Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Diigo Resources and Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Must See Monday - Flickr Apps

I used to have a Flickr account (I guess I still do, just don't use) when I was "trying" to do 365 Project and creating a Blog to go along with the pictures, but I realized that was one more thing I could not make time for and remember to take pictures.  Maybe I will start one at the start of the school year.  Anyway, I recently came across to applications that I think would be really useful in the classroom.

Spell With Flickr
- An interesting site that allows you to type in letters.  The software will then search through Flickr to find letters that correspond to the text that you inserted into text box.  If you don't like the picture it chose for a certain letter you can simply click on the picture to change it.  You can also take the image and uses some HTML script to add it to a web page.  You can easily incorporate this into a lesson by making it the title of a presentation or assignment for students.  You can see a sample below.

letter P IMG_5665_2 IMG_5517_3 IMG_5549_2 O


Stories in Flight - Flickr Poet
- The idea with this application is you copy and paste in some text and it will search for pictures in Flickr to turn the text into images therefore making it a picture story.  You will need to be careful using this software though.  I put in the title of a blog, and happiness showed a picture of Guinness Beer.  I am assuming that images are chosen from based on the tags that people give them.  You can just click the "show story" button till you find pictures that you like.

This could be used for short poems, sections of a speech or historical document.  Would be a great way to turn famous quotes into pictures as well.  There is a big kick in vocabulary, this would be a great way to create images to correlate to vocabulary that students are using in the classroom, especially for a certain unit of study.  I really like this tool for turning words into pictures.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June Edition of Twitter Tweecap - 30+ LINKS!

Been a few weekends since I posted some resources that I have received from Twitter.  This is a pretty good list.  My Instapaper account was packed with links I needed to look at.

1.) 30 Post about Free Educational Technology Tools and Resources from the Emerging EdTech Blog.

2.) 19 Educational Uses for Google Wave - I have a Wave account.  Now that everyone has one maybe I should look back into the account since so many members of my PLN have a Wave account as well.

3.) A Prezi presentation about inserting animation into Prezi.

4.) A Wiki for a place to showcase student work and innovations.

5.) 100 Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers

6.) Find Lesson Plans for all grade levels and all subjects!

7.) A great Wiki Walkthrough for teachers new to Wiki's

8.) 6 Recommendations for Teaching with FLIP video cameras

9.) 9 Uses for Backchannel chat in Education\

10.) 50 Really Cool Online Tools for Science Teachers

11.) 5 Genuinely Useful Twitter Tools

12.) Hey Teachers!  This is How I Learn!  - Interesting Blog Post from TeachPaperless

13.) Twiducate - A site for Twitter integration in Education - Social Networking for Schools

14.) A video for Explaining Creative CommonsHundreds of Reviewed Math Resources, Sculptris: 3D Modeling Software, Conceptua Math Resources - From Free Technology for Teachers

15.) A great Mind Map for ways to Play and Learn in Education.

16.) A Great list of Twitter Tools to share with teachers new to Twitter.

17.) 22 Social Media in Education Infographics - I really like these!

18.) Making your own Infographic - Been looking for this information!

19.) What Will You Learn this Summer?  35 Professional Development Resources

20.) WebQuest Generators

21.) Learn It In 5 - A Great Website for learning Web 2.0 Tools for classroom use.  Each video is 5 minutes long.

22.) PDF about Teacher Merit Pay

23.) Article on Cell Phones in the Classroom - Good read.

24.) Google Forms - Creating a Quiz or Test that Grades Itself!

25.) Critical Thinking Wiki - From this past weeks #edchat

26.) Digital Citizenship Continuum - Been looking for something like this too!

