Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wimba, Inc.

Wimba, Inc., (2008. April 16). Momentum for Collaborative Technology Builds in K-12 Classrooms. Retrieved April 16, 2008, from Yahoo! Finance Web site:

Wimba, Inc. is a technology company that introduces different programs and/or products to schools for their use in an online environment or in a traditional classroom, in order to enhance the educational process for all students. “Throughout the country, K-12 schools have started to use Wimba learning solutions to better address the educational needs of traditional, home-schooled, at-risk, and gifted students” (Wimba, Inc., 2008).

This article stood out to me, especially today, because I was just having a conversation yesterday with the GATE teacher (gifted education), who I work closely with, about our district’s idea to integrate an online education component into the GATE curriculum for next year. I found this to be very interesting, due to the lack of interest our district has had in technology. The GATE kids would still be in the regular classroom as they are now, but part of their GATE pull out program would include an online course component, in order to meet the needs of all of our gifted students. After having the discussion I had yesterday, this article seemed very interesting. I’m now anxious to see how exactly a program like this would work and how my district would implement it into a program such as GATE.

How much does it cost? Who creates the lessons? Do the lessons correlate with Ohio standards or are they used as supplements to what happens in the classroom? How are the lessons evaluated?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Great Info.!

Education Development Center, Inc., (2003). Using technology in the classroom. Retrieved April 14, 2008, from STAR Tech Program Web site:

This website is a great way for teachers to learn about how technology can be integrated into the classroom and why it should be. Even though I use technology and I know that it is important for our students to use and learn on a daily basis, I still found this website to be very informative.

The site offers many different sources of information for teachers. They list numerous websites and articles about technology that I found to be very beneficial. It’s a great set of resources, listed in one convienent place. They also give an overview of different types of technological tools and what they are used for. However, my favorite part is the vignettes. They have many different vignettes here to read, which are organized by grade level and special education. I think that learning from other teacher’s experiences is one of the best ways to learn, and these vignettes provide just that.

I’ll leave you with a quote from this website:
“Technology can be used in many ways as an integral part of the curriculum to meet the needs of diverse learners. For example, it can introduce into the classroom exciting curricula based on real-world problems; provide scaffolds and tools to enhance learning; give students and teachers more opportunities for feedback, reflection, and revision; and build local and global communities where people gather and share information. Technology can help students recognize, organize, and represent knowledge” (Education Development Center, Inc., 2003).

This is a really great site…you should check it out!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Great Resources!

Education World Tech Team, (2006). The Best Tech Tools for Teachers. Retrieved April 14, 2008, from Education World Web site:

As you know, I’ve chose to explore the area of using technology in the classroom, so that we can teach our students the technology skills they need for the future, regardless of if they have a computer at home or not.

This site is FANTASTIC!!! It lists a multitude of tech tools for teachers to use in the classroom and on their own. Here are some examples: Kidspiration, Inspiration, Inspire Data, Skype, Techno Spud, Fun Brain, Garageband, iMovie, Art Rage, Rubistar, Easy Test Maker, and many more! Not only do they give you great tech resources to try out, but they also give some real examples of how they were used and the outcome of their use in the classroom and by teachers. I absolutely love this site! I think it’s a great resource for any educator, either for classroom use or for their own personal use. I’m sure, out of all of the sites listed on here, there is at least one that you will be unfamiliar with. As an educator with very little free time, it’s nice to find one article that includes so many great resources, instead of having to search the web for hours to find all of these on my own. I love this site!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Media Equation

Reeves, Byron, and Clifford Nass. 1996. "Ch 1, The Media Equation," pp. 3-18 in The Media Equation. Cambridge University Press.

I found this article to be very interesting, but I felt like I had a million thoughts running through my mind as I read it. I was thinking about so many different scenarios where I’ve seen these things happen, both to me and to my students. It really made me think about how I view technology.
To sum up the idea of the “media equation”, I thought this line from the chapter was perfect, “In short, we have found that individuals’ interactions with computers, television, and new media are fundamentally social and natural, just like interactions in real life” (Reeves & Nass, 1996).
After considering the idea of the “media equation,” I feel like this topic does impact my study on the digital divide. Actually, I think it impacts any sort of study on any topic dealing with technology.
I think that the concept behind the media equation, the fact that humans interact with computers as if they might be humans, is becoming a huge part of our society. I think this because of how technology is a huge part of our society and most people’s day to day lives. A perfect example of this is how people don’t really write letters as much as they used to, instead we write emails. The computer is now our source of communication, much as a human would be if they were in front of us, and in the same form, meaning that the response is almost immediate.
This concept is very applicable to the idea of the digital divide, because it effects how different people communicate, due to having technology or the lack there of. “Like all other tools, it seems that media simply help people accomplish tasks, learn new information, or entertain themselves” (Reeves & Nass, 1996). If this is the case, then those people without access to technology are at a disadvantage.
My wonder now is, do people who do not use technology very often, respond to computers the same as people who use technology many times in one day? Do they still treat computers as humans?
I think my favorite part of this entire article is on pg. 8, where it talks about how people don’t want to make the computer feel bad. Throughout the article it also talks about how, on a survey, people don’t want to rate the computer bad, if they are taking the survey on that same computer…basically because they don’t want to hurt the computer’s feelings. At first, I was laughing about this. But, when I actually thought about it, I would have done the same thing! J This article is humorous and very true!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Four Categories

