Death of Powerpoint?

5 Comments

Flickr CC by Wesley Freyer

Has PowerPoint revolutionized humanity to the point that it will be endured as the turning point of human ingenuity, or is it merely a ripple in the consciousness of humanity?  Likely, most users and viewers of PowerPoint have not contemplated the infinity or decline of this tool, but I have been challenged with considering the relative advantage of using it in the classroom.  As I read through resources regarding the effective use or advantages of using PowerPoint, my mind tended to lean toward a more philosophical consideration of how it will stand the test of time.

Please don’t judge me of any disposition against PowerPoint for I do use it as an effective tool in the classroom.  One of the clear advantages that I have observed is the visual power that it offers.  As I work with English language learners, I see that long wordy dictionary definitions are practically useless, when all my students need are visual connections to the meaning of a word.  I have used PowerPoint effectively for these purposes.  Other advantages include: the relatively user friendly access,  the ease of digital sharing, the motivational stimulus of the audience, and a great format for organizing content (Teachnology, n.d.).

One dilemma in determining the longevity of PowerPoint has to do with the educational transition from teacher centered  to student centered instruction. The more teacher centered a classroom is, I believe the effectiveness of PowerPoint will decline.  The more student centered a classroom is, I believe PowerPoint still has a lot of potential.  Students that are encouraged to create in PowerPoint will benefit more from the learning experience than just being a mere spectator. In addition, these students also need to be taught presentation techniques so they don’t make the infamous dreaded PowerPoint presentations.

For teachers, I believe the essence of PowerPoint has seen its “heyday” for offering the audience a novelty.  Of course, it can be used as a canvas for any creative design and presentation that can still “oooh” an audience, and PowerPoint has also adapted advanced feature that offer more bells and whistles, but the idea of putting a quadratic presentation in front of a group of students has lost some of its zing.  This, perhaps, might be related to the poor use of PowerPoint by teachers through the years, but it could also be related to emerging technologies.

The amount of people-power required to make something visually stimulating and engaging is often more than what a solo teacher can give.  Take for example the overhead projector and the VCR of the 80’s.  For the production in the VCR, a team of people worked diligently to create something entertaining and visually engaging.  One teacher with the overhead projector was not able to compete on the same level of entertainment, and the visual engagement was lacking.  However, the teacher did have the advantage of engaging in real time with humanistic interactions that appealed directly to the learner.  Nowadays, PowerPoint cannot compete with visual and audio rich media that is easily available, but the teacher still has the advantage of making a humanistic connection while using PowerPoint as a tool.

John Fiske, author of “Understanding Popular Culture”, states, “To be made into popular culture, a commodity must also bear the interest of the people” (Fiske, 2010).  This idea more than anything influences my thought that PowerPoint may eventually fade in importance.  The teachers that use it, will possibly lose interest due to the time consuming quality it has to not only create, but to stay current.  The students that view it and make it, already seem to be losing interest and opting for more rich media options such as YouTube.  Also, there are other web based tools, like VoiceThread and Prezi  offer other stimulating features and are starting gain popularity.  These web based tools along with Google tools offer the advantage integrating presentations easily on the web and it is easier on the budget.  PowerPoint has attempted to adapt, but is it going to be enough for….. oh, let’s say 100 years.

Reference:

No author specified. (n.d.). PowerPoint In the Classroom. TeAchnology. Education. Retrieved September 30, 2012, from http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/powerpoint/
Fiske, J. (2010). Understanding Popular Culture. Taylor & francis. p.19

 

Advertisements

EDTECH 504: Reflecting on Epistemology

Leave a comment

Before this course, Theoretical Foundations of Educational Technology, the word epistemology did not exist in my vocabulary.  OK, so I don’t anticipate that this word will appear in any popular titles of songs or movies, but surely in teacher circles you would expect to see or hear the word emerge from time to time.  However, in my decade long plunge into professional education, I don’t recall the word arriving to my consciousness.  Suddenly, I find myself in a situation, where I have to reflect on my own epistemological views and acknowledge my own teaching strategies, whether they follow along with my views.  Fortunately, my professor recently assigned me a substantial amount of reading on this subject, which is going to help me not only put together a position, but also reflect on where I see my professional self within that view. 

The term, epistemology, means the theory of knowledge and it was coined by a Scottish philosopher named James F. Ferrier (1808-64)(dictionary.com).  It is at the heart of education, through which knowledge is acquired.  The concept has its roots in centuries of philosophy and discussions related to the effect of education on individuals and societies (Phillips, 2009).  Overtime, theories have been developed to consider the most effective way to transmit knowledge to individuals.  The majority of the last century was dominated with behaviorism theories, which were based on external stimuli and external receptors (Roebler and Doering, 2012).  Technology’s influence over communication and data collection has led to epistemological shifts for creating and sustaining a variety of learning environments that are more student-centered rather than teacher-centered (Jonnasen and Land, 2012). Furthermore, in the 1990’s there was such a surge in brain research and identifying consciousness in individuals, even more theories are being developed around the internal process for obtaining knowledge (Demasio, 2002). 

