Technology Fail?

ImageThis week I was asked to give a demonstration on Glogster to a fourth grade class. Although I was prepared,the technology did not want to cooperate! This is just one of the things that can happen when you are working with technology! Sometimes it is a great experience and other times it can just let you down. So what can we do as educators to get our lesson out when technology fails us? Here are a few ideas!

Things to remember:

  1. Be patient and keep calm! Getting frustrated is not going to help your presentation or your learners show your learners how to be patient, lead by example.
  2. Have a plan B, C, and D.
  3. Be ready for technology to fail, it is unfortunate but it happens! Have notes and be able to give a detailed overview of your failed Power Point, video, or podcast if the internet will not connect or if it’s just loading to slowly, don’t let your class get away! Have your lesson BBd–that’s, Brain Backup!
  4. If your class is not in front of computers you may want to use Camtasia to give a visual presentation so students can learn by watching you move through the motions!
  5. Ask your learners questions to enforce what you have taught, this may seem obvious but with technology you have to check that each detail has been absorbed by your learners. How about creating a reference card that learners can use if important details are forgotten.

Get an edge!

Camtasia

I created my first instructional video today using Camtasia! I decided to teach a very easy topic due to my inexperience with this program. My topic was creating relative links within Dreamweaver.  I found the program to be very easy to use, I was quickly at ease with the program. I added some text in the beginning and in the middle of the lesson. I did this to highlight the area I wanted learners to see. This program will be used in many more of my class presentations! I am so glad I finally learned how to create presentations like this!

Coherence Analysis

The Coherence Principle brings to our attention that learning is processed in different areas of the brain. This is dependent on what type of multimedia is being presented to the learner at the time. Learners process multimedia messages in their visual and auditory channels–both of which are limited in capacity (Moreno and Mayer). The two channels work against each other as they compete within the brain, for example when there is an educational animation movie that is shown the brain processes both the visual and the auditory aspects in different areas thus competing to make appropriate connections between animations and narration (Mayer).
One successful example of the Coherence Principle in my own classroom was a Power Point that I created. I created this presentation with extra sound effects because I had just learned how to add the effects and thought it was novel. The students were not paying any attention to the slides or the information, all they were doing was waiting for the next buzzing sound or bell ring so they could repeat that sound and laugh among themselves. I was frustrated and did not understand why this was not working. I knew from watching and the failed results that the sounds were not helping the students learn; however I did not understand this through the Coherence Principle that there is better transfer when extraneous material is excluded rather than included (Mayer). The next week I used the same power point with the class but I took away the many sound effects and only spoke when it was necessary. I then gave the students the same post quiz, they all passed unlike the previous test where more than seventy percent had failed. Background music and sounds may overload working memory, so they are most dangerous in situations in which the learner may experience heavy cognitive load, for example, when the material is unfamiliar, when the materials presented at a rapid rate,or when the rate of presentation is not under learner control (Clark & Mayer). My failed Power Point unfortunately met all criteria.

 

You don't always need sound to learn, a picture is worth a thousand words.

You don't always need sound to learn, a picture is worth a thousand words.

 
The Coherence Principle goes hand in hand with several Multimedia Learning principles that have been learned this semester; I will focus on two specific principles. The spatial contiguity principle states better transfer of knowledge when words and corresponding pictures are presented near rather than far from each other on the page or screen (Mayer). While taking both of these principles to teach students content the results will be significantly better, as the brain will be able to focus on one area such as the animations of the Power Point at the same time they will not have to take time to search for the text on the slide or page. This will make learning quick as well as the gain in content transfer. According to Mayer the spacial contiguity principle has a median gain in transfer of 70% and the Coherence principle has a median gain in transfer of 90 % Chunking was at 100% and so this is another area that should be implemented within the coherence principle. This can simply be done by alternating the visual and auditory information and keeping it short and simple (Mayer).

 
The learners are actively seeking to make sense of the presented material. When the material is understood it then gives the learner enjoyment. When the instructional designer adds unnecessary illustrations or sound to the presentation it can interfere in by distraction, disruption or seduction (Clark & Mayer). Words need also to be kept at a minimum for the Coherence Principle to be successfully implemented.  Excess of anything in the presentation is against this psychology. Too many pictures or embellished pictures, or words (text) even if they are interesting they will become extraneous to the learner (Clark & Mayer).

 
I personally enjoy learning about fundamental theories in educational psychology. I also feel that I am at times able to test the theories within my own classroom. My previous example on my botched attempt at creating a “fantastic noisy power point”  now seems like an oxymoron. I enjoyed seeing the results of using the Coherence Principle and using little or no sound so the students can focus on just learning the content at hand. It works. I look back at all of the horrible power point presentations that I created and feel horrible, I am glad I have this knowledge now and can start teaching more effectively. I think the authors need to also consider how sound can at times enhance a presentation as well. This can be seen in the redundancy principle as sound can be used to remind students of a certain group of objects or the beginning or end of a thought.

