EdTech 541: Final Reflection


Two, four, six, eight,
It’s time for us to integrate.
Ten, Twelve, fourteen, sixteen,
There’s so much more I haven’t seen.
Eighteen, twenty, you know the rest,
I hope I pass this final test.
With E-P-I-stemology
It’s time to use technology.

There’s something about the way that God wired me, that when its time to look back over a difficult period of time, I get poetic.  So the above lines were jotted down with the inspiration of this course and this semester.  I’m glad it’s coming to a close, but before it is official, here are my required reflections

Part I: Course Reflection

  • What have you learned?

For integration strategies, I focused most of my attention on applying technologies to English language development.  In the process, I became more familiar with a variety of resources, tools, and strategies for integrating technology.  I also was reminded of some basic principles when working with English language learners.  Additionally, this course has helped me see outside of my usual perspective, by requiring me to consider integration strategies for other content areas and also exploring technologies for students with special needs.

  • How did theory guide the  development of the projects and assignments you created?

During this semester, I was taking another EdTech course along side this one, it was Theoretical Foundations, EdTech 504.  Because of the constant reinforcement of theory, I was developing much of my 541 course activities around the reinforced knowledge.  The theory that I spent the most time researching is the Cultural Historical Activity Theory, which states that human activity, such as education, is a social activity that is manifested through the use of tools and other social practices  (Duvane & Squire, 2010).  This theory made me consider each technology tool for it’s ability to enhance learning opportunities. 

Educational theory is a very dense topic, therefore, I try to simplify it whenever possible.  I really liked the selection of this text book for this course, because the information was presented in a clear and concise way.  In particular, I appreciated how the book identified the differences between directed teaching, which is part of the objectivists’ view point, and constructed learning by the learners, which is part of the constructivists’ views (Roblyer & Doering, 2012).  With both major theories, there are integration strategies that can be used.

  • How does the course work demonstrate mastery of the AECT standards?

The various activities and projects helped me to meet many AECT standards, mostly in Standard 1: Design,  Standard 2: Development, and Standard 3: Utilization.  For a complete list of the specific standards met during this course please visit the AECT Standards Page on my course project page.

  • How have you grown professionally?

This course was quite demanding of my time, but I managed to meet all the deadlines.  Many external factors of my professional life have helped develop me along side the content I have learned for this course.  For example, I was asked at the beginning of the semester to chair the 9th grade department, I also implemented a Project Based Learning module that I developed with a EdTech colleague over the summer, and I managed to coach a little tennis with the Community and Service program in my school.  This semester has taught me more about balance and meeting responsibilities. 

  • How have your own teaching practice or thoughts about teaching been impacted by what you have learned or accomplished in this course?  What will you do differently as an educator as a result of this course?

Wherever I have taught, I have tried to take the students where they are and to develop them more with language skills.  This course has reminded me of ways to use technology to develop some of those students that have struggled to develop their language skills.  However, one of my grandest goals is to help my students develop self-confidence in their own ability to learn.  I will try to develop more differentiation skills for working with students that struggle language, but also strengthen their skills with technology tools too.

This course has also given me an awareness of my possible future role in an educational establishment.  I potentially see me moving from a position that mostly emphasizes language development, to a position that promotes technology integration across all the curriculum.  The course has prepared me for a possible transition, but more importantly, it not only has given me a collection of resources, but also it has given me a foothold on the topic of technology integration in all areas of education.

Part II:  Self-Evaluation

Ironically, now that I am at the end of the semester, I have just now paid attention to the rubric for blog and reflection postings.  Throughout the semester, I just read what the professor expected of me, and to my knowledge, I completed all the tasks on time.  Furthermore, I feel that writing is one of my more developed skills, and coupled with my creativity, I always looked for a way to make my reflections as entertaining as possible for my readers.  As a result, I believe that I have developed a bit of a minor following, based on some of the comments that I have read.  If you are one of those readers, who are reading this now, I just want to say thank you for the wonderful feedback that you have given me.

Also, I made a point to give some constructive feedback to many of my colleagues, and I believe that I have met the minimum requirement of always responding to a few colleagues.  I too, have enjoyed reading about my classmates’ experiences and their reflections.

Based on the rubric, I do not see where any points would be reduced from my blog grade.  So I think it will be full points.  However, I welcome any criticism, if there are even the slightest of flaws.


