EDU 625: Final Blog Post…The Next Steps

 

Technology? Communities? Learning Environments? Analyzing Data? Presentations? Games? Virtual Environments? Mobile Learning and Mobile Technologies?

With so much knowledge and so many resources, where does one even start?

Over the past 8 weeks, I have finished another year teaching, visited different states, completed (almost) 2 more classes towards my M.Ed degree, and overall, I have learned so much not only about designing learning environments and integrating learning and technology, but also about myself.

At the beginning of this eight week journey, I had to decide what my personal learning philosophy was. I made the decision that as a Family and Consumer Sciences educator, I like to look at teaching like a chocolate chip cookie recipe. There is a basic recipe that you can use but there are numerous variations and sometimes the recipe does not always come out the way you would like. If that happens, you make another batch and fix your mistakes, learn for next time, and move on. Learning is also like a chocolate chip cookie recipe. The basic recipe is your classroom with students as the chocolate chips and the teacher as the batter. Depending on the nutritional needs of others, a variation of the recipe needs to be used, this being differentiation in the classroom. When the chips and batter are carefully combined and baked, the end product is a mouth-watering, delectable delight. In my classroom, I see learning happening all the time when I am working with my students as a whole group or on a one-on-one level. I also see learning happening when my students are working with each other. I feel so fulfilled as an educator when I see the connections that my students make and the recollection they have from 6th Grade to 7th Grade and from 7th Grade to 8th Grade. It makes me realize that all of the hard work I have done with my students is paying off.

Has my learning philosophy changed? No. What has changed though are my thoughts about how to plan learning activities involving more technology. My first thought when planning lessons and various learning activities is, “How can I make this even more interesting for my students and what technology can I use that can help them even more?” I strongly believe that the more technology that I incorporate, the greater skills my students will gain.

One of the key issues of using technology to actually enhance learning is the fact that the technology is always changing. Maddux and LaMont Johnson (2011) state that, “predicting the future in any field related to technology is a difficult task” (p. 87). With technologies always changing, I believe that nothing is ever set in stone. Something is always being changed, something is always being added and as educators who want to integrate technology, it is our duty to stay on top of our game and be “in the know”.

The positive, however, is that when you become “in the know”, the possibilities are endless. Maddux and LaMont Johnson (2011) write, “We continue to believe that (a) gaming, (b) social networking and Web 2.0 applications, and (c) mobile and handheld computing will continue to gain in popularity and continue to find their way into educational programs at all levels” (p. 89).  There are many positive implications for these technologies that Maddux and LaMont Johnson (2011) write about and I know that I am going to continue using those in my classroom and coming up with new ways to do so.

One of my personal greatest challenges related to technology and learning in my classroom is handling my administrators. We have had some issues with improper use of electronics so administration is very weary of using technology in the classroom. I also do not always have access to websites that I need to have access to because many sites are blocked. If I wanted to download a program on the computer to use, I would need an IT password, so in that case I have to put a work order in and cross my fingers and hope it gets done in a timely manner. Sometimes I have to wait 2+ weeks before my work order is taken care of which can be frustrating when you want to plan a lesson using a program that you need.

One of the main “next steps” that I need to take in order to become more prepared to effectively integrate technology into my learning activities is to do it more frequently. With the school year coming up, I am excited to start using all of these technologies but I feel a bit overwhelmed knowing the challenges I am up against when the school year starts. I am excited to begin EDU 627: Managing Instruction and Technology because I believe I will learn the strategies that will allow me to take all of the new knowledge that I have and make it work for me so I’m not so overwhelmed.  I also need to come up with a strategy in order to communicate with my administrators the need for technology in our building. Right now I feel like I am at a stand still because I do not know how to effectively and successfully communicate with my administrators without being shut down.

How would you approach the conversation with your administrators if you were in my situation?

References

Maddux, C.D. & LaMont Johnson, D. [Editorial]. (2011). Future trends in information technology in education.  Computers in the schools, 28: 87-91. doi: 10.1080/07380569.2011.577399

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EDU 625: E-Textiles…changing the Fashion world and my classroom

Here is a picture of me and my cousin, Mikie. IMG_2883 Mikie is 14, almost 15 and will be starting his Freshman year of high school NEXT WEEK! He is like the little brother I always wanted and I love the time we get to spend together. Like many young boys that I know, he LOVES video games. His favorite character is and always will be, Mario. Unfortunately, he is so difficult to shop for because he has EVERYTHING. A couple of years ago, however, I lucked out and found this t-shirt  that not only had Mario on it but also had LED lights on the front that lit up to the beat of music. I bought him the t-shirt for his birthday, he loved it, and the rest is history. I took a video the day I gave it to him and for some reason I can’t upload it here, however, I found an even better breakdown of how the shirt looks, and how you can operate it, etcetera. Check out how awesome it is here:

I bet you’re thinking, “Well that’s cool and all, but what does it have to do with you and  your classroom?”

