tech-ucation reformation

Goodbye overheads and chalkboards! Hello virtual "paperless" classrooms!

What Children Would Change About the Internet September 30, 2013

Filed under: 5030 — S. Michele Holmes @ 4:39 am
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A recent assignment for my “Foundations of Learning Technologies” course asked what five changes would we make to the Internet.  My coursemates had such great ideas about what they would change, and almost all of what I would change had already been discussed.  So I thought I would take a different approach.  I polled several of my more computer-savvy students to see what they would change, and I was completely surprised and enlightened.  So much so that I just had to share it with my readers!

1.  People need to not be so mean – cyberbullying is becoming a huge concern among educators and parents.  We now have teens committing suicide because people made rude comments on their Facebook status.  Just this past week, a coach in Utah suspended his entire football team over poor behavior and character, including cyberbullying.  On a more personal front, my son described a different kind of cyberbullying – he plays MMO-style sandbox games such as Minecraft and Roblox.  Because other people have access to your creations, they often destroy them just because they can.  Imagine spending hours creating your perfect house only to find it destroyed the next morning.  He is looking into ways to protect his creations.  The Internet has created a way to be both anonymous and unaccountable for your actions, and we must find a way to include Internet character development when raising our children.

2.  What is with all the ads when I search for something – both of my children are well-versed in searching the Internet for any question that pops into their head, but they are not so great at is sifting out what is GOOD information and looking past the BAD information.  Typically the first few results of a simple Google search are advertisements that do not answer the question but are instead a company trying to sell you something related to the search.  What’s worse, many of the search results take you to virus-ridden websites.  Not fun!  My husband and I refuse to give up cable and jump on the Internet TV bandwagon because of advertisements.  On cable, I can record the shows I want to watch and skip forward over the ads – not the case with Internet TV shows.  And inappropriate or over-target-marketing is the worst!  Just because I bought my mom flowers for Mother’s Day does not mean I want to buy them EVERY day, or even three times a day!  I spend more time deleting the daily barrage of emails from places that I only shop from once or twice a year than I actually shop.  BUT, if I ask them to stop sending the emails, then I don’t get the deals when I do need that “20% off your entire order” email.  And I seriously want to know what searches I have done on the Internet to make Facebook believe I am both single and over 50; why would I need an over 50 dating site ad?  It has become way too commercial.  I digress . . .

3.  How many logins and passwords am I expected to remember – I now have three login/password science learning websites for my students to use.  They also have at least two reading programs and two math programs.  Each of these web-based learning environments have their login and password parameters, so we cannot make them all the same, which has become quite cumbersome for the average 10-year-old.  I didn’t even know what a social security number was when I was 10 much less have it memorized, but my students are expected to have all these various logins and passwords memorized.  With as advanced as technology has become, isn’t there an easier way to streamline the process – perhaps a fingerprint recognition device in the mouse?

4.  Why can’t I get on YouTube at school – despite the advertisements and inappropriate material, YouTube has considerable educational merit, especially in the science classroom where small budgets often limit educational opportunities.  We’ve been talking about properties of matter such as density, mass, weight, and gravity these past few weeks, which can be difficult for kids to wrap their heads around, especially those with limited language abilities (I have two non-English-speaking students on my team right now).  I have quickly and easily pulled up videos of watermelons and pumpkins floating in swimming pools, lumberjack competitions portraying HUGE logs floating on water even with heavy men standing on them, and my favorite, footage of the astronauts on the moon.  I would love to have the students seek out videos on their own and present them to each other, but alas, students are blocked.  We must find a way to make websites with such educational potential safer for students.

5.  Why is the Internet so slow – last year I had my GT class do a book report on Glogster, it was a brilliant activity combining technology and research in education.  I have posted one of the examples in a previous blog.  However, it takes great patience to work with fabulous Web 2.0 programs on slow-processing computers and limited Internet access in such an old building.  Students often have better technology and Internet services at their homes, so they do not understand why it takes so long at school.  Most of my GT students just stopped working on their Glogs opting for a paper-based product because they could get it done faster.  What a terrible shame!


On Your Way to the Digital Classroom June 6, 2013

Filed under: Personal — S. Michele Holmes @ 6:52 pm
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It’s been a while since I’ve written an original blog, and I attended two “technology in the classroom” trainings yesterday, so I finally have something to write about.  Some of these Web 2.0 tools I have been using for a while, but I’m still attempting to invent new ways to use them.  Others I’ve heard of but haven’t made the time to explore.  Here’s what we experimented with:


A variation on PowerPoint which steps outside the “slide” mentality, Prezi allows teachers to collect and organize text, pictures, video onto one page.  The viewer “travels” by zooming in and out and rotating to the information.  A really neat feature is that PowerPoints can EASILY be imported and manipulated within the program, so all that time you’ve spent making PowerPoints is not lost!  Older students should be able to work independently on a Prezi, but younger students with a lack of computer experience may need to work with partners or in groups.  There are so many great Prezis out there, and here’s a few that show off Prezi’s versatility:


An online virtual poster maker, Glogster is a great way to save money on markers and glitter and allow more experimentation with design.  Adding pictures, video, sound, and animations to the Glogs makes the posters more dynamic than traditional paper posters.  Students of all ages and computer abilities should be able to use this program with minor assistance, but patience is required when working with a lot of media.  The link above takes you to Glogster EDU which controls content unsafe for students.  Here are a few really cool Glogs:

QR Codes

Have you seen those funny little digital squares on your groceries?  They are QR codes, and using a QR reader on a digital device connects the user to further information, which offers a variety of application in the digital classroom.  The link above takes you to a QR Code generator.  The codes can be imbedded in printable documents such as homework assignments and letters to parents which can then be scanned by the students or parents at home to link them to websites, videos, email addresses, documents, PowerPoints, etc.  Using QR codes in classroom activities involves more thought but greater possibilities; for example, post QR codes around your room linking students to questions you would normally have on a worksheet to give them an engaging way to complete the same objectives or activities.  How about displaying vocabulary words around the classroom with QR codes linking students to definitions and pictures as a new way to explore vocabulary.  Here are a few QR codes to some of my favorite links:

qrcode.13964401          qrcode.13964462           qrcode.13965164



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