Archive for the 'Educational Technology' Category

Video Games in the Classroom: What the Research Says

nick blog picBy Nick Rocha – When I was in elementary school, we had a computer game that we played a few times during school that helped to explain addition and subtraction. Today the use of video games for educational learning has increased dramatically and extensively within many educational institutions. According to a study conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, nearly three quarters (74%) of K-8 teachers report using digital games for instruction. In addition, 88 percent of the nation’s children ages 8 to 18 play video games (Gentile, 2009). Many teachers and educators utilize video games for a variety of learning objectives and measures, but how might the use of video games impact the overall development of the child?

First, I would like to make the distinction between e-learning and video game environments. E-learning consists of online courses that are offered at educational institutions that attempt to mimic similar classroom curriculum and instruction. Video games, on the other hand, take on a more interactive and stimulating approach to online learning. “While completion rates for online courses barely reach 50%, gamers spend hundreds of hours mastering games, writing lengthy texts, and even setting up their own virtual “universities” to teach others to play games (Squire, 2005). E-learning has a reputation for being dull and ineffective whereas games have a reputation for being engaging, fun, and immersive (Gee, 2003). The use of video games in the online classroom may provide advanced learning opportunities that e-learning may fail to provide.

One of the major reasons that video game learning is so popular is because the games are relatively inexpensive to build and to distribute (Shapiro, 2015). A computer-based math game can be readily accessible from anywhere with a computer and the Internet; students are more familiar with these types of technology than they were two decades ago. Educators would need to take the digital divide into account before integrating a video game-based curriculum into the classroom since many students may not have access to a computer or the Internet to complete assignments.

Furthermore, some course subjects are more suited for video game learning environments. “Nearly three quarters (71%) of digital game-using teachers report that games have been effective in improving their students’ mathematics learning…only 42% report the same about their students’ science learning” (Takeuchi and Vaala, 2014, Joan Ganz Cooney Center). More research needs to be conducted to determine which academic subjects would benefit from video game-based pedagogy and how students could benefit or become hindered by this method.

Video game addiction has also been a major concern among psychology and education communities. A study conducted by Gentile in 2009 found that 8.5% of U.S. youth are “addicted” to playing video games; children who show multiple signs of behavioral addiction often skimp out on homework, are irritable or restless when video game play time is reduced, and have trouble being attentive in school (George, 2009). The real question is whether providing video game pedagogy within the classroom provides a “gateway” into more addictive behaviors, or if using that pedagogy encourages students with video game “addiction” to engage within a learning environment. It is important to notice that in this study boys were 4 times as likely as girls to report behavioral addiction symptoms.

Using video games in the classroom can provide some beneficial learning opportunities that are engaging and fun, but educators should combine these new technologies with their instruction to reinforce educational objectives. An educator should take into account the digital divide, the gender ratio of their students, the complexity of the course material, and the learning/course objectives when deciding when to use video game-based materials. Additional research needs to be conducted to determine the overall impacts of video game pedagogy and childhood development, and teachers should weigh in the pros and cons before implementing a video game-based curriculum into their classrooms.

#LikeForLike: Social Media for Educators

GallBladderzBy Taylor Gall — My Instagram is usually blowing up with potential followers (not), so I didn’t flinch when I got a follow request from an account last Tuesday evening.

I briefly scrolled through it, and decided not to follow back because:

  1. I didn’t seem to recognize the person’s name.
  2. They had posted a lot of pictures of basketball players.
  3. And pictures of Ariana Grande?
  4. Wait.
  5. Oh no oh no oh no.
  6. It was one of my 7th grade students from field placement.

I jumped out of my seat at the library and immediately blocked the account, and switched my Instagram to private.

Yes, you heard me: I didn’t have my Instagram on private. Gallbladderz was open for public viewing.

I had never posted anything “inappropriate” on Instagram- there were no drinking pictures, no swears in the captions, nothing that I wouldn’t want my Grandma Judy seeing. Because of the tameness of my account, I had never felt the need to hide it from the world. Additionally, in order to find me you either needed to be my friend on Facebook or know to look up “Gallbladderz” on an Instagram search.

