March Lowell Andreessen was born on July 9, 1971 at Cedar Falls, Iowa, and raised in New Lisbon, Wisconsin by Patricia and Lowell Andreessen (Markoff, 1994). Marc Andreessen’s educational experience included completing a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a summer internship at IBM in Austin, Texas (Payment, 2006). The yearning to discover and explore the many possibilities of the unknown has influenced Marc Andreessen to begin his quest for innovative ideas, which included teaching himself to program computers based on the information he obtained from library books (Payment, 2006). Marc Andreessen’s inventions were marked significantly with the creation of Mosaic, the first widely used web browser that made it easier for an individual to use the World Wide Web (Intruders: Inside Innovation, 2012). Marc Andreessen’s successful creation of Mosaic emphasized his desire to unlock information and to make it readily available for public consumption (Intruders: Inside Innovation, 2012). Marc Andreessen’s different creations provided opportunities for the public not only to access and use available information, but also to transform information into more innovative and productive ideas (Intruders: Inside Innovation, 2012).
Marc Andreessen, together with Jim Clark, co-founded Netscape, which paved the way for the development of Netscape Communications and the flagship Web browser, Netscape Navigator (Rogers, 2012). Netscape Navigator was the name that replaced Mosaic, which was one of the early web browsers that enabled browsing for information in the World Wide Web (Rogers, 2012). The name change resulted from the unfavorable reaction by the University of Illinois, which also prompted the company’s name to be changed from Mosaic Communications to Netscape Communications (Rogers, 2012). Furthermore, Netscape Navigator featured the Netscape Composer that enabled the use of Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) programming and design as part of enhancing hyperlink text, images, and graphics in the Web (Rogers, 2012). The emergence of the browser wars, specifically the introduction of the Internet Explorer by Microsoft, and the lack of immediate updates to address the different technical flaws of Netscape Navigator, led to the falling of Netscape Communications (Businesswire, 1999). Prior to AOL purchase of Netscape, the source code for Netscape Navigator was released that created the Mozilla Organization (Businesswire, 1999). This source code was rewritten based on the Gecko rendering engine, which was later used to develop Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox browser (Rogers, 2012).
Marc Andreessen is extremely knowledgeable not only in the field of innovative technologies, but as well as in establishing highly profitable business with fellow business minded individuals (Intruders: Inside Innovation, 2012). His extreme intelligence and business-savvyness paved the way to the development of more partnerships and technology-based discoveries (Andreessen, 2012). This included co-founding Ning, Loudcloud, Opsware, Twitter, and Qik (Andreessen, 2012). Moreover, Marc Andreessen continued to build his vast business folder by establishing portfolio holdings, together with business partner Ben Horowtiz, which included Facebook, Foursquare, Plazes, Netvibes, CastTV, RockMelt, GitHub, Digg, Pinterest, Skype, Twitter, Jawbone, Groupon, LinkedIn, and Zynga (Andreessen Horowitz, 2012).
Today, Marc Andreessen’s eagerness and aggressiveness continues to propel the emergence of different business start-ups, ventures, and innovative creations (Perlroth, 2012). Instagram is one of business ventures that Marc Andreessen invested for a short period of time (Perlroth, 2012). Instagram was sold to Facebook for a considerable amount, which Silicon Valley market thought could have been worth much more, should Marc Andreessen preserved his investment interest in the said mobile application (Perlroth, 2012).
The many successes of Marc Andreessen eventually facilitated the birth of newer and younger innovators, which included Larry Page and Sergey Brin who are the co-founders of the well-known multinational corporation, Google. Larry Page was born on March 26, 1973 in East Lansing, Michigan to Carl and Gloria Page (Google, 2012). Larry’s parents are both highly educated and recognized in their respective fields (Google, 2012). Larry’s father, Carl Page, obtained his doctoral degree in computer science in 1965 and is considered as a pioneer in computer science and artificial intelligence (Google, 2012). Meanwhile, Larry’s mother, Gloria Page, was a computer science professor at Michigan State University (Google, 2012). Larry Page’s educational background included completing a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University (Google, 2012). In 1988, Larry Page co-founded Google with Sergey Brin while the former was pursuing his doctoral degree in Stanford University (Google, 2012). Larry Page became the first Chief Executive Officer of Google in 1988 until 2001, and from 2001 to 2011, he was president of products (Google, 2012).
Meanwhile, Sergey Brin was born on August 21, 1973 in Moscow, Russia to Michael and Eugenia Brin. Sergey was six years old when his family decided to migrate to America (Google, 2012). The Brin family’s life in Russia was filled with many challenges since they are Jewish, which led to lesser opportunities to obtain better standards of living (Google, 2012). The migration to the United States opened the doors for Sergey’s family to obtain a more humane and suitable way of living (Google, 2012). Sergey’s educational background began with homeschooling where Sergey’s father nurtured Sergey’s interest in mathematics and Russian-language skills (Google, 2012). In 1993, Sergey received his bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics with honors from the University of Maryland. Sergey completed his graduate degree in computer science at Stanford University, where he obtained a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation, in 1993 (Google, 2012). In the same year, Sergey was an intern at Wolfram Research, who is the maker of Mathematica (Google, 2012). Sergey published many academic papers, which included: (a) Extracting Patters and Relations from the World Wide Web; (b) Dynamic Data Mining: A New Architecture for Data with High Dimensionality (published with Larry Page); (c) Scalable Techniques for Mining Casual Structures; (d) Dynamic Itemset Counting and Implication Rules for Market Basket Data; and (e) Beyond Market Baskets: Generalizing Association Rules to Correlations (Google, 2012).
Larry Page met Sergey Brin at Stanford University in 1995 (Google, 2012). They built a search engine, which was initially called BackRub, in 1996 and featured links that was used to determine the status and importance of individual webpages (Google, 2012). Google, Inc. was founded in 1988, where the name Google was derived from playing with the word “googol”, which is a mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeroes (Google, 2012). Google, Inc.’s initial investment of $100,000 was provided by Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim (Google, 2012).
Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s research on a better system to determine websites’ relevance and importance prompted the birth of Google as today’s significantly used search engine (Google, 2012). The popularity and usefulness of Google’s PageRank mechanism led to the company’s financial growth and development (Google, 2012). Google, Inc.’s financial status led to the establishment of different business partnerships and acquisitions, including (a) Keyhole, Inc. in 2004, which developed the product, Earth Viewer, and eventually was renamed to Google Earth in 2005; (b) GrandCentral in 2007, which was later changed to Google Voice; (c) On2 Technologies in 2009, which was a video software maker; (d) Aardvark in 2009, which was a social network search engine; and (d) Agnilux in 2010, which was a hardware startup (Google, 2012).
Today, Google, Inc. does not only own one of the most popular search engine, but also the development of other innovative and productive technologies, including (a) Google Chrome (Google’s open source Internet browser); (b) Google Plus (Google’s social networking site – a counterpart of Facebook); (c) Google Docs (Google’s free online productivity suite); (d) Google Apps (Google’s mobile and web-based enterprise service offering); (e) Google Goggles (Google’s mobile application for image recognition and non-text-based search); and (f) Google Wallet (Google’s wireless payments) (Google, 2012).
Marc Andreessen, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin share many things in common, which include but not limited to (a) the desire to go beyond the norm of conventional learning and discovery of innovative and ingenious technologies; (b) reaching what seemed to be impossible from what is currently available to public communication, collaboration, and understanding; (c) the development of highly creative and productive ideas that will reap both financial and intellectual rewards; (d) the initiative to contribute to society in the form of philanthropic projects that serve the common good; and (e) the discoveries of innovative solutions that would benefit human society.