Techopedia (n.d.) definites E-textiles, or electronic textiles as, “a type of fabric that contains electronic elements. In general, the development of electronic textiles supports the idea of wearable computing, or electronic devices worked into garment designs” (para. 1).

According to IDTechEx, 76% of manufacturers offer electronic wristwear or bodywear (Slide 8, 2014). However, as you can see from the example with my cousin, there is a market for pieces of clothing with LEDs in them.

As part of the Family and Consumer Sciences curriculum, textiles is one of the twelve major parts that is included. 

For this week’s learning activity, related to emerging technologies and in unison with the STEM program, I would create a lesson where students would be required to design and create their own E-tshirt. The lesson would be for 8th graders who would, in teams, sketch a tshirt idea, choose all of the fabrics that they need, and work together to put the t-shirt together sewing and mechanical wise.

This tech would support the effectiveness of the learning activity because not only does it relate to Family and Consumer Sciences but it also relates to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing) which promotes interdisciplinary learning. 

I strongly believe that there is a huge market for e-textiles epecially with the increase of STEM. I foresee that with this learning activity in my learning environment, students will be thinking more critically about how things work and will see the big picture not only for the future but for themselves.

References

IDTechEx. (2014). Wearable technology 2015-2025. Retrieved from http://www.idtechex.com/research/reports/wearable-technology-2014-2024-technologies-markets-forecasts-000379.asp

Techopedia. (n.d.). Electronic textile (E-textile). Retrieved from http://www.techopedia.com/definition/29467/electronic-textile-e-textile

EDU 623: You can’t spell ADDIE without the IE!

Hodell (2011) writes, “The evaluation of the implementation process must include an evaluation of learners’ impressions of the training (that is, Donald Kirkpatrick’s level 1) and the validation of objectives being met by learners (that is, Kirkpatrick’s level 2)” (p. 66). 

Furthermore, Hodell (2011) writes, “The aim of each of these level 1 evaluations is to discover learners’ reactions to the process. More than anything, level 1 evaluation provides instant quality control data” (p. 66). In my project, the level 1 evaluation can be seen at the end of the training when students complete their own self-evaluation. In the self-evaluation, students are required to answer questions about their own performance as well as their thoughts about the entire unit. This gives the instructor and designer the opportunity to reflect on their own practices as well.

Level 2 evaluations regarding learning can also be seen at the end of the training. The summative assessment is a chicken stir-fry foods lab. Students will be graded on their ability to demonstrate their skills on safety and sanitation at the beginning of the lab, cutting, teamwork, and safety and sanitation at the end of the lab. These are things that are directly related to the objectives that students have also practiced enough through their time in the unit.

The last phase of the ADDIE model is E- Evaluation. Evaluations or as educators call them, assessments are the core of the program/training/course, etc. How do you know if your learners are actually learning anything if you do not assess them?

Arends (2009) defines authentic assessment as, “assessment procedures that have students demonstrate their abilities to perform particular tasks in real-life settings” (p. 535). Furthermore, Arends (2009) writes, “Educational reformers such as Rick Stiggins and Jeannie Oakes argue that ‘meaningful performances in real-world’ setings can more closely capture the richness of what students understand about how they can apply this knowledge than can testing for ‘bits and pieces’ with conventional assessment procedures” (p. 240).

I strongly believe that authentic assessments relate to instructional design because when designing programs, training sessions, courses, etcetera, the most successful ones are the ones that plan with real-world examples and outcomes in mind. For me personally when I think of professional development, as boring as it may be, I always reflect on the sesion and say, “Okay, Gianna. What is one thing that you took away from that?” Sometimes there really is nothing and other times it could be as simple as a different center I have to implement, or maybe I just need to incorporate a new teaching and learning strategy in my classroom. No matter what it is, it is something that I am applying to my real-world teaching/learning/living situation. When we teach our students to think in the same way, the positive implications are endless.

