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Monday, June 2, 2008

Week 1 Posting

My name is Selena Knight and I am finishing my 4th year of teaching Business at Horn High School in Mesquite. I will be changing positions and working as the Librarian at AC New Middle School (also in Mesquite) next year. You can contact me at sknight@mesquiteisd.org or tjselena@prodigy.net.

My purpose for taking this class is to expand my knowledge of emerging technology and ways that I can effectively incorporate that knowledge into the curriculum. I am obtaining my Master’s in Educational Technology with a Library Science certification because it combines the two things that I enjoy the most – reading and technology.

My current goal is to finish my Master’s coursework (ETEC 524 is my very last class) and pass the ExCET to finish up all of my outstanding requirements for my degree. My other short term or current goals are to move into my new library and have a solid plan of attack for the coming year. I want to implement a program where the library actively supports TAKS as well as fosters more independent reading for pleasure. My future goals are a little more unclear. I have considered going forward and obtaining my Doctorate degree, but I am unsure if that is something I want to pursue or not.

“the development/draft of your educational technology philosophy and what has meaning for you when working through activities/assignments this semester. (Note that the actual rough draft of your philosophy does not need to be included, but rather referenced as part of your vision as you developed it.)"

I was unsure what the above parameter was asking for, but my educational technology philosophy boils down to preparing the students for the real world by providing them with marketable skills, teaching them how to teach themselves, and holding them accountable for not only the content matter, but also the policies and procedures on our campus. All of these concepts tie into the constructivism philosophy of the teacher being a facilitator who provides an educational environment and assignments that match real world scenarios as closely as possible. Educational/instructional technology is the use of not only machines and materials, but also processes and programs that facilitate learning. I consider educational technology to be more about the “tools” of the trade than about the processes and procedures though. To me, educational technology is exactly what the name implies – technology which can be used in education. These would be the actual machines and programs that are geared toward education. These technologies might do one of several things such as making the teacher or administrator’s job easier, making learning fun and interesting for the student, or allowing the student to practice real world scenarios in a safe environment.

The skills I would like to develop during this course are as follows:
Building and using Wikis
Building web pages
Incorporating an interactive calendar which others can access
Creating and using podcasts
Incorporating the use of Playaways
Becoming more proficient with Photoshop
Using and teaching with interactive white boards
Working more with sound and video incorporation - Not from the web, but from personal recording devices.

I want to learn these skills because I feel that they are new and interesting technology that both the teachers and the students would benefit from. Any tool that helps the teacher present the material in a meaningful way which facilitates learning and understanding is worth incorporating into the curriculum. Also, since many employers look for computer and technology skills, teaching the students via these forums help provide the students with beneficial skills. In addition, I just think that learning new technology is cool and interesting. I would be able to use these skills to be an informator since I would be utilizing the tools to actually teach and apply the content material instead of just tacking the technology lesson on top of the current work. Using these technologies to adapt the current lessons to meet the changing needs of the students is the main way that I would be an informator. For instance, having the students use forums such as the Internet, blogs and wikis to publish their papers or homework would be incorporating the technology in a meaningful way. Also, having the students interact with students from other campuses through wikis and blogs is a way to broaden the scope of the assignment.

The first barrier to technology integration is of course budget. There is never enough money to buy all of the technology that we want. To overcome the barriers of budget, I plan to use my library discretionary funds from book fair profits and coffee sales to purchase more technology for the library. Technology such as scanners, digital cameras, document cameras, white boards, and PlayAways can be very useful when integrating technology into the curriculum.

The next barrier is lack of time to learn and utilize the technology. To overcome the issue of the teachers lacking time to utilize the technology, I would like to collaborate with the teachers and provide assistance in developing lessons that use the technology to be more efficient. Instead of just tacking the technology on top of what they are already doing, I would like to help them design lessons that teach the content as well as the technology.

Yet another barrier to integrating new technology is resistance to change. To overcome the barrier of people being resistant to change, I would like to design several staff development opportunities where the teachers can come in for short sessions of emerging technology and specific examples of how to tie that technology to the curriculum. If the information and lesson is provided to the teachers in the beginning in an easy, short, step-by-step manner, they are more likely to feel comfortable enough with it to implement it in the classroom.

Some of the skills I am interested in sharing include things such as iGoogle and all of its gadgets, having students create Blogs and avatars, and teaching some basic administrative tricks that are useful to educators. For instance, some of the little known features and functions of Excel, the Mail merge feature of Word as well as Publisher, and the ability to convert PowerPoint presentations to Word outlines and vise versa. These small tasks can be a huge time saver for teachers and students.

Check out the videos below about middle school students who are using blogs! It is pretty amazing what these kids can do when provided the technology and the opportunity. One of the boys in the first video is using his blog to showcase his music, and the girl in the second video used her blog to communicate with other students around the world.

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