Reflections on Articles written by Tyack (1974), Lewis and Wigen (1997), Gruenwald (2003), and Apple (1996)
In my fifth week of class, I read the following articles/chapters:
In the second article, Toward a Critical Metageography in “The Myth of continents: A Critique of Metageography”, it is a good question to ask if the concept and understanding behind metageography can still be used and implemented in defining current social, political, and economic structures. The global mindset of today may articulate that metageography could still contribute significant ideas that could be used to create better decisions, implement relevant actions, and develop better collaboration and understanding, particularly in shaping actions that could contribute the progress of the entire world. Though metageograhy may pose benefits to the continuous growth and development of countries around the world, there are many changes that need to be made to support the relevance of using metageography concepts in today’s social, economic, and political structures (Lewis & Wigen, 1997). There are ten principles of critical metageography that have been identified, which included: the commitment to combating cartographic ethnocentrism, the importance of combating geographical determinism, typological honesty, the mastery of the metageographical cannon, sociospatial precision, definitional integrity, neutral nomenclature, historical specificity, contextual specificity, and creative cartographic vision (ibid). These principles have produced different views that are subjected to critical examinations, especially with the essential role of metageography in defining the permanent classification of different countries. These different classifications impacted the: extent of relationship patterns among countries, distribution of human and economic resources, worldly perspectives on religions and religious practices, environmental conditions and social responsibilities, reliability and relevance of information in textbooks and other knowledge-based resources, conformity on political and economic eventualities, categorization and division of the world into macroregions, and crosscutting and overlapping of regionalisms (ibid).
In the third article, Foundations of Place: A Multidisciplinary Framework for Place-Conscious Education, it is highly detrimental that the manner the American education should deliver and implement teaching and learning with students should be based on the relevance and appropriateness on the concept of place. Place-consciousness plays a significant role in identifying how the world works, how our lives fit into the places and spaces that we live and occupy, how particular places and particular attributes are developed, and how we shape our identification as humans and the possibilities that we create within our constructed realities (Gruenwald, 2003). The understanding of place should not be limited or ascertained as merely as a point of direction, a location to visit, or a geographical identification that is navigated in a map (ibid). The recognition and awareness of place, beyond its mere identification as a location, provides meaningful opportunities for contemporary American schools and institutions with more applicable understanding of students’ cultural backgrounds, principles, and ideologies (ibid). The American education system is often overwhelmed and micromanaged with unrealistic and stressful factors that influence school communities’ behaviors, characteristics, and actions. Likewise, the American education system forgets to create connections and meaningful relationships among its stakeholders because of the lack of and limited understanding of place-consciousness. In doing so, it is necessary that the American education system should develop great emphasis on the importance of cultural awareness in the establishment of place-consciousness, particularly with the evolving population of students (ibid). The American education system should not be satisfied and not conform to the decisions that are based on contemporary issues that plague our perception of place. Instead, critical investigations of place and space must be included to teach the importance of diversity of places and cultures, as well as the interrelationships that exist between people and places in the global economy (ibid). As Gruenwald (2003) stated, “place-consciousness depends on what teachers and students are actually expected and empowered to do” (p. 644). In doing so, assessment of student performance should not be focused on results on state mandated examinations. Effective accountability should be based on the assessment of the places that we, and others, live that translates to the kind of education that is provided and the pedagogical impact of places in and outside school (Gruenwald, p. 644).
In the fourth article, Power, Meaning and Identity: Critical sociology of education in the United States, Michael Apple (1996) discussed the impact of sociology of education in the homogeneity that continue to exist in the American educational structure, including the influence of class politics, course differentiation, diversity, curricular organization, regulations in the use of textbooks and other course materials, contradictory pressures, and the like. The implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 emphasized the desire for uniformity not only for student accountability through rigorous assessments, but more so with reinforcing the existence of conservative structures that exist in the American educational system (Apple, 1996). The desire for excellence by the American education system through the concept of restructuring seemed to have developed more complications and challenges on student, teacher, and school performance. It is evident, even in today's time, how more segregated and separated people are based on their gender, class, race, ethnicity, political, and economic groups. There continues to be evidence of prioritization on the academic and professional success for "White" students and adults than "Hispanics", "Blacks", and "Asians". There exist higher complexities in the American education system in determining appropriate goals and objectives to deliver authentic and meaningful teaching and learning experiences. Schools are supposed to not only provide knowledge and skills among students, but more so, liberate students from stark poverty, violence, oppression, discrimination, and inequalities. Unfortunately, schools have become instruments of segregation, dependence on conservative and micro-managed structures, conformity, to name a few. If the American education system truly desires to educate and prepare students to a brighter and greater future, it is important that changes be made to ensure that relevance, connections, consciousness, and human kindness be part of their learning process. As Giroux (2012) have mentioned, it is time for students, teachers, parents, and local communities to make a stand on social and educational reconstruction. Critical discourse should take place.
In my fourth week of class, I read the following articles/chapters:
In the second article, Epistemology and Educational Research: The Influence of Recent Approaches to Knowledge, it is important that teachers immerse themselves in “reflective-teaching” and “reflection-in-action” (Green, 1994, p. 425). Teachers often forget or have surrendered with the idea that students from poverty should not be given the same opportunities compared to the wealthier and more affluent students. Teachers should understand that many students from low socio-economic structures and minority groups are powerless than those students who have more advantages in wealth, prominence, authority, and other resources. Students, who are from poverty and are discriminated based on the color of their skin, should be provided with rigorous curriculum and with more relevant and appropriate teaching and learning experiences. As students are categorized and branded based on their cultural and racial backgrounds, they are also distinguished based on their attributes as males, who represent universality and mediacy, or as females, who represent particularity and immediacy, in society (Green, 1994, p. 429). In doing so, students thrive to belong or to be a part of something larger and more meaningful, as well as being part of a greater structure where their individual contributions matter (Green, 1994). In supporting the desire of students to become significant and be empowered through appropriate and relevant knowledge and skills, it is necessary that the current educational system recognize the role of diversity, the awareness of genuine care towards individual needs, and the implementation of authentic forms of assessments based on real-world situations.
In the third article, Who’s Colonizing Who? The Knowledge Society Thesis and the Global Changes in Higher Education, “globalization” and “knowledge society” are two ideas that are being relatively compared with regard to its influence in changing the social, economic, cultural, and political structures in society (Forstorp, 2007). "Globalization" or the "age of globalization" is identified with the concepts of modernity, progress, and collaboration with different nations (ibid). Though these concepts may seem positive in the light of societal and economic development, many do not understand that globalization includes the process of “deterritorializaton” and “reterritorialization” of nations. Both processes are based on the in-depth power that nations may have being "knowledge-based societies" (ibid). In doing so, different nations have made it as a priority to build a highly educated workforce, establish a competitive edge from fellow nations, and develop the intellectual strength of its population (ibid). Furthermore, "knowledge society" has become a widespread idea that many people may not be fully familiar with, particularly with the philosophies of information-literacy as demonstrated in the development of technology, educational methodologies and practices, professional learning communities, global collaboration and communication, and the like (ibid). For this reason, many progressive countries, such as the United States, aim to implement changes in their educational system as a tool to: reinforce its authority, control, and power in the global community; and, provide its people with higher educational levels, as information-literacy continue to be the focus of every nation’s economic and political advancement.
In my third week of class, I read the following articles/chapters:
In the second article, Social Class, School Knowledge, and the Hidden Curriculum: Retheorizing Reproduciton, the inequalities among students continue to be explored by Jean Anyon (1980). According to Anyon (1980), the American educational system fails to offer equal and equitable opportunities for all students, particularly for students who are extremely poor. It is evident that the American educational system has a social class system in place, which directly categorizes and labels students as belonging to the working class, middle class, affluent professional, and executive class (ibid). In doing so, the school knowledge and learning experiences of the students from these different social classes are discriminatory (ibid). Education is supposed to serve as the “leveling effect” among social classes, where middle class opportunities and incomes are provided for working class and middle class students (ibid, p. 44). However, this is not the case and the separation between the rich and poor continue to widen (ibid, p. 44). According to Linda Darling-Hammond (2010), “concentrated poverty is shorthand for a constellation of inequalities that shape schooling (p. 37).”
