and subject you are teaching in your classroom. In addition to knowing you have everything in order, the use of checklists assists in keeping students on track and allows them to take responsibility for their own learning through peer- and self-evaluation. NETS-T 2 a/c is met because the teachers can “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” which includes developing “relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools” (2.a).  Furthermore, the site allows teachers to “customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles” (2.c) because using PBL allows students to engage in their learning. NETS-T 4.b is addressed as well because PBL allows teachers to “address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.”

10. RubiStar-Rubric Creator

http://rubistar.4teachers.org/

Though many of the sites above offer rubrics for the created projects, this site allows you to create rubrics perfectly tailored to what you are teaching and what you are wanting the students to learn.  You can search for already published rubrics based on the subject of the project and edit it, or you can create a rubric completely from scratch.  I have used this multiple times and it has been a great way to word a rubric exactly how I want it so it is clear to the students.  Also, I always present the rubric to students and give them access to a copy so they can use it to guide their work. NETS-T 2a is met because the teachers “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” (2.a) by creating rubrics.

Week 9: PBL and High School

A team-teaching model for practicing project-based learning in high school: Collaboration between computer and subject teachers

Ling-Chian Chang a, Greg C. Lee b,*

a Graduate Institute of Information and Computer Education, National Taiwan Normal University, No. 162, Sec. 1, Hoping E. Road, Taipei, 162, Taiwan

b Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering, National Taiwan Normal University, No. 88, Sec. 4, Tingzhou Road, Taipei, 116, Taiwan

Elsevier Computers & Education 55 (2010) 961969

Article

As discussed in week 8, project-based learning, also known as PBL, is a useful teaching method that can motivate students to engage in learning.  But, as established in A team-teaching model for practicing project-based learning in high school: Collaboration between computer and subject teachers by Chang and Lee, “training or encouraging teachers to practice PBL in their classrooms is challenging, especially if the educational system does not accommodate creative teaching practices” (961).  Furthermore, even if a teacher is wiling to try PBL, it can be time consuming and difficult for “a subject teacher to address the technical needs of students who may have varying proficiency and interest in the use of computers” (962). Due to this, they chose to do a two-year investigation in which they built a team-teaching model to increase teacher experience and comfort level with PBL. They conducted their research with two questions in mind: first, how feasible and effective is the proposed team-teaching model under the current test-driven educational environment? And secondly, how do the participants of the study, both the teachers and the students, embrace PBL in terms of continuing participation in future classes?

The experiment was conducted in Taiwan, though if you did not know that, one would assume it was any common school environment in the United States, as the research model and results translate flawlessly.  The team-teaching model consisted of one computer teacher who was experienced in using PBL and a certified Master Teacher for the Intel Teach Program, paired with two subject teachers, both with at least ten years teaching experience though novice PBL instructors.  The first year the computer teacher would familiarize a group of 10th grade students with PBL and the technology, and the following year the subject teachers would implement PBL and the technology in their classrooms with the then 11th graders.  The computer teacher conducted PBL throughout the year.  And the subject teachers conducted a six-week PBL unit at the end of the semester. For the English PBL, “the goal of the project was to have students sharpening their reading skills and to practice writing humanistic reporting essay” (964). This was accomplished through having groups study assigned readings on an animal, and then “expand their knowledge by searching the Web to answer some open-ended questions; finally writing a short report with a set outline” (964).  The geography teacher assigned groups a different South America/Latin-America country.  “Each group was to research and report on the geological terrain, history, culture, and economy of the assigned country,” and even though the textbook covered the material, “students were required to go in more depth in their final group report” (964). The end goal was that students would learn about their assigned country and other countries from other groups’ reports.

Data were collected from multiple sources, including class journals that were kept by the teachers, in-class handouts, interviews with teachers and their transcripts, student progress reports, student questionnaires and student interviews.  There was no pretest, though the students did take a midterm.  The geography and English achievement tests both consisted of multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions. There was also a 5-point Likert Scale questionnaire that students took at the end of the two-year experiment; answers were represented by “strongly agree/agree” and “strongly disagree/disagree.” The data reveled that “students felt good about the overall quality of their work. In particular, the students tended to be more confident about the content and organization of their final reports than they were about the aesthetic aspects of the report” (966). A quote from each of the teachers’ journals summarizes their overall experience:

Computer teacher: “Although the teaching load and responsibility were greater than in the past, it is good to know that I am helping students to become more involved in their studies in other subject areas. We (the other two subject teachers and I) now have a closer working relationship. I am seen not just as a teacher at the school, but as an instrumental colleague who sparked subject teachers’ interest in trying out a new teaching and learning method that uses technology.”

English teacher: “I didnt know how to integrate technology into my teaching. After this experiment, I now know what to do and am willing to try teaching with technology in the future.  I was surprised to see that students can actually focus on the project topic. The depth and breadth of their research work are much greater than I had anticipated.”

Geography teacher: “The extra preparation time before the project start was manageable. During the six-week experiment, going around and helping each group with their project was actually easy and fun.  Its good that students are already familiar with the (PBL) process and already possess the necessary technical skills.”

In conclusion, having an experienced PBL teacher who was also a computer teacher allowed for the students to be well versed in the structure of PBL as well as the operations of the technology.  This meant that the following year, the novice PBL teachers, could implement PBL into the classroom and not worry about having to teach the “ground work.”  The result was that “no class time was lost, and the subject teacher successfully conducted PBL activities” (961).  In addition to the success of the teachers’ instruction and experience, a tests and a survey conducted after the research indicated that the students enjoyed and learned from the PBL activities both years.

Connections to NETS

The focus of this article was on the teachers; therefore the NETS-T’s are what are met most.  NETS-T 2 a-c is met because the teachers had to “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” which includes developing “relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools” (2.a).  Furthermore, the study discusses how they chose to use multimedia tools which also allows teachers to “develop technology-enriched learning environments” (2.b), and “customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles” (2.c) because using PBL allows students to engage in their learning. NETS-T 4.b is addressed as well because PBL allows teachers to “address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.”  Lastly, PBL meets NETS-T 5.a-c because it has teachers “engage in professional growth and leadership.” This is due to the fact that they worked together to team-teach with a colleague and therefore learn and grow from one another’s strengths.

Though the student portion is not very in-depth in this article, we know enough to establish that some NETS-S’s are met.  NETS-S 3a-d “research and information fluency” is met because students plan, locate, evaluate, and process data.  NETS-S 4a-d is also met because students use “critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making” skills in PBL.  “Digital citizenship” NETS-S 5a is met due to the fact that students need to practice safe and responsible use of the technology they are using.  And lastly, NETS-S 6 is met because students have to “demonstrate understanding of technology concepts.”

