A Journey Through Technology

Week 11: What specific policies will help your district prepare students for current and emerging technology use? How can you help lead your district in creating these policies?

This week we are looking at the specific policies that schools and districts use concerning technology, and how I can help lead my district in creating these policies. To start, I looked at some steps to take when trying to develop technology policies. According to K-12 Blueprint, on their Policy and Leadership webpage (https://www.k12blueprint.com/toolkits/policy), there are two questions to start with: Will the policy be followed in daily practice? Is it consistent with administrative regulations? (2016) Another issue that districts need to deal with is student internet access and keeping students safe. “While you want to encourage the use of technology, you also have a responsibility to create a safe learning environment for all students.” (Winske, 2014) A good technology policy should address these three issues, and possibly even more.

The Learning and Technology Policy Framework for Alberta (2013) is a great resource for developing a technology policy. Their policy has 5 main components: Student-Centered Learning; Research and Innovation; Professional Learning; Leadership; Access, Infrastructure, and Digital Learning Environments. I think that if districts focus on these five branches for a technology policy, they should cover everything they need to be successful. Of these five branches, the last policy, concerning Access, Infrastructure, and Digital Learning Environments, often called acceptable use policies (AUP), can be one of the trickier policies for districts to develop.

James Bosco (2013) discusses AUP, stating that they have “two dimensions” to them. The first dimension is for an AUP to “Protect students from harmful content on the Internet and regulate students use of the Internet so they do not harm other students or interfere with the school’s instructional program.” (Bosco, 2013) The second dimension is to “Provide students with good access to digital media to support engaged learning.” (Bosco, 2013) There are two approaches to keeping students protected while using the internet. “Some districts believe that the best way to eliminate inappropriate use of the Internet and mobile devices is to rely on extensive blocking of Internet sites and to restrict or substantially limit use of student owned mobile devices in the classroom.” (Bosco, 2013) This is what I have encountered most often. We want students to avoid going to sites that distract them, or could be dangerous, so we block any of those options so students don’t have a choice to go to them. The other option is becoming much more popular as more schools are adopting BYOD policies or providing students with devices to use. This plan teaches student “how to be responsible users, make informed choices, and be held accountable for their behavior.”(Bosco, 2013) Districts that take this approach still block the sites that are required by law, but focus on teaching students how to use the internet responsibly and how to be good digital citizens. I think this is the best way to approach protecting students online because they will have access to the whole internet at home, so why not teach them how to use it, instead of just keeping them sheltered for part of their time with technology.

My district recently adopted an educational technology plan in March of 2014. “The primary goal of technology in the school district is to have a positive impact on student
achievement.” (Educational Technology Plan, 2014) While looking through this plan, I noticed that the format is very different from the Alberta Learning and Technology Policy Framework. The plan has four sections: Goals, Evaluation Process, Needs Assessment, and Professional Development. There are also separate “Responsible Use Policies” available on the district website (http://www.matsuk12.us) that are not a part of the technology plan. For future revisions of the plan, I think that the Alberta Learning and Technology Policy Framework would be a good starting point because the five parts of that plan are nicely defined and divide the plan into discrete areas. To help lead my district in creating new technology policies, I would volunteer to be a member of the policy writing team and also volunteer to be a leader within my school.

References

Bosco, J. (2013, March) Rethinking Acceptable Use Policies to Enable Digital Learning: A Guide for School Districts. Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.cosn.org/sites/default/files/pdf/Revised%20March%202013_final.pdf

Educational Technology Plan. (2014, March 19). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.matsuk12.us/Page/23779

Learning and Technology Policy Framework. (2013). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.education.alberta.ca/LTPF

Policy & Leadership. (2016). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from https://www.k12blueprint.com/toolkits/policy

Winske, C. (2014, February 17). Tips for Creating Technology Policies for K-12. Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.k-12techdecisions.com/article/creating_an_acceptable_use_policy_for_mobile_learning_initiatives

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Week 10 Reflection

This week we looked at whether or not electronics are a viable crafting tool for students. Personally, I have very little experience with electronics, and that was during my physics classes in college, so it’s been almost 10 years since I’ve done anything with it. That being said, I can see myself being comfortable playing with electronics and eventually using them in my classroom. So, even though I don’t know much about it now, I am very comfortable learning more and trying this tech out!