27.) The Ultimate Twitter Guidebook for Teachers and the Best 210 Websites to Help Teachers Make Learning Fun from EduDemic

28.) BrightStorm - 2000+ free videos for Math

29.) Good article by a teacher in the Washington Post - The Right Way to Assess Teacher's Performance - Liked the idea of a 90% attendance rule

30.) Blogs as Web-Based Portfolios - A PDF and great read.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Top 100 Technology Blogs for Teachers

A while back I received a comment on the Blog Post Common Misconception #4 from a reader who was putting together a list of technology blogs for educators.  I responded to the comment and found out that it was a legit list and not a marketing campaign (no offense and you can never be to sure these days!).  To be included on this list with so many other great educators and bloggers is a tremendous honor!

Online Degrees is a website dedicated to providing a portal to information about universities and programs offering online programs for degrees.  Part of the site is a blog dedicated to helping educators.  The most recent post is the Top 100 Technology Blogs for Educators.  They also have several other blog post related to blogs that you might be interested in.  Top 25 eLearning Blogs and Top 20 Teacher Blogs.

If you are searching for some blogs to add to your Google Reader or add RSS Feeds to an email account, this is a GREAT starting point.  Or if you are new to my blog and want to add it to your reader or RSS feeds, you can click here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Kid's These Days"

I am huge believer in Twitter and the power of a Personal Learning Network (PLN).  One of the people that I follow on Twitter is http://twitter.com/thenewtag and she is passionate about "Sharing new ways to engage, motivate, reach and teach the young people in our lives."  She also writes a quality blog worth looking into offering tons of resources and ideas for education.

Recently, she decided to take a huge step.  She is participating in the contest on Oprah to find the next big star and the opportunity to host their own show.  Her show concept “Kids These Days” features the things that are making a difference in young lives and the ways kids are impacting and being impacted by their worlds. But it’s not just a show; like so many of Oprah’s projects, “Kids These Days” is a game changer, a transformative resource available to every parent, educator and kid in the country and it’s going to reshape the way we perceive and engage youth in America

In order to help show support, take a few minutes to visit her audition site.  Watch her video, and then vote for her and "Kid's These Days"

Common Misconception #8 - Student's Know More About the Technology Than I Do

My Students Know More About the Technology Than I Do.

Most kids in this generation do know more about technology in general, but the idea that they know more about a technology resource you are trying to integrate is completely false.  Kids in this generation are capable of learning how to use a resource easier then most teachers, but they DON'T KNOW how to use the resource as it relates to the content you are trying to teach them.  That is where YOU come along to assist in the use of the resource.

Most teachers will tell you that they fear the idea of a student knowing more about technology.  If anything, that fear should make teachers want to learn more about technology so that they can be a step ahead of the students.  I personally relish the idea that a student might have more knowledge on how to use technology.  Why?  1.) Because they will be able to help me better understand it and 2.) I have someone in the classroom that can help me assist other students.  It is like free help.  How many teachers turn down a peer tutor in a classroom?  Not many, because that peer tutor is a very valuable resource in a classroom.  Think of the student that knows more about the technology as a peer tutor.

It is a misconception to believe that students know everything or more about technology.  They don't.  They might know how to use their cell phones in ways we don't.  They might know how to use the Internet and other software more then we do, but they don't.  It SEEMS like students know more because THEY SPEND TIME USING TECHNOLOGY WITHOUT FEAR.  If teachers want to know more about technology they must start using it more within their daily lives, not just between the hours of 8-3 or 3-10 for those of us that use it at home, but not at school.

What is true is that even though students might know how to use it, the majority of students do not know how to use the technology to make a quality product.  They don't know how to manage their time in order to create a quality product using technology.  They don't know correct ways to cite sources when creating a product using technology.  They don't know how to organize information on a web page or Power Point. 

Why is all this true?  Because the majority of teachers THINK students know how to use this technology and they don't.  I remember the first Power Point project I had my students do.  They were AWFUL.  Why?  Because I assumed they knew how to create a Power Point presentation.  I realized that my first lesson should have been how to use Power Point.  The lack of knowledge about how to use Power Point by my students negatively impacted the effectiveness of relaying the content within the presentation.

Assuming students know how to use technology WITH the content is a huge misconception. We must teach students how to use the technology first, then teach them how to integrate the technology with the content. From there, it is my opinion that students will have the best opportunity to understand the content because they are using the content for a purpose greater than a presentation in the classroom.

