Technology in the Classroom MD400 - Final reflections - Angela bylo

Fairfield University - MD400 - Introduction to Educational Technology

Looking back to the beginning of this course, I thought that I was already pretty tech-savvy. I knew my way around a computer - how to use the internet, create 'pretty' PowerPoint presentations, and bang out a paper on Microsoft Word, to name a few. As I have moved through the modules in Introduction to Educational Technology, I found that I was sorely mistaken! It is not that I am unable to figure out how to use technology, but more so that I was ignorant to the vast array of digital tools out there. I have found so many different areas in which technology can (and hopefully will) streamline my lessons, thinking, and assessments in order to benefit my students in the future.

Chemistry & Bloom's Taxonomy

First and foremost, we set up PLNs (Personal Learning Networks). I had no idea what a PLN entailed. I figured it would have to be some elaborate website where all of the best lesson ideas are kept. Again, I was sorely mistaken! However, I am so glad I was. It was great to know that a PLN is as simple as a Pinterest board, which was what I set up for myself (click button above). It was so easy to search and add all kinds of ideas to my board. I found a lot of relevant material for Chemistry (my content area), general science (my future cross endorsement), children's science activities (as I plan to work/run a science camp this summer), as well as helpful links/articles to reaching Bloom's Taxonomy, SAMR, and effective digital aids in the classroom. I already have many 'pins' saved that I cannot wait to try out, such as digital notebooks and new ways to make a flipped classroom.

It's not?!?!

Moving into our Communications modules, I started to find myself having a little anxiety - how was I supposed to present something without using PowerPoint?! I had heard of the 'horrors' of Prezi - motion sickness, too much thrown into one area - but yet this was not my experience (go figure). I instead found that Prezi was much easier to use, share, and collaborate with. My walls against Prezi began to come down. My project partner and I made a simple presentation on the phases of the moon (click button below). We were able to work on the presentation both separately and simultaneously, without much of a problem. I have found that since it was so easy to use, I will be using it in future project endeavors with my students. I have a water pollution project in mind that I think Prezi would be useful for when it comes time for students to present.

If it was not bad enough that I was hesitant towards Prezi, as we moved into the second part of Communications, I was even more hesitant towards Digital Storytelling. However, I come back to blaming my ignorance - what I did not know or understand, worried me. As I read more about it, I had another revelation that it was very simple: it is literally a story told digitally for academic purposes.

As seen in our digital story above, my project partner and I aimed to make it as light and fun as possible. We wanted to tell the story of Earth - from its humble beginnings to where we are today. We tried to incorporate areas that would hit the different learning styles found in a classroom (such as kinetic, visual, and auditory). I think we did a fair job touching upon those who are visually and auditory receptive, but could have improved with kinetic learners by making it more interactive (this will take further research). Either way, it was a fun and different way to present a topic that would normally be presented as a lecture or reading a textbook chapter. Instead, it was condensed and made easily accessible to students in and out of the classroom - a much more prevalent aim as we continued through the course. This type of platform can be useful for students when presenting - it allows them to demonstrate their knowledge without having to get in front of a class. For a lot of students, this can be nerve-wracking and leave them feeling defeated if it does not go so well. Digital Storytelling can help to relieve this.

After working through different ways of presenting class material and content, we moved into Assessment. My thought process immediately went to traditional paper quiz/test. Not so with these wonderful, digital tools! My project partner and I found that EDpuzzle was most appealing. You can choose from a plethora of educational (or not!) videos in which to add questions, comments, etc. for students to respond to. What I really liked about this platform in particular, was that the creator can specify whether or not participants can skip to the questions. We decided to "force" the students to watch the video as it was intended, and answer the questions as they arose. We cut it down to a five minute area, as we just wanted to touch upon Periodic Table Trends (see link below).

Not only was this a convenient tool for teachers, but I think that it could be a great way for students to get creative and review what they know. Students could make these videos for their classmates, and share/edit to fit what they feel is relevant for particular content. In any case, this was one of my favorite projects to work on. It was easy to use, easy to create, and easy to launch/share. I have already decided to incorporate EDpuzzle into my final curricular module and lesson plan, and I look forward to using it in the future!

"Critical Thinking" - two words that make life a nightmare for students (at least, that is what I have heard). In all seriousness, critical thinking is such an important skill that I believe most people (students and teachers alike) overlook.

Relating to a digital world, I was unsure how it would be accomplished. The example from the video was stellar - as I wrote in my reaction comments, it is amazing how we think critically every day in ways we do not even recognize! Having students research something as simple as a toaster on Amazon forces them to really think about what they look for in a product - warranty, customer reviews/satisfaction, price, size, etc. Can they decipher between what information is helpful? How do they know what to look for? What criteria do they decide is important? How can they ask others for input?

Clicking on the button above leads to the mind map I created as an example for my students to "map" critical thinking. For me, I saw this as visually appealing and an easier way to brainstorm. I really like the idea of using mind maps as ways to review. Students have to push themselves to really think about the academic material, and make connections in how they put it all together. I feel that this boosts their understanding, as they need to create how they evaluate what has been presented to them (further moving up the Bloom Taxonomy pyramid). I think for my own classroom, I would like to use it as a starting point for a project, to tie in what students know in order to apply to a real-life situation such as how to tackle water treatment/purification with chemistry, or how to make a solar cooker.