Special Education: A Fiscal Challenge


Wow!  It is amazing how involved I can be in one branch of education, without knowing about the battle taking place in another, special education.  As I was completing my EdTech 541 assignment, Assistive Technology, not only was I amazed about all the products and companies that exists for those with special needs, but I began to notice the cost of these products, and I kept thinking, “That’s a lot of money for just a few students.”  When I finished that assignment, I read my professors prompt for this week’s reflection.

Rationale for Assistive/Adaptive Technology: In this forum please respond to the following: Schools, universities, and libraries are struggling with tight budgets. How can we justify spending a lot of money to buy assistive technologies that might only be used by a small number of people?

When I did a quick Internet Search for “the cost of special education” most hits returned articles or publications that paint a grim picture.  Marsha Sutton (2012) of the Del Mar Times, discusses the fiscal dilemma facing one school district in California, but in a lot of ways, her article represents a fiscal crisis in school districts in all of the United States.  Some of her report include:

  • $354,000 to transport about 30 special education students in 2012-2013. That’s almost $12,000 per student, more than it costs to educate a student for an entire year.
  • In 2010-2011, San Dieguito’s cost for all special education services was over $18 million, and for 2011-2012, unofficial numbers are $19 million. The district’s total budget is about $102 million.
  • In 2010-2011, federal and state funds paid 63 percent of the costs… But in 2011-2012, federal and state funding will only cover 53 percent, forcing SDUHSD (the school district) to pay 47 percent – about $8.46 million.

The purpose of the article was to inform of the situation of costs related to special education.  Most of the focus was on transportation, contracted services, and staff salary.  There was not mention of technology initiatives.  However, William W. Sofka Jr. (1997) seeks to offer solutions.  Even he wrote “Evaluating the Cost and Benefit of Special Education” approximately 15 years ago, it shows that this debate was very active in that time.  This implies that the debate about the amount of funding for special education will continue, regardless of the economic climate.  However, he does lay out a model that helps administrators to evaluate and measure the effectiveness of special ed programs, comparing it to the costs.  He suggests bringing ideas to the discussion and label them in the following four categories: 1) Low Benefit, High Cost, 2) High Benefit, High Cost, 3) Low Benefit, Low Cost, and 4) High Benefit, Low Cost.  These four categories can be very useful in evaluating the various technology options.

Universal design for Learning (UDL) is another principle that has emerged in an effort to find solutions for people with special needs, while benefiting people in the general public (Roblyer & Doering, 2012).    The logic is that if everyone can benefit from it, even those with special needs, there is no need to label it as a special education resource.  The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) has specifically looked at technologies role in serving people with special needs, but also provide greater usability and access to general users.  Many standard features in today’s technology equipment are available on resources that the schools already have.  Educating the teachers and administrators on these pre-installed features can help offer solutions at no extra cost.  CAST also provides a resources page, UDL solutions finder, to help educators seek out the best options for serving the needs of all your learner goals.

It is staggering to evaluate the total cost for special education that goes for services, programs, and products.  However, very few will argue for any initiatives to cut this funding because they realize there is a need in a civilized society to reach out and help those with limited abilities.  However, many, like Sofka Jr. (1997) will advocate a need to carefully evaluate those who qualify, so that the system is not abused, and other initiatives, like CAST, are looking for creative ways to make the world a better place for everyone.


A Living Evolution: Technology in Education


Image by CCPR Computing

Passwords can be troublesome even for me, but I have adopted certain patterns for being able to produce and recall the secret codes for my many online accounts and identities.  However, many students are challenged with creating and keeping passwords, which at minimum will cause hassles in productivity.  Technology is much more efficient than the old ways of record keeping, but as more data becomes digital, organization of data is crucial.  This is even more important for password recall because it is the key to give you access to the information or tools that you need.

Technology integration into the curriculum has many challenges.  Teachers, administrators, and parents form a wide variety of stakeholders in any educational system, and among these groups, there are people who resist technology for many different reasons.  Students, on the other hand tend to embrace technology, but perhaps aren’t always aware of the responsibilities or organizing a digital life.  In my English classes, I have seen this first hand.  When students don’t remember their passwords it causes major hindrances in the lesson.

In my school, students already have to keep track of at least 4 passwords just for school related online activity.  This does not count digital information from their private lives.  As I come across useful web 2.o tools that can be integrated into my lessons, sometimes I am hesitant because it requires yet another password.  There are so many wonderful sites and activities that are language based, which will allow students creative ways to express their understanding in written, visual, and oral forms.  However, to prepare students for the onslaught of online resources, they need to have a plan for organizing their digital lives.