Connections to students:

Page 961 of the article establishes that “the literature has shown that PBL enables students to become interactive learners (Blumentfeld et al.,1991; Lin & Hsieh, 2001; Synteta & Schneider, 2002) and to construct knowledge through exploration (Edward, 1995; Jang, 2006a; Johnson & Aragon, 2003; Prince & Felder, 2007).”  We are well aware that every student learns differently, and PBL provides students with an opportunity to connect to material in a variety of ways with both individual effort and group support.  This particular experiment found great success because it allowed students to spend a year focusing on learning the technology and structure of PBL, which means it set the students up for success from the beginning.  It is ideal to be able to spend time to ensure your students understand the structure and tools you plan to implement during your PBL unit, and doing so will save much frustration for the student and much time for you as the teacher.

Connections to school and the classroom:

Teachers and administrators can be incredibly skeptical of PBL, as many see it as more “fun” than teaching and therefore learning, especially with the amount of “teaching to the test” that exists now.  But “upon completion of this study, the two subject teachers, who were initially skeptical about the learning outcome and had expressed concerns about lost class time, became believers in PBL and expressed newfound interest in the use of technology to improve student learning” (967). Also, most teachers are hesitant to integrate technology into the classroom as it can be time consuming.  Therefore the conclusion was that “pre-training the students in PBL in separate classes not only ensured that the subject teachers were not burdened with the need to train students in the technologies that were required for PBL activities, but also actually motivated the subject teachers to conduct PBL (967).

The foundation of this experiment was team-teaching.  I have seen in schools first-hand, as well as this article establishes, that team-teaching success depends upon experienced teachers either in PBL or in overall teaching.  If you plan to use a team-teaching approach, one of you needs to be an expert PBL instructor, as well as you should have a hand full of years of overall teaching experience.  This is because if you are a novice in both areas, you become unsure of yourself and can become overwhelmed, as well as lack the experience to problem solve and manage appropriately.  It is also important to know that you as the teacher need to closely monitor the students’ progress to ensure the project is on track and of high quality.  Some teachers fail in this area as they wrongly assume that once they assign a PBL assignment they can then just sit back and watch.

Overall, if you are a motivated, creative, and involved teacher, PBL and you would be a great fit.  Project-based learning is a great way to allow students to see your classroom as an interactive environment where they are allowed ownership of their education.  And as I have found, and as you will undoubtedly see, your classroom will come to life as students research, use their creativity, and produce a high quality project that exhibits their knowledge.

Week 8: Project-Based Learning and High School

Using Hypermedia and Multimedia to Promote Project-Based Learning of At-Risk High School Students.

Tracy Carr and Asha K. Jitendra

Intervention in School & Clinic; Sep 2000, Vol. 36 Issue 1

 

Article

Project-based learning, also known as PBL, is a useful teaching method that can motivate students to engage in learning.  PBL helps students to have ownership of their education by having them take control of the many choices that come with research and presentation of information.  At the high school level, we deal with a unique challenge that other grade levels typically do not– dropouts.   Engaging students in their work and motivating them to not only finish an assignment but also graduate can be incredibly challenging.   PBL offers an environment that shows students they are capable at succeeding.

At-risk students, students who are at high risk of dropping out of high school, are the main focus of the article “Using Hypermedia and Multimedia to Promote Project-Based Learning of At-Risk High School Students” by Carr and Jitendra.  The article establishes that the problem is usually a “mismatch between student’s needs and curriculum expectations” (p. 40), so the study identified the need to meet individual goals and felt the best method was PBL through a service learning assignment.

The study consisted of having the current teacher, a past teacher who could provide insight about the kids, a service learning coordinator, and a technology specialist all work together to develop the curriculum for the project.  Nine 10th grade special education students, 7 male and 2 female between the ages of 15-19 who all had significant learning and emotional problems were selected because they were at risk for dropping out.  Two students were Caucasian and seven were African American all from the lower to middle class.  They had a 3rd to 9th grade reading level and were all in bad academic standing and held bad attendance records.

The chosen curriculum was the integration of community service and academic skills and structured reflection.  Students volunteered at a homeless shelter’s preschool, where they were responsible for facilitating 2 hours (reading time, snack time, arts/crafts etc).  At the same time they would research facts and information about their chosen topic that centered on homelessness: poverty, welfare, housing, education, etc.  The study chose to incorporate hypermedia and multimedia because they “…are technological applications that can provide an engaging environment for learners to construct knowledge through the association of relevant and meaningful information presented by PBL (Mendrinos, 97)” (p.41).  The idea was that students could use the Internet to search for information and then present the findings in a multimedia presentation.  They focused on using the “8 W’s approach developed by Lamb, Smith, and Johnson in 1997” (p.41):

  1. Watching-students observe PBL environment
  2. Wondering-brainstorming and reflecting on initial information
  3. Webbing—refers to visual organization of relevant data
  4. Wiggling—involves twisting and turning data to investigate underlying inferences
  5. Weaving—Integration of information and inferences
  6. Wrapping—packaging of data and inferences
  7. Waving—displaying the published product for the purposes of sharing and feedback
  8. Wishing—reflective process of the project and experience

Students used critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they navigated Internet to research their topic and chose a stance on the issue.  Students had to look at sources and determine validity and possible motives of author and then organized that data into a multimedia format using text, pictures, video, etc. Students were responsible for their own learning and had to rely on higher order thinking skills of planning, problem solving, and reflecting on daily experiences at the shelter. All students succeeded and gained a positive outlook towards school.  They realized they could help others and felt pride, accomplishment, and had self-growth as a result.

 

Connections to NETS

When looking at the NETS specifically covered in this article and study, we see a number of standards are met for both students and teachers.  NETS-T 2 a-c is met because the point of the curriculum building that took place between teachers was to “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” which includes developing “relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools” (2.a).  Furthermore, the study discusses how they chose to use multimedia and hypermedia tools which also allows teachers to “develop technology-enriched learning environments” (2.b), and “customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles” (2.c) because using PBL allows students to engage in their learning. NETS-T 4.b is addressed as well because PBL allows teachers to “address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.”  Lastly, PBL meets NETS-T 5.a-c because it has teachers “engage in professional growth and leadership.” This is due to the fact that they need to be educated on the technology they are using for the project and they collaborated with colleagues in order to develop the curriculum.

In regards to NETS-S and the PBL structure of this study, four standards are met.  NETS-S 3a-d “research and information fluency” is met because students plan, locate, evaluate, and process data.  NETS-S 4a-d is also met because students use “critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making” skills in PBL.  “Digital citizenship” NETS-S 5a is met due to the fact that students need to practice safe and responsible use of the technology they are using.  And lastly, NETS-S 6 is met because students have to “demonstrate understanding of technology concepts.”

