INQUIRY, INTERACTION, AND TECHNOLOGY
A program for students of education at Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, Swarthmore College, University of Pennsylvania
(Supported by an AT&T Learning Network Teaching and Technology Grant)
Semester Two Beginning Thoughts
In the fall of 1999, at the beginning of this program, students wrote about their thoughts on the following:
- Information technology is a rapidly expanding feature of our culture. What are your initial feelings (prior to participating in this project) about the potentials and/or problems which information technology creates for education?
With a semester's experiences in the program (as well as with life in general), they revisited that general question with a somewhat sharper focus:
- Can the products of the information technology revolution be used to further educational objectives, and if so, how?
- Is it possible that the information technology revolution actually provides a distinctive, never before available, and uniquely appropriate set of tools to enhance education in an inquiry based, interactive, constructivist mode?
(from the Inquiry, Interaction, and Technology home page)
Following are the students comments on these issues, as they originally appeared in the course forum area:
Name: MIndy Steinberg
Subject: problems with technology
Date: Fri Jan 21 16:17:43 EST 2000
After my experiences in the past semester with both the technology project and with the dialogue project, I have become even more wary of the use of technology in the classroom. For one thing, there are many students who do not have access to computers at home at all, and have limited access to computers at school. Those students are at a distinct disadvantage to the students who grew up with computers. Regardless of their disadvantage in terms of access, they also lack a certain amount of practice and expertise with the technology. Also, I am currently teaching in a school that only has one internet connection for the whole school district, and limited computers in the school at all. This leaves me wondering how I can possibly implement technology and Internet in my classroom without alienating those students who do not have access to or experience with the equipment.
Name: Howard Glasser
Subject: Preassignment Sem. 2
Date: Sat Jan 22 14:19:38 EST 2000
I will be new to the course this semester and my initial views are listed below.
Products of the information technology revolution can be used to further educational objectives because they allow easier access to more resources and learning tools. They can allow students unique opportunities to interact with specific programs aimed at addressing a variety of learning styles or difficulties. Plus, students can communicate and learn from students outside of their school via the internet, e-mail correspondence, and more. I think all these "can" occur.
Unfortunately, I do not believe all these occur. Not all schools have an appropriate number of computers nor access to much software and the internet. Many students do not have access to computers outside of schools and this continues to separate students based on their available resources outside of the schools and this is tied to their socioeconomic status. I believe technology may eventually allow all students more equitable opportunities and enhance their learning greatly, but there is much that needs to be done. Some of these may include more funding for computers, greater teacher knowledge of computers and the software that's out there, and more. I am not sure of the difficulties that exist, but I do believe information technology revolution can further educational objectives.
Name: Stephanie Lacambra
Subject: a technological dilemma
Date: Mon Jan 24 00:28:17 EST 2000
With a semester's experience in the technology project behind me, I think that I have a much better understanding of how technology can be used to encourage interaction and communication among a broader audience -- between people who might never have met or communicated with one another ever before on account of obstacles of space, time, race, religion, etc.
At the same time that it eliminates and transcends previously unscalable boundaries, I think that the developing technology industry also intensifies and exacerbates other apparent divisions -- particularly that of socio-economic differences. People who cannot afford access or who have not had the opportunity for proper instruction in the use of technological advances remain at a significant disadvantage to the rest of the rapidly developing technological world. Information technology continues to thrive in the hands of the privileged and the wealthy, leaving those less fortunate further and further behind. However, we cannot allow this technological dilemma to discount the many potentials and new possibilities that information technology holds for furthering the educational objectives of the free exchange of ideas and information and global communication and cooperation. By creating a medium through which the people of the (technologicalized) world can access and exchange ideas and information at an instantaneous rate, the technological revolution has exponentially increased the possibility and capacity for compromise and efficiency. Educational development, like everything else, has become enhanced in speed and in its capacity for communication and organization by recent technological advances, however, the effectiveness of its use in an inquiry-based, interactive, and constructivist mode is almost completely dependent upon the educator's understanding of and proficiency with technological nuances and their use in applications meaningful and relevant to their students.
Name: Susan Sliwinski
Subject: Potentials of Technology
Date: Tue Feb 1 16:07:04 EST 2000
I am working with poor urban students. They appear to feel like outsiders
and internet technology has the potential of making them feel more
interconnected. Computer access means they have the potential to
communicate and gain access to a world of information. They no longer have
to rely on a poorly funded library as their only source of information.