In the third article, Understanding Cultural Diversity and Learning, it is important for the American education system to recognize and understand the cultural diversities of students, for this may provide significant contributions that will be beneficial to successful learning experiences (Ogbu, 1992). Ogbu (1992) explained that appropriate recognition and understanding of the cultural diversities of marginalized students will open new insights to their culture, reduce prejudice and stereotyping, and promote intercultural understanding (p. 174). However, the risk in opening to the cultural diversities of these students may lead to opening problems that may not be remedied with cultural infusion (ibid). Ogbu (1992) identified different types of minorities, namely: the autonomous minorities who are primarily in a numerical sense; the voluntary minorities who desire to cross cultures, languages, and identities; and, the involuntary minorities who have difficulty in crossing cultures, languages, and identities (ibid, pp. 176-177). These differences among minorities are influential factors in determining the success of their school knowledge and learning experiences, and in future decisions of their personal and professional lives (ibid).
In the fourth article, Keeping Track, Part 1: The Policy and Practice of Curriculum Inequality, Jeannie Oakes (1986) discussed tracking as a major effect of and contributor to inequality in education. Tracking divides students into separate classes based on students’ academic performance (i.e. high achievers, low achievers) (Oakes, 1986). Many American schools assumed that tracking promotes student achievement (ibid, p. 13). However, tracking has led to wider and more exaggerated separation among students who do well and those who do not do well at all (ibid, p. 14). Likewise, tracking encourages greater segregation among those who are identified to be college bound and become successful leaders of society, and those who will end up with lesser educational and professional opportunities (ibid, pp. 14-15). Furthermore, students can clearly recognize and understand the segregation among their peers, which can lead students to act according to the manner they are tracked and labeled by the American education system (ibid). Furthermore, the American education system developed a structure in which it generates and produces students according to their social classifications (ibid). In doing so, the act of supporting the social class system enables the propagation of economic inequalities and the prominence of higher authoritative power (ibid).
Reflections on Articles written by Rossatto (2004), Rossatto (2005), Rossatto (2009), and Valenzuela (1999)
In my second week of class, I read the following articles:
A Conference Proposal for SITE 2012: Integrating Technology in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for Student Learning in K-12 Classrooms
A Conference Proposal for SITE 2012: Integrating Technology in Teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for Student Learning in K-12 Classrooms written by Sharo Dickerson
Meaningful and authentic student learning experiences are achieved through high student achievement, significant social interactions, availability of student choices, nurturing and positive learning environments, development of critical and analytical thinking skills, and application of scientific problem-based learning. The integration of technology in teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for student learning in K-12 classrooms provides valuable connections, use of appropriate methodologies, and real-world applications in delivering relevant content to achieve student success. In today’s K-12 classrooms, student learning cannot solely be provided through traditional teaching and learning methods. In doing so, the paper provides evidences of the important role of technology integration in building meaningful and authentic student learning experiences.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education aims to provide American K-12 students with meaningful and authentic student learning to: (a) explore and generate new ideas and new worlds, (b) become innovative and pioneering leaders, (c) advance and grasp opportunities for economic growth and development, (d) compete globally, and (e) lead the way as a leading-edge and knowledge-edge country for a better way of life (STEM Education Coalition, 2011). In doing so, meaningful and authentic student learning experiences in STEM education are achieved through high student academic achievement, significant social interactions, availability of multiple and different student choices, establishment of nurturing and positive learning environments, development of critical and analytical thinking skills, and application of scientific problem-based learning (Craige, 2007). The integration of technology in teaching STEM for student learning in K-12 classrooms provides valuable connections, use of appropriate methodologies, and real-world applications in delivering relevant content to achieve desired goals and expectations.
American K-12 classrooms cannot solely use traditional teaching and learning methods in delivering content to students, particularly in developing critical and analytical thinking, effective collaboration, and strategic inquiries in the area of STEM (Craige, 2007). In doing so, technology integration can play an important role in building meaningful and authentic student learning experiences through the use of different technologies (ibid). These technologies are integrated in content to: (a) support students to become responsible and active learners, (b) commit in highly engaged learning, (c) establish meaningful connections, and (d) learn as a collective whole (ibid). However, many American K-12 classrooms integrate technology with the lack of or the absence of relevant and purposeful connections with critical pedagogies on student teaching and learning (Herrington & Kervin, 2007). With the different problems and issues being faced by American K-12 classrooms, student-learning experiences are challenged to meet high expectations and standards (Pellegrino & Quellmalz, 2010). Some of these challenges are evident in the minimum requirements achieved by students in federal and/or standardized assessments (ibid). In doing so, it is important that teachers understand and develop relevant skills in providing meaningful and authentic instruction (Craige, 2007). Likewise, teachers have to be critical with the methodologies that are implemented in their classrooms (ibid).
Technology integration plays an essential role in teaching STEM because of its influential contributions in providing variety in its curriculum development and implementation. According to Pellegrino and Quellmalz (2010), “technologies allow representations of domains, systems, models, data, and their manipulation in ways that previously were not possible” (p.119). These technologies include, but are not limited to, the application of: (a) scientific tools (i.e. digital microscopes, camera systems, document cameras, portable or USB-connected proscopes) for inquiry-based activities, (b) Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) units to collect and plot data, examine geological features, and navigate to identified locations, (c) interactive whiteboards and response systems to promote hands-on activities for students, and facilitate three-dimensional objects and figures, and (d) web 2.0 tools (i.e. virtual field trips, video conferencing) to engage active investigations and research, to name a few (Starr, 2011).
The author uses the Four-Quad Analysis methodology to gather the necessary data in this study. This type of methodology provides the research with significant opportunities in gathering data, interpreting findings, segregating relevant from irrelevant information, and understanding the elements that contribute meaningfully to this study. The Four Quad Analysis methodology is composed of four parts. These parts include: (a) Quad 1, which defines the theory, research, and best practices of the study, (b) Quad 2, which identifies the federal and state laws, rules and data of this study, (c) Quad 3, which describes a district or campus perceptions, feelings, beliefs and experience in relation to this study, and (d) Quad 4, which provides the district or campus policies, regulations, records, and data of this study. Furthermore, this study also explores the use of informal interviews, on-line surveys, and face-to-face consultation with different stakeholders of the school community.
Authentic Teaching and Student Learning
Meaningful and authentic teaching is described as a process of sharpening prior knowledge and delivering new knowledge to establish valuable connections. This is accomplished through: “(a) the organization, creation, interpretation, explanation, and evaluation of information, which are translated into relevant experiences, (b) collective information through methods of inquiry, (c) in-depth understanding through exploration of issues and relationships, (d) elaborate communication and collaboration, (e) experiential connections in real-world situations, and (f) recognition of students as unique individuals” (Craige, 2007, p. 3). The aspiration for authentic teaching begins with the goal of changing traditional methodologies. Many generations of students in the education system had experienced, one or more of the following: (a) teacher-led instruction, (b) being passive participants in the learning process, (c) knowledge that is primarily and dominantly delivered by teachers, (d) learning by rote memorization, and (e) being taught in isolation (Craige, 2007). In doing so, students who are products of this form of teaching have been accustomed to limited or lack of critical thinking expertise, analytical skills, and effective decision-making abilities.
Genuine teaching facilitates the use of “hands-on and minds-on” models. One of these models that should be considered is the use of the Critical Thinking Curriculum Model (CTCM). This model is composed of different educational, technology, assessment, and community components (Robertson, 2008). These components are instrumental in providing problem-based learning research experiences to both students and teachers in order to obtain information and establish connections with real-world situations (ibid). Effective teaching and student learning experiences are achieved when: “(a) students become responsible and take ownership in their individual behaviors and learning, (b) students become active learners, (c) construction of knowledge stems from meaningful interaction between students and teachers, (d) students are able to build connections, and (e) teachers and students work as a team” (Craige, 2007, p. 3). In doing so, students who are products of this form of teaching develop into critical thinkers, information builders, innovative leaders, effective communicators, efficient investigators, productive citizens, to name a few (Herrington & Kervin, 2007).
