EdTech 512: Design the Course Site

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To help put your preview in context, the online course is for grade 4 students and the course is delivered in Spanish.  The project site is in English, but the student site is in Spanish.

Project Site: La Clase del Maestro Dann

Student Site: La Escritura para estudiantes de 4

Sorry, no time for creativity.  This is the latest that I have ever turned in an assignment.  There were some abstract concepts in this module that I had trouble getting my head around.  Additionally, it did not help that my wife and I were in the midst of a move this week. We just bought a kitchen table and it serves as our desk for the time being and the chairs are the only furniture we have for sitting.  This post is me trying to persevere.  Here are the questions I need to address.

In what ways did you use type to draw attention to important content or to organize your materials?

From the start, when I began to build a project site, I used a template in Google sites.  The template came with a lot of graphic features. There were some icons that were not appropriate for the message that I wanted to convey, so I found some on Creative commons that were acceptable and I replaced the template icons.  I also added my photo in the header so the students can identify me with the course.  I selected a font in the header according to the instructions that were given this week.

As far as the LMS, I am completely limited by Edmodo for making any design changes to the class site.  The only distinctions I can make are the types of posts that I make, and they don’t even offer image files to be uploaded. Therefore, I contacted Professor Hinck and we came to a consensus that I would make a sister-site to the project web-page, which would be accessed by the students.  Fortunately, I was able to copy the project site, so most of the design features are consistent between the two sites, only the delivery language changes between the two sites.

How do the shapes that you used help convey your message? What colors did you use and why?

As I mentioned in the previous question, the template offered many icon images that were acceptable for how I set up my site, but there were a couple that did not go along with the menu selections, so they had to be changed.

In response to color selection, at first I was only writing in default, paragraph html, but I would used bold and change the size and color of the font to give it variety.  I later decided that color coordinating is not my strong suit so I started using the heading codes that go with the template.  I saw a big improvement in color coordination and contrast.  The headings also provided nice lines of separation to section off each individual sub-heading.

Explain in detail what you did in your design to address contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity

In the previous question I addressed contrast, but since my theme has a white background, it is pretty simple to choose a font color to contrast it.  The colors I had originally chosen were not of bad contrasts, they just didn’t match the rest of the theme.  Once I started using the tiered headings, the colors not only had a good contrast, but also matched the site.

The alignment, repetition, and proximity were features that were very simple to work with because of the template.  The content lined up nicely to the left with adequate space given to the sidebar.  I used bullet and intentions to offset some of the information below each subtitle.  Also, each new page that was created already took on features from the template.  I made a point to follow as much consistency on the headings and sub headings as possible.

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EdTech 512: Choosing a LMS

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I’m not necessarily a traditionalist, but sometimes I miss the simple things. I have been a registered number since birth, but I never had to keep track of such numbers until life introduced me to pass-codes and later passwords. For me, it all started with a 4-digit code to give my ATM card access to my first bank account. I’m not naive to think that codes, numeric or otherwise, are something new to the world, but in this age of digital identity, there are many pass-codes and password requirements that sometimes it can feel overwhelming.  I do remember what life was like before passwords.  Even though I have adjusted fairly well to this new age of digital identity, it is important for me to be aware of my students, who likely have not transitioned yet to this stage in life.  Once you start down the path of passwords, there is no turning back.

Edmodo appears to offer what I am looking for in an LMS.  First, it does not require email addresses to register and for the group and for 4th grade students, I think this is an important feature.  Even though it does require passwords, it seems to be a fairly user-friendly system, ideal for someone using an LMS for the first time.  Moodle and Blackboard are much more robust and can easily overwhelm a fourth grader.  I expect there will be varying levels of digital competency, but for some students, this will be their first exposure to digital tools and digital platforms.  Secondly, I need a LMS that is versatile in language selection because the course will be delivered in Spanish and English.  I have also sought out Callaborize Classroom, but English was the only language available.  On the contrary, Edmodo offers multiple language selections.

