542 PBL: Role of the Facilitator

A popular misconception about Project Based Learning is that once the unit begins the teacher’s job is done. Meticulous planning in the pre-unit stage by the teacher allows the teacher to act as facilitator of the project much like a project manager in a business setting. It is their responsibility to ensure progress and guide employees/students through the process, offering guidance and encouragement along the way. The manager/teacher must conduct standards based instruction to ensure success of the project and be flexible enough to alter the plan based on the evolution of the project and the needs of the students. The teacher/manager must conduct continuous formative assessment to ensure all learners are on track while providing customized instruction and direction for learners who require extra assistance. The teacher is responsible for the continued well being of the group process, ensuring all members of a collaboration are contributing in a positive manner. The teacher must continue to provide feedback to parents and staff on the progress of the unit and on individual students.

A teacher in a project based learning environment must be organized, flexible, a multitasker and must not be afraid to relinquish some control and direction within their class. The teacher must be willing to self assess and evaluate the effectiveness of their instruction and unit and be willing to make changes based on events in the class and student feedback.

For me personally, in delivering a project based unit I will need to be more “tuned in “ to the needs of the students once the project has begun in order to customize plans and instruction. I tend to over plan and can be somewhat rigid in lesson planning. Allowing for deviation from the planned course is something I will be aware of and work on.

541-instructional software in the classroom.

Relative Advantage

The relative advantage of using instructional software in the classroom ranges from simple increased engagement to fostering deep understanding of complex issues and concepts. Software that is carefully designed with sound educational theory as the basis for construction can help teachers deliver curricular content while promoting digital literacy. Drill and Practice software is sometimes considered ineffective for long term retention of material however, as a tool for mastering basic concepts before progressing deeper into content this approach can be effective. Tutorial software can be used by teachers for instruction and practice and is making a resurgence today with the growing popularity of the “Flipped” classroom. Students can learn the material at their own pace, in many cases on their own time, and apply that knowledge in more complex classroom activities with the teacher as facilitator. Problem solving software can be used to teach concepts, or stand alone as an approach to building the skills involved with the process of problem solving. This type of software allows students to explore through a process of trial and error. Simulation software can immerse students in any environment or time period, similar to a role playing experience, and allow learners to discover knowledge from within that experience. Simulations can allow students to do the impossible within the safe, cost effective platform of the computer and can compress or expand time. Simulations allow learners to learn from “virtual” experience. Educational game software can be an engaging and entertaining strategy for learning that utilizes game play rules, competition, and reward.

All of the above categories of educational software can be effectively applied in a Language Arts classroom. There are many good examples of software that utilizes drill and practice, tutorial, and game play software in Language Arts to establish basic and advanced grammatical concepts. With the proliferation of tablet hardware and applications has come an explosion of apps designed specifically for Language Arts concepts from spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure, to creative and essay writing.

The following presentation contains examples of instructional software, with a Language Arts emphasis, for five genre’s:

  • Drill and Practice
  • Tutorial
  • Simulation
  • Problem Solving
  • Games

The presentation contains links to an outline of the genre and examples of instructional software in each of the genre’s for both the PC and Tablet (OSX) platforms. Following this link  to view the presentation in full screen and navigate through the various links to tour the presentation.

References:

Dr. Dave Perry – Associate Professor of Education – College of Education and Organizational Leadership – University of La Verne – La Verne, CA

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

541 – Integration of Technology into Teaching – Vision Statement

Why Integrate Technology into our Schools?

The easy answer to this question is that technology is ubiquitous and therefore a necessary element of public education. It is true that digital literacy is an important factor in the integration of technology, however the real power of technology in our schools is when integration strategies “… address specific instructional needs identified by educational theorists and practitioners.”(Roblyer, Doering 2010). The Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET) supports the notion held by teachers that, “…simply having students use technology does not raise achievement. The impact depends on the ways technology is used and the conditions under which applications are implemented.”(Roblyer, Doering 2010).

In justifying technology in the classroom teachers must ask themselves what are the ways in which technology integration can address instructional needs that support learning in a more efficient, impact-full way than non-technology driven strategies, and whether or not the planning and resources necessary are worth the projected outcomes. How, then can technology support student learning? According to Roblyer and Doering, there are four main categories that are the basis for an argument for technology inclusion in classroom instruction:

  1. To Motivate Students
  2. To Enhance Instruction
  3. To Make Student and Teacher work more Productively
  4. To Help Students Learn and Sharpen Their Information Age Skills

Student engagement or motivation is a key argument for technology inclusion. Students must find relevance and connection to their individual needs in order to fully engage in an academic pursuit. The use of technology to make curriculum meaningful through inquiry based learning encourages cross curricular connections which inherently reflects real world applications of acquired  knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Students using the Internet for exploration, collaboration, development and presentation are engaged in a meaningful process which results in deep understanding as well as the formation of important twenty-first century skills. This approach directly supports educational theorist that subscribe to the constructivist theory which emphasises that people learn through participation; it is the process itself that unravels understanding. Direct instruction through the use of technology can also be a motivating factor for students.

Objectivist educational theorists propound technology integration to identify weaknesses in students and promote fluency of skills. Computer software for direct instruction, which provides customizable instruction and immediate feedback, allows scaffolding for the individual pace and needs of student learning. This process is proven to increase motivation and achievement especially in the attainment of government mandated standards.

Enhanced learning through classroom integration of technology can promote higher level thinking skills such as analysis and synthesis of information. Students can use technology to “bring down the walls” of traditional classroom by accessing global resources and connecting with people around the world. Teachers are no longer the sole source of knowledge and information in the classroom. Educators can call on experts in any field to become guests in her class leading to the acquisition of high levels of complex information which can result in in-depth analysis and deep understanding or impact.

Technological solutions are regularly being discovered to solve learning problems associated with students with disabilities. Assistive technologies are currently in use, and are being developed to enhance learning for students with physical impairments and cognitive challenges.

The use of technology in schools can increase productivity and efficiencies of administrative activities on the part of teachers and administrators as well as reducing the use of consumable materials. Through the use of various applications students can submit digital assignments and teachers can assess student work and provide digital feedback in a timely manner. Teachers are then able to input and track progress quickly, providing academic intervention as necessary.

Technology integration as a vehicle for sharpening information age skill allows students to learn how to synthesis the volumes of information and media resources available in our age and make informed decisions about what to believe and how to respond.

Enhanced learning through technology integration requires careful planning, implementation, and assessment of strategies. Teachers must consider their own ability, access to equipment, and curricular objectives when formulating an integration plan. The Technology Integration Matrix produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, goes beyond simple statements of how to include technology in classrooms by publishing a matrix that delineates levels of integration and its result from simple adaptation of technological strategies to transformational activities that would not be possible without the inclusion of technology. This matrix allows teachers to evaluate the effectiveness of technology based educational strategies.

The education system is evolving away from a teacher centered system of information delivery to a differentiated student centered approach that allows flexibility in terms of when, where, and how students learn. Integrating technology into student learning will enable this approach, resulting in generations of forward thinking individuals who are capable, creative, informed, versatile, capable of working in groups, and globally aware.

Resources:
1. Roblyer, M.D., and Aaron Doering Herbert. Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2012. Print.
2. http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description
3. http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/