 

Connections to students:

We are well aware that every student learns differently.  Some need strict structure, some need more room for creativity.  We also know that in order for students to be the most successful they need to be motivated and feel ownership of their education.  Project-based learning provides the environment that students desire and need in order to grow and learn successfully.  Yoder, Retish, and Wade (1996) pointed out that as the student becomes an engaged learned of authentic tasks, strengths and basic skills in reading, writing, and speaking can be realized with the context of the project-based task.  Simply put, PBL allows students to become aware of their strengths.  PBL is incredibly versatile and allows students to connect to the material in a variety of ways because they own their topic choices (based off of the possible selections). Furthermore, they can use technology like hypermedia, which allows ease of access to info, and they can communicate their understanding of the topic using multimedia.  No two projects will be identical because PBL allows students to connect and represent their connections how they best see fit.

 

Connections to school and the classroom:

Students finding success is what you want in every classroom.  And what is wonderful about PBL is that when the unit is finished you have a classroom full of artifacts from projects to represent the knowledge gained and success earned.  PBL is a great teaching method that allows the teacher to not be the sole holder of information, and instead changes the role into a co-finder of information.  PBL fills the classroom with curious students who are motivated to find information about their topic and produce a presentation.  I have used PBL numerous times in my classroom, and I always have students produce what I call “multi-genre projects” where they have their topic and are required to provide the information via a variety of ways.  One option may be a poem, maybe an advertisement, even an eulogy if applicable.  A lot of my PBL  is centered on a unit that has so much information there is simply no way for me to get through it all without boring my students to death or them feeling overwhelmed with facts.  So instead I turn to PBL, which allows all of the information to be covered and presented to all students in the class via their peers.  Students then have the opportunity to learn the information without feeling overwhelmed or like the unit is dragging on forever.   They stay engaged, motivated, and find success.  What I have learned and what my two key pieces of advice would be are: 1- have multiple examples of what your end product expectation looks like—both product and presentation, to ensure a high quality product. And 2-PBL is not successful for every student right off the bat.  Students who severely struggle with time management and motivational issues need to have one-on-one meetings with the teacher to set goals and check in points to make sure they are on track.  It may also take finding a topic (possible having to come up with a new one) for a student or two that they find interesting, this way you can give them a better chance at succeeding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7: Mobile Learning Resources

Week 7 Mobile Learning Resources:

I looked at the resources for mobile learning as being actual devices that can be utilized during the implementation of m-learning.  Therefore, the list below contains a collection of devices that can be useful in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes when conducting m-learning in your classroom.

1. Laptops/Netbooks

https://marketing.dell.com/connectedclassroom/laptop-netbook-carts-2303TS-71632G.html

The most widely utilized in classrooms, laptops or netbooks can be used for almost every purpose you have for a lesson.  They are the devise with the most capabilities with being able to connect to the Internet, as well as produce word documents, PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets, etc. I have found that I can have students work on such things as a rough draft of a writing assignment and then they can simply pass along the computer to a peer to do peer-edited with “track changes.” Or complete a group project with the freedom of location and ability to share documents via e-mail so they can place it all together. All NETS-S 1-6 can be achieved.  This is due to the fact that these devices all provide the ability to use “creativity and innovation” (NETS-S 1) by “creating original works as means of personal or group expression.” As well as allow for “communication and collaboration” (NETS-S 2) because they allowing for peers to collaborate.  NETS-S 3 “research and information fluency” is also met because students can gather and evaluate information via the Internet.  “Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making” (NETS-S 4) is achieved because students can among other things “plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.” “Digital citizenship” (NETS-S 5) is met due to the fact that students “advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.” Lastly, NETS-S 6 is attained because students have to understand “technology operations and concepts” by “demonstrating a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

2. iPads

http://www.apple.com/education/ipad/

Probably the device with the most “buzz,” iPads are the newest and coolest item to include in your classroom, though they don’t offer as many possibilities as laptops/netbooks due to their lack of word processor without purchasing the app.  They are a wonderful addition to the classroom if students are taking notes on a subject, or doing research online, as long as they have access to a wireless network. Students can create picture or movie projects, e-mail, and use applications.  All NETS-S 1-6 can be achieved.  This is due to the fact that these devices all provide the ability to use “creativity and innovation” (NETS-S 1) by “creating original works as means of personal or group expression.” As well as allow for “communication and collaboration” (NETS-S 2) because they allowing for peers to collaborate.  NETS-S 3 “research and information fluency” is also met because students can gather and evaluate information via the Internet.  “Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making” (NETS-S 4) is achieved because students can among other things “plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.” “Digital citizenship” (NETS-S 5) is met due to the fact that students “advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.” Lastly, NETS-S 6 is attained because students have to understand “technology operations and concepts” by “demonstrating a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

3. Smartphones

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48293871/t/good-ways-smartphones-are-being-used-high-school/#.UKHths2pXkU

Though many schools have banned the use of cellphones at school, or have limited their use to between classes and at lunch, I have found some great uses for smartphones in my classroom.  I have had students use (appropriate) text messages from their phones to complete grammar lessons by correcting their text message to make the Standard English.  I have also had great success in engaging students by having them use their smartphone (if they don’t have one they can get with a partner), and find the answers to questions pertaining to our topic via the Internet.  You do need to sternly and clearly establish the “no texting during class” rule, but I have found that when students are engaged they don’t want to run the risk of losing the privilege to participate by doing something they shouldn’t be.  “Communication and collaboration” (NETS-S 2) is achieved because they allowing for peers to communicate via text and e-mail.  NETS-S 3 “research and information fluency” is also met because students can gather and evaluate information via the Internet.  “Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making” (NETS-S 4) is achieved because students can among other things “plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.” “Digital citizenship” (NETS-S 5) is met due to the fact that students “advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.” Lastly, NETS-S 6 is attained because students have to understand “technology operations and concepts” by “demonstrating a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

4. Kindle/Nook

http://gettingsmart.com/cms/news/10-tips-for-kindle-in-the-classroom/

I have had many students use Kindles or Nooks for independent reading assignments, or full class assigned novels.  They seem to engage students who tend to struggle to engage in a book simply because of the electronic sense of the device.  If it is a personally owned device I have found that students take better care of it than they do a school-owned novel.  Furthermore, if they are a school purchase, they can be incredibly helpful with the ever-ending classroom space issue because you don’t have the need for at least as many hard copies of the book.  Because the primary use for these devices is to read a book from they really only allow for meeting two NETS-S. “Digital citizenship” (NETS-S 5) is met due to the fact that students “advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.” And NETS-S 6 is attained because students have to understand “technology operations and concepts” by “demonstrating a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

