EDTECH 541: Final Course Reflection

IMG_5529-001I have noticed that there are only two words that come to mind each time I complete a course – eye-opening. EDTECH 541 (Technology Integration into the Classroom Curriculum) has been no exception.

It’s time to reflect! 

What have I learned?

First, I have learned that educators must have a clear vision before integrating technology; using technology for the sake of using or because “it’s there” is simply wrong. Our lesson plans should be guided by the objectives and learning outcomes, and not the tools available (as technology is just a tool, even though very powerful when used right.) That is, the choice of technology should be a part of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK), keeping in mind that technology choice is as important as one’s knowledge of pedagogy and course content. In addition, composing a Relative Advantage Chart will also allow a clear vision for the problems students may be currently facing, as well as the solutions that technology integration may offer.

Second, I have no doubt expanded my knowledge of existing technologies, and how they can be used in education. As I was working on each assignment, at times I felt that my creativity was pushed to its limit. More than once, I even felt stressed and intimidated, having no idea how to even approach an assignment. For example, I had never thought of integrating Excel spreadsheet software into teaching ESL. Another example – creating a mobile learning lesson plan; something I knew nothing about. But I do know now!

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Accessibility Features on My Computer

This week I have learned so much about the MacBookPro (OS X operating system) that I have been using for over two years. Specifically, I have discovered a great number of built-in features that can do miracles. Really! These features will enable many students to fulfill their educational goals and ambitions they would not be able to accomplish otherwise. Those are accessibility features for students with disabilities.

According to Roblyer and Doering (2012), in the USA, federal law recognizes several types of disabilities: deaf, hard of hearing, mental retardation, multi-handicapped, orthopedically impaired, seriously emotionally disturbed, special learning disabilities, speech impaired, or visually handicapped (399.) The authors also note that various fields of special education and rehabilitation have long been interested in technology; “special education technology has been a part of the US educational system since at least 1879…” (399.)

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Obstacles and Solutions for Integrating Technology – ESL

Source: Google Images

This week I completed my third and final project on technology integration into various content areas. My first project covered technology integration into teaching ESL and EFL. The second project covered technology integration into English and Language Art instruction. Finally, this week I completed an Alternative Lesson Plan for Mobile Learning to teach ESL (my field). To be honest, when I saw the choices for the content area assignments, I right away discarded the option for Mobile Learning, as I had hardly done any research on using mobile apps in education. Nevertheless, here I am, quite grateful, excited, and inspired by the last assignment.

No matter how excited, however, I right away thought about the challenges and obstacles that may preclude teachers from using technologies overall, and mobile apps in particular, in teaching and learning. Continue reading

Digital Literacy or Relative Advantage of Integrating Technology into Curriculum

Wordle: Literacy

According to the Webster-Merriam Dictionary, the word “literacy” is defined as an “ability to read and write.”  Also, this term may be referred to “familiarity with literature and to a basic level of education obtained through the written word.” Moreover, the dictionary provides the following encyclopedic definition for the term literacy: “… the province of an elite group of scholars and priests. Though more prevalent in classical Greece and Rome, it was often limited to members of the upper classes… The rise of literacy in Europe was closely tied to great social transformations, notably the Protestant Reformation, which brought individual study of the Bible, and the development of modern science. The spread of literacy during the Reformation and the Renaissance was greatly facilitated by the development of printing from movable type and by the adoption of vernacular languages in place of Latin. Compulsory schooling, established in Britain, Europe, and the U.S. in the 19th century, has led to high rates of literacy in the modern industrialized world…”

To sum up, the term “literacy” has been associated with “education, knowledge, science, development, modern world, an elite group of scholars, and limited to the members of the upper class… “

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Internet Safety

It is safe to say that the Internet has penetrated all aspects of our lives, dismissed walls and borders, and connected people of all walks of life. While it is hard to underestimate the benefits (such as staying in touch with family and friends on a regular basis and a 24/7 access to any information possible), it is also true that the Internet is a reflection of our world, i.e., it mirrors its good, bad, and ugly. Therefore, it is crucial that educators help their students develop the skills for safe use of the Internet.

Roblyer and Doering (2012) identify the following areas in which the use of the Internet can potentially cause serious issues:

  1. Accessing sites with inappropriate materials – as the Internet contains “objectionable” information (in forms of text and/or graphic), which is abundant and easily accessible, it is a challenge to prevent students from visiting those sites even “accidentally.”
  2. Safety and Privacy issues for students – as students become engaged in social networking activities they automatically face such potential dangers as: 1) online predators, 2) advertising aimed at children, 3) privacy issues, and 4) cyber bullying.
  3. Fraud on the Internet – making purchases (or any other type of transactions) over the Internet can be potentially risky.
  4. Computer viruses and hacking – any computer connected to the Internet can be infected with viruses for malicious purposes. Those viruses can be received via email attachments or be downloaded directly from the Internet.
  5. Copyright and plagiarism issues – the Internet with its abundance of information and media makes it extremely easy to “forget about the copyright low” and engage into criminal activities by using someone else’s information as one’s own (Roblyer and Doering, p. 214-216.)

The following are the guidelines for international college level students studying English in the US: Continue reading

Social Media Networking Tools in Education

 In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production, and in changing their mode of production they change their way of living—they change all their social relations.”                                                  

  Karl Marx

Let’s be honest: our students are connected, i.e., socialize, before they come to class, right after, and more often than not, no matter how much we try to prevent it, during the class. According to the report published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project,  “…55% of all online American youths ages 12-17 use online social networking sites”(2007) and it might be safe to assume that during the past 5 years that number has dramatically increased, rather than the opposite. Furthermore, according to another report, the number of the US adult population using social networking sites went up from 61% in 2010 to 65% in 2011. Therefore, the question is no longer whether it is the choice or trend; rather, how can social networking be productively integrated into the classroom curricular?

Please view the Voicethread blog I created for this assignment.

References:
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.