The internet, developed by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the late 1960’s is integral to our daily lives. So much of our lives reside on and depends on the internet in some way or another. But technology 101 tells us that all technology has both positive and negative impacts. So, which are which? What are the positive aspects of the internet? Connectivity…automation. Those are two positive aspects I can quickly think of. But it has also been a disruptor. Think about the time that humans spend tethered to their smart devices. Other examples include anonymously corresponding to others online. Many would never say things to others in person that they sometimes feel embolden enough to say online. I know because I have been guilty of these things myself. When something is new and novel, we are much more apt to experiment or try something that is technically cool or shiny, without fully understanding it. As an avid technologist for over twenty years now, I am just now starting to notice more negative impacts of the internet. Originally, for me, it led me down a career path, leading me to work in web development for several years. I suppose this influenced my views. The internet is both good and bad.
We are at a critical point in history regarding labor and capitalism, and the change that the internet alone has helped bring about in these two sectors respectively. I see Amazon warehouses popping up all over the place. Why? Because you can’t beat buying something at home, and receiving it within days, sometimes hours. It truly is mind-blowing. Automation is changing the labor market. The next generation needs to fill this void or else companies will replace them with automation. It’s just a matter of time but work ethic and a desire to live the American quality of life could help slow down this transition. Yet we see the opposite. Less people are choosing to work and pay is going up. This isn’t sustainable. I have been working now for 32+ years and I can tell you; work still sucks to me to this day. Sucks may be a bad way of putting it, but I don’t live for work. I work to allow me the freedom to do the things and own the life I want to live. As my dad once told me, “That’s why they call it work, son”.
So back to the point of this article. Is the internet disruptive? Yes. It has disrupted numerous industries, political systems, freedom of privacy. The list goes on. But I still feel it has had so many more positive impacts on our world. To me, the internet is transcendent. How could something like the internet have been invented, then built upon on accident? The technology that comprises the internet, and the technologies that the internet have led to are immensely complex, intricate, and sophisticated. Things have and will continue to develop and change. Some of it will be ugly. Some of it will be unfair. At times, the change that the internet brings about may even be devastating, but it is not going anywhere. It will continue to replace systems, some in totality, and will continue to push us forward into the future. So, learn as much about what it is and how it works as you can.
My favorite adaptive learning platform was ALEKs. They did a really good job marketing the product on their website. I also like that they offer subscriptions and a free trial, so you can get started using it right away. I have also used McGraw Hill in my classroom and am familiar with their products and know they are effective.
Three claims listed by ALEKs are that their system enables the same learning opportunity to all their students, that their system adapts to each student, and that their system provides individual support to each student. They did provide good research on their website to help back up this claim. I also like their news releases page, which allows those interested to see how they are updating their features as time progresses.
My least favorite adaptive learning system was DreamBox. I did not feel they did as good of a job highlighting their system on their website. They make big claims, but do not have enough data to support their claims, even though their system may work well for learners. They do include information that shows the research and entities involved in their system. They also provide a free trial period which is actually longer than ALEKs (14 days as opposed to 7). Another plus is they have a demo, which you can look at, and although it is more of a presentation, it does give you a look at their interface.
Three claims that DreamBox make are that they help students build confidence, that their system adapts intelligently, and that their system provides insights to ensure success. Although I’m sure that if any of these systems are used consistently, they could certainly help students master content; however, I still think some of these claims qualify more as hype than a certainty. My experience as an educator leads me to believe that some students and parents are just not great fits for learning management systems.
A major learning goal for me this past year has been to expand upon the gamification strategies that I have begun to implement into my personal practice. This is also in line with my Capstone Project, and very much in line with this course (7485). Before this year, I implemented a few game-based learning activities, and even occasionally used Minecraft Education (which my Capstone is based on); however, I only attempted monthly build challenges. At one point, I used it as a reward, but had mixed results with this, so I eventually stopped using that approach. I have begun integrating Minecraft Education units to teach my sixth-grade computer science standards. The idea is to use Minecraft to engage the students and improve SEL, while also increasing interest in STEM.
ISTE Standards 1.1c, 1.3d, 1.4a, 1.4d, 1.5d, 1.6c, 1.7a, 1.7b, 1.7c, 1.7d are all addressed with this goal. Students work independently and collaboratively to investigate and examine real-world and global issues. They are taught about and encouraged to use a design process to iterate and re-iterate through solutions, making improvements along the way. In Minecraft, the generate models within an authentic game world that many are already familiar with.