5. GPS

http://www.evalamar.com/GPS/GPS-activities.htm

GPS’s can be incorporated in a geography/history classroom easily with lessons like plotting points on a map for different topics.  They can be used in science classrooms if conducting field research to cite exact locations. You could also plan engaging lessons that use “treasure hunt” clues to find specific things or gather facts about a topic.  I have seen them used in all these scenarios, and have never had a teacher tell me they weren’t successful.  The key is making sure students know how to use them, and making sure to have multiple routes so students don’t just follow each other. “Digital citizenship” (NETS-S 5) is met due to the fact that students “advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.” And NETS-S 6 is attained because students have to understand “technology operations and concepts” by “demonstrating a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

6. Educational Apps

http://www.apple.com/education/apps/

There a tons of educational applications for iPhones and iPads.  For younger grades you can find plenty of learning to read applications, for older grades you can find flashcard apps to aid with studying. I have shared application lists with students who have chosen to download free apps to aid in studying. “Digital citizenship” (NETS-S 5) is met due to the fact that students “advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.” And NETS-S 6 is attained because students have to understand “technology operations and concepts” by “demonstrating a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

7. Digital Cameras

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/100-ways-use-digital-cameras

There are plenty opportunities to use digital cameras in the classroom.  You can create lessons where students find specific items that represent a character in a novel and they take a picture of it.  You can have the document the different grammar mistakes they see on signs.  You can have them take pictures of their science experiment to document the different stages.  There are so many things you can do with digital cameras due to the instant viewing of the picture and ability to upload it to a computer and place it in a document such as a PowerPoint, or print it.“Digital citizenship” (NETS-S 5) is met due to the fact that students “advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.” And NETS-S 6 is attained because students have to understand “technology operations and concepts” by “demonstrating a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

8. Flip Cameras

http://cit.jmu.edu/useruploads/files/flipcam_handout.pdf

I have used Flip cameras in the classroom for students to do video projects with a group, or even to videotape themselves practicing a speech and play it back to find areas of improvement before producing it live.  I always do a reenactment project for Romeo and Juliet, where students select a scene from my list and reproduce it in modern times and with modern English.  The Flip cameras are a great way for student to practice and produce a high quality piece versus getting in front of the class and getting nervous and messing up.  They have to be able to use a video-editing tool on a computer, which I do teach them, but it takes time. “Digital citizenship” (NETS-S 5) is met due to the fact that students “advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.” And NETS-S 6 is attained because students have to understand “technology operations and concepts” by “demonstrating a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

9. Podcasts

http://podcast-software-review.toptenreviews.com/propaganda-review.html

I have taken continuing ED courses that use podcasts and have had colleagues use them in their classrooms, and they are a great tool to use for explaining a concept that can be difficult for students to understand.  The student is able to watch the podcast at home, or you can watch a podcast in your classroom with your students.  For online schools they are highly effective at bringing a classroom environment into the student’s home.  Podcasts provide the ability to use “creativity and innovation” (NETS-S 1) by “creating original works as means of personal or group expression.” As well as allow for “communication and collaboration” (NETS-S 2) because they allowing for peers to collaborate. “Digital citizenship” (NETS-S 5) is met due to the fact that students “advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.” And NETS-S 6 is attained because students have to understand “technology operations and concepts” by “demonstrating a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

10. Webcams

http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech100.shtml

Webcams can be a great way to engage students.  You can connect with other classrooms across the state or nation via free applications like Skype.  You can have students record themselves practice reading or speaking.  You can even see the weather in different parts of the world.  There are many uses for many different subjects.  I have used webcams to show real-time video of locations in a book we are reading, and it helps students to make real-world connections and remember that the places actually exist.  I have also seen them used in science classrooms with weather units and to gather data.  “Digital citizenship” (NETS-S 5) is met due to the fact that students “advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.” And NETS-S 6 is attained because students have to understand “technology operations and concepts” by “demonstrating a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

Week 7: Mobile Learning and High School

M-Learning Curriculum Design for Secondary School: A Needs Analysis

Muhammad Ridhuan Tony Lim Abdullah, Saedah Siraj

Article

My research continues on mobile learning, or what this article refers to as “m-learning,” I have found that though there is much research to support its implementation, there is little said about curriculum building.   The focus of “M-Learning Curriculum Design for Secondary School: A Needs Analysis” by Muhammad Ridhuan Tony Lim Abdullah, Saedah Siraj is to establish what curriculum needs are when considering m-learning in secondary schools.   The study that this article centers on is only one part of an ongoing larger study.  It consisted of three phases (p. 1639):

1. Needs analysis study for m-learning curriculum based on selected experts among secondary school teachers

2. Design of m-learning curriculum for secondary schools based on Delphi technique

3. Evaluation of m-learning curriculum designed from phase two.

The data was gathered through a questionnaire consisting of open-ended questions and 29 structured items.   Responses were based on a Lickert-point scale and were analyzed statistically.

As previously established in Week 6, technology is ever-growing and has effected the way we learn, that thought is echoed in the article when it is states,  “the rapid development in technology has altered our lives and on how we learn. The learning process has expanded beyond the physical classroom walls, becoming increasingly globalize and life-long in nature” (p. 1638).  Furthermore, “past research reveals that mobile technology has significant impact in supporting teaching and learning” (p. 1638). This means that m-learning is not only a truly effective teaching method, it is one that is supported by the way we learn outside of the classroom.  Due to the fact that “curriculum design is one of the major issues which hinders implementation of any new technology based initiatives in education” (p. 1638), this study helps us to establish what those curriculum needs are.

Based on the findings of the research the TABA Model outlines seven steps in curriculum design:

1) Needs diagnosis

2) Identifying objectives

3) Selection of content

4) Arrangement of content

5) Determine learning experiences

6) Arrangement of learning experiences

7) Determine what and how to assess the curriculum.

The findings established that a high percentage of teachers felt that m-learning allows students “to explore new learning activities through innovative approaches (95.8%),” that it “encourages more self learning opportunities anywhere and anytime (95.8%),” that it helps “to overcome shortage and overcrowded classes(85.4%),”  that it assists “to conduct dynamic and quick assessment on students’ learning progress(70.8%),” and helps “to save time, energy and cost(70.8%)” (p. 1640). However, it was found that m-learning did not help to solve more school-wide issues like shortage of teachers, to “rectify illiteracy, inability to count and low learning participation” (p.1640), as well as it was not a solution to truancy/dropouts.  Lastly, in regards to specific curriculum building, teachers identified that the two largest needs were assessment tools and Internet and e-mail access.

