Assistive/Adaptive Technology: Revisited

This week for EdTech 554, we explored some of the the issues surrounding assistive technology. Our forum prompt asked us to explore how we as leaders in educational technology can support the use assistive technology to make these possibilities a reality for our students, in spite of budget cuts.

This is certainly an exciting yet difficult issue, one laden with challenges on every front. My mom has taught special education in a low income area of Nevada for 20 years. She faces this issue every day and there is no easy solution.

Yet, “technology can be a great equalizer for individuals with disabilities” and can provide alternative solutions to assist students with physical, sensory, or cognitive impairments (Behrmann, 1998).  Technology holds great potential “to enhance access, inclusion, productivity, and the quality of life of individuals with disabilities (as cited in Chmiliar & Cheung, 2007). While the vision is a strong one, the implementation and funding for Assistive Technology often comes up short.

What stood out to me most from the readings (here and here) is the need to support professional development of teachers (a recurring theme in educational technology…). Assistive Technology (AT) will have little impact unless teachers know how to best integrate it into student learning.  Though teachers have a “pivotal role” in implementing AT, they generally receive very little training on how to do so (Chmiliar & Cheung, 2007).

Some things require little money or effort but still make a big difference. I have a nerve deafness, due to a childhood illness, that makes it difficult to understand spoken words. I function in ‘normal’ society but I am greatly aided by small efforts that make my life less frustrating. I enable subtitles anytime I can because it helps me differentiate words and it’s good literacy reinforcement for my children. I also always appreciate it when a speaker or teacher can see their students and speaks loudly and clearly.

The encouraging news, I believe, is that accessibility features are becoming more and more common on computers and tablets. What used to require expensive software is now built-in or available within an inexpensive app. Part of the solution to accessibility is to train teachers to properly use the accessibility features already available to them.
For EdTech 541, I explored the issue of accessibility. I created a Clarify-It tutorial on the built-in accessibility features on my iMac and wrote about it on my learning log. I designed a webpage suggesting iPad apps and software/hardware for students with cognitive, physical, sensory, along with at-risk and gifted and talented students.

This is an issue that we can tackle – one step at a time – together.

References:

Behrmann, M. (1998). Assistive technology for young children in special education: It makes a difference. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/assistive-technology-young-children-special-education

Chmiliar, L., & Cheung, B. (2007). Assistive technology training for teachers – Innovation and accessibility online. Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, 35(1&2), 18–28.

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Theory-supported Social Networking: A Reflection

An annotated bibliography makes a standard APA reference list look like a walk in the park. In case you, like me until this week’s EdTech504 assignment, have never had the privilege of creating such a resource, let me help you. An annotated bibliography is a blend: part paper, part reference list, part taxonomy. In this case it includes 7-10 resources on a topic of interest relating to educational technology theory. Such topic should be (as our module instructs) “broad enough to allow full exploration of the topic but narrow enough to be a thorough analysis.”

Not only did I find, read, summarize, and cite such resources from peer-reviewed sources, I wrote a short paragraph on each one. Lest you think that is simple, let me explain. This paragraph is much more than a summary or abstract of the article. It is a critical analysis of its purpose, a comparison to other works in the field, an explanation of how it fits into my taxonomy, and requires my personal conclusions and observations.

In short, the annotated bibliography is no small feat, as you may surmise from its title Selected Research on Supporting Theory and Frameworks for Social Networking: An Annotated Bibliography.

In plain English, I chose to dive into the framework and theory that supports using social networking in education. I knew social networking is fun and engaging for students. Schools use sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Edmodo, and Schoology to help students collaborate and connect. What I didn’t have a handle on before now is the research supporting such practice. Eight long resources later, along with several other course resources, I now do.

Social Networking is much more than a fun way to socialize. The Internet, though not initially designed as such, has become a social experience focused more on relationships than information or content (Lankshear, 2000). Depending on how well it is integrated into course design, social networking can engage learners and foster better retention (Jonassen, 1991).

