Thursday, December 9, 2010

Emerging Issues in Education

              I remember watching this you tube video and thinking that it is believed by many that education needs to be reformed. Please watch the link and see if you agree with Alvin Toffler’s comments. Now that you have watched the video, how can we reform the education system? Of course, there are several things that we can do, for example, adjusting the curriculum and enhancing instruction by using technology. Where do teachers fit into the scheme of things? Watch this video that asks if you are a teacher or an educator. After viewing this video I hope that you agree with me that we are educators. As educators how are we using technology to enhance the teaching and learning environment.
             There are a number of technological tools that are readily available to us now that were not around thirty years ago. The mobile phone has gone from looking like a mini car to being sleek in its design. There are  many emerging technologies that can be used in education. What is emerging technology? “Emerging technology is defined as amedia that is coming into view, coming into existence, or coming to commonality. It is an innovative technology that is reshaping the nature of education.”  Watch this link about the future of schools. Now that you have watched the video, how do you feel about the advances that it highlights? Do they seem as far off as one may think?
What are some of these major emerging technologies?

“Six Major Emerging Technologies

Other Emerging Technologies

Paradigms that shape "Web 2.0" tools:
  • Free vs. Fee
  • Open Access vs. Fire walled
  • Easy vs. Intricate
  • Fast sufficiency vs. Clumsy Quality.
  • Integrated/linked vs. Isolated/Siloed.
  • Findable vs. Precise
  • Recommended vs. Available
  • Updatable vs. Static “

             What are some possible barriers that the implementation of the use of technology in schools may be facing? I agree with Jenni Voorhees who said,
  • “Hardware/Software- Often the most common factor deterring teachers from integrating technology into the classroom is the lack of hardware and software necessary to make true technology integration attainable. Many classrooms suffer from few computers, slow computers, limited internet connectivity, broken hardware, or incorrect software. A lack of appropriate hardware and software makes technology integration extremely challenging, but still doable. Strategies outlined in the sections below will hopefully generate ideas for activities that can be utilized in a classroom even with limited hardware and software.
  • Professional Development- Another large problem with technology integration is the lack of professional development directed towards integrating technology into the classroom. Most teachers recognize the benefits of technology integration, but are unequipped to present instructional information via technology to their classes.(This is a problem that I believe can be solved if schools have professional development that caters to these needs)
  • Construction Time- To successfully incorporate beneficial technology requires a large amount of time for production and preparation. A webquest, for example, may take several hours for even an experienced teacher to program, identify links, and upload to the internet. Often, even installing and setting up software is tedious and time consuming, leading many teachers to avoid technology integration completely.
  • Limited Familiarity- Depending on the age of your students and how accessible computers are in their lives, limited familiarity with technology amongst students could be a major stumbling block in technology integration. It is difficult to provide instruction using computers when students have low familiarity with basic applications like using a mouse, saving a file, etc. (We started a laptop program at the writer of this blog school. I found that many of the students did have a problem to just type the websites to which they are being sent. I had to use Wikispaces and post the websites there and then have the students simply click on the link. It was not that the website addresses were too long. Many of them just could not spell the words correctly though they were written on the board. Seems strange but this is a true occurrence.)
  • Time in Curriculum to Add Technology: Curriculum guides are so tight that it is hard to add anything, many assignments involving creativity have been cut out of curricula. (Some schools do add this to their curriculum though)
  • Blogs and Discussion Boards: These are more effective to have students do from home, unless you are able to bring your students into the lab every day. However, home bound technology assignments mean that there are students who do not have access to the technology. (Some schools have students that have been assigned laptops that they have access to at home, however, all schools do not have this being offered)
  • Podcasts: Podcasts are a great way to have students do reports, however there are limits on what you are allowed to do with students if you want to post anything on the internet because of privacy and protection issues, as well as parental permission. Others types of tools that are affected by this are: blogs and pictures.
  • One to One Programs: With the rise of one-to-one programs and wireless laptops/tablets many of these problems listed above are resolved and new ones have arisen. Student familiarity becomes a non-issue and is replaced by "toy versus tool" issues. Training students and teachers (even administrators) in the disciplines necessary for appropriate computer use becomes a primary responsibility of schools with ubiquitous computing. See for more resources."
Here are a Few Schools that are Using Emerging Technologies
1.                                    Video conferencing can be used for multipoint instruction in personable and more relevant ways than say an email or even a telephone conversation. In Bronx, New York According to Howard Pitter in his book titled Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works on page 67 students have been communicating for the past nine years via video conferencing within the school district as they read their poems as a part of an integrated poetry program. Twice yearly there is a “poetry slam” in which teams of five perform for the entire school district as they compete to win the event. This competition is also aired via video conferencing through the use of computers. The judges are a panel of two peer judges and two adults for the District Regional Office. The conferencing allows for interaction that embodies the District Office and the students that are at different schools simultaneously. They can all give feedback. This is a wonderful collaborative program that uses technology in ways that will enhance the teaching and learning environment.

