Personal Technology Plan


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Personal Technology Plan

  1. 1. Personal Technology Plan Lisa Mulka Composition Teacher Jackson Community College Vision Statement As technology evolves, shifts and changes in the world, classrooms are inevitably affected by the ripple of technology and its constant transformation. At least 80 percent of kindergarteners use computers regularly and nearly 50 percent of children under the age of nine browse the internet (21st Century Literacies 2). By the time students reach college, many of them are already well versed in social software—technologies such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and RSS feeds (Parker & Chao 57). Despite the large number of students conducting computer-related activities at home, “The National Center for Education Statistics revealed that only half of the public school teachers who had computers or the Internet available in their schools used them for classroom instruction” (Judson 584). I recently polled my own college students about where they learn new computer tools and an astonishing sixty percent said they learn outside of school in their home environment. The need for greater use of computer and internet access aligns directly with the State of Michigan’s Technology Plan to implement broadband access to every Michigan classroom. As a writing teacher at a two year community college, I often contemplate how technology can be best used in the classroom, even when broadband access is available, to support students in becoming digital citizens in the 21st century world. The Conference on College Composition and Communication Position Statement on Teaching, Learning, and Assessing Writing in Digital Environments offers five
  2. 2. importation assumptions to consider when guiding student technology use in the college classroom: • Introduce students to the epistemic (knowledge-constructing) characters of information society • Provide students with opportunities to apply digital technologies to solve substantial problems • Include much hands-on use of technologies • Engage students in the critical evaluation of information • Prepare students to be reflective practitioners CCCC’s position statement is important to note because their assumptions align with the vision I hold for my own students. I want my students to be able to leave my classroom knowledgeable about digital technologies through interactive and collaborative methods of use, while also engaging in critical evaluation of research conducted on the web. Technology enables students to reach across boundaries that have been in place for years, opening up the potential for students to explore, expand and build knowledge across all divides. Technology not only opens doors, but windows and skylights to offer a new arena and virtual worlds that can engage, inspire and educate all with consistent frequency. Web tools like blogs, wikis, podcasts, and social networking are just few of many technologies available to use in my classroom and beyond. In addition to opening up new and exciting facets of learning for students, technology also has the power to stabilize and ease current methods of instruction for teachers by offering fluid and easy- to-use technologies that can enhance, not replace, current practices.
  3. 3. There is great possibility and plausibility in technology having a permanent and necessary role in educational practices, but as with any new integration there are pitfalls that technology must overcome in order to play a strong role in education. Technology, both in its current state and predicted future, can be visualized as Pandora’s Box—where the opening of it may also bring along a stream of unwanted or unnecessary troubles. Many educational facilities block Web 2.0 technologies for various issues of privacy, parental concerns and misassumptions that they cannot adequately be used for educational purposes. Refusing to allow access to students of such technologies is a disservice to them as they will be expected to operate on such technologies in the future. It also directly conflicts with the State of Michigan’s Technology Plan that states “every Michigan student will be proficient in technology and will demonstrate the ethical use of technology as a digital citizen and lifelong learner.” If this is indeed Michigan’s goal for students, denying access to crucial technologies that will help build digital citizenship is not the most effective approach to achieving the goal and I want to continue to address this concern in my own education setting. Furthermore, According to the text Literate Lives in the Information Age: Narratives of Literacy From the United States, “The U.S. educational system and its teachers must be ready to meet the needs of students who compose meaning not only with words, but also with digitized bits of video, sound, photographs, still images, words, and animations and to support communications across conventional linguistic, cultural, and geopolitical borders” (Selfe et al. 183). If what Selfe et al. suggests above is true, by restricting access to 21st century technology, students will not be equipped to succeed in future demands because they were denied the opportunity to experiment, grow and
  4. 4. reflect through use of video, sound, photographs, still images, etc. that technology easily supports. To move forward in the future, encouraging digital citizenship, as suggested in the State of Michigan’s Technology Plan, is critical to enable students to succeed both in the current state of the world and that which is yet to come. Current Uses of Technology Over the past few years, I have made continuing strides to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies into my classroom to Writing Wikis enhance and increase communication and collaboration Social activities. One of the most significant uses of technology Constr- uctivis m that has been in development for several semesters is the The Wiki Research Project connects the relationship between writing, wikis and integration of wikis into the writing classroom through a social constructivism. project titled the Wiki Research Project. The project’s objectives are to introduce freshman composition students to writing new media, give purpose to their writing and enhance their research and presentation skills. The Wiki Research Project is in essence a research paper, but with an added technology component that allows students to put their writing on the web and give meaning and importance to their research beyond a grade. The class is divided into groups of 4 or 5 and each group collectively decides on a general research topic. Then each group member chooses a subtopic within their larger research topic (for example, a group may choose environmental issues as their main topic and each group member may select a different environmental issue such as global warming or recycling for their individual research). While individual group members research their topics and write a
  5. 5. research paper on their own, as a group they design a wiki where they will present their collective research findings to the public and house their research. Each group considers visual design elements and addresses readability concerns on an online space (for example, students wouldn’t want to simply copy and paste their essay without creating headings, pictures, etc. and thinking deeply about how their work will be read online). The Wiki Research Project also allows students to demonstrate ethical copyright practices through image use and research presentations. My goal of the Wiki Research Project was to A page from one group’s wiki, where they explored the impact of false stereotypes on genre music. understand how wikis could be used with a constructivist Their wiki utilized audio clips and YouTube videos to showcase pedagogical framework to guide students to develop as research findings. writers, become familiar with what it means to be digitally literate and to enhance a community of writers. I chose wikis as a tool to achieve such goals to support my pedagogical beliefs as a teacher. These beliefs are grounded in social-constructivism, inspired by works and research by Vygotsky, where knowledge is often seen as evolving through social interactions. Wikis also align with a social cultural perspective of education, where knowledge is built through community practices (Warschauer; Windschitl). After the completion of the Wiki Research Project, students often tell me that they found it wonderful that at the end of the project they had created their own source by putting their research on the wiki. There is a real sense of pride and ownership and awe that they have created something that may be useful to
  6. 6. someone else and that captures a large audience. Student feedback such as this asserts that the educational goals were successfully met in preparing students to become digital citizens in the 21st century. By maintaining my pedagogical beliefs as an educator through social-constructivism, the Wiki Research Project creates an opportunity to build on current classroom practices of communication and group collaboration processes. In addition to creating the Wiki Research Project, I have also used wikis as course management systems to organize, house and relay important course content and information along with providing each student a page on the classroom wiki to post writing. Overtime, the classroom wiki became a place for student writers to gather and discuss their lives, interests and writing, further strengthening the sense of community. Below is a screenshot of one such discussion led by a student, Danielle, who was typically the quietest A sample wiki homepage student in face-to-face meetings yet the loudest student on the wiki. This further demonstrates how powerful technology tools, such as wikis, are in increasing community and collaboration. While wikis have played a dominant role in my use of technology in education, blogs, course management systems, online databases and various other technological tools have been explored and put to use in my classroom as well. Blogs, in particular, are one area
  7. 7. of technology that I will continue to build upon in the future as I continue to research, implement and understand how blogs can promote citizenship among student writers. To read my recent review on blog technologies please click here. This review will help guide my future implementations of blogs. Future Plan and Timeline While I have been continuing to build technology and Web 2.0 tools into my classroom, there is still much work to be done to achieve both the concepts presented in the State of Michigan Technology plan and that of the position statement by CCCC. In order to move my own classroom forward technologically, there are several areas I will focus my efforts on in the next year to two years to increase the exposure to necessary technologies while maintaining my pedagogical beliefs grounded in social constructivism. One of the most important aspects I always consider in technology is whether or not it is being used for a clear purpose and to address an educational need rather than simply a fun and exciting new technological toy. My plan for integrating technology is to continue to root its implementation in meaningful purposes where a clear educational need or problem can be addressed by utilizing a specific technology or set of technologies. This concept is present in my previous use of wikis and will continue to do so in my future endeavors. In the upcoming semesters, I would like to introduce instant messaging conferences, blogs as reflective tools and critical thinking spaces, and increase my knowledge and implementation of the course management system Moodle. Outlined below is a clear timeline of what I plan to achieve with technology in my professional setting. Timeline of Technology Integration and Understanding
  8. 8. May-August 2009: Research instant messaging tools appropriate for the college classroom and various blog sites. Investigate video conferencing in Moodle and how to build a virtual classroom. August-December 2009: Initiate instant messaging conferences with composition students and record the outcome. Use researched blog tool as a reflective writing space for students. Build an advanced feature into a Moodle distance learning class and observe outcomes. January- May 2010: Revise and refine methods of instant messaging and blog integration where necessary and continue to utilize in the classroom and observe record and write about outcomes. Integrate another advanced feature into a Moodle distance learning class and observe outcomes. Works Cited
  9. 9. "CCCC Position Statement on Teaching, Learning, and Assessing Writing in Digital Environments." Conference on College Composition and Communication. 2008. 19 Apr. 2009 <>. Judson, Eugene. "How Teachers Integrate Technology and Their Beliefs About Learning: is There a Connection?" Journal of Technology and Teacher Education 14 (2006): 581-597. "Leading Educational Transformation for Today's Global Society: State of Michigan Educational Technology Plan." Mar. 2006. 19 Apr. 2009 <>. Parker, Kevin R., and Joseph T. Chao. "Wiki as a Teaching Tool." Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects 3 (2007): 57- 72. Selfe, Cynthia L., and Gail E. Hawisher. Literate Lives in the Information Age. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Accociates, 2004. "Twenty First Century Literacies." NTCE (2007): 1-8. 15 Nov.-Dec. 2007 <>. Warschauer, Mark. "Computer-Mediated Collaborative Learning: Theory and Practice." The Modern Language Journal 81 (1997): 470-481. JSTOR. Halle Library, Ypsilanti. 3 Apr. 2007. Keyword: collaborative learning. Windschitl, Mark. "Framing Constructivism in Practice as the Negotiation of Dilemmas: an Analysis of the Conceptual, Pedagogical, Cultural, and Political Challenges Facing Teachers." Review of Educational Research 72 (2002): 131-175.