I recently learned about Cloud Computing in one of my online classes. As a teacher I had never heard of it. However, when I was teaching there was always a lot of discussion about security for school records and that new technology in the classroom could jeopardize it. Five years ago the school where I taught was very restrictive in what we could access even on the Internet. Most of my research for lesson plans were accomplished at home and hardcopy were brought into the classroom. I was not even able to email lesson plans from my home to my school email address.
Now there is a new change for public schools due to the need to find cheap effective means to educate and the need to bring the technologies that students are using into the classroom to improve learning results. The change is called Cloud Computing. It enables you to access software applications, hardware, data and computer processing power on the web. http://www.publicschoolreview.com/articles/218
One of the services that can be utilized is the Google Gmail to provide an email service to all its school students. This would be a valuable tool communication for teachers and students .
With all new technology, there must be a full understanding of the service to ensure negative and positive aspects are taken into account. http://blogs.educationau.edu.au/jmillea/2009/06/23/heading-into-the-cloud-cloud-computing-and-education/
Apple iPads are the new craze. You see them in the hands of young, middle-aged, and older people. Kids love them as the iPad is very easy to use and has a touch screen. However, I was not aware of the increasing popularity of the iPad in schools. The big emphasis with the Apple iPad is the free educational applications available. http://www.emergingedtech.com/
The five free applications for teachers and students are listed below:
Preschool Memory Match http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/preschool-memory-match/id368542467?mt=8
Times Table Quiz http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/times-tables-quiz!-multiplication/id441001315?mt=8
Trainyard EX http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/trainyard-express/id348724199?mt=8
BrainPop’s Featured Movie http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/brainpop-featured-movie/id364894352?mt=8
Amazing Shape Puzzle Lite Version http://itunes.apple.com/app/amazing-shape-puzzle-lite/id469339346?mt=8
The Times Table Quiz and the Trainyard EX applications would have been valuable tools for use in my fourth grade class. Many students have difficulty learning the multiplication table or complex tasks point a to point b math problems. The iPad makes the learning process fun and learners feel they are in control of their own learning. The video shows how fast the iPad is catching on in schools.
Mimio Teach is one of the newest tools available to teachers for the classroom. It is a system that converts a regular whiteboard to an interactive board. The device is mounted to the whiteboard magnetically, which makes it simple to relocate or store. It is an easy and simple to use handheld stylus that can withstand daily classroom use and is very affordable.
It allows teachers to create interactive lessons that can include audio, video, and flash files. It allows files to be imported for use in presentations such as abode or Powerpoint. Notes or drawing from the whiteboard can be saved to a computer for use later or to share on the Internet.
Mimio has multiple resources available to assist teachers such as Facebook page, multiple levels of training available on-line and in-person, and an interactive teaching community site to share experiences and lesson plans. There are many comments from teachers of the rewards of using the Mimio Teach as well as other tools of Mimio. I wish that it had been available to use when I was teaching as it is engages the student in the learning process.
As teachers, educators, and facilitators of learning, we have to understand how learning occurs and the best means to promote learning. Students of today do not want to sit in classrooms and listen to lectures. This scenario is from an educational era that no longer exists. Students want high-definition, fast and furious high-technology learning environments. In order to understand how students learn and how to promote learning, first you have to take a look at how they are wired.
“According to Marc Prensky, young people these days are wired differently; that their brains have been structured differently.” This change happens throughout life and it is affected by experience. However, Prensky’s theory totally goes against that of Darwin that it takes many generations for adaptation of the environment to take place. http://newlearning.wikispaces.com/
Students today think and see the world totally different from their parents. Technology has placed emphasis and reinforced certain cognitive aspects. Most of these changes in cognitive style are positive.
The problem is that most of our teaching habits – our institutional routines – are so small and limited. Social media has extended the students reach and knowledge. This link provides Prensky’s 10 cognitive style changes that can assist in reaching younger workers who think differently. These changes would also be excellent tips for educators for the classroom.
One of the more common learning disabilities is dyslexia and it is caused by a miscommunication between the eyes and the brain. About 5 to 10 percent of American children are diagnosed with dyslexic. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928142457.htm
There are now software programs available to assist children at home and school. One of these programs is the Fast ForWord® Program.
It was created to help students develop fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension skills. It uses speech verification technology to “listen” as a student reads aloud. Monitoring for signs of difficulty, the guided reading tool intervenes with assistance when the reader is challenged by a word.
This type of program is not just for students with dyslexia but can help leaning disabled students as it boosts the brain’s processing ability. This program would be a valuable tool for any teacher or parent for children that are dyslexic or have a learning disability that involves processing abilities. Reading for students with disabilities is so frightening and most simply stop reading. The use of this program could engage a student to allow them to read and feel comfortable enough to continue to read. Most students with low reading abilities drop out of school. Staying in school means a better education and a better brighter future.
A podcast which replaced the word webcast, is a series of digital media files that are released and then downloaded. The podcast began to catch on in the late 2004 even thought it began in 1998. I was not aware that podcast had been around for that many years and wondered yet where I would go to find a listing of podcast available. The podcast alley can be searched by genre and product. http://www.podcastalley.com/
The podcast can be used in the classroom for class report. The teacher can create a summary of class activities for students on a weekly or monthly basis. The students could work in groups to take turns creating reports of summaries of what they learned or what they did in class. The reports could be listened t in class or shared with families. The other means to use the podcast would be for interviews. Students can use the podcast to record interviews. They can record each other of do interviews for survivors of wars, holocaust, or events such as t 9-11.
Of course as with every educational tool, there are pros and cons. The cost is always a concern when dealing with schools. They are however engaging and add a personal touch.
The issue of technology and if it does help students learn is an ongoing debate. Sources to include educators tend to agree that technology does help students learn. Others refer to computers as harmful to children which I do not agree with in reference to an educational setting.
Technology is a tool to be used by teachers but it may not fit every learning situation. It should be used to enhance the learning process. Students that are engaged in learning, are more motivated to learn.
The other aspect of technology is the opportunities that it offers students with disabilities. It provides a means to communicate using a laptop for students that have difficulty writing. Students that cannot spell have the capability to use spellcheck to correct errors. It places the student with disabilities on the same level as the other students which builds confidence and leads to success.
As the mother of a student with disabilities, I can tell you that when my son was finally given a laptop in high school, it was a great relief. He could type out his assignments and read them later. If he hand wrote them, they were not legible. If he could not spell a word correctly, he was usually close enough to the correct spelling that the spellchecker would catch it. Unfortunately, the laptop was heavy and some of his classes were in portable building which did not have electrical outlet available for him to charge the computer.
I have no doubt that technology helps students to learn. As a student myself, I know that it has helped me as I have gone to school throughout the years. Technology has a place in the learning process. The issue is for teachers, instructors, and facilitators to ensure that it is used properly to enhance the learning of the student and be appropriate for all types of learners. My take from this is that the focus always has to be the student and if technology is the best means to deliver the information to be learned, then use it.