I immediately emailed my cooperating teacher. I didn’t want to breech the student-teacher relationship guidelines, and I wanted to make sure she knew of the situation right away.

Turns out she knew more about the situation than I thought. She herself had several “follow” requests from students.

How can this be? When I was in 7th grade, I had neither desire nor the means to creep on my teachers with social media. The socialization of teenagers is changing, though, and with it has come an increased use of social media.

When I was first using AIM as a 6th grader, I had 14 contacts, all of which were my closest friends. These days, 6th graders have 1,200 Instagram followers and don’t know 80% of them. The internet safety and caution that I knew as a middle school student has gone out the window. Now it’s all about likes, follows and #hashtags.

So the message is to be careful. Lock down your social media accounts; make it hard for your students to find you. Staying separate from your teenagers on social media will maintain your sense of professionalism in the classroom. They don’t need to see what’s being posted on Gallbladderz.

Social Media for Preservice Teachers

SocialMediaBubblesBy Clare Jorgensen — Like many students here at Marquette, I am very attached to my phone.

I try my best not to run into anyone while walking down Wisconsin Avenue when I’m texting or surfing the Internet, and I usually spend my small breaks from studying on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Buzzfeed, or Twitter.

And, while I admit I’m a bit addicted to technology, I do use some of my time to prepare for my future as a teacher.

On Facebook, Twitter, and Buzzfeed, I follow different teaching pages as well as old friends who became teachers. These pages get me excited as I prepare to become a teacher, and I can also bookmark certain pages or articles I find interesting. Ultimately, it will be important that I put my own personal flare into my teaching, but for now it’s good to see what’s out there and what has worked for others. Through these same outlets, I can also see information from the Marquette College of Education, including news and other important information.

Overall, though, Pinterest is my favorite tool for preparing to be a teacher. I spend some of my time looking up different business outfit ideas that I could wear to Field Experience, and eventually to student teaching. I have a board of places to visit in Europe if I study abroad in Madrid next semester. I have study skills pins, which I intend to utilize during my years here, and I hope to give the information to my future students. Lastly, I have a “Teacher tools” board where I put different ideas for lessons in a high school Spanish, some different book ideas, and also some craft ideas for a classroom. Many of my pins come from the College of Education page, where they have different fun boards for everyone.

I’ll be honest — I don’t spend all of my social media time devoted to preparing to be a teacher, but I think the ways that I do use it to inform my teaching are important.

When I start preparing lesson plans, I can have these tools readily available, so it is important for me to learn as much about them as possible.

Not everyone uses social media as often as I do, if at all; but I would definitely recommend looking into Pinterest so you can see the many ideas for education-related projects and lessons it has.

Technology These Days…

Multi Media Internet Laptop with ObjectsBy Aubrey Murtha — Lately, the global emphasis on modernization and the development of newer and faster technology has got me discouraged.

I have always been an advocate for the simple life, but easy-to-use technological advancements have people digitalizing their lives these days, and the temptation is there—even for me. Ask anyone, I am pretty much the opposite of that which is hip and trendy. For example, I am still without a Twitter, I am illiterate when it comes to pop culture, and I’d rather shop at Goodwill than waste money on anything that is name brand.

However, I love my iPhone, and it would be awfully preachy of me to tell you to cut down on your use of technology as I sit here and type an article for an online publication on my lap top while checking my Facebook every ten minutes.

My concern is not technology in general. Obviously, I do appreciate electricity, running water, and the vast breadth of information that is available for me when I need it. However, I am concerned with the way that modern conveniences are affecting my generation and those to come.

In my opinion, the two main negative results of the Digital Age are materialism and an overwhelming need for instant gratification. The alarming rate at which companies are producing new and fascinating technology leaves children longing for the latest and greatest piece of modern equipment. In addition, kids and teens are exhibiting signs of complete dependence on technology.

