Final Post for EDTECH 541

Part One- Reflecting Upon the Semester

What you have learned?
Since the beginning of this semester, my knowledge of internet-based tools has been greatly enhanced. Initially, I was very familiar with tools such as Google Docs, Prezi and Flickr, but used them in a very general sense. Now, I have a wide variety of content-themed uses and now know about tools like Glogster, The Art’s Toolkit and BrainPop! Perhaps the biggest change for me is instead of starting with a tool and designing a lesson around it (like I’ve done in the past), I see a huge benefit to starting with a concept, building a lesson, then finding the tools to support it!

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Accessibility Features on My Computer

The Mac operating system offers a large offering of accessibility tools for its users including tools for those with visual and hearing impairments. In this post I will guide you through accessing the tools and provide a short description of the tool’s benefits.

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Obstacles and Solutions

While I’m not an instructor at the moment, I thought about which school subject might face the most amount of challenge in integrating educational technology. At first glance, it may seem that art and music instruction would be easy topics to incorporate technology. However, because these art forms have been around for hundreds of years, there is resistance to change the way students learn about these “well-grounded” topics. Many of these lessons are hands-on and instructors worry that machines cannot replace human instruction. Nevertheless, “there are  three broad concepts that are important to the creation of media art. These concepts include active engagement; a personal connection to the task to inspire learning; and the development of arts that brings value to their community” (Roblyer and Doering). These three concepts can be met and enhanced through the use of technology integration.

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Relative Advantage of Technology to Enhance Content Area Learning

Imagine a lesson on photography with no photos, no adds on experimentation and no visuals. Could you learn something about photography with a lesson like that? Sure. Would it be meaningful and memorable? Probably not. The above analogy provides a comparison for the difference between lesson without rich media and those with them. Students can certainly learn from these lessons, but content comes to life in a whole new way when they get to experience them for themselves.

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Relative Advantage of Spreadsheets and Databases

When thinking about the term spreadsheet, our first thoughts are often of complicated formulas, pie charts and graphs, along with tables that go on for pages. While spreadsheets certainly hold their purpose in performing calculations, they also provide a powerful tool for organizing and visualizing information. Once entered, the data can be turned into a chart, graph or even flashcards using Google Docs and Gadgets! Here are some of the advantages of using spreadsheets and databases in the classroom: Continue reading

Why PowerPoint Isn’t Dead

“Design is about making things good (and then better) and right (and fantastic) for the people who use and encounter them.”

— Matt Beale

We’ve all sat through presentations full of text, poor graphics or overly-flashy slides and wondered why the speaker didn’t just provide us with a handout. Often times, the speaker may simply copy and paste their presentation onto slides or spend little time proofing the presentation. While PowerPoint is an easy tool to misuse, it has some very promising uses for education: Continue reading

Instructional Software for Learning Spanish

Using instructional software in the Spanish classroom provides students the opportunity to practice their vocabulary, increase speaking confidence and find themselves “transported” to another country. There are five major types of instructional software and they each hold unique relative advantages:

  • Drill and Practice Software
    Drill exercises are a benefit in the classroom because they allow students to work at their own pace, provide immediate feedback to student work and save time for teachers because comments and grading are automatically generated.
  • Tutorial Software
    Tutorials allow students to work at their own pace, receive feedback quickly on their work and potentially have access to advanced topics or subjects that may not normally be offered at their school. (For example, students may have the option to take a class on astronomy, an advanced math class or language.)
  • Simulation Software
    This type of software provides students with a way to prepare for or review in-class lab exercises, as well as participate in experiments that wouldn’t normally be available in the classroom setting.
  • Instructional Game Software
    Using games to learn allows students to feel more comfortable taking risks, encourages students to work together in teams and often increases retention.
  • Problem-Solving Software
    Having students solve problems increases interest and also encourages them to find answers on the own using provided and found resources.

While there are thousands of instructional software packages available for free and purchase, it is important to take time to evaluate each package and ensure it is a good fit for your classroom. Here are a few evaluation resources:

For more information on incorporating instructional software into the Spanish classroom and relative advantages, please check out my presentation: Instructional Software for Learning Spanish.

Acceptable Use Policies

An Acceptable Use Policy, or AUP, is a document that provides clear guidelines for the use of school technology equipment and services. The goal of an AUP is help protect students and educators from harm and to keep assignments that involve technology centered around learning. According to the National Education Association, a successful AUP should contain the following elements:

  • Preamble- The preamble section of the AUP includes an explanation for why the policy is needed and what benefits will be received by educators and students for following the policy (Education World).
  • A definition section- The definition section introduces a glossary of words used in the policy and provides a simple definition (Education World).
  • A policy statement- The policy statement sets expectations as to what services and equipment falls under the AUP and what exceptions (if any) are made (Education World).
  • An acceptable uses section- The acceptable uses section provides students with real-world examples of how they might incorporate school technology into their projects. Clear language is used to provide examples of appropriate products, websites and uses (Education World).
  • An unacceptable uses section- The unacceptable uses section provides students with real-world examples of uses that are not allowed  on school technology (Education World).
  • A violations/sanctions section- This section provides a list of repercussions for violating the AUP (Education World).

Some schools adopt an AUP that involves blocking websites deemed inappropriate for student access, while others believe that students need to learn how to become responsible web users (CoSA, 2001).

Here are few examples of the Acceptable Use Policies that are similar to the University that I attend:

Works Cited

CoSA. (2001, September 13). Web 2.0/Mobile AUP guide. Retrieved September 18, 2012, from
EducationWorld. (n.d.). Education World: getting started on the internet: developing an acceptable Us… EducationWorld. Retrieved September 18, 2012, from