I have seen this as I’ve assisted in my school’s 9th Grade Understanding Computers course. The teacher chose to use Edmodo as a learning management system and I am impressed at how well the students have embraced this format. The students always know what is coming, what is due, where they stand, and have all course materials easily at their fingertips. Comments and feedback are integrated throughout and they have responded well to the social nature of this course. According to Boitshwarelo (2011), the versatility of the online environment is an excellent medium to explore the growth and facilitation of key concepts of the connectivism theory. Social networking is supported by select learning principles from other learning theories such as behaviorism, where the learner is reactive rather than active in creating knowledge. Anyone who has sat back and caught up on current events or sporting event outcomes by reading their Facebook news feed can relate to this idea.

I think time will tell how social networking will impact long-term education and achievement, but there are some exciting possibilities that teachers can use now help engage their students in learning.

References:
Boitshwarelo, B. (2011). Proposing an integrated research framework for connectivism: Utilising Theoretical Synergies. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 161–179.

Jonassen, D. (1991). Objectivism versus constructivism: Do we need a new philosophical
paradigm? Educational Technology Research and Development, 39(3), 5-14.

Lankshear, C. (2000). Information, knowledge and learning: Some issues facing epistemology and education in a digital age. Journal Of Philosophy Of Education, 34(1), 17.

Reflection: Epistemological beliefs and Classroom instruction

Reading through the text and articles for this module has certainly opened my eyes, though I have felt a bit overwhelmed with trying to make sense of the practical application of various theories. The hardest part of the learning theories paper was its length–or lack of it. I found it incredibly difficult to read that amount of dense material, find a common theory to focus on, and synthesize it into one page. I certainly see the value of such an assignment, painful as it was, because it ensured that I 1) read the material, 2) made sense of it, and 3) morphed it into an academic synthesis paper. I’m not certain how well I succeeded but the effort alone was a good experience.

The hardest part of studying theory, for me, is actually applying it to everyday life. When I was a young piano student, I had one teacher who spent a significant amount of time on musical theory. At the time I hated it because all I really wanted to do was play the notes. However, over time I grew to realize that the theory I had learned made me a much better player than I would have otherwise been. This same idea applies in the classroom.
I just attended my 6th-grader’s Back to School Open House. I listened to all seven of his teachers express their teaching philosophy (which I now know to call their epistemological beliefs) and how they would strive to help my son learn throughout the year. What has yet to be told, however, is how well they will align their beliefs with day to day classroom instruction.

After reading more about constructivism, particularly social constructivism, I realized my own beliefs closely align with its principles. I certainly believe that we all “build personal interpretations of the world based on individual experiences and interactions” and that learning should occur in realistic settings with tasks that are relevant to the learner’s lived experience (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 63). I am not a classroom teacher, but I do have the opportunity to visit K-5 grades for technology integration activities that I design. In alignment with NETS standards, I have flexibility in what I choose to focus on. My goal is to make technology use as seamless as possible, to blend it with other experiences the students are having and make it relevant to their own lives.

This week they did word clouds. We started with spelling words, then science vocabulary they had been learning, then they created their own. Some chose to focus on family or friends, while some highlighted favorite games or sports. While I have had to lay some groundwork for these young students who are fairly new to using the laptop carts, I will give less instruction and allow them more freedom to problem solve. They are so quick to raise their hand if any little thing goes wrong, and I want them to try first to solve the problem before asking for help. I’m excited to bring in some more collaborative work and limited social media, even with the lower grades. I read an article recently on Edutopia that said, “The evolving world of Internet communication — blogs, podcasts, tags, file swapping — offers students radically new ways to research, create, and learn. But, too often, schools use computers as little more than glorified workbooks, and that’s criminal” (Smith, 2007).

There is such potential to allow students to construct their own knowledge, give them room to experiment, learn deeply, and share. The trick is applying the theory to practical daily application, and that’s where teachers need all the support they can get. I consider one of my most important jobs this year as technology integration coordinator is to help empower teachers with the resources they need to reach their students.

References
Ertmer, P.A., & Newby, T.J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing     critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement     Quarterly, 6(4), 50-72.

Smith, F. (2007). How to use social-networking technology for learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/how-use-social-networking-technology

Instructional Design Final Project

Wow.