Overall, the study establishes three main points:

  1. Teachers find m-learning to be a successful teaching and learning tool
  2. Teachers need assessment tools for when they implement m-learning
  3. Students and teachers both need constant Internet and e-mail access in order to successfully communicate and complete work.

Connections to NETS

As discussed before, m-learning addresses a significant number of NETS for both students and teachers. But when looking at the NETS specifically covered in this article and study, we focus primarily on NETS-T, due to the fact that it is curriculum based research.  NETS-T 2 a-c is met because the point of curriculum building is to “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” which includes developing “relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools” (2.a).  Furthermore, the study discusses how m-learning also allows teachers to “develop technology-enriched learning environments” (2.b), and “customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles” (2.c) because using m-learning allows students to engage in their learning. NETS-T 4.b is addressed as well because m-learning allows teachers to “address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.”  Lastly, mobile learning meets NETS-T 5.a-c because it has teachers “engage in professional growth and leadership.” This is due to the fact that they need to be educated on the technology they are using for mobile learning and should be collaborating with colleagues in order to develop m-learning curriculum.

 

Connections to students:

This article focuses primarily on information from teachers and their insights into what the curriculum needs are for implementing m-learning.  But it is clearly established that m-learning utilizes the technology our students use to learn and grow outside of the classroom and therefore it helps them to engage and find success inside our school walls.  Students need to have the ability to produce work in diverse settings, and m-learning helps them to build that invaluable skill.

 

Connections to school and the classroom:

Curriculum development is the foundation of our classroom.  If we don’t have an engaging, valuable, and assessable curriculum our students are not receiving a high quality education.  M-learning is a great teaching method that is highly successful, but there are important items to consider when developing m-learning curriculum:

  1. Assessment
  2. Access to Internet
  3. E-mail access

Due to the fact that you can incorporate m-learning into many lessons you are already teaching, there isn’t much need for designing specific m-learning lessons from scratch.  But you need to make sure you have thought through the assessment of the lesson, whether it be formative or summative, in order to establish that students are learning what they need to.  In addition to this, because we are asking students to complete work outside of the classroom in most m-learning scenarios, we need to make sure that the devise we are using has access to the Internet for research purposes as well as e-mail is available so that communication can exist between peer groups and students and teachers.

I have found that m-learning is an engaging, highly successful teaching method, one that I have used on a weekly basis.  As long as you are prepared with a well-thought out curriculum that supports m-learning, you too will find success.

Week 6: Mobile Learning and High School

Using netbooks to support mobile learners’ investigations across activities and places

By: Mark Gaved a*, Trevor Collins b, Paul Mulholland b, Lucinda Kerawalla a, Ann Jones a, Eileen Scanlon a, Karen Littleton c, Canan Blake a, Marilena Petrou a, Gill Clough a and Alison Twiner a

a Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK;

b Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK;

c Faculty of Educational and Language Studies, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Open Learning Vol. 25, No. 3, November 2010, 187–200

 

Article

The world we live in today demands that we be able to accomplish a variety of tasks in a variety of locations.  With the development of such technologies as smart phones and laptops, a large number of people are completing their work in what was once thought of as unconventional locations.  Planes. Coffee shops. Trains. Even at home, while in pajamas still in bed.  We as a society are working. Everywhere. And therefore it has become commonplace to expect to be able to access such luxuries as the Internet while on a camping trip, or up on the mountain while skiing, so we can take our “office” anywhere.  “Many authors claim wireless, portable technology will have a role to play in the way we learn and have a large impact on types of learning (for example, Patten, Sanchez, & Tangney, 2006; Roschelle, 2003) (187).” This world is the world our students are a part of and the workforce they will become, so the idea of integrating “mobile learning” at the secondary level is not only a reality; it is a necessary skill for students to learn.

The article “Using netbooks to support mobile learners’ investigations across activities and places” explores the effectiveness of mobile learning for secondary students.  Sharples (2009, 18) defines mobile learning as ‘learning that happens across locations, or that takes advantage of learning opportunities offered by portable technologies’ (189).  In this study, small laptops or “netbooks” were used in seven trials with 300 student participants and seven teachers.  The netbooks were used in inquiry-based projects where students accomplished their investigation individually, in small groups, and in full class settings.  Topics ranged from Urban Heat Islands, and microclimates, to even food production cycle and food sustainability. Students worked in the field collecting data, in the classroom organizing that data, and even at home to finish their assignments.  The netbooks provided the students an opportunity to work in all three environments seamlessly.

The article addresses the fact that though the netbooks help with ease of transitioning from one setting to another there are minor difficulties in the management of the technology.  Also, minor technical difficulties, and power and Internet signal losses occurred, but students were quick to problem solve and there were no major setbacks reported.  With each trial, it became increasingly clear that the success of mobile learning outweighed the challenges.  In one instance when the school had some power loss issues, the fallback plan of working on the netbooks in the classroom instead of in the school’s computer lab had an unexpected outcome.  “One of the teachers reported her students’ behaviour improved and they were more engaged when working on the netbooks in her classroom than on school machines in the ICT suites” (194).  This led her to request to have students stay in the classroom and work on the netbooks instead of the computer lab once the power returned.

Mobile learning is not only a convenience; it is a valid teaching method that provides students with valuable skills that they will undoubtedly use in the real world.   This article provides significant information to take into consideration as an educator:

1. Mobile learning allows “students to move between classroom, fieldwork sites and home, in formal and informal learning environments, and undertake a range of tasks including planning, researching, data collecting and report writing” (196).

2. Some educators may be hesitant to adopt mobile learning and integrate technology into the classroom, but it is worth the highly plausible success. “A common concern when introducing new technologies to learners is that these will be unfamiliar, complex and will get in the way of learning (for example, Cramer et al., 2009). However, the students adopted the netbooks quickly” (196).

3. Mobile learning does take time and resources to implement successfully for for the long term. “Management of mobile devices is time consuming, and this is a critical aspect of ensuring the long term sustainability and incorporation of these devices within any learning environment (Vahey & Crawford, 2002)” (196).

Connections to NETS

Mobile learning addresses a significant number of NETS for both students and teachers. When looking at the NETS-T’s, each standard is met.  Mobile learning can be used to meet NETS-T 1.b which is “facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity,” specifically “engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.”  As in this article, students were assigned real world geographically issues and they used their netbooks to collect the data and complete their assignment. NETS-T 2 a-c is also met because with mobile learning you can “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” which includes developing “relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools” (2.a).  Furthermore, it also allows teachers to “develop technology-enriched learning environments” (2.b), and “customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles” (2.c) because using netbooks allows students to utilize the technological tool at the level they are currently at and to grow from there. NETS-T 3.a-d is met because teachers “model digital age work and learning” through incorporating real-life situations like completing work in a variety of settings using the netbooks. NETS-T 4.b is addressed as well because mobile learning allows teachers to “address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.”  Lastly, mobile learning meets NETS-T 5.a-c because it has teachers “engage in professional growth and leadership.” This is due to the fact that they need to be educated on the technology they are using for mobile learning.  Furthermore, this article’s studies allowed teachers to participate, exhibit leadership, and evaluate and reflect.