One example of an authentic assessment that fits into my final project is the summative assessment. My summative assessment is a chicken stir-fry lab where the students are required to demonstrate their skills of knife handling and knife cuts by creating the chicken-stiry fry dish. Although this assessment falls  under the category of performance assessment, this is also considered an authentic assessment because the cutting of the vegetables and chicken, and cooking the dish are considered real-world skills that they need to know, i.e. if their carrots are too big and their celery is too small, there will be uneven cooking which will make for a not so tasty dish. This assessment is scored using a rubric.

Another example of an authentic assessment that I can utilize is a student portfolio that would be created as the training session went on and handed in at the end of the session. This student portfolio would consist of any work and assessments that were conducted throughout the training session, including pictures (you obviously need to show the vegetable cuts in some way). This is definitely an effective way for students to be able to show their growth throughout the session.

So that’s it folks. 4 weeks and 4 blog posts the ADDIE model is covered! Most recently, I was asked to develop and present PD to all of the Family and Consumer Sciences teachers in my district. I am excited but nervous but I know with the ADDIE model by my side, I will be okay! I also know I have these videos to help me when I’m confused and down….

References

Arends, R.I. (2009). Learning to teach (8th ed.). (M. Ryan, Ed.) New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Hodell, C. (2011). Ised from the ground up: a no- nonsense approach to instructional design. Chelsea, MI: Sheridan Books, Inc.

EDU 625: No worries, there’s an app for that! Mobile Learning and its impact on Education

“Outside the classroom, cell phones, PDAs, PocketPCs, Internet access is everywhere because we need it and use it in our information driven lives. But inside the classroom, the very skills humans need to succeed are discouraged and viewed with alarm. So schools do not teach effective use of Google, of text-messaging, of instant-messaging. They don’t teach collaboration. They barely teach communication outside the stilted prose only academics use. No wonder students are prepared for nothing except more school.” – Ira Socol (2006)


Mobile technologies are more prominent in the world now more than ever. Need to look something up on your phone? Just talk to Siri. No Siri? No worries, there’s an app for that!

There are many different definitions of what mobile learning, or m-learning is, but the one thing that can be agreed upon is that “mobile learning has come to people’s attention because mobile devices are portable, ubiquitous, easily accessible and used by many people” (Keskin and Metcalf, 2011, p. 202).

Below, you will find an excellent PowToon presentation that briefly gives a description of what mobile learning is and its implications for learning. This video explains the positives of utilizing mobile learning as well as some obstacles that teachers might face when utilizing mobile learning in the classroom.

Personally, I have never had an experience using mobile technologies as a learning tool, other than using Blackboard Mobile Learn on my iPhone. However, I have not really used the app that frequently throughout my Post classes, especially when it comes to the discussion board because I find that sometimes it can be difficult to navigate regarding responding to posts.

When I was younger, I didn’t not have a cell phone until I was able to drive and when I got that phone, I was only able to make and receive calls…no texting, no Internet, not even a voicemail. I had that phone up until I got my first teaching job in 2011 and got an iPhone and brought myself into the technology world. Overall, though, I survived.

With that being said, however, I strongly believe that there is an urgent need for mobile technologies in education. I have two issues related to mobile technology for learning that I am concerned about. First, one of my concerns is for my students. I say to myself, “What if I have students that are just like me?” I didn’t have a cell phone in middle school. A lot of my students can’t even afford new shirts, nevermind a piece of mobile technology. The benefit, however, is that the students can potentially have the opportunity to use iPads….once we find out how to get them at our school.

The second concern of mine is how to propose the integration of mobile learning in my classroom when my administrators are very adamant about no mobile devices at all. The district I work in does have a no mobile device policy to begin with, however, students have used their mobile devices in schools negatively and because of incidents that have occurred I am stuck in between a rock and a hard place.

How would you approach this issue if you were in my situation?

Despite the challenges that I need to overcome, I am not going to let it stop my ambition to enhance my students’ learning using mobile technologies. This week’s learning challenge was all about utilizing a mobile app to create a learning activity for a specific learning objective. Rather than completely reinventing the wheel, I thought about taking what I already have and updating it to make it current with the apps that are available.

In my research, I came across a FREE app called, “Fooducate”. Fooducate allows the user to set weight loss goals for themselves, scan and search for foods, track calories and food intake for the day/week, chat with other users, and make comments on products. Also, by using the scan and search feature, the app also gives grades and suggestions on the products that are much better than the ones that were scanned. The video below gives a brief overview of what the app is all about.

