501 Final Post

The final assignment for EdTech 501 asked us to produce a ‘bumper sticker’ representing ourexperience in the introduction EdTech course. Here is my creation:
EdTech 501 has been a great experience. During this semester I met and worked with  exceptional educators from all over the world. I learned about and used wonderfully powerful tools that will increase my productivity and enhance my creativity. Though this semester was only eight weeks in length, I feel it was very beneficial and I look forward to next semester and continuing my educational technology journey.

School Evaluation Summary

The Assignment:
As an education technologist, the ability to critically evaluate a schools technology plan will be a crucial skill. For the final assignment, we were asked to assess the technology environment at our individual schools using the Technology Maturity Benchmarks Survey. The survey focused on five areas of assessment: administrative, curricular, support, connectivity, innovation. Each of these categories were broken in to a number of subcategories making the evaluation highly detailed and effective.

Here is my survey:

From this survey I was able to create the following evaluation.

What I learned:
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to dig as deeply as I had hoped for this assignment. As I mentioned in my evaluation, I primarily looked at my department as it is what I know best and trying to get information from each of the other departments on campus in English would have been nearly impossible. Had I another week to complete this assignment and it was during the regular semester, I feel I could have delved into this much deeper. That said, I believe my findings to be representative of the situation on campus.

In all honesty, I was not very surprised by the middle of the road evaluation my school earned. I feel we are highly equipped technologically, yet lack in training, experimentation, and creativity. I’m even more disappointed in the overall lack of student-technology engagement. Powerpoint seems to be the only tech output required by the staff. As this is a university focused on training the next generation of elementary school teachers, I feel we are taking something away from future school children by not asking our students to engage in 21st century skills. This assignment has clarified my role as an educator who recognizes the need to better incorporate technology into my curriculum. I will certainly be requiring more from my students than those of my peers. If I can set something of an example, I can only hope others in my department will follow.

Technology Use Planning Overview

Technology use planning is an essential method of preparing users to engagingly implement the use of technology in curriculum. At the heart of a technology plan is a document created by a planning committee. This document lays out a roadmap that guides schools on their path to implementing educational goals. Because technology skills are becoming increasingly important in our daily lives, it is vital that we prepare our students for this environment. Creating a technology use plan will enable schools to envision what role technology will play, choose what technologies will be used, and implement and assess the blending of these tools.

The new NET “plan recognizes that technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, and we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences and content, as well as resources and assessments that measure student achievement in more complete, authentic, and meaningful ways.” (NETP, 2010) In order to achieve this leveraging of technology, we must first start with a vision for the future. This vision will be based on research and the needs of the stakeholders. It will aim the school on a long-term mission.  Once a set of objectives has been stated, a timeline should be established that schedules when these objectives should be met. Next, the technology needed to reach these objectives must be installed. Of course simply installing the hardware is not enough. Technology should be seen as an enhancement of the curriculum, an enabler of learning. In order to achieve this, the plan should address methods of professional development for staff and provide support for teachers. As John See states in Developing Effective Technology Plans, “When teachers are aware of the types of technology and applications available we can begin to show them how to integrate technology into the curriculum, to help them teach what they are teaching now, only more efficiently and effectively.” (1992) Additionally, the plan should be seen as a kind of living document, one that is always being evaluated and updated to address current best practices and new technologies. By doing this, the long-term mission will be supported by short-term planning.

Educational institutions require fundamental standards in order to create a foundation. The NETP can be seen as an exceptional foundation and allows schools to reflect, in their own environments, the vision and goals established in the NETP. This excellent source of information provides five core models of learning. These are: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity. Each of these goals is supported with specific standards to allow for easy adaptation.

As I stated above, technology, in itself, does not address the standards established by the NETP. Technology is a tool that must be used appropriately. I do not own a hammer simply because I enjoy pounding nails. I use a hammer to allow me to build. Much like the hammer, technology is used to build knowledge. When considering a technology use plan, understanding the application of the technology is crucial. The technology must meet the needs of the intended use. Hardware does not equal education. For example, about three years ago, my university decided that my office and those of my colleagues should be equipped with 42” TV. There was a new administration in the Blue House (Korea’s White House) and a massive sum of money was dumped into the public education system specifically to promote English language education. Throughout the country, 20,000 native speakers were hired and enormous sums were spent on hardware. My school hired four new teachers and reduced our class sizes from 16 to 8 allowing us to teach in our offices. For a couple years, this was great. However, within three years, class sizes went back up to 16 and those TVs now sit, unused, gathering dust and taking up space. On top of that, because we would no longer be teaching in our offices, rooms that previously had no technology were fitted with larger screen TVs (42 was not big enough), speakers, audio systems and computers. In essence, the school went through the process twice and wasted money. Unfortunately, I have very little to do with my universities technology plan. But from what I have seen, if there is money to be spent, the administration will spend it or risk losing that money in future budgets. I question how much planning goes into technology purchasing decisions.

It seems to me that technology use planning is important and requires genuine inquiry and vision. In my current position living in Korea and experiencing an education system that enforces a top-down, sage on the stage approach, I have much hope for the transformative power engaging, relevant and personalized technology integration may have on the Korean classrooms of the future.

