Skills for the 21st Century

Cognitive and Literacy Skills for Success in a Fast-Paced Technological Age

Archive for the ‘Technology In the Classroom’ Category

LAPCAE Materials

Posted by wrmcnutt on June 5, 2012

I’d like to thank everyone who came to my session, Emerging Technologies in the Adult Education Classroom. You were a fun group to talk to and I hope that everyone got something to take away from the session.  As promised, I’ve linked my slide set and handout below.  While you’re here, I hope you’ll take the time to look around and some of the articles we’ve shared in the past.  If you have any questions about the topic, or anything about technology in education, really, feel free to ask.  If we don’t know the answer, we probably should, so we’ll find out for you.

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Posted in Changing the AE field, Job Skills, Meta-Skills, Pace of Change, Technology In the Classroom, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rise of the Machine

Posted by wrmcnutt on May 23, 2012

The ultimate nightmare for Tenured Faculty may eventually arrive.  Perhaps, one day, robo-teachers will out-perform flesh and blood instructors.  But that day is not today.  Quite.

In the most recent issue of Inside Higher Ed (May 22, 2012), Steve Kolowich reported out on an experiment at six public universities that randomly assigned students to statistics courses that “relied heavily on ‘machine-guided learning’ software.”  Although the instructor was not eliminated entirely, the participants did get “reduced face time with instructors.”  While the article and the study behind it make for an interesting read, the bottom line is this: the students in the machine-guided learning environments did as well as the students in the control group, and they did it in less time.  “’Our results indicate that hybrid-format students took about one-quarter less time to achieve essentially the same learning outcomes as traditional-format students,’ report[ed] the Ithaka researchers.”

For a long time now, computer-assisted learning has been dismissed by traditional educators as a drill-and-practice tool, or at best a stopgap to be applied to learners unable to participate in traditional education models.  Until now conventional wisdom has been that traditional face-to-face training provides a superior learning experience.  This study, and others like it are showing that computer assisted learning is beginning to catch up with traditional teaching.

Do I think that the bell is tolling for tenured faculty?  Not yet.  But it is past time to take a good hard look at  systematically integrating technology into our instructional approaches.  It may be that the days of teaching off of those curling, yellowed notes are not only numbered, but the number is getting increasingly smaller.

Posted in Futurism, Technology In the Classroom | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Tablet Computing

Posted by wrmcnutt on January 12, 2012

With the advent of tablet computers, all of us in technology are grappling with how to integrate them into business and educational environments.  The iPad is currently the 400-pound gorilla on the block, but there are others out here.  This is a look at Windows 8, the next platform in tablet computing. http://gizmodo.com/5875391/the-new-windows-8-first-touch-this-is-windows

Posted in 21st Century Communication, Technology In the Classroom, Technology in the Workplace | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Again – Increased Access Does NOT Equal Increased Skills

Posted by durencls on June 25, 2010

Back from vacation and catching up on e-mails, tweets, and blog posts – Whew! This Web 2.0 stuff is tiring!  🙂

From my backlog of e-mail, here is more evidence that simply increasing access to equipment/software/internet does not necessarily lead to an increase in necessary technology skills (or even thinking skills).

Children With Home Computers Likely to Have Lower Test Scores, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (June 19, 2010) — Around the country and throughout the world, politicians and education activists have sought to eliminate the “digital divide” by guaranteeing universal access to home computers, and in some cases to high-speed Internet service.

However, according to a new study by scholars at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, these efforts would actually widen the achievement gap in math and reading scores. Students in grades five through eight, particularly those from disadvantaged families, tend to post lower scores once these technologies arrive in their home.

Vigdor and Ladd concluded that home computers are put to more productive use in households where parental monitoring is more effective. In disadvantaged households, parents are less likely to monitor children’s computer use and guide children in using computers for educational purposes. [emphasis added]

I found this highly intriguing, but knowing that articles don’t always tell the whole or unbiased picture, I found and skimmed the original report:

Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement by Charles T. Clotfelter, Helen F. Ladd and Jacob L. Vigdor, Duke University, July 29, 2008. 

