Monday, August 28, 2006

Digital Camera and the Classroom Websites: Visual Learning Irony

I have been preparing a presentation on using the digital camera to improve student learning in the various subject areas. I found tons of websites about the topic such as http://www.glenbard.net/Glenbard_North/pages/library/2005/services/audio-visual/help/digicam-sites.html

Most of them described a multitude ways in which teachers could use digital cameras.


However, I find it highly ironical that when a website tells about how teachers and students can use a digital camera in the classroom, it does not show actual photographs. If a website is emphasizing visual learning, then the website should use visuals! This seems to be the same as describing the Mona Lisa instead of showing her in an Art class. Imagine if a math teacher could not show students what a square or triangle looked like!


Students can be engaged in learning through digital cameras. Their abstact learning becomes very real when they have to demonstrate their learning. Students already know how to use cameras and probably the only thing for them to learn is how to reduce the memory size to make their PowerPoints or webpages


The following photograph taken in Tijana, Mexico can serve as

  • a writing prompt for descriptive writing for ELA students

  • a writing prompt for comparison writing (the man and the statue) for ELA students

  • an analysis picture for Social Studies students of the Mexican culture

  • a speaking prompt for Spanish students.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Online Collaboration Tools: Theory and Reality

A university developed an online collaboration tool based on a constructivist framework. Instructors have used this tool for more than ten years. Recently an analysis of its use was done. The reality was that most instructors used it for students to submit their homeworks and some used it for online discussions. Most instructors did not grade the discussions and many of those that did grade tended to grade the number of entries in the discussion. Students did have a virutal shared work space in which to work on prescribed assignments. These uses do not reflect a constructivist envionment


A public school librarian told me about the blogs in his school. Again, they used an online collaborative tool mainly for students to post their thoughts on topics but with no interaction among the students. Each student got to put in one thought about the topic. The contents of the blog were not studied in class and the students were not tested on the content of the blog.

The question becomes “How can we promote in-depth learning through online collaborative tools?


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Technology Integration Questions

My position has changed this year so that I will be working with public schools in technology integation. I am excited since I have done this before about nine years ago. I will be interested to see how much technology integration has actually changed in P12 schools. I know that there has been an influx of technology into the schools and that the newer teachers know how to mechanically use technology.

The question is "How can I help teachers to improve student learning through technology?" I do many workhops and conference presentations for P12 teachers so I have some idea. There is a drastic difference between technology use and improving student learning through technology. Also, there is a drastic difference between improving student learning through technology and meeting school's goals through technology use. I have done many in school inspections where I analyzed technology inspection and student learning.

Some questions I have for myself for this year are
How closely related is the teacher's technology use to the stated student learning? It the particular use an effective and efficient one?
How many different technology use strategies do teachers employ in their class?
How many teachers want their students to interact with people from other states and nations so their students will be global students?
How willing are teachers to use data to measure student learning on a weekly basis?
How willing are teachers to change how the presently use technology if those uses are not focused on building or departmental goals?
Do teachers only focus technology use on the "big tests" or do they focus on 21st century skills?
How often do teachers model good technology use in their presentations?
How often is technology used to foster higher level thinking skills as opposed to lower level memorization skills?