In regards to the NETS-S, every standard is met as well.  NETS-S 1.a, b “creativity and innovation” is met because mobile learning has students “apply existing knowledge to generate ideas” and “create original works.” NETS-S 2.a, d are met because mobile learning allows for “communication and collaboration” because students “interact, collaborate, and publish with peers” and “contribute to project teams” due to the ability to share information with the netbooks.  NETS-S 3.a, d are achieved because mobile learning helps facilitate “research and information fluency” due to the ability to easily work in a variety of settings and “plan strategies” and “process data” with ease. The entire NETS-S 4.a-d is achieved because mobile learning, specifically in this setting, allowed for “critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making” through the inquiry-based projects.  Furthermore, students identified “significant questions for investigation,” “complete a project,” “collect and analyze data,” and “use multiple processes.” NETS-S 5.a-d is addressed because when students are engaged in mobile learning they have to learn “digital citizenship” and use technology responsibly, “exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology,” “demonstrate personal responsibility,” and “exhibit leadership for digital citizenship.” Lastly, NETS-S 6.a-d is met because mobile learning centers on “technology operations and concepts” because students have to be able to use the technology in order to participate.  Furthermore, they need to be successful at “selecting and using application effectively,” troubleshooting systems and applications,” and even be able to “transfer current knowledge.”

Connections to students:

As stated previously, our students are a part of a society that has become accustomed to accomplishing tasks or retrieving information at the click of a mouse or smart phone screen.  This means that, if they are not already, they will need to know how to work in a variety of settings in order to finish work assignments or even just answer e-mails.  Not all students will enter a work place that requires this, but teaching them to multitask as well as be successful in diverse situations will help them attain a skill that will be helpful in daily life.  In the study, “students appeared to enjoy working on ‘their’ computers” (195), which is understandable because they  instant access to the internet and their work, which allowed them to complete work and even access entertainment like YouTube and free game sites.  Though “some students noted that the keyboards were a little small and the trackpad was received with varying degrees of enthusiasm” (192) no student failed to complete the work.  This means that students like computers.  We know this.  So why not allow them the mobility they need with the technology they desire to use?

Connections to school and the classroom:

The main issues for school and the classroom are money, management, and maintenance.

We need to get access to the technology, which means we need the funds to do so.  In an economy calling for budget cuts, it can be difficult to get technology on the school’s budget.  But with the creation of NETS we have the duty to do so and provide students the access they need in order to acquire the technological skills they require for the 21st century.

Incorporating technology into the classroom, especially in regards to mobile learning poses some pedagogical and classroom management issues.  But what I have learned, just like the teacher in the study, is that my students were actually better behaved when using our mobile lab computers than when in the computer lab.  I believe it has something to do with being able to get in their own space; some students would choose to sit in our classroom reading area in more comfortable chairs, or some even on the floor, and others out in the plaza (a common working area).  This showed me that just like every student has their own learning style, they  also have their personal preference for learning environments as well.  It should be noted that students knew that I had the right to move them back to their seat if they were found not being productive in their chosen location. Overall, as long as you as the educator are familiar with the technology, allowing students to engage in mobile learning is actually a comfortable and easy-to-manage teaching methods.

Lastly, the study’s approach relied on Internet connectivity at all times” but “they worked with the school IT technicians, extending the school network to provide coverage around the school grounds” (195) which is totally doable in a school that has a strong IT department.  Maintaining the equipment is a matter of making sure the students are responsible, and that there are funds for software and possible hard drive issues.  In a school year, I personally encountered maybe five computer issues with our mobile lab that consisted of 90 netbooks, which is very minimal.

It is important as educators to recognize that “it is clear a range of highly portable yet powerful devices have arrived and will affect how learners study across contexts and environments in the near future (198).  Mobile learning is a great way to provide the opportunities students need to build skills they will be using in the real world.  We are already teaching an instant-access generation, who are retrieving, sending, and accessing data all day, every day, from a wide array of locations from home, to school, to even on the school bus.  So let’s incorporate something they are already doing, and show them how to build the skill for an educational and collaborative purpose.

Week 5: Resources for Social Networking and High School

All resources are selected with a high school classroom in mind.

1.    Ning

http://www.ning.com/

Standards: NETS-T 1-4/NETS-S 2, 5, 6

Ning is a social networking site that allows the teacher to create a safe and private site for his/her classroom.  Though not solely geared towards schools, it works great for the classroom as you can set who is a part of the community, which allows you to protect the students. I have used it in my classroom back when it was a free site and it was user friendly for me, but required some thorough explanation for students, but they enjoyed it as well. It does come at a cost though, which is its biggest downfall. It is not my first choice of social networking generators.

2.    Edmodo

http://www.edmodo.com/

Standards: NETS-T 1-4/NETS-S 2, 5, 6

Edmodo is a social networking site with a few additional tools.  Due to it being created with education in mind, there are features such as drop boxes and assignment calendars, which helps keep the students organized.  You can set up different classes for each one you teach and for each class period and when the students sign up they just put in the class code. I used this in a computer class I taught so students could drop box their work instead of printing everything, which was significantly hurting my classroom budget and the environment.  It is incredibly user friendly for both teacher and student, and IT IS FREE.  I highly recommend it.

3.    Gaggle

https://gaggle.net/

Standards: NETS-T 1-4/NETS-S 2, 5, 6

I stumbled upon Gaggle at a tech conference I went to with some colleagues.  I received a free three month trial, and planned to build my literature circle around it as I had done in the past with Ning.  Gaggle is created for the classroom and has great features like a drop box, assignment creator and calendar, email between members of the class, and it even includes a chat room.  It is incredibly user friendly and is very similar to Facebook in that students can personalize their page and picture, but it has the security of the parameters you set.  It also includes a “bad word” feature, that automatically blocks specific words such as cuss words, or derogatory words, it notifies the student that the word is blocked and it emails the teacher instantly.  You can edit the list as you see fit.  If I  had to choose between Ning and Gaggle, Gaggle wins hands down—it is created with the classroom in mind and my students and I loved it.

