From the perspective of using technology to support teaching, the night class that I teach at St. Monica’s Parish School of Religion (PSR) has some difficulties. Primarily, I do not have access to a full set of resources common to a standard day school. I have the choice to use a whiteboard and/or a tv/dvd player when requested. Consequently, I have created some novel solutions with the limited technology available. What I’m most proud of is a game based on the old computer game “Oregon Trail,” and rewritten as a pen and paper game for students to play. It’s one of my prouder inventions as a teacher.
One of the projects I learned about in Action Research was how to reconsider tried and true technologies that even most teachers had taken for granted. To that end, I developed a research plan for use in my PSR class that involved a “low-tech” platform based on the recent popular phenomenon of adult coloring books. I planned to implement coloring books as a tool to help students focus before the start of class.
Another part of my class work was to consider how innovations are adopted by teachers and students alike. I explored how members of my family and friends who work in the education field adopted the innovation of tablet computers for their work and home daily lives
Before this program and during the initial months, I worked for Christian Brothers College High School in Town and Country in Missouri. I worked at the I.T. Helpdesk supporting both teachers and students in both repair of computers and implementing new technologies. The school is 1:1 with computers: all students, staff and faculty have a Lenovo brand laptop to perform their duties.
One of the unique problems we encountered was finding a way to assist our students in preparation for the AP Spanish exam. The exam requires a verbal component in order to pass. Due to the strict standards of the AP exam, as well as our own technology policies, we could not employ the student’s own computers to avoid cheating, especially because the computers were to be off the internet at the time of the exam. It was my responsibility to develop a plan to meet the AP Spanish standards.
I worked to make a bank of computers that were configured to meet these requirements. The computers also had to have the ability to create the required Mp3s burned to CD with the open-source program Audacity installed on the computers. I also completely removed the computer’s Ethernet and wireless drivers to make sure students could not reach out to any internet.
As mentioned, my experience with St. Monica’s Parish School of Religion was somewhat technology challenged in course of my teaching. However, I do labor to seek out innovative solutions to this problem. During the years I taught the seventh grade class, one of the requirements were for students to generate a report on a Catholic saint as part of the study process. While the report was seen as a “traditional” assignment, in the preparation phase, we had multiple collaborative days where students would research with available books of saints. There were readymade information sheets that could help them look up details online at home. I made part of the assignment for students to make a faux Facebook, Twitter or other social media page for the saint in question, based on their saint’s respective history, their life, achievements and death.
Because I’m a big fan of trivia games, the other major tool I use in this same low tech classroom is a trivia game. This lets me judge student retention of the data and entertain students at the same time. There can be unofficial versions of this, but I also plan for an official version that involves parents as well. We play PSR Jeopardy at the end of the Second Trimester at St. Monica’s PSR. Students and parents alike tend to get competitive in the exchange. I use a simple buzzer system from Amazon to assist in the game.
During this program I certainly and frequently considered how much I didn’t know regarding the art of education. One of the classes I enjoyed was the Instructional Design class, and I thought back on one of the most popular toolsets that many of my undergraduate teachers had used in their classes – Microsoft Powerpoint. It’s no secret that both the education and business world over use this toolset without consideration for effective use.
I worked with a team to develop an education plan for fellow educators based on four different technologies, with power point being one of them. We proposed using a Weebly site that any teacher could use to study at their own pace, including using both formative and summative evaluations to make sure that our colleagues were absorbing the lessons. This included both in-person interviews as well as virtual surveys.
Another class that I took was Diffusions of Education Innovation. This class primarily focused on how education innovations were adopted among five categories of people: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. In this class, I explored how friends and family members adopted the relatively new technology of tablets.