Weekly Technology Labs
The demonstration lecture that we have attended last week was my first encounter with the interactive whiteboard. It was interesting to know how many useful applications that this device can provide for teachers as well as students. As I was very interested to know more about it, I surfed the web. There were so many sites that explains how to use it but I think there are lots to learn by just practicing using it on regular basis that no video can teach. The most useful resources that I found useful arehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRbVSbTfEso&feature=related
What I learned are the essential things that get one familiar of the concept and how to navigate using basic knowledge that is available in such short videos. That is great as a first step but I think Teachers have to use these boards to explore and use to their full potentials.
As the future is for this new technology, I think I have to take some extra training on it whenever this is available. This will for sure help me in my lesson plans. It will help me also to engage my students with the kind of material I am introducing. Lots of students will feel more comfortable as they will be able to interact physically while learning the new concepts. The students who are likely to find difficulties in this are students with motor problems and portable designs of smart boards can overcome this obstacle in addition to students with sight barriers might not be able to make use of this kind of technology.
This week’s lab was very good as I was able to watch a live demonstration of smart boards potentials in making learning interactive, easier and more enjoyable.
Week 4 / Reem Ayoush
Chapter 6 in “Teaching every student in the digital age” discusses how present curriculum is designed to one-size-fit all media and methods in teaching which has proved some deficits in reaching all learners. That implies remedial procedures by customizing and individualizing the path of learning through evaluating all material in the light of learning goals, nature of information, characteristics of learners and the curriculum content. That is possible through the suggested detailed template in which information about the learners, curriculum offered and the expected learning barriers, is collected. This will enable us to design instruction that supports the three brain networks which are recognition, strategic and affective learning and accommodate learners differences in those three areas of learning. I believe that most educators don’t think that they are capable of trying new methods and what they only need is a little more proffional development to acquire more confidence in the new strategies. People just have anxiety when they don’t know.
Although using a variety of multimedia tools to ensure easy access to all kinds of learners, curricula with built-in flexibility is another approach which is considered better than remedial solutions and is a subject of future researches by UDL. I believe that it will save educators time, effort and extra resources that are needed to improve the quality of learning. The examples that were introduced in Strangman, N. (2006) Teachers perspectives: Strategy instruction goes digital is what I waited to read about as what was always missing from the discussions is the data collection and surveys that are necessary to prove the effectiveness of using universal design in improving all learners, especially who have some sort of learning barriers, reading and writing skills which in turn have positive reflection across all areas of curriculum. I think such experiences should be generalized so all educators would experience their success especially who are still reluctant.
The chapters 3&5 by Bain, K. (2004). What the best collage teachers do. They were very useful and informative. Although the presented strategies were directed to collage professors, but I thought they apply to all educators of all age groups. Bringing all educators back to the essence of learning as the core issue of teaching, the chapters explained thoroughly how to create a natural critical learning environment through authentic tasks that promote intrinsic interest and curiosity. That brings us to a question and that is: can any digital tool really compensate for good teachers role? Or we should give everything its exact size. Are digital tools just tools to access the material? Or they share t the burden of providing learning with teachers? Or only educators who are responsible for students intellectual, physical and emotional development as a result of a whole learning experience. I think no matter how sophisticated the software is, the need to the direct learning experience through learner-educator interaction is very important and can’t be replaced.
Regarding Balmer, P.J. (1998) The courage to teach, I really enjoyed reading it although in some parts I got confused about the difference between teacher-centered classrooms and what he is calling for subject-centered classrooms. I think the idea is somehow reconciliation between two approaches with more emphasis on the integrity of the subject matter. I think I need to read it again to be fully aware of this new approach and its implications on the learning experience.
It’s obvious that delivery of knowledge has gone through different phases regarding the teaching practices and the way educators approach the whole process. The deep understanding of how the brain perceives, analyzes, synthesizes and forms attitude towards received information, in addition to new theories of MI, Bloom’s Taxonomy, educational technology, layered curriculum, and culturally responsive techniques, all have resulted into better understanding of how to approach different learners in order to guarantee them smooth access to a purposeful learning experience that is more related to their background. The principals of UDL emphasize that more engagement in the learning process means increasing the role of the learner in determining the suitability of content delivery method as well as determining the appropriateness of the way of demonstrating that knowledge.
What really deserves to be discussed is if predetermining the level of presentation and the related activities that are directed to different learners means determining in advance the level of progress that we expect them to do and which might later prove to be wrong as the authors of “Differentiating Instructions” explained. So educators need to be cautious when getting too much excited to apply some of differentiation practices without conducting enough studies on their students learning styles and abilities. In addition to that the overwhelming preparations that are needed from the teachers’ side and having to teach the class as separate units with different or varied lesson objectives instead of the conventional way which deals with the class as one unit could cause them to be less motivated to integrate new strategies.
It was interesting to read about the comparison study that was demonstrated in chapter 3 “Teaching every student in the digital age”. Digital Media has refined the tools and facilitated knowledge deliveries to all learners including learners with different kinds of disabilities due to its too many qualities such as flexibility and transformability that have made it surpass other means of information delivery such as speech, text and images. The kind of educational service that multimedia can offer to remove learning barriers is really amazing but is it possible to make all these devices available to all schools everywhere? and what is the kind of training needed for teachers and students to use them?. I doubt that would be an easy issue to solve. So I believe that the kind of learning experience that multimedia allows learners to have needs to be incorporated with the traditional ones as I believe that each has qualities that enhance a cetain aspect and therefore necessary for certain kind of learning. For example, reading a text might or reciting a poem promotes imagination that will be limited in case of it is accompanied with images and so on.
“Universal principals of design” for Lindwell, Holden & Butler is very interesting and presented many new concepts for me. As for facilitating and providing several ways to present learning material, I found that chunking the information and focusing on repetitive exposure could help a lot to move information from the working memory to the long storage memory. Besides, classifying the information in hierarchical manner organizes it and makes it easier to be remembered afterwards. Using picture effect is yet another principle that can be applied to demonstrate a difficult concept so presentation could be more effective and remembered as it is associated with image. Establishing relations and comparisons is also an important principle that influences information presentation effectiveness and bring the new theoretical concepts to the world of practical experiences. Opening options in front of students as well as educators allows more creative initiatives through which learning become more of enjoyable and worthwhile experience.
Assignment week 2: Reem Ayoush
The posted readings for week 2 were very informative. Although all of them tackled the same issue “disability”, each shed light on a specific aspect and discussed it from a different perspective. While some were more interested in discussing the historical side of the issue and elaborated on the exclusion period when disabled students were segregated in special schools or pulled out in different classrooms to be offered a special education that didn’t expect much from them and allowed dependency, others discussed the new trend which has been implemented recently and that is inclusion. The change in educators and society attitude towards disability has resulted into lifting the burden of adjusting from the disabled side to the education system which has to differentiate the instruction, product and evaluation process to respond to the diverse students with different abilities and interests.
Chapter 2 from “Teaching every student in the digital age” was very useful as it explained in a simple way how the learning process happens in the brain through the intersection of the three brain networks “ recognition, strategic and affective networks” and how learners can show strengths and weaknesses in different areas which make everyone different from another. This understanding helps educators understand and build their lesson plans to meet the differences between learners. The study cases that were demonstrated were very useful and answered many questions on how educators can practically implement the theoretical part of the study. The practical solutions and tips were very helpful especially the classroom learning profile template.
Chapter 4 from the same book presented a very new concept for me which is the theory of universal design for learning. Universal design as explained allows educators through using available technology to represent information in multiple formats and media. The flexibility in pedagogy makes it possible to individualize instruction to meet the needs of the learners. That allows students to express understanding in different ways while being engaged and motivated in the learning process. UDL allows students not only easy accessibility to information but the most important it teaches learners how to learn. This new theory is gaining popularity among teachers but in my point of view its implementation needs professional training programs that enable educators to use the available technology to its maximum potential and be updated with new technology which is not easy in terms of training and budget in addition to the change in attitude towards the usefulness of this change.
UDL is a revolutionary way to accommodate every student in the classroom.
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