When I started EdTech 503 I really had no idea what was in store. I do now. While I feel somewhat overwhelmed with all I have learned I also feel empowered. I certainly need and want to learn more.

My project for this course was to design three-hour instruction to help 8th and 9th grade students learn to use Google Docs presentations. It is geared for English Literature students who need to do a class presentation on a poet. They will not only gain content area knowledge but learn valuable 21st Century digital skills that they can apply in various real-world scenarios. It’s been fun but daunting.

Here is my 35-page project. There are many supporting documents linked throughout. It has been a grueling process but certainly a learning one.

Accessibility Features on my iMac

I’ve been studying various accessibility/assistive technology tools this week. What an exciting area of growth that benefits so many people!

My EdTech 541 project page features several integration strategies for students of all abilities. Many of the tools, apps, websites, and devices listed not only benefit students with physical or sensory impairments, but also students who are struggling in various content areas. I also touch briefly on some tools for gifted and talented students and those up for a good challenge.

This post will take a look at some of the accessibility features built-in to the computer I use every day. I have experimented with them and seen briefly how they might really help students with various special needs.

Meet my accessible iMac:
Model: 27-inch 3.2 GHz Intel Core i3 iMac
Date: mid-2010
Operating System: Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3
This is one powerful machine and I adore it.

I created this Clarify-It screen tutorial to give an overview of some of the basic accessibility features on my iMac. There are many other features that are listed on Apple’s Accessibility website.

The iPad and iPod are also very powerful machines with a different set of accessibility features built-in.

It is wonderful that so many tools are built in to the operating systems of computers and portable devices. This truly gives many students the opportunity to use and enjoy computers in a way that would otherwise not be possible.

Resources:
Apple: Accessibility features on a Apple devices
NASET: Overview of vision impairments
OATS
: Open source assistive technology software
AbleData
: resource for assistive technology information
OCAD University
: Inclusive Design Research Centre
CAST
: Center for Applied Special Technology
Microsoft
: Accessibility features on Windows
NICHCY
: Offers a wealth of information on disabilities
DO-IT Center
: promotes the success of individuals with disabilities in postsecondary education and careers, using technology as an empowering tool
WebAIM
: Web accessibility evaluation tool
Building Accessible Websites
: free online book

Evaluation and SME Review

The end is nearing for my semester-long instructional design project, and it is thrilling to see it come together. This week we focus on evaluation. I chose a Subject Matter Expert (SME) to review my materials and offer feedback. The other evaluation types are outside of the scope of this course, but I still had to design what types of questions I would ask in the various evaluation stages. It would be fun to be able to see a project all the way through.

ID Project Description: After three hours of classroom instruction, ninth and tenth grade English Literature students will be able to create, publish, and present a multimedia Google Docs presentation on an assigned poet.

SME Questions:

  • Do you feel this is a valuable and age-appropriate lesson for 9th and 10th grade English Literature students?
  • How valuable do you feel Google Docs is for this age group to learn?
  • Is the stated learning goal clear and attainable in the time allotted?
  • Do you feel you have an adequate picture of the target learners?
  • Do you feel the needs assessment questions provide helpful insights?
  • Are there any other questions you would ask?
  • Are the Learning Task Analysis flow charts clear and logical?
  • Are there any other Entry Behaviors that you would add?
  • Are the learning objectives clear? Realistic? Measurable? Attainable? Are any confusing?
  • Do you feel like the Part 3b Matrix accurately and appropriately assesses the students? Should anything be added or changed?
  • Do you feel that the PowerPoint presentation supports the instruction adequately? Are there any other materials you would include?
  • If you were to teach similar students this lesson, is there anything you would change?
  • Is the instructor guide clear and easy to understand?
  • Do you have any other comments or suggestions?

Expert Review Evaluation Form

One-to-One Evaluation
The purpose of this evaluation is to try out the instructional materials on a small scale before larger-scale implementation. This evaluation is geared towards a few members of the target audience and is used to fix any problems discovered upfront. This type of evaluation gives the designer an opportunity to fix typos, mistakes, unclear directions and vocabulary, and general ambiguity or confusion.