If there is one thing you can take away from this post it is this: For this generation and future generations of students, it is/will be critical for teachers to have an understanding of how to integrate technology in order to better teach CONTENT to students.  Students don't know how to integrate technology with the content being taught and must be taught both the technology and the content for successful retention of information.
 
Remember, students might know about technology, but students don't know about EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Common Misconception #7 Knowing Everything in Order to Integrate Technology

I Have to Know Everything About the Technology in Order to Integrate it in the Classroom.

The great thing about so many of the new technology resources available to educators is that generally each resource offers so much and so many different options that we don't have to learn everything about it before we use it.

I can think of a personal experience when I discovered Prezi.  I really did not grasp the idea of a 3D infinite canvas.  I put all my notes on the same "plane" and in a circle and then presented the presentation I created in a meeting.  It did not get a good reaction, but teachers did see an alternate to Power Point.  I went back to Prezi after it changed its editor and learned more about it.  I used it as it was intended, and the reaction to the software was much better.  I did not know everything about it, but enough that I felt comfortable enough to use it and present with it.  Now Prezi is one of my favorite new tools.

So often with many of the Web 2.0 tools I try it, find a way to use it, and while using it discover something new about it that makes the resource even better.  Originally, with the social bookmarking site Diigo, I hated the extra features of post-it notes and highlighter.  I just wanted to save links, so I went with Delicious.  After switching to Diigo recently, I realized how much more it offered me and how much more I could use it other than just a way to save links.  I needed to use it first to realize everything it could do that I could use.

If you wait till you read about it, watch videos about it, and wait for someone else to use the resource the opportunity for integration will pass you by.  THE BEST WAY to learn how to integrate technology is to just step out and start using it.  Once you use it, it will become more comfortable.  Fear of failure or mistakes because you don't know everything means that you could miss out on new and innovative ways to use technology.  We learn from our attempts and our failures.

Through my position I have had the opportunity to share several Web 2.0 resources with teachers.  The ones that jumped in and started integrating the tools had the most success.  I found it easier for them to start using it and then ask questions, then for me to try to explain everything and then they use it.  Since I explained it to them and they took notes, they were intimidated to ask for more help.  The teachers that jumped right in are also the same teachers who ended up using the same tools and other tools for future projects with their students.  The teachers who feared the technology and were unsure of everything ended up having less success with the resources and generally struggled with integrating technology in their classroom.  Technology integration REQUIRES self-reliance on your part.

Technology is constantly changing.  You cannot know everything about a technology resource.  Since most of the software is fairly new, companies are constantly updating and tweaking their product.  If you wait to learn everything about a resource it will change before you ever get started.  If you have an understanding of the resource, adapting to the constant change makes things easier.  I look back at my Prezi experience.  When they changed the editing tool and other options, I found myself liking it more and being more comfortable using it.

There is a reason that I titled this Blog, "The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness."  It is difficult to be completely happy when it comes to technology integration.  There is one thing you can count on with technology and that is that it is always changing.  This change creates a constant pursuit in finding successful ways to integrate technology.  Happiness in technology integration is a willingness to work at learning new things.  I don't have to know EVERYTHING about technology integration to be happy.  It is the pursuit of successful technology integration that creates happiness; because once that light bulb goes off in a teacher/student, or a project is enhanced using technology, there is no greater feeling for a person in my position.

Teachers, YOU WILL NEVER KNOW EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION AND RESOURCES.  The great thing is, you don't need to know 100% about the resource when you only plan on using 25% of its capabilities.  Remember, learn how to use the resource to meet your needs, then allow for exploration.

What are your thoughts and experiences when it comes to teachers feeling the need to have an understanding of EVERYTHING when it comes to technology integration?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Common Misconception #6 - Technology Integration Across all Subject Matter

There Can't Possibly be any Technology to Integrate in the Subject Matter that I Teach

Number six in the 8 Common Misconceptions about Technology Integration in Education deals with discovering technology that relates to the content areas that we all teach in education.  The idea that there is little technology available for your subject matter can't be farther from the truth.  No matter what you teach or even how you teach it, there are an abundance of resources available for your subject matter.