Here we find that the researchers had access to administrative data for ALL NC 5th-8th grade students from 2000-2005 – over 500,000 student surveys/observations per year – WOW! This allowed both cross-student and within-student analysis over a three year period.  The authors specifically note that the period studied is BEFORE the Facebook/Twitter phenomenon, but during a period of significant growth in computer and internet access. Within this document we find these statements [emphasis added]:

  • Relative to students with no computer at home, those who use a home computer for schoolwork once or twice per month score between 4 and 5 percent of a standard deviation higher on both reading and math tests.
  • Students who own a computer but never use it for schoolwork [regardless of ov erall computer usage pattern] have math test scores nearly indistinguishable from those without a home computer.
  • Students reporting almost daily use of their home computer for schoolwork score significantly worse than students with no computer at home.
  • transitioning from no home computer access to any of these use categories [rarely, monthly, weekly or daily use] is associated with a statistically significant decline in both reading and math test scores.
  • students who transition from having no home computer to having one and using it for schoolwork almost every day post relative test score declines on the order of 4% of a standard deviation in both reading and math. …the most plausible explanation is that students who transition into the highest computer use category are using their computers for much more than just schoolwork, and these non-productive uses are actually crowding out productive study time.
  • Results for both reading and math indicate that the negative effect of computer ownership on both math and reading holds fairly steady over the first three years.

The researchers conclude:

Our preferred specifications indicate that 5th through 8th grade students [from 2000-2005] generally perform best on math and reading tests when they do not have access to a computer at home. Conditional on owning a computer, the “optimal” rate of use is infrequent, twice a month or less. For the average student, introducing home internet service does not produce additional benefits. For school administrators interested in maximizing achievement test scores, or reducing racial and socioeconomic disparities in test scores, all evidence suggests that a program of broadening home computer access would be counterproductive[emphasis added]

So – programs to simply ADD hardware, software, and internet access to homes (or schools) are likely to have a NEGATIVE effect on traditional academic performance, unless partnered with efforts to ensure productive use of those tools as relates to those academic areas.  Just putting them AT a computer does not mean they will learn more. They still need those crucial Thinking Skills in order to use the computer for learning effectively. According to this study, this means not ONLY training teachers in effective uses of computers in the classroom, but ALSO training parents on productive uses of computers IN THE HOME.

Hmmmm… so what does this mean for children with parents who have low-literacy skills?  While the researchers did not focus their analysis on this factor, it was included in the research data they presented. Examining the tables and graphs presented we find that:

  • Parents with less than a HS diploma were FAR less likely to HAVE a computer in their homes (or internet access) during this time period – 60% had computers as compared to 85% on average and as much as 90% overall by 2005.
  • Of homes with a computer where parents had less than a HS diploma, student computer usage rates of ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ were 8% higher than homes where parents had at least a HS diploma or associate’s degree.
  • The decline in math and reading scores associated with the introduction of a computer into the home were highest for homes where parents had less than a high school degree – higher by far than declines noted for race or economic factors (free lunch participation).

In fact, the researchers do make the following statements about parent influence on computer usage:

The evidence is consistent with the view that internet service, and technology more broadly, is put to more productive use in households with more effective parental monitoring of child behavior. Survey behavior indicates that students very commonly use the internet, and computers more generally, both to work on school-related projects and for personal entertainment. In households with insufficient [parental] monitoring, unproductive uses may not only crowd out productive computer time, but may also crowd out offline studying.

Disadvantaged students may also receive less instruction in how to use a computer, either because their schools have poorer resources, because their parents have less technical expertise, or because their parents are simply less available.   [emphasis added]

 So low-literate parents seem to need skills in effective and productive use of computers for learning in order to isupport and increase their child’s performance in traditional academic areas. Which means that they TOO need those critical ‘meta-skills’ we’ve been touting on this blog! [I love it when empirical research backs up our theories/arguments! ]

In the conclusion of their paper, researchers Vigdor and Ladd do acknowledge that additional computer access/training may have other, more positive purposes/value:

Of course, administrators may have other goals aside from improving math and reading test scores. Computer literate students may enjoy improved job opportunities later in life, or may be poised to take better advantage of online resources once their internal mechanisms for behavioral regulation have fully developed. Evaluations of the Texas Technology Immersion Project have shown improvements in student proficiency with technology and student discipline (Shapley et al., 2007). It is not clear, however, whether computer literacy actually leads to better employment outcomes (Krueger, 1993; DiNardo and Pischke 1997), ** and also not clear whether access to home computers in the early secondary school years is critical to later computer literacy.

