The Reflective Educator

Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

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Month: February 2009

Using videos in mathematics education

I’m currently enrolled in my Masters in Educational Technology at the University of British Columbia, and it’s a wonderful program, I highly recommend it.  One of the things we are currently looking into is something called the Jasper series, which is essentially a series of videos intended to bring real applications of mathematics into the classroom.

The series has a set up a problem in the real world (like rescuing an injured Eagle, etc…) and students are given a bunch of information in a video format.  They have to decipher the clues in the videos and use them to help construct a mathematical solution to the problem, as well as justifying their final answers.

We’ve researched the videos quite a bit and found a lot of positive responses to the Jasper program.  The videos have tended to motivate and inspire weaker performing students and have been shown to help improve test scores on standardized tests.

Unfortunately the videos are a bit out of date, and the content area of the videos is about 4th or 5th grade level only.  Also the videos are quite expensive, running in at about 250 to 350 dollars EACH.

So I had a brainstorm which I wanted to share.  What if each of us created a single video with one of our classes?  I envision the students as the authors, actors, directors, and editors of their work.

The topics could be varied, certainly this technique is not limited to mathematics, we could do this in any topic area.  We would then <b>share</b> the videos with each other, (plug coming up) on a file sharing site like http://pedagogle.com and then we would all end up with a series of videos.

Preliminary results for survey on technology training

A couple of days ago I posted a Google form asking one simple question.

Estimate how many hours of technology related training occur at your school each year.

After only 2 days up, I’ve received 30 responses, which seem to be from a wide variety of different schools, and almost all of which are from people I’ve never met before.  The preliminary results are posted below, as well excerpts from the comments added by the people completing the surveys.

Number of hours of training Number of respondents
Less than 5 hours 16
5 hours – 10 hours 5
10 hours – 20 hours 1
20 hours – 50 hours 4
More than 50 hours 3

 Some comments below:

  • Training is certainly being offered, but not on a terribly organised basis.  Our head of tech is simply, at present, trying to stimulate more interest.  Training sessions that are setup are poorly attended (3-5 people in general, I’d say).
  • We are fortunate to have a keen staff who want to be trained. We have a marvellous in-house trainer so…it works!
  • There are also other opportunities to receive training at a conference for my subject area, but frequently we are not given permission to attend these conferences due to funding issues or other issues deemed more important than my attendance at one of these conferences. This is called politics.
  • Technology is something [our] school districts love to talk about, but when it comes to spending the money to really get serious…well they would rather fund the football team.
  • Our technology expert was made available to us upon request in order to serve our needs with regard to technology.  This was very useful, as technology training on its own is, in my opinion, quite a waste of time. It’s great to know what’s available, but to spend PD hours en masse to learn about something which you are not immediately going to put into practice is like learning French and having no one to speak to in that language. pretty soon…who remembers?  I had specific questions about setting up projectors and Promethean Boards, and because I learned what I wanted to know, I now regularly use that technology.
  • All tech training is self-administered or self-taught among the 6 staff members at my small school.  Basically, it’s minimal if not non-existent.
  • There is usually 0 hours of organized group technology training at my school. If you need help with an issue, a technician is called in or one of the staff members who is considered a "technology expert" would help. You have to take the initiative to ask for help because it won’t be offered. It’s sad but true.
  • Technology training for teachers is costly in our state. Our national economy is so poor that we no longer have the support of the Feds. As a result I have bought pieces of equipment because I knew the district would not reimburse on  teaching items (overhead projectors and pushcart). I’m lucky to have a job!
  • Dozens of courses are available afterschool but taking classes [is] optional.
  • Mostly focuses on MS Office, electronic gradebook, electronic lesson planning.

What is abundantly clear is that most teachers surveyed are in a school where technology training is lacking.  A recent introductory session on one program used at school took an hour at my school.  I was surprised that more than half of respondents indicated they had such little official training at their school.  At my school we spent an entire PD day where we offered 10 different technology related workshops for teachers to choose from (as well as another 10 non-tech workshops).

Any comments?

What is The Effect of Technology Training for Teachers on Student Achievement?

Abstract

This paper discusses the importance of teacher training in technology.  One important question is looked at, specifically; does training in technology lead to increased student achievement?  Following a review of current literature in this area, we look at possible answers to this question and reasons why teachers often receive less technology training than they require.

Introduction

One thing my colleagues are always complaining about when it comes to technology is a lack of adequate training in how to use technology.  A common complaint at every school I have worked at has been about how teachers are given technology to use, some of it very expensive, and not given enough training to use the technology effectively.  This is a complaint that many people in our class discussions have brought up.  A useful question to ask then is, how much of a difference does training teachers to use technology make on the performance of their students?  Assuming that student performance, however it is measured, is linked to teacher preparation, we can hypothesize that there is a relationship between training teachers how to use technology effectively, and student achievement.