STEM in K-12 Classrooms
According to STEM Education Coalition (2011), this initiative aims to provide American K-12 students with meaningful and authentic student learning. This includes: (a) the exploration and generation of new ideas and new worlds, (b) developing innovative and pioneering leaders, (c) advancing in and grasping opportunities for economic growth and development, (d) competing globally in a highly demanding world, and (e) leading the way as a leading-edge and knowledge-edge country for a better way of life (STEM Education Coalition, 2011). Likewise, STEM education is designed to develop and implement essential changes in teaching mathematical and scientific concepts in K-12 classrooms (Cassinelli, 2011). There s a great need to promote and increase different fundamental abilities to demonstrate and develop critical and problem-based inquiry skills among K-12 students (ibid). In science teaching, for example, there is bigger emphasis on: (a) understanding individual interests, strengths, experiences, and needs, (b) recognizing the significant use of scientific knowledge, ideas, and inquiry process, (c) providing active, in-depth, and extended scientific inquiry, (d) providing opportunities for scientific discussion and critical thinking, (e) implementing relevant assessments of student understanding, (f) sharing responsibility for learning with students, (g) building positive classroom environments with a focus on cooperation, shared responsibility, and respect, and (h) collaborating with peers to facilitate continuous growth and development (ibid). In understanding the fundamental abilities of scientific inquiry, teachers need to provide students with opportunities to (a) ask higher order thinking questions that can be answered through scientific investigations, (b) design and conduct scientific investigations, (c) use appropriate tools, technology, and techniques to interpret and analyze data, (d) develop and formulate predictions and explanations using evidence to improve investigations and communications, (e) recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions, (f) communicate and defend scientific procedures and explanations, and (g) integrate mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry (ibid).
Effective Technology Integration Practices and Understanding the Fundamentals of Blooms Taxonomy
Today’s K-12 classrooms are implementing different technology integration best practices to support content areas, and STEM is no exception. Unfortunately, there are many situations where technology is implemented for the wrong reasons, such as using technology for convenience, due to pressure from school administrators, for entertainment of students, and the like (Herrington & Kervin, 2007). In doing so, there is greater need to train teachers and administrators to obtain in-depth understanding on the appropriate and relevant integration of technology in content areas. More so with STEM teachers, who are expected to facilitate the use of technology in developing and implementing STEM curriculum (ibid).
Curriculum consists of a structure in order to provide alignment across grade levels, horizontally and vertically, to ensure that gaps are closed (Bruner, 1960). This includes the identification of appropriate content scope and sequence, lessons and activities, student expectations, and content goals and objectives (Bruner, 1960). There are different methodologies that support the effective development and implementation of curriculum structure (ibid). Some of these methodologies and strategies include the Maslow’s hierarchy, tiered levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Critical Thinking Curriculum Model (CTCM), 5E Model, Kagan strategies, etc. For example, the image below demonstrates the combination of technology tools and resources with Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956):
The image above may look familiar, which is often used in technology conferences to promote technology integration and best practices. This particular image is visible in different group or online discussions, blogs, presentations, podcasts, and the like. Te image's newfound status is related to the relationship and relevance that is shown between Blooms Taxonomy (1956) and technology integration tools and resources, particularly in web 2.0 technology.
There is a growing number of users, particularly among educators, who are being exposed and trained in different web 2.0 applications, such as Zoho, Google Labs, Google Earth, Google Square, Scribble Maps, YouTube, Prezi, Gimp, and many more. Aside from students, teachers, parents, and administrators are acquiring different knowledge, skills, and expertise in using different web 2.0 technology for classroom instruction, professional development, student needs, and student learning styles. As educators, we are quite familiar with Blooms Taxonomy (1956) since we have used or continue to use Blooms (1956) domains in developing lesson plans, creating and implementing activities, and conducting assessments. Blooms Taxonomy (1956) is identified in three major categories, namely: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. From these categories, the original domains had been identified as shown in the image below.
According to David Devitre (2008), the original Blooms Taxonomy (1956) pyramid provided the different stages that learners undergo to achieve basic knowledge, obtain understanding, implement knowledge through actual applications, think and analyze critically, synthesize information, and evaluate newfound knowledge. When Lorin Anderson revisited Blooms (1956) domains, certain changes were made that included two significant contributions: (a) the use of verbs to replace the noun format of each domain, and (b) the slight rearrangement of the different domains (Clark, 2010), as shown below.
Based on the figure above, the first tier, "Knowledge", was replaced with "Remembering". The second tier, “Comprehension, which was replaced with “Understanding”, followed this. The third tier, "Application", was replaced with "Applying." The fourth tier, "Analysis", was replaced with "Analyzing." The fifth tier, "Synthesis", was moved to the sixth tier and replaced with "Creating." Finally, the sixth tier from the original domain, "Evaluation", was moved down to the fifth tier (in the new domain) and replaced with "Evaluating." Clark (2010) provided a table with an explanation of the different categories or domains and its associated example and key words (verbs).
With this valuable information in mind, different web 2.0 applications have been identified to relate and establish relevance with the new domains of Blooms Taxonomy (1956). The new Blooms Taxonomy (1956) and Web 2.0 Technology pyramid is a great resource to (a) support teachers in identifying effective and meaningful web-based applications for content mastery, integration, and enhancement, (b) develop lessons and activities that relate to students' real world experiences and different learning styles, and (c) provide students with opportunities to create and implement newfound experiences (Clark, 2010).
The power of effective technology integration in teaching STEM plays an important role in both students and teachers. Successful technology integration enables teachers to become better curriculum instructors with an in-depth understanding on STEM content, efficient course developers, and effective facilitators of student learning. With the desired expectations from STEM education, it is important for K-12 classrooms to focus on developing appropriate and relevant methodologies and practices to achieve: (a) the exploration and generation of new ideas and new worlds, (b) the ambition to become innovative and pioneering leaders, (c) the advancement in different opportunities for economic growth and development, (d) the equitable and healthy competition in the global setting, and (e) leading the way as a leading-edge and knowledge-edge country for a better way of life (STEM Education Coalition, 2011). Authentic and meaningful teaching and learning cannot primarily exist in a traditional classroom environment where rote learning and memorization are the dominant methods of teaching. In doing so, STEM education in K-12 classrooms have to promote and take advantage of opportunities that supports effective technology integration methodologies and practices. Technology is instrumental in STEM education in K-12 classrooms, provided that meaningful and authentic student learning is developed through enormous potential of cognitive tools that can only be realized within a constructivist framework for learning (Herrington & Kervin, 2007).
Ash, K. (2010). Educators explore how to use gps for teaching. Education Week: Digital Directions, 4(1), 18-19. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2010/10/20/01gps.h04.html
Aronowitz, S. (2009). How can American education compete globally?. The Journal, Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/articles/2009/11/05/how-can-american-education-compete-globally.aspx
Bruner, J. (1956). The Process of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
Cassinelli, C. (2011). Integrating google tools 4 teachers. Retrieved from http://sites.google.com/site/colettecassinelli/stem-google-docs
Clark, D. (2010). Bloom's taxonomy of learning domains: The three types of learning. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html
Clough, M. (Composer). (2009). Modeling effective teaching techniques . [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n16q9V9Pf2c&feature=related
Craige, B. (Producer). (2007). Authentic technology integration stem classrooms. [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/bjcraige/authentic-technology-integration-stem-classrooms
Gordon, D. (2011). REMOTE LEARNING: TECHNOLOGY IN RURAL SCHOOLS. T H E Journal, 38(9), 18-24.
Herrington, J., & Kervin, L. (2007). Authentic Learning Supported by Technology: Ten suggestions and cases of integration in classrooms. Educational Media International, 44(3), 219-236. doi:10.1080/09523980701491666
JFSTECH. (Producer). (2010). What makes great teachers . [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bIQ4-3XSxU&feature=related
Robertson, W. (2008). Developing problem-based curriculum. (1st ed., pp. 1-156). Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
Minnesota's Renewable Energy Management (MREM). (Producer). (2010). K-12 teacher internships in renewable energy . [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_HxDtqW_48
Pellegrino, J. W., & Quellmalz, E. S. (2010). Perspectives on the Integration of Technology and Assessment. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 43(2), 119-134.