How many eighth graders do you know that do not have a cell phone for texting their friends? How many college students do you know that do not use a computer to complete essentially all of their homework assignments? This dependence perpetuates materialism, in my opinion, and I find it discouraging that so many of our relationships and many of our academic endeavors depend on computers and smart phones.

The way in which the Internet and sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provide kids and teens with instant gratification is hotwiring us to expect immediacy in life. Amongst the U.S.’s younger generations, this urgency seems to dissolve our work ethics as we simply expect that we will be given what we want right away. Instead of taking our time with things, everything is rushed and accelerated.  There is no value in the search anymore, no honor in waiting, no love of the quest or respect for the chase.

Maybe I’m reading into things a bit when I say that, but I believe this to be true: Technology is often a detriment to the development and maturity of America’s youth because of the manner in which it destroys our patience.

As teachers, parents or students, I am encouraging you to challenge the youth in your life to unplug. You too! Yes you! Be an example for your student or child, and promise that you’ll be present to him or her whenever you can.

Let’s not get wrapped up in the cyber world.  Let’s live in the now!

Follow the Money: ISTE 2014

ISTE graphicBy Claudia Felske — Last year, around this time, I was an International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference wanna-be, lurking via #ISTE2013, drooling over tweets I was reading by those educators lucky enough to be in San Antonio at the International Society for Technology in Education Convention.

I went so far as to blog all about it last year, dubbing it The Best Conference I Didn’t Attend.

This year, I was fortunate enough to be accepted as a presenter, and so, I spent four glorious days last week at ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Long story short: it is all that it’s cracked up to be. Because of the innovative and immense variety of its sessions, because it’s teeming with “aha moments,” because it means networking with 16,000 like-mindeds, I plan on finding a way to attend every ISTE until the year of my retirement, and perhaps beyond.

Now, instead of recounting all the sordid details of four days of edtech euphoria, I will fixate on one idea: “Follow the Money.” Legend has it that the “Follow the money” phrase was the directive from Deep Throat, the anonymous source that lead to the breaking of the Watergate Scandal and the resignation of a United States President. “Follow the money” suggests that to find the truth of a matter, one need simply follow the money trail.

So, what does this have to do with ISTE 2014? What became readily apparent to me last week is that If one is to follow the money in education, one will quickly surmise that American Corporations, specifically tech-flavored ones, are currently courting American schools like a politician at a donor dinner.

ISTE 2013 conference at the San Angelo Convention Center.

I’ve been to my share of educational conferences and seminars, local, state and national, but in my 20 years of teaching, nothing has come close in scope or sponsorship to what I experienced last week at ISTE.

  • Follow the numbers: 16,000 educators and education leaders
  • Follow the corporations:  500 companies and 4,500 industry reps
  • Follow the prestige: a cut-throat 10% acceptance rate for conference presenters
  • Follow the learning: hundreds of robust, inspirational learning opportunities
  • Follow the VIPs: sponsored networking events galore, top shelf ones requiring VIP badges
  • Follow the Expo Hall: ISTE’s vender hall compared to that of most educational conferences is like Times Square compared to Mayberry Square
  • Follow the Ads: for $13,000 your company can have a prime program ad; $4500 and attendees’ hands will touch your logo as they take the escalator between sessions. Advertising is ubiquitous at ISTE.

Clearly there is money to be made and influence to be gained at the crossroads of technology and education.

Just follow the money.

The Day the Technology Went Out

internet-out-of-orderSabrina Bong — My first memorable encounter with technology was when I was around four years old.

My dad, who worked third shift at the time, had to stop back at work to pick something up. As we entered his office, I remember being in awe of the fact that he had a computer. Back then, it was probably nothing more than a word processor. In fact, if you remember the show Doogie Howser, M.D., it was pretty similar to that computer: a big clunky machine with a blue screen where you could type things in white. I even remember typing my dad a letter as he gathered what he needed. To me, that computer was pure magic. I remember thinking that my dad was super cool because he had a real computer, just like the fancy people on television.

