Theory & Discussion

(related Tech4TCs GoogleDoc)

Questions & Discussion

Some discussion starters:
  • I have used these online technologies for my personal benefit ...
  • I have used these online technologies with my students ...
  • Some of the best uses I’ve found for technology in the classroom include ...
  • Some of my worst experiences with technology in the classroom include ...
  • Some of my biggest concerns with technology in education include ...
  • Some of my biggest hopes with technology in education include ...

Some questions to consider:
  • How are the emerging tools different from one another?
  • What are some possible applications of these tools to the teaching of writing?
  • How do I decide if a given tool will be helpful in my classroom?
  • Are these tools bringing merely technical differences or fundamental changes?

Other Presentations of Interest


Why Technology Matters

Digital literacy is one valid reason for concerning ourselves with technology in education. However, the issue of "technology" in education is actually connected to larger (and long-standing) pedagogical concerns, specifically: the nature of creativity, learning as a social process, constructivist approaches to education, and recognition that learning is a personal process (and all the implications that come with that realization).

Here are a few statistics to get us thinking (and yes ... "lies, damned lies, and statistics"):
  • "We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet." - Karl Fisch
  • There are over 2.7 billion searches performed on Google each month.
  • The number of text messages sent ''each day'' exceeds the population of the planet.
  • The average kid, age 2-11, spends nearly 9 1/2 hours online per week(up 41% in the last three years); the average teen spends nearly 27 hours online per week (up 27% in the last three years). Adults age 18-26 spend an average of 12 hours online per week. The average family spends 3.6 hours online ''each day.''
  • There are over 700 million internet users worldwide, 153 million from the U.S.
  • 77% of Americans are online. 52% of internet users are women.
  • Education can no longer be about the accumulation of facts:
    • More than 3,000 books are published ''each day''
    • A week's worth of ''The New York Times'' contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime during the 18th century
    • It’s estimated that 1.5 exabytes (that’s 1.5 x 10 to the 18th) of unique new information will be generated worldwide this year. That's estimated to be more than in the previous 5,000 years combined.
    • The amount of new technical information is doubling every two years. That means for a student starting a four-year technical or college degree, half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study. It’s predicted to double every 72 hours by 2010.
    • Third generation fiber optics can push 10 trillion bits per second down one strand of fiber. That’s 1,900 CDs or 150 million simultaneous phone calls every second. It’s currently tripling about every 6 months and is expected to do so for at least the next 20 years.
    • Predictions are that by 2013 a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computation capability of the human brain. By 2023, a $1,000 computer will be able to do the same. First grader Abby will be just 23 years old and beginning her (first) career ... (By 2049, a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the ''human race.'')

Evolution of the Web

What is Web 1.0/2.0/3.0?
  • Web 1.0 – Static Content, Author-to-Audience
  • Web 2.0 – Collaborative Content, Audience-to-Audience
  • Web 3.0 (Semantic Web) – Smart Content, Audience-to-Software-to-Audience

I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analysing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize. - Tim Berners-Lee, 1999

Mistakes & Misconceptions

  • Misconception: "Using technology" means making digital versions of our current instructional process and materials
  • Silly thinking: Integrating technology will automatically improve student writing, thinking, etc., etc.
  • Mistake: Asking students to use tools with which you are not already comfortable in your personal use. This means you don't understand the tools you're using, and therefore may be using the wrong tool or approach to achieve a specific purpose.
  • Another Mistake: Not having a specific purpose in mind before you go looking for the right tool (i.e., putting tech first)
  • Ask yourself:
    • What are you trying to teach? What is the best approach to teaching that thing? What is the best/most authentic method for assessing whether or not students have attained mastery? Can certain tools or approaches that involve technology improve your answer to any of these questions?
    • Why am I using this technology-based tool/approach? Technology is more than a tool. Technology, when used correctly, offers a fundamentally different approach to a problem. Technology can help us to solve certain problems that we otherwise could not (or could not as easily).
    • Do I understand, for myself, how this technology works, in both a practical and theoretical sense? Do I see (by experience and insight) how its use can be helpful and effective?