For my learning activity, I decided to incorporate the Fooducate app for the homework portion of the activity. 7th Graders in the Family and Consumer Sciences class do a Choose My Plate activity where they are required to track their food for three days, including beverages. The students then have to input everything into the Choose My Plate ‘Super Tracker’ and that system then generates how much they have been eating from the various food groups, what they need to stay away from, etcetera. When the students write down their intake and then go to put it in the Super Tracker, they often run into issues such as not being able to find the foods that they ate and then have to kind of make up the foods, which leads to a skewed result. With the Fooducate app, it takes away all of that confusion and all of the issues and it makes it so much easier to have more accurate results when inputting the foods in Super Tracker. If the Super Tracker does not recognize it still, the students can go on the Fooducate app and input the information from there onto the Super Tracker.

It might seem like a lot of work but once the students get into it, especially with Fooducate, it is so easy!

Although Unit 7 is complete, I intend on searching for more apps I can use in the Family and Consumer Sciences classroom. I strongly believe that mobile learning is the way of the future and educators need to embrace and take advantage of the teaching and learning opportunity.

References

Keskin, N., & Metcalf, D. (2011).  The current perspectives, theories, and practices of mobile       learning. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(2), 202-208.

 

 

EDU 625: Making Virtual Environments Work

Virtual Worlds…Virtual Environments…Virtual Realities…it all seems a bit creepy if you ask me.

Dempsey, Reese, and Weston (n.d.) define virtual worlds as worlds that are “characterized by 3-D virtual environments that simulate real-world objects and interactions are available to multiple users simultaneously, on a global basis” (p. 334). Kotsilieris and Dimopulou (2013) write, “virtual worlds are deisgned to offer real-time communication tools, interaction capabilties and collaboration empowerment. Thus, students can gain experiences infeasible to live in the real world” (p. 147). One of the most innovative programs that incorporates learning management systems and virtual worlds is Sloodle.

Kotsilieris and Dimopulou (2013) explain:

Some typical educational activities offered by Sloodle which were implemented within this sample course context are the following:

  • Registration- Learner admittance to the course
  • Participation in lecture
  • Participation in real-time chat
  • Glossary support
  • Quiz participation
  • Voting (p.159).

Last mod when I was in EDU 624, we discussed Virtual Worlds and the idea kind of creeped me out because when I thought of the term “Virtual World”, I automatically thought of the show Catfish on MTV.

I have had a couple of experiences using 3D Virtual Environment Activities with the first experience being through the program IMVU. When I was in EDU 624, I decided to look more into virtual worlds so I could get a better understanding of what it really was/is. I created an account so I could see what it was all about (I am a kinesthetic learner!) In general, I think that Virtual Worlds do have potential to be used in order to engage and motivate diverse students. For example, one of the things I found by using IMVU is that when I was on it told me how many people were on and from how many countries. The main thing that I would like to change about the Virtual World on IMVU is to make it more children friendly because it is a 18+ program.

Most recently, I came across a program called Skoolbo. Skoolbo is a 3D game that focuses on literacy and numeracy that has a virtual world aspect in the sense that players get to create their own avatar. Players also get to play against other avatars. They do not get to communicate, however, they get to compete which still gives it the gaming/motivation/engagement aspect. I enjoyed it and this is something I can see my elementary students playing to reinforce literacy and numeracy including times tables, listening skills, definitions, etcetera. Watch the Skoolbo trailer below and tell me, do you see this benefiting your classroom? 

I think there are many 3D technologies that I could use for learning activities that are about money management, child development, and even interior design, however, I need to find those specific programs or activities that would be able to enhance my teaching and learning. I definitely believe, however, that these 3D games and simulations do have many positive implications for learning. For example, at The University of Mississippi, students in the Education program use a virtual reality to practice their teaching skills. This video below shows how it is used in their program.

The problem still exists though, how do we get virtual worlds to “fit” for younger children and adolescents when most virtual reality applications and programs are geared towards adults? In my attempt to create a virtual world, I had no success. Reality is there are not many ways of creating virtual realities for students using specific programs. It is important if educators decide to use virtual worlds in their classrooms to enhance their teaching, they investigate the program thoroughly  before using it in their classroom in order to make sure that everything is age appropriate. Overall, I still stand strong in my belief that there are very positive implications for virtual world learning in the classroom; we just need to overcome the difficulty of finding those worlds that are appropriate for our learners.

References

Kotsilieris, T. & Dimopoulou, N. (2013). The evolution of e-learning in the context of 3d virtual worlds. Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 11(2), 147-167.

Ole Miss News. (2013). Virtual reality classroom trains teachers. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jncMNvMJKDk

Reiser, R. & Dempsey, J. (2011). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

SkoolboTV. (2012). Skoolbo trailer. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_mAcH1n13s