As I was reading through many of these theories, the major theory branch of constructivism is where I was more inclined.   I recognized my inclinations towards its major characteristics for two primary reasons.  First, as a student in the EdTech program at Boise State, our content is steeped with constructive learning approaches.  Also, I have notice especially the last few years of my teaching profession, I have pushed for more constructive learning activities.  I think this approach came me both instinctively and as a learned strategy.  The instinct developed as part of my own learning experiences; growing up accepting mediocre achievements in my own education, I learned that by applying myself to a subject matter, I was able to accomplish beyond my low expectations.  Beyond the time frame of my formal education, I was able to acquire many skills, including near fluency in a foreign language.  Obviously, these personal experiences have effected me as a teacher, so that I understand that most of my students have untapped cognitive potential.  However, when I first started teaching, I fell back into teaching modes that were modeled for me in my earliest educational experiences.  Over time, I have adapted my teaching styles, where I try to submit my students to rich learning situations, but I try to let the learning grow from within them. 

I perceive the world through my perception, but I had to step aside and consider the world perceived by other learners.  Due to the many readings on learning theories, I found myself formulating the framework of my own theory.  Up to now, I have not deeply investigated one particular theory to see how much of my own philosophy matches up against it.  Basically, I see life and cognition within multiple phases.  As people develop through those phases, their cognitive senses respond differently.  Depending on the phase, certain systematic approaches to teaching and learning can be applied at varying intensities.  However, I am aware that theories related to society also affect the “how” and “what” that many learners obtain and the also effect the way people relate.  I have experienced cultural tendencies in life and in education.  I have witnessed people and students that are confident in one environment and when thrown in another, their personality is muted.  I also have imagined modern-day learners, with all their abilities to access to technology, entering into a primitive environment and they would be seen as useless.  I have also observed many generational differences that affect perspective.  Therefore, I believe that no learning theory can be independent from the theories that calculate society.  According to some of my readings, this philosophy has some similarities to the Social Activism Theory by John Dewey and the Child Development Theory by Jean Piaget, as well as some tidbits from other constructivist theories (Roebler and Doering, 2012).

When it gets down to the educational experience with my students, I am willing to use technology software such as drill and practice and tutorials to help them develop more foundation.  Some students have struggled to produce in a constructive learning approach due to their lack of prior knowledge or skill with language.  Yet, many of the technology tools that I try to introduce to my students are to give a queue or guide toward a learning challenge and let them a chance to create their own understanding.

References

epistemology. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved September 26, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/epistemology

Phillips, D.C., “Philosophy of Education”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.
Jonassen, D., & Land, S. (Eds.). (2012). Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (2nd ed.). Routledge.
Demasio, A. R. (2002). EBSCOhost: How the Brain Creates the Mind. Science American, Special Edition, 12(1), 4–9.

Machines Shouldn’t Grade Student Writing—Yet | NewAmerica.net

Leave a comment

Machines Shouldn’t Grade Student Writing—Yet

via Machines Shouldn’t Grade Student Writing—Yet | NewAmerica.net.

This is a great read for teachers that spend hours reading student writings.  There are programs that offer fairly reliable feedback for student writing, but more importantly, this type of software continues to develop.

A Buffet for Instructional Software in the Classroom

Leave a comment

Photo by Golden Nugget Restaurant

Food buffet culture has taught me to choose wisely, but I’m not without the occasional dilemma: ‘Should I eat a little of this or a lot of that’, or  ‘I know that I’m already full, but when will I have another chance to eat this or that’, and my biggest weakness, ‘There’s always room for desert’.  I usually don’t spend a lot of time pondering my options, but from experience, I’ve learned not to overindulge too much.  However, no one has ever laid a buffet before me with the following instruction: “Choose one or two items to eat every day for the year.”  If that weren’t ludicrous enough, imagine if they add this: “Oh, and by the way, you have to take a few hours to learn how to prepare this food so that you can serve it to your family everyday.”  I think it’s time to look for a new buffet restaurant.  Yet, in essence, many teaching professionals are asked to do this with instructional software.  The buffet of technology tools and packages is laid before the teachers; he or she can only choose one or two (even if they are free from the internet) because becoming familiar with the software requires a significant time commitment on top of the already busy schedule.