Not really a rousing endorsement, huh?  Essentially, the researchers are clearly biased against education systems spending money on “increasing computer access in the home” and feel those funds could be better spent elsewhere.  I’d point out, however, that just dumping hardware/internet in the home, without comprehensive training and support to parents (including basic literacy training) was, like so many “access” efforts, likely doomed to fail from the start.

I do find, however, that this paper adds to the research showing the importance of parental literacy skills in K-12 student performance and success.  Teach the parent, reach the child!

**OK, I find this statement laughable – especially since they are citing research that is OVER 10 years old at the time their paper was published.

Posted in Job Skills, Meta-Skills, Teaching Tech Skills, Technology In the Classroom | 1 Comment »

Trends: Change in Phone Service

Posted by durencls on May 25, 2010

 Pew Research brought this to our attention:

Wireless Substitution: Preliminary results from the July-December 2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that one of every four American homes (24.5%) had only wireless telephones during the last half of 2009. In addition, one of every seven American homes (14.9%) had a landline yet received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones.

WOW – that’s almost 40% of households that are no longer depending on ‘landline’ or ‘wired’ telephone service!  Further details show demographic differences meaningful to the adult literacy education community:

  • Nearly half of adults aged 25-29 years (48.6%) lived in households with only wireless telephones.
  • More than one-third of adults aged 18-24 or 30-34 (37.8% and 37.2%, respectively) lived in households with only wireless telephones.
  • Adults living in poverty (36.3%) and adults living near poverty (29.0%) were more likely than higher income adults (19.6%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.
  • Hispanic adults (30.4%) were more likely than non-Hispanic white adults (21.0%) or non-Hispanic black adults (25.0%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.

And this trend is in sharp increase! (see below)

So – why is this so important (and why is the National Center for Health Statistics involved in a cell phone survey)?

Many health surveys, political polls, and other research are conducted using random-digit-dial telephone surveys. Until recently, these surveys did not include wireless telephone numbers in their samples. Now, despite operational challenges, most major survey research organizations are including wireless telephone numbers when conducting random-digit-dial telephone surveys. If they did not, the exclusion of households with only wireless telephones (along with the small proportion of households that have no telephone service) could bias results.

Ahhhh, so this could greatly affect phone survey research results – especially amongst many folks considered part of the adult literacy education population.  We need to start asking, when we read research, if this was a landline only survey.

BUT this ALSO tells us that cell phones are likely MORE prevalent in adult education classrooms than in the typical population!  This survey also tells us, “Approximately 2.0% of households had no telephone service (neither wireless nor landline). ”  Wow – that’s low – so how many is that? “Nearly 4 million adults…”

Hmmm – OK, so now I want to know how that correlates to education level.  Our luck, most of them would be adult literacy education candidates….which means that the odds are your AE student has either no phone, or a cell phone.  Neither of which can be looked up in the phone book.  😉

Cell phone photo: CCC permission 2.0 photocapy

Posted in 21st Century Communication, Pace of Change, Technology In the Classroom | Leave a Comment »

Your Turn: The ELMO HV-110U Document Camera

Posted by wrmcnutt on April 30, 2010

Some of ya’ll might remember a bit of old tech called an “opaque projector.”  This was a monstrous piece of hardware about two feet tall, two feet wide, and three feet long.  It had an complex and expensive set of optics that allowed you to put a book or other printed material on it’s target platform, and it would project an image of it on the screen.  It took a lot of lumens to project that image, so the thing ran hot, consumed a lot of power, and ate expensive bulbs like they were popcorn.  Accurate milling of lenses is an expensive, labor-intensive process, so this was also a very pricey way to heat up your classroom.

While you can still find opaque projectors today, mostly marketed to artists, they have largely been replaced by the document camera.  This is a specialized video camera with a short focal length that is suspended over the book or other material the instructor wants to project onto the screen.   With far smaller optics, it runs cooler, takes up far less space, and in general is handier than the old opaque projector.  The problem is, they cost about the same as opaque projectors used to.  In general, they start at around $1200.00 and go up from there.  Without a lot of effort, you can spend $5000.00 on a document camera.

Well, I’ve found one for under $800.00.   It’s called the ELMO HV-110U.  As you can imagine, I’m skeptical of the quality of the image that’s going to come out of a camera that’s this cheap, and to make things worse, the only two reviews I’ve found are quite negative.  But that’s only a couple of guys’ opinions.  I thought before I make a commitment to this piece of hardware one way or another, I’d ask you guys.  Have any of you worked with this particular document camera?

Posted in Technology In the Classroom | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »