Tag Archives: teacher

Moving Forward With or Without Technology

In our previous discussions, we have talked about technology and its implications on education.  Educational systems, new robotic technologies, and the use of iPads are just some of the vast technological feats that can positively impact education – and such awesome new avenues for advancing education should excite all of us! But unfortunately, the reality is many of these advancements are being neglected, regulated, or are just inaccessible both worldwide and in the United Sates. Across the globe, only CNN reports that only 38% of the population has access to such technologies and many Americans simply don’t have proper resources to keep up with the technological boom.

How does this affect education – from the elementary to collegiate level? 

Regulation of Technology

Credit: http://mbsform6esl.blogspot.com Click for the pros and cons of allowing cell phones in schools!

First off, how is education impacted in school systems where teachers are disallowed from using certain technologies? On a high school level, New York City has banned students from having cell phones on campus because of concerns about distraction; the same schools have limited technology resources (like lap tops) to share throughout the entire building, so teachers are stifled in their abilities to incorporate interactive multimedia aspects to their lesson plans. Similar school, city, and county regulations disallow the use of other technologies that possess educational capabilities, not allowing educators to implement them as they would like.

In addition,a report from The Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings explains that government budget cuts to education systems have had a large impact on limiting the amount of money that can go towards upgrading the technologies used in schools. According to the report’s authors, these budgetary limitations haven’t allowed educators to take advantage of upgraded assessment technology, leaving schools unable to accurately and effectively monitor their students’ performance and leading to a missed opportunity to cut costs on testing. Because of these regulations that do not utilize upgraded technology systems, the outdated scannable scantron has become the pinnacle of assessment technology, potentially causing students to be left behind because of the extremely limited number of ways in which tests can currently be administered.

Inaccessibility of Technology

Like I said earlier, only 38% of the world has access to technology, which leaves 62% “in the dark.” While such a large technological divide has many implications, a large one is that it currently leaves many students without essential learning tools (including access to multiple viewpoints and the latest information!). However, the light is at the end of the tunnel according to a Google Executive who optimistically predicts that by 2020, the entire world will have access to these technologies. Currently, Africa is striving toward that goal, according to BBC – in 2011, Africa was the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world! This increase in cellular technology may provide the ability for these countries, cities, and villages with the resources they need to adequately educate their students, creating a brighter picture for tomorrow. Check out the following video for some insight into how quickly this technology has been growing!

But when considering the inaccessibility of technology and its impact on education, you even have to look overseas. An article posted on Slate.com tells us that 22% of families in the United States don’t have broadband capabilities in their home, meaning that even as advancements in technology keep coming, the ability to access them will remain stagnant. Many students (especially at a primary education level) may struggle to keep up in class if a majority of their work is done online and they don’t have access to broadband at home. To help prevent this gap, teachers should be conscientious of the technological limitations their students may face at home and ensure that ample time and resources can be accessed by the student.

As the digital age continues, what does the future hold? Will the digital divide be eliminated? How can technology become more accessible? Does a lack in technology use mean a lack in the educational experience? Do education and technology go hand-in-hand?

These are questions that as educators, you need to ask yourselves. It seems that many educators strive to bring the newest learning experience to the student. Is that the best learning experience?

The conversation may be two-sided. Dr. Mark Harvey teaches history at North Dakota State University, and although he does occasionally use powerpoint, he strictly enforces a no lap top or cellphone policy in his class and requires all assignments to be turned in as a paper copy. He sees this as more effective and less distracting. Is he just old-fashioned, stubborn, or is he effective?

Credit: Karenjlloyd.com

Educators, how do you incorporate technology? What are current limitations you face, and how do you overcome them?

Comment and let us know!

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The Future of Language Education

Credit: WorldNomads.com

Do you believe that the future of higher education will look completely different 20 years from now? How about 7 years from now? In a blog found on Mashable, experts are predicting that technology will facilitate distance learning outside of the traditional classrooms that we have today. These experts are predicting that students will be able to travel wherever their hearts desire and attend a school halfway around the world! But how can these students be taking classes half way around the world if they don’t speak the language?

Credit: DMUSD.org

That’s where educational technology becomes necessary. Sure, you could learn another language the old-fashioned way in school (flashcards, anyone?), or by listening to a CD on your way to work, or even buying the spendy Rosetta Stone program, but why do that when there are so many options available on the Internet today? Especially options that are completely FREE. Sources you already know how to use like YouTube and iTunes offer free language-learning videos, audios, and podcasts to help individuals learn new languages on their own time at their own pace.

In addition to taking your own initiative in learning new languages, those primary school languages classes that seem to teach you just enough to know random vocab words but not enough to be conversational are about to get a revamp. Current teachers can utilize the same sources we provided above to reconstruct lesson plans to be more involved, as well as utilizing video programs like Skype to create a modern day pen-pal system. Forget writing letters! Skype your friend and actually use the language you’ve been learning.

Credit: Bishophaywood.com

 In addition, an article in the Huffington Post discusses a company called Edtech that has the potential to transform learning from inside of a classroom. Edtech would give each student a much more personalized experience by using broadband-powered “textbooks” capable of streaming video, audio, and even moving graphics. Utilizing this technology, students can be taught languages through an instructor whose second language is English, providing students with more natural, conversational, useful language experience. Experts believe that this new broadband-powered textbook will become incredibly successful because of the amount of engagement it provides, allowing students access to video, music, and games to reinforce their learning.

By learning different languages inside and outside of the classroom, we can increase the diversity in the world. By increasing diversity, we are also increasing the globalization of languages throughout different cultures. The importance of learning different languages becomes more imperative as new Americans keep moving into our country as well as Americans moving out. Learning a new language takes time and commitment, but without a reliable source, can be a very difficult task.

Here are some links to help you get started!

Credit: Cte.umd.edu

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Connect and Share with Students

Do you remember when report cards were literal cards given out for students to take home? Can you think back to a time where everything was submitted and graded personally, not electronically? Yeah…it’s been a while. In our world, technology advancements take place every single day. As an educator, it is important to detect trends and utilize these technological advancements in the classroom. College students are constantly gravitating towards not only what is new, but what is convenient. The life of most college students is fast-paced and fluid. Many students balance school, jobs, internships,
organizational leadership, family, and friends.
This leads to a need for convenience in the classroom.

Many colleges and universities have identified this and are providing learning software such as Blackboard or Moodle.  These learning softwares provide a variety of tools for educators to use that allow them to “keep up” with today’s college students. Today’s college students have many needs. In order to more accurately engage and connect with students, it is important to first know them. Getting to know students personally is important. Teddy Roosevelt said, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Attempt to get to know your students and find out how they learn and where they are learning. To help you, check out this video:

If your department or university has the funding, Blackboard works great. Blackboard provides a system in which everything is in the same place, making it easy for educators to connect and share with students. There are many different tools that educators can use to connect with students, provide collaboration, share class rosters, post grades, and provide information. The key to an effective learning system is application. Take time to get to know your learning software or system to find out how YOU can most effectively connect and share with your students.

Blackboard and Moodle are not the only learning systems on the market. According to the The Chronicle for Higher Education, Pearson and Google have teamed up to provide learning management for educators. Their software is called OpenClass. This software is a FREE alternative to Blackboard or Moodle. It allows for easy e-mailing, calendar, and document-sharing. It’s affiliation with Google makes it easy to use.

Many educators are also using Cloud technologies to share files and documents with students. One of these, according to Powerful Learning Practice, is DropBox. It is an easy way for educators to connect and share with students. Not only that, but is a great way for teachers to be organized and keep everything in one place. DropBox allows you to save a file in a location and access it from any device you use. You can save a powerpoint from your laptop and access it from a school computer or even a smartphone. Using it in the classroom is great too! An educator can share files with anyone they wish, allowing them to access the files or documents any time and anywhere. Students can even submit assignments through DropBox. To understand DropBox even more, check out this video!

Regardless of the platform you are using, it is crucial to keep up with your students. Get to know them an apply technology in a way that effectively connects with them. Get to know the learning system and software you are using. By doing these things, you will create a positive and engaging learning environment for your students!

What systems and softwares are you using? Was this post helpful and beneficial to you?

If you have any helpful tips, let us know in our comments!

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Teacher! Will you be my Facebook friend?

Since so many high school and college students use social media as one of their main forms of communication, should schools too?  More specifically, should teachers use social media to connect with their students?

This topic has always sparked controversy, especially since there are typically not set standards on online teacher-student relationships.

One of the main reasons for not using social media for teachers to communicate with their students is that inappropriate behavior may be encouraged. Nancy Willard, author of “Cyber Savvy: Embracing Digital Safety and Civility,” believes that schools should establish their own online environments and use programs specifically designed for educational purposes. Willard believes that the main problem with websites like Facebook, is that they are set up primarily for socializing. “On Facebook, flirting is encouraged.” Willars said. “You are encouraged to post your relationship status and your relationship interests. That’s not appropriate for a relationship between teachers and students.”

To prevent instances like this from happening, the Huffington Post reports that over 40 primary school districts across the country have now decided to take this situation into their own hands with the approval of social media policies.

Other high schools have reportedly decided against creating a social media policy for the time being, in fear of violating student/teacher rights and because they believe it will soon become outdated anyways. Instead, they advise faculty to use their best judgment. For many, this means not accepting friend requests from students on social media websites.

Other options besides communicating via personal social networking sites include:

  • Using Twitter, only to answer questions the students may have or to facilitate group discussion
  • Using websites like Blackboard, which offers interactive options like discussion boards and instant messaging and can be downloaded as applications on smart phones
  • Using class-specific web pages or blogs, like WordPress (click to check out our course’s blog!)

For those who feel that social media sites like Facebook are necessary in order to communicate with their students, they could always consider the possibility of having two accounts. By having two separate accounts, teachers are able to still keep their personal information from students and remain professional – something important on both the high school and college level.

The Huffington Post reports that David Roush, who teaches media communications and television production at a New York high school, implements this policy and does not accept students as friends on his personal Facebook account, but instead has a separate account that he has created specifically for interacting with his students. He believes that older methods of communication, such as email, are outdated and not as effective as social media sites. By using Facebook, Roush is able to quickly reach his students. In fact, Roush used Facebook to let his students know about a summer internship, and one of his students who viewed the post applied and actually won. “If I would have emailed him, if I had tried calling him, he never would have got it,” Roush said.

Still, the idea of teachers interacting with their students via Facebook and similar social media platforms makes some people uncomfortable, mostly due to the higher level of intimacy involved in the nature of the sites. A report by an Amarillo, Texas ABC Affiliate considers these potential for inappropriate relationships to stem from these social media sites:

What do you think? Do you have any experiences or opinions on teacher-student relationships? We would love to hear your thoughts!

(If you liked this post, you may also be interested in our past posts on how social media affects our education and how social media can be used appropriately inside and outside of the classroom!)

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