As an educator, I highly value student engagement. Students who are not engaged are not truly learning. Young people today are digital learners and trying to fight against that usually does not end well. I am not necessarily saying that they are high-level technology end users, because they often are not. But they are digital consumers. It is natural to them. Many of my middle school students have never not been exposed to screens and digital learning environments, so responding with gamification strategies is a no-brainer for me. I am also in a subject area that successfully supports this strategy.
As an educator, I will continue to expand upon the game-based learning strategies that I have in place. For my Capstone, I focused on the Computing with Minecraft unit that I implemented this year. This follows GA PSC Standard 6.3, which asks candidates to synthesize and apply what they learn to field experiences. I will continue to gain insight as I gain experience and have more data to analyze. There are so many levels to working with Minecraft. But Minecraft is not the end all. I have integrated digitalcompass.org and Common Sense Media lessons, and use Kahoot, Quizziz, and other tools that have a strong gamification aspects. It is exciting to see so many sources and organizations and their improvements. I see gamification growing stronger and I will continue to do my due diligence to learn and grow upon this foundation that I have been building recently. It is important, however, to be prepared before you implement these tools and resources. I have tried to implement them too soon in the past, and it takes away from the success you can. Take the time to run through the lessons yourself and create artifacts along the way to help demonstrate concepts. This provides the scaffolding that many students will need to successfully complete the activities.
ITEC 7305 Reflection
One of the first points my first principal made to me was the importance of data-driven decisions. It is something I have always kept in mind but had never studied formally. I feel data is a critical aspect of teaching. I am glad I spent time studying the Using Data Process! I will be working for the remainder of my career to strengthen this aspect of my pedagogy.
I am pretty technology savvy. It is the career I spent fifteen years in before teaching; however, I can always learn more about it; specifically, instructional technology. I have picked up a lot of great technological strategies and resources as a master’s candidate at KSU, but the single most eye-opening thing I have learned is the power of data and reflecting on the data. This class and other assignments where I studied the data and reflected on what it means to me and how it is interpreted at my current school has helped me become a stronger, more informed educator.
What are the 3 most important things you learned during this course?
The action plans were the most valuable field experience because I am now in a great position if/when the opportunity to coach becomes available.
How do you plan to continue applying this learning in your school?
I need to improve my assessments and apply what I conclude by reviewing my data.
What challenges do you anticipate as you continue to implement these ideas in your school?
Too many initiatives and not enough time.
I chose the Innovation/Makerspace Center at Cal State Fullerton to speak about as my active learning space. I really like the variety of stations and the overall look of the space. I would imagine that students enjoy using this space. The author summarizes the space as,
[The center was] created to fulfill students’ creativity, innovation and talent through advanced technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, Microsoft Surface Hub, Raspberry Pi, and high-end computing.
The strongest affordances I identified are listed below:
1. Audio/Visual Interface and Control
A lot is packed into the space. There is a variety of computers systems (PC/Mac), as well an AR/VR stations. This variety makes the space more valuable and more accommodating to several different end users.
One suggestion I would make for this affordance is the addition of whiteboards that could accommodate more than one group at a time. Although there is a very impressive (interactive) whiteboard, I only see one. More teams could utilize and may find it more useful if they had their own whiteboards and did not have to share the interactive display. I can’t tell for sure how much control that is available for users to control the sound and visuals, but this could also be an area of improvement.
2. Immersive Technology to Support In-Room Learning
This station is my favorite and looks like a lot of fun. I like how they have it set up with comfort in mind and the screen is plenty large enough to interface with, along with the VR headsets.
Space and noise would be my concern for the VR/AR station. Normally, when users are experiencing VR, often they are noisy, and this could be a distraction for individuals and groups that are sharing the space.
3. Access to Adjacent Informal Learning Spaces
I love the glass walls of the space. You can see that it is in the library and adjacent informal learning spaces included in the library. It looks good aesthetically, and is more inviting and comfortable, especially if there were 32 people in the space at a time.
Again, noise could be a concern for the room itself, but also the adjacent learning areas in the library. Even if it is sound proofed well, the movement and activity in the room could distract others in the library who were looking for more of a serene area to study and do work.
4. Furniture Configuration Flexibility
The furniture configuration flexibility in the space is nice and very appropriate for the variety of stations included in the room. All the tables and chairs are mobile, as well as the interactive display, which could be extremely helpful for group work and reconfiguring the space to accommodate the groups that may need to modify it.
