Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Comment on 1-to-1 computing

On May 28th, this blogger discussed how putting laptops in the hands of every child is moving the educational industry into a new paradigm. I thought it appropriate to comment on, given the subjects of some of our recent classroom discussions.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blog Topic: Many educators feel that students should be taught the software applications they will have to know to succeed in their lives beyond school (e.g., work or college). Please make a list of five specific applications you think every student should learn, from more important to less important (you can name the application or just give the title -- e.g., 'MS Word' or even just 'word processors'). Explain your ranking in your blog entry. At what level in school do you think each application you list should be taught? Why?

Word Processing: I hate to be so predictable, but I feel that learning word processing programs will benefit students most. Word processors can be used by people with all levels of skill, from elementary to high school students. It really is a good starting point for learning types of software because it can reinforce basics, such as typing and formatting, and then become more complex as the user masters different concepts such as incorporating tables and charts or graphics. If students don’t learn word processing software, they will not be able to do basic things after graduating. Resumes, cover letters, and memos are all basic items produced by word processors that come into play in almost every adult’s life.
When to teach this application: I believe that the basics in word processing should be taught at an early age, maybe third or fourth grade. At this level, students can grasp the concept of creating their own stories and have a good grasp of spelling and grammar. I feel that every computer class a student has should go a bit further in teaching students the capabilities of word processing software.

Web Browsers/Internet: I feel this is a pretty important application to learn. It’s obvious that we have become an internet-centered society and it is important for students to learn the basics in order to navigate themselves around the web. It’s also important, as discussed in some of our forum conversations, to teach kids about internet safety and information integrity. Enforcing these concepts at an early age will lead to more internet-savvy students.
When to teach this application: Web browsers should be taught at an early age, probably once students have mastered the basics of word processing. Incorporating ideas such as information integrity will help students develop their research skills and study methods at an early age, leading to success throughout their school careers.

Spreadsheets: I may be biased because of my financial background, but I love spreadsheets. They can do almost anything and are underrated. These are good for basics like creating address lists, but also more advanced accounting practices as well. Basic math can be done and formulas can be created to help a student see how changing one part of an equation affects the answer. Statistic tables can be created without having to rely on a separate form of software. The bank I work at used to create complete loan proposals in excel, so it can also be used as a pseudo-word processor at times.
When to teach this application: I think that basic spreadsheet applications can be introduced in middle school grades, but that teachers should wait until high school to introduce the more advanced concepts. Personally, I would like to see more math classes use spreadsheets to analyze formulas in order for students to do more than just input data to get an answer.

This is vague, but bear with me. I think that it is important for students to be exposed to software programs that they may come into contact with in their chosen profession. For example, students choosing architecture should have CAD classes. Students wishing to go into education should be exposed to programs like Blackboard or forums like we use in this class. I think that this is important to give students a good idea of the types of technology and software they will encounter in their profession. I realize that students don’t always know what they want to do and that schools have limited resources to make different types of software available, but I think that helping students focus on the software they will frequently encounter will help them in the long run.
When to teach these applications: These applications should be saved for junior or senior years of high school, possibly in a capstone class that incorporates all electives in a chosen career path. I feel that these types of software should be integrated in a class that provides a general simulation of future jobs.

Presentation software: This is low on my list, not because I think it is irrelevant, but because I feel there are other applications that are a little more important. I don’t think that a PowerPoint slideshow is necessary for all presentations, and I feel that students have almost become stuck in a rut because PowerPoint is required so often. I had a public speaking class in college and almost every speech had a PowerPoint to accompany it. It becomes boring and repetitive. That being said, I feel that if presentation software is going to be taught, it needs to be taught in its entirety. Students should learn how to effectively incorporate graphics, animation, and music as basic requirements in every presentation.
When to teach this application: I never learned PowerPoint in school. It was reserved for a special multimedia class that I never took, so I taught myself. I think it should be taught in all of the required computer classes in the curriculum. Basics should be taught at the middle school level, and more advanced concepts should be taught in high school. I also think that students should be taught how to integrate word processors and spreadsheets into presentation software to make presentations more effective.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Interesting Blog w/ Video...

I came across this blog and found it to be interesting. There's also a link in my sidebar. Check out the video which features different types of technology being incorporated to classrooms around a school district. I thought it was pretty interesting. I made a comment under Ashley205

Friday, May 9, 2008

ED 205 Blog 1

Topic: Describe the computer-related technologies that you have available in your living environment and/or work environment. How have you used technologies in your previous educational experiences? How have teachers/instructors used technology to help in teaching you? What do you hope to learn in this class? Finally, provide your definition of "educational technology."

I use technology each day at home and at work. I work at a bank and the majority of my work is done in excel and a database that was created and tweaked to fit our commercial loan portfolio. Most of the proposals I do are saved in PDF form and discussed weekly via video-conference between senior management. We also have access to Word, Powerpoint, and use Outlook for emails. The internet is also used quite frequently. We have access to databases for information on industry standards for different types of borrowers. Our bank recently incorporated VOIP phones in all of our locations, so a 5 digit extension is all that's needed to call anyone that works for my bank. This seems like a minuscule improvement, but its really convenient to have caller ID (which makes screening calls extremely easy) and have a directory built into the phone. Many of the lenders I work with are very "old school" and would rather fax information rather than email it, but they're starting to get better.

At home, I have my own PC, printer, photo printer, and digital camera that I use almost every day as well. I just moved in with my parents, who do not have a wireless network set up, so I have yet to get internet access in my room. Anything I do on the internet must be done on the family computer which is getting old and outdated.

One of my favorite classes in my previous college experience was my computer graphic design class. This was the one class where I was not familiar with some of the technology and programs used. Having spent most of my life using PCs, the switch to using a mac was difficult at times. In this class I learned Photoshop and Illustrator and loved every minute of it. I just got Photoshop for my PC this year for Christmas and I'm excited to experiment with my photography! My other classes used mostly power point as a visual tool for lectures and/or demonstrations. Blackboard was also used, but I dont think it was used to its full potential. In a few of my stats classes, I was introduced to minitab to compute tables, which helped a lot at the time.

In this class, I hope to learn how to build on the skills I've already learned in order to make my lessons more effective and enjoyable for my students. I'm hoping this class will open my eyes to some of the resources out there that I havent been exposed to yet. To me, educational technology is how teachers use innovative tools to communicate, present, and organize information and ideas to give the student a better understanding of the subject matter. By using these tools, the student should be able to more effectively apply the information learned.