Benefits of Technology in Education: From a Special Education View

I read the article on edweek.org that was titled Technology in Education: An Overview.  One of the subtopics this article focused on was how technology can benefit personalized learning.  The author of this article, Benjamin Herold, proves that technology can be beneficial for students and teachers because it can accommodate a lot of disabilities, or provide an alternative language to meet students specific needs.  Herold writes, “The idea is that digital devices, software, and learning platforms offer a once-unimaginable array of options for tailoring education to each individual student’s academic strengths and weaknesses, interests and motivations, personal preferences, and optimal pace of learning.”  Herold claims that technology can offer resources for a student that teachers cannot always offer, especially for students with disabilities.

Already, I have seen the benefits of technology used in my practicum classroom.  I am working with the Special Education program that is mostly 4th graders who struggle with dyslexia.  As I observed the students during their writing period, the Special Educator showed me how the students utilize features on Google Docs to assist their disability as he or she is writing their essays.  This electronic feature will provide not only spelling suggestion, but other words similar to the word the student is typing.  Further, this feature will also read the essay, singular sentence, or selected word, back to the student.  This benefits the students with dyslexia because they can listen to their papers, and make changes where they need to be implemented.  The students struggle with recognizing the misspelling of a word, so this feature will read each word back to the student, incase they used a similar word but not the correct one.  Or, if he or she thought they spelled a word correctly, but the audio is telling them the correct pronunciation of the word, they actually wrote, they are given suggestions of what they might have been trying to spell.  This is a simple example that proves the educational benefits of technology, especially for students with disabilities.

Technology as a Tool to Support Instruction By Lynne Schrum

This is the link to the article http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech004.shtml

I think this is a really interesting article. I agree that just implanting technology into classroom, is not going to help. Teachers need to be trained on how to use the technology to benefit their students. I agree that if students are using a computer for a class assignment it encourages them to be active, instead of doing nothing. However, teachers must make sure that what they are doing on the computer is productive. Another point made in the article, which I haven’t thought about before, is that computers can create students to be assessed and produce different types of answers, rather than just paper and pen tests. Technology is useful and beneficial, when used in the right sense and productively.

Teacher Tools That Integrate Technology: Educational Blogging

This week I read the article Teacher Tools That Integrate Technology: Educational Blogging by Kimberly Lightle. She describes the ever-growing concept of blogging as one of the most easily accessible and free to use tools that can have an astounding impact on student learning. This is obviously a tool we are using in this class, so I was able to apply the sort of benefits of blogs that Lightle discussed.

One aspect of blogging that makes it so unique is the allowance of communication from teacher to students, teacher to parents, and student to student. Anyone can have access to a blog, so while students are reading each other’s work and making comments, parents could also check in and see what the class is focusing on. This direct access is something that does not exist in classrooms typically, so by incorporating blogging there is a greater form of communication between everyone.

Lightle also pointed out that blogging could generate a fresh motivation for students who are not as into actually physically writing on paper. A blog is a new innovative way for students to express themselves, which can hold very successful results. As students get older, the blogging could be expanded so that everyone can create their own blog, which greatly empowers the student’s own creativity. Blogging is a versatile educational tool that can have an amazing benefit to students.

5 Reasons Tablet PC’s are the future of Classroom Technology

After discussing e-books last week, I thought that it would be interesting to look up articles regarding tablets within the classroom and if they were really all they were cracked up to be. The use of tablets were not used within any of the schools i attended before coming to college so I wanted to see if they were as great as people make them out to be. My sister is one who has begun to use iPads in school rather than books and notebooks and it sparked an interest in my mind. I found the article 5 Reasons Tablet PC’s are the future of Classroom Technology and the first point that was made really opened up my eyes about a positive reason why tablets are provided to students by the school. What they called “standardization” just made me remember that not every student comes from the same economic background and some students can’t afford certain things compared to others and it is not their fault. If a school provides every student with the ability to use the same type of tablet during the school day, there are no differences between what certain students can do or afford compared to others. This really tries to break students away from the social classes and negatives effects it can have on students. This concept is continued to the “accessibility” point that is made within the article and explains that public schools are required to give every student equal access to technology during the school day and that allows students to have equal opportunities to use something that they may not be able to use at home or because of other reasons. They explain that the price of tablets cuts so many expenses down that would have been spent on computers within the school which helps school districts spend more money and time on focusing on the students and their individual needs if they have any. Functionality also allows the teachers to do more activities with their students and broadens the horizons of topics and lessons that can be covered during the school year. The biggest concern that schools need to be aware of is the protection of each student and the school district itself. Any type of tablet needs to have a protective lock on the internet and firewalls that are built into the device in case students try and go onto unsafe sites. I thought that it was so interesting that schools were pushing for tablet use in order to allow students to have an equal playing field in the classroom and have the same materials at their fingertips. I never thought that a school district would purchase tablets in order to get that message across. I always thought that if schools could afford tablets they would buy them in order to make strides in their test scores and their classroom experiences. There are so many other interesting factors that go into deciding if a school wants to and can afford to purchase tablets for their students.