Even though the furniture is very configurable, there is not a lot of extra space. Perhaps if they reconfigured the tables and seating, more open floor space would be available, but it seems tight.
5. Diverse Patterns of Use
This is the strongest affordance that I see with the space. There is so much diversity of use. They have an amazing array of uses and patterns of uses in a reasonably sized footprint. You could accommodate a variety of computer related activities and uses in the space.
Although there is a work area in the center without computers, I still feel that if the space were larger, the table and work areas in general could be larger. Perhaps cabinets or storage areas could be incorporated to allow more diverse technologies to be included in the space. I do see how not having cabinets could help keep the space cleaner, but I would want even more work space for the type of activities I work on.
6. Pilots and Prototyping
Pilots and Prototyping is another affordance where this space scores well. There is a 3D printer included to work on prototyping and even an open area (the only real open area in the room) nearby where protypes could be tested if needed. I like how they did leave room next to the printer and it is also included near the worktables in the center of the room. The way the tables are arranged in the photo show thoughtful design of how workers would use the space.
More space and more storage are needed for supporting a station with a 3D printer.
7. Interior Visibility
The interior visibility of the space is great. The room is very open, and the walls are transparent which makes it look even more open.
I can’t tell if one wall (behind the photographer) is open to the outdoors, but I am assuming it isn’t due to the lighting. With that assumption in mind, the lighting could be improved. The space’s lighting, as well as the libraries interior lighting is not ideal for users who are concerned with color, like designers.
The transparency of the room overall is a positive, the openness and transparency of the space makes it look larger and sleeker.
Moveable partitions could be helpful to some users who might be adversely affected or distracted by other groups working inside the space. Electroluminescent glass could be helpful to adjacent learning spaces and the users who are working adjacent to the learning space.
9. Visual Displays
The sizes and variety of displays seem very appropriate. The variety of computer systems are also impressive regarding the space size.
The lighting and reflection that are evident from the photo could be a problem for some users, depending on the type of work they were conducting in the space. Non reflective colors, or in this rooms case, more window and lighting control would be helpful.
10. Physical Inclusion and Universal Design
The space is open, and all the stations are accommodating to a variety of users. All the individual stations are small and accommodating to each participant. The flooring is nice and flat and could accommodate wheelchairs. Hazards are certainly minimized.
It is hard to tell from the photo, but I do not see any devices that specifically target users who might need accommodations, whether it be the visually impaired, or headphones. Any sort of storage could help house some of these devices that might be needed, while still maintaining the clean, minimal design that is in place.
This is the art room at McClure Middle. Art is a connections class within our school. Mrs. Heyser teaches an array of mediums to her students, from drawing to weaving. It is set up in a way that is beneficial to her curriculum.
This is a room in our LLC (Library) at McClure. It is just one room in the LLC that was designed by our Media Specialist to accommodate our students. She has another room that is more of a makerspace, where students can use for projects that incorporates dies cuts and similar technologies. She also has a 3D printing station and an area where students can lounge and read or collaborate on projects.
This is my classroom at McClure. It is officially referred to as the Technology Lab, but my standards are based on STEM standards. Like the art room, it is large, so it is hard to see all the areas in detail.
I have desks, a computer lab, a 3D printer (in the back right), and some table in the back where students can work on STEM builds. There is also a table with rails that I use for my robotics unit.
I have several rooms on the side that house my robots and other materials for my CSIM class. Not pictured is a walk-in closet where I keep consumables and sometimes store student projects.
I have used the term personalized and applied it to my pedagogy in the past, but my field experience this summer helped me realize how much I truly did not know about it. All teachers can relate to PL because the area of study is still being developed, but I now have much more confidence in my ability to personalize my own students’ learning. Being a full-inclusion connections teacher, using technology to provide personalized learning is necessary. However, I don’t ever want to go fully online with my curriculum. I value hands-on experience way too much, but personalization can be met with technology in ways that traditional models can’t provide. This understanding comes from time spent synthesizing iNACOL standards and applying them to my existing curriculum. The real test will come when I apply it with my students this coming semester, but I look forward to the challenge.
Online learning has really become a major aspect to learning this past year. I realize I have been a blended teacher since I began teaching seven years ago, but I would not have thought of myself that way before I started 7480. Being introduced to iNACOL and the Aurora Institute this semester has given me a much better perspective on blended learning and online learning in general. I loved that I had the opportunity to work on classroom resources in the class and will have those available to me this coming semester. I may make a few small tweaks, but the iNACOL rubrics really are great at helping prepare you for the online teaching experience. Also, taking this class along with 7600 was a valuable experience and they complimented each other well.
