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Blog Post Six: Technology in the Classroom- Saving or Destroying Education? 

Through my last five posts, I have discuessed the different technology systems in schools and the different apps that can be used in the classrooms. The question remains: Is technology in the classroom a good thing? Or is it a distraction that could be detrimental to students? I think the answer is simple. Technology in the secondary school system is necessary for a successful education, but has to be implemented in an efficient and thought-out way

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So many of the problems associated with technology in the classroom can be attributed to how new using iPads and similar devices in the classroom is. These last few years are the “trial years” for technology learning systems. All the kinks are being worked out. With that being said, it is clear from the testimonies of teachers and students alike that the 1:1 technology system is the most successful system being used today. The only drawback to this system is its immense price of providing iPads, or similar devices, to all of the students in that school system. However, schools can implement this system gradually with one grade level getting devices at a time. For example, all incoming freshman could get  iPads.

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Many people, including teachers, believe that technology in the classroom is too much of a distraction to have any benefit, especially with texting. I know students that would text all class period and never learn anything. I think this was largely due to teachers not enforcing rules against using technology for personal use. The rules need to be enforced more strictly, but does this mean we should throw away the whole system? I do not think so. I will take time and money to provide a successful technology based education to all the students in America, but it is necessary to progress as a country.

Here is the link to my Final Project Prospectus.

Blog Post Five: Apps for the Classroom

With BYOT and the 1:1 technology system, students have devices in the classroom, but what can they do with the devices besides use the internet and take pictures? Many companies are rapidly making apps that teachers and students can use to interact with each other in the classroom. I am going to just go through a few of the best ones.

Showbie is an app that lets teachers virtually send assignments to students who then do the assignments and send them back. This means no more forgetting or losing homework. It is all on one device. This app has the potential to greatly reduce the amount of paper needed to run a classroom, a benefit for schools and the environment.

Subtext is an app that allows a class to read a book digitally together. Teachers can post assignments, questions, and links all within a digital book.

Remind 101 is an app that allows teachers to send messages to their students and the parents of students directly to their cell phone. The numbers are private, so there are no security concerns. Students and parents cannot reply and all messages go through Remind 101. My high school teachers used this app to send reminders about homework. It was really helpful to have a reminder to do an assignment.

ShowMe is an app that lets teachers demonstrate problems and write notes through an iPad. This is great for students that are absent and missed the original notes.

There are hundreds of more great apps just like these. With technology, the possibilities for learning in the classroom are endless.

Blog Post Four: The 1:1 Technology System and Why Its Better than BYOT 

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Students in an elementary 1:1 classroom

The 1:1 technology system is when all the students in one school or district are given, or supply on their own, the same technology, usually an iPad. This uniformity allows teachers to effectively plan curriculum  around the technology, since students are guaranteed to have the same device. While researching this program, I read an article by a teacher in a 1:1 classroom who believes every student should be in a 1:1 classroom. The teacher’s main argument is that the program allows “teachers to differentiate both in terms of how they teach and how the students are expected to demonstrate their learning”

Compare this to BYOT and the difference is huge. In the BYOT system, students have several different devices or no device, making it impossible for teachers to plan anything around technology. Furthermore, 1:1 classrooms greatly reduce the amount of paper teachers need to use in the classroom because all assignments can be done on the device. The 1:1 system does have obvious drawbacks. It is extremely costly to supply every student with a device. The BYOT program cuts out that cost because students supply their own. Both systems require teachers to have extra training in how to use technology and how to integrate technology into the classroom. The monetary costs of the 1:1 program are astronomical, but the benefits outweigh the costs if implemented properly. For more benefits of the program, check out this article by a high school teacher in a 1:1 classroom.

Blog Post Three: BYOT Video and an Interview with a BYOT expert. 

The BYOT program is not unique to just one school. It is a program that is being implanted across the country. In this Associated Press Video, students, parents, and teachers describe why they think the BYOT program is a good idea. One of the schools in the video, Whitewater High School, is in the same county as McIntosh High School, the school I graduated from. This video highlights the positives of BYOT and below in an interview with BYOT coordinator from my high school, she sheds light on the negatives of the program.

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Mrs. Thibadeu teaches English at McIntosh High School.

Below is my interview with Gwen Thibadeau, the BYOT coordinator at McIntosh High School. She has had extensive experience with the BYOT program through both the eyes of an administrator and teacher.