For my project, I intend to include 2-3 English Literature students and their teacher at Heritage Academy in Mesa, AZ. I have designed this project with this group of students in mind and will ask the teacher try it out with a couple of the more willing and bright students. After participating in the instruction’s discussion and presentation materials, some questions they will be asked are:

  • Do you understand the concepts explained in the presentation?
  • Have you learned anything new or did you already know the information presented? Please explain.
  • What is your level of confidence if you were to be tested right now on the information presented?
  • Did you understand what was expected of you during the multimedia quiz? If no, please explain.
  • Are there any graphics, text, or pictures that you did not understand? If yes, please explain.
  • Could you read and understand everything presented to you?
  • What do you think the relevancy, or real-life application, is of the subject matter presented?

Small Group Evaluation
This stage of evaluation takes into account the answers received during the one-to-one evaluation noted above. It involves a slightly larger, more varied group of students without the designer’s intervention. This evaluation notes the how well the instruction holds its own in a group of varying abilities.

For this evaluation, I will use the same school and teacher listed above but involve an entire Honors 9th grade English Literature class. This will allow the teacher to evaluate the instructional materials with a larger number and wider variety of students. Some of the questions the teacher will ask the students and teacher are:

  • Do you have the entry skills listed in the instructional materials? If any are missing, please list.
  • How confident are you that you could begin a Google Doc presentation right now? Please explain.
  • Are there any other skills not discussed that are important to creating and presenting a well-designed presentation? Please explain.
  • Did you feel enough time was given to accomplish what was expected? If not, please explain.
  • Do you feel the information presented is valuable to you personally? Did you enjoy it? Do you feel it is useful? Please explain.
  • What do you think could be improved about this instruction?

Field Trial
This stage of the evaluation takes into account the revisions made from the one-on-one and small-group evaluations. It determines the effectiveness of the revisions and looks at any problems that might arise in a real instructional setting. It also uses a large enough group to make a more accurate prediction of the effectiveness of the materials.

For this project, I will use the same teacher and school, and involve all of the 9th and 10th grade English Literature students. Any problems encountered and revisions made will be taken into account for the next year, and so on, in order to improve each year the instruction is given. If time and resources allow, it would be beneficial to try it out in a similar class in another school. At the conclusion of the instruction, the teacher and students will be asked some questions such as:

  • Can the instruction be used as designed or are revisions needed? Please explain.
  • Did the teacher present the information in a way you could understand? If no, please explain.
  • Do you feel you had enough entry-level skills to accomplish what was expected of you? If not, please explain.
  • Did you have enough time to complete the activities?
  • Did you enjoy the instruction? If not, what could make it more interesting?
  • Do you feel the things you learned have real-life application? Please explain.
  • (For the teacher) How do you feel about the instructional materials? Was it easy to implement as designed or are revisions needed? Did you make any changes or adaptations? Please explain.

Obstacles (and Solutions!) for Integrating Technology in English and Language Arts Instruction

New technology tools available for teachers bring new challenges, and English teachers are not exempt from these issues. In fact, English and language arts teachers are wise to navigate these issues and leverage the powerful tools available in this major content area. This post will discuss what some of the obstacles are and integration strategies to best overcome them. While I have added my own thoughts and other resources as cited, I relied heavily on Chapter 9 called “Teaching and Learning with Technology in English and Language Arts Instruction” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012) for this post.

Obstacles

Digital Literacy
In their 2012 book Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, Roblyer and Doering state, “Reading, writing, and critically analyzing written communications are considered fundamental skills for a literate person, and technologies have much to offer teachers as they help their students develop these skills. However, technologies have also brought about dramatic changes in the format and types of communications that literate people must deal with, thus presenting an array of new challenges to English and language arts teachers” (p. 266). The new challenges are very real, but also present exciting opportunities for both teachers and students.

