Integrating Emerging Technologies into Instruction

 

Select an emerging technology that The Horizon Report lists as one that will be adopted within the next five years.

The Horizon Report was pretty impressive, if a little optimistic about technology integration within the public education brick and mortar environment. However, that said, as a person with a teaching background the Horizon Report gave me a plethora of ideas for utilizing technology in the classroom. I was specifically intrigued with the technologies of Cloud Computing (estimated “Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less”) (Johnson et al., 2009, p. 11) and Geo-Everything (estimated “Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years”) (Johnson et al., 2009, p. 15).

 

Drawing from the examples you explored on the Edutopia Web site to inform your response, provide an example of how that technology could be utilized in an instructional environment.

There were several aspects of Cloud Computing that triggered sparks for me. My most recent teaching position was teaching 9th grade Earth Science. The Science and Meteorology applications were fascinating.

My thoughts immediately ran to having the students form collaborative groups with students from other schools utilizing the same lessons for discovery lessons such as following meteorological patterns across the United States. Students have difficulty finding “weather” interesting, especially when discussion turns towards confusing terminology such as lows and highs, and easterlies. There are some visuals in textbooks. Plus, I have found some animations online. However, the opportunity to actually track weather in real-time across the nation would be extremely engaging as well as educational in so many respects: scientific investigation, meteorology, collaborative learning, data plotting, mathematics, cultural learning, timing, organization, and actual discovery participation.

Another example would be astronomy applications. My son’s third grade class recently finished a science lesson on the moon and sun. Gabriel had a moon chart he kept four days a week for four weeks. In theory, he would go out at night, see the moon, note the moon’s position, size, and other relevant astronomical visuals. However, during those four weeks we had lots of rain and on the days the sky was clear the moon’s orbit was off significantly so the children could not see it at night, but could only see it in the morning (if someone mentioned to them that was a possibility). There was so much that could have been done to make this a truly integrated technology assignment. Gabriel and I were able to take advantage of several Ipad applications I downloaded specifically, such as “Living Earth,” “Google Earth,” “Beautiful Planet,” “Weather,” and especially, “Star Walk.” The Star Walk application was especially wonderful because we could hold the Ipad in the air and it would use a compass to point us in the direction of the Moon, give us the latitude and longitude of where we were standing, and even outline the constellations for us so we could “visualize” some of the other constellation patterns. The application also provided information for any planet, the time it rises, sets and its elevation all for a certain day. For the Moon the application also provided information regarding cycle, such as on December 14, 2010 the Moon was in First Quarter (52%) and today the Moon is in Waxing Gibbous (59%), rising at 12:45 p.m. and setting at 1:24 a.m., with an expected elevation of 67 degrees. We could also print out pictures from the Ipad of the sky, or from visual records if the weather was bad.

If all of the students had access to this type of information, the weather being bad would not have been so detrimental to the entire lesson. Also, the students could have plotted their individual information on a class star chart each day to “see” the progress occurring. This could have been especially meaningful by utilizing the GPS applications and mapping the coordinates of each students’ Earth bound position relative to their planetary data. They could have made a three dimensional computer model, and then set it to play like a slide show demonstrating the Moon’s orbit, rotation, and cycle from different perspectives. As it was, my son just memorized the phases of the moon from a piece of paper.

These two technologies would also work really well in a social studies class for collaborative learning projects. Again, cooperation across the U.S. would be especially meaningful, having students gather information for their particular region regarding cultural events, media events, economics, and major political events. The students would be participants in recording of history, creating their own historical class timelines with data supplied by themselves and others. This type of project could also be taken even a step further, across curriculum. Each student could pick a specific historical time span and put together a class wikipage regarding population statistics, health statistics, economics, industry, literature, and politics. In the math class the data could be plotted and organized. In the English class the literature of the time period could be read and analyzed. In the Science class the current scientific breakthroughs could be discussed and investigated, etc.

Another science based discovery idea using technology are online field trips. Sometimes there are constraints to live field trips such as economics, missing other classes, distance, permissions, transportation, and supervision. An online field trip utilizing technology, especially three dimensional technology with real time capabilities would be much better than pictures or textbooks.

As is typical in exploration online, one great link leads to another. Edutopia.org is no different. I spent hours and hours and could probably spend many, many more reading all the great articles and blogs on Edutopia. A few that I especially appreciated related to science were:

A blog, “Say Yes to GPS: Bring Latitude and Longitude to Life,” which discusses using GPS technology (Moulton, 2006). Several things are discussed such as Geocaching and provides a link to http://www.geocaching.com/, where there is a ton of additional information on how to use GPS in an instructional setting; Naturemapping (http://depts.washington.edu/natmap/) and the Degree Confluence Project (http://www.confluence.org/).

An article, “NatureMapping Takes Kids — and Technology — Outside and into Active Learning” (Peterson, 2006), which had numerous links to other resources related to videos, tips, lesson development and articles.

An article, “Geo-Literacy: Using Technology to Forge New Ground” (http://www.geolit.org/) in which geo-literacy is described as “students learning about blacksmithing, marsh ecosystems, and local history” (Ball, 2003, p. 1) through technological resources. Amazingly, these third grade students use portable keyboards (http://www.alphasmart.com/) to type up the findings and publish on the web (http://www.geolit.org/rushranch/RR-Rush1.htm). There are also great links to other articles from here http://www.edutopia.org/neuroscience-brain-based-learning-relevance-improves-engagement, http://www.edutopia.org/six-feet-wonder-learning-from-the-ground-up, and http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning-overview-video.

 

What learning theory would you consider to be the likely foundation for the implementation of this emerging technology into an instructional setting?

 

There were several learning theories at play in utilization of the emerging technologies of both Cloud Computing and Geo-Everything. Specifically, there is Constructivism where the students are “discovering” information, putting together pieces of the puzzle (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009); both Social Learning (“Social learning theory: Bandura”, n.d.) as students interact and Social Constructivism as the students interact and construct knowledge from the interaction, in both immediate locales and hopefully, distant locales, furthering their social cultural skills, adoption of cooperative learning, and organization skills (Ormrod et al., 2009); and, Connectivism (Siemens, 2005), where the students are necessarily using technology for information gathering, broadening their knowledge networks from the immediate computerized vicinity to the global networks, and all the expanded information the internet has to offer such as online encyclopedias, online books, online articles, forums, blogs, online libraries, and even access to influentially prominent individuals in their fields of interest.

 

References

Ball, A. (2003). Geo-Literacy: Using technology to forge new ground. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-geography-geology-history

Johnson, L., Levine, A., & Smith, R. (2009). The Horizon Report (2009 ed.). Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/CSD5612.pdf

Moulton, J. (2006, December 6). Say yes to GPS: Bring latitude and longitude to life [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/latitude-longitude-global-positioning-system

Ormrod, J. E., Schunk, D. H., & Gredler, M. (2009). Constructivist theory. In Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition) (pp. 182-222). New York: Pearson.

Peterson, D. (2006). NatureMapping takes kids — and technology — outside and into active learning. Retrieved December 14, 2010, from http://www.edutopia.org/node/1251

Prensky, M. (2006). Shaping tech for the classroom: 21st-century schools need 21st-century technology. Retrieved December 14, 2010, from http://www.edutopia.org/adopt-and-adapt-shaping-tech-for-classroom

Siemens, G. (2005, Jan). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning. Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm

Social learning theory: Bandura. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.learning-theories.com/social-learning-theory-bandura.html

 

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