Online resources augment many aspects of education, but personalization would be one that rises to the top for me. I am always looking for untapped resources and tools to help incorporate into my curriculum. Seeing that I do not have co-teachers and a full inclusion classroom, blended learning is an approach I take often to help bridge gaps that come with meeting the needs of such diverse class settings. I am excited to see how online learning continues to grow in the future.
I really enjoyed this class. The projects were very practical and necessary for a digital leader to apply to their jobs. As a passive observer, I never thought as deeply about educational technology and the impact that it can have as I did when completing the projects, and the SWOT analysis really helped me identify what needs to improve at the school and district level where I teach. The Sheninger book provided some great insight for me into educational technology and digital leadership. Although I love technology and how it is always changing, there were many things covered in the book that I had not come across and dealt with before in my field. One big problem of educational technology is that there are too many choices out there and too many directions to go in. The future of ET is not quantity but focusing more on quality. It is good to see how technologies are merging to form powerful solutions. For example, Flipgrid and Bitmoji recently teamed up. Microsoft owns Flipgrid and I am seeing it integrated more into Minecraft Education, which is another Microsoft product. Technology is the future of education, and teachers and other digital leaders will be at the edge of these innovations. I think the next decade of educational technology will be exciting to watch, and I hope we can work together to close the digital divide. Over the past year, many of the ideas related to ET are coming from leaders within the educational realm without true input from leaders of technology. We must work out these details and relationships for true digital equity to be achieved.
I agree with a lot of what Alan November is saying in his video, but I don’t know if I would go so far as to say he needs to weigh Iran’s viewpoint as if it were an American journalists viewpoint either. I do agree in principle with what he is stating, and I do think there are many ways to utilize the universal classroom that we are only beginning to see and think about today. Even locally, I have been videoconferencing more over the past year, and without COVID-19, I don’t know if I would have done that until I was somewhat forced to do so.
Another point that I completely agree with is Alan’s point on youth and their relationship to technology. They are nowhere near as savvy as they are made out to be in the media, but it is no fault of their own. In the world of programming there is a concept known as layer of abstraction. I relate this to the above-mentioned relationship of kids and technology, meaning they have just come into the world of technology at a much different point than you or I did. They know how to use technology and have different relationships with technology, but they do lack certain skills, like critical thinking, that prove to be needed in the world of computers and beyond. But in fairness, I did not have great critical thinking skills as a young man either (sometimes I still don’t). I do not think that 21st century skills and Web 2.0 skills must be intertwined. There is certainly benefits to thinking logically and in computational thinking, but do we want all young people to think the same way? I personally do not. I do think that basic computer skills are helpful and will be helpful to our society, but not all young people want to spend time with computers. I have many students that just want to draw, or play basketball or the bass guitar, and I like that. I think critical thinking is extremely important, but as a middle-school teacher, I honestly think it is overused. Now creativity, collaboration, and communication are another story. I feel they are all vital to everyone, young people included. I also think we have an obligation to try and instill this into young people at a young age, so they can use it to make their lives more fruitful. Communication is important every day in so many ways. Creativity too is crucial, and I see it manifest in music, art, and engineering. Everyone can benefit from using creativity. Humans are drawn to it. Collaboration is the Achilles heel that I see with young people. Not all young people of course, but many are overly anxious, trepidatious to speak to others, have issues with authorities, just to name a few. I think where we find ourselves socially is amplifying this. I really try to find ways for my students to collaborate, and I also struggle the most with getting my students to collaborate, but I feel it is a fight that needs to be waged.
Lastly, I certainly feel technology helps support a diverse range of students. From assistive technology, to accessibility tools, to gamification, there are so many ways to reach students. This is a world that I have had experience with in the past and continue to work on as a teacher. It is exciting to see what is available, but I think there is so much work that is still left to be done regarding exceptional students. Personally, in my classroom, I have been using gamification to help unify and level the “playing field” and it has provided some exciting results. Some students that excel in virtual worlds are ones you never hear from on other days. Some love to share what they know as well, which is always an interesting experiment. I am excited to see where a lot of technology that exists comes together within the classroom and beyond!
November, A. [The Brainwaves Video Anthology]. (2014, May 5). Alan November - Who Owns the Learning? Preparing Students for Success in the Classroom [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/NOAIxIBeT90