The 1980 Olympic Games. Many of us remember the great upset of the Russians, a team thought to be invincible. To beat the Russians, the United States didn’t necessarily play harder or pay their coaches more, they played smarter. We are in the midst of difficult times for schools, small businesses, corporations and families. In this stagnant economy characterized by foreclosures and unemployment rates, each dollar of revenue becomes more precious and the responsibility of spending that dollar on something worthwhile increases. The taxpaying public already has grown skeptical of public education and need to see results on their investment now more than ever if we expect to continue to receive their support. We must spend our dollars where we can get the most bang for our buck, the most benefit for the children of our district. We need not spend more money, we need to spend our money smarter.
We have tried many solutions in hopes to improve education. Frustratingly, some of the proven solutions to education problems just end up costing too much money. We know that a lower student to teacher ratio is a good thing, but that costs additional money. We know that hiring the best available teachers is a good thing, but that normally means paying more money. We can save money by putting more kids in each classroom, but then their education suffers. We are constantly on the lookout for an investment that will pay off in a big way without breaking the bank. Is there one magic solution? No. But the research says that there are tools that will make the job easier.
Technology integration in the classroom. Technology is a tool. And just like a wrench by itself won’t change your tire, a piece of technology will not create high level learners just by being present in the classroom. Technology in schools can include computers, digital cameras, video cameras, microphones, software programs, and LCD projectors. These are just some of the tools that students can utilize in their learning and research has proven that a classroom where technology is being utilized is a classroom that produces stronger students. By integrating technology, the students experience increased communication and collaboration, think at higher levels, our more ready for the technology they will see in their future careers, and technology increases their overall achievement.
Let’s look at ourselves as a team, a team that wants to win. If we look to examples of winning teams, many of them have certain characteristics in common. One of those characteristics is Communication and Collaboration. Doing group presentations, making slideshows, creating publications, producing videos. These are all examples of collaboration integrating technology. In “The Status of Ubiquitous Computing”, Brown and Petitto surmise that 60% of the gains that come from Ubiquitous Computer use are due to the increased communication and collaboration between staff and students. Take the example from the picture of the Football players. They aren’t on the field in the picture shown, yet they are actively collaborating, preparing for their next opportunity. Each one of those individuals are able to contribute a unique perspective and point of view that will make them all understand the situation more clearly. The same holds true in the classroom. Students who utilize computers and other technologies in the classroom can share their perspectives, their learning and their insights with other students in meaningful and exciting ways. In “Miracle or Menace; Teaching and Learning with Laptop Computers in the classroom”, the authors point out by collaborating and communicating, students come across an increased amount of information had the teacher just stood up front and lectured. Of course the collaboration is not just from student to student.
Collaboration between teachers and students increases understanding and moves the student further along in their understanding of the material. This increased communication also makes the teacher aware of what the students understand and what they are still struggling with. Tools of communication include Blogs, email, Wikis, voicemail and sites such as Voicethread. Also noted in the Ubiquitous article was the fact that with technology, the material being covered was more current and more customized. Students can exchange video clips that contain a concept or teach an idea. Efaw, Hampton, Martinez and Silas found that students are not just collaborating with teachers and other students, but that they bring home things such as video clips and other pieces of curriculum to show to their families. This internalizes learning even more.
The old saying says, “The more you know, the more you can know.” The Quarterback on the football team needs to know where everyone should be and where they are headed. If they know this information they are able to analyze a situation on the fly and have a better chance at success. Sports teams are utilizing technology to help their players be more successful in the athletic arena and they are taking lessons from teachers in the classroom. Utilizing advanced software and existing websites, students can have access to information at the touch of a button. Having a laptop in the classroom also brings the library from down the hall and places it on the students desk. Now students are able to go out and search the internet for current data, discussion threads on the topic they are studying, view pictures of the topic of their presentations and use those pictures to help others understand better what they are presenting. John Schacter looked at multiple studies in technology integration and he found that one thing that created higher level thinking in students was the use of simulations. These simulations could be websites, they may be video games. Simulations create opportunities for students to practice authentic problem solving skills that lead to higher level thinking. Other teachers have used software such as Excel (a spreadsheet program) to help students analyze data. Rather than just looking at graphs and charts in their textbooks, students enter data into the spreadsheet and create their own. Integration and Interaction. Students engaged in what they are doing, not just spectating. In a study of Technologies Impact on Math by Harold Wenglinsky, he found that 8 th grade students who used simulation software showed gains in math scores of up to 15 weeks above grade level. 15 Weeks!!! Incredible.