My learning was impacted by the resources for this week, the Twitter session, and reading through Aleta and Tricia’s blogs. Aleta mentioned a “Circuit Sticker Sketchbook” that she had purchased, and now I think I need to look into one of those. I would love to give this a try and move towards using electronics crafting in my classroom. Tricia said that she though all students could use circuit and LED stickers in their classroom, and I think I agree with her. I would imagine you could use this in any grade level, in any subject area. Tricia really helped me to see that. Twitter this week was great, and I find myself really looking forward to Thursday afternoon every week.

I impacted the learning of others this week during Twitter, as well as through my blog post. Daysha, Tricia, and Laura read and commented on my blog this week. Tricia agreed with me that we need to prepare students for new jobs that don’t exist, and that means preparing them to use electronics. Daysha liked that I said that electronics allow artists to give their art another purpose. Laura liked that I talked about getting students to be creative in school again.

I can’t believe we only have two weeks of class left. I’m looking forward to staring my final project next week, and the crazy thing is I’m going back to work next week to pick up my keys! The new school year is right around the corner, and I hope I can use some of what I’ve learned in this class in my classroom next year.

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Week 10: How are electronics viable additions to “crafting” for today’s young person?

This week our essential question is: How are electronics viable additions to “crafting” for today’s young person? To answer this question, I watched Leah Buechley’s TED talk titled “How to “sketch” with electronics”. I found this video very intriguing and I think that if students are given more creative freedom, they will perform better in the classroom. (Buechley, 2012) Saxena (2013) describes a variety of technologies that can be used to help students tap into their innate creativity. “Hence, all of us from being a child have the potential for great, revolutionary creativity and all we need is to realize this potential.” (Saxena, 2013)

One thing I thought of as I was reading through at looking at resources this week was that electronic crafting allows people to give their art another purpose. Not only is the art pleasing to look at, but it also has other layers that give the art another purpose. A great example of this was a demonstration of chibitronics in a painting that made the painting interactive. (Qi, 2012) I could see this type of interactive art working well in any subject area, probably in the secondary grades, for students to use their creativity to display their understanding of an idea or concept.

Earl Einarson (2013) shares a list of wearable electronics, a few of which I could see being very popular with students. A beat glove is shared that uses “Arduino Lilypad to create sound that corresponds to finger tapping.” I’ve had students that love tapping out beats on their desks in class, so how cool would it be for them to have gloves that let those taps make different sounds.

Another website I came across would be a great resource to do electronics crafting either at home or at school, called “littleBits”. The website, http://littlebits.cc, offers challenges, example projects and designs, and even a store to purchase devices necessary to crafting and creating. I could see myself easily spending hundreds of dollars on components here, but they offer pretty much anything you might need to start electronics crafting. This site is designed for anyone to purchase from, so it’s not just for educators.

If we can make a move towards getting students more focused on being creative and using their imaginations, I could see electronics crafting being a very crucial part of the process. We are currently preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist, many of which are bound to involve electronics and technology, so it makes sense to teach students how to build things involving electronics.

References:

Buechley, L. (2012, November 15). Leah Buechley: How to “sketch” with electronics. Retrieved July 18, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTBp0Z5GPeI

DIY Electronics Projects Prototypes Made With littleBits. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2016, from http://littlebits.cc

Einarson, E. (2013, January 2). Go Bionic With These Wearable Arduino Projects. Retrieved July 18, 2016, from http://www.wired.com/2013/01/wearable-arduinos/

Qi, J. (2012, April 23). Interactive Light Painting: Pu Gong Ying Tu (Dandelion Painting). Retrieved July 18, 2016, from https://vimeo.com/40904471

Saxena, S. (2013, November 14). How Can Technology Enhance Student Creativity? Retrieved July 18, 2016, from http://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/insights/750-how-can-technology-enhance-student-creativity

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Week 9 Reflection

This week we looked at BYOD and if all schools need to have a BYOD policy. BYOD, or bring your own device, allows students to bring a mobile device from home to be used at school for educational purposes. I had some experience with BYOD this past year, and I can see the benefits to a policy, but also the drawbacks. I started this week with a limited knowledge of all the issues and benefits that apply to BYOD, and by now I feel much more educated, though I don’t know that my stance has changed much. I began the week feeling like some schools/districts might benefit, but it may not be appropriate for all, and I end the week feeling the same way. Ultimately, it comes down to how well a district will support a BYOD policy with teacher training, and making sure the policy addresses all possible issues.

I impacted the learning of others this week through Twitter and my blog post. This weeks Twitter session was my first since the 23rd of June, and I realized I have really missed collaborating with my classmates! I love getting to see what everyone thinks in the moment, and also having the chance to respond right away. In my blog post, I went through my list of reasons for having a BYOD, and the issues that districts could face if it is not properly developed and implemented. Gerald, Laura, and Douglas posted their comments on my blog. This was the first week in a few that I have had three classmates post on my blog, so I feel like I was able to impact the learning of others in class better this week than in some previous weeks.

My learning was impacted by reading the resources for this week, the Twitter session, and reading Genevieve and Laura’s blogs. Again, Twitter was amazing this week and I’m now confident I don’t ever want to miss one again. Genevieve did a good job of laying out three reasons why she thinks BYOD are a good idea, all of which I agree with, but I don’t know that BYOD is the only solution for those three reasons. I shared my thoughts about problems when not all students have a device, as well as using the cloud to solve the issue of students keeping information in multiple places. Laura talked about concerns that parents have with BYOD, and I agree with those and also think that teachers probably share those same concerns. Teacher training is a huge part of a good BYOD policy, which is something I think many of us agree on.

All-in-all, this was a good week. I feel a bit more comfortable with BYOD, even though there are still many issues that need to be worked out. I can’t believe there are only three weeks of class left! I have learned so much this semester and have had such a great time in this class. Technology is not nearly as daunting as it seemed on week one, and I’m excited to move into these last few weeks as summer vacation comes to a close.

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Week 9: Does every school need a “BYOD” policy?

This week we are looking at BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, policies and whether or not every school needs one. First, we should look at what BYOD actually means. BYOD refers to “students using personally owned devices in education settings” (Bring your own device, 2016). According to Holeywell (2012), in 2011, a school district in Georgia became one of the first in the country to implement a BYOD policy. He goes on to share survey results from a study in 2012 that showed 44% of K-12 districts both in the US and the UK allowed students to use their devices on the school networks. But why are schools allowing students to bring their own devices and use them in the classroom? Principal Robert Dodd, quoted by St. George (2014) said of new generation millenial teachers, “They’re comfortable with technology in their own learning, and that is trickling down to being able to use technology effectively for their students’ learning,” Teachers that are currently entering the education scene are becoming more comfortable with technology, so they want to use technology to help their students learn. But why do students need to bring their own devices? Why don’t schools provide them?

“Ushering classrooms into the 21st century is an expensive undertaking, but painful budget cuts have made purchasing tablet computers, iPod Touches, Kindles and other devices unfeasible…” (Chadband, 2012) School districts recognize that students need to use more technology in the classroom, but unfortunately, that technology can easily be out of reach as education funding becomes tighter and tighter all across the country. Does this mean school-provided technology is out of reach for all districts? Of course not. However, more and more districts across the country are turning to BYOD policies to help fill the technology gap.

There are many concerns that parents, teachers, and administrators have when it comes to BYOD policies. According to St. George (2014) those concerns include the devices becoming a distraction, overuse of student data plans, equity issues, and dealing with students that don’t have a device to bring. I tried having students bring their own devices this past year for use with PollEverywhere, and had some issues because not all of my students had a device to bring. Some districts are dealing with this by purchasing devices for each student to use at school. (St. George, 2014)

Another issue is that teachers may not know how to troubleshoot all of the different devices students may bring in to class. Districts may not have the funding to train teachers on all of the different devices, and simply implementing a BYOD policy without training the teachers would not be very effective. (Chadband, 2012) “With the proper policies and ground rules in place – and the program doesn’t exist merely to cut costs and corners – BYOD can work for educators and students.” (Chadband, 2012)

So, do all districts need a BYOD policy? I do not think so. Some districts could really benefit from a BYOD policy, assuming it is properly implemented, but other districts that can afford to provide devices for students could see similar results. If the goal is to get a device in each student’s hand, districts should research and make the decision on whether a BYOD policy is the right choice for them.

References

Bring your own device. (2016, July 13). Retrieved July 15, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bring_your_own_device

Chadband, E. (2012, July 10). Should Schools Embrace “Bring Your Own Device”? Retrieved July 15, 2016, from http://neatoday.org/2012/07/19/should-schools-embrace-bring-your-own-device/

Holeywell, R. (2013, September 3). BYOD Policies, Growing More Popular, Create Challenges for Schools. Retrieved July 15, 2016, from http://www.governing.com/blog/view/gov-byod-policies-create-school-challenges.html

St. George, D. (2014, September 14). Schools move toward ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policies to boost student tech use. Retrieved July 15, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/stem/schools-move-toward-bring-your-own-device-practices-to-boost-student-tech-use/2014/09/14/4d1e3232-393e-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html

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Week 8 Reflection

Again I will admit this was not a very good week for me. I am definitely comfortable with Minecraft on a personal level, but the ideal of using Minecraft in my classroom is very daunting to me. I did find a good resource for chemistry in Minecraft using Molcraft, but I need to explore this option a lot more in depth until I will feel comfortable using it in my class. Another reason this week was tough was because I was still on vacation, so was not able to make the Twitter session. I am happy to finally be home, and ready to join in on Twitter again this next week, but I’m bummed that I missed out on the collaboration and sharing we have during Twitter. I will be reading through the Storify for this past week, but it just isn’t the same as being there live.

I impacted the learning of others this week through my blog post. Gerald and Tricia posted on my blog this week. I am looking forward to Twitter this coming week so I can hopefully have more of an impact on the learning of my classmates.

My learning was mostly impacted by reading the resources for this week, as well as reading through my classmate’s blogs. I read through and commented on Sara L and Camille’s blogs this week. Sara said something that really hit home for me, “I think this is the hard part for educators, is that until you see it used it is hard to imagine what you could use it for.” This is the toughest thing for me right now. I almost want to let students loose with Minecraft to see how they could use it for chemistry. Maybe they could come up with some awesome ideas that I might not ever think of.

Camille and I share some of the same feelings about using Minecraft in the classroom. Her post was really good because it worked through a progression of skepticism to thinking up a lesson that could use Minecraft in her classroom. It was nice to read through and see that I’m not the only one who is unsure of using Minecraft, and gives me reassurance that I can become even more comfortable with the idea of using Minecraft in my classroom.

This week made me see that I really need to work on stepping out of my comfort zone, and quite trying to be in control so much. After reading through my classmates blogs, I really see that my need for control in class is part of the reason I’m so hesitant to try Minecraft. I need to just let my students spend time exploring to see what they can come up with, with limited rules from me. I could really see myself trying this out this next school year, and I hope I can work up the courage to do it.

I am looking forward to next week and getting back into Twitter with the rest of the class. Each week of this class has helped me get more excited about integrating more technology into my classroom next year, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

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Week 8: What Minecraft game could you create that would help students learn?

This week we are looking at Minecraft and creating a game that could help my students learn. In chemistry, I find this a bit difficult. Chemistry is a lot of theoretical and abstract ideas that are hard to model or explain easily, especially for high school students. I have a bit of experience with Minecraft in a purely gaming environment. I find it very fun that it’s so open and you can do pretty much anything you can imagine. To start this week, I want to look at how Minecraft has affected education.

Lee Graham (2015) shares her experiences with using Minecraft in education as part of a graduate program with University of Alaska Southeast and 20 K-12 teachers across the country. “According to sixteen K-12 teacher responses at the end of the experience, 100% of the students who participated were “Highly Engaged”” (Graham, 2015) Getting students engaged in the classroom is one of the main goals of most teachers, so seeing 100% engagement is very encouraging. Another statistic that Graham shared was that “75% of respondents found the #givercraft unit More Effective or Much More Effective than a traditionally taught unit.”(Graham, 2015) I am always looking for more effective teaching strategies, so it is also encouraging that using Minecraft can increase the effectiveness of a unit.

In a webpage written by Dr. Wesley Fryer (n.d.), he describes an assignment for a STEM class where students have a 3-part engineering challenge. There are three levels to the challenge, and once students have completed each level, they are teleported to the next level. I could envision using something similar to this for my chemistry students, where they build various parts of atoms and once each is complete, they can move to the  next stage. I really don’t know how that would look yet, but since there are many parts of an atom, I could see it working something like Dr. Fryer’s assignment.

Lorch and Mills (2015) describe using Minecraft as being a “powerful educational tool.” “It allows young people to create and explore places that are completely inaccessible by other means.” Since a lot of chemistry is inaccessible by other means, Minecraft could be the perfect tool for exploring areas would normally be out of reach. Molcraft is a version of Minecraft that allows students to build and explore molecules.

“Imagine a science lesson where the class is let lose in Minecraft with instructions to find a set of objects hidden on key parts of molecules. Upon retrieving them the teacher will know which molecules each student has explored and what questions they may have answered to find the objects. All this time, the children think they have just been playing a game.” (Lorch & Mills, 2015)

Molcraft is free to download, and I will be exploring this more this summer and possibly using it in my classroom this coming school year. I will admit that before this week, I didn’t really see how I could use Minecraft in chemistry, but with some searching, I think that Molcraft is going to be the perfect solution for my chemistry classroom. “You can download the MolCraft and run it locally on your own machine, explore the world via our server, or use the schematics of the molecules to populate your own worlds with molecules.” (Lorch & Mills, 2016) I can only imagine the level of engagement I could achieve if my students think they are only playing a game, but they are actually learning about chemistry.

If I could create a Minecraft game for my classroom, it would probably be similar to the Molcraft game, however instead of allowing students to create proteins, they could represent basic chemical compounds, and even model a variety of chemical reactions. If students could actually see what happens in the chemical reactions, they might better understand the chemistry behind them. The five types of chemical reactions can be confusing for students, so if they could see the differences between them at a molecular level, maybe the confusion could disappear, or at least significantly decrease.

References

Fryer, W. (n.d.). MinecraftEDU Redstone Engineering Challenge – STEM Curriculum Resources by Dr. Wesley Fryer. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://stem.wesfryer.com/home/minecraft/redstone

Graham, L. (2015, January 26). Simply engaging and utterly consuming: #Givercraft 2014. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://mvlri.org/Blog/ID/77/Simply-Engaging-and-Utterly-Consuming-Givercraft-2014

Lorch, M., & Mills, J. (2015, October 29). How Minecraft could help teach chemistry’s building blocks of life. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://theconversation.com/how-minecraft-could-help-teach-chemistrys-building-blocks-of-life-49449

Lorch, M., & Mills, J. (2016, April 11). Science outreach and public engagement. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://www2.hull.ac.uk/science/scienceoutreach/MolCraft.aspx

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Week 7 Reflection

This week we were looking at 3D printing and how it could change education. I could see 3D printing being very effective in chemistry, especially for the typically abstract lessons that students historically could not manipulate with their hands. I have never 3D printed, and the way that it works is completely amazing to me, so at the start of this week I will admit I was a bit leery of using it in my class, but after reading through the articles and blogs, I find myself feeling more comfortable with the idea.

I am on vacation right now, so even though I had the best intentions, I was not able to make the live Twitter session. This means my main source of helping with the learning of others was just through my blog post. I only have one comment on my blog so far this week, so I don’t know how much I actually helped others.

My learning was impacted by reading through the articles this week, finding resources on my own, and also reading and commenting on Melissa and Daysha’s blogs. Daysha mentioned the frustration she has with funding in education right now, and that even thought this is an exciting technology, the reality of using it in classrooms might be farther away than we would like. She also talked about being able to have students answer questions they would never have been able to attempt without 3D printing, such as finding the best landing spot for a shuttle on a comet. The possibilities for 3D printing seem to be almost endless! Melissa talked about being able to take digital items and turn them into physical items that students can actually put their hands on. This is very applicable in chemistry because so much of chemistry revolves around things we can’t actually see, so finding a way for students to touch and manipulate those things can really help students in understanding what they are learning about.

I look forward to next week, and hope to make the Twitter session. I actually really missed getting to interact with my classmates this week via Twitter, so I will make every effort to be available for our next Twitter session.

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Week 7: How can 3D printing change the way we think about education?

This week we are looking at 3D printing and how it can change the way we think about education. In order to look at the education aspect, we need to first know what 3D printing is. “You can print out 3-dimensional objects based on a working template, and they aren’t just for show.” (20 Amazing Creations You Can Make With 3D Printing) The first time I heard someone talking about 3D printing, it completely blew me away. The thought of printing something that wasn’t on paper was so crazy to me. I thought of a normal printer making objects that were 3-dimensional, but that’s not quite how it works. “3D printing is made possible by fusing layers upon layers of materials made from durable plastics and metals based on a template, designed with a 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) software.” (20 Amazing Creations You Can Make With 3D Printing)

In terms of education, how then can 3D printing be useful? “As far as how this can be used in education, it’s a matter of bringing objects out of the computer screen and into the hands of students for inspection, analysis, and other processes that can benefit from physical manipulation.” (10 Ways 3D Printing Can Be Used In Education) In chemistry, I see students being able to print models of atoms, or even parts of atoms, to better understand abstract concepts that are normally hard to model.

According to Federico-O’Murchu, 3D printing is growing fast. It might not be long before we can print everything we need without having to import things or even grow them. It could be possible for students to print the materials they need in class instead of purchasing them. We already know that we are preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist, so why is it unreasonable to think we could teach them to use a piece of technology that may be an integral part of that future job. ” Bringing 3D printing into the classroom exposes learners to the same cutting-edge technologies they’ll encounter in their careers.” (Education Resources)

I think that 3D printers can make schools more independent and provide students even more resources to explore what interests them and also to prepare them for their future career, even if it doesn’t yet exists. 3D printers allow for adaptation to new technology and I really think that bringing 3D printers to more schools will help get more students interested in a future involving technology.

References:

10 Ways 3D Printing Can Be Used In Education [Infographic]. (2013, February 19). Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/technology/10-ways-3d-printing-can-be-used-in-education/

20 Amazing Creations You Can Make With 3D Printing. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/3d-printings/

Education Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.stratasys.com/industries/education

Federico-O’Murchu, L. (2014, May 11). How 3-D printing will radically change the world. Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.cnbc.com/2014/05/09/will-3-d-technology-radically-change-the-world.html

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