During my tenure at Christian Brothers College High School, one of the technologies that we worked with was a typing program called Microtype. It is one of many technologies available to assist students with learning typing. I performed technical support for the program which is used by CBC to train students in typing during their freshman year. My job was to advise students in the use of the program, as well as troubleshoot as the program can be a little clunky, but it’s quality software..
One of the other technologies that I daily and rapidly use in my own technology job efforts is the Service Now ticketing system. My job currently is I.T. support for Mercy Health Systems, and we maintain several major databases for our own use and the Mercy employees. While not strictly education, we have to build our own knowledge base to assist our customers and ourselves. We do this through the Service Now ticketing system, where when one I.T. employee figures out a solution to an existing problem. Subsequently, we submit a solution article to the database to be reviewed by our peers and supervisors. This use of a common database allows solutions to disseminate quickly, and serve the employees more efficiently and effectively.
While serving at CBC we used the Learning Management System known as Blackboard. It’s a solid system; it’s considered dominant among most high schools and colleges. However, there is one major problem. Without additional support, there is nothing preventing students from freely accessing the general internet while using the system. While for the most part this may not be a bad thing; you want class assignments that depend on students using internet resources to have access.. However, during examinations, this does become an issue to make sure students do not attempt to cheat.
I sat on CBC’s New Technology committee; my voice was added to members of every department at CBC in order to discuss and evaluate new technology, including Blackboard. The vendors would present new features. One such technology I helped implement was the Blackboard LMS “Lockdown” browser.
This is function built into Blackboard that can be implemented at a higher fee. When teachers give a test, they can force students to use the Lockdown browser, which suspends all access to other programs while the test is in motion. If other programs are started, LockDown suspends action on the test until the programs are shut down. This has led to better implementation of academic integrity at CBC.
At St. Monica’s, one of the problems with a low technology classroom is how to implement a new technology solution into the existing environment. One such example is one of the assignments for what I developed was a Saint Report project for the seventh-grade class. It is a traditional typed paper assignment, but I prefer to have students still express their creativity by creating on paper a social media account such as Facebook or Twitter, or etcetera. This is to let students express their creativity in creating social media that concurs with the research that they’ve done on historical figures.
The topic of teacher success and how to measure it is one that is hotly debated in the modern era. For my own tracking, I prefer to look at summative evaluations in the form of evaluation surveys by both parents and students. This is done primarily to assure that I’m still fulfilling my job to their satisfaction, but secondarily to find direct areas where I can improve. I tend to take these evaluations seriously, and to make for a truly anonymous system to allow for honesty in the evaluation process, I’ve made these evaluations on Google Forms.
This free survey tool allows for evaluations to be made quickly and efficiently online with natively built in data analysis tools.
While I was at Christian Brothers College High School one of the biggest challenges teachers faced was to make sure students were using the technology for its intended purpose in the classroom. A laptop can be used for assignments or it can be used for gaming.
We had rules and protections to keep students from playing games on the computers. Our students were known for being particularly resourceful to circumvent these protections, so we used a tool called DyKnow to assist our teachers and administrators. My position was to maintain this system and occasionally keep an eye on a list of students. DyKnow can monitor a student’s screen, and locking out certain applications that a teacher does not want run during class. DyKnow allowed us to keep students honest, and remotely disable any programs that they should not be running during school hours.
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 in an evaluation 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 (link) to assist in the game.
Adding to this, I’ve looked towards my own past for inspiration. One of the most iconic computer games of the early 90s was the famous “Oregon Trail” by software publisher MECC. This famous game put students in charge of a part moving from Independence, MO to Oregon.
I’ve readapted this classic game into a paper and pen version for students to play. The goal behind this game is to demonstrate to students in my PSR class the perilous nature of Abraham’s Journey from Mesopotamia to Israel by putting them through a similar journey to the original game. While on the low-tech end of games, this simple element of game play demonstrates the point of the lesson