Schacter found that students who were taught in Technology rich environments experienced positive effects on achievement in ALL major subject areas. That is pretty significant. This tells us that across the board, students who learn in classrooms where computers are not just a separate activity, but an everyday tool (which is the meaning of Ubiquitous computer use) are achieving at higher levels in all major subjects. Also in the studies he looked at was research that found students who experienced computer based instruction were in the 64 th %ile compared to their peers who were In traditional settings who were averaging “average” 50 th %ile. A reminder that the mere presence of technology is not enough to create succcess. But research says that consistent access to technology, positive attitudes and professional development lead to the greatest gains in student achievement
Are our students Tech Ready? Will they have the skills necessary to compete in the job market of the future. It is no longer much of an option to refuse to use computers. Those who cannot use technology will be funneled toward lower level jobs that pay significantly less than their technology related counterparts. Spreadsheets, Video Editing, Photo manipulation, database creation, desktop publishing, internet collaboration, Internet design. These are all skills that will benefit a person who is out searching for a job. They are also skills that students can utilize in the classroom to increase their achievement. The goal of education should be to prepare our children for the future. If we are using old methods and obsolete technology, we are doing a disservice to the students in our classroom. Michigan schools have made it a requirement that all of their students take an online course in order to graduate from high school. They have seen the writing on the wall, (or the screen for that matter). What a great idea. Students of tomorrow will no doubt need to be able to utilize online instruction to gain skills and achieve success in college and their careers. In the article, “The Status of Ubiquitous Computing”, the authors discuss that computers are not an aside, an elective tool for education. The laptop computer can be utilized in all classrooms for multiple tasks and it is when a student use them naturally and by nature, they have achieved technology integration in their own lives. When students are surrounded by technology they learn to use it purposefully throughout their day and not just for the specific project they are working on. Students who are assigned laptops for school soon integrate them at home and use them as a tool to organize their lives. This type of use benefits the student as it is authentic, internalized and fits their own personal needs.
Technology is an amazing tool and it enables us to provide limitless opportunities to our students. But without training on proper utilization where teachers and students can become comfortable with technology, it is destined to be underutilized. Technology can no doubt Increase Communication, create higher level thinking, prepare our students for tomorrow and increase their achievement. However, we are a crucial cog in the machine and we must make wise decisions about what technology we invest in and how we best utilize those resources. If we are careful and purposeful in our planning, Technology is definitely part of the solution to the problems we face today. If we are able to provide students with greater opportunities to learn that are more authentic and meaningful. . .
Our Team Wins!
Playing Smarter, Performing Better By Jason Bexell
Being smarter? <ul><li>More teachers </li></ul><ul><li>More money for teachers </li></ul><ul><li>More students per classroom </li></ul><ul><li>Less students per classroom </li></ul>
Technology Integration Increased Communication and Collaboration A catalyst for higher level thinking Prepares our students to be “Tech. Ready” Increases Student Achievement
A Winning Team. . . <ul><li>Communicates and Collaborates </li></ul>
Teacher and Student Collaboration 60% of gain comes from communication (Brown 2003)
Bibliography <ul><li>Bonifaz, Alejandra, and Andrew Zucker. "Lessons Learned About Providing Laptops for All Students." NEIR TEC . NEIR TEC, 2004. Web. 15 July 2009. <http://www.neirtec.org/laptop/>. </li></ul><ul><li>Brown, David G., and Karen R. Petitto. "The Status of Ubiquitous Computing." EDUCAUSE . EDUCAUSE, 2003. Web. 15 July 2009. <http://www.educause.edu/home>. </li></ul><ul><li>Palozzi, Vincent J., and Terry E. Spradlin. "Educational Technology in Indiana: Is it Worth the Investment?" ERIC . Mar. 2006. Web. 15 July 2009. <http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/1b/c9/82.pdf>. </li></ul><ul><li>Schacter, John. "The Impact of Education Technology on Student Achievement: What the Most Current Research Has To Say." ERIC . 1999. Web. 15 July 2009. <http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/17/92/9f.pdf>. </li></ul><ul><li>Efaw, James, Scott Hampton, Silas Martinez, and Scott Smith. "Miracle or Menace: Teaching and Learning with Laptop Computers in the Classroom." EDUCAUSE Quarterly 27.3 (2004): 10-18. Educause Quarterly . EDUCAUSE. Web. 15 July 2009. <http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVolum/MiracleorMenaceTeachingandLear/157299>. </li></ul>