Review of Current Literature

An important part of answering this question is addressing the issue of how well educational research is done in the area of technology since we need to know how good the tools are that will be used to answer this question.  Kozma (2000) discusses this issue and decides that much work needs to be done improving our current educational research practices.  He emphasizes that "Perhaps it is the paradigm rather than the researchers or the user community that needs to change."   This suggests that we need to look at how we do educational research differently but the existing ways in which we collaborate are functional.

According to Cradler, J., Freeman, M., Cradler, R., McNabb, M. (2002),"A careful review of studies shows that more than the specific technology or software used, the context in which technology is applied is critical to the educator."  The authors suggest that when training teachers to use technology in the classroom, one should focus on how the technology is useful, rather than which technology is most useful.  This seems to me to be true, except that the typical level of comfort with technology that teachers have is low enough that theory will be of no use to teachers without specific examples to draw upon and learn about.  Therefore, training sessions should be used for a balance between practical hands-on examples and the theory behind the use of technology.

To paraphrase Brand, G. A. (1997) teacher training, in the area of technology especially, should:

"be flexible, take into account various needs, [provide] provisional support, be developed collaboratively,  include remuneration and teacher recognition, be sustained, be linked to educational objectives, provide intellectual and professional stimulation with a clear administrative message."

These traits seem to be true of any professional development but especially so for technology training given that only "20% of teachers feel comfortable using technology" (Cradler et al. 2002).

One way to help ensure the successful implementation of a technology training plan, as suggested by Williams, L. A.; Atkinson, L. C.; Cate, J. M. & OHair, M. J. (2008), is to operate within a learning community environment.  Rather than operate with "top-down leadership that hinders collaboration and professional learning" schools should "creat[e] technology enriched learning communities, where technology was used as an effective tool that is tightly linked to content standards and seamlessly integrated into ongoing classroom instruction." (Williams et al 2008).  In such a learning community members work collaboratively to decide on technology policy and learn how to implement it.

Another important thread that came up in our discussions was the amount of time devoted to technology training for teachers.  According to a study by Swan, B., & Dixon, J. (2006) "mathematics teachers need continuous and relevant training and support, especially when teachers are teaching out-of-field or are new to the profession."   This is true of any teacher, especially new teachers.

Now that we have established what is necessary in order to make the necessary teacher training work, we need to look at how this training affects student learning.  A high school principal mentions in Williams et al. (2008) that with "her low socioeconomic status students … She observed increases in attendance and decreases in discipline problems in classrooms in which teachers were integrating technology with authentic teaching and learning."  Such anecdotal evidence, while heart warming, should be examined next to an analysis of data. 

In a contextually limited study, Brush, T.A. (1997) discovered that when cooperative learning is used with integrated learning systems modest gains are made in student comprehension.  He also noticed that "[i]n the cooperative group, 85% responded that they believed the computer math lessons helped them with their math classwork" suggesting a link between the social use of technology and higher self-evaluation of one’s work.

When examining the factors influencing the use and implementation of technology related to student success, Baylor, A. L. & Ritchie, D. (2002) discovered "…a strong positive relationship between teachers who had a higher degree of openness to change and the impact of technology on students’ higher-order thinking skills."  In other words, having a teacher who was willing to experiment with technology was a strong indicator of positive student learning.  This is interesting because it is unclear whether technology training would either reduce or increase experimentation.

Experimentation with technology might be increased because of improved self-confidence of the teachers related to training (Cradler et al. 2002).  It could also be decreased because technology training is almost always done by presenting different tools to the user and the teacher may end up limiting their choices to the options presented.  In this case technology training might actually be a hindrance to student success.

After discussing this issue of technology use in the classroom with my classmates in ETEC 533, a common thread has emerged.  Technology use in the classroom should be supported by sound pedagogical techniques and planning.  This view is supported by Schacter, J., and Fagnano, C. (1999) who make the same assertion.  They add "…that teachers, administrators, policymakers, and parents need to understand the learning theories and principles around which the technology is designed in order to select and implement appropriate technologies that will have a significant impact on student achievement."  So in order to make sound decisions about how and why one should use technology in the classroom, one must be trained. 

Schacter, J., and Fagnano, C. (1999) analyzed meta studies of different ways technology could be incorporated into student learning and discovered that computer based instruction has been shown to "moderately improve student learning."  Using computer support collaborative learning, Schacter, J., and Fagnano, C. (1999) discovered through their meta-analysis shows "…significant improvement in the inquiry cycle…" of student learning.  Since this is a higher order skill, one would expect this is a result of increased comprehension.

However Lesgold (2000) notes that "[technology use] may fail either because the new possibility afforded by technology is not realized in classroom practice or because the infrastructure of the school does not allow the technology to facilitate improvements."  So just because a school attempts to use technology does not guarantee that they will see improvement in student learning.  Lesgold (2000) recognizes that places which already have strong technology support are often where studies showing improved student scores are done, and may not be indicative of the typical school environment.