Even though Edmodo is unfamiliar territory for me, there are other benefits to choosing this LMS.  There are other teachers within the district (where I will be working) that have used this LMS with their students.  The district utilizes Edline, but a few teachers have chosen to use Edmodo because it better supports their objectives.  Even though I have used Edline before, I have not officially started with the district yet, so I don’t have access to the Edline system, therefore, I do not know if it is a viable option.  For now, it is better for me to develop my course through Edmodo.

EdTech 512: Problem Analysis

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This is a problem analysis for developing an online course for a dual language program for 4th grade students.  The following points are response activities from the course textbook, “Web-Based Learning: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation” (Davidson-Shivers & Rasmussen, 2006).

  • What problems are you trying to address?  What are the symptoms of the problem? What is the root cause of the problem?  Is instruction an appropriate solution for the problem?  Is WBI an appropriate instructional solution?

Based on information that I have gathered in interviews the district has upgraded their philosophy on technology integration and 21st century skills.  Many teachers in the district are lacking in preparation and therefore the students are not being prepared. One problem this course is addressing is developing these skills in the students while preparing them for state standardized testing.  By developing one course for online delivery, we can address the root cause by allowing teachers to view successful integration strategies with the students.  The instruction is appropriate because it is preparing students for state writing tests with personal narrative and expository writings skills and WBI is appropriate because it is developing 21st century skills in the students.

  • Instructional Goal

By the end of this course students will be able to plan and organize their ideas in written form to produce personal narrative and expository compositions according to grade level standards.  Through the use of iPads and web-based tools, students will create and organize their ideas while developing 21st century skills.

  • Contextual Analysis

  1. Organizational Infrastructure
    1. Resources: iPad carts available at grade level, teacher issued iPads, wifi ready campus, and IT support services
    2. Management functions: report activities and lessons to program coordinator and principal.
    3. Organizational Culture: Instructional Level-team teaching with English instructor for the dual language program, Grade Level-form part of the Grade 4 teachers who share the use of the iPads, Campus Level-working with other dual-language instructors and other grade level teachers, District Level-access to teachers from other campuses that teach the same subject matter and the same program.
    4. Ownership of WBI materials: File storage belongs to the teacher, course materials belong to the school
  2. Allocation and Competencies of personnel
    1. Instructor: Dann Mosteller has significant knowledge in technical aspects and content knowledge, and he has considerable knowledge of instructional design.
    2. Teaching Partner: extensive knowledge in instructional aspects and partial knowledge of technology integration
    3. Technical Support: IT staff department and on campus support.
    4. Administrative support: Campus administrators provide significant support for the course content and resource access.  District administration has made a firm commitment to technology integration and development across the district.
  3. Learner location and technology
    1. Location: Learners are all local (blended learning environment)
    2. Urban setting, White Settlement is a urban suburb of Fort Worth, TX.
    3. Technology Infrastructure: Filtered content with certain limitations, yet a strong network capacity for wireless learning environments.
    4. IPad carts are available across the grade level on the campus.  Preset apps are already on the IPads but requests can be made to IT for adding more apps.
  • Learner Analysis

  1. General characteristics
    1. Mixed Gender
    2. Mixed ethnicity of mostly Hispanic and non-Hispanic students
    3. Generally age 9
    4. On grade level in reading and mostly on grade level in math
    5. Previously tested on state tests in reading and math
  2. Motivations
    1. General interests in a variety of activities
    2. General curiostiy
    3. Students are proficient to semi-proficient in 2 languages, English and Spanish
    4. Students have achieved successful academic levels in previous years.
  3. Prior Knowledge, Communication Skills, and Technical Skills
    1. General writing instruction, but prior to this school year, students have not been tested in this area.
    2. Keyboarding skills are limited due to previous limited access to these computers.  IPad is perhaps not the best tool to start students for developing keyboarding skills, but this is an X-factor.
    3. Limited knowledge of digital files.
    4. Limited exposure to email and threaded conversations
    5. Moderate skills with Internet, apps, and search engines
  4. Abilities and Disabilities
    1. There are group wide indications of impairments of disabilities, however it is reasonable to assume that in the population of students there will be isolated cases of specific impairments and disabilities.
  5. Other Learner Characteristics
    1. Because the groups are integrated across ethnicity, some students are not accustomed to cultural tendencies from home.  These cultural tendencies appear among student interactions of similar cultural background, however, other students may find these cultural tendencies strange.
  • Texas State Writing Standards for Grade 4