Resources

Graduate Students at Mississippi Sate University. (1996). Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan. Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/downloads/guidebook.pdf

See, J. (1992, May). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher19, (8). Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2010). National education technology plan. Washington D.C: Author. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf

Fast Facebook Fiction – Horizon Report Tech Trend

Applying the Horizon Report to an EFL Lesson Plan

For this lesson plan I wanted to apply what I read in the Horizon Report regarding mobile apps. As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, finding ways for my students to engage in the use of English outside of class is one of the biggest hurdles I face. Part of the reason for basing my lesson plan on Facebook, is to connect my students socially to the largest digital network of people on the planet. Most of my students are technologically adept and learning to interface with Facebook will be quite easy. My lesson takes advantage of this by using skills they already poses to find a creative avenue for using English. In the past, I have done this exercise using paper and excluding the photos. By using their phones and their seemingly vast supply of stored photographs, students will find greater inspiration for their creations and I think they will produce more developed and more accurate (grammatically) stories. Also, by having the students include the teacher in the messaging process, a record is created that can be easily displayed on a projector screen or monitor. The public reading of the stories, complete with photos, will incentivize creativity and language accuracy. Consequently, students will get a deeper level of comprehension and hopefully show improvement using the target language all while enjoying the process.

When considering the Horizon Report for this lesson, I felt quite constrained by the lack of technology (apps) currently available for the ESL/EFL classroom. Mainly, there are not many quality apps available for the Android platform and this limited my ability to focus my lesson within the trends discussed in the report. In Korea, many students find Apple’s approach to suing Samsung as a personal affront seeing as Samsung makes many of the components used in the iPhone. Consequently they boycott Apple in favor of the Galaxy S series.

There were some amazing apps for the iPhone and iPad. The one I wanted to use (Apple only) is very similar to what I created, but instead of a collaborative process, the student could use their camera roll photos and create their own stories and share them with other classmates. No app like this exists for Android. In the end, I feel I have overcome this lack of Android support and achieved similar or even better results because this process is collaborative. And since Facebook is available for both platforms, no one is left out.

Direct Embed vs. Scribd

After looking at everyone’s blog posts this week, I have come to the conclusion that Scribd looks terrible in WordPress. Therefore, and knowing that 10 points are on the line, I have decided to simply embed my lesson plan directly from Google Docs. This is not because I do not know how to use Scribd, I just do not like its appearance.

Lesson Plan


AECT Standards supported in this lesson plan:

3.1 Media Utilization and 3.3 Implementation: This aligns with these two standards in that it makes use of a media tool to extend student learning. It also implements instructional materials though a real setting providing the students a better understanding of how to use networking technology in their everyday lives.

RSS in EFL Education

I have known about RSS for quite a while, yet this is my first foray into using it personally. RSS promises to help organize how I receive information by cleaning up my gmail inbox. For the longest time, I have received RSS like emails from various companies and blogs with newsletters containing the information that I will now obtain through RSS. I like the folder and bundle capabilities of Google reader. One thing I detest is long lists of unorganized links or bookmarks that require exhaustive searches. This combined with key word searchability will make RSS a valuable tool in my future toolbox.

Whenever I stumble upon a tool or application that I know will enhance my life, I always try to consider how it might be useful in the classroom. Whether blogs, or podcasts or Youtube, as soon as I become aware, incorporation is imminent. RSS will be no different.

As an EFL teacher in Korea, I’m often trying to have my students look beyond the shores of the peninsula. Culture; travel; food; adventures; all this and more can be explored and discussed by my students as they extend their English ability. RSS would allow my students to create resource lists that fit their interests and allow them to practice English. They could also share these with the class and assignments could be built around locating and sharing sites that students rank as most interesting or appropriate. The longer the list of useful RSS feeds grows, the more my students will be exposed to using English. I think this will promote a sense of community where each student is responsible and hopefully driven to participate. Combining feeds with creating blogs as well as holding class discussions covers all four core English abilities and would greatly benefit my students. The blogs that students create would also be RSS fed to each student in class letting them easily keep track of who is saying what. I imagine this would be an excellent catalyst for inspiring contribution.

For the past four years, I have used wikis to keep my students up-to-date on the class schedule, assignments and announcements. RSS would make it quite convenient for my students to receive updates. In the past I have updated my wiki with links to sites. By using RSS, students could keep track of the sites most commonly visited for class and I can add to bundle feeds anytime I find a useful site, want to introduce a new topic or expect students to read for homework. Instead of printing and copying articles and handing them out to students at the start of class or as homework, students will receive the article before class through RSS and be prepared to use the information.

I have just a couple concerns with RSS. First, as others have made mention to, RSS feeds could quite quickly explode into an unmanageable amount of information to process. That said, one could easily ignore sites until there is a need to ‘re-find’ them again. By having the RSS feed, remembering great sites will be easy even if you don’t plan to keep up with them on a daily basis. My other concern is that students may just link to a site and share it within their RSS community without much consideration for the quality of the content in an effort to complete an assignment. All involved would then waste time visiting the site, only to dismiss it for useless. As I’m sure this will happen regardless, a lesson could be included on evaluating the relevance of sites and the quality of the information.

Enjoy this bundle of resources.

This activity meets the AECT Standard 3: 3.1 Media Utilization

501 Introduction

The YouTube video below is an introduction of myself for the students of EdTech 501.

This video aligns with two AECT Standards:

2.4: Integrated Technologies.
Integrated technologies are ways to produce and deliver materials which encompass several forms of media under the control of a computer.

3.1: Utilization.
Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to use processes and resources for learning by applying principles and theories of media utilization, diffusion, implementation, and policy-making.

In making this video, I knew I wanted to use Roxio Creator. I have used this program for various personal videos (mostly mountain biking) but I also wanted to explore some of its fun editing tools. At first I had planned to have pictures and video come in full screen but I noticed there was the option to resize the images. I thought this was quite cool. Unfortunately I had already shot my commentary. Had I know of this feature I would have put my face more to one side leaving a greater space for the picture and video windows that come in and out throughout the video.

The end product was quite a bit longer than I had intended. I think I’ve been teaching EFL too long. I seem to speak quite slowly. Thank you everyone for your patience.