Lesgold (2000) makes another important observation which is relevant to our discussion.  He points out that standardized tests are often used to measure student learning, and that valuable technology experiences may not be represented by this form of assessment.  He uses the ability to "write a really good report, which may take several days" as an example of a skill not easily captured by a standardized test.  In order to therefore justify our assertion that student understanding has been improved, we need to look at a variety of assessments.  Lesgold (2000) also suggests using expert analysis of school performance factors as an alternative to standardized testing.

We would also like to show that the use of technology has a positive effect on students’ ability to think critically.  Newman,D.R., Johnson,C., Webb,B. Cochrane, C. (1995) measured levels of critical thinking demonstrated by students using educational technology by using student questionnaires and a sophisticated content-analysis technique. 

The questionnaires were useful as a self-evaluation of the students’ critical thinking skills.  The content-analysis method seemed a bit subjective in the sense that the researchers interpreted statements made by the students as either exhibiting evidence of critical thinking or not.  However it seems like one of the only ways to measure this difficult to capture skill. 

Both of these techniques, according to Newman,D.R et al. (1995) "showed evidence of similar amounts of critical thinking in both face-to-face seminars and computer conference discussions" and the content analysis showed that "…overall learn depth of critical thinking was higher when learning took place [using technology]."

Conclusion

So to summarize, we can see that in order for technology training to be successful, we have to provide ample time for sustainment of the training, and plan our training to meet the needs of the diverse group of educators present in schools.  We also need to be considering the environment in which the technology is to used and tailor the approach depending on a variety of factors, including previous levels of adoption of technology and the likelihood of continued support for the new technology.

However if this falls into place, and technology is used in a sensible, pedagogically sound way, numerous studies suggest that it can help with improving student retention and understanding of material.  A variety of reasons exist why this happens, with some studies reviewed pointing to increased student engagement, improved collaboration between students, and more effective tools for demonstrating information.

References

Antonijevic, R. (2007), Usage of Computers and Calculators and Students Achievement: Results from TIMSS 2003, Online Submission.

Baylor, A. L. & Ritchie, D. (2002), What factors facilitate teacher skill, teacher morale, and perceived student learning in technology-using classrooms?, Computers & Education 39(4), 395–414.

Brand, G. A. (1997), What Research Says: Training Teachers for Using Technology, Journal of Staff Development 19(1).

Brush, T.A. (1997), The Effects on Student Achievement and Attitudes When Using Integrated Learning Systems with Cooperative Pairs, Educational Technology Research and Development, 45(1)

Cradler, J. & Bridgeforth, E. (2005), Recent Research on the Effects of Technology on Teaching and Learning, http://www.wested.org/techpolicy/research.html.

Cradler, J., Freeman, M., Cradler, R., McNabb, M. (2002), Research Implications for Preparing Teachers to Use Technology, Learning & Leading with Technology 30(1)

Cradler, J.; Mcnabb, M.; Freeman, M. & Burchett, R. (2002), How does technology influence student learning?, Learning and Leading 29(8), 46–49.

Daugherty, M. K. (1993), Mathematics, Science, and Technology Teachers Perceptions of Technology Education, Journal of Technology Education 4(2).

Erminia Pedretti, J. M. (1998). Technology, text, and talk: Students’ perspectives on teaching and learning in a technology-enhanced secondary science classroom. Science Education, 82(5), 569-589.

Glenn, A. D. (1997), ‘Technology and the Continuing Education of Classroom Teachers’, Peabody Journal of Education 72(1), 122–128.

Gonen, S.; Kocakaya, S. & Inan, C. (2006), The Effects of the Computer Assisted Teaching and 7E Model of the Constructivist Learning Methods on the Achievements and Attitudes     of High School Students, Online Submission.

Kozma, R. (2000), Reflections on the state of educational technology research and development, Educational Technology Research and Development 48(1), 5–15.

Lesgold, A. (2000), Determining the effects of technology in complex school environments, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA, 34–39.

Li, Q. (2005), Infusing technology into a mathematics methods course: any impact?, Educational Research Vol. 47(Issue 2), p217–p233.

Li, Q. E. (2005), Mathematics and At-Risk Adult Learners: Would Technology Help?, Journal of Research on Technology in Education 38(2), 143–166.

Maninger, R. M. (20061001), Successful Technology Integration: Student Test Scores Improved in an English Literature Course through the Use of Supportive Devices, TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning 50(5), p37 – 45.

Mitchell, B.; Bailey, J. L. & Monroe, E. (2007), Integrating Technology and a Standards-Based Pedagogy in a Geometry Classroom: A Mature Teacher Deals with the Reality of Multiple Demands and Paradigm Shifts, Computers in the Schools 24, p75 – 91.

Newman,D.R., Johnson,C., Webb,B. Cochrane, C. (1995