Reporting Category 1: Composition

The student will demonstrate an ability to compose a variety of written texts with a clear, central idea; coherent organization; sufficient development; and effective use of language and conventions.

(15) Writing/Writing Process. Students use elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. Students are expected to

(B)  develop drafts by categorizing ideas and organizing them into paragraphs; Readiness Standard

(C)  revise drafts for coherence, organization, use of simple and compound sentences, and audience; Readiness Standard

(D)  edit drafts for grammar, mechanics, and spelling [using a teacher-developed rubric]. Readiness Standard

(17) Writing. Students write about their own experiences. Students are expected to

(A) write about important personal experiences.

Reporting Category 2: Revision

The student will demonstrate an ability to revise a variety of written texts.

(15) Writing/Writing Process. Students use elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. Students are expected to

(C) revise drafts for coherence, organization, use of simple and compound sentences, and audience. Readiness Standard

(18) Writing/Expository [and Procedural] Texts. Students write expository [and procedural or work-related] texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are expected to

(A) create brief compositions that

  • establish a central idea in a topic sentence;
  • Supporting Standard
  • include supporting sentences with simple facts, details, and explanations; Supporting Standard
  • contain a concluding statement. Supporting Standard

§126.7. Technology Applications, Grades 3-5, Beginning with School Year 2012-2013.

(b) Knowledge and skills.

(1) Creativity and innovation. The student uses creative thinking and innovative processes to construct knowledge and develop digital products. The student is expected to:

(A) create original products using a variety of resources;
(C) use virtual environments to explore systems and issues.

(2) Communication and collaboration. The student collaborates and communicates both locally and globally using digital tools and resources to reinforce and promote learning. The student is expected to:

(A) draft, edit, and publish products in different media individually and collaboratively;
(C) collaborate effectively through personal learning communities and social environments;
(E) evaluate the product for relevance to the assignment or task; and
(F) perform basic software application functions, including opening applications and creating, modifying, printing, and saving files.

(5) Digital citizenship. The student practices safe, responsible, legal, and ethical behavior while using digital tools and resources. The student is expected to:

(A) adhere to acceptable use policies reflecting positive social behavior in the digital environment;
(D) protect and honor the individual privacy of oneself and others;

(E) follow the rules of digital etiquette;

(F) practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology;

EdTech Week 10: Sampling Discussion

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The professor gave us the following for reflection:

Whether you are looking to choose students from a class (or from employees in a workplace) for a special project or you are looking for a pool of people to take a survey, the first thing you will need to do is decide on how you will choose your sample, or group of students or employees.

So, based on this week’s readings (The ABC’s of Evaluation, Chapter 8),

  • What are some ways you could choose that sample?

The book identifies two categories for gathering sample groups: probability sampling and non-probability sampling.  Once I determined what I wanted to evaluate, the process that I used most resembled a non-probability sampling and more specifically a purposive sample.  For me it was a practical and efficient decision.  Since I already knew the framework of the program that I want to evaluate, I decided to chose my own group of students and evaluate the program with them.  I could have sought another teacher to run the program with his group of students, but this would have been a major time imposition for both of us, considering the training and the information exchange that would be involved.  I have a former colleague who is running a version of my same program with his group of students, but we are so far away geographically that the observations and information exchange would be limited.  Nonetheless, the sample student population would not be random in either of those cases, unless you determine that the administrative scheduling was done in a random sort of way.