Geoff Cain (2011), Director of Distance Education at the College of Redwoods, has proposed an idea in his blog, DE 101: Preparing students for online learning.  He basically lays out the need for a preliminary course that puts students in contact with web 2.0 tools and other software, prior to taking content specific courses online.  This will help students learn these skills in true academic context, but at the same time it builds a foundation of knowledge that they can apply to the content specific courses as part of their later studies.  I strongly support this notion, and similar to Cain, many universities have a similar approach to preparing students for online programs.  Unfortunately, there is very little evidence of such strategies at the K-12 level.  For the most successful integration, curriculum planners should see the necessity of technology training and platforms that can be used across all subject areas.

When a prerequisite course or training is established for students, the educator can begin to build digital organization skills.  The first thing to establish is a reliable storage platform where students and teachers can safely store their passwords.  Lifehacker (2008) offers 5 recommended solutions for managing passwords.  Whether or not the computer equipment is standardized, a teacher can establish a password management system.  Even though organization requires personal commitment, we can strive as educators to create a learning environment that rewards organization.  Richard Byrne (2011) wrote Cool Tools: Digital Aids for Staying Organized, which lists some ideas for organizing information with efficient online tools.  Teachers can benefit from standardizing a particular tool so that students are not only equally informed of course content, but also can grow their organizational skills.

In conclusion, I believe an English course can benefit from having a strong technology foundation where students are prepared to organize their digital existence.  However, I believe if any educational institution is going to integrate learning platforms and learning tools, all content areas could benefit from students taking a preliminary technology course.

Can Technology Change How You Teach Content Areas?


Image Linked to HPMC Occupational Medical Services

When it comes to road-trip planning, I must admit that I am a little old fashion.  I have not yet adopted the use of GPS, so before I take off, I have to consult a map to look for the best route.  It doesn’t matter how much I pre-plan a trip, there is usually something unexpected that comes up in the journey.  What’s worse, is traveling on a known route, just because I always have gone that way.  Even though they have added many traffic lights and it is much more congested than before, I don’t bother considering other options.  Just because we have always traveled down the same road, doesn’t mean that it is the best route to take.  This analogy is intended to advocate the use of technology to accomplish certain goals in education; the process of learning is the trip and the route is the method.

The primary purpose of this assignment is to consider how technology integration can benefit content area instruction.  Since the topic is rather broad, I have decided to narrow the focus on access that technology provides between the teacher and student.  The term social presences refers to the amount of individual attention a teacher can give a student during a lesson cycle (Kemp, 2012).  Considering the traditional approach to education, a teacher has a set period of time per day that a group of students is present.  This is one reason class size has always been an important topic in education.  As budgets are tightening, school administrations are encouraging newer approaches for educating their students, because rather than reducing class sizes, likely they will increase if the traditional approach continues (Education Week, 2012). However, through web 2.0 tools, students and teachers can communicate directly with each other in written and spoken form.

Sometimes, regardless of the content area instruction, a teacher needs to have individual contact with students, whether is be for specialized instruction or assessment. A traditional class with 20-40 students makes that very difficult.  Besides the obvious vigilance that a teacher must give to a whole class at any given time, there are other social issues to consider for the timid learners, who may not feel comfortable voicing doubts or opinions in front of a group of peers.  Although traditional learning environments have benefits of social engagement with students and teacher, there are social distractions too that can cause a learning environment to not be optimal for delivering content.   Therefore, I believe technology offers a solution for giving students better individual access to a teacher’s guidance.  Teacher communication done through web 2.0 tools allows students to access the information when needed and when it is more relevant, plus it can be viewed multiple times. As many administrators are considering online delivery of content courses, learner-centeredness becomes and important approach to helping students set and achieve their learning goals (Rice, 2011).

Going back to the road and map analogy, we can say that there is more than one way to arrive to a destination.  Though curriculum calls for a well designed plan before you start the trip, often the reality is that there are many unforeseen obstacles and perhaps even some detours along the way. In time, I believe that some technology will act as a GPS system for education.  We start the journey in the right direction, then we let the GPS system guide us to the best route.  The more education begins to harness the power of technology to review student performance data and cater instruction to a student, the less dependent it will be on curriculum road mapping.  Secondly, some teachers have been traveling the road of a particular content area for a while and the way that they have always gone, may be the best way for them to deliver that content.  However, as time passed, more options have become available, and there may be more efficient ways to span the distance. The further removed the approach is from the learner, the less they can relate, and the more traffic lights will be added to hinder that route.   

