Semester Reflection

This blog post is a reflection on everything I learned this semester.

What did you learn?

I learned a lot of things in this course. I learned that coming up with ideas to integrate technology into the classroom isn’t nearly as scary or as daunting as it appears. It is a good idea to have a narrowed-down goal in mind, because it is easy to spend many hours looking for inspiration when you don’t really know what you’re looking for. I also learned that there are a lot of really great ways to bring technology into the classroom, including video, audio, simulations, e-books, and more. The textbook and the projects in this course also gave me a good background knowledge on the types of technology that are available to teachers, which will help me narrow my focus as I search for inspiration. I also learned that technology can be used for all students, from those with disabilities, to those who are gifted and talented, and any student in between. Technology can be a great tool to promote student-discovery learning, and it is important that teachers start looking at ways to bring it into their classrooms.

How did the coursework demonstrate mastery of the AECT standards?

AECT Standard 1 (Content Knowledge): Candidates demonstrate the knowledge necessary to create, use, assess, and manage theoretical and practical applications of educational technologies and processes.

Using – Candidates demonstrate the ability to select and use technological resources and processes to support student learning and to enhance their pedagogy.

The many projects and lesson plans I made for this class taught me how to use technology to support student learning. The readings and the resources taught me how to find new technologies to support students and their learning. The techniques I learned for integrating technology helped me enhance my ability to teach, thus enhancing my pedagogy. I learned how to choose the best videos, simulations, audio, social networking sites, and more to enhance my teaching.

Assessing/Evaluating – Candidates demonstrate the ability to assess and evaluate the effective integration of appropriate technologies and instructional materials.

By reading the course text and other materials, the coursework taught me how to choose the most effective technology. Whether I looked at other student examples or did my own personal research, I quickly learned how to tell if a technology would be appropriate for learners, and which technologies to choose based on content area or age level. The readings and the assignments not only taught me how to choose effective technology, but also how to integrate it appropriately. I learned how to use video, audio, social networks, and more to their full potential with students.

Reflection on Practice

The vision statement and reflective blog post helped me reflect on what I had learned through this course and this program. I had the opportunity to think back on what I learned, what I did well in my assignments, and what I could have done better.

AECT Standard 2 (Content Pedagogy): Candidates develop as reflective practitioners able to demonstrate effective implementation of educational technologies and processes based on contemporary content and pedagogy.

Creating – Candidates apply content pedagogy to create appropriate applications of processes and technologies to improve learning and performance outcomes.

Throughout the projects and assignments for this course, I did my best to think outside the box about math teaching. In the past, I had generally stuck to the traditional lectures and practice problems to teach math. However, this course taught me that there are many more options than that, especially when technology is involved. I truly believe the technological lesson plans I developed during this course would make me a better math teacher.

Using – Candidates implement appropriate educational technologies and processes based on appropriate content pedagogy.

All the lesson plans I made for this course are lessons I could realistically implement into my own classroom. The technologies we were required to use were integrated pretty seamlessly into the activities I created, but I didn’t have this skill at the beginning of the course. Through the process of creating these projects and lessons, I learned how to use appropriate technology in my teaching.

Reflection on Practice

The reflective blog gave me a chance to think about how educational technology fits with high school math teaching. Having the opportunity to look back at all the lessons I created was a great way for me to see how far I’ve come.

AECT Standard 5 (Research): Candidates explore, evaluate, synthesize, and apply methods of inquiry to enhance learning and improve performance.

Using

The research page we were required to make helped me learn how to incorporate research into educational technology. Incorporating technology into the classroom requires the ability to search for new ideas and determine which are worthwhile. The research I did for the research page and for the blog posts helped me achieve this standard.

Assessing/Evaluating – Candidates apply formal inquiry strategies in assessing and evaluating processes and resources for learning and performance.

In order to come up with ideas for the assignments in this class, I often had to do some research to see what other math teachers may have done to incorporate technology. As I did this research, I had to evaluate the sources that I found and determine whether or not they were a good idea for my students and my teaching style. I learned to evaluate the research that is available to determine how to incorporate different ideas into my teaching.

Theoretical Foundations – Candidates demonstrate foundational knowledge of the contribution of research to the past and current theory of educational communications and technology.