  • What experiences have you had in choosing samples?

I have never been in a situation where I was able to pool a sample group from a greater population.  In my limited sampling of populations, I have always had smaller manageable groups so, I could survey the whole group.  In the program that I am evaluating, I had to make decisions about groups and student leaders, but my decisions were based more on track record than anything else.  The program that is being evaluated is based on student hierarchy, which creates a social dynamic and the students are usually not accustomed to it.  However,  I have set up the survey in such a way that I can measure attitudes, opinion, and impact based on student roles. 

  • What are some things to watch out for and/or avoid in selecting samples?

When I think of my own evaluation project, I have to laugh a little when I read this question.  Because I decided to evaluate a program in which I am the facilitator, I had to be very selective of my group.  I work with students at a very volatile age of 14-15 years old.  I was with the same group of students last year.  All of them have matured, but some more than others.  Also due to culture and family issues in some students and the administration, there are variables that I cannot control, making it difficult to initiate some educational endeavors among several students.  There was really only one group that I could depend on in terms of maturity and responsibility, so it was a no-brainer when it came to selecting that group. 

In the case that a sample needs to be random, there are so many uncertainties among the people that are selected.  If it is crucial that everyone in the sample needs to give feedback then I don’t know if the sample can truly be random.  There are always people who are not able to participate or do not respond in a timely manner, which makes it difficult for evaluators to depend on them.  In general education, a sample of a particular class has a good probability of having a mix of skills and academic level, but as education levels become more specific, you will likely have a group of students with similar goals and interests.  Regardless, most educational sample groups are preselected groups that neither the teacher or the evaluator has selected.

EdTech 523: Module 4 Reflection

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Overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem

Overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem

Module 4 was a transition period because I was ending one group project while I was getting started with another, and in between we had Spring Break, when my wife and I traveled a few days to Jordan and Israel. I agreed to work with one group to develop an online resource for online teachers and work with some other students to develop some discussion questions for the upcoming module.  This gave me collaboration opportunities where we met in Google Hangouts, shared a Google Doc, and exchanged friendly emails. I’m glad that I did both as I was able to use some of the work from the online resource as a reference in my communication plan.

Doing homework at the Dead Sea.

Doing homework at the Dead Sea.

Additionally, I was able to work ahead  by reading the material for the next module so I could prepare the discussion questions I will present.  Lastly, I would like to comment about chapter 9  on “Transformative Learning” in Building Online Learning Communities. This chapter was very inspirational for me because it described so much of what learning online has meant for me.  It also aligns with my philosophy on learning and teaching.  This chapter meant so much to me, since it is affirming my desire to grow confident learners through online education.

The other course textbook, Learning in Real Time, helped me to envision the role of synchronous communication in online learning.  As I was reading through this text I had to think of discussion questions, but my mind was really opened to the power of synchronous communication for building an online community.

Self Evaluation Using My Grading Scale

It seems natural for me to transition my skills as a teacher to the online environment.  I enjoyed putting together my grading scale for online discussions. My experience as a teacher has helped me know how to clarify expectations and also prevent problems with students before they happen.  Of course, I imagine students that range from a typical pre-teen to a solid full-fledged teen, which are the age groups that I have been working with the last few years.  Also, my grading has been influenced a little bit by the IB Curriculum, which is my current grading standard.

It is also a little unfair evaluating myself with my own grading scale, and this is based on two factors.  First, I made the grading scale based on general ideas that I have used when I respond to a discussion prompt.  This will likely work in my favor because I know what I like in a response, because it is often what I do.  However, the second factor does not work in my favor so much.  I am probably my own worst critic, so using my grading scale with my perception would probably cause me to nit-pick details in my response. When I consider my experience, while using my own scale to evaluate myself, I would not make any changes to my scale.