Because technology changes so rapidly, the definition of digital literacy is also fluid. The University of Illinois defines it on their website in three parts: 1) The ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information; 2) The ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers; and 3) A person’s ability to perform tasks effectively in a digital environment… Literacy includes the ability to read and interpret media, to reproduce data and images through digital manipulation, and to evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from digital environments (http://www.library.illinois.edu/diglit/definition.html). This is a powerful definition that not only involves using the technology itself, but understanding, evaluating, and  interpreting information. Taking it a step further, students must be able to perform tasks more effectively and apply new knowledge as a result of such literacy. Hence, English and language arts teachers are responsible for much more than reading and writing. They must equip their students with 21st Century digital literacy skills.

Need for New Instructional Strategies
Patricia Edwards, then-president of the International Reading Association, stated in 2010, “If students are to successfully meet the social, political, and economic demands of their futures, they must be able to adapt and reinvent the ways that they read and write the world” (p. 22). She further notes that teachers must be willing to take risks and to adapt their instructional approaches and classroom resources in new and imaginative ways (Edwards, 2010). Teachers can’t rely on old instructional strategies to teach new technology skills.

Other challenges
Today’s classrooms are more diverse, and often include students of all backgrounds who are learning English for the first time. Some students struggle with attention disorders or learning disabilities, and many need additional support in reading and writing. There are many technology tools that can wisely be used to support this diverse group of learners. Another challenge English teachers face is motivating students to write, as students are reading less for pleasure and struggle more with basic reading and writing skills. Ebooks, blogs, wikis, and similar tools can greatly help in this area. Much is expected of teachers, and professional development and training must support them in their efforts. Administrators everywhere must make professional development a priority if teachers are going to be equipped with enough 21st Century skills to impact our students.

“The transformation of our culture from an Industrial Age to an Information Age is why a new kind of literacy, coupled with a new way of learning, is critical for today’s classroom teacher” (Edwards, 2010). Though demanding, this is an exciting time to be a teacher, and fortunately there are many tools that can assist in this great undertaking.

Integration Strategies (Solutions!)

I love the following technology integration strategies listed by Roblyer and Doering (2012, p. 273-274) and feel they are worth a repeat here (click the image to see it as a full-size PDF with hyperlinks):

Of those listed, I feel one of the most powerful and effective ideas is digital publishing of students’ work. This can be done through a class blog or wiki, or through an individual assignment such as creating an eBook in a particular area. I recently designed a sample activity using eBooks for young students that meets cross-content area objectives. Students enjoy this type of activity, and are generally more motivated to write if they know others will read what they have written.

There are countless tools available to English and language arts teachers that help instill stronger literacy skills in students. Technology integration can be overwhelming but that shouldn’t keep teachers from starting small, starting somewhere. Pick one tool, one website to try. Then another. Great technology tools plus great teachers equals better equipped students with digital literacy skills. Our kids are worth the extra effort!

References:
Digital literacy definition and resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.library.illinois.edu/diglit/definition.html

Edwards, P. (2010). Reconceptualizing literacy. Reading Today, 27(6), 22.

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Instructor’s Guide and ARCS Table

Piece by piece, my instructional design project is coming together. This week I have thought through what the actual instruction will look like. What materials will the instructor use? How will the lessons be organized? How will the instructor motivate the students? I enjoyed this assignment because it was less theoretical and more practical. There are two different models we used and I post them both here. Each image links to Google Docs:

“My Life” Digital Storytelling activity

eBooks are a powerful tool for Language Arts educators that can help engage students and get them excited about writing. Numerous resources are available online that allow free eBook creation and collaboration without having to print the final product. The possibilities for use in the classroom are exciting.

Above is a sample eBook I created on Mixbook. This site allows students to create a digital storybook and publish their work online for free. Its editing tools and templates are simple and students can work individually or collaboratively on a project. Click on the image above to view my book directly on Mixbook.

Here is a complete lesson plan for teachers to use a similar project in their classroom. It is geared for 3rd-6th grade students, but could easily be adapted for other age groups.

Relative Advantage of using Technology in major Content Areas

Overview

Research is plentiful showing the relative advantage of using technology to enhance classroom instruction. But which classrooms and in what areas? This blog entry will cover specifically how using technology wisely in major content areas offers students a more engaging, relevant, and authentic learning experience.