Most institutions make administrative decisions for technology infrastructure, and in many cases they will also choose instructional software, therefore they must also consider faculty training.  At this point of the process of technology integration, many teaching professionals resist because they either lack the time or foundational knowledge to pursue training, and quite often, they don’t see their lack of technology integration as a hindrance to education. (Kopyc, S. 2006).  Kopyc goes on to claim that training is not enough to insure technology integration, but a strong continue support is also needed.  With every new software or application a teaching professional passes through a learning curve before he or she applies it to a teaching approach, and for teachers with less experience with technology, the learning curve increases.

Regardless of wide adoption of software by an institution, individual teachers still have many personal options available to them for selecting a specific software tool to use.  In some cases the administration sets an available budget for a teacher or teaching department, in which the teachers can choose how to spend it.  Whether the teacher has a budget or not, there are still limitless resources available on the Internet that won’t cost anything but time.  Because of the many options, any teacher is faced with a buffet type dilemma when choosing a particular software to integrate in the classroom.

The buffet of resources is not anything new to education.  For years, teachers have received catalogs throughout the year promoting resource materials.  In addition. the teaching fairs and conferences are flooded with vendors, trying to show of their latest and greatest products.  At least at the fairs teachers had to opportunity to touch and view the resources, but the challenge of previewing software for possible integration is more in depth.  First, you must become aware of the software, then you must become familiar with it.  If it costs money, you have to see if your budget is enough.  If you choose a particular software, you have to consider if there is enough reliable infrastructure to use it; next you must spend time adapting your teaching strategy to it.  As a software is integrated, you must consider the learning curve of the students, and lastly you must measure the overall effectiveness of using the software.  So, metaphorically speaking, don’t go hungry to the buffet, better yet, ask for the guided tour of the buffet so that you can anticipate and plan your meal.

Teaching professionals need to stay abreast of trends related to teaching (Kopyc, S. 2006).  One of the strongest trends right now involves the integration of technology tools and applications.  Therefore, teachers must adapt to this trend.  To carefully measure the need and the justification for integrating any software, the whole process must start with the relative advantage  (Robleyer and Doering, 2012).  Whether it be the traditional classroom setting or a virtual classroom, teachers must know what the students need and consider what best suits the teaching strategy.  Here is an article, that helps guide teachers and parents to making the right selection for software.  Also, many teaching professional have joined networks, like Diigo in Education, where ideas for technology integration are shared.

Reference

Kopyc, S. (2006). Enhancing Teaching with Technology: Are We There Yet? Innovate, 3(2). Retrieved from http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=74
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

EdTech 504 Reflection: My experience and my vision

Leave a comment

This week’s reflection is for me to consider my own position and experience with regards to educational technology.  The following questions were suggested by the professor.

  • Where are you now, in terms of your own teaching and professional practice and the inclusion of educational technology in that process?

Now that I am starting my second year of the Master’s of EdTech, I really have taken off in many ways for applying technology to my lessons.  Furthermore, I am in a professional teaching situation that has allowed me to go outside the box, meaning I don’t really ask permission for many of the things that I do, and there are no clear policies that I am overstepping.  Last year, I set up my own class web page, which was a WordPress blog.  I required students to post there.  I also added a Facebook page and group so the students could have better communication with what I expect, but I did not require students to sign up.  This year, I am requiring all of my students to have Google accounts.  I have a project that an EdTech colleague and I have planned that will require our students to communicate and complete assignments together.  My students will be required to do many things online this year.  My goal, is to prepare myself for online teaching opportunities in the USA as early as the next school year.

  • What kind of change do you hope to see as a result of this class?

First of all, I hope to become more knowledgeable about many topics in education, especially as they relate to best practices and technology implementation.  I don’t know if I will be in the position of a policy maker some day, but I will need to be well informed for guiding and recommending educational policies.  Also, I have been able to take something from each course that I can use almost immediately in my teaching, so I hope that this course will also offer the same.

  • How might your knowledge and experiences influence the actions of those around you?

The question seems simple enough, but I am not sure if it is talking about my students and colleagues that are physically present day after day, or if it is referring to my course colleagues that are around in a virtual sense, since this is an online course.  I suppose I can answer both perspectives.

My students and colleagues have already felt the influence of my educational training.  I have other colleagues that are trying to adapt to some of the same technology tools that I have used, and the students have had a variety of assignments based on application of technologies that I have used in my courses.  I expect that will continue throughout this semester.

When I think of my virtual colleagues, I am not as certain of my influence.  Sometimes I wonder if I am regarded as the “wordy” colleague, because my posts seem to be longer than many others.  Also, when I respond to other posts, I will look at it with a critical eye and make comments accordingly, so I hope I don’t ever rub my colleagues the wrong way.  However, most of my colleagues recognize my unique insights and abilities, and one of my classmates from another course has partnered with me so that our students will enjoy a cross cultural project.