 

References
Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of    instruction: proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Mayer, R. E. (1999). Multimedia Aids to problem solving transfer. International journal of educational research, 31, 611-623.

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (n.d.). IMEJ Article – A learner-centered approach to multimedia explanations: deriving instructional design principles from Cognitive Theory. Interactive multimedia electronic journal of computer-enhanced learning. Retrieved March 24, 2012, from http://imej.wfu.edu/articles/2000/2/05/index.asp

Multimedia Instruction

I have created a short presentation for third grade learners. The students will be learning the location of five major rivers within the United States. For the success of this assignment, I have used newly learned principles such as the Multimedia principle as well as the Contiguity Principal. Prior to this assignment my students must have had Power Point overload! I have learned to create slides with the images on the same screen as the corresponding text. On my older Power Points I would split up the pictures and titles creating longer presentations and less contiguity of information; my poor students!

I also left out color from the background to help highlight specific colors chosen represent specific rivers. I highlighted these rivers in corresponding colors to the text to help the learners recall information. I also kept the slides simple, clear and aligned with the goal, stated on the second slide.

The last page of the project was and assessment, created to test learner knowledge. I used the same map throughout the entire project so the students would not feel tricked. I highlighted the rivers as before, but in a neutral color keeping the text the same as in earlier slides. I can not believe how much better the students have learned through this Power Point compared to my old silly over done power points! Simplicity really worked for my class here!

Technology Use Plan

This is a plan for technology use. It was a team effort as our group Theta came together from around the world to create. I hope you enjoy watching this presentation. This project taught me how to collaborate with others in an online environment as well as the back bone of creating a technology plan for schools or businesses. This was a great project to end our semester with, thanks to all involved!

 

425px” id=”__ss_10506264″> Tech plan presentation

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School Evaluation Summary

School Evaluation

Peter H.R. Sibley and Chip Kimball have five filters that they have implemented to assess technology within school systems. For our technology assignment we were to use their filters to assess a school district to see where the school falls within the filters. The filters are: administration, curriculum, support, connectivity, and innovation.  The administrative filter primarily deals with how Jersey Academy’s administrators, teachers, and support staff views technology from a usage and planning perspective. The four subsections are Policy, Planning, Budget, and Administrative.  The filter demonstrates how students and teachers determine technology goals, through available resources and usage. Jersey Academy’s Curricular section was rated based on five subsections:

  • Electronic Information
  • Assessment
  • Curriculum Integration
  • Teacher Use
  • Student Use

The support filter identifies contributors to the schools technology plan. Schools should include representation from all groups: students, teachers, administrators, parents, and communities. The issues in each area should be equally represented.Technical support should be accessible to help with technical issues, concerns, and questions. Schools should provide training and administrative support that is effectively educating leaders, students, and administration. Schools should also look into servers to host efficient Internet connections to provide proficient output.
The connectivity looks into three major ways used in school systems. First, there is District Area Networking (WAN) or wide area networks. These networks span a over a large area. Next, LANs exist on the local level within the WANs. Connectivity also consists of Internet access and the schools communication system.  The innovation filter analyzes a school’s ability to implement new technology.

The school that we looked into, *“The Jersey Academy” is located in Burlington County, NJ. The school receives sate and federal funding due to its abbot district status. The schools demographics are as follows:

  • Total Student Population: 328
  • Students: White (178 families), African American (57 families), Asian (10 families), Hispanics (83 families)
  • Employed Teaching Staff: 26 people
  • Employed Staff Support: 6 people
  • Current Available Technology Resources:
  • 3 smartboards for the school
  • 6 computers per classroom
  • no computer lab
  • 36 laptops on mobile station
  • wireless Internet access available throughout buildings

Peter H.R. Sibley and Chip Kimball have created a rubric to guide assessors with each filter, creating continuity among assessors. The rubric as well as the report has been embedded below.

Reflection:
Through this project I was able to attain insight about the schools, area of technological strengths and  weaknesses.  This was a difficult process for me. It is very different to be in the classroom and using technology. I always assumed each  teacher uses technology just a much as I do; apparently, not. The school has funding for computers but there is no incentive to use them in lessons. By doing this assessment I was able to speak with different teachers as they gave me a birds eye view of their technology use (or lack there of). I understand the frustration of having many things to finalize before the next bell rings, but the lack of technology use within the *“Jersey Academy” was both sad and frustrating. I found through this lesson that there is a large gap with teacher knowledge and what they should know and what they do know about technology. The lack of administrations push for technology implementation of plans seemed partially to blame. The “Jersey Academy” fell on the lower half of Peter H.R. Sibley and Chip Kimball’s rubric  in almost all areas. I found  a direct correlation to the administration. They create a divide  between themselves and the staff. There needs to be better communication and extensive accountability directed to both the administration as well as the teachers.
Some of the AECT standards that were connected to this lesson were as follows:
4.1 Project Management 
I saw how projects were brought up and how they fizzled out. Project management is a very important area in technology design. The Jersey Academy did not have a specific manager or coordinator to help keep projects alive and on task. There was such a lack of management many of the staff just threw in the towel.