Nonetheless, I think of my last post which responded to one of the students who posted a discussion question.  I know that I didn’t do all the tasks that were associated with the research of his writing prompt, so I would probably loose about 3 points there.  I make up some ground in the area of content for posting some relevant information. I really wanted to discuss Chapter 9, which was one of the required readings and no one made a prompt that addressed this chapter, so I took the opportunity to steer the discussion in this direction, but at the same time I did address many things in the response.

There were many opportunities to respond to other students’ posts and I know I met the minimum requirement, and my posts are generally very thoughtful, so I received all 10 points.  Finally, I am a language teacher so I have developed many skills for using language in communication.  I make occasional mistakes with my writing, but I usually make a point to review, and I pride myself on my creative approach to writing, especially the introductions.  I know I took care of these details in my response, so I received 5 points for each scale.  Oops! I did not include any picture or media to accompany it, but at least I made up for it in this post.  This brings my total score to 32 of 35 points in that post.

Changes to Discussion Facilitation

Even though I have not facilitated a full scale discussion yet, I can already imagine some of the challenges associated with it.  I already know what it is like to feel overwhelmed with reviewing many writing assignments, so I could imagine the work load easily getting out of hand if students are constantly posting lengthy responses.  I would have to get to know certain features of the LMS that allow me to review overall activity.  Even though I want my students to write with quality and to feel like they are writing with a purpose, I know half of my job is complete just by getting them to do that.  In other words, I won’t feel that it is necessary to read every word, especially for the student responses.  I would have to learn some teacher shortcuts for reviewing these, as well as encourage more peer review and accountability among the students.

Communication Plan for Online Teaching

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ONLINE LANGUAGE COURSE

This communication plan is considering the communication role of the teacher and the student.  It encompasses considerations for the administration, content delivery, peer to peer communication, and assigned work done during an online language course.  It is divided into four parts.

PART 1: ROUTINE ADMINISTRATIVE TASKS

Every Work Day

  • Check General Questions or Technical Problems Forum
  • Reply to direct contact inquiries
  • Post any relevant updates in the News Forum
  • Set up  or solicit a communication appointment with 1-2 students

2-3 Days Into a Module

  • Check for activity on discussion forums and provide feedback
  • Scan LMS for activity or monitor the flow of multiple step activity
  • Dedicate time to grading or offering feedback from previous module
  • Finish grading most activities from previous module
  • Display and comment on poll results if a poll given the first day of the module

2-3 Days Before Module Ends

  • Scan LMS for lack of activity and contact students or parents as necessary
  • Check discussion forum and monitor student feedback
  • Be available for an informal synchronous discussion (offer different times on different days)
  • Prepare supplemental resources for the next module

PART 2: DISCUSSION FORUM STRATEGIES

At the Beginning of the Course

  1. At this point, you should present your prepared orientation of the course, which includes: a teacher introduction, a tour of the course webpage, rules of netiquette, warning about password safety and other security issues, and completing an icebreaker activity with a teacher example.  Also review the  Orientation Guide for Preparing New Online Learners.
  2. For the first activities, ask the students to update their course profile with a short biography.
  3. Also, ask them to complete a poll or brief survey about previous experience in online courses.  If possible, allow the students to see the ongoing statistical results of the poll or survey, so they can compare themselves with the overall level of their peers. 
  4. Lastly, whether it is an icebreaker activity or an assigned post, require the students to upload (with their post) an image within the LMS.  This will help them gain confidence with the technical aspect and the user friendliness of the LMS.  The Caption Contest is just one example of an icebreaker that will allow students to accomplish this goal.

Throughout the Course

  1. For each module, the students will be provided instructions for posting in a discussion, as well as a minimum requirement for responses to other students. 
  2. Each module will provide a prompt that sets the standard for content.  In the “Discussion Forum Assessment” (below)guidelines are provided for the quality of peer responses.  Equal consideration will be given to the use of language and the unique expression, or creativity, of each post. For more information, review the following section.

PART 3: DISCUSSION FORUM ASSESSMENT

Each discussion is worth 35 points.  The grading scales below will indicate how the total point values will be calculated for each discussion.  Review the tips for each scale.  These will indicate the best strategy to maximize your discussion forum grade.

