Edtech 597: Response to Instructor Prompt:



(image taken from: takingnote.learningmatters.tv)

There are so many opinions as to whether or not technology in the classroom is beneficial. If you look at it from one point of view, we have to make sure that our students are prepared for success. They must know how to use technology to compete in the business world. One the other hand, as Jamie McKenzie states in her article, there really is not any solid data that shows that technology increases achievement/ability.

As I was thinking about my response to this post, I was reminded of a radio show that I was listening to as I traveled home from Florida this weekend. The hosts were talking about the wonderful memories that they had from their childhood. They were talking about how today’s children do not learn about the world around them because they do not go outside and explore. They were talking about how they played outside with used tires, old lawnmowers, and junk that they found in the garage. They commented on how children today stay inside and play on their computers. I have to say that I agree with this. I think that children are also lacking in social skills because they do not play with others. I feel that play is an important part of developing social skills.

I am not sure how I feel about the older generation being digital immigrants. I am not a young person. I won’t tell you how old I am, but the Beetles were popular when I was a kid. I think that as technology has become more integrated into our society, everyone has had to adapt and learn. My own father has an iPad. He is on his computer a lot!

In summary, there are pros and cons to technology use. I think that it does help to simplify tasks and can be a beneficial tool for use in education. As with all tools, it must be used correctly. Children should also be encouraged to put down there iPads and explore the world around them.

What do you think?


EdTech 597: Guest Blog

(This guest blog was written by Lewis Turner.  Lewis is the Senior Director of IT for VT Griffin Group based in Atlanta, Ga. He is also my husband.  I asked him to comment one type of IT related job. The focus of this post was the different jobs of System Analyst.)

System Analyst:

The jobs of systems analysts are varied, but the outcome is the same.  Systems analysts design computer systems for larger user such as retailers, financial companies, government departments and the Armed Forces as well as small entities.  The underlying goal of the systems analysts is system development and implementation. 

Systems analyst usually specializes in one area.  An analyst may specialize as an applications systems analyst, computer tester, data modeler, network analyst or operations systems analyst.  They also usually specialize in either business, scientific, or engineering applications.  The types of goods delivered usually depend on the analysts’ area of expertise and the client for whom the analyst is working with to understand their problem.

In computer manufacturing firms, systems analyst design application software for the computers.  They also prepare technical documentation and instructional manuals relevant to the establishment and functionality of entire operational systems.  These systems usually track incoming and outgoing inventory, produces in production, tracking of the shipment and accounting for the income of the produced product.  

In the Armed Forces, system analyst design applications that assist all Military Service personnel in doing their daily jobs.  One such application is the Federal Logistic Information Service.  This application was designed to keep track of all the bullets, guns, missiles, spare parts for the M1 tank, and other things for the armed forces(http://www.reachoutmichigan).  The systems analysts must ensure they have a full understanding of the applications functionality and that the systems meeting the user’s exception.

As you can see, the jobs performed by the systems analysts can be very complex and difficult to fully understand the user’s business.  The goods that are produced by systems analysts are generally determined by the client and the type of industry that the analyst is working in and by the size of the project.

This entry was posted on July 9, 2012. 4 Comments

Commentary Entry: EdTech 597

I am amazed at some of the technologies that were discussed in the 2011 Horizon Report. It is almost overwhelming to know that we, teachers, will probably be using some of these technologies in the coming years. Just when you think you have mastered one form of technology, another form is introduced. At my school, we have already started phasing out textbooks. All of our textbooks are available on line. Students can log in and complete homework without the use of physical textbooks. I guess one day there will not be a need for book bags!  We also have laptop carts so students have access to laptops during the day. I can see that soon students will probably be using electronic books. Many students already have IPads and other mobile devices.

While reading the 2011 Horizon Report, the technology that I found very interesting  was the “gesture based” computing. In gesture based computing, computing is triggered by human gestures. I know that there are computer games that already use this technology, but the idea of using it in teaching is amazing.  According to the 2011 Horizon Report, examples of gesture based computing include:

•Georgia Tech University researchers who have developed gesture-based games to help deaf children learn linguistics.

•The Sixth Sense project from MIT provides a gesture interface that can be used to augment information into real world spaces.

•Wii based medical training-After discovering the significant improvement in dexterity that surgeons-in-training gained from playing with the Wii (48%), researchers are developing a set of Wii-based medical training materials.

In my school district, each classroom has a Promethean Board. I can see being able to use these boards like giant iTouch screen. The students would be able to actually manipulate objects on the screen with a touch, or a gesture. This technology would be easy for students to use, as most of them already have gesture based games such as Wii.

Some web sites to take a look at that use gesture based programs are:

Siftables: The future of play.  A gesture based play platform that has the potential for educational impact. https://www.sifteo.com/

Delicious (a social bookmarking site): Gesture-Based Computing – http://delicious.com/tag/hz10+altinput

Other gesture based technology is already in the works.  MIT researchers have developed a system that could make gestural interfaces much more practical, and inexpensive.  Aside from a standard webcam, like those found in many new computers, the system uses only a single piece of hardware: a multicolored Lycra glove that could be manufactured for about a dollar (Hardesty,Larry). This glove uses finger gestures to manipulate objects. It’s current application would be for games. However, it’s creators envision its use in other platforms.

