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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why Technology Integration?

Today’s students grew up with technology; it is a part of their everyday lives. Technology is revolutionizing how we think, work, and play. Many homes have computers and Internet connections. Technologies such as MP3 players, cell phones, and laptop computers have the ability to empower users in a whole new way—especially with user-created Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and YouTube. The way we interact with the Web has changed from a pull-down model to an interactive, push model. Our students EXPECT technology to be used in the classroom and as a part of their learning experience.
More and more studies show that technology integration improves students’ learning processes and outcomes because students become actively engaged in the learning process. George Lucas’ Educational Foundation, Edutopia, the Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET) found that, "when used in collaborative learning methods and leadership that is aimed at improving the school through technology planning, technology impacts achievement in content area learning, promotes higher-order thinking and problem solving skills, and prepares students for the workforce.” reported that “
Another reason for technology integration is the necessity of today's students to have 21st Century Skills. The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory defines Digital-Age Literacy as the following:
  • Basic Literacy: Language proficiency (in English) and numeracy at levels necessary to function on the job and in society to achieve one's goals and to develop one's knowledge and potential in this Digital Age.
  • Scientific Literacy: Knowledge and understanding of the scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.
  • Economic Literacy: The ability to identify economic problems, alternatives, costs, and benefits; analyze the incentives at work in economic situations; examine the consequences of changes in economic conditions and public policies; collect and organize economic evidence; and weigh costs against benefits.
  • Technological Literacy: Knowledge about what technology is, how it works, what purposes it can serve, and how it can be used efficiently and effectively to achieve specific goals.
  • Visual Literacy: The ability to interpret, use, appreciate, and create images and video using both conventional and 21st century media in ways that advance thinking, decision making, communication, and learning.
  • Information Literacy: The ability to evaluate information across a range of media; recognize when information is needed; locate, synthesize, and use information effectively; and accomplish these functions using technology, communication networks, and electronic resources.
  • Multicultural Literacy: The ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of one's own culture and the cultures of others.
  • Global Awareness: The recognition and understanding of interrelationships among international organizations, nation-states, public and private economic entities, sociocultural groups, and individuals across the globe.
“I’m not comfortable with technology” or “this is the way I was taught,” or “this is how I’ve taught for 10-15-20 years,” or “I don’t want to seem dumb in front of the students” can no longer be viable excuses. As society changes, the skills needed to negotiate the complexities of life also change. At the turn of the century (1900s), a person who had acquired simple reading, writing, and calculating skills was considered literate. There is an information explosion. Our students must learn HOW to access the information, HOW to analyze and evaluate it, HOW to use it to make personal and socially responsible decisions, HOW to communicate across cultures for interpersonal and presentation needs. Education can no longer be expected to disseminate a discrete body of knowledge and we must change our view of what it means to be “literate” and “educated.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Learning Organizations, Faculty Development, Technology

This quarter, I am taking my last research course for my Ph.D. I also decided to take a course on Writing a Literature Review. For my quantitative research course, I am developing a course project--essentially a mini research proposal. I was hoping that the articles for my KAMs would help me decide on my dissertation topic/question--and that I could begin to develop my proposal as my course project. Unfortunately, I find that all my research questions seem to lend themselves to descriptive studies or qualitative research. Therefore, my project proposal is not really a project that I can implement at this point in my career. Oh, well.

I am finding that the Lit Review course is helping me focus my research more, however. The matrix is especially helpful as I create my annotated bibliographies based on the new KAM guidelines.

One thing I've found is that the plethora of terms used to describe "online learning" and "faculty development" make it difficult to make sure that I've covered all the bases. In addition, I have been focusing on faculty development and higher education. However, I'm not finding information on the relationship between faculty development initiatives and knowledge management or organizational change. I'm not sure if there has not been any discussion or if I'm not asking the right questions/putting in the right keywords. Peter Senge's book Schools That Learn is primarily directed at lower education (elementary-secondary). I can't believe that no one in higher ed has read his books.
Kezar (2005) maintains that although "the learning organization has been one of the most written about topics in organizational studies. higher education institutions have been less likely to apply these concepts to their organizational functioning" (p. 1).

Higher education (especially 4-year research institutions) is such a bastion of tradition! The whole concept of being a good instructor is a relatively new idea. All too often faculty see faculty development initiatives as intrusive and meddling. They pride themselves on what they know. And they find it hard to give up "power." Admitting that they don't know something (such as how to use technology in their teaching practices) is difficult. So not only is technology integration a new innovation, but faculty development to improve teaching and learning is a new innovation. All too often technology initiatives are introduced without getting all stakeholder buy-in and without adequately establishing policies and procedures--one of which is to provide ongoing support of faculty to learn how to use the technology AND how to integrate the technology in their teaching practices (they are not the same thing.)