Instructional Software Overview

For the 3rd week of EDTECH 541, I am writing a bit about Chapter 3 & 5 of the course textbook.  These Chapters discussed different types of software that can be used in education, under what circumstances they could be applied and how it benefits the students using a particular type of software, such as 1) Drill & Practice, 2) Tutorials, 3) Simulations, 4) Instructional Games and 5) Problem Solving Software.

Drill & Practice software provides instant feedback for the student, can be a quick way for students to memorize multiplication tables, for example, and can also track the student’s progress for the teacher and parents.  The downfall that I see with this software, is that it can be overused, which would decrease the student’s motivation to learn or use it.  SuperKids Software Review reviewed the Edventure Software product, “Soccer Math”, which is intended for students who need to practice basic Math skills.

Tutorials present the student with details of a newer concept and are similar to drill & practice, which tutorials can be sometimes mistaken.  Branching tutorials will provide tougher or easier questions that allow students to learn and develop at their own pace, while linear tutorials allow students to learn at the same rate as the rest of their class.  Finding Math tutorials on the web is difficult, and could be due to software being mislabeled or a mix of software types packaged together, which take time to review. However, Khan Academy seems to hold mostly drill & practice software, and displays problem-solving tutorials to the users, if they select it. This would be useful for students who need practice and review of how to solve the fraction problem, for example.

Simulations allow students to solve problems in a virtual environment, safely and much cheaper, using less natural resources and funding than it normally would, but still allowing students to be creative.  Additionally, simulations may be better used after a hands-on activity, such as learning about shape similarities and differences, for example. I found that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) site had many great lessons for Math, such as the Rectangle vs Parallelogram activity.

Instructional Games can motivate students to learn, because they exercise competition and are entertaining. Additionally, they can be used as a reward, teach collaborative play among students in or outside of the school and help with life skills, such as perseverance and attention. One website that has many great Math games, but provides ad pop-ups regularly, is Cool Math Games. However, the Superkids Software Review site lists many Math games that would motivate kids to learn and has printable worksheets to use with its software lessons.

Problem Solving software assists its users with varied sub-skills for problem solving, such as “metacognition, observing, recalling information, sequencing, analyzing, finding and organizing information”.  Good software should improve a student’s motivation, allow students to discover concepts, and promote visualizing abstract concepts, such as graphing data. Refer to the Favorite Pizza Toppings lesson on the NCTM site.

As with all software, it’s important to do a test-run before purchasing, in order to better understand both negative and positive aspects, before using with your students.

 

References

Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Nova Southeastern University: Pearson.

My Vision Statement


     When I was in 8th grade Geometry, my Mathematics teacher opened the door to the new school computer lab, and along with it, my first experience using technology in school.  At first I wasn’t sure what we would be using the computers for, if only Number Munchers or the Oregon Trail.  You see, my school was very small, in a town whose entire population could probably fit inside the dual, two story Middle and High School building in Nashwauk, Minnesota, population 900.  The majority of us didn’t even have computers at home or know how to use one, unless it was for one of the games I mentioned earlier, as a reward for completing lessons in class.  I spent many hours in that lab using a large, bulky white mouse, connected to an old boxy Macintosh computer system and dotmatrix printer, moving lines on triangles and other shapes, in order to better understand the degree of its angles or length of its sides.

     Fast forward 20 years and it seems that almost every family owns a computer, or at least has access to one at a nearby school or library, can access the Internet, complete online courses from numerous universities and partake in workforce related distance learning.  Schools are becoming overcrowded or inconvenient for some, causing parents to home school their children and allowing them to complete online courses to earn their High School diplomas.

     It all sounds easy enough, but there can be issues with this practice, such as low funding, spotty connectivity, access to technology or understanding how to use it, and most importantly, creating lessons that, “are compatible with human learning processes” (Clark and Mayer, 2008).

     Yet, the benefits of using technology in education, outweigh those issues.  For instance, special needs children would benefit greatly by the use of tablets for communication with teachers and peers, tapping the screen to complete lessons and listen to directions, rather than trying to maneuver a bulky mouse that for some, cannot hold onto. In addition. learning social skills and watching videos of themselves created by their teacher to convey what actions are appropriate in complex social settings (Kelly, H., 2014).

     Take into account the multitude of available educational sites that schools, students and parents can access to complete either simple, fun math games or more complex lessons, involving graphing and presentations. I know by watching my own children, that they look forward to logging into Khan Academy or Cool Math Games, because they enjoy using technology and are therefore more motivated to learn while using it. 

     There are 3 separate learning theories associated with technology integration. Situated Cognition supports the idea that learning occurs only when situated within a specific context, Distributed Cognition is the theory that a student-centered approach to learning supports interaction among participants, and Socially-Shared Cognition, where learning is shared among students, artifacts and tools involved and the social institutions in which the learning occurs. These theories help create a learning environment which allows participants to “use their knowledge and skills—by thinking critically, applying knowledge to new situations, analyzing information, comprehending new ideas, communicating, collaborating, solving problems, and making decisions” (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillan, 2003, p. 9).

     I plan to learn as much as I possibly can during the Master of Educational Technology program, so I can fully understand which instructional delivery format and learning theories work best for different students, compared to or adjoined with pen and paper. I also plan to promote the best technology practices, educational sites and learning apps to further our young minds of tomorrow.

References

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction. (2nd ed). Pfeiffer: San Francisco, CA.

Honey, M., Mandinach, E., & McMillan, K. C. (2003). A retrospective on twenty years of education technology policy. Education Development Center, Center for Children and Technology, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology.


Januszewski, A., Molenda, M. (2010). Educational technology: A definition with commentary. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kelly, H. (2014). CNN: Using tablets to reach kids with autism. CNN.

Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Nova Southeastern University: Pearson.

Welcome to my Learning Log!

Welcome to my EDTECH Learning Log!

I am enrolled in EDTECH 501, 513 and 541, for the Spring 2016 semester at Boise State University, for a total of 9 Graduate credits. I am working towards the Master of Educational Technology degree, which I hope to receive by December 2017.  The classes are all online and use the Moodle site to instruct students, discuss ideas, post assignments, etc.

It is the first week of class and I have already created & posted quite a few things, such as a Weebly website that will focus on 3rd Grade Mathematics, an “I Am” Poem and a blog on WordPress to share my thoughts as I learn & achieve for EDTECH 541. Next, I have created a Pinterest board, learning log site and a Diigo account to access EDTECH 501 discussions and/ or materials. Last, I created an Animoto introduction for EDTECH 513 and will apply the learning log for this class, along with EDTECH 501.

Throughout the year, I will post blog comments, add more materials, references and links or embedded information so I can take what I’ve learned with me after graduation to share and update throughout my career as a teacher. I look forward to learning, meeting new colleagues and sharing ideas. Good Luck!