Content Scale: 1-15

Tip: Read the discussion prompt thoroughly.  Make sure you have addressed all of the content requested in the prompt.  Some prompts will have more than one question.  Also, reread any written posts to make sure your ideas are clear for the reader.  Use appropriate structure of sentences and paragraphs as necessary. If the response to the content is unclear, this will affect your overall grade.

Peer Response Scale: 1-10

Tip: When responding to peers, make sure that at least two responses are thoughtful and complete.  For example, a thoughtful response goes beyond the “Good job” or “I like it” and reflects on what the other student has written. Here are some general examples: Your response can connect your own personal experiences to what your peer has written, it can question your peer to seek clarification or ask about his or her sources or opinion, or it could offer constructive criticism about their argument or opinion.  Be cautious with constructive criticism, since the person, who wrote the post, has feelings.  In order to avoid a war of words, be gentle and/or gracious with your criticisms.

Language Use Scale: 1-5

Tip: Make sure that you are checking for general correctness in spelling, vocabulary, capitalization, and punctuation. Also, because this is a language course, text language should be used lightly (not more than 2-3 occurrences in a post).  In other words, make sure your words are complete.  Smiley-cons are acceptable when appropriate.

Creativity Scale: 1-5

Tip: Each person is unique in their own expression, however to tip the creativity scale in your favor you can consider the following.  Look for opportunities to write creative introductions to your posts.  Consider inserting an image, drawing, or video that supports your content.  Add a link to text when you are referencing something that is not directly related to the material or it is not considered general knowledge.

Note: Inappropriate posts or responses may be removed and will affect your grade.  Depending on the severity of the inappropriateness, further action may be taken against the student as indicated in the Code of Conduct.  If your profile security has been violated or breached, communicate this to your professor as quickly as possible, and try to remedy the situation if you can (for example: changing the password, making sure you log out from public computers, etc.).


PART 4:  MANAGEMENT ISSUES AND STRATEGIES (CONTINGENCY PLAN)

When working with a group of students online, there are possible issues that will arise, requiring the teacher to respond with communication strategies.  Consider the following communication needs to confront the related issues.

Individual Communication

  1. As noted in the section “Part 1: Routine Administrative Tasks”, an online teacher will be watching for inactivity in individual students and make contact with those students or parents a priority. 
  2. Other issues that might require a teacher to make individual contact, is when a student shows any dominant characteristics in general, by trying to control discussions or responses, or perhaps he or she may exhibit dominant characteristics in group activities.  Although this may be difficult to perceive online, if there are any repeated actions by one student that may be deemed as unhealthy for group communication, it should first be dealt with by communicating privately with that student. 
  3. If offenses have occurred between 2 students and it has escalated to a heated exchange, it may be necessary to meet with those students privately during a small group chat.

Whole Group Communication

  1. There are instances when a teacher notices undesirable activity in public places and perhaps it needs to be addressed with the whole group. 
    1. If a heated exchange between 2 or more students escalates to an inappropriate level, the teacher may need to consider censoring communication and addressing the whole group about the problem. 
    2. A similar type of teacher intervention may be necessary when a discussion gets off track and the main topic is no longer being discussed.  In this case, consider posting a reminder on the thread or in a general forum area, which reminds students of the topic or redirects them, and if necessary, a thread can be frozen or removed if the discussion is creating a strong diversion. 
  2. Other situations that may call for whole group communication is when a teacher perceives that there is either a lack of whole group activity or a common misconception among many responses. 
    1. In the case of misconceptions, the teacher can address this with more clarity about the instructions, or create an alternative presentation that describes the common misconception, or a presentation that either offers more guidance for the students or even shows a teacher example. 
    2. In the case of whole group inactivity, the teacher can reach out to the whole group through various forms of communication and solicit feedback and try to determine if there is a problem with the material or tasks. 
    3. However, what might work best is gathering information from regular contact with the students and use it to form a poll or survey that can be distributed to the whole group.  By soliciting the students in this way, it is less intimidating for them to voice their opinion or concerns, which are related to the course.