4.    TeacherTube

http://teachertube.com/

Standard: NETS-T 5

I have used TeacherTube numerous times to find lesson ideas as well as to find student project examples I could share with my students i.e. a reenactment of a scene from Romeo and Juliet in modern times.  It is a great place to go to see what is taking place in classrooms around the world.  It works just like YouTube, but is obviously teacher-centered, so you can search for classroom specific items.  You can find full lessons, ideas for a new technique, and even student examples.  It is a great place to go and explore ways to improve, post your own creations, and collaborate!

5.    YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/

Standards: NETS-T 1-4/NETS-S 2, 5, 6

YouTube is a familiar name to you and most definitely your students.  It allows for you to do such things, as find video clips to use in the classroom to begin a lesson to create excitement, or enhance a point you need to make.  Students can post their own work as well, which allows for easy viewing access for the teacher—though I do always require the clip be private and I sent the link, and that they have permission from a parent to create their account.  I have found that students genuinely enjoy watching other student creations, and posting their own.

6.    Wikispaces

http://www.wikispaces.com/

Standards: NETS-T 1-4/NETS-S 1-6

Wikispaces are a great addition to the classroom as a collaboration tool for group projects.  It really allows for the group to create their own look, yet be focused on the task at hand and provide organized information.  I had a project in grad school where as a group assignment we had to create a wiki on our topic choice—mine being technology integration of all things!—and it was user friendly and a great way to work with others.  One of my biggest concerns when assignment group projects to my high school students is the “working together outside of school” issue that always arises.  Wikispaces eliminates the need to provide days in class to allow students to work together because it is web-based.  My only recommendation is when assigning a project using Wikispaces, make sure expectations and requirements are very clear, as well as provide examples of good Wiki’s.

7.    Edublogs

http://edublogs.org/

Standards: NETS-T 1-4/NETS-S 2, 5, 6

I had not heard of Edublogs before, but as I searched for a social media blogging site for the classroom I stumbled upon this gem!  The thing I like the most, is that it is actually “Wordpress for Education” so it is created for a school setting, this means it is very unlikely that it will be blocked by your school filter, unlike Blogger or even original WordPress.  It is a blog generator that allows students to create a blog and is very user friendly.  I see this as a way for students to have a blog about a particular classroom assignment—I think about the reading journal I have students keep, this site would be great to use in place of that hard copy journal.  Students can express themselves, their thoughts, concerns, and even confusions about the reading, and get feedback from me and even other students.  Though informal writing, I think it would also add the element of “I better read” for students, as they know they will need to make a blog post about it, versus making something up days later the night before the have to turn their journal in!

8.    Collaborize Classroom

http://www.collaborizeclassroom.com/

Standards: NETS-T 1-4/NETS-S 2, 5, 6

Collaborize Classroom is a web-based discussion tool used to increase student participation and engagement.  It is a free tool that allows the teacher to create a classroom site where discussion questions can be posted.  There are selection choices for different types of questions i.e. open-ended, multiple choice, and even voting.  It is user friendly and would be a great addition to the classroom as you can have a discussion outside of class, which allows students to think through their ideas more thoroughly without the pressure of a class period bell.  It keeps track of students involvement and collects data of answers that you can seamlessly incorporate into the class the next day or whenever you choose to end the discussion.  I have seen students who typically shy away from talking in class and sharing their ideas, really shine in an online chatroom style setting such as this.  I will definitely be using this tool in the future.

9.    Pinterest

http://pinterest.com/

Standards: NETS-T 1-4/NETS-S 2, 3, 5, 6

Pinterest has become the go-to place for crafty ideas, but I think it would be a great tool to use in the classroom for an artifact collection assignment.  While reading a text (novel, poem, play, classic literature) you have students collect “artifacts” they feel represent  say a character, the setting, the work as a whole, etc.  Students love the assignment because they are finding items outside of the classroom they choose, and then they get to explain why they chose them.  Pinterest would be a great way for students to “Pin” their items so that they are all organized in one folder.  Say they want to find a craft that they feel Juliet would do in her free time, or a picture they feel represents the mood of the poem, they can do it all at the click of a button!

10.    Flickr

http://www.flickr.com/

Standards: NETS-T 1-4/NETS-S 2, 3, 5, 6

Flickr is a great resource for pictures.  If you are doing a project on a specific topic, or maybe you want students to work on their creative writing, you can pull pictures from the site to share with the class.  You could also have an assignment where students take their own pictures they feel represent the topic you’re teaching in class and they can share them.  Or if you’re a photography teacher, students can take their photographs and share them here, or even get ideas for pictures. Students have their camera phones out and working overtime all day, so why not put it to good use and incorporate it into your classroom!

Week 5: Social Networking and High School Article 2

Under the radar’: Educators and cyberbullying in schools.

By: Cassidy, Wanda, Brown, Karen, Jackson, Margaret

School Psychology International; Oct2012, Vol. 33 Issue 5, p520-532, 13p

Article

 Social media has made its way into our classrooms, and though there are great benefits to using it in our lessons, it is also important to identify the risks. This is why I chose to focus on the ever-growing issue of cyberbullying in connection to my “social networking in high school” theme.  In “Under the radar” Educators and cyberbullying in schools” by Cassidy, Brown, and Jackson we read about the research done to identify how schools are dealing with cyberbullying as the presence of social media increases in our teenagers’ lives.  Seventeen educators are asked sixteen open-ended questions in a taped interview. The end results being that they were not well informed about cyberbullying as well as they were ill equipped as a school to deal with it properly.

The article begins with identifying the importance of school policy stating that, “educator indifference or lack of acknowledge about cyberbullying may lead to policy deficiencies or inadequate prevention strategies (Huang & Chou, 2010; Sakellariou, Carroll, & Houghton, 2012)” (p. 521).  This leads us to look at teachers’ perceptions of bullying/cyberbullying.  The research conducted, discussed 17 educators and their experience with identifying cyberbullying as well as their knowledge of social networking. The article addresses the fact that very few educators in the group felt adequately prepared to identify cyberbullying or to intervene.  This was due to the fact that they lacked the proper training and skill set, as well as they were not knowledgeable about the technology itself.

In the section titled “technological challenges” on page 522, it is discussed that “In our technologically driven world, teachers and parents are generally behind youth in their knowledge of technology, which leads to inadequate supervision at school and home and an increase in cyberbullying (Popovic-Citic, Djuric, & Cvetkovic, 2011).” When the adults in our students’ lives don’t understand how to use the technology, it leaves a huge opportunity for the child to misuse it without us even knowing.  Teachers need to be trained and a strong school policy needs to be developed.  It is time that we make sure that we know what are students are bringing into our schools.  We need to understand that we now have to deal with not only what goes on inside our school walls, but the virtual ones as well.  It is necessary for the safety of our children.