Starr, L. (2011). Integrating technology in the classroom: It takes more than just having computers. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech146.shtml
STEM Education Coalition. (2011). Stem education coalition. Retrieved from http://www.stemedcoalition.org/
Vital Signs. (Producer). (2010). Hastac 2010 vital signs . [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6vkXwVgv80
A Part 2 Reflection on Contemporary Issues In Curriculum (5th Edition) and Ideology and Curriculum (3rd Edition)
A Part 2 Reflection on Contemporary Issues In Curriculum (5th Edition) and Ideology and Curriculum (3rd Edition) written by Sharo Dickerson
Curriculum development and implementation entails different factors in order to achieve student academic success (Ornstein, Pajak, and Ornstein, 2011). One of these factors includes the appropriate understanding on the meaning and purpose of teaching in developing the inner growth of students (ibid, p. 53). Teachers play an essential role in demonstrating genuine concern and valuable support to students as unique individuals (ibid). However, teachers are continuously faced with the challenge of being up to date with curriculum changes, understanding student’s complexity as human beings, and being vulnerable to criticisms and individual emotions (ibid). A second factor to be recognized in the role of teaching is the decision whether teaching is an art or a science (ibid). This led to the reconstruction of the teaching framework and in placing greater emphasis on the profession’s moral and humanistic importance (ibid). Teachers collaborate and work daily with students, which entail different modalities of humanistic interactions. These productive interactions cannot be solely measured through standardized assessments, which continues to be a common evaluation tool in determining student success and teacher effectiveness. Furthermore, teachers are human beings who have different emotions and behaviors that should be considered. In doing so, these emotions and behaviors, when developed appropriately, can lead to great potentials in supporting students achieve meaningful and relevant learning experiences. A final factor to be realized in the role of teaching is the importance of identifying the four styles of teaching, namely: knowing, caring, inspiring, and inventing (ibid). These diverse styles of teaching are aimed to understand different teachers, particularly beginning teachers, with regard to their classroom strategies. The idea behind the Inventing style of teaching includes the expectation for students to: (a) desire the discovery of new ideas, (b) explore given possibilities, (c) investigate present beliefs and findings, and (d) invent new knowledge as information creators (ibid, p. 111). Meanwhile, the Knowing style of teaching includes the apparent observation of (a) clear expectations of the teacher from his/her students, (b) lesson objectives, classroom rules, and lesson guidelines, (c) teacher-directed student learning with focus on factual information and key concepts, (d) the dynamics in group work and role assignments, and (e) efficiency and purpose (ibid, p. 112). On the other hand, the Caring style of teaching includes the evident existence of (a) well received affection by students from the teacher, (b) close connections with parents, (c) extra concern towards students’ understanding of a lesson, (d) openness and accommodation towards students’ emotional needs, and (e) parental similarities in supporting students (ibid). Finally, the Inspiring style of teaching includes the (a) acceptance of students’ immense potential possibilities, (b) eagerness to please, (c) stimulation of students’ minds through creative and colorful materials, (d) showcase of student’s individual work and accomplishments, and (e) innovation through exemplified teaching and learning experiences (ibid). These styles of teaching are a great reminder in comprehending the role of structure in curriculum (Apple, 2009). Structure provides the pathways for teachers to define their teaching styles that will either lead students to reach their highest potentials, or be labeled and led to specific programs to support special needs that students may have (ibid). As students are taught desired behaviors, knowledge, and skills, this same thing is applicable with teachers who have undergone a similar process of labeling and tracking (ibid). Curriculum and teaching are great partners as long as appropriate support is provided to ensure good teachers’ are kept in the school system (Ornstein et al, 2011).
As teaching plays an important role in curriculum development and implementation, so is the role of learning as an active participant in student achievement (ibid). This includes opportunities for students to undergo genuine process of learning, which provide students time to identify their strengths and weaknesses, test their abilities, be critical about what they have learned, and make appropriate decisions (ibid, p. 128). Students grapple to find purpose and meaning, build self-esteem and confidence, and establish balance in their more complex life (ibid). In addition, a student’s learning process entails the development of one’s ability to act and think according to given intellectual endeavors (i.e. moral or character education). In doing so, students should be provided more opportunities to be responsible in making choices to investigate and explore (Ornstein et al, 2011). This includes providing students with various learning experiences to develop moral values and characteristics that will result to positive individual growth (ibid). As human beings, it is important that students be engaged in defining their own development, without being replaced by preconceived notions (ibid). These notions are often influenced by previously acquired behaviors, conservatism, and religion (ibid, p. 175). Students should not merely comply with the structure provided in the curriculum or the entire school system itself, but to choose which will be most appropriate for their successful learning. Unfortunately, there is greater complexity within school systems, which influences the manner of limiting students school success and life’s chances through the impact of tracking (ibid, p. 182). Racial identification and socio-economic status have been dead set in identifying students’ future paths, which contributes to the overall societal structure (Apple, 2009). The restraints and limitations that are planted in students’ school success and life’s chances are a reflection on the desire for structural organization, management, and control from the richer or more affluent percentile of society (ibid). This control provides these individuals to produce the desired workforce in sustaining the existence of societal structure (ibid).
Curriculum delivery cannot be complete without appropriate, effective, and engaging instruction. According to Bloom (1956), conventional instruction has its advantages and disadvantages (Ornstein et al, 2011). There are existing methodologies that continue to work in a face-to-face setting. However, there are many practices that have been improved or changed based on the current issues and problems in education. These changes include the necessary development and implementation of better and more effective implementation of a “thought-filled” curriculum (ibid). This type of curriculum provides more opportunities for students to think critically, be adaptable and prepared to collaborate with a highly multicultural environment, communicate strategically and effectively, and apply knowledge to real-world problems (ibid). These opportunities produce nurturing and highly productive learning environments that are more conducive to student success. Student learning environments are constantly affected and influenced by home environments, school learning, district and state policies and regulations, and teachers’ differential instructional methodologies (ibid). In the movie, “Walkout”, it was evident how student success was dependent on their learning environments, particularly with the effects of discrimination and inequalities that were in place at that time. It was very unfortunate that these students, as depicted in the movie, experienced harmful and offensive actions in their desire to have equal and equitable educational resources. Though it may not seem as evident to many today, there still exist different situations of inequality and inequity among students of color in the American education system (Darling-Hammond, 2010).
Curriculum will always be affected by the many decisions of politics (ibid). The policies serve as guiding factors for districts and educational institutions to form regulations to serve students’ interests (ibid). However, the reality of these policies and regulations don’t serve the intended audience. Instead, it’s the students who are constantly affected by the unwise and lack of consideration on the decision-making abilities of legislators and district administrators (ibid). Supervision plays an integral role in the curriculum development and implementation. This includes the effectiveness of supervisors in leading and supporting teachers to become better classroom instructors and instructional collaborators in the school educational system. Ornstein et al (2011) stated that it is important for supervisors to “work with teachers in regards to the manner they work with students, how teachers need to appreciate and understand student diversity, and how teachers should support students needs based on their diverse cultural backgrounds” (p. 257). Today, there is greater diversity in the student populations in American schools (Darling-Hammond, 2010). Majority of the student population come from minority groups whose language is other than English (ibid). In doing so, it may seem that it is to be understood that the American educational system provides existing programs to support student who are classified under minority groups (ibid). Unfortunately, many schools in America lack the funding and necessary resources to support these students (ibid). The tremendous increases in the diversity in student populations have generated more situations of separation and discrimination (ibid). Aside from basing these conclusions and ideas from the past, the ongoing issues and problems in supporting minority groups of students have produced long standing effects in student success, including higher dropout rates, failures of schools to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP), lesser students going to college, and the like (ibid).
References Apple, M. (2004). Ideology and Curriculum. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: RoutledgeFalmer.