5.1 Problem Management
This standard was looked into by my team just as project management was lacking true leadership, it seemed to directly impact problem management, negatively. There was one tech teacher that had a span of three schools, as well as the pseudo job of technology project manager. I say pseudo meaning this was not her assigned job, it was just assumed to be by staff members. Speaking with her I can understand her frustration. “I cant do everything, I was not hired to be the technology teacher, project manager, problem solver and tech trainer for all the staff! I teach what they tell me and the rest is assumed by the staff!” *Jane Doe, The Jersey Academy

5.4: Long-Range Planning
Long range planning without accountability, staff training and set goals is equal to failed policy, failed planning and teacher as well as student frustration. This school long range planning could have been much better. The disconnect felt by the staff is evident. Looking into this AECT standard it seems that an entire new administration would be the best way to fix everything! I know that sounds extreme, however the students are suffering as well as the staff.

This school indeed has found itself at the low end of the filter.

* names changed to protect the innocent!

“Technology Use Planning Overview”

Planning technology use within organizations is a process. While it may take time to put a plan into use and see positive results, there is sufficient help for designers, instructors and students. Technology use planning is a plan created to guide users within learning environments as they learn  and apply new technology.  Implemented over time by creating a sort of ‘blueprint’ outlining the organizations existing technology as well as future needs and expectations.  This is a plan that becomes part of an organizations core process. Although this plan takes time, it brings much to the table.  Looking into technology use planning one must not forget the emphasis of teacher training. We need teachers to feel confident as they demonstrate new technology within their organizations. Technology use planing needs not to be confined to academic settings. Technology use planning is an effective way to create an efficient workforce within an office or business setting as well as a classroom.  Technology use plans are the key to restructuring offices or schools to adjust the dynamic technological advancements within the 21st century.

As technology planing within organizations become more common, so is the need for guidelines helping designers create the systematic plans used to restructure technology use.  The new National Educational Technology Plan NETP 2010 is an effective and powerful resource for technology use planning due to its content. The NETP is a guide that is helping technology transform education, created by select professors. The NETP, “urges our education system at all levels to: Be clear about the outcomes we seek.  Collaborate to 
redesign structures and processes for effectiveness, efficiency, and flexibility.  Continually 
monitor and measure our performance. Hold ourselves accountable for progress and results every  step of the way. The national plan will help designers in Technology use planning on many levels.” (Education 2010).

The NETP gives the national overview of technological needs in education. As state technology standards vary the NETP looks at the larger picture and brings recommendations all state districts can benefit from.  The NETP suggests incorporation of individual assessments, individual learning and learning differentiation as well as personalized learning, all within the use of technology (Education 2010).  The NETP states that we must turn ideas into action. The NETP presents “five goals that address the key components of this plan-learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure and productivity- along with recommendations for stats, districts, the federal government, and other stakeholders in our education system for achieving these goals.” (Education 2010). With that said, the outline for the Technology use plans seem well in place as it gives designers their start as they work to collaborate within their districts to create effective plans for 21st century needs.

Both short term and long term tech use plans may be successful, however, according to John See form the Minnesota dept. of education, “Five year plans are too long. Technology is changing so fast that it is almost impossible to plan what type of technology will be available for use five years from now.”(See, 1992).  I must admit that I agree with See. Technology is changing at such a rapid pace I can not keep up with it on my own, let alone and entire organization.

Keeping a plan in action for five years may become problematic to all involved on several levels. First, there is the administrative nightmare trying to keep the budget balanced year to year.  As technology changes so will the price. What may have been a fair amount to budget for in the beginning may become unrealistic within the five year period.  Secondly, a lack of accountability may become  problematic as the approval will have been completed for five years. There may also be a lack of work completed that is strictly due to the comfort of job security of a five year plan that is implemented. The thought employees may have that their job is safe for five years because we are locked into a plan may not bring results that are as successful as a one year plan.  Third, long term plans may not be updated on a yearly basis, keeping cutting edge technology out of the picture.  Therefore, while noteworthy long term plans  are feasible, I believe capitalizing one year short term plans are more desirable.

Application of technology is a major goal of tech plans. See states that “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology” (See, 1992). This is a very telling statement. We need to learn how to meet the needs of each student. Creating a tech use plan that strictly focus on technology is not complete. What good is learning technology based plans with out knowing how to apply them. The purpose in creating these plans is to create the ability for student and teachers to apply learned knowledge and assess their skills more efficiently. This will all be implemented in a student-centric environment due to technology. Technology is the means however application is the end.

References:

Al-Weshail, A. S., Baxter, A., Cherry, W., Hill, E. W., Jones, II, C. R., Love, L. T.,  . . . Montgomery, F. H. (1996, May 7). Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan: Version 2.0. Mississippi State University. Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/downloads/guidebook.pdf

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010).
Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology.
Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010

See, J. (1992). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19(8). Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm