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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Relative Advantage of Using Hypermedia

This week’s assignment is to identify relative advantage of using hypermedia for educational purposes. According to Roblyer and Doering (2012), it is not surprising that, being surrounded by “complex” images, video, and audio on a daily basis, “the part of our human evolution has focused on making our technology reflect the color and clamor of our surroundings” (p.172.)

The authors defined Multimedia (multiple media) as a combination of still images, graphics, sound, animation, and text in order to “communicate” the message in multiple ways (p.173.) Hypermedia, in turn, refers to “linked” media, that is, connected via the Internet (p.173.)

 Current and Future Impact of Hypermedia on Education

“A lot of students these days expect information to be presented in a flashy, entertaining way, so videos can help draw them in”, states Edutopia. Moreover, the article continues, “teachers all across the country are finding that judiciously chosen videos help students engage more deeply with the subject matter, and recall the information they’ve learned longer.” Continue reading

Spreadsheets and Databases

 General Information

Can spreadsheets and databases be used in teaching English? Until this week, I thought that probably not. To be honest, I hardly even gave it any thought! It is not surprising than that, being as an ESL teacher, I have never integrated spreadsheets and databases in my teaching. In fact, I always thought using those types of software would be more appropriate and applicable to majors such as accounting, math, or calculus, but not to ESL or communication. This week’s assignment proved the opposite (even though it was not an easy one!) It turned out that using spreadsheets and databases can be extremely useful in teaching any subject, ways beyond math and science!

Relative Advantage of Using Spreadsheets and Databases in Teaching & Learning

According to Roblyer and Doering (2012), spreadsheets “offer benefits for both productivity and teaching practices” (p.125). While these authors admit that the most common uses of spreadsheets and databases are for “keeping club and classroom budgets, preparing performance checklists, and keeping gradebooks”, they also state that these software can effectively be used in such fields as “social studies and language arts” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 125.) Continue reading