The top three results that summarize this study best are:

1. The majority (15 participants) were more familiar with older technologies like e-mail than newer ones.  Only two participants were knowledgeable with social networking sites like Facebook.

2. 59% of participants said they were concerned about cyberbullying, yet four could not provide any examples of incidences and the school’s response.  This was unnerving considering that in the student-based research (not included in this article), 36% of students admitted to participating in cyberbullying and 32% had been victims in the past year.

3.  One vice principal stated that the school’s policy addressed bullying, but not cyberbullying specifically.  Furthermore, the school’s handbook did not address the “proper use of the Internet as a tool” (p. 527).

 

Connections to NETS

The issue of cyberbullying centers on NETS-S 5 “Digital Citizenship” which is created to ensure that “students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.”  When 36% of students in a corresponding study admit to participating in cyberbullying, it means that there is a serious lack of emphasis placed on developing digital citizens.  This has to change if we want to see a difference in how our students treat one another inside and outside of school.

In addition to this, NETS-T 4 “Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility” is created to ensure that “teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.”  This article specifically addresses NETS-T 4.c “Promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information” by discussing the fact that educators are responsible for modeling appropriate behavior.  But as previously stated, even though 59% of educators in the study said they were concerned about cyberbullying, four of those individuals could not provide examples.  This means that not only are these teachers disconnected from what is taking place in the school, but they are definitely not modeling “digital etiquette and responsible social interaction.”

Connections to students:

Cyberbullying is not a joke.  The hate that is written on child’s Facebook wall, does just as much damage, if not more, as if were graffiti on their house.  It is a real-life problem that students face every day, and those students need to know that they are safe inside our school walls—even if the threat is a virtual one.   Students need to be educated on the issue and understand the consequences of their actions.  We need students to meet the NETS for digital citizenship, not just because it’s a requirement, but also because knowledge is power. When students have the knowledge they need to be responsible online, we give them the power to be thoughtful digital citizens.

 

Connections to school and the classroom:

We know how engaging social networking can be for our students; when we incorporate tools that they use in their daily lives, they see how the material from the classroom can connect to their life in the real world.  But we also need to be aware that as educators, we are the gatekeepers of our schools and classrooms. Therefore, we need to not only be educated on how to use the technology but we need to educate our students on how to be proper digital citizens.  This means that we need to have clear school policies that identify cyberbullying and its consequences, as well as the proper use of the Internet.

We need to educate our students.  We need to model appropriate behavior. We need to show them examples of what is good and what is not acceptable.  All these sentiments have been said for generations, the difference is now we need to incorporate the Internet world as well.  We need to open the lines of communication with our students about the effects of their choices online.  One vice principal in the study stated that he “believes that educators must get to know their students and have open conversations with them about inappropriate behaviour and the emotional and physical costs of victimization” (p. 526).  Creating examples of cyberbullying and sharing them with the class would be a great teaching tool to use to educate students on what cyberbullying is, as well as its effects.  The “I didn’t know” excuse should not work.  Students need to understand that though they may be behind a computer screen, their words and actions have real-life consequences.

Week 4: Social Networking and High School

Social Networking and High School

Social Networking in Cyberschooling: Helping to Make Online Learning Less Isolating.

By: Barbour, Michael; Plough, Cory.

TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning.

Jul2009, Vol. 53 Issue 4, p56-60. 5p. DOI: 10.1007/s11528-009-0307-5.

 

Standards addressed:

NETS-S                                         

2.a-d

5.a-d

6.a-d

NETS-T

1.c, d

2.a, b, c 

3.b

4.a-d

5.b, c

Theme

As educators, it is time to get out of denial and recognize that social networking has made its way into our schools.  Due to this, I took some time to focus on the theme of social networking and high school-aged students.  “Social Networking in Cyberschooling: Helping to Make Online Schooling Less Isolating by Barbour, Michael; Plough, Cory interested me because there has been an exponential growth in online schools, and I was curious how social networking was utilized in this setting and hoped to be able to find some applications for it in the traditional brick-and-mortar teaching environment the majority of us teach in.

The Article

What an interesting read!  For a short article, it gives you plenty to think about, and forces you to see the good in social networking and how it can be utilized within a school setting.  It addresses the need for students of online schooling to socialize with other students as well as with their teacher.  Odyssey Charter High School (OCHS) experimented with Facebook, before realizing the security was insufficient.  They developed http://www.Ning.com that allowed them to create a social network with a “garden wall” that provided the security they desired and needed in order for the interactions to be successful.  The social network became a place where students could collaborate, communicate, and be creative.  Essentially, learning communities were developed.

Application of information 

Clearly, using social networking in the classroom address multiple NETS for both students and teachers, which means that is does have a place in the classroom, at least technologically speaking.  But NETS aside, it was one main piece of this article that really got me thinking:

“The students collaborated, discussed, reviewed ideas, and socialized in what they described as a less stressful environment. The social network was a more relaxed environment to interact with teachers, as it was a space where the students were already spending significant social time. This was consistent with Mazer, Murphy, and Simonds(2007), who found that students appreciated their teachers’ efforts to use a social networking site in their own research.”

To my surprise as I read, I actually used www.Ning.com (back when it was a free service) in a computers class I taught a couple years ago in order to teach about social networking, and to see if it was a useful tool for my English classes.  Incorporating social networking into my classroom was a huge success.  HUGE.  Students enjoyed being able to use the tool to communicate with one another and post assignments, as well as they genuinely enjoyed my presence and seeing me use the tool.  I was quite shocked by the amount of comments I would get about how I left a comment for them about an assignment, or how they could ask for help and I would respond quickly.  There was actual giddiness one day about my presence in a chat room.   I concluded it was because it made me human; a lot of times students see us as the judge, those who tell them they’ve done bad or good, they very rarely see us as people who have lives and socialize.  So when they can interact with us using the same medium they use to talk with their peers, it humanizes us.  It therefore makes it a little less formal, and much more comfortable to ask questions and seek help or feedback.   When I read this in the article, it made me reflect back on that experience.  How social networking connected me with my students.  How social networking engaged my students.  How social networking enriched my students’ education.  You don’t have to teach online to incorporate a social network into your classroom.  Interacting with our students and getting them to interact with us, regardless of the medium, is a success.  When they know we care, they care.  And when they care, they are willing to accomplish more, and therefore are more successful.  So hop on board the social network train and see just how far it can take your classroom!

For further proof of how great social networking can be, click on the link below to watch student interviews that OCHS conducted about the incorporation of social networking.  The interviews specifically about social networking begin at minute mark 2:50.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnWxUtveG8s