There are numerous videos available on YouTube about gesture based computing. These are a few that I found very interesting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8jtplHcAYg  This video discusses the basics of gesture based computing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3garGwa63E  This video is really cool. It discusses Evoluce multi touch and touchless gesture based computing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0OAQX1ZbQs&feature=relmfu  This is a technology that couch potatoes will love. Gesture based remote control.

The implications that I can foresee with using gesture based technology in the classroom is the cost and the complexity. Schools would have to purchase the software and tools to use with the technology. Hopefully, some aspects of computing will still have to be controlled manually. For me, I would hate to see students not learn basic keyboarding skills.

This entry was posted on July 6, 2012. 4 Comments

EdTech 597: Discussion Entry-Teacher Retention

teacher retention


I recently came across an article on the Internet which I found to really hit home. The article was directed at teacher burnout and the turn over rate in the teaching profession. I found this interesting because I struggle each year when contracts are sent out as to whether or not I am going to sign my contract.  Don’t get me wrong….I love teaching. I also love the children, their parents, and my co workers. It is the bureaucracy that drives me crazy. I have been teaching for almost twenty years and have witnessed many changes in education. We no longer teach our students about the world, we teach them to memorize items that are on a test. Creativity in teaching is a thing of the past. Teachers are held accountable for high stakes test scores. It seems that I am not alone. According to the article, “current and former teachers lamented their chronically low pay — that was expected — but they also brought up their lack of autonomy, as classroom instruction is increasingly dictated by bureaucratic mandates.” One of the teachers interviewed stated:   “There are the days when you’re overwhelmed with paperwork, don’t have enough time for planning lessons, need time to collaborate with your peers, have parents that want meeting after meeting and still are never satisfied, and put in a load of overtime that the administration seems to expect but never recognizes with praise or compensation.”  I am also often overwhelmed with paper work and with what seems like unrealistic expectations from the administration. Ioften feel so defeated. I watched 19 veteran teachers leave the profession, or change schools, on the last day of school this year. I makes me very sad.  The article also stated:

 Each teacher who leaves costs a district $11,000 to replace, not including indirect costs related to schools’ lost investment in professional development, curriculum, and school-specific knowledge. At least 15 percent of K-12 teachers either switch schools or leave the profession every year, so the cost to school districts nationwide is staggering — an estimated $5.8 billion.

These are staggering figures. We are in the midst of an economic crisis. Districts cannot afford to be losing teachers. Something must be done to change the policies and attitudes that are now in place. I am not sure what could be done to elemenate teacher burnout. I feel the answer lies in radical change.

What are your thoughts on teacher retention?  What changes do the think need to be made to the current system to retain teachers? What problems do you see that cause the high rate of teacher turnover?

(Link to article: http://www.edutopia.org/schools-out#)

This entry was posted on June 24, 2012. 7 Comments

EdTech 597: Links Entries for Educators

I have been posting about technology tools for educators. There are many new tools available! I learn about something new everyday. As I was looking around on the internet for some new, popular tools that educators are using, I came across the tools below. Check them out and see what you think! Oh yeah, did I mention that they are all free? Yep….all of them available at no cost to you!

* https://www.zoho.com/creator/ – Lets you build custom apps.

* http://search.creativecommons.org/ – Searches multiple sites for free images.

* http://www.google.com/educators/p_apps.html– Google Education Edition

* https://www.dropbox.com/– Dropbox lets you access any files from anywhere

* http://wallwisher.com/-Allows multiple users to simultaneously post to a “wall” using little notes.

* http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html -Allows active screen capture with or without audio.

* http://www.docspal.com/– Allows you to convert up to five files at a time from one file format to another.

* http://tagul.com/ – Creating a word cloud from a document or Web site.

* http://www.netvibes.com/en – Monitor all your apps, feeds, sentiments, Tweets and even enterprise systems—all in real-time.

* http://photopeach.com/ –  Create a slideshow on the fly and share it with others via email, IM, or Facebook or simply embed it into your blog.

The list above represents technology tools that educators can use. You might be looking for tools for your students to use. Here are a few that students might find useful. Some of these are free, and some of them are pay sites. Check them out!

* http://openstudy.com/ -Get live help, social studying, help other students.

* http://www.brightstorm.com/ – Free homework help and affordable test prep.

* https://www.desmos.com/ – A beautiful and free online graphing calculator.

* http://www.carrotsticks.com/ – The fun way to give your kids an edge in math.

* http://motionmathgames.com/ – Creates fun mobile learning games that let kids play with numbers.

* http://www.brainnook.com/ –  An online game that helps kids develop math and English skills.

* http://www.mindsnacks.com/ –  Learn languages on your iPhone. 6 games in 1.

* http://www.stickeryapp.com/ – Mobile learning for kids customized for mobile parenting.

* http://www.educationarcade.org/ –  Explores games that promote learning.

This entry was posted on June 23, 2012. 5 Comments

EdTech597:List Entries for Learning

I am often looking for new innovative tools to incorporate technology into my classroom. Well, it seems that other educators are looking for the same tools. The Center for Learning and Technology is focused on the use of new technologies for learning. Each year, the group asks educators to vote on the top 100 learning tools of the year. They compile a list based on what educators are using, and then open up on line voting. Some of the tools which have been submitted are as follows:

* WordPress – Dreams easily come true  
* YouTube – Spreading online or embedding in a site  
* Prezi – Fun, easy and extremely versatile  
* Evernote – A friend with an elefant memory  
* Snagit – Always at hand to make instant learning assets  
* Camtasia – Snagit’s older brother  
* iPad and Apps – A digital swiss army knive  
* TeamViewer – A virtual classroom in your pocket  
* JoomlaLMS – A LMS with the power of Joomla  
* Articulate StoryLine – New and simply fantastic

These were the most common tools used by educators this year. What is a technology tool? According to C4LPT,  a tool is something  you use for teaching, training or creating learning content/solutions for others, and/or a tool you use for your own personal or professional learning. The C4LPT also provides information on the following types of tools:

*A wide range of informational and educational sites for general reference, how-to guides, wikis, how-to videos,     podcasts, courses, lessons, tutorials (including open courseware), e-books as well as other reference resources and places to ask questions both online and on your mobile.

* Tools for creating, delivering, managing and/or tracking learning and/or providing a formal social learning environment.

* Tools for social and collaborative platforms. These platforms include public social networks, tools to create private collaborative spaces for groups or communities.

* Twitter application tools. These tools include a range of useful Twitter applications.

* Tools for delivering live meetings, screen sharing and virtual worlds

* Tools to create, host and share documents, PDFs, e-Books, presentations and spreadsheets.

* Tools to create blogs, web pages/sites and wikis as well as provide interactivity on those sites.

* Tools to create, edit and/or host images, avatars, audio files, podcasts, screencasts and videos.

Some of these tools I currently use, some I have never heard of. How about you? What would your list of favorite learning tools look like?

To learn more, follow the link below to the C4LPT web site:



This entry was posted on June 23, 2012. 3 Comments

Please let us blog…

This week in class, we were to write a letter and draft a proposal convincing the powers at be to allow blogging in the classroom. I would hope with all of the advances in technology, and the desire to make sure that our students are able to compete in this digital age, that school districts would be open to bloggin in the classroom. At any rate, here is a copy of the letter that I drafted to go along with my proposal. I tried to provide evidence that technology is a necessary tool for using in the classroom. I have also included a video that I found that was made by students about the importance of blogging in the classroom. Enjoy!



Letter to School District


To: School District

Re: Why consider blogging in the classroom?


Dear Sir/Madam


Not so long ago, cell phones, laptops, pagers, and fax machines were viewed as things that might have belonged in a science fiction novel. . Today, those technologies, along with the Internet are common place. The technological changes which have come about have affected every aspect of our lives.  It is clear that in today’s Digital Age students must be technologically literate to live, learn, and work. Most experts agree that students should develop technological skills in the context of learning and solving problems related to academic content (Baker & O’Neil, 2003).  Technology continues to evolve. In the digital age that we live in, students expect to use technology. Technology can be seen as a universal construction material, greatly expanding what people can create and what they can learn in the process (Resnick, 1998).                                                                                        

Because of advances in technology, the key term “learning” has taken on a new meaning. In today’s world, computer-based technology is an important part of any curriculum. During the last decade, technology expenditures tripled in K–12 schools in the United States; estimates suggest that over $6 billion was spent in 1999–2000 (Sivin-Kachala & Bialo, 2000). Research shows that technology tools support the development of higher-order thinking skills. Higher-order thinking and problem solving skills leads deeper understanding of academic content domains. I have witnessed in my own classroom how students  apply these problem solving skills when using software programs, or Internet websites to practice, or learn, new skills. Often times, the computer serves as a type of  “peer tutor.”  One distinction that we have found particularly helpful comes from Thomas Reeves (1998) who describes learning  “from” computers as different than learning “with” computers. When students are learning “from” computers, the computers are essentially tutors. In this capacity, the technology primarily serves the goal of increasing students’ basic skills and knowledge. Powerful technologies are now available that can help students transform information into knowledge. One study found that when students used the Internet to research topics, share information, and complete a final project within the context of a semi-structured lesson, they became independent, critical thinkers (Coley, Cradler, & Engel, 1997).  

As the Internet becomes an increasingly pervasive and persistent influence in people’s lives, the phenomenon of the blog stands out as a fine example of the way in which the Web enables individual participation in the marketplace of ideas. Teachers have picked up on the creative use of this Internet technology and put the blog to work in the classroom. The education blog can be a powerful and effective technology tool for students and teachers alike. At this time, I would like to incorporate blogs into my own classroom. Based on the research which I have conducted, I strongly believe that blogs will help close the digital gap and foster higher order thinking skills. Please see my attached proposal for using blogs within my classroom.

Thank you for your consideration,

Debbie Turner


This entry was posted on June 23, 2012. 1 Comment