Learning Point Associates, Critical issue: Using technology to improve student achievement. “Different Types of Technology and their Educational Applications,” Retrieved April 8, 2008, from North Central Regional Educational Laboratory Web site:

After reading so much about the idea of the digital divide as a whole, I want to look at certain aspects of this topic in more detail. One idea that I feel is very important when dealing with the digital divide, is the effective implementation of technology into the classroom.

This article is about using technology in the classroom and how and why it is/can be effective.

The main idea of this entire article is:
“Students can learn ‘from’ computers—where technology used essentially as tutors and serves to increase students basic skills and knowledge; and can learn ‘with’ computers—where technology is used a tool that can be applied to a variety of goals in the learning process and can serve as a resource to help develop higher order thinking, creativity and research skills” (Reeves, 1998; Ringstaff & Kelley, 2002, as cited in Learning Point Associates).

Both learning “from” and learning “with” computers can be beneficial to our students, as long as it is done in an educational manner that still covers the topics and standards that need to be covered.

Bruce and Levin (1997) (as cited in Learning Point Associates), “developed the idea of technology as media with four different focuses: media for inquiry, media for communication, media for construction, & media for expression.”

After thinking about these four categories for awhile, I realized that they were actually really accurate. Here’s some examples of each category, suggested by Bruce and Levin (1997) as cited in Learning Point Associates:

  • Media for inquiry: spreadsheets, data modeling, online databases, online microscopes, hypertext
  • Media for communication: word processing, email, conferencing, simulations, tutorials, blogs, wikis
  • Media for construction: robotics, computer-aided design
  • Media for expression: interactive video, animation software, music composition

    I think the reason these four categories appeal to me is so that I can classify what exactly I am using the technology for. It’s easy to list the standards that I cover with each lesson, but this helps to tell me the skill I’m teaching my students, that will benefit them in their future education and career.

Monday, April 7, 2008

True or False?

  • Dickard, N, & Schneider, D (2002). The Digital Divide: Where We Are Today. Edutopia, Retrieved April 7, 2008, from

    I found this article recently and, although it doesn’t go with my specific topic of study within the digital divide, I have to post it anyways because it really made me mad.

    This article takes a look at a report released in February of 2002, from the U.S. Department of Commerce, titled “A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet.” The message from this report is that the digital divide is not an issue anymore and is no longer a concern. However, as you can guess, MANY people disagree with this! I am one of those people. I STRONGLY disagree with this! I think the digital divide is still a major concern, and that the problem could possibly be growing.

    Here are some important facts talked about:
  • 54% (or 143 million) of Americans are using internet – this actually seems quite low to me, considering how much our society revolves around the internet for jobs, education, etc.
  • This number is growing by 2 million new users a month, due to federally funded programs.
  • However, “the current Administration sees ‘A Nation Online as proof that a targeted national commitment to bridging the divide is no longer necessary. Along with a 17 percent decrease in educational technology funding from FY 2001, the TOP and CTC programs have been slated for termination in 2003.” (Dickard & Schneider, 2002)
  • If we take the aid away, aren’t the numbers going to DECREASE, not INCREASE??? Hmm, something to think about.

    The following are two arguments given in the article:

    “Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell that what we have is a ‘Mercedes divide,’ …many of the Internet's so called 'have-nots' are really 'want-nots” (Dickard & Schneider, 2002).

    “In response to arguments that the Internet is unnecessary or something of a luxury, Mark Lloyd, Executive Director of the Civil Rights Forum on Communications Policy, said, ‘Being disconnected in the Information Age is not like being deprived of a Mercedes or some other luxury. Being disconnected means being disconnected from the economy and democratic debate’ “(Dickard & Schneider, 2002).

    Which side are you on? Do you feel the divide is diminishing? If so, what do you think will happen when federal aid disappears?

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Curtis, D (2003, January 24). A remarkable transformation: Union city public schools. Retrieved April 2, 2008, from Edutopia Web site:

This article is such an inspiration! Not only that, but it confirms my beliefs in the effectiveness of technology use in the classroom.

This article is about Union City Public Schools in New Jersey, who were failing academically and were close to being taken over by the state. When it came to state indicators, they were failing 44 out of 52 indicators. They then decided that something needed to change.

They adopted a new plan, which included heavy use of technology, and now 80% of the students are meeting state standards, compared to 30% before the new plan. (Curtis, 2003) What an increase!

What it took: “A combination of focused leadership, a comprehensive, research-based overhaul of the system, technology, teacher and community input, site-based decision-making, and more (and carefully targeted) money explain the turnaround” (Curtis, 2003).