Major content areas are: language arts, social studies (including civics, history, geography, government, and economics), math, the arts, and science. These are the areas of focus for standardized testing, and therefore are the subjects teachers teach. Take any school across the country and you will find their days broken down among these subjects to some degree or another. All content areas have been impacted by emerging technology tools, and all can benefit from integration strategies. Michael King, a noted principal and educator for over 30 years, states that teachers should begin to build units of study that merge traditional learning with virtual learning, and that these lessons and units developed should be integrated into all areas of the curriculum, not just computer, business or technology classes (King, n.d.)

Supporting Research

Ultimately the goal of educators and schools is to provide students with a valuable, sustainable, and practical education that will prepare them for their lives after they graduate. “Today’s world demands that students learn how to access, manage, apply, and evaluate rapidly growing banks of information” (King, n.d.).Technology is a critical part of this effort and cannot be overlooked. I will highlight three advantages of using technology among the various content areas and give examples of some of the technology tools available to educators and students.

Engaging
It is much easier and effective in a foreign country if the traveler can speak the local language. It is no different in class. If teachers are able to speak the “language” of their students, the message is more fun and ‘sticks’ better. Technology is the language.
Social interaction and networking has had a big impact in language arts instruction. Students like to connect with others through commenting and reaching outside of themselves and their classroom. When students publish their works on blogs or wikis, they make more of an effort and are engaged more with the content. Ebook readers allow students to “make notes and comments directly on what they are reading, which helps them better comprehend its meaning” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 268). They can click on a word for its meaning, adjust the font size, or see passages others have highlighted. “Teachers are turning to the interactive and visual qualities of software and websites to increase motivation for reading and writing” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 270).

There are many websites that help students practice their reading and writing skills. Apps are available on mobile devices that students can use outside of school. Vocabulary boosters, talking word processors, speech-to-text capability, concept mapping, and collaborative editing all contribute to students’ digital literacy in a fun and engaging way.

Relevant
Students benefit greatly when they can see a practical use for the knowledge they are learning. If teachers can make a solid connection between students’ real-life scenarios and the content, then students will get more out of the instruction. “Students need to know the rationale for learning, and teachers should take the time to explain it” (King, n.d.).

Social studies has perhaps been the most affected by the impact of technology than any other content area (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 334). Today’s technology tools certainly make the world smaller and information travel quickly. These changes affect how much students know about the world around them and the “interconnections of people and the earth” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 334). Project-based technology tools apply across various themes like culture, environment, global connections, civic ideas, and technology in society. The tools available and their potential use in a classroom are endless.

“Simulations, or electronic environments that allow students to interact with simulated events or locations, can help make these concepts more clear and meaningful” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 338). Virtual field trips allow students to travel online to a place they would not normally be able to visit. This opens up the world to them and allows a budget-friendly opportunity to learn about a location, museum, or historic site almost as if they were there. Digital storytelling is “the use of images and audio to tell the stories of lives, events, or eras” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 340) and can be a motivating and powerful tool for students. This tool not only increases digital literacy, but engages students and allows them to make their own lives a part of their scholarly research (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 340). Geospatial technologies (think Google Earth) involve using technology for visualization, analysis, and measurement of the world around us. Students can view and examine the world through “multiple layering of data sets (population density, roads, earthquake activity) within a spatial environment” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 341). Several programs are free. How else can students view the world in high resolution photos and satellite images? Adventure learning (AL) is a “hybrid distance education approach that provides students with opportunities to explore real-world issues through authentic learning experiences within collaborative learning environments” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 339). It’s all quite remarkable.

Authentic
There is a need, especially in abstract math and science concepts, to make learning genuine and real. Students need to see why it matters to them. Not enough students are pursuing STEM (science/technology/engineering/mathematics) fields. “This trend could have serious consequences for our country…There is a need for all citizens to be scientifically literate in order to make informed decisions that affect our country’s future” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 318).