“Technology is Perfect for Homework”

http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/technology-in-education/index.html

This article is entitled, “Technology in education: An Overview,” and is written by Benjamin Harold. This article explains all of the advantages and sometimes challenges with technology in the classroom as well as the United State’s progress in this area. The article states, “Public schools in the United States now provide at least one computer for every five students. They spend more than $3 billion per year on digital content.” It is amazing the amount of money the government spends on technology, however, it is unfortunate that teachers do not receive the proper training to fully take advantage of the opportunities new technology have to offer. In addition, I also think it is incredibly strange how many teachers are set in their old habits, without technology. As a teacher, it is necessary to be flexible and knowledgable about the progress of our nation in order to be able to adapt to different generations.

It is very interesting how technology can be viewed as a support system for not only the students, but for the teachers as well. Technology supports the idea of blended learning and personalized learning. Blended learning combines traditional, teacher-to-student lessons with technology-based instruction in order to emphasize that whatever happens online should be connected with face-to-face interaction. Personalized learning refers to the idea that technology should be tailored to each individual student’s academic strengths and weaknesses, interests and motivations, personal preferences, and optimal pace of learning. I believe technology is a perfect tool for classwork, homework, communication, applications, etc. Our work relies heavily on technology and it is only fair for our teachers and students to catch up on it. As teachers and students, we need to embrace and adapt properly to new technology, devices, and software and use it to it’s full capacity.

 

Podcast Comments

I found this podcast to be very interesting and informative.  Betsy Corcoran, an employee of EdSurge, an educational technology company, classified apps into three categories: Teachers Managing Daily Life, Students Building, and Learning.  The first category consists of grading apps, outlets to communicate with students, ways to collect homework, and apps that track student behavior.  The second category can include apps that allow students to work on programming, coding, and building different objects.  The third category, Learning, involves interactive ebooks, virtual textbooks, apps that teach how to speak different languages, and apps that focus on reading.  While Betsy’s opinions on technology in the classroom were quite positive, she mentioned that humans learn by doing things, instead of observing.  If an app is not interactive enough, or students are not able to experiment with something hands-on (building a tower, flipping pages in a book), the learning is not fully there.

One other idea mentioned in the podcast that I found to be interesting was in regards to time displacement.  One hour with screen time translates to one hour that a child is not interacting face to face with somebody, using manipulatives, or exploring nature.  Discovery and experimentation are lost during this hour.  Some can argue that students can experiment and utilize apps that encourage self-discovery, so there is no loss, but ultimately there needs to be a good balance of both screen time and “traditional” experimental time.  Finally, I found the discussion about teacher preparation programs to be compelling.  Some researchers have mentioned that with the increase of apps, there is not enough time (in our current teacher prep curriculum) to train educators and allow them to experiment and learn how to use them properly.  It is my hope that this will change throughout the years, and perhaps all schools will require students to participate in an Educational Technology course (especially PC) in order to graduate.  Overall, I enjoyed listening to this podcast.

Technology For Teachers: Plickers

Much of what we have been talking about this semester is on the positive impact incorporating technology has on our students. However, technology can also have a positive impact for the teachers who are using it!

I had just learned about Plickers from my mom who is a highschool teacher. Plickers is a online website that allows you to conduct formative assessment without having all your students have to have a computer or tablet in front of them. Plickers is sort of confusing to explain, which is why I included the edshelf link below (if you click on the link there is a short clip that shows how it is used). Essentially the teacher creates a login online and can create questions that they would want to project or ask students while teaching their lesson. Each student is provided with a unique shaped card (that you print off the website). On this shaped card, there is a labeled A,B,C,D on different edges of the shape, and the student holds up the side of the card that they wish to answer with. The teacher then takes their tablet or their smart phone and scans the classroom using the app. The app is able to not only indicate each student’s answer, but it also knows which student answered which answer because of the different shape each student is given. The teacher can then chose to project the graph that shows how many answered each question. The teacher can also refer to their roster to see which particular student answered each question, which allows them to see if certain students are understanding the concepts being taught.

Now at first I thought how kahoot or clickers seem like a much better option than this where you have to printout cards, scan the room, and then get the data. However, the positive about this piece of technology is that the only one who needs technology is the teacher. The students only need their cards to answer the questions. The teacher simply needs a tablet or smartphone and possibly a projector to show the questions.  In addition, students don’t know what other students are answering because their shapes are unique and the a,b,c,d are labeled too small for others to see. I thin this is a great piece of technology for teachers to use! Check it out below if you are interested.

https://edshelf.com/tool/plickers/

https://plickers.com/