Teachers nowadays are expected to teach almost everything to students, from appropriate manners to completing Algebra problems and even planting gardens…and now, Technology. Educational Technology can mean different things to different people, and for some, make no sense at all. Why is this term so mysterious?
I believe the term, Educational Technology, is a newer idea for educators and parents, that isn’t easily defined. I believe there are many adults who believe technology is either a cell phone, tablet or desktop computer and therefore, these individuals have trouble understanding how technology can be integrated into a child’s education, other than to play online games or watch educational clips. Also, I believe that older generations most likely have a difficult time imagining its importance when they had little technology available to them while they were in school (and walked uphill both ways to school in a blizzard; horrible Minnesota weather, my Dad tells me…).
Educational Technology, in my opinion, is using technology, either hardware or software or a combination of both, to further a child’s education. Due to the massive amount of terminology within its definition, I chose to represent it as an Iceberg. An iceberg looks small at first, but below the surface is the majority of its definition. Additionally, not understanding its definition or applying it to a student’s educational destination, will “sink” a student’s future, employability and overall benefit to society.
The EDTECH 541 textbook describes the principles behind Word, Spreadsheet or Worksheet, and Presentation software in the classroom and how best to incorporate into teaching and learning.
According to Robyler (2016) “A teacher can use it to support any directed instruction or constructivist activity” (p.114). With the use of ‘Word’ I find that it is easier to type notes, a report or summary than to use old-fashioned pen and paper. Additionally, I can use ‘spell check’ to help me ensure that my documents are error free. The best part is that students can actually read what they were writing down and edit their writing, quickly. I can’t tell you how many times I have scribbled down something on paper and when I went back to read it, I couldn’t. Not only that, but with Google Docs, you can access it anywhere, share and publish your documents for collaboration with your peers, teachers and parents.
I also create spreadsheets quite a bit at home and in the military for quick calculations and ease of producing graphs and other visual statements that support adjacent text. However, I did find that spreadsheets can be difficult to work with and use all of its functions properly, unless you have attended training or “experiment” as I usually do with new software. As Robyler states (2016) “Students new to spreadsheets must have time to develop skills in using the software before teachers can begin to grade their work” (p.125). Therefore, it’s important to teach students how to use it, in small chucks, rather then expecting students to “just go with the flow”.
Presentations are an excellent way for students to digitally display their work to their peers, and a great way for teachers to assess their understanding of the topic being presented, along with their use of technology. Students can integrate ‘Word’ and ‘Spreadsheet’ software into their presentations and collaborate with their peers, teachers or even parents via Google Docs. However, the main concern with presentations is overloading slides. Slides should contain short bullet comments and graphics that support them, rather than an entire speech typed out on each slide, causing the audience to lose interest. As Robyler states (2016) “When a presentation product is well designed, it supports and supplements what the speaker says, using graphics and multimedia to give illustrations and drive home points with images and sound” (p.127).
Robyler, M.D. (2016). Chapter 4: Technology Tools for 21st Century Teaching. In Robyler, M.D., Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching (pp. 106-137) Nova Southeastern University: Pearson.