EdTech 505 Week 9 Reflection: Birth of Evaluation on Technology

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The following passage was assigned to us to reflect upon:

How Evaluation of Technology Was Born

Twenty thousand of years ago, Thok was a renowned hunter of dangerous tigers, consistently bringing home meat for the tribe. As his reputation spread, more and more people from surrounding bands came to Thok’s cave for advice on how to hunt successfully, and safely. They would bring him gifts of food, clothing and such, to get him to sit still and answer their endless questions.

Soon Thok realized that it was safer to teach about hunting than it was to hunt, and he was making a better living as well. He stopped hunting, and took up teaching full time.

Years went by. Thok was becoming elderly — over 30 — and a bit infirm. Word of Thok’s wisdom had spread further and further. The crowds were huge. In fact, people at the fringes could no longer hear the great teacher. Thok’s livelihood was at risk, just when he was least able to leave teaching and return to the dangers of hunting.

Perhaps fear was the mother of invention. That very morning Thok had an inspiration. He saw a large banana leaf lying on the ground. Picking it up, he rolled it into a cone, and spoke into the small end of the cone, pointing the large end toward the crowd. It amplified his voice and everyone could hear! Banana leaves were a kind of magic, it was clear. Thus was educational technology born.

But the amazing events of that morning were not yet over. A young cave person, Val, was skeptical about this banana magic. So Val picked up a leaf that Thok had discarded, draped it on top of her head, and walked around that way for the rest of the day. By nightfall, Val had learned absolutely nothing new about hunting. She tossed the leaf aside, and told all her friends that the old man was wrong: Val’s research had demonstrated conclusively that technology had no role in education.

And that’s how the evaluation of educational uses of technology was born.

So how is this story related to EDTECH 505? Connect the story to our course.

Though not a scholar, I am quite skilled in the tradition of the parable, so I question, how deep should I go with this analysis.  The first point that deserves some attention does not necessarily relate to evaluation or this course, but in program design.  How is it that the crowds are getting bigger over time?  Obviously, the knowledge that he is sharing about hunting must not be very useful, if people keep coming back to hear more.  Ideally, once they learn the skills, they should be out applying those skills rather than coming back for another session of the same.  Even if he is presenting various levels of hunting strategies, he can’t address all of these levels in a group of heterogeneous homo-sapiens.    More design and purpose should be developed within the hunting strategies program, and it seems that no one is taking the time to evaluate this.

Now, focusing our attention on evaluation, obviously the banana leaf represents a tool that was used to increase voice projection so that people further back could hear Thok’s wisdom.  However, the perspective of the bystanders is an interesting one. What would their perspective provide for the evaluation process?.  For the people sitting behind him or to the side, they will benefit less from the use of his tool, while the people in the path of the trajectory of voice will benefit the most.  In this parable, the trajectory of voice represents technology trends, but the people that benefit more from it are those that position themselves in the trajectory.  Perhaps this was another missed opportunity for evaluation. 

Though Thok was sharing his knowledge about hunting, the tool that he chose to use added nothing to his ability as a hunter, therefore his audience would have no use for the tool either, at least not for accomplishing the tasks associated with hunting.  Val was only so fortunate that she did not try to kill a saber-tooth tiger with the banana leaf. Val also made the mistake of making a false judgement (or hypothesis) about the use of the tool, which she thought had the ability to transmit knowledge independently of Thok.  Since her premise was based in fallacy, the conclusion of her evaluation is also false. 

This last point relates to the course most by knowing whether you are evaluating a program that uses tools, or testing a hypothesis about the use of tools.  Val apparently did not know that she was testing a hypothesis.  What we can most learn from Val’s mistake is, while doing an evaluation, do not focus so much of our attention on the tool, but rather on the effect of the tool on the participants. 

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