Friday, January 11, 2008

Technology Integration: Teachers Beliefs and practices

Integrating technology in classrooms across universities, colleges and school is moving at a steady and fast pace. Big chunk of our college budget is allocated to IT infrastructure upgrade and to acquire technology tools to support learning across the curriculum.
The article I just read talks about the transitions that happen as result of introducing technology in classrooms. I will briefly discuss the five phases that schools go through as a result of technology introduction and then I will outline at what phase our college is at.
Entry Level Phase
At this phase, the technology gets unpacked, computers, projectors, Smart Boards, scanners, video cameras get installed. Reorganizations of the classroom physical settings also happen at this phase. Once instructions begin, the teachers find themselves facing problems like class management, resource management and personal frustration with the use of the new technology. At this stage, teachers feel very frustrated with the new environment.
Adoption Phase
Teachers at this stage get busy in creating or modifying their instructional materials to suit the newly created environment. As a result, disruption takes place at every level in the student learning process. Students and teachers struggle to learn and function with class environment and the new tools. No significant improvement shows at this stage (Baker, Herman, & Gearheart, 1998). But motivation, self teem, Students attendance are reported to be high among students as research shows (Baker, el at.)
Adaptation Phase
Those individual teachers who feel comfortable with the new tools start to use them in an appropriate way to accomplish real work. As teachers reach this stage, their roles begin to come up with new instructional patterns in their classes. Team teaching, Project based, Peer interactions, Collaborative learning, students ability to learn on their own; and the changing role of a teacher to become facilitator rather than distributor of knowledge are all emerged at this stage.
Invention Stage
All previous phases are viewed to be leading to the stage of invention phase. Teachers who reach this stage start to view learning as active, creative and socially interactive process. Knowledge start to be viewed as something students must construct rather then transferred to them by the teacher.

Where do we stand?
In our college, we are still at the adaptation stage, I believe. Staff is learning how to use the new tools in their classroom environment. Their instructional materials are being updated and rewritten to take into considerations the new technology. Staff development, management support and funding are the key to successful integration at this stage.

Baker, Eva L.; Herman, Joan L.; & Gearhart, Maryl (1989). The ACOT report card:Effect on complex performance and attitude. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco.

Becker, H. J. (1987, July). The impact of computer use on children’s learning: What
research has shown and what it has not. Baltimore, MD: Center for Research on
Elementary and Middle Schools.

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till my next reading...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Key Elements in Setting up Successful Online Course

Currently, I am involved in setting up an online course for comp 0155 for the foundation class at my college. I am, like many other instructors around the world, discovering the potential of the online environment to deliver the highest quality courses to people who would otherwise have limited access to education. To have a successful online course, four key elements are identified:
- The Facilitator
- The Student
- The Curriculum
- The Technology
Let me briefly take a closer look at each element.

The Facilitator
A trained well qualified facilitator is an important part of a successful online course. Normally, at our college, the facilitator is also the designer of the course. Therefore, his attitude, skills, personality, positive attitude, and encouragement to the students have powerful influence on the success or failure of the courses we offer online.

The Student
A student participating in an online environment must assume an active role at all times. Attitude, skills, and commitment will determine whether the student will be a good candidate for the online experience. The student must be mature, open-minded, self-motivated, accepting of critical thinking, willing to work collaboratively, and trusting medium. Good written communication and a minimum level of technological experience are necessary as well.

The Curriculum
The online curriculum should have clear achievable objective. The choice of technologies should be driven by the curriculum not the other way around. The learning objective must be of relevant to the learners so we can have maximum dialog between participants in the online course. From my own experience, the synergy generated through the dialogue is the most important learning tool in the online environment and has impact on defining the learning outcomes. The climate of the course must be open, honest, sincere, and conductive to the learning.

The Technology
Technology is the final component of a successful online course. Selection of technologies to use in the online course is becoming a challenging task due to the continuous changes and growth in internet based tools. But successful use of technology in an online environment is determined by its ease of use and the degree to which it remains a tool that is seamlessly integrated in curriculum. Technical support is also vital to the success of an online course. We all should know that technical issues should not interfere with the learning process.

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