Access, Share, Publish

cycle.jpg I think web work is cyclical in nature, a recursive process of accessing, sharing, and publishing information--each stage building on and developing the other. I also think these three aspects can serve as an approach to learning how to work successfully online: focusing first on mastering skills related to accessing (and evaluating) information, then on methods (and etiquette/protocol) for sharing information, and finally on means (and medium/audience) for publishing information. Of course, these skills/tools build upon one another, each stage offering further understanding of the other two.
  • Access: research skills; evaluating sources; copyright issues / plagiarism; AUP & safety; (For some interesting thoughts on these skills and how they tie in to the other stages, see these notes.)
  • Share: email & SMS; IM / Chat; VOIP / Skype; discussion forum; RSS; tags; social networks
  • Publish: static websites; CMS / portals; wiki; blog; podcast; vlog / screencast; images; videos; e-portfolios

Integrating Technology

Effective integration comes by gaining an understanding of the tools and the changes they bring to how we can work, interact, and learn; from there, you will find authentic solutions.

Concerns about Access

  • Access is still a problem outside of school and becomes reprehensible when this is the case inside the school. As your comfort with technology increases and you see the ways in which the tools can truly support education, you'll want one laptop per student with full-time online access.
  • Schools have an obligation to support the successful preparation of its students. Teachers should not be expected to do more than schools are willing to support. However, we know this is not the present reality in most places. The question then becomes: how do we respond to this reality?
  • However, if we allow students' lack of access outside of school to prevent us from using technology with them inside of school, we are only perpetuating the "digital literacy divide."

Assessment & Technology

Assuming the assessment is appropriate to the purpose, here are a few specific examples of how I assess the use of some technologies:
  • Forum participation is based on the number of words per review period. I also ask that posts address worthy topics, demonstrate clear thinking, and are written as lucidly as possible. I don't come down heavy on the writing, though, because I find the pressure of making oneself understood to others is enough to encourage the best writing the student can produce. Deficiencies on the forum usually mean a lack of ability, not a lack of effort ... in which case it's my job to help them (and grading them harshly won't do that and will likely discourage their future contributions).
  • Blogs are about developing thoughts, resources, and voice/style over time, but also assume a larger, public audience (as opposed to forums, which usually have a private audience). For this reason, you should encourage posts that are complete pieces of writing most of the time, and that seek to develop a thought, complete with relevant links, connections to other posts and resources, etc. The writing should be more carefully constructed, then. However, encouragement is more important than correctness, in my opinion. Give students credit for their thinking and writing, read what they say, help others to read it, and this will encourage better writing more than any punative assessment.
  • Wikis are collaborative in nature and seek to create a resource. The interesting aspect of wiki writing is that the document and voice that emerges comes from multiple sources but needs to sound unified. The act of editing the words of others is a new experience for most teachers, and we have to help them to avoid the extremes: not wanting to "mess with" others' writings on the one hand, and carelessly trampling over others' writings on the other.

Specific Tools & Approaches


Asynchronous Writing

(related Tech4TCs GoogleDoc)

Collaborative Writing

(related Tech4TCs GoogleDoc)

Audio / Video

  • Podcasts
  • Video / Vlogs
  • Screencasts / Online Presentations (SlideShare)

Social Learning

(related Tech4TCs GoogleDoc)

Other Forms of Technology

  • Creating websites: consider hosted solutions or CMS platforms
  • Webquests (teacher and student made)
  • Publishing aesthetics: Start with simplicity, clarity of purpose, and ease of use. Use PowerPoint slides to highlight major points or illustrate examples. If someone can view your PowerPoint (without notes) and have a full understanding of your presentation, then your PowerPoint was overdone. Also see Presentation Zen's post

A Few Steps to Start

Read Blogs and Comment

Setup a blog reader and start "subscribing" to blogs. I would recommend:
Here are a few blogs I recommend. You can also check the "Support Blogging" wiki to find others.

Start Tagging

Get an account at one of the folksonomies. I would recommend del.icio.us or Diigo.

Recommended Readings

Some offline texts that provide further insight.

Try Some Free Solutions

Free Blog-hosting
Free Wikis
Check the Go2Web20 directory of other tools
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