Friday, 8 March 2013

March 8, 2013 - Making Sense of the Technology Alphabet Soup

Happy Friday Everyone!

Earlier this week I saw an article defining ‘20 Essential Technology Terms for Teachers’ and I thought that this was a great idea.  Technology and teaching is changing so quickly and new concepts are being developed every day, so a note explaining some of the recent and more confusing technology terms may be beneficial.

Read as ‘one to one’ this means a school or class has one computer or device for every pupil.  Although this is a dream for many of us currently in the elementary setting, it is occurring in other educational areas (Laurier Bed. Program for example). 

Acceptable Use Policy – Policy #318 at the UGDSB. An acceptable use policy outlines safe and secure use of digital technology in the school and throughout the school board.  It clearly defines what students and staff may or may not do on the school’s network.  Students and parents are often required to sign one at the beginning of each school year.

‘Bring Your Own Device’ or ‘Bring Your Own Technology’ is a policy which some classrooms and schools are beginning to implement where students are encouraged to bring in their own tablet, netbook or laptops for use within the school.   While this allows for more students to have devices for hands on learning, it also illustrates more clearly the divide between students and families which can afford these items and those that cannot.  This can provide a greater challenge for instructors who need to be aware of how a variety of devices work in order to assist students and facilitate learning.  Additionally, some feel that this increases student’s responsibility with the technology and as a result lessens the amount of vandalism occurring on the school technological devices.

Cloud or ‘Cloud Computing’
The cloud is a metaphor for the internet, however when you combine it with ’computing’ it becomes an on-demand storage space for documents, photos, information, etc.  The cloud is not one single device or location, instead it is where files are copied to servers and are then accessible from a variety of locations and devices.  The UGCloud for example can be accessed from the school resource center to create a document then saved and retrieved on a tablet, or Chromebook, etc. for further editing and composition at home, or in a location with internet capabilities.

Digital Citizenship
Digital citizenship means understanding and making the choice to use the internet and technology appropriately and safely.  This can include e-mail etiquette, proper citing and use of internet resources, as well as security and safety.  With children as young as 3 clicking on webpages and playing online games, we need to teach children how to use the online community safely and respectfully. 

Digital Literacy
Similar to Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy is the ability to navigate, assess and generate information using technology and the internet.  It includes the ability to interpret data and information and to apply new knowledge from digital environments.

Flipped Classroom or Flip Teaching
This is a form of blended learning (combination of face-to-face and technology facilitated) which frequently involves students viewing teacher created videos (or read a section of the textbook) at home so that the teacher is free to interact with students during class time.  Students learn the concepts on their own at home and practice or apply the knowledge in class with the assistance of the teacher.  One example of this is the collaboration between the Khan Academy and the Los Altos School District, where they are piloting a district wide flipping of the classrooms.

Most parents will tell you that if you make chores into a game children are more likely to get on board and they become a fun activity - this is the premise for gamification.  By integrating game thinking and methods into learning and non-game applications students become more engaged and often remember concepts and knowledge and have a greater understanding.

MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Course and these are becoming more popular throughout the world.  They offer online education to an immense number of participants at low cost (often free) in a variety of topics.  Udacity and Coursera are two of the more popular MOOC websites.

QR Code
These QR or Quick Response codes are popping up all over the grocery and retail stores and now they are making their way into education as well.  They are a type of bar code which allows a ‘reader’ to link to related information in the form of a website.    By installing an app with a QR scanner/generator (such as ‘QR Reader for iPhone’), students can create their own codes or teachers can place them up around the room and have them link to resources and videos for students use. Give this one a try…

A wiki is a website which allows one or more users to add delete and modify the content.  Many teachers use wikis for their classroom to keep students and families up to date on events and assignments.  Mary Kay Goindi has created her wiki to assist teachers in intermediate math and 3 part problem solving. 

Technical Pedagogical Content Knowledge is the framework to understand the kind of information needed by a teacher for effectively teaching with technology.  This extension of Shulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge illustrates the veritable ‘sweet spot’ where technology meets pedagogy, content and knowledge which is where students will learn best.

I hope this provides some clarity as to the current ‘alphabet soup’ of acronyms and new language surrounding technology in education.  If there are additional questions or suggestions for future ‘Tech Tidbits’ please feel free to message me.

Have a great break!

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