Monday, April 20, 2009

Hindering Technology Integration in the Classroom

This article highlights the difficulties encountered by teachers when using technology in the classroom. Most districts, in order to limit access to inappropriate content, have installed software which allows the online usage from each computer to be monitored. This has also allowed the district to view any usage by employees that is unrelated to their educational objectives. Teachers have been reprimanded for making purchases online using school computers after school hours. Teachers and students are being asked to sign Acceptable Use Policies, detailing how the school computers are to be used. The advance in software available can sometimes make accessing websites impossible because filtering software has limitations. Additionally, email is being monitored, unlike the use of a phone. In the past, it was understood that an occasional personal call would be made, but email is treated as property of the district. An example of one districts policy: "No staff member shall access create, transmit, retransmit or forward material or information:
* that promotes violence or advocates destruction of property including, but not limited to access to information concerning the manufacturing or purchasing of destructive devices or weapons
* that is not related to district educational objectives
* that contains pornographic, obscene or other sexually oriented materials..."
While the first and last point make sense, the second item limits all email to district business only. This has lead to fear in many employees, who cannot even make plans with coworkers via email. Another difficulty encountered by teachers included being unable to set up websites with links outside their educational system.
I found the article interesting is that the oversight by districts is becoming very "big brother". There needs to be some freedom for teachers to engage their students and to discipline in the classroom when a student does not respect the rules.
Q1. What is the national policy on internet access for students?
A1. The Children's Internet Protection Act has clear guidelines on students need for protection from potentially harmful sites.
Q2. Are there any other areas of concern for districts?
A1. In addition to the above mentioned problems, there is also a concern regarding copyright infringement for districts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The ABC's of Privacy Practices for Educators

The article "The ABC's of Privacy Practices for Educators" attempts to educate teachers on the pitfalls of information loss. In todays digital transportable world, there are many ways in which information can be compromised. The steps to ensuring privacy include identifying the assets and classifying them. By classifying this information according to its level of security, it is then possible to build the privacy policies which will protect this information. In any school setting, there are numerous staff members which need access to various information, so levels of access must be set. The article goes on to describe a method for evaluating the information based on the type of information, the people responsible for collecting the information, the use of the information, the storage of the information, and the possible repercussions if the information was exposed. There is also information on the creation of passwords and encrypting/decrypting files in windows.

Q.1. What is a privacy policy?
A.1. " A privacy policy is a written statement that articulates how an organization handles the personally identifiable and private information it gathers and uses."

Q.2. What are some guidelines for choosing a password.
A.1. The best passwords are more that eight characters, they combine letters, numbers, and symbols, and they are easy to remember.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Remixing Chemistry Class

The article "Remixing Chemistry Class" by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams gives the details of their shift in their chemistry classes from daily lectures to vodcasts viewed by the students before class time. The teachers would record their lectures and post them on various websites and blogs, as well as furnishing DVD copies to students without internet access. The students were responsible for viewing the lecture prior to the class period. The students could pause and review any segment of the lecture that was difficult at their own pace, allowing for greater comprehension. In the classroom, more time could be alloted for questions regarding the vodcast and actual lab experiments. The instructor would move about the classroom prior to and during the experiments making sure the students have reviewed the material. The teachers were able to spend more time with the students doing hands on experiments. This also allowed students to proceed at varied levels in the same classroom. There is also a section in the article which describes the process of recording class lectures and turning them into web based information. There is also a section with comments from students and their parents. Most of the parents were skeptical in the beginning, but saw that for many students this method of lecturing was highly effective.

Q1. Have the grades shown the relative effectiveness or ineffectiveness of this technique?
A1. The standards for admittance to the class were lowered so the students had a weaker math background the year the vodcasts were started, so a direct comparison is not really possible, but test scores have remained relatively steady, considering the lower level of the students.

Q2. What is another benefit of the shift to vodcasts?
A2. There is a greater level of interaction between students and teachers allowing the teachers to better know the students, which in the long run will allow the teachers to better anticipate problems the students may be encountering.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Online Professional

The article, "Online Professional" by Jim Vanides speaks to teachers contemplating "teaching" online courses. He discusses the challenges of translating his lecture material into concise written material to be used online. What is spoken during a classroom session does not necessarily convert to proper reading material. His course/workshop is on the science of sound, which requires the students to "hear" various samples throughout the coursework. To enable students to share in the experience, kits were mailed to each student prior to the beginning of class. The online students were responsible for keeping a science notebook, which was a private discussion board which the teacher also had access to. There were also various discussions and response forums. Testing was done with multiple choice, as well as three other methods of evaluation. The article was very encouraging of taking on this type of classroom, listing several advantages.

Q1. What were some of the disadvantages in putting this course online?
A1. The author listed several issues such as making sure the material is understandable in its written form, loss of inflection and subtle humor, and the lack of impromptu guitar lead singing sessions.

Q2. Were there any areas where the online students were able to reach a greater depth?
A1. Because the sessions take place over several days, the discussions were often longer and more thought provoking, perhaps because of the time involved in forming answers. Additionally, areas which are quickly passed by in the classroom setting, such as after a demonstration, would often lead to greater experimentation by the online students, because the "flow" of the material did not necessarily push them along to a new topic.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Inspiring Students with Peer Tutoring

The article "Inspiring Students with Peer Tutoring" by Brandy Smith, focuses on using students to teach other students how to use technology. The student participants were chosen by meeting criteria set up by the instructors. Some of the participants had behavioral issues that that kept them from traditional leadership positions, while others were chosen because they were shy but had leadership potential. Others were chosen because they had potential but had essentially slipped through the cracks when the teachers had to focus on the more needy students. These select students learned technology during after school sessions, which were for one hour, twice a week. Once they demonstrated mastery of the desired skill, a session was scheduled with the full class. Computers were brought in, they gave a lesson and then worked in small groups with their classmates. This also allowed the teacher to become more familiar with the technology without having to lose class time, prep time or free time. It made the students and teachers more comfortable with using the computers for research in the classroom. This particular program was done with 3rd grade students at a school with a large number of low income families. The computers were laptops which could be checked out and taken to the classroom. Before the peer tutoring program, the computers were rarely used. After the classroom sessions, the computers were being used 2-3 times per week. The school also scored higher on technology proficiency than it had before the tutoring program began. Overall, the program seemed to be a great success.