Integration strategies and tools available can really help make science and math more meaningful for students. Virtual science labs, while debated in how much they should be used, are certainly worth exploring. “Authentic science not only involves having students ‘do’ science, it also includes connecting science to students’ lives and life experiences. Involving students in active scientific investigations can improve their attitude toward science as well as their understanding of scientific concepts” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 319). Several online projects allow students to collect and analyze data, communicate results, get feedback and become “collaborators in a real scientific investigation” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, p. 319). In math, students are able to visually see realistic representations of abstract concepts by using graphing calculators, interactive software, and probes, thus helping students develop problem-solving skills.

Conclusion

The sheer number of content area resources available is overwhelming. However, educators must devote the time and training needed in order to provide more engaging, relevant, and authentic learning environments. They must become masters in the tools of their trade in order to prepare students for the real world, especially the 21st Century digital world.

References

King, M. (n.d.). Integrating technology Into the curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/15709322/Integrating-Technology-Into-the-Curriculum

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th
ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Additional Resources

Social Studies:

  • GeoThentic: Helps students learn geospatial technologies by solving complex problems in an online environment
  • Muzzy Lane’s Making History: An interactive game that gives players the power to take full control of any world nation, colonies, regions, cities, and military forces during the time leading up to and during the Second World War
  • The Oregon Trail: An interactive game about America’s pioneers as they make their way west
  • Louvre Museum: Experience a virtual field trip and view some of the masterpieces up close and in detail
  • Neighborhood MapMachine: A hands-on program, students create and navigate maps of their own neighborhoods, other communities, or imaginary places
  • GoNorth! Adventure Learning Series: A free program for K-12 that follows a real group of scientists, explorers, and educators as they dogsled across the Arctic
  • The JASON Project: Connects students with scientists and researchers in real- and near-real time, virtually and physically, to provide mentored, authentic and enriching science learning experiences
  • Earthducation Adventure Learning Series: A series of 7 expeditions to every continent over the course of 4 years (2011-2014) designed to create a world narrative of the dynamic intersections between education and sustainability
  • Center for Digital Storytelling: Describes the art of digital storytelling and provides publications and courses
  • Digital Resource Centers: University of Virginia’s Internet-based academic collections
  • Digital Documentaries: The Art of Telling Digital Stories website discusses the advantages to viewing and making documentaries and has many documentary resources

Language Arts:

  • Wordle: create word clouds based on the frequency of words used in a text
  • Brainpop: gives students practice in linking words and images
  • Visual Thesaurus: creates word maps of related words
  • ePals: connects students all over the world who want to share ideas and work together
  • Poetry: full of poetry examples and ideas from the Academy of American Poets
  • Write Source: student writing models by grade level
  • Project Gutenberg: offers over 38,000 free ebooks
  • Your Student News: publish student work in an online school newspaper
  • Readwritethink: online practice in matching letters and sounds

Science:

  • National Academy Press: over 4,000 free PDFs for download in STEM content areas
  • Sheppard Software: free science tutorials and games
  • Globe Project: Hands-on science projects for students, teachers and scientists to collaborate on inquiry-based investigations of the environment and the Earth
  • Journey North: allows students to ask questions and receive responses by experts about migration and seasonal change
  • Project FeederWatch: allows students to collect data for a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders across the nation
  • Exploratorium: interactive website for this museum of science, art and human perception
  • National Science Digital Library: online portal for STEM education and research
  • Simulations: Fun, interactive, research-based simulations of physical phenomena from the PhET project at the University of Colorado
  • Telescope: Students can design and make astronomical observations with research-quality telescopes

Math:

The Arts:

  • GarageBand: Apple’s iLife software that allows composing, mixing, and sharing of music through various instruments and formats
  • BubbleMachine: allows interactive navigation through a piece of music
  • Finale: provides a practice environment for students with accompaniment, with tools for composing and arranging, teaching and sharing
  • Practice Musica: personal individual tutoring in musical skills and theory
  • Children’s Music Journey: a collection of software that teaches music to young students
  • Audacity: free open-source option for recording and editing sounds
  • MuseScore: free music notation software
  • Gimp: free online photo editing
  • Google SketchUp: free 3-D modeling software
  • Masters of Photography: Internet and CD collection of photographs
  • National Gallery of Art: see online tours of artwork by artist, work, or theme