2.                                    Another school that is using technology can be found in Onslow County, North Carolina where a study of Project K-Nect examined the use of smart phones as a learning tool. Three of the high schools that are based in economically challenged communities, are using technology and digital content to supplement certain Mathematics classes, such as Algebra 1. “Students improved their scores in Math by an average of 20 percent, and this technology and wireless Internet access ensured the equitable delivery of engaging instruction, bridging the persistent digital and achievement divides. Project K-Nect and this report have significant new implications on how, when and where we engage students in a learning process. Some of the other key findings from this year’s evaluation report include:
              Another example of the use of smart phones is in a middle school setting in North Carolina. Lincoln Middle School has a group of three sixth grade classes using smart phones that have been provided by Sprint for class instruction. The phones that were provided for the August 2010-June 2011 school year are the HTC Touch Pro, HTC Touch Pro 2, and Palm models. Texting, calls, be it incoming or outgoing, is blocked, and internet access is filtered. The students are given the latest assignments and websites that will be used for instruction by their teachers. Some teachers found that their students learn quickly and are even more aware of the smart phone operations than their trained teachers are. The students have already developed a sense of responsibility for these phones though the program was recently initiated. The hands on devices make the students anxious for class to begin daily, engaged in their learning, and showing improved academic performance. Isn’t that what all educators want? I know that I do! At the end of the school year the school plans to analyze a survey that was given before the program had started and one that will be given when the program ends. They will also analyze student performance academically in order to ascertain the feasibility of the program. From the looks of it the review of this program will be positive.

              Another school that is using technology this time in the form of iPads can be found in Chicago. The Greenfield-Central School District has their kindergarten, yes kindergarten and first grade students using iPads. The educators found that the students, like the groups that I mentioned earlier, are excited about using this form of technology in their school as "Eden Elementary Principal Joey Johnson said children are wired to use technology, which makes the iPads a good teaching device."

What about My School?

Like this video about a Dell connected high school so too does my school have a program that is similar to this. The laptops that the students at my high school use are provided by Dell through a grant that was given to my school because it is located in a economically challenged area. Personnel from Dell came to our school system and trained representatives of each department who in turn informs the teachers who are in their department. There is also an interactive website on which educators at my high school can submit class related questions directly to representatives from Dell. At times personnel from Dell come to our school and conduct additional training and observations as we implement the strategies that they have taught us. I think that this a great program. It is a supportive technological and aides teachers that may not have been technologically savvy in the beginning who have now grown in leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, the internet is heavily filtered. Also, the level of exposure that our students had to the internet was extremely limited. I must say though, that since the students have been trained about the use of their laptops and internet safety they have greatly improved in their efficiency and effective use of their laptop.

               I agree with Kristin Hokanson who stated in her you tube video that we must "teach them (students) the way they learn best. Prepare (students) for their world. (Educators must) connect to their students and connect them to their world."  

               As Roland Barth stated "the problem of all educational institutions isn't that they are no longer what they once were. The problem is that they are precisely what they once were while the world around them is changing in revolutionary ways."   

                One thing that is for certain, schools need to change their mode of instruction to suit the time and the students that we now have to teach. These students are digital natives and we need to speak to them as educators and use their language. Watch this video that addresses the fact that we need to change the way that we teach. Hope that you found it informative.

                 Additionally, if you note the examples that I have outlined you will find one thing in common no matter the age group, they all found the use of technology engaging. All of the schools saw an improvement in student performance. I have always said that if you teach students and use materials that they find interesting, they will pay attention and they will learn. If someone is interested, you will be able to hold their attention. Until we meet again in cyberspace let us embrace technology that is currently available and use it in our instruction daily. Let us as educators seek to be abreast of current and new technologies and keep our lessons current and in line with society. Schools in essence is the medium through which students are being prepared to live in the world. As a result, let us embrace technology and enhance the teaching and learning environment. Technology is here to stay. Technology is not something that can be ignored either. Let's as educators walk with our kids on a path that uses technology as we seek to educate and mold the lives that are constantly in our care.Watch this video that shows ways that technology can enhance instructions. Hope that you found in informative.

                   One thing is for sure, the classroom is changing, are we going to change with it or are we going to be resistant to change. Watch this video about the changing classroom. Think on what I have said. Hope that you found the blog informative. Know that you may have a different view from mine, however, I hope that you think on these things and educate your students in ways that embraces technology. Shift does happen: Let's bring our students into the 21st century.




  1. As I was sitting in a workshop today I was thinking about your blog because although I had not commented yet I had read it. Technology has really emerged over time, many schools of thought that we had looked at earlier is very relevant in this blog (like Alvin Toffler's) Hand held devices are really taking over, I met a new tool today called the Flashmaster with the ability to teach my kids so much more about Math Facts.
    A very detailed blog Kerry it really takes us through many issues. i have enjoyed the wealth and sometimes overwhelming information you have shared with us all through your blogs. As an educator you have much to share. I do hope you continue to blog, I'll certainly be following. well done!

  2. I can see that there are School Districts that are getting on board, and I know that others are coming on borad. The wealth of imformation presented here is really worth reading. I enjoyed reading. Great post.

  3. Wow! it is really interesting all the information you have shared and the different websites are really informative, good that your district is a technology driven and people are on task. Congratulation.

  4. I would like to know more about the use of cell phones in instruction. How can you make it work without getting yourself in administrative trouble? I know one should think out of the box, but sometimes there are some implications to sort out fisrt so efficiency and safety are kept in place. Thanks for all the posts you provided, they have helped me learn a lot.

  5. I really appreciate the six major emerging technologies you mention on your post.
    My favorite ones: Robotics, blogs, and RSS. I would like to know how RSS works in terms of computer programming. So, I could try to incorporate it in my classroom.
    On the other hand YouTube videos have enlightened my class.
    Excellent POst!

  6. Girl, there is a wealth of information in your post!! It did me so good to read about the different tools as well as the barriers. Great blog!

  7. I loved your comment about what all your links had in common - they (the students) all found the use of technology engaging. When we solve the engagement issue, we solve a lot of learning issues.

    Nice post!