Bruner, J. (1956). The Process of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Ornstein, A., Pajak, E., & Ornstein, S. (2011). Contemporary Issues in Curriculum. (5th ed.). Upple Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
A Journal on "Virtual Warrensburg: Using Cooperative Learning and the Internet in the Social Studies Classroom by Scott Scheuerell"
A Journal on Virtual Warrensburg: Using Cooperative Learning and the Internet in the Social Studies Classroom by Scott Scheuerell written by Sharo Dickerson
The author discusses how high school social studies teachers can have their students investigate local history topics and share their findings by producing Web pages, using a cooperative learning structure. The author discusses his firsthand experiences using this approach with high school students at Warrensburg High School. He emphasizes the need to rethink how technology is being used in the social studies classroom—in particular, by having students share their local history findings with others beyond the walls of the classroom rather than being passive learners with the Internet. In addition, he emphasizes the benefits of having students work together to collaboratively construct knowledge using technology—specifically, by using the PIES cooperative learning structure to ensure there is positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction among group members. Examples of Web pages, produced by his students using the PIES cooperative learning structure, are discussed in the article.
Literature Review and Discussion
Today’s education demands a multitude of talents and skills from students to become highly efficient and productive citizens of society (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2011). Students are expected to develop effective communication and collaboration abilities that are essential in a thriving and diverse workforce (Scheuerell, 2010, p. 195). Likewise, students need to develop good listening skills, learn to become team players, and obtain appropriate behaviors to achieve common and mutual goals (ibid, p. 194). These skills are highly recommended in order to compete healthily and effectively in a global environment (Apple, 2009). Despite the positivity of cultivating progressive and innovative skills among students, one cannot help but think about the desired expectations from a society that is driven with different socio-cultural, political, and economic structures (ibid). One is made to reflect and analyze the genuine intentions of society’s demands to produce citizens that will function completely according to specified roles and outcomes (ibid).
In this journal article, Scheuerell (2010) discusses the importance of (a) developing meaningful and dynamic learning experiences, (b) building relevant connections from past history to present situations, (c) integrating technology with cooperative learning to create and implement best teaching and learning practices, and (d) making a positive difference in society (p. 195). The framework for 21st century learning provides opportunities to prepare students in accomplishing these desired expectations and outcomes (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2011). Based on the framework for 21st century learning, students have to be prepared to think critically and communicate effectively, conduct problem solving successfully, and develop creative and innovative ways (ibid). This also includes placing immense emphasis on (a) global awareness, (b) financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial Literacy learning and innovative skills, (c) civic literacy, (d) heath literacy, (e) environmental literacy, (f) life and career skills, and (g) information, media, and technology skills (ibid). In doing so, students will be able to obtain greater understanding of academic content and readiness in a more complex life and work environments in the 21st century (ibid).
In Virtual Warrensburg, students from a social studies class were introduced to collaborative ways of constructing knowledge using technology (Scheuerell, 2010, p. 195). Students were tasked to conduct a research that will (a) connect historical facts on an African American school, (b) explore the impact of the railroad on the community, and (c) discover Bloody Bill Anderson’s impact on the civil war in Johnson County, Missouri (ibid, p. 196). Students were provided with different opportunities to work in groups, communicate with peers, and collaborate with each other to achieve a specified goal (ibid, p. 195). As part of the students’ learning experience, different technology tools and resources (i.e. Internet, laptops, digital videos) were used to complete the assigned research and the production of a web page based on the given topics (ibid, p. 195). Students played different group roles, which allowed each individual to create information and ideas, think critically, apply analytical skills, solve problems, and implement scientific methods in accomplishing the required tasks (ibid, p. 195). This cooperative learning approach provided low and high-achieving students to learn together, retain information in long-terms, be motivated intrinsically, be focused in spending quality time on task, and rely with each other for support and encouragement (ibid, p. 196). Thus, significant academic achievement can be obtained when cooperative learning is implemented appropriately in the classroom (ibid).
Students need to experience thoughtful and careful grappling as part of their learning process (Ornstein, Pajak, & Ornstein, 2011). In doing so, it is important for schools to utilize the benefits of students’ prior knowledge and cultural background to develop students’ new knowledge without the interference and replacement of teachers’ own conclusions (ibid). For this to happen naturally and effectively, teachers have to be open in allowing students to figure out the necessary answers as part of their learning experiences (ibid). Likewise, teachers have to be open to change and explore other possibilities that methodological practices of technology can provide to support and enhance learning (ibid). In this journal article, the high school students from a social studies class in Virtual Warrensburg were able to: (a) collaborate in groups, (b) appropriately use technology to construct individual concepts and understanding of the lesson, and (c) communicate their newfound knowledge to others using technology (Scheueller, 2010, p. 197). This is a great example on how the infusion cooperative learning and technology has created a dynamic lesson, particularly in social studies (ibid).
The experience of Virtual Warrensburg’ students is a positive indication in the importance of developing creative minds, which is highly applicable today (Ornstein et al, 2011). This essential fact can also be associated in the teaching and learning experiences for the students of Ysleta Independent School District at El Paso, Texas. Creative minds are necessary to develop and sustain a society’s everyday existence (ibid). The development of students’ intelligence, knowledge, personality, and motivation will support the existence of a progressive and dynamic environment (ibid). This includes the development of students’ moral and character education, understanding of cultural influence in determining individual roles for the future, and providing multiple opportunities for students to achieve beyond society’s socio-economic structures (ibid). It is a challenge with any school to achieve the ideal student that will eventually lead to the successful creation of the ideal citizen, especially in today’s society where there are more demands for better and greater knowledge, talents, and skills (ibid). In doing so, school communities have to be prepared to support students in being open to the benefits of innovation, creativity, collaboration, and cooperative learning (Scheueller, 2010). Schools also need to provide students with equitable educational opportunities that will lead to more life and work choices (Ornstein et al, 2011). It is evident that students’ academic achievement produces collaboration with peers in a face-to-face setting, offers great possibilities in the use of cooperative learning with technology integration, and provides students with the necessary skills in the 21st century (Scheueller, 2010, p. 198).
Apple, M. (2009). Ideology and Curriculum. New York: Routledge Taylor and Fracis Group.
Ornstein, A., Pajak, E., & Ornstein, S. (2011). Contemporary Issues in Curriculum. (5th ed.). Upple Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2011). Framework for 21st Century Learning. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/overview
Revere, L., & Kovach, J. V. (2011). ONLINE TECHNOLOGIES FOR ENGAGED LEARNING A Meaningful Synthesis for Educators. Quarterly Review Of Distance Education, 12(2), 113-124.
Scheuerell, S. (2010). Virtual warrensburg: Using cooperative learning and the internet in the social studies classroom. The Social Studies, 101, 194-199. doi: 10.1080/00377990903493861
A Journal on Signature Pedagogies for Social Foundations: Negotiating Social Foundations Teaching Practices in the Field of Education by Sandra Schneider
A Journal on Signature Pedagogies for Social Foundations: Negotiating Social Foundations Teaching Practices in the Field of Education by Sandra Schneider written by Sharo Dickerson
The conflicts arising between the pedagogical preferences of the fields of instructional design and technology (IDT) and social foundations of education are substantial. This conflict is primarily one of pedagogical values separating the Social Foundations with its emphasis on critical and creative thinking and the presumption of value and theory neutrality inherent in IDT. This is a serious issue because, increasingly, educators use IDT models to translate Social Foundations courses with social justice and equity outcomes into online formats. Much is lost. This article offers a discussion of the theoretical grounding of IDT (task-analysis) versus social foundations in regards to implications for the instructional social organization of online social foundations classrooms. This article uses the notion of signature pedagogy to describe socio-cultural literacies as a basic tenet in social foundations of education. By doing so, it is demonstrated how these important theoretical positions are currently playing out in online instruction and space, to extend their relevance by introducing newer concepts such as Digital Cartesianism and co-presence, and to provide a concrete example of what these concerns look like in the current push towards digital formats. In the current context of the use of electronic, social, communication, and mobile technologies in education, we find a new site to continue challenging the assumed neutrality of the technological model for education.
Literature Review and Discussion
The transfer of critical theory and building of relationships through co-presence in signature pedagogies have raised conflicts between the fields of social foundations and instructional design and technology (Schneider, 2010, p. 416). Social foundations entails in-depth understanding of socio-cultural views, literacy, justice, and the like, that may include the development of different human characteristics: (a) appropriate behavior, (b) values, (c) human nature, (d) coping mechanisms, (e) tolerance (Ornstein, Pajak, & Ornstein, 2011). In doing so, there is concern on the effectiveness of developing and implementing critical pedagogies of social foundations in an online learning environment (Schneider, 2010, p. 416). An online or web-based learning environment has course instructors use both asynchronous and synchronous tools to deliver atypical online curriculum (Revere & Kovach, 2011). The learning environment is primarily conducted in a virtual space where both online teachers and students communicate, collaborate, and interact in a learning management system (LMS), such as Blackboard, MOODLE, and Angel (Revere & Kovach, 2011). Social foundations content, in this type of environment, is provided through similar curricular and instructional practices as accomplished in a face-to-face environment (Schneider, 2010, p. 416). Meanwhile, in a face-to-face course, social foundations is presented with a special emphasis on social justice and equity outcomes using socio-cultural lens, particularly with the implementation of strategies based on ecological views of classroom community and spatial proximity (p. 425). For this reason, instructional design and technology has to provide valuable and meaningful evidences that online learning is an effective medium in imparting social foundations content to students.
Co-presence in the same space is highly essential in the successful delivery of social foundations pedagogies (p. 418). This provides teachers and students with “informal, intuitive, local, knack-oriented, improvisational, and ad hoc nature” of meaningful learning experiences. Social foundations, based on face-to-face instruction, provide students with opportunities to process learning through (a) interdependence of individual minds and (b) interpersonal relations and social situations (p. 419). According to John Dewey (1980), growth is defined as an articulation of “visceral, affective, semiotic, and deeply embodied codependent experiences”, with resulting changes occurring throughout the course of learning, which is identified as “habit reconstruction” (p. 419). Signature pedagogies in social foundations are critical to the understanding of socio-cultural views on literacy and justice, which include the use of teaching characteristics and views about knowledge to construct new ideas among students (p. 420). As socially dependent beings, students gain better understanding with peers when learning involves support and respect from teachers, and significant amounts of human socialization is cultivated in a mutual space (p. 421).
On the other hand, content delivery, task analysis, formalization, and codification of knowledge are key methodologies used in computer-mediated instruction in the field of instructional design and technology (p. 418). Many computer-mediated instruction is presented in images and text, together with web-based manipulative and virtual interactions (P. 419). Likewise, there is significant emphasis placed on task analysis, particularly with its paramount role in instructional design (p. 422). The understanding of social foundations context in this type of learning environment is made through a pre-specified process of analytical activities, which are defined within the parameters of the learning situation (p. 422). In addition, task analysis provides direct instruction, performance support, and constructivist learning environments as part of the pre-specified process (ibid).
These differences (i.e. on teaching and learning through co-presence in a mutual space and on computer-mediated instruction through a virtual learning environment) are demonstrated in the disconnection of “practiced responsiveness” and making of meaning (p. 418). This includes the limitations (i.e. lack of emphasis on: cohort groups collaboration, peer-journaling partnerships, diversity brought in face-to-face learning, grappling as part of student learning) of computer-mediated instruction that concerns many face-to-face social foundations teachers (p. 419). In other words, computer-mediated instruction in the instructional design and technology model restricts the structure of participation and intimate communication that originally occurs in a face-to-face social foundations course (p. 423).
These constraints can be associated with Lawrence Kohlberg’s (1975) identification and explanation of the different stages of morality, namely: (a) Stage 1: the punishment-and-obedience, (b) Stage 2: the instrumental-relativist orientation, (c) Stage 3: the interpersonal concordance or “good boy-nice girl” orientation, (d) Stage 4: the “law and order” orientation, (e) Stage 5: the social-contract, legalistic orientation, and (f) Stage 6: the universal-ethical-principle orientation (Ornstein et al, 2011). In a social foundations course, where socio-cultural views on literacy and justice are developed, students can be led to experience these different stages of morality through supportive and effective contextual delivery and methodological practices by teachers in a face-to-face learning environment (Schneider, 2010). The valuable contributions that social foundations teachers can provide through face-to-face discussions, collaborative groupings of students, relevant and real-world situational experiences, and the like, can lead to more opportunities of meaningful and critical teaching and learning experiences (Ornstein et al, 2011). In an online learning environment, these experiences may be more challenging and difficult to achieve based on limited possibilities of human interaction and internalization in a mutual space, and with a greater emphasis on the use of computer-mediated instruction in delivering content (Schneider, 2010).
In today’s classroom, there is continuous evidence on the reluctance of regular classroom teachers, parents, and district/campus administrators to allow students to take different courses in a full online learning environment. This reluctance may include the lack of understanding about online course instruction and curriculum development, and the difference between online teacher-led instructions versus a completely computer-mediated instruction. As discussed in previous paragraphs, there is a greater preference to develop understanding and deliver meaningful learning activities of social foundations in a face-to-face learning environment (Schneider, 2010). It is difficult to identify and implement specific methods of instruction that will truly work successfully in any curriculum, particularly when it involves a more complex and elaborate content such as social foundations (Ornstein et al, 2011). Though social foundations context may be more ideal in a face-to-face learning environment, teachers may find it valuable to blend such learning with educational technology and facilitate the strengths that can be obtained in an online learning environment (Ornstein et al, 2011). There have often been discussions on the importance of addressing the development of every student as a whole. In doing so, students cannot be denied with opportunities to construct new knowledge and skills using methodologies aside from face-to-face classroom activities. There is immense power in combining different instructional methodologies to produce the most number of benefits in appropriate teaching, meaningful student learning experiences, and relevant curriculum development (Ornstein et al, 2011).
Ornstein, A., Pajak, E., & Ornstein, S. (2011). Contemporary Issues in Curriculum. (5th ed.). Upple Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Revere, L., & Kovach, J. V. (2011). Online Technologies For Engaged Learning: A Meaningful Synthesis for Educators. Quarterly Review Of Distance Education, 12(2), 113-124.
Schneider, S. B. (2010). Signature Pedagogies for Social Foundations: Negotiating Social Foundations Teaching Practices in the Field of Education. Educational Studies, 46(4), 416-428. doi:10.1080/00131946.2010.496349
A Conference Proposal for SITE 2012: The Effectiveness of Virtual and Blended Learning in High Schools
A Conference Proposal for SITE 2012: The Effectiveness of Virtual and Blended Learning in High Schools written by Sharo Dickerson
This paper is a report on the study of the effectiveness of virtual and blended learning in high schools. Findings in this study have indicated that face-to-face learning is not for all students. Virtual and blended learning environments provide significant contributions to the teaching and learning of high school students, particularly as a supplemental and an alternative option to support different student learning styles to achieve academic success.
Curriculum structure plays a significant role in any educational institution (Apple, 2004). It serves as the very foundation that teachers and administrators use to identify the scope and sequence of the content areas that will be taught in the classrooms (Apple, 2004). In doing so, it is important that educators understand the critical issues in curriculum development to provide the necessary services for student achievement. Contemporary issues in education have resulted in the development of different learning environments, from face-to-face, to virtual or online and blended learning. Despite the changes in education, there are many questions and problems that need to be addressed, such as the rigor and quality of instructional methodologies and concepts to support student academic achievement (Ornstein, Pajak, & Ornstein, 2011). In understanding the different learning environments that exist in today’s education, it is important to identify the definition of each learning environment.
First, face-to-face learning is the traditional method of delivering concepts and teaching methodologies by a classroom teacher or an instructor to students. Students are situated in a conventional classroom setting, which often consist of the brick-and-mortar classroom, tables and chairs, a whiteboard or blackboard, specific content-based instructional materials (i.e. manipulative resources, activity sheets, running records, paper and pencil assessments), technology equipment, to name a few. In most school communities, the traditional classroom setting is where most of the teaching and learning is created, developed, and delivered. In addition, students obtain learning experiences through a sense of dependence on the knowledge and expertise of the classroom instructor or teacher.