Gone are the days of relying on what comes with a textbook for additional resources in your classroom.  There is WAY more than that available.  I remember just getting new textbooks in 2008 and being concerned about the type of resources they were offering because I had little knowledge about anything else available.  I have come to the conclusion there is very little that textbooks can offer me that I can't get on the web for free.

First place you might want to look for resources for your subject matter is my Links Page that has links broken down by subject matter.  There are tons of great websites beyond just what is on my list.  The purpose of exploring my list of links is just to showcase some of the resources that are available for your subject matter.  I hope to be updating that list this summer, so check back before the start of the school year.

Next piece of advice is to join Twitter.  Once you have done that, search the Twitter4Teachers Wiki and start following teachers who teach the same subject as you and see the resources that they are sharing and using in their classroom.  You can then discuss through Twitter the different resources, lessons, and activities for use in your classroom.  Instead of going across the hall for questions, go global and use Twitter for those same questions.  You will get more than one opinion.

Once you have done that, create a Diigo account so you can start bookmarking resources that you find.  You can also go to the links below to find resources that have been tagged as your subject matter.  The resources are organized by the ones tagged the most.
If you teach another subject, visit any of the above and type in your subject and see what resources are available.  If you teach a certain curriculum, like Government, Algebra, Biology, Poetry, type in those subjects as well.  This is a great way to start discovering resources in your subject matter.  If you teach a certain grade level, try that as well.  If you prefer, you can search Delicious, another type of Social Bookmarking website.  

Another option is to search through Wikis that are subject based.  I recently discovered some that have discuss several resources.  You can read my Wiki Wednesday Blog Post about those Wikis.
The above will help you find specific subject based resources.  Other Web 2.0 resources are available and they can be used in several different ways across ALL subject matters.  For those, I suggest that you search through the Web 2.0/21st Century Tools and Web2.0 Tools 4 U 2 Use Wikis.  Don't think that you have to find subject based resources when there are TONS of resources that can be used across the curriculum.

3-5 years ago, it would be a good argument that there were very few technology resources to integrate into your subject matter, but with the development and integration of Web 2.0, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that there is no subject matter that does not have a resource for it.  With all these available resources, the argument that your subject matter keeps you from integrating technology is no longer valid.

As teachers, it is time to use the creative minds that we have and develop NEW and APPEALING lessons for our students.  We have to bring the technology they currently use into our classrooms.  Finding what works for your subject matter is what is important.  Start using it and start sharing how you are using these tools for other teachers.  No longer does WHAT you teach keep you from REALLY being able to teach to your students.

When your students think your subject matter is boring, many of these tools make it interesting to them.  It is up to you as a teacher to make the lessons interesting.  Taking time to learn how to use these tools can turn those uninteresting lessons into ones you look forward to teaching, and students look forward to learning.  You chose to teach a certain subject because you had an interest in it.  Use these tools to help create that same interest in your students.

What are your thoughts?  Have you found a resource that really brought out your subject matter?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Common Misconception #5 - Technology Integration Takes too Much Time

In continuation of the series on the 8 Common Misconceptions about Technology Integration in Education I bring you reason #5, which is one we all have heard.  There was even a time in my teaching where I said this before I realized there was more available to my students then a Power Point Presentation/Project.

Common Misconception #5 - I Don't Have Time to Integrate Technology in my Classroom

I have said and heard this statement many times through my short tenure in teaching and involvement in technology integration.  I realized that it is not about HAVING time, it is about MAKING time.  What is important for educators to understand is that our students have time and make time for technology in their lives and it is important that as educators, we do the same so that we can relate better with our students.