Q1. How were the students chosen to participate in the peer tutoring program?
A1. The students were chosen based on teacher recommendation and criteria established by the program director.

Q2. Who benefited from the tutoring sessions?
A2. The students who were tutors benefited by becoming leaders amongst their peers, the teachers benefited by having the technology explained to the students and to themselves without having to lose valuable prep time, and every student in the program benefited by learning to use technology to further their education.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Software Review:

Web Browsing: Research and Citing Sources Grades 6-8

Above are the results of my web browsing quiz.

I found the tutorials easy to follow and entertaining. I believe that many 6-8th grade students would learn information that they thought they already knew, as I felt that way. I learned the terminology for many of the terms we use daily without understanding the source of the acronyms. I believe the biggest problem to using these tutorials in the classroom would be the students themselves. The age group that these are written for tends to have the attitude that the know everything. They also strive to identify themselves as not being children, so the format of the cartoon character would probably turn them off from learning. I did not experience any problems with the tutorials.

NETS Standards:
Web Browsing Basics
K-12 [5] Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues
K-12 [5.a] advocate and practice safe, legal and responsible usage
K-12 [6] Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology
K-12 [6.a] understand and use technology systems
K-12 [6.b] select and use applications effectively and productively
K-12 [1] Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop
innovative products and processes using technology
K-12 [1.a] apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products or processes
K-12 [2] Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work
collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning
K-12 [2.a] interact, collaborate and publish with peers, experts or others employing a
variety of digital environments and media
Web searches
K-12 [3] Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.
K-12 [3.a] plan strategies to guide inquiry.
K-12 [3.b] locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and
ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
K-12 [3.c] evaluate and select information sources and digital tools
based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
K-12 [3.d] process data and report results.
K-12 [4] Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources
K-12 [4.a] identify and define authentic problems and significant
questions for investigation.
K-12 [4.b] plan and manage activities to develop a solution or
complete a project.
K-12 [4.c] collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or
make informed decisions.
K-12 [4.d] use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to
explore alternative solutions.
K-12 [5] Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior
K-12 [5.a] advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of
information and technology.
K-12 [5.b] exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that
supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.
K-12 [5.c] demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning.
K-12 [5.d] exhibit leadership for digital citizenship.

Validity and sourcing
K-12 [1] Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. Students:
K-12 [1.a] apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas,
products, or processes.
K-12 [1.b] create original works as a means of personal or group
K-12 [1.c] use models and simulations to explore complex systems
and issues.
K-12 [1.d] identify trends and forecast possibilities.
K-12 [2] Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others
K-12 [2.a] interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or
others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
K-12 [2.b] communicate information and ideas effectively to
multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
K-12 [2.c] develop cultural understanding and global awareness by
engaging with learners of other cultures.
K-12 [2.d] contribute to project teams to produce original works or
solve problems.
K-12 [5] Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior
K-12 [5.a] advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of
information and technology.
K-12 [5.b] exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that
supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.
K-12 [5.c] demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning.
K-12 [5.d] exhibit leadership for digital citizenship.


(2007) International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved 3-4-09, from

(2007) Retrieved 3-4-09, from

Friday, February 20, 2009

Breaking the Geek Myth

For this weeks blog I chose to review the article, "Breaking the Geek Myth", by Katie A. Siek, Kay Connelly, Amanda Stephano, Suzanne Menzel, Jacki Bauer, and Beth Plale. This article discusses the perceptions of geeks and those interested in technology and also the decline of women persuing degrees in computer science. The authors first list some of the ideas originally held by current computer science women professors and students. They had all believed that computing was nonsocial, requiring a high degree of intellect and knowledge and that most of the computer people were geeks. It was only after entering college and discovering the truth about this field that they changed their perceptions and their majors.
The authors discuss a program they put together to get younger students, those in middle and high schools, interested in computer science. They travel to schools and through their interactive program are able to address the stereotypes that most teens have regarding those interested in science, specifically computers. The series of photographs presented to the students is designed to break down any barriers by presenting many different computer scientists in different, non-work situations, such as rock climbing, to show the students that computer scientists do not fit tightly into one category of race or gender. There is also a section in the presentation describing what a computer scientist might actually do for work. The ideas range from computer animation to medical technology. This serves to broaden the student's minds regarding the applications of computers. Overall, I felt that both the article and the program serve to highlight how narrow thinking can limit opportunities.

Q1. What do you believe is a good way to bring in more students, male and female, to the computer science programs?
A1. By bringing the presentation to schools, the authors are able to educate students about the various types of work available in computer science, and also to dispel any stereotypes regarding computer scientists.

Q2. Are there other programs available besides Just Be from the Women in Computing, from Indiana University?
A2. Presentations are also given by the following universities: Carnegie Melon University (CMU) Women at School of Computer Science Roadshow, Simon Fraser University’s Computer Science Presentation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Women in Computer Science’s Chictech.