The district changed from teacher centered classrooms to student centered classrooms. “Throughout the classrooms in Union City's eleven schools, the trend is to eliminate rows of desks facing a blackboard and passive students listening (or not) to forty-minute lectures. Students more likely will be working individually or in groups -- often at computers -- while the teacher circumnavigates the room, stopping to advise or confer when needed” (Curtis, 2003).

The use of computers helped in this major overhaul and the adoption of a research based curriculum:

"The Internet just broke down the walls of my classroom" (Curtis, 2003).

“Technology is what pushed it (their new plan) to great heights” (Curtis, 2003).

This proves what I’ve been talking about all along….the use of computers DOES make a difference! Computers are an effective classroom tool and will benefit our students in the long run.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Computers in the Classroom

Smerden, B, Cronen, S, Lanahan, L, Anderson, J, & Iannotti, N, Angeles, J. (2000). Teachers' Tools for the 21st Century: A report on teachers' use of technology. Education Statistics Quarterly, [2 (4)], Retrieved April 2, 2008,from

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I can change my instructional strategies so that I better integrate technology and teach my students the technological skills they need to possess outside of school, regardless of if they have a computer at home. This article, although somewhat dated (1999), gave some facts that really relate not necessarily all to me, but definitely to my district and, more specifically, my school.

First, here are some interesting facts that I have read in many article and believe them to be true:
Teachers in low-minority and low-poverty schools are more likely to use computers than teachers in high-minority and high-poverty schools. I contribute this to the lack of funding and/or resources available for certain school districts.

Teachers with fewest years experience used the internet to gather materials for their lessons. I see this at my school for sure! Instead of using an old worksheet given to me by a colleague, I would rather go online and find a new and up to date worksheet, whereas the opposite is true for some of my colleagues.

“Teachers may be more likely to integrate computers and the Internet into their classroom instruction if they have access to adequate equipment and connections” (Smerdon, Cronen, Lanahan, Anderson, Iannotti, & Angeles, 2000). Although my first reaction to this was DUH, who wouldn’t use the equipment if they had it? I then realized that I work with a few teachers who have brand new Smart Boards in their room, yet they don’t use them at all! Maybe this quote is not as common sense as I thought.

Teacher preparation in computer use is a key factor if you want to have successful technology integration in each classroom. Two main ways for teachers to learn how to use technology is through professional development and through independent learning. Personally, I think independent learning in this situation is one of the best options and is very beneficial, although it can be time consuming.

Two main barriers to teachers using technology in their classroom is not enough computers and lack of time to learn. Here is where I have a problem. “Lack of time to learn”…..isn’t it our job to learn how to use technology so that we can teach our students how to use technology? Teaching our students the technological skills they will need for the future is of almost the same importance as teaching them their math facts or how to write in a complete sentence. The end goal for all of these skills is the same…to help them have successful futures. Therefore, I have a huge problem with teachers who are not even willing to TRY to integrate technology into their lessons. We are in the age of technology and we need to accept that and embrace it; not just for our sake, but for the sake of our students.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Terms Brought to Light

Wilhelm, T., Carmen, D. , Reynolds, M. (2002). Connecting Kids to Technology:
Challenges and Opportunities. KIDS COUNT Snapshot. (Report No.
EFF-089). Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation. (ERIC Document
Reproduction Service No. 467 133)

This article by Wilhelm, Carmen and Reynolds unveiled something that I have never heard of before. It starts out like most articles dealing with the digital divide; it gives some background info. on what the digital divide is and why it’s a problem. But, it also talks about some ideas and terms I have never heard before.

Here are the main points of this article that I have read about in the past, but are still very important:

· Using computers at school is a great way to try to lessen the gap for underprivileged children, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
· Although the internet is becoming more affordable, there are still many families that do not have internet access, simply because that has become their way of life.
· Having computers at home is shown to increase reading test scores and increase overall performance in math and science.

Now, here are some of the new ideas/terms that I think make this article worth reading:

· Since computers are used world wide and are important for our student’s futures, the term “21st-centruy literacy” has been adopted – 21st-centrun literacy is “the knowledge and skills to take advantage of the new Internet-related technologies” (Wilhelm, Carmen & Reynolds, 2002, p.3)

I think this term is very fitting due to the fact that the majority of reading that takes place in our students lives on a day to day basis is what they read/type online.

· This article also points out not only the importance of kids having internet access at home, but also the importance of them being taught how to successfully and effectively use the internet. They use the term “Internet ABC’s.”

“Until we address what we are calling the Internet ABC’s – Access, Basic training, and Content – the digital divide is likely to remain a permanent feature of American society” (Wilhelm, Carmen, & Reynolds, 2002, p.4).

These two new terms, “21st-Century literacy”, and “Internet ABC’s”, make me not only think about my students and their computer use at home, but it also makes me reevaluate how I am using the internet in my own classroom. Am I incorporating enough 21st-century literacy? Am I teaching my students the ABC’s of the internet, so that they will be successful in high school and the real world? How can I revamp my classroom activities to better accommodate my students and their learning of the internet?