What I have seen and heard in my few years of teaching helps me to know that teachers do have time.  We/They just choose to do other things with their time.  For example, sitting and chatting during planning, going for a walk during planning, surfing the Internet for things that have nothing to do with teaching, all things that I myself have once done.  All this time could be better spent learning how to use technology, something I learned myself and am working to pass along to other teachers.

It is important that we help those teachers who don't use time wisely or use time as an excuse not to integrate technology that in the long run understand that it will actually help with time management in their classroom.  There are several uses of technology that will help reduce the amount of time that teachers put into grading assignments and creating activities.

It is a lot easier to grade a Glog after a presentation then to grade a poster board the student created.  It will take less time to read and grade a research paper if a student turned it into a web page instead.  Take those questions from a book and have students respond to them on a site like Wallwisher and then display that wall in front of the class and discuss the answers provided by students.  What is great is that as a teacher, the average setup time for all those sites is fewer than 30 minutes.

If there is one thing that all educators know it is that technology changes, and it changes at a rapid pace.  More and more technology is going to start being integrated into schools.  For teachers to keep pace with these changes they are going to have to dedicate time to learning how to integrate it into the classroom.  Next teachers meeting ask your teachers the following question: "What if our district decided to go to 1:1 classrooms next year and reduced the funds for paper and printer ink, would you make time to learn about integrating technology in your classroom?"

Not having time to integrate technology for some teachers is the excuse for other fears they might have.  Teachers need to be shown that time is not the real issue.  For many teachers, time is only covering up a real fear that they have about integrating technology.  That is why we hear time so much.

Teachers must get over that beginning fear of giving up their time to integrating technology.  They have realized that in the long run integrating technology has really helped provide them more time for other things.  Remember the time it took to create Power Points for the first time, you never had to create them again.  Or remember the time you wrote lecture notes the first time, you never had to write them again.  Technology integration works the same way.  Integrate it once and you know what to do and how to do it in the future.

What made you start spending your time learning about technology?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Common Misconception #4 - Technology Integration is Expensive

In continuation with the Blog Series 8 Common Misconceptions about Technology Integration in Education it is time to focus on the money side of things.  So I bring you:

Integrating Technology in Education is to Expensive for my School/District to Afford

It is important to understand that Integrating Technology in Education CAN be expensive.  At the same time, it CAN be inexpensive.  In fact, technology peripherals CAN be completely FREE if teachers, administrators, schools, and districts are willing to put in the time and effort to apply for grants.  These grants will cover much of the equipment that you might normally purchase.  Every private company (Dell, Apple, HP, etc) have grants for education that offer opportunities to increase technology in your school.  A simple Google search will provide list of grants for educational technology from those companies.  If not from private companies, the federal government also has Grants that can be filled out by districts looking to increase technology.  For other Grant opportunities, here is a great list and a directory of federal and state Grants.

At the same time, technology integration IS completely free.  Web 2.0 has allowed schools and teachers to integrate technology with their students using zero dollars from their own pockets.  Who would have thought that we would spend more money on supplies (pencils, paper, binders, notebooks, etc) for our students then we would spend on technology to use with our students.  In actuality, getting teachers to "buy" into integrating technology is the only true cost.

If you are out of the loop on Web 2.0 and how to integrate all these GREAT free tools into your classroom, I suggest that you look at two handbooks that I created for the sole purpose of helping teachers integrate technology.  "Web 2.0 - A New Way to Lecture" and "Tools for the 21st Century Teacher" make great starting points for using several of the free tools that are available to you.  Every resource mentioned is completely free with the option of upgrading accounts to get more features.

When I first started teaching many of the resources, activities, lesson plans, etc., that I would find online required some form of membership to the site in order to access it (I remember that happening specifically for crossword puzzles, which now I get as a free download from Eclipse Crossword).  If I wanted to show a video, or even a video clip, I could be charged a lot of money for that video.  YouTube and other sites allow access to tons of free videos.

