Like most seniors at Ramapo College, for me graduation is coming very quickly. Upon graduation in May 2004, I will be certified to teach English at the secondary level. In light of my teaching pursuit, I feel that it is important in our society, which is heavily technologically based, to have an up-to-date knowledge of technology as a tool that I can use in my classroom. I hope that by giving myself this option I will be enhancing the education of my students.
In the "21st Century Skills" executive report (2003), it stated that "children are native to cyberspace and we, as adults, are immigrants. How do we, as adults, with the least experience in the milieu, provide leadership?" As a result of researching the referred literature in order to comment upon the significance or application of research of teaching and learning while using technology, it seemed as if there was a pro and con to the use of it. I will explore three journal articles to make certain points about how technology is used in the classroom.
In the "Apple K-12 Effectiveness Reports," the effect of the use of computer software programs on the student's ability to write was explored. Researchers found that using technology tools helps to motivate the students to make connections between real situations and their creative, more skillful side in order to work effectively (Apple, 2003). Apple stated that, "urban LEP students improved their writing by using word processing and became more positive about school and about writing. Support from word processing includes: overcoming illegible handwriting, overcoming fear of errors, and encouraging students to collaborate" (Apple 2003).
During my student teaching experience, I often take my children to the computer lab in order for them to do group activities. Most often when a new unit of study is started, there are a lot of questions pertaining to time period, author's life, and country of origin. By dividing these different categories amongst the groups of students in my class, they can use the computers to search the Internet to find the information they need. After compiling this information they can then put the information in to a power point presentation and from this teach the class a little bit about the new unit or author we are going to discuss as a class.
The biggest benefit of doing this is that it holds each student accountable for knowing a portion of the information. If the information was delivered in a lecture, the students might not retain any of the information. This activity also uses collaboration amongst group members to meet a goal. Through presentation of the information students can also overcome fears they may have of speaking in front of students or groups of people. The students also do not have to worry about giving the wrong information because they can check their information via the Internet.
Because some student's skills are stronger in some area than others, not all students are proficient in the areas of using proper grammar, proper sentence structuring, spelling, etc. However, an advantage to using word processing is that students tend to make fewer mistakes since they are able to correct them more easily with the assistance of the word processing programs. While correcting mistakes, the students are seeing their weaknesses and are given a chance to improve on them. "Students who used computers received higher performance scores and higher grades on their essays. Computer essays contained fewer punctuation mistakes, had a greater average sentence length, and had more complex sentences" (Apple 2003). Using word processing in accordance with other software helps students to increase their creativity and willingness to develop and express their ideas with more confidence.
However, on the other side, the other journal I researched discussed the negative effects of technology in the classroom. In "High Access and Low Use of Technology in High School Classrooms: Explaining an Apparent Paradox," a study examined student and teacher use of technology in two high schools over a seven month period. In summary they found through this research that teachers did not have the proper training and/or time to use the technology and incorporated it effectively in the classroom.
In "High Access," it was stated that "computer and software training was seldom offered at convenient times. Most of the available training was too generic and not specific to the needs of the teachers. Also, few teachers made the fundamental changes in their instructional strategies" (Cuban et al. 2001). Naturally, the older generations of teachers are less apt to adapt to new teaching strategies due to habit and what is comfortable and known. However, as a new teacher I feel the responsibility and obligation to make sure that I have the appropriate knowledge of technology available so to enhance and advance my students' abilities to the fullest.
Because this journal affirms that there is not enough time in the day for teachers to collaborate and develop technology-included lessons, there needs to be a way to "expand the technical support to teachers to test software prior to marketing to state and district administrators, and make time to teach teachers how to use these new tools (Cuban et al. 2001). My experience has always been technology based. If a person can do something in their head then he/she should be able to complete the same task on a computer.
Often in literature there is a need to diagram family trees. With programs such as Inspiration, a diagram can be done in an organized and pleasing manner. Inspiration utilizes images and color to make a diagram more approachable for students; the students will have the information in front of them and a teacher will not have to slow down for students to write. This is also a good tool because the teacher will always know that the students have the correct information.
The last journal reviewed was entitled "Stronger Designs for Research on Educational Uses of Technology: Conclusions and Implications," which was summary of ten papers written by researchers issued by the Department of Education. It discussed the effect of technology on student learning. It stated that it was wrong to report on technology by using standardized test scores and opinion and implementations (Haertel & Means, 2000). Children who do poorly on standardized tests are often those same students are technically advanced. It has been brought to my attention that students who use technology do better on standardized tests because they have access to information that students without computers do not get. Computer programs have also been developed to help improve on student test scores.
Teachers are trained "to become action researchers who can identify, understand, report on the contextual factors contributing to and/or hindering the success in technology-related interventions in their classrooms and to select a variety of measures for assessment that align specific content students are learning with the technologies that they access" (Haertel & Means, 2000).
These reports give a better sense of what technological support positively effects education. In turn, this will also be a good way to train teachers while they are being obligated to report on their students on a national level to use technology as a must with their lessons. By examining all of this research it is apparent that technology is here to stay in the classroom. And I am sure that more and more teachers will be obligated and required to incorporate these new systems into their methods of teaching in order to improve his/her students learning outcome. And as a new teacher I will do my best to lead the way to more technology in the classroom.
"Apple K-12 Effectiveness Reports" [Online]. Available: <http://www.apple.com/education/k12/leadership/effect5.html> [2004, March 25].
"21st Century Skills: Executive Summary: [Online]. Available: <htttp://www.ncrel.org/enguage/skills/exec/htm> [2004, March 25].
Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., and Peck, C. (2001). "High Access and Low Use of Technology in High School Classrooms: Explaining an Apparent Paradox. American Educational Research Journal. 38(4), 813-834. [Online]. Available: <http://caret.iste.org/index.cfm> [2004, March 25].
Haertel, G., and B. Means. (2000). "Stronger Designs for Research on Educational Use in Technology: Conclusions and Implications." SRI International: Menlo Park, CA. Retrie 8, 2002, from <http://www.sri.com/policy/designkt/found.html>. [Online]. Available: <http://caret.iste.org/index.cfm> [2004, March 25].