Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Target Practice

October 2, 2011

“I’ve been doing lots of thinking lately, apparently storing food for thought. After reading many studies and literature reviews I wanted to explore some new perspectives and this post reflects some of my current thinking. The process of trying on new perspectives interests me. It would be helpful to me, if you have any reactions to post, respond or provide a link to related research or discussions. Enjoy!” – Kathy

For years educational institutions have been feasting on a buffet of technological innovations. Father knows best, and our national leadership and other stalwart sponsors direct the technology spending and perpetuate the feeding frenzy, all designed to improve student learning. Like a reality-show-hoarder, schools have amassed a disconnected collection of tools. A brain numbing cacophony of screeching voices from educational stakeholders hides the silent retort of teachers bristling from offense and seeking asylum inside the confines of a classroom designed to produce good citizens and workers from the last century. And where are the students in all of this? It’s time for an intervention for the dysfunctional family we regard as our broken educational system.

There have been numerous proposals purporting solutions to the problems in education. The locus of research will address the victims: teachers and students. Neither of them is responsible for purchasing or implementing technology. They simply adapt their rooms according to a plan set forth by leadership and ask the essential question: How can the use of technology improve instruction, meaningful learning and retention of knowledge? This three-pronged question reveals that something is fundamentally wrong with the current educational system’s approach to technology integration. While research supports holistic, learner-centered pedagogical approaches coupled with curriculum formulated using the understanding by design methodology, the system does not practice either of these models when adopting new technologies for school integration.

Clamoring to adopt 21st century learning standards for student achievement and driven by the need to appease the public, school systems have measured their success using student-computer ratios and standardized test results. Low ratios imply greater access to computers among students and teachers; however the quality and consistency of the available devices may be a more critical consideration.Test scores don’t seem to bear out the hallmark of success. Where can we find the truth? The tree of knowledge has become an octopus suffocating its prey with the purple haze of confusion.

In all of this, teachers must still teach and students learn. It is a wonder that despite the moon-like of technological terrain, teachers are able to navigate an obstacle course designed to entrap them. Research demonstrates that teacher beliefs about education are fundamentally tied to their pedagogy. According to Judi Harris of William and Mary (2005) there is a need to “…demonstrate pedagogically appropriate uses of technology.” Harris argues that a technocentric view of technology integration is a bias. When it is applied in the form of instruments, reporting data on the state of technology integration, the results are viewed with a lens preferring constructivist teaching methods. Harris challenges this paradigm. “As discerning educators and researchers, we should question why teacher’s roles must change to integrate technology effectively into K-12 curricula. Surely the technologies themselves do not require this shift, as current teacher-centered classroom uses demonstrate.” (pg. 119)

“I conclude with Harris’ quote because as a classroom teacher myself, it challenges me. Teachers just want to do their best for students and yet the external forces seem to prevail, creating a dysfunctional dynamic in the name of progress.” -Kathy

Following XO Laptop News

January 2, 2008
I am very interested in learning how the XO is being used worldwide by children and teachers, and here at home in the USA. Here is a site promising to keep us informed, the One Laptop Per Child News. It’s very new but the posts appear to be informative and even fascinating. Read the post about ‘cow power’ in India. Very clever. Now if we could only connect all spin class bicycles to a similar device then perhaps we could produce our own green energy by the sweat of our brow. It never ceases to amaze me how much energy we Americans expend on exercise solely for personal improvement. If all of the New Years resolutions included producing green energy while working out it might motivate more people to continue throughout the year. Now that I’m way off topic, what if the cost of belonging to a gym was mitigated by the amount of energy you produced to reduce the electric bill? Just a thought.
clipped from www.olpcnews.com

Your independent source for news, information, commentary, and discussion of One Laptop Per Child’s “$100 laptop” computer, the OLPC Children’s Machine XO, developed by MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte.

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Enough Technology? For some, survival may depend on it.

December 3, 2007

I recently became acquainted with a director of a small school community of nearly forgotten children. They are orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Their common bond seems to be one of survival in the face of catastrophic events. Civil wars, HIV AIDS and starvation plague the country. What do we know of these travesties first hand? Some of these children are part of the Springs Alive community and school a rural part of Uganda near Kampala. I asked Martin, the Director, about his future plans for Springs Alive. Here is what he told me.

In regard to our school acquiring computers in order to be technically equipped, we have learnt that there are various organizations in America and Europe which donate used or refurbished computers to schools, we want to pursue this opportunity with you towards securing these kind of computers not only to our school but even to the community based organizations (CBO) – Springs Alive. … Computers which are mostly offered are those ones that need technical overhaul and not really ready for use if they are to arrive here-

We are also having discussions with an upcoming internet provider who wants to specialize in rural internet connectivity, in order that we tame the bombardment of requests to be technically resourceful and with time once we have acquired these computers, solar power suppliers & internet connectivity we shall start online services (voice & video conferences) involving kids.

I can see Martin’s point regarding the quality of the equipment they receive. If a person knows little about technology and they are handed a ‘fixer upper’ where can they turn for help? I can also appreciate how hard it must be to rely on expensive internet cafes to connect with the global community in search of support. Combing the internet for clues as to the conditions and provisions for children I discovered several corporate initiatives feeding technology needs specifically in Uganda it is an uphill battle getting people trained in rural locations. From what I can tell the country’s infrastructure doesn’t support a cohesive plan for implementation or longevity in any sense of the word.

Where is the hope? It is in the children’s hearts and voices. I recently completed the story of one such child from Northern Uganda called Girl Soldier. It offers a no nonsense personal account of the routine child abductions in Northern Ugnada as well as an overview of the country’s political struggles.

One notable Christian organization organizing support and funding is called Watoto. Their mission is to raise future leaders. Doubtless there are others involved in Ugandan mission. Watoto coordinate concerts across the world to raise awareness of the children’s plight and to spread joy, a paradox. The children have even performed in the White House Rose Garden. A brief news clip from Australia illustrates the impact the children are having on those they inspire to help. So, why do I even bring this up? Because our problems are trivial when it comes to technology. Count your blessing and while you’re at it visit the Watoto site. These children are the future.