When it was time for the social studies department at my school to order textbooks, we "bartered" with the textbook companies.  We wanted to see who was going to not only give us the best deal and best textbooks, but also give us some extra perks in return for going with their company.  We were able to get digital projectors for our entire department for free because of how we communicated with the textbook company that we went with.  Schools are spending tens of thousands of dollars on textbooks, shouldn't the companies provide something MORE than a textbook, a few CD resources and online resources?

The COST of technology is all determined by the VALUE that you, your school, and your school district puts on integrating technology in your classroom/school.  What do I mean?  If you don't value integrating technology in the classroom, then you are not only "costing" students opportunities, but it will cost more in the long run because of a lack of focus on integrating technology.  If there is more value in technology integration, than schools will spend time filling out Grants, working with textbook companies and private companies, and encouraging the use of free Web 2.0 resources, therefore reducing the "cost" of technology integration.

Integrating technology in education is NOT expensive.  However, NOT integrating technology in education can prove to be COSTLY to your students and teachers.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Personal Experiences?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Common Misconception #3 - Experienced Teachers and Technology

In continuing with my blog series on Common Misconceptions about Integrating Technology in Education, I bring you the third installment:

Experienced Teachers Have Little/No Desire to Learn How to Integrate Technology in the Classroom

We all have one (if not more than one) in our schools.  The teacher that refuses, or has little/no desire to learn how to use technology in the classroom.  They have the largest number of excuses of any teacher.  The problem is, most of these teachers are generally given little effort by most integration specialist because there are more eager teachers in the building who want to learn how to utilize technology (I myself can be guilty of that at times).  So who really is at fault?

One thing I have realized since joining the Blogging and Twitter Universe is that over 75% of the people who are blogging and using Twitter in education are older than I am by 10 years or more.  They are the teachers that are using technology, been provided guidance, and took INITIATIVE to learn new things.  They are teachers who have dedicated themselves to learning new processes and ideas in order to meet with the change in the times.  They lose the fear of the unknown or being "that" teacher in their building.

One thing that I have learned about integrating technology with experienced teachers is you have to find ONE thing that they really see valuable.  In my school it was as simple as using a FLIP camera, or using a Document Camera to show student work.  For others is was a Web 2.0 software that caught their attention and now they use at least once a week.  I had a teacher use PicLits with her students and absolutely loved the collaboration between her students and complete strangers who were reading the students poems.

Experienced teachers, or teachers who fear technology CANNOT be thrown a bunch of new technology and then be expected to use them.  They get overwhelmed.  Many experienced teachers already have their lessons planned out from day one to final exams.  Take those lessons and show them ONE tool that they can use with their students to enhance the learning with their students.  Collaborate with that teacher while they are working on that lesson.  Always provide time for follow up and discussion with the teacher.

Experienced teachers want to use technology just as much as other teachers.  It is up to Integration Specialist, Tech-Savvy Teachers, and Administrators to provide opportunities for experienced teachers to learn about and how to use new technology.  And like most things, it requires enforcement from the principal that teachers and students use technology in their lessons on a daily/weekly basis.

Technology in itself is not what is keeping experienced teachers from integrating technology in the classroom.  It is the process of change, the idea of the unknown, the lack of knowledge, the fear of making mistakes in front of students; that keeps most experienced teachers from utilizing the technology available to them.

I have never seen an experienced teacher who was not excited about receiving technology equipment, or who did not get excited about realizing a way to use a tool in the classroom.  But that excitement is completely overtaken by fear once the tech-savvy person leaves the room and they are left to fend for themselves.

On the other hand, I have always thought that once you get that experienced teacher, the one no one expects would like technology, to share how it has changed their classroom, other teachers will buy in as well.  It is hard for experienced, less-tech savvy teachers to hear about technology from someone who lives it, knows it, and loves it.  When fearful teachers hear it from a peer who is not viewed in the building as a tech integrator, those fearful teachers become more open to the idea of integrating technology in the classroom.

Remember to limit the technology to those that are fearful.  Allow for them to gradually become more comfortable.  Because the thing about educational technology is that once you start to learn how to use one or two tools, everything else becomes much easier to figure out.

Do you have fearful teachers in your building?  What are you doing to bring out that hidden desire for technology in them?  What experience and knowledge can you bring to combat this common misconception?

Are you an experienced teacher who got over a fear of technology integration?  What was your reason?  PLEASE Comment!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Common Misconception #2 - New Teachers and Technology

Yesterday I wrote about the common misconception that Integrating Technology into Education is the Answer to Improving Test Scores.  I was very pleased with my initial post in my series about the Common Misconceptions about Integrating Technology in Education.  Today, we take a different approach.  This has been something I have heard not just while working as a Technology Integration Specialist, but also as a young teacher.

Common Misconception #2 - New Teachers Have a Better Understanding of How to Integrate Technology in the Classroom

There is a trend out there by teachers, administrators, and districts that assumes that younger/newer teachers have a better understanding of technology and how to integrate it into the classroom.  Sure, younger/newer teachers MIGHT have a better understanding of technology (such as hooking up equipment, using Word, Power Point and Excel), but as far as INTEGRATING it into the classroom, that most likely, in most districts, is not true.

I am just 7 years removed from finishing my college degree and earning my teaching certificate.  Most of the resources and equipment that we are implementing in schools today did not exist.  I had ONE class in college where I learned how to use Power Point, Word, and Excel.  Me personally, I forced myself to play around with and learn more than those once I started teaching. 

The problem is that most education programs in college DO NOT teach students how to use Smart Boards, Airliners, Documents Cameras, Clicker Systems, FLIP and Digital Cameras; oh, and Web 2.0 as well.  It is ASSUMED they know how, or because they are younger they will learn it on there own.  That is not true for many new teachers out there.  Not only do teachers not learn about this technology, they don't learn ways to use it with their students.

College students in their undergraduate education courses NEED a "Technology Integration in Education" course, and maybe more than one.  I know that there are more Master's programs available today, but that is AFTER being in the classroom.  Is it just me, or does it seem that is doing things backwards?  Technology Integration is part of New Teacher Standards, so shouldn't there be classes about how to integrate technology?  It seems that Appalachian State University and Kansas State University are on the right track.  Are other universities following suit?  Do you know of some, link to them in the comments section.

I am going to throw out a number, 20%.  That is the number of new teachers that I think enter the education workforce with knowledge about many of the tools mentioned above as well as Web 2.0 resources.  Most however do not have knowledge of ways to integrate them into the classroom.  Knowing what they are does give them an advantage, but I think we are still 5-10 years away from new teachers having an understanding of the tools and how to integrate them in the classroom.

State and Local Districts are pouring tons of $$$$ into technology in schools, and often, that technology sits in classrooms and collects dust because new and current teachers have not had training on how to use the tools because it takes a back seat to other Professional Development and curriculum.  Maybe it is just me, but isn't it about time that we FOCUS MORE on how to MERGE curriculum and technology resources together?

At the same time you have tons of school districts across the country that are BLOCKING access to Web 2.0 tools, therefore never providing new teachers an opportunity to use them and learn how to integrate them in the classroom, which would definitely be one way to help to alleviate this common misconception.

It is important for current educators to not ASSUME that new teachers have a foundation on integrating technology.  You will find that most new teachers that "help" current teachers are actually learning it as they go, not necessarily that they had previous knowledge.  When I was asked to help as a "new" teacher, I was learning it as I went.  In a way I was adding to the common misconception that I knew how to use technology.  I didn't; I learned on the fly.

What about your school building?  Do experienced teachers assume new teachers know about technology and how to use it?

Need some more information, here are some studies I came across that discusses some aspects of this Common Misconception:
1.) Can Teacher Technology Integration Training Alone Lead to High Levels of Technology Integration? A Qualitative Look at Teachers’ Technology Integration after State Mandated Technology Training

2.) Integrating Digital Learning Objects in the Classroom: A Need for Educational Leadership

3.) Technology Mentor Fellowship Program: A Technology Integration Professional Development Model for Classroom Teachers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Common Misconception #1 - Technology Integration is the Answer to Improving Test Scores

Yesterday I decided that I wanted to create a blog series about the 8 Common Misconceptions about Integrating Technology in Education.  Today will be the first entry in the series.  I can't promise that each future entry will appear daily as well.  School is ending, so not sure the type of time I will have at home, but I am hoping working Summer School will afford me some opportunities.

Common Misconception #1
Technology Integration is THE ANSWER to Improving Test Scores.

Technology in itself is NOT THE ANSWER to improving test scores.  Proper integration of technology in schools can (and will) have a profound effect on student learning.  The important factor to understand is that it is the teachers, students, administrators, and specialists who utilize the technology effectively and efficiently that will help to improve test scores. 

Technology will never replace quality teaching.  Albert Einstein said that the invention of video would one day replace teachers because we could just record our lessons.  He was not correct, because you still have to have quality instruction to go along with that technology.  Many teachers do good things in their rooms without ever utilizing technology.  What technology can do (when used properly) is move those good things teachers are doing, to great things teachers are doing.

Technology Integration is still a new phenomenon.  It was just 8 years ago that plugging in an overhead projector and a VCR was considered technology integration.  Well we are WAY past that.  We won't know the true impact of technology integration on test scores for 5-10 more years, in my opinion.  But, when students are talking about school and technology like THIS and like THIS, I think it would be safe to assume schools would see an improvement in test scores.

Remember that utilizing technology with your students makes learning much more personal, pertinent, and long lasting because it is no longer a poster board you tear off your wall at the end of the year; it is a website, glog, story, poem, video, etc that is published for more than just visitors to your classroom to see.

There are multiple factors that attribute to the success of technology integration to improve test scores. For example:

1.) A properly trained and passionate Technology Integration Specialist or Technology Resource Teacher who works with staff to utilize technology.
2.) Quality Professional Development where teachers get HANDS ON use of the technology
3.) Quality and/or Common planning time where departments can meet and discuss ways to utilize the technology in their classroom as part of lessons.
4.) Available one on one time for TIS/TRT to work with teachers
5.) An explanation of the benefits of integrating technology in education to administrators, teachers AND students.
6.) Going from "None to Ton" is not the answer either. It is important to mix up what you integrate, how much you integrate, and how you integrate technology.
7.) Use of the technology by Administrators showcasing ways they are integrating technology (as simple as keeping a blog). Administrators MUST buy in and support technology integration for it to trickle down to teachers.

Is your school/district integrating technology? Is your school/district utilizing these factors?

I am sure there are others.  What are your thoughts?  I don't claim to be an expert, just someone who is discussing what he has seen, heard, and read over the past year.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My First Blog Series - Common Misconceptions

I have been wanting to start a blog "series."  One that centers on a specific topic and will have a post (hopefully daily) related to that topic.  My new job this year as a TIS (Technology Integration Specialist) has opened my eyes to a ton of ideas and thoughts about the common misconceptions of technology integration that we face in education.  Technology is a growing tool in education.  One that we as educators need to have a better grasp of in order to effectively integrate it into our classrooms.  So, what are those common misconceptions?

8 Common Misconceptions about Technology Integration in Education

1.) Technology integration is THE ANSWER to improving test scores.

2.) New teachers have a better understanding of how to integrate technology integration in schools.

3.) Current teachers have no desire to learn how to integrate technology in their classrooms.

4.) Integrating technology is too expensive for my school to afford.

5.) I don't have time to learn how to integrate technology in the classroom.

6.) There can't possibly be any technology to integrate in the subject matter that I teach.

7.) I have to know EVERYTHING about the technology before I can integrate it.

8.) My students have a better understanding of the technology, and that is embarrassing.


What I plan to do is write a post about each of these common misconceptions.  If you have an article, blog post, or experience that you would like me to share in my postings, please share a link with me so that I can include it.  You can leave it in the comment section or Tweet me a link on Twitter.

Have you experienced or even thought about these common misconceptions yourself?
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