As teachers, we need to be able to teach our students how and why to make connections to our understanding and still be able to question, reasonably, in order to have well thought out discussions. We want them to be prepared as rational, intelligent, and well-rounded members in our ever-changing digital and global society.

Cell phones - Perspectives - Digital Literacy - Digital Citizenship

The last four modules of MD400 seemed to ebb and flow one after another for me. From cell phones to digital citizenship, they really tied up the course into a nice, neat bow.

First and foremost is the debate over cell phones/smartphones/digital devices in the classroom. Stemming from my peers' excellent discussion, I can confidently say that 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.' This is the direction in which society is headed - we are in the technology era. Cell phones in the classroom are not leaving us anytime soon, nor do I foresee them ever going away. As many classmates have pointed out, if we can find ways that these devices can be used to our educational advantage, then they will not seem so taboo. I do believe that it will cut back on how students will try to find any excuse to 'sneakily' use their devices during instructional/learning time. If we begin to remove the stigma of cell phones in the classroom, I think students will find them less as a means of distraction and more as a powerful tool.

Both Liz Kolb and Matt Miller point out many great examples in their texts in which to use digital devices and technology in the classroom. For me, I could see myself using QR codes as means for supplemental learning. In Kolb's book, a teacher gave an example of a 'QR scavenger hunt,' and I think that could be really useful and engaging. It is easy enough to generate QR codes, and even easier for people to scan and pull up information. It would take a bit of time and effort to put together, but it would be worth it! I would also like to try to think of a way to use Snapchat or Instagram as a means of class collaboration/scavenger hunting. Since these are apps students are constantly using, I think it would be cool to see what students can come up with to educationally engage with their peers.

Miller emphasizes the use of blogging and hashtags to build up impact with the global digital community. With devices such as smartphones, students can connect with the world at an instant and receive feedback from people and experts thousands upon oceans away! Simple ways like this allow for connections that we would be unable to achieve even as little as 10 years ago. I have yet to think of a way in which to put this into my future classes, but I definitely want to figure out how. Again, I think this would come in handy for a research project, as students could have their work reach to experts in the field of which they are investigating via hashtags or scholarly blogs.

All of the above requires information and media literacy, as well as digital citizenship. In order for anyone to be able to use technology effectively, we need to be able to decipher between illegitimate information and how to be a decent human being online (to put it frankly).

So that means they're DEFINITELY legitimate facts, right?

Incorporating info/media literacy into my classroom I feel may be a bit of a challenge. As a high school science teacher, I would hope that my students would have had at least some sort of alluding to it through their education. The 'Power Googling' article would be an item I would put into my syllabus/on my class website for students to reference. I feel that it is such a great article for simply trying to search smarter - when you can really tell the internet what you are looking for, you can save a bunch of time and effort! I think that when/if I have research projects, I would try to spend some time on 'copyrights and wrongs' from Common Sense Media. I think this is an area which students struggle with, as I do not think they intentionally mean to "steal" material - they just do not understand how and when to properly cite their sources.

Finally, we moved into digital citizenship. As I stated before, this basically comes down to being a decent human being online. It also includes protecting your privacy, information, and being cautious as to what your digital footprint leaves on the world wide web. For me, one of the most important aspects that I will be sure to emphasize in my classroom is digital etiquette. It is disappointing how often people think that just because they are behind a screen, it allows them to "say" whatever they feel. Oftentimes, we forget that there is at least one other human being on the other side - with thoughts, feelings, a family, friends, a job, etc. We need to teach our students that etiquette online is just as important as etiquette in person. This extends to our device use in public and how it can physically affect us. We should not be constantly crouched over our little pocket screens - there is a still a whole world to explore outside of the digital realm.

Where do we go from here?

By the end of this course, I was hoping to have a grasp on how to effectively use technology in the classroom - the best apps, the coolest websites, and whatever else had pretty/shiny bells and whistles that would keep my students (and me) engaged. Thankfully, I am happy to say that I found none of that (although, that's not totally true - some of the platforms were really cool). What I did find are the true and realistic ways in which to effectively use technology in order to benefit the learning and critical thinking of my students. It really comes down to how you use the technology, not how much of it you can throw at your students. Keeping it simple, creative, and starting small can have the greatest impact and best return for our students. I look forward to the opportunity to incorporate into my own classroom as I transition to my career as a high school science teacher.

Created By
Angela Bylo


Created with images by skeeze - "space telescope mirror segments james webb" • succo - "molecule spherical model chemistry" • jdn2001cn0 - "jar beaker lab" • Vandy CFT - "Bloom's Taxonomy" • maveric2003 - "the periodic table" • Sam Howzit - "Think" • ericfleming8 - "mathematics math abstract algebra" • geralt - "board school perfection" • ruifernandes - "Thinking statues" • balancepft - "inventor engineer critical thinking" • EEPaul - "Happiness mind-map" • mrobisonabc - "Guidelines for Critical Thinking" • Unsplash - "phone cell cell phone" • Wesley Fryer - "Carl Hooker on Digital Citizenship" • Lindy Buckley - "Privacy on the Internet"

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