Therefore, I see technology integration as a benefit to educators.  It has the potential to engage all learners, but for some learners, technology offers them other options for engaging, where they might not feel as comfortable in a classroom social setting.  It also has the potential to be more relevant to them, especially when different options are available to them for arriving to the destination.  Lastly, technology integration has the potential of providing real time directions for delivering the content, and the more student centered the content can be,  a more authentic learning experience will take place.


EdTech 541: The RISKS of the Internet


Google Presentation taken by Jink Screenshot

Some people choose to have nothing to do with the Internet because they the think the risks are too high, that someone will seek them out, use their information inappropriately, or try to hack into their private life.  We can call these people a virtual hermit.  Why a “virtual” hermit? Because it would be hard for even the most stringent hermit to keep his name out of some sort of virtual database.  Bank accounts, credit card accounts, service accounts, and even governmental records on citizens are kept in virtual safes.  So as the rest of the world forges ahead with Internet activity, what can the virtual hermit expect from his lack virtual participation. The problem with this approach is that it will become more difficult to function, much less compete, in the world without some sort of virtual identity.

Don’t get me wrong, when you or your information are connected to the Internet, there are risks.  However, there are many benefits to having access to the Internet and for this reason it is used so widely, so much so, that everyday activities are being completed online.  If you don’t participate, you will be left behind (Free Press Org, 2009). None the less, you should be aware or your effect of your activity on the Internet as well as the dangers.  This acronym  “RISKS” will help you remember these important details about your risk management while you our online.

R is for Responsibility

Most institutes require student to sign some sort of Acceptable Use Policy in order to access the Internet or computer equipment in an organized learning environment.  In other words, the users are required to be responsible with the privileged of Internet access.  This refers to anything that is related to the intentional search and network bypass of digital material that is not appropriate for school or is contrary to school and social ethics.  The Kent School District has set up an Internet Safety & Cyber Citizenship page that not only advises about Cyber Citizenship, but also points out common online risks.

I is for Information

There is a debate about how much personal information should be used in online profiles.  This short video, “Privacy and Responsibility on the Internet: Who Should Control your Identity on the Web?” by the Carnegie Council will point out both sides of the debate.  Some argue for anonymity for safety purposes, while other argue for the efficiency of data transfer with secure online profiles.  Google is a proponent of the later, and here is their video about how to set up a secure profile using Google services.

If you are not certain about the security of your online profile, it is wise to limit the amount of personal information that you include in that profile.

S is for Seekers

The two primary features of the Internet are 1) it helps connect people, and 2) it is vast.  Because of these two features, there are a lot of people that try to connect with or get the attention of many people across the Internet.  The majority of these seekers come in the form of harmless advertisements or online acquaintances.  Unfortunately, there are seekers that don’t know you, but will try to make personal connections.  You may not know the motives of these seekers, but because of the uncertainty, it is recommended not to engage in online contact with that person.  Most social networks provide the option to decline a communication request, or to even expel an online contact if their behavior has become offensive or too personal.

Perhaps the type of seeker that gets the most attention and warning are the online predators.  Here is an interesting report called “1 in 7 Youth: The Statistics about Online Sexual Solicitations” by the Crimes Against Children Research Center.

KS is for Kinky Sharing

Perhaps the biggest risk that face online users is the one that they least expect.  Kinky is a word in general that means crazy or unacceptable; sharing refers to the way in which people can easily share online content and information with friends.  Together, these two words are a recipe for disaster.  It is quite common that someone wants to share either personal information about themselves with a friend, or even intimate photos of themselves, and they probably don’t intend to share it with other people.  Unfortunately, confidence has been betrayed many times in these circumstances and the unthinkable happens, many people have read or seen your private information.  Here is a basic rule that you should follow for posting any information online: if you will be embarrassed or ridiculed by these words or content, don’t post it.  This is not to say that friends can’t be trusted, or that those that share personal content without your consent shouldn’t be punished, but the most secure way of protecting your private content, is not to share it in the first place.

Also, be aware that some online places will make your correspondence available to the public, even when it is shared between two individuals.  Take for example the US Congressman and his Tweet Scandal.


Video Free Press (2009, April 9) What is the “digital divide?” . Retrieved Oct. 22, 2012 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCIB_vXUptY

EdTech 501: Voicethread, Opinion of Walled Gardens

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If I am understanding this assignment correctly, you should be able to not only view my Voicethread, but you can also make comments in it.  If the embed does not appear properly, follow this link:

EdTech 541: Walled Garden Reflection

Edtech 541: Video Reflection, Benefits of Video in Learning Environments

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This type of reflection was more challenging because I had to consider the best way to produce a video with the requirements: appearing in the video and also showing graphics.  This is what I came up with for the video reflection.

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