Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Clark Group Rebuttal (1 of 3) for the class debate

Yes, things have changed in the classroom. It does look different from even 10 years ago. Things are evolving. But these new things in the classroom do not actually have an effect on learning. For example, over 80 years ago, Thomas Edison predicted that film would replace textbooks with 100% efficiency and look what happened. Over 60 years ago, William Levenson thought the radio would replace chalkboards. Bill Clinton campaigned for computers to reach all classrooms. Likewise President Obama believes that “Every child should have the chance to get online….and that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.” Within the next 10 years, someone else may make the same claim about SMART Boards. Research tells us that the majority of teachers are ill-prepared to effectively use computers in their classrooms. As Todd Oppenheimer, journalist and author of The Flickering Mind, wrote in 1997, “If history keeps repeating itself, the schools are in serious trouble.” He goes on to question whether or not the values of computers have been “oversold.” I refuse to believe that Kozma has finally found the panacea for how to best influence student learning. I think we should pause and question the motives behind these expensive new media, which is said to provide gains.
A change in a learning environment does not automatically lead to an increase, or decrease in students’ learning. A debate between learning theories has existed for over 100 years. What is a fact is that students can learn from a traditional or progressive teaching style, and even between the two, it has not been proven that all students benefit from one over the other. Constructivist lessons are exciting, hands-on, active, in the same way media can be exciting, hands-on, active. But no controlled study has proven to make a difference in student achievement levels. Lev Vygotsky’s theory of the Zone of Proximal Development is a great idea, but there are no results that indicate that it is the best way to structure learning for children. Yet, now that the latest new technology has entered the classroom, you are saying that media alone can increase student achievement? In my personal opinion, I would agree with Dr. Robert Marzano, who would argue here that effective teachers have the most influence upon student achievement. It is the role of the teacher who guides the lesson, who plans the steps that the students will follow and the connections the students will make to reach the standard. Teachers use Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences to manipulate the instructional method, but not which media to use. Some medium is always present in the delivery, but it is the method and not the media.
Lastly, while students may appear more motivated at the newness of the media presented as an alternative to direct instruction, media does not influence motivation. Motivation is tied to the beliefs and expectations of the learner. If a teacher can provide an instructional method for students to feel good about a learning process, an activity, a construction, if students can make a connection with a learning process, an activity, a construction, then these aspects may increase student motivation and possibly student achievement. But not media.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Team Theory Paper

Progressives allow students to have a voice and use thinking and analyzing as their number one tool for learning. Students then build their knowledge using what they are told, what they have seen, what they have explored, and what they have lived. In a progressive classroom you would see students actively participating in the learning process my working in small groups, asking questions, and performing hands on activities. It is crucial that technology is embedded in their daily curriculum. Technology has become an essential part of life and it is important the students are given the opportunity to learn and explore. There are many supporters for the progressive method.
John Dewey, author of Democracy and Education, believed that instruction should be child-centered and that education should meet the needs of the whole person. Learning was a social activity and should be related to real life experience. Progressives believed that “education be a continuous reconstruction of living experience.” Dewey believed in hands-on learning, a step away from the traditional style of teaching. Dewey’s theory is that society is formed through its individuals, not intelligence, and it is the responsibility of the schools to foster responsible democratic citizens. The social practices of schools should reflect the democratic principles of society.
Francis Parker Known as the “father of progressive education” advocated placing the child at the center of education and building schools around their students' motivation and interests at a time when public schools were dominated by recitation, memorization, and drilling (Olson, 2004).
Montessori for example has influenced the progressive movement with her writing and methods. According to Julian Weissglass one of Montessori's central practices was respect for the child’s intelligence: “And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.”

“A Hypertext History of Instructional Design.” February 6, 2009.
Bredo, E. "Cognitivism, Situated Cognition, and Deweyian Pragmatism." Philosophy of Education 1994. (February 6, 2009).
Dewey, John. (1926 [1916]). Democracy and Education. New York: Macmillan
Manzo, K. K. (May 19, 1999) The State of Curriculum. Education Week
Olson, L. (May 19, 1999) Tugging at Tradition. Education Week
Weissglass, J. (May 19, 1999) Curriculum and Society. Education Week

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Denny Clifford Case

In this case we have a teacher and a business/military consultant facing off. First, the respective audiences that these two professions work are diverse versus homogenous. The businessman is used to working with clients who not only have a goal, but have similar goals. Cynthia is not saying the right words for Denny. Likewise, Denny needs to speak in the language his client speaks. Finding a common ground would have made for a smooth first impression, where both parties walked away confident in the project. Second, business and industry, like the military, foster traditional education styles, using direct instruction and standardized assessments. Teachers, especially constructivists, work with more variety in their lessons, creativity and in small groups. These barriers are difficult to overcome, but not impossible.
Denny must do his research based on the information Cynthia provided him, as well as follow-up with others in her field. He chose to step outside of his usual field (meaning business, industry and military) and work for an educator. He knows more about technology and its physical processes than Cynthia, whereas I think Cynthia can only speak in theoretical terms. From Cynthia’s point of view, it is not her responsibility to fully explain every step of the project because Denny is already an experience instructional design consultant.

Denny actually has many valuable resources at his fingertips. By asking relevant questions to any of the 24 teachers who had completed Cynthia’s workshops, he may gain valuable background knowledge. Once he had developed a design, he could have implemented and evaluated the design with these same teachers. Watching the videotapes of teachers engaging their students in problem-solving activities, and critiquing them against his own classroom experience and the teachers’ comments would sufficiently give Denny the relative direction for his desired delivery method. The videotapes would also give him a visual (maybe he is a visual learner) of what Cynthia wants, in terms of delivery and ideas for various assessment strategies. In Cynthia’s articles, Denny may find concrete objectives or types of assessment instruments previously used. In addition, Cynthia would have listed key objectives in her grant proposal. Lastly, by talking with local teachers interested in teaching science in a “new way,” Denny may ask of them the types of skills their populations needs. Since Cynthia is not interested in the “what” of the material, but only the “how” Denny must identify these problem-solving skills before he begins to design a new instruction model.

Online learning environments are an excellent avenue for distant teachers. Chat rooms and video conferencing are two perfect avenues for distant discussion and collaboration; something like Blackboard and webblogs are two examples for work to be submitted, reviewed and evaluated. Cynthia would have been pleased with a design that included any of these modes, especially since she did not want to host workshops and hold individual meetings any longer.