Topics | Edudemic

Leave a comment

My professor recommended this for the latest information about educational technology.

Topics | Edudemic.

Acceptable Use Policies

3 Comments

Photo by: Professor Mark J. Perry’s Blog for Economics and Finance

I’m at the airport and a man wants to borrow my pencil.  The simplest logic would tell me that he needs to write something, so I lend the pencil with no questions asked.  The man gets up and goes to the bathroom and is soon out of sight; the last I saw him, my pencil was in his hand.  Suddenly, I am more curious why he wanted to borrow my pencil.  My first thought is, “Will I ever see my pencil again?”.  Then, I begin to imagine why the man would need my pencil in the bathroom.  My thoughts are now out of control and more dark in nature.  Perhaps it’s unsanitary what he is doing with my pencil, or even darker; what if he is a hit man that is taking somebody out and my pencil is the instrument of choice.  Oh Lordy!  What have I done!  Now I’m too afraid to enter the bathroom to soothe my curiosity, so I wait.  Eventually, the man comes out, walks up to me, and extends his hand with a thank you.  I notice that the pencil is much shorter, the eraser has been chewed off, and it is wet.  Now let me ask you, would you take the pencil back?

This is not a true account and no pencils were harmed in the telling of this story, nonetheless, it does provide a good introduction for discussing acceptable use policies.  Usually there are no risks involved in lending someone a pencil, but as this analogy attempts to demonstrate, that even something as simple as a pencil can be used in less than desirable ways or even cause danger if not used properly.  Pencils can easily be replaced, but when the stakes are higher, more consideration should be taken to establish an acceptable use agreement.  The more obvious point would be not to lend expensive computer equipment as easily as you would lend a pencil, but the acceptable use policy must extend to the appropriate ways to use the equipment as well as the internet service provided.  In the same way that a pencil can be used in an unclean or dangerous way, technology devices and the internet can also be used inappropriately.  As a tool, there are limitless ways the devices and the internet can be used for good, but crafty are those that also use them for bad.  Therefore, an acceptable use policy must account for the proper treatment and use of the technology devices and services, yet it should be clear and concise and more practical for common student understanding.

My teaching experience in the USA has been limited to younger students, often still naive to the virtual evils.  In addition, we worked in a closed laboratory environment, where my presence was constant, the school network already screened most sites, and the students did not have online communication with each other.  Yes, there was an acceptable use policy, but it was not as relevant to them, as long as they weren’t hitting the computers.  Now, I work internationally in a private school, where the majority of the student population has their own equipment.  There really is no acceptable use policy in place.  I required students to sign a contract before bringing their laptops to schools.  Now that students will be communicating with other students online, I made sure that they respond to my message, that they understand anything they post can be shown to teachers, administrators, and parents.  Students don’t connect by mobiles to the router, but many of them have 3G or 4G access.

Most resources approach the  subject of acceptable use policies (AUPs) by referring to the behaviors and risks involved in online activity, rather than the actual treatment of the computer.  According to Education World, the National Education Association recommends including two sections for both an acceptable use and unacceptable use, which specifically indicates behaviors related to online activity.

Also, there does not seem to be a consistent approach to how schools word the policy.  “Student AUPs vary greatly in tone, a review of about one dozen documents online shows. Some are student-friendly and warm, with clearly defined terms. Others sound cold, legalistic and sometimes vaguely threatening.” (Education World, 2012).  Perhaps some of the institutions consider the legal risk more than the students’ ability to comprehend, so they might draft something more like a legal document.  On the other hand, some institutions value the students understanding and will make an AUP to accommodate them.

The following links are acceptable use policies from different high schools.

Saint Francis High School:  This policy has a lot of common statements that would appear in a policy for students in my school, because they value moral conduct based in religious teachings.

Ulysses S. Grant High School:  This school is a specialty school that focuses on technology and communication.  Nonetheless, their acceptable use policy is not very wordy and states expectations directly.

Nashoba Regional High School: This looks to be a poorer example of an acceptable use policy, as the purpose and expectations are not clearly stated from the beginning.  In addition, the site outsources much of their information and standards by putting links.  The information available in these links may be good, but it does not help to clearly define an acceptable use policy for their school.

Parramatta Marist High School: This is another poor example as the acceptable use policy looks more like a legal document that lawyers would chew on, rather that something that students can use and understand as a practical guide.

Reference:

Education World: Getting Started on the Internet: Developing an Acceptable Us… (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2012, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml

Older Entries