1. Why did Fayette County implement the BYOT program?
Fayette County implemented BYOT to meet the ever-changing needs of students.  We recognize the importance of preparing our students for real-world application of their knowledge and want to offer experiences that will educate the whole child, not just academics.
2. How do you think it has benefitted students? 
BYOT has benefited students in that it helps them utilize their resources in an effective manner.  Technology is high interest, and technology-enhanced lessons sometimes offer more engagement.
3. What are the drawbacks of the program?
It also serves as a distraction because of the lack of self-control and the demand for constant monitoring. Students tend to think that they can accomplish everything they need to do with a cell phone… and that is not very realistic.  Students also spend a great deal of time “sneaking” to social media and/or chatting/taking selfies rather than focusing on their assignments.  Students also become more concerned with a silent notification (vibration or flash) rather than the material or assignment in class.
4. Do you think the teachers overall see BYOT as a useful tool?
Teachers see it more of a distraction.  Most teachers recognize that the ease of technology (taking pictures of notes on the board or a teacher posting something on a website) actually decreases student performance.  Because technology requires such little effort, students see it as an immediate fix to a short term problem (getting their notes).  Most students actually do less work thinking that their technology is helping them.  Most teachers see BYOT as a creator of additional problems in the classroom.
5. Overall, do you think BYOT should be a standard program in public schools across the country? 
I think technology use in the classroom CAN be an excellent tool, but BYOT leaves much to be desired.  In order to make 21st century learning effective, students must have the appropriate tools… cell phones are not the appropriate tool.  A truly effective 21st century school would promote 1:1 use (students:computers/tablets).
From her interview, you can see though the BYOT program seems like a great idea, the actual implications of the program leaves a lot to be desired. There is no easy way to monitor students using their phones for inappropriate purposes or ways for teachers to plan curriculum when students may have no technology or a plethora of different technologies. Next week I will talk about the 1:1 plan for schools that Mrs. Thibadeu mentions at the end of her interview.

Blog Post Two: The BYOT Program

The Bring Your Own Technology program allows students to bring any form of technology to class with them whether it is their smartphone, laptop, kindle, or other device. At my school, we were required to give the school the serial number of our devices. The school had Wifi for students that blocked sites like Facebook, Twitter, or any site with inappropriate content. It is against the rules to use  your phone and not be connected to Wifi because the school would have no way to monitor what sites you were visiting. Furthermore, it is against the rules to charge your devices at the school. Every teacher had a poster attatched to the white board that depending what side the poster was on, depicted whether we could use technology on that particular day in class. Most teachers never flipped the poster over to outlaw devices. Most students would be connected to the Wifi when doing school appropriate research and activities, then switch over to data to check Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. With about twenty students in each class, it is difficult for the teachers to monitor what every person is doing on their phone. Some teachers did not even care and would allow students to be on their phones and devices when the students finished their classwork. In my experience, having BYOT both benefited and cost the learning environment. It opened the doors to do quick research in class, take notes on devices, and read required books and textbooks on the devices instead of in print. However, BYOT gave untrustworthy students the opportunity to abuse technology and surf the web instead of doing classwork. It also posed a problem for some teachers. Not everyone had the same devices, if any device at all. Some teachers found it difficult to plan BYOT activities and sometimes students without technology were left out of classroom activities. I have emailed my former teacher, who is also the BYOT coordinator at my high school. She is going to answer a few questions about the program for next week’s blog.

Blog Post One: An Overview of New Technology in Schools 

New Media and digitization has transformed the way the world communicates, interacts, and learns. More people are interconnected than ever before. As the world changes, secondary schools have adapted as well to reflect the new technology. The school I went to had a program called “Bring Your Own Technology” in which students could bring any form of personal technology to school such as laptops, smart phones, kindles, tablets, etcetera. Since most students at my school had at least one form of technology they could use in class, there was no need to go to computer labs or the library to do projects or research- everything could be done in the classroom. Other schools around the country have implemented similar programs. At other schools, each student is loaned an iPad for the year which they are expected to bring to class. This iPad could be used for in class activities as well as for using as a textbook. All around the country secondary schools are implementing these digitization programs. Additionally, students use new media outside of the classroom to learn. Projects are done completely on the computer using online databases to do research and presenting findings on programs like powerpoint and movie maker. Supplementing these programs may be classes in schools that teach students how to use new media and the implications new media brings to the world.

How will this technology affect not only the way we learn, but also the way we teach? What are the new implications of new media in education? Whether new media in schools is a good thing or not, schools are being revolutionized to reflect the changes in technology and digitization. In my next post, I will do an interview with the “Bring Your Own Technology” coordinator from my high school, McIntosh High School, in Peachtree City, Georgia to see how new media and digitization has changed the school.

Here is a link to an article talking about BYOT programs across the country. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/23/technology/in-some-schools-students-bring-their-own-technology.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 

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