Second, virtual learning is an alternative method of delivering concepts, where students’ learning experiences are developed through an online Learning Management System (LMS). Interactive and hands-on activities are provided to stimulate teaching and learning. A classroom teacher becomes an online instructor to online students. Students are not constrained within the confines of a brick-and-mortar classroom. Teaching and learning are provided through anytime, anywhere accessibility. There are two main varieties of virtual learning, namely, online learning and self-paced online learning. Online learning is a non-traditional method of delivering concepts using a learning management system and an online instructor or teacher who provides the student learning experience (Kachel, Henry, & Keller, 2005). Students follow a designated schedule for every module or unit that is managed by the online instructor or teacher (Kachel, Henry, & Keller, 2005). Meanwhile, self-paced online learning is a non-traditional method of delivering concepts similar to an online learning environment (Rhode, 2009). The difference lies in the time allotted for each module or unit (Rhode, 2009). In self-paced online learning, students can accelerate the process of completion as long as the students complete the entire course within the designated semester (Rhode, 2009).
Finally, blended learning is another learning environment that was recently developed based on the teaching and learning experiences obtained from both face-to-face and virtual learning environments (Rovai & Jordan, 2004). According to Alfred Rovai and Hope Jordan (2004), blended learning is a non-traditional method of delivering concepts and methodologies using both face-to-face and virtual learning methods. Furthermore, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) defined blended learning as “combining online delivery of educational content with the best features of classroom interaction and live instruction to personalize learning, allow thoughtful reflection, and differentiate instruction from student-to-student across a diverse group of learners” (Eduviews, 2009, p. 2).
The Four-Quad Analysis methodology is used to conduct this study. This type of methodology provides the study with significant opportunities in gathering data, interpreting findings, segregating relevant from irrelevant information, and understanding the elements that contribute meaningfully to this study. The Four Quad Analysis methodology is composed of four parts. These parts include: (a) Quad 1, which defines the theory, research, and best practices of the study, (b) Quad 2, which identifies the federal and state laws, rules and data of this study, (c) Quad 3, which describes a district or campus perceptions, feelings, beliefs and experience in relation to this study, and (d) Quad 4, which provides the district or campus policies, regulations, records, and data of this study.
Furthermore, the study also explored the use of interviews, on-line surveys, and face-to-face consultation with different stakeholders of the school community. A SEDL Program Associate analyzed the data from these research tools have been used in this study.
Face-to-face or traditional learning environments face several challenges. These challenges include, but are not limited to: (a) high schools failing to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP), (b) high schools facing increasing dropout rates, (c) high schools failing or inadequately addressing the needs of general education homebound and special education homebound students, (d) high schools inadequately supporting different student learning styles, and (e) high schools lacking funding to support larger class sizes and degrading school structures. In doing so, alternative options, such as virtual learning, have been developed in the American school system to support the different challenges being faced by American high schools (Crosnoe, Riegle-Crumb, & Muller, 2007).
Virtual learning has been introduced to high schools as a supplement or alternative method in providing meaningful student learning experiences (Archambault, L., Diamond, D., Brown, R., Cavanaugh, C., Coffey, M., Foures-Aalbu, D., Richardson, J., & Zygouris-Coe, V., 2010). Virtual learning aims to provide: (a) anytime, anywhere access in a rigorous, personalized access to student learning, (b) students with flexibility, freedom, and safety outside the traditional brick-and-mortar school, (c) students with alternative forms of education that utilize cutting edge technology, and (d) opportunities to experience a progressive form of receiving and obtaining concepts ((Archambault, L., Diamond, D., Brown, R., Cavanaugh, C., Coffey, M., Foures-Aalbu, D., Richardson, J., & Zygouris-Coe, V., 2010).).
In the state of Texas, the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN) was established to develop and implement virtual learning to all its public schools, charter schools, and parochial schools (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). Many high school students participated in the state’s virtual learning program (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). Likewise, the availability of funding from the state provided opportunities for higher participation from different high schools and the development of public school online courses (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). Through the inspiration and establishment of virtual learning by Florida Virtual Schools, TxVSN was founded to begin an era of virtual learning opportunities for Texas high school students (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). Below is a graph that demonstrates the demand for virtual learning during the time when state funds were available in supporting the enrollment of online courses of high school students in TxVSN (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011).
In the summer of school year 2010-2011, the high school enrollment for regular high school courses reached 8,133 and dual credit courses declined to 394 courses (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). While in the fall of school year 2011-2012, the high school enrollment for regular high school courses dropped to 1,399 courses and dual credit courses increased to 407 courses (Texas Virtual School Network.org, 2011). The ongoing increase in high school online course enrollment was due to the funding available through the state of Texas (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). When funding was eliminated for the fall of this year (2011-2012), there was a huge drop on the online course enrollment as demonstrated in Figure 1 (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). From the big picture as illustrated in Figure 1, Figure 2 provides the results of high school enrollment in virtual learning in a smaller scale. Below is a graph that demonstrates the demand for virtual learning during the time when state funds were available in supporting the enrollment of online courses of high school students in a public school district located at El Paso, Texas:
Figure 2: Number of Enrolled High School Courses in Virtual Learning Per School Year in a Public School District at El Paso, Texas. X-axis defines the numerical quantity of enrollments and Y-axis defines the school years. The graph also includes the progression of enrollments for High School credits and Dual Credit courses. School year 2008-2009 was the beginning of the implementation of virtual learning in the sample public school district of El Paso, Texas (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). State funding made it possible for this district to accommodate and enroll high school students in virtual learning (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). According to the data provided in Figure 2, there were 5 enrolled online courses in virtual learning (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). When more high schools from this district participated in the virtual learning initiative, the enrolled online courses increased to 22 during the school year of 2009-2010 (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). This was then followed with a tremendous increase of 115 enrolled online courses during the school year of 2010-2011 (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). The increase is influenced by the availability of state funding during the last year of implementation in the aforementioned school year (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). Eventually, the lost of the funding source resulted to a huge decline in enrollment during the school year of 2011-2012 (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011). Currently, there are only 13 enrolled online courses from this district (Texas Virtual School Network, 2011).
As much as there are statistical evidences of successful enrollments in virtual learning that are identified in Figures 1 and 2, blended learning is being introduced to high schools as a new methodology that combines online learning and face-to-face instruction to meet the needs of 21st century teaching and learning (Eduviews, 2009). The combination of these two learning approaches include: (a) an in-depth understanding and integration of curriculum developers and teachers with content area concepts and methodologies, united with online technology tools, (b) the appropriate use of face-to-face learning materials and resources with online learning, (c) the facilitation of collaboration, communication, and creativity among students, to name a few (Eduviews, 2009). Students desire to have control in their own learning and there is value in providing students with different opportunities to collaborate effectively in their learning process (Eduviews, 2009). This means that students do have desire to learn, and teachers have to build that trust to enable students in taking ownership of one’s learning (Eduviews, 2009). Teachers, who have experienced virtual or online learning, have found value in virtual or online instruction to support students’ different learning styles (Eduviews, 2009). The non-biased delivery of instruction provides students of any race, color, or ethnicity to take on courses without pre-judgments and biased assumptions of personal and cultural backgrounds (Eduviews, 2009). With the limitation or unavailability of a funding source to support full virtual learning enrollments from the public school district of El Paso, Texas, the blended learning environment may serve as an alternative to continue the facilitation of face-to-face classroom instruction and seamless integration of technology.
The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the effectiveness of virtual and blended learning environments for high school students. Based on gathered information in this study, there are evidences that support the valuable role of virtual and blended learning environments. This includes the use of the methodologies and practices to support the academic challenges being faced by American high school students. Face-to-face learning is not adequate in providing students with meaningful and rigorous learning experiences, based on the aforementioned challenges that are continuously experienced by American high schools. There is an eminent need to support virtual and blended learning environments to attend to different students’ learning and individual needs. Virtual and blended learning environments provide different opportunities for students to perceive learning as positive and motivating tools for growth and development. Students are able to learn at their own pace without the presence of threat of external factors in face-to-face learning environments. Likewise, the utilization of different types of technology tools entices students’ appetite for life-long learning.
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