On the other hand, this technology can be easily misused or abused in the
educational arena. For example, mischevious students are trying to access
ammunition or sex sites. There needs to be censorship when students are
accessing the internet from school sites. As a math teacher, I am seeing
such a dependency on technology that students can't deal with fractions.
These are the dangers of using technology in edu
Subject: Use of Technology
Date: Tue Feb 1 17:15:25 EST 2000
I think that computers should be used in the classroom at the earliest ages possible. This will make the students more computer literate. Computers are extremely powerful tools and can speed up many processes. As in industry, the use of a good computer system for controlling processes or storing data is far superior in speed than anything a human can do. With this in mind, students can experience things much faster using computers. Also the web is a vast source of up to date information. This vastness is incredible. Studies can be personalized to some extent to match the students interests. Also, studies can be personalized to match a students abilities.
Name: Nicki L. Pollock
Subject: Technology as Educational Enhancement
Date: Tue Feb 1 21:24:12 EST 2000
I am certain that products of the "information technology revolution" can be used to further educational objectives. Of course, that depends on what your own personal educational objectives are. One of my objectives is to prepare my students for their world (in whatever small ways that I can)and technology, more and more, is weaving itself into many aspects of our lives.
Their being able to understand and use modern technology is going to become ever more important to them in the school, home and workplace. So, by teaching students to use computers, the Internet and other technologies I will be furthering my goal of making them aware of the world around them. They will be active participants in rather than observers of the changes going on around them.
In trying to teach students anything at all it's usually a plus when technology is somehow involved. They love to use computers; even if they are studying the most mundane topic. Using computers makes students more excited about what they're doing whether it's research on the web, word processing of a report or searching for resources or using programs via CD-Roms etc.
So yes, I think technology can be used to further educational objectives, but it's not necessarily the be all, end all of educational tools. There are some unique aspects to using it (interesting & interactive websites, contact with experts or professionals which may not usually be feasable etc.) and it can make some things easier and more fun for students to learn. I do not believe, however, that technology can replace the face-to-face student/teacher relationship. It can enhance the partnership and provide students and teachers with more resources from which to draw on in their learning, but there's something to be said for that very partnership and technology can not replace that.
Name: Esther Kang
Subject: Technology & Education
Date: Wed Feb 2 21:53:07 EST 2000
Well, this is my first time posting for this project. I'm excited to see the advancement of technology even at Bryn Mawr. I think technology and education go hand in hand. I work in an urban environment where there is limited access to technology. I believe there are many benefits to having access to technology in the classroom such as easy access to any information you want at the press of a few buttons and communication around the world. My school was adopted by some schools in China this year and students in America will be able to communicate with students in China very conveniently. There are also many downfalls. There is limited number of connections and computers available in poorer areas. In my classroom, there is only one computer for two classes to share. Even the computer lab in the school is never available because they are always filled for classes. With access to the Internet, there is also unwanted information that can be accessed. Despite these things, I think moving towards integrating technology and education for children is the right way to go. Sure, there are problems, but if teachers are able to help students follow their own inquiries through using technology, students would be so motivated to learn.
Name: Susan Jo
Subject: Internet and education
Date: Fri Feb 4 16:53:09 EST 2000
I do believe that technology can be used to help the educational process
but I am not sure to what extent it will help. Computer and Internet
usage in math seem to be only supplementary to the basic curriculum. It's
nice, but not necessarily needed. My question is "Computers and
technology are a big craze these days but do they really make a big impact
in everyday classrooms?" The Internet is a very valuable resource for
many people and students in different contexts, but as I see it in my
context it is not. One thing I feel strongly abot is that computers will
never be able to replace a teacher. Saying all of this makes me sound like
I am against computers and technology but I'm not. I"m just being honest
in saying that it's not a reality yet in many schools.
I am student teaching algebra at a suburban public school and have not yet
touched a computer. There are none in my classroom so I am unsure of the
liklihood that I will ever get to incorporated technology in my classroom.
Through this Serendipity program I would like to learn some practical ways
to incoporate technology in my classroom.
Name: Melissa Kobelin
Date: Sun Feb 6 16:41:03 EST 2000
Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 15:16:15 -0500 (EST)
From: Melissa Kobelin
I am presently student teaching in the classroom of a man who seems to be the technology guru of the school... running workshops, etc. The kids are extremely comfortable word processing and drawing on the computers, they use "Alpha-smart" keyboards which save text files that can be downloaded into a computer when none are available, and the teacher word processes on the computer hooked up to a tv monitor instead of a blackboard. Although internet access is unreliable and therefore not used in the classroom, the teacher maintains an information web page for parents and also communicates with many parents via e-mail. In this classroom, technology is used as a tool for communication. Development of communication skills is vital for students, and in my classroom I do certainly see that technology CAN further this educational objective.
Inquiry, though, is a whole other matter. Its relationship to technology is much more difficult to understand, and I think far more rare. I'd love to have a greater understanding of ways to make the use of technology inquiry-based. I have some trouble imagining the possibilities, but don't doubt that they exist.
Name: Anne King
Subject: Are computers actually in the classroom?
Date: Sun Feb 6 20:02:27 EST 2000
At the policy institute where I worked last summer, we looked at the internet and computer information supplied by schools to the state in the State Profiles (PA). Schools with internet access increased from 1996 (37%) to 1998 (71%). However, less than 1/3 of Western PA schools have computers in the classroom (32% in 1998). Even the number of students per computer is deceiving (1996 - 7.6, 1998 - 6.4) The range is anywhere between 2 and 32. While the most recent student per computer ratio seems good, it is arrived at by adding in office and administrative computers which are out of the hands of students. The students don't even have the opportunity to benefit from these computers. Teachers might not even find computers in their workrooms if they aren't in their classrooms (in 1998 21% of western PA teacher workrooms had a computer).
Just the fact that these computer questions were asked in the state profile questionnaire demonstrates that technology and education is an issue for many people. I do think that technology and the internet have the potential to play a positive role in education. However, I am wary of the training and support that teachers and staff receive in order to best use this new technology. Can a teacher choose a computer program that will be supplemental to his/her curriculum and will aid in the students' growth? Will the computer space in the classroom be equally accessible and helpful to all? Can a librarian help a student research a topic on the internet or with advanced library indexes? My concern is that while some technology and computers may find their way into the classrooms, they don't actually have a presence there because the teachers and support staff are unfamiliar with the best ways to integrate technology into the program and to judge the credibility of a particular program or application.
I would like to be able to find resources to help me make positive and productive decisions about technology in my future classroom. Hopefully, more data will be collected like that mentioned above so that there can be a better understanding of what role technology actually plays in the classroom. I fear, that in its current state, it is being used haphazardly because there appears to be hidden potential in it though no one knows how to tap into it.
Name: Jess Roney
Date: Sun Feb 6 21:20:17 EST 2000
As a history teacher, I am most interested in technology in my classroom for the opportunities it can give my students to have access to primary documents and secondary source information. However, in my placement last semester and in the schools I plan to teach in in the future, I cannot assume my students have computers and internet access. I still see the web as a useful tool, but I struggle with how to bring it to my students. It certainly makes my life easier doing lesson plans and finding sources, but I don't know how to give my students the opportunity to get on the web themselves, especially if, as in my school last semester, only one computer in the whole school has web access. I also wonder how a history site could be truly interactive.
So, yes, I see the internet as a possibility for the classroom, but I do not see how to translate that possiblity into a reality.
Name: Jeffrey Jenkins
Subject: Education and IT
Date: Sun Feb 6 21:53:01 EST 2000
Well, it looks from the forum like I am the first of the current crop of Penn GSE students to look at the questions on the main IIT page, so I'll be about it.
1.Are educational objectives threatened by the burgeoning information technology revolution?
This question seems a bit arbitrary to me. How can educational objectives be threatened by information technology? If the question is asking, "Can information technolgy be misused in education?" then my answer is "Yes." Like anything else, information technology has the potential to be used without critical thought. I've seen and heard of many schools which are trying to get "a computer in every classroom" without hearing very much talk about the purpose which those computers will serve.
There are problems with information available through computers. For instance, just about anyone can publish anything that they want on the web and there is a lot of junk out there both the sort of material that distracts students from the task at hand and plainly wrong or untrue material which is passed off as genuine.
Also, sometimes teachers tend to teach too strong a reliance on technology. Technological literacy is important, but it is a skill set that should largely be taught in parallel with core content courses and material. Core content skills and knowledge that underlie the programs themselves are important in understanding the workings of the tools. If one does not know how one's tools work, then they rely on the tool as a black box that spits out answers and have no ability to check those answers. We need both computer uses and computer programmers.
2.Can the products and tools of the information technology revolution at least be made use of to further educational objectives, and if so, how?
While a computer or other piece of technology, such as even the simple calculator, should not be used as a substitute for teaching basic skills, there are some unique abilities that computers do possess. They can do horrifically operation intensive tasks. These include visualization of mathematical and physical phenomena, graphing complex equations, solving large matrix equations, text editing, page layout, text searching.
3.Is it possible that the information technology revolution actually provides a distinctive, never before available, and uniquely appropriate set of tools to enhance education in an inquiry based, interactive, constructivist mode?
While no one will probably choose to debate the value of discovery-based education or that it has a great potential, I will debate its efficiency. The danger is that we give too much time to explore without considering that the breadth of course content is often as important as the depth of coverage. That is not to say that understanding isn't important. However, there is a course set of material that anyone who has completed high school biology, algebra 1, geometry, etc. should be expected to know or be able to look up and understand on their own. So, the pacing of the course needs to be balanced between depth of inquiry and breadth of coverage.
The great strength of computers is that they allow us to build on traditional, highly-structured modes of education and ask guided exploratory questions which would be difficult to duplicate in a lab or classroom setting. The "what if" questions and computational power of modern computers can let us explore particular scenarios more completely. This can be done in an efficient manner and can allow students to develop a better understanding of material while still covering needed content material.
Name: Jesse Bean
Date: Mon Feb 7 00:01:52 EST 2000
My experiences with technology in the classroom have been positive ones, and the vast number of resources available to both students and educators on the internet is undeniable. I am teaching American literature to high school students, who have benefitted greatly from the use of online sites for their research and coursework. With the exception of simple word processing, I haven't used computers yet in my own lesson planning. I would like at some point, though, to put class notes on a web site, and to create space for student folders, where they could edit their own work and comment on the work of their peers. In general, technology is an invaluable resource for the classroom. For communities where most families have personal computers, integration of technology in the curriculum is important because it connects at-home skills to in-class problems.
Name: Joel Price
Date: Mon Feb 7 00:54:15 EST 2000
Using technology in classrooms is becoming more popular in schools. With this needs to come an increased awareness of how to connect classroom to technology, and too often, this is not the case. In my fourth grade classroom, my cooperating teacher didn't want to use the internet because of the dangers involved in doing so. With some training, I feel confident that NetNanny and other blocking services could be used successfully in classrooms and the internet could be the most powerful tool we know. As it is currently, it is a powerful but oftentimes misunderstood, misused tool, as is much of the technology available in schools. It is necessary to train teachers in how to use the necessary technology; they can't be expected to learn it or know it on their own. Training teachers takes a lot of time, money, and commitment. In addition, it is essential that the training programs effectively and efficiently address practical ways to use technology in the classroom. With misguided training, teachers will feel like it has been a waste of their to learn something they still don't feel comfortable using in their classroom.
Name: John Loeser
Subject: Training First
Date: Mon Feb 7 01:06:17 EST 2000
I think that the products of the information technology revolution can be used to further educational objectives if we learn how to use the products successfully in our classrooms, and if we use the products to enhance the learning that is already taking place without them. The biggest problem that I forsee is that upcoming teachers as well as veteran teachers are not trained to use technology in the classroom. Many teachers feel that they are not experienced enough to share these learning tools with thier students. We can't expect technology to further our educational objectives if we, ourselves, are not confident enough or aware of how it can help us achieve our goals in the classroom. Without adequate training and support teams at individual schools, I strongly believe that the products of the information technology revolution will fail to revolutionize education, and students will not benefit from the availability of new resources and learning tools. Once teachers are trained and given support to use technology in their classrooms, I see no end for the possibilities that technology will introduce to learning in schools.
Subject: Nothing new....
Date: Mon Feb 7 09:19:19 EST 2000
Yes, information technology has the opportunity to provide new possiblities within the classroom, but even the best school districts do not have the means to provide every few students access to a computer.
Access to technology in the classroom is certainly lacking, and regardless of what is available to students, this cannot be used until proper time and funding is allocated to such a use.
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