While some of the technology discussed in this course is relatively new, such as social network sites and simulations, some of the technology has been around for a long time, such as videos. Research on educational technology has been going on for decades, and I had to learn to sift through all this research as I looked for ways to incorporate technology into my classroom. Also, over time, the theory behind educational technology has shifted and changed. I tried to incorporate the constructivist theory most into my lessons, because I believe students need to discover more mathematical truths for themselves, instead of waiting for their teachers to tell them what they need to know.

How have you grown professionally?

This course came at an interesting time in my professional life, as I transitioned from a position as a math teacher to a position as a PowerSchool Administrator and Technology Integrationist. I feel like this course gave me lots of ideas about technology I can integrate into the classroom, if I ever teach again. At the same time, it also gave me ideas of how to incorporate technology into any classroom or content area, which will be helpful in my role as a technology integrationist. I feel like I received a really good education on integrating technology into the curriculum, and the knowledge I gained will help me further my career, no matter which role I’m taking on.   

How have your own teaching practices or thoughts about teaching been impacted by what you have learned or accomplished in this course?

One of the main things I struggled with as a math teacher was how to mix up my teaching. I always stuck to traditional lectures, because I didn’t know of any other ways to transfer the information to students and prepare them for the standardized tests. This course showed me that it isn’t difficult to come up with new ways to teach things, and there a lot of resources out there for inspiration. I also appreciate the resources I now have, not just in my content area, but across a variety of content areas. I also realized that it’s not as difficult as it seems to be a great teacher who has interesting activities that can reach all students. It takes a little time and brainpower to come up with ideas, but it’s not impossible. Every teacher should aspire to be a great teacher.

How has theory guided development of the projects and assignments you created?

In all of the assignments I created, I did my best to incorporate the constructivist theory. Constructivism is “situated learning and problem solving in real life contexts where the environment is very rich in information and there are… authentic tasks, cognitive apprenticeship, meaning negotiated through interactions with others, nurturance of reflexivity, and learning in ill-structured domains” (p. 15). In the lessons I created, I made a point to give students the opportunity to discover the content for themselves, instead of listening to the teachers lecture. These lessons sent students out into the real world to see the connections between mathematics and real life. The lessons forged connections between my students and students at other schools, as well as content experts. The lessons helped students develop problem-solving skills, and they allowed students to look for connections to discover important theorems and concepts on their own. I wanted students to learn in non-traditional ways so that they could fit the new mathematical concepts into their pre-existing knowledge.

Sources:

Singh, D., & Rajput, P. (2013). Constructivism: A practical guide for training colleges’ teachers. International Journal Of Educational Research & Technology, 4(4), 15-17.

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Blog Self-Assessment

This post contains a self-evaluation of all the blog posts that I wrote for this semester.

Content (70 points): Rich in content, full of thought, insight and synthesis with clear connections to previous or current content and/or to real life situations made with depth and detail.

I believe that all of my blog posts meet the criteria mentioned. I made sure to cover every discussion prompt that was given to us with depth and detail, and I made connections to real life whenever I could. I was careful to make my blog posts rich in content and full of insight every time. I would award myself the full 70 points for this category.

Readings and Resources (20 Points): Readings (from course text) and other resource materials are used to support blog comments. APA style is used to cite references.

I used references in all of my blog posts, whether they were from the textbook or from other sources. However, I misread the “and” as an “or” and did not include the text as a source for every blog post. Some only included outside sources. Even so, I used APA references to cite everything.  I would take off five points for not using the textbook every time, so I would award myself 15 points for this category.

Timeliness (20 points): All required postings are made early in the module to give others time to comment.

I always posted the link to my blog either early or in the middle of the week, which gave my peers the end of the week and the weekend to respond. For this reason, I would award myself all 20 points for this category.

Responses to Other Students (30 points): Two or more substantial posts with at least one detailed response made to address another students’ post.

I always made sure to leave at least two detailed responses to my peers, and I always took care to address what they wrote in their posts. I would award myself the full 30 points for this category.

Thus, my overall blog self-evaluation grade is 135 out of 140.

Accessible Computer Labs

According to Bryan and Myers (2006), “Providing equal educational access to students with disabilities is both a legal and a moral obligation. It is also an important component of the educational experience of all students” (p. 18).

As the quote from these authors shows, it has always been important to include students with disabilities in the mainstream classroom as often as possible. With the plethora of assistive technology available today, mainstream education is becoming more and more accessible for all students. In this blog post, I will discuss the essential elements of an accessible computer lab.

First of all, an accessible computer lab must be able to accommodate students with physical disabilities. There must be room for students with wheelchairs to sit close enough to the computers to reach the mouse and keyboard comfortably. Also, as Roblyer (2016) suggests, students with physical disabilities can use “a joystick, a device with a handle that moves in all directions. Joysticks can also control the movement of the cursor or pointer on a computer screen” (p. 412). Joystick software can be purchased here for Windows for $9.95. The actual joystick can be purchased here for $29.99.

Accessible computer labs should also accommodate those with sensory disabilities, including visual or hearing impairments. The lab should have headphones available for those students who may need a higher volume to hear. A device made to work with hearing aids may be found and purchased here for $359.00. For those with vision impairments, computers should come equipped with screen readers. This software will read what is on the computer screen to users who cannot see it. Some options, including the one found here ($895.00) will also print in Braille.

Finally, computers should have the capability to be equipped with a variety of software and should also be able to support a variety of downloads. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) states that students should be provided “with alternatives to acquiring information beyond a textbook” (Roblyer, 2016, p. 409). With so many different types of software and downloads available to teachers, computer labs need to have machines equipped to handle whatever teachers may want to use.

There are a variety of options schools have for making their computer labs accessible to all students. In today’s technological world, schools and educators should be do their best to ensure that all students are receiving the best education possible, even those with disabilities.

Sources:

Bryan, A., & Myers, K. A. (2006). Students with disabilities: Doing what’s right. About Campus, 11(4), 18-22.

Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th Ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Obstacles and Solutions for Technology in Math Classrooms

As a high school math teacher, incorporating more constructivist learning and less direct instruction has been one of the biggest things I’ve struggled with. Technology has the potential to play a big role in constructivist learning, which means that I’ve had some trouble incorporating technology into my classroom as well. Fortunately, the Educational Technology master’s degree I’m about to complete has helped me come up with ideas of how to better integrate technology into my teaching, and I’ve also had the opportunity to share these ideas with colleagues.

In this blog post, I will discuss several obstacles high school math teachers often face when incorporating technology into their classrooms, as well as a possible solution for each obstacle.

One of the biggest reasons high school math teachers don’t incorporate as much technology into their classrooms as they could is that they don’t know how. Even though there is a seemingly endless amount of ideas about this topic online, one can easily spend hours scouring the internet for inspiration, only to come up empty-handed with no solid ideas in the end. In a profession where teachers are often already overwhelmed and overworked, it can be difficult to convince them to put in the time to find ways to incorporate technology. Math teachers need training, and they especially need content-specific training. If it is not possible for schools to bring in experts to train their teachers, there should be a budget for teachers to attend workshops or conferences. There are also many free webinars, videos, and online trainings teachers can explore to learn how to better incorporate technology. Finally, administrators or technology personnel can help teachers search online by finding reliable websites teachers can use as starting points. This way, teachers don’t have to spend countless hours searching the internet for good websites.

Another obstacle for high school math teachers who wish to incorporate technology may be that they do not wish to stray from the traditional direct instruction they are accustomed to. Many math teachers were taught using direct instruction (including me, and I graduated from high school in 2007), and in college, they weren’t taught how to teach any differently. This is why it is very important to express to high school math teachers how important technology can be in their classrooms. According to Cheung and Slavin (2013),

One of the long-standing approaches to improving the mathematics performance in both elementary and secondary schools is the use of educational technology…Technology is here to stay, and pragmatically, the question is how to make the best use of the many technologies now available. (p. 89)

It is important to stress to teachers that math doesn’t have to be taught a certain way, even if that’s the way it’s always been. Administrators must emphasize that today’s students are not the same as the students from 30, 20, or even 10 years ago. The world they will be entering after high school is a very different world than their teachers encountered when they graduated. Direct instruction, while appropriate some of the time, should not be used all the time. Math teachers should be educated on constructivism and how it can be incorporated into their classrooms. It would also be helpful if they were given time to collaborate with other math teachers at their own school, or perhaps in other local area schools. If math teachers can get together to brainstorm ideas of how to incorporate constructivism, technology, and student-centered activities into their classrooms, this obstacle would be much easier to overcome.

The last obstacle I will discuss is the lack of resources teachers often feel they have. For example, manipulatives are often used by high school math teachers to help students see abstract concepts in a more concrete way. However, schools may not have the resources to purchase all the kinds of manipulatives that teachers might need. Roblyer (2016) stated that bridging the gap between abstract and concrete concepts can be achieved using virtual manipulatives, such as the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (p. 312). Since most schools have computer labs, it may be more cost effective to purchase the license for virtual tools instead of purchasing a classroom set of every tool teachers need. This idea also extends beyond manipulatives to any tool math teachers may need. Schools can look into saving money by exploring virtual options.

In the end, educational technology is very important to math teachers, even though there may be obstacles to overcome. Even so, each obstacle has a solution, if teachers and administrators are dedicated to finding it.

Sources:

Cheung, A. C., & Slavin, R. E. (2013). The effectiveness of educational technology applications for enhancing mathematics achievement in K-12 classrooms: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 9, 88-113.

Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th Ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Rules for Internet Safety

I have created a brief overview of some guidelines students should follow when it comes to internet safety.

As most educators and technology professionals know, the internet can be an incredibly powerful tool for students. They can use the internet to research topics of interest, take a “tour” that would otherwise be impossible, such as a tour of Jupiter or the center of the earth, connect with students across the world, or more. However, the internet can also be a negative and dangerous place for students, as they can encounter false information, viruses, inappropriate content, predators, and more. As educators teach their students how to use the internet and all the benefits it offers, they also have a responsibility to teach their students how to be smart internet users and how to protect themselves from the potential dangers they may encounter. This blog post serves as an Internet Safety Guide for educators to use when teaching their students how to use the internet safely.

1. Be wary of someone you’ve spoken with online who pressures you to meet in person.

When you are talking to or chatting with someone you met online, you have no idea if they are telling you the truth about who they are. They can send you fake pictures and lie to you about their name, age, gender, and more without you ever knowing. This is why it is important to never reveal personal information online, especially your last name and address. Even if you are sending this information to someone you know, they can easily send it to hundreds or thousands of other people without you ever knowing. It is also extremely important to be cautious when someone you met online requests to meet you in person. There is usually no reason for students to meet someone in person that they met online. However, if students feel strongly about meeting an online friend in person, parents of both students should be involved in the meeting process and the meeting should take place in a public well-lit place. Please click here for more information about meeting online friends in person.

2. Never give out personal information.

Identity thieves are ready and waiting to use your personal information, such as your last name, birth date, social security number, address, bank account numbers, and more, to steal your identity. Identity thieves can use this information to open credit cards, make large purchases, or escape their own financial situations. It can take years to reverse the damage identity thieves cause, so it’s very important to keep your personal information safe and protected. Along the same lines, it is never a good idea to send compromising pictures or very personal messages through cell phones or online messaging. Just because you are sending the picture or message to someone you know doesn’t mean that they won’t send it to the entire school. Keep in mind that once something is posted on the internet, it can never be removed. You have no idea how many people have downloaded the image before you delete it. Anyone who downloaded it can simply keep posting it as many times as he or she wants, so it will never go away. It is important to use extreme caution when deciding what information or what pictures to post online. Please click here for more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft.

3. Be cautious when downloading videos, music, apps, pictures, and more from the internet.

There are many internet hackers who have created viruses in an attempt to gain personal information about internet users. Whenever you are downloading something from the internet, be very careful to verify that it is coming from a reliable source or website. A good rule of thumb is, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If a website tells you that you can download every episode from all nine seasons of your favorite TV show for free, it’s probably not a good idea to download those episodes. Stick to websites that require paid subscriptions, as they will most likely be virus-free. Please click here for more tips on how to protect yourself from computer viruses.

4. Use good Netiquette (short for network etiquette or internet etiquette) when communicating with others online.

When talking to others via the internet, it can be easy to disassociate the screen name with the actual person. It is extremely important to remember that, even though you may not be able to see the person you’re talking to, there is a human being with thoughts and feelings on the other end. It can be easy to say mean, hurtful, or malicious things to someone online because you feel like you aren’t saying it to a person, but to a computer screen. Remember that it is always important to treat someone the way you would want to be treated, and you should never say something to someone online that you wouldn’t say to them in person. Also, remember that bullying is against the law in all 50 states, and this includes cyber-bullying. If you bully someone on the internet, the things you type or post can be used as evidence against you, even if you use an anonymous screen name. The IP address used to create the post can always be traced back to you. Beyond being kind to others, good netiquette also includes not copying or plagiarizing others’ work, citing sources if you are quoting someone else’s work, and ensuring that your text messages and emails come across the way you want them to. Online communication can be easily misinterpreted, so make sure that you re-read your message before you send it. It is also a good idea to avoid typing in all caps, as that implies you are yelling at the other person, even if you don’t mean it that way. Please click here for more information about good netiquette.

Sources:

Identity Theft & Credit Card Fraud: How to Protect Yourself. (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2015, from http://guides.wsj.com/personal-finance/credit/how-to-protect-yourself-from-identity-theft/

Tips for protecting your computer from viruses. (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2015, from http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/tips-for-protecting-your-computer-from-viruses

Varma-White, K. (2014, March 9). Should parents let teens meet online friends? Retrieved July 27, 2015, from http://www.today.com/parents/should-parents-let-teens-meet-online-friends-2D79317640

What is netiquette and how do I use it? (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2015, from http://www.valrc.org/tutorials/onlinelearner/netiquette.htm

Benefits of Multimedia in Education

This is a video blog I created about the Benefits of Using Multimedia in Education. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Here are my sources.

Campbell, D. (2013). What is multimedia?: Notes from the cutting edge. Rhodes Journalism Review, (33), 92-93.

Morgan, H. (2013). Technology in the classroom: Creating videos can lead students to many academic benefits. Childhood Education, 89(1), 51-53.

Sprague, D., & Pixley, C. (2008). Podcasts in education: Let their voices be heard. Computers in the Schools, (25), 226-234.

Wang, T. (2010). Educational benefits of multimedia skills training. Techtrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning. Publication of the Association for Educational Communications & Technology, 54(1), 47-57.

Relative Advantage of Using the Basic Suite in Classrooms

There are many advantages if students and teachers want to use The Basic Suite (word processing software, spreadsheet software, and presentation software). First, I will cover the advantages of using the Suite in general, and after that, I will cover the advantages of each specific software.

One of the main advantages of using any tool in the Basic Suite is that it saves time. Writing essays, creating spreadsheets, or giving presentations without the tools in the Basic Suite is much more time consuming. Also, the Basic Suite has many more functions and capabilities that would simply not be available to those who do things by hand. Finally, the products created with this software package are generally more interesting and dynamic than products that are handwritten.

The first Basic Suite application I will discuss is word processing software. Examples of this software include Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or Google Docs. While word processing software is not inherently educational, since it offers no instruction to students, it is still useful to students and teachers as a tool. According to Bangert-Drowns (1993), “Tools may transform human cognition and become instructional because they can allow learners to practice, and thus enhance, skills that otherwise would not have been practiced as frequently” (p. 70). Word processing software gives students more opportunities to write because it is faster than writing by hand. This allows students to focus more on the work that goes into their essays, such as grammar, word choice, or imagery, instead of forcing them to focus on the time it takes to write an essay by hand.

The next Basic Suite application to be discussed is spreadsheet software. Examples of this software include Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, or Google Sheets. This software was useful in the early days of the personal computer, as they made the machines much easier to use. Baker and Sugden (2007) noted this former trend when they stated “One of the main disadvantages [of computers] is having to program them. In many cases, students had to learn a programming language in order to benefit from computers… Spreadsheets help to get around this problem” (p. 2). In modern times, spreadsheets are beneficial for different reasons. They are helpful for keeping lists of information, such as lists of people, addresses, fees, or more. They are especially helpful because they can also conduct calculations.  Using this software, an average, highest value, or most frequent occurrence can easily be found for virtually any list of data. Finally, spreadsheets are helpful for importing and exporting information to and from a variety of other software programs, including the student management system PowerSchool.

The last Basic Suite application I will discuss is presentation software. Examples of this software include Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, or Google Slides. This software introduced a new way to present information by using graphics, color schemes, and images along with text. This made the transfer of information from teachers to students much more interesting. However, presentation software has come a long way from where it was in its inception. It now includes the capability for hyperlinks between slides, which makes it much easier to go from one section of the slideshow to another. One example of this feature would be educational Jeopardy games. In Jeopardy, the host needs to return to the main screen with categories and dollar amounts after each question. Hyperlinks within presentation software make this possible. The software could also be used to create an interactive practice activity for students, as they could choose an option for a multiple choice question and then be taken to the next question if they got it right or be taken to a remedial video or document if they got it wrong.

Overall, the Basic Suite has brought many positive aspects to education over the years, and it will most likely expand even further in the future. In my job as a PowerSchool Administrator, the Basic Suite will help my productivity and will help me to get things done much more quickly. Also, for my role as a technology specialist, I can use the information I covered above to educate teachers on how to incorporate the Basic Suite into their own classes.

Resources:

Baker, J., & Sugden, S. J. (2007). Spreadsheets in education–The first 25 years. Spreadsheets in Education (eJSiE), 1(1), 2.

Bangert-Drowns, R. L. (1993). The word processor as an instructional tool: A meta-analysis of word processing in writing instruction. Review of Educational Research, 63(1), 69-93.

Relative Advantages of Instructional Software

This post gives information on the relative advantages of instructional software. It gives details about what each type software is used for, what the pros and cons of each type of software are, how the software can be used in a high school math classroom, and finally gives some examples of software of each type that could be used to teach high school math.

Drill and Practice Software

– What It Is and How It’s Used: In its most basic form, drill and practice software is educational software that gives students practice problems to complete, and then gives them instantaneous feedback. This tells students (and usually the teacher) if the problems are being completed correctly. This software type is most commonly used to supplement teacher instruction and to give students extra practice on a certain concept.

– Pros and Cons: There are several advantages and disadvantages to drill and practice software. According to Roblyer (2016), the benefits of drill and practice software include immediate feedback, increased motivation, and saving teacher time (p. 81). Immediate feedback is helpful because it tells students and teachers right away if students understand a concept. Increased motivation helps students to learn the content more quickly and more deeply. Drill and practice software also allows students to learn and gives them feedback without the teacher having to present a lesson or grade an assignment, saving the teacher time. However, there are also disadvantages to drill and practice software. Proponents of constructivism criticize drill and practice software for being too far separated from the connections the concept has to real life. Also, drill and practice software is not applicable to every concept of every subject, and some consider its use very limited. Mohammed (2015) reiterated this point, saying “Drills are typically for more basic knowledge or for a more physical understanding. If teaching about more abstract concepts, a drill methodology would not be appropriate.”

– Uses in High School Math: Drill and practice software can be especially useful in teaching basic mathematical skills that need to be automatic in order to learn higher-order skills. For example, drill and practice software can be very helpful for young students learning basic addition or multiplication. In high school, the same concept can be applied. Drill and practice software can be used to help students learn how to solve basic algebra problems, how to calculate interest, how to use the factor quadratic expressions, and more.

– Examples: https://www.khanacademy.org/math/algebra2/polynomial_and_rational/quad_factoring/e/factoring_polynomials_1, http://www.cliffsnotes.com/math/algebra/algebra-ii/polynomial-arithmetic/quiz-synthetic-division, https://www.khanacademy.org/math/algebra2/logarithms-tutorial/logarithm_basics/e/logarithms_1

Tutorial Software

– What It Is and How It’s Used: “Tutorial software is an entire instructional sequence on a topic, similar to a teacher’s classroom instruction” (Roblyer, 2016, p. 83). Tutorials should include all the necessary components for students to learn a topic, and should require little to no input from the teacher. To be complete, tutorials should contain a lesson or some type of instruction, practice for the learner, and feedback for that practice. Tutorial software may also include record-keeping so that teachers can access the students’ scores on the practice problems. Tutorials can be used if a teacher is absent but still wants to present a lesson and does not believe the substitute has adequate knowledge or experience to teach it. Tutorials may also be used in flipped classrooms.

– Pros and Cons: Tutorial software has both advantages and disadvantages. One positive aspect of tutorials is that they save teachers time. If the tutorial teaches students a concept and gives them practice with feedback, then the teacher doesn’t have to take time to teach the lesson or grade the assignment. Also, if students watch the tutorials at home, they get the background knowledge outside of school. This frees up class time for more projects and other non-traditional activities. Even so, there are some negative aspects of tutorials. Because each teacher has his or her own unique way of teaching lessons, many teachers don’t use pre-made tutorials. Tutorials made by others often don’t fit into the curriculum these teachers have used in the past. Also, many videos and software packages claim to be tutorials when they really aren’t. Many of these supposed tutorials are actually demonstrations which only give an overview of the concept and don’t give the learners any practice or feedback.

– Uses in High School Math: Tutorials can be used to teach students math concepts without the teacher having to lecture. This would be especially useful in flipped classrooms, where teachers create recordings of their lessons and have students watch them at home. These recorded lessons could be considered tutorials, if they contained all the necessary components.

– Examples: https://www.khanacademy.org/math/algebra2/alg2-matrices/basic-matrix-operations-alg2/v/matrix-addition-and-subtraction-1, http://www.etcai.com/index_Page427.htm

Simulation Software

– What It Is and How It’s Used: Simulation software is a computerized imitation of a real-life or imaginary occurrence. Simulations can either imitate something that could happen in real life, such as animal dissection, or they can be used to imitate something hypothetical, such as the impact 10 straight days of snow might have on ground temperature. Simulations are usually used to show students what certain situations would be like in real life, but do so in such a way that students don’t have to experience them firsthand.

– Pros and Cons: There are several benefits to simulations. First of all, they are useful to learn about situations that are potentially dangerous for students, such as the impact of radioactive waste or the best ways to drive on ice. Simulation software may also cost less than conducting an actual experiment, depending on the materials needed. Simulations also have some disadvantages. For example, some educational associations have spoken out against simulations, saying that hands-on activities are better for students than virtual ones. Also, simulations are often over-simplified, giving students a distorted view of how the situation occurs in reality.

– Uses in High School Math: Simulations could be used in high school math when talking about population growth and decay. Software which simulates how populations grow and decline could teach students about the mathematical equations used to model these situations and how they’re used to predict population fluctuations in real life. Simulations could also be used to study parabolas. For example, students could study the path a toy rocket takes when it is shot from the ground and could also see how changing certain values in the function changes the rocket’s path.

– Examples: http://www.glencoe.com/sites/common_assets/science/virtual_labs/E18/E18.html, https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-forms-and-changes

Instructional Games Software:

– What It Is and How It’s Used: An instructional game is a type of educational software that has some component of competition or reward to motivate students to learn. Instructional games can be used as a supplement to traditional teaching and to reinforce concepts in an entertaining way.

– Pros and Cons: Instructional games can be positive additions to a classroom, because they motivate students to learn and give them an entertaining way to gain a deeper understanding of the content. However, they aren’t always beneficial because they might take learning out of context, making it difficult for students to translate what they’ve learned to real-life situations. Also, educators may misuse the games, expecting them to replace teaching or using them as a reward for a few students instead of using them as a tool to help all students learn.

– Uses in High School Math: Games can be used to give students an entertaining way to reinforce certain concepts. Teachers often create their own games, so there are many high school math topics which could be made into a game. There are also some pre-made high school math games, examples of which are shared below.

– Examples: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/factor-race-algebra/id413137077?mt=8, http://www.math-play.com/Absolute-Value-Equations/Absolute-Value-Millionaire.html

Problem-Solving Software

– What It Is and How It’s Used: Problem-solving software is software designed specifically to enhance students’ problem-solving skills. This software can either teach general problem-solving skills or can teach problem-solving skills for a certain concept or content area. This type of software is used when teachers want to focus less on specific instruction and more on the problem-solving skills required to solve the problems students will encounter in the real world.

– Pros and Cons: Problem-solving software has several advantages. First of all, it gives students an opportunity to see the ways that the content can be applied to real life situations, which gives them more motivation to learn. Also, problem-solving skills are essential in students’ lives after school, so it is always helpful if students learn these skills in school. Even so, problem-solving software also has some disadvantages. For example, similar to simulations, problem-solving software may be oversimplified, meaning that students cannot easily transfer the skills from this software to real-life situations. What’s more, many software products claim to enhance problem-solving skills in order to boost their sales, even if there is very little emphasis on problem-solving in the program.

– Uses in High School Math: Roblyer (2016) points out that problem-solving software can help high school math students visualize abstract concepts more easily (p. 98). Geometry students can better understand complex theorems or can discover relationships between shapes for themselves.

– Examples: https://education.ti.com/en/84activitycentral/us/detail?id=23EC27AF2F5B4886B36FF14D70B67820&t=4B89BE629DD9417A8FDF7706F636D94B, http://www.keycurriculum.com/resources/sketchpad-resources/free-activities/sketchpad-geometry-activities

Overall, there are multiple relative advantages to using instructional software to teach high school math. First of all, drill and practice software helps reinforce basic concepts so that students can more easily learn higher-level concepts. Tutorials can help high school math teachers by giving students opportunities to learn a new concept even when the teacher is not there. Simulations are helpful for showing students the connections between mathematics and real life, which gives them more motivation to learn math and helps them see how math might be helpful in their futures. Instructional games are a good way for students to reinforce concepts in an entertaining way. Finally, problem-solving software can make it much easier for students to visualize complex theorems or topics, and can also give them the skills they need to solve more complex math problems in the future. Overall, instructional software has many uses in high school math and can benefit students and teachers in many different ways.

Resources:

Mohammed, Z. (2015). The advantages and disadvantages of practice and drills in teaching. Retrieved from http://education.seattlepi.com/advantages-disadvantages-practice-drills-teaching-3685.html.

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.

Vision-Mission Statement

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In today’s technologically advanced world, students must learn technological skills in order to be successful in their lives after school. Twenty-first century educators have a responsibility to teach their students these skills if they hope to prepare their students for what they will experience in the future. The days of drill and practice activities and rote memorization are long gone. Today’s students need more. Roblyer (2016) reiterated this point when she stated,

In the past, educational goals reflected society’s emphasis on the need for basic skills—such as reading, writing, and arithmetic—and an agreed-on body of information considered essential for everyone. Many educators now believe that the world is changing too quickly to define education in terms of specific information or skills; they believe it should focus instead on more general capabilities, such as “learning to learn” skills, that will help citizens cope with inevitable technological change (p. 34)

It is no secret that today’s world is rapidly changing. One simple google search of “jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago” brings up dozens of lists of careers that broke into the job market for the first time within the last decade. Teachers can no longer expect to teach their students the same way they were taught. If they choose this path, their students will be extremely ill-equipped to handle the constant change that is the norm today.

For this reason, the goal of Educational Technology should be to prepare students for the world around them. Technological devices, such as smartphones, computers, tablets, and more, have become seamlessly integrated into the daily lives of many of today’s children and teenagers. Schools should be no different. According to eduopia.org (2007),

When technology integration is at its best, a child or a teacher doesn’t stop to think that he or she is using a technology tool—it is second nature… Seamless integration is when students are not only using technology daily, but have access to a variety of tools that match the task at hand and provide them the opportunity to build a deeper understanding of content.

Technology has become second nature to many of today’s students, and it does not appear that this fact is going to change anytime soon. In order for students to be prepared for the future, they must know how to use technology effectively and efficiently, and today’s educators have a responsibility to teach these skills.

What’s more, there are several issues that Educational Technology has the potential to address. Roblyer (2016) states that Educational Technology can help motivate students by getting their attention, allowing them to share their work online with an authentic audience, or helping them move through lower-level skills more  quickly so they can focus more on higher-level thinking. Also, Educational Technology can support student learning in a variety of ways. Educational Technology can provide individualized drill and practice problems catered to each student, help students with disabilities to communicate and participate with others more easily, or can provide almost immediate access to information on the internet (p. 23). Since the onset of formal education, teachers have struggled to motivate students and to support individualized learning. Educational Technology has the potential to create solutions to these issues so that every student has the opportunity to learn what he or she needs to know in order to be successful in the future.

Finally, there are multiple learning theories that drive Educational Technology. According to Roblyer (2016), the best way to implement Educational Technology is through a combination of direct learning and inquiry-based learning (p. 49). Direct learning is the traditional form of teaching, where the teacher contains the majority of the knowledge and passes it on through lectures or note-taking. Inquiry-based learning is a newer form of teaching, where the teacher acts more like a guide who helps students reach understanding on their own. Educational Technology can play a big role in bringing these two theories together, because it can be used in both of them. Direct instruction is useful to teach students basic skills and foundational knowledge, and drill and practice computer programs are great tools to aid in this type of instruction. However, Educational Technology is also useful for inquiry-based learning since it allows students to search for information on the internet, publish their work for an authentic audience, or communicate with other students from around the world. When students combine direct learning with inquiry-based learning, they receive the best of both worlds. They learn the foundational skills they need while perfecting their ability to think for themselves and solve complex problems. Educational Technology is essential in preparing today’s students for their future lives after school.

Resources:

(2007, Nov 5). What is successful technology integration? Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description.

Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th Ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Extra Credit:

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