Fast forward to today. Now, almost everyone has some sort of electronic at their disposal. I have embraced this idea. I have a laptop that I use religiously. I have an iPad that I use to communicate with other staff members. I recently joined “the dark side” and got a real smartphone. It’s ironic that I tell my students to put down their electronics and then go ahead and use mine. I guess I thought I wasn’t too obsessed.

Then, all of that changed. Recently, my entire school district found themselves without the Internet, without WiFi, and without phones (we could still make calls within the school building, but no one could call in or out.) We couldn’t even get into our own documents because our “shared drive” was down. In essence, we were stuck. Students were unable to use their iPads, teachers had to struggle with using worksheets instead of different websites, and we as counselors could not look up students, type reports, or call parents.

What could we do?

Some teachers took their students outside for science class and applied what they were learning to the real world. Students went to the library to get books to read. We got out worksheets and had students doing things by hand. For some of the students, I’m sure this was torture. For me, though, it was exhilarating. So many times, I yearn for those days when you would complete all of your work by hand. I know it’s cheesy, but there’s something to be said about doing a math worksheet and getting pencil all over your hand.

But the best part was seeing all the interactions going on. Suddenly, people were not walking around with an iPad in their hands. People were not texting on their phones, since we had no service in the building. Students were spending their time talking.


As in having full, face-to-face conversations, without the aid of an electronic. It really made me smile to hear that. In addition, so many of my students solved their own problems without me! Because they had that time to communicate with each other, they were able to be more effective problem solvers.

I learned a lot from that day, and I hope my students did too. To me, the message was simple: Life is about more than just technology.

(To further emphasize this message, feel free to watch this awesome YouTube video called “Look Up.” Just a warning: there are one or two inappropriate words.)

A Few More Days of Teaching in the Cloud

04ipad-3-popup1By Nick McDaniels — A few posts back, I blogged about teaching in the cloud, an experience I had using Google Drive products with students to write and outline papers while using one of the laptop carts our school has.

The post had an undeniable “enjoy it while it lasts” tone, and, in truth, the laptop carts were soon gone to another unsuspecting teacher who would be forced to use them to give some standardized test developed by some for-profit testing company.

But then… while talking to our school’s tech guy, I noticed a cart full of iPads, called a Race-to-the-Top cart (you may be able to guess what money was used to purchase this set up), sitting in the corner. No one had used it in months. I asked, quite simply, “can I have that?” The answer: “YES!”

So, for three weeks, I’ve been using them. Admittedly, it took the first week and a half to figure out how to get my kids access to a WebQuest I developed, and Supreme Court opinions we were reading, because Baltimore City Schools filters these when using certain browsers. I guess the system doesn’t want our kids really learning about the law from primary sources, essentially treating In re Gault like a “banned book.” I do, however, demand that my students have access. So we figured it out, got Google Chrome, a browser with less filtering restrictions, Drive, and a handful of other apps, including iCivics’s Pocket Law Firm, an addictive educational game on the Amendments (this whole process took hours of iPad by iPad downloading).

With every iPad equipped with these apps and access to the resources, my students enter class daily, grab an iPad, log into their email, get an email from me with a case attached in PDF or hyperlink form, and a link to my Case Brief, a Google Form which is teaching me how to replacing paper worksheets. The responses from these briefs populate into a Google Sheet allowing me to look at all the student responses on the same page, utilize a search function, sort by student and case, see who is simply copying and pasting, and who is putting it in their own words, and see who has completed which assignment without having to consult a gradebook.

Not only has this one-to-one access allowed me to conduct case briefing activities digitally and view student responses in a central, more organized way, but it has also allowed students unparalleled access to a number of resources to figure out complex terminology and concepts without having to ask me first. This, allowing students the freedom to search for answers, to use the skills that come so natural to them as digital natives, has been exciting. Not to mention, the amount of copies I have had to make has been cut nearly to zero.

This experience too, I know is ephemeral. Someone else may need the iPads next year, or I may have more students than iPads, which is usually the case, but my numbers are a little lower this year. While it lasts, I am thoroughly enjoying my second, and this time more sustained opportunity, to use free web-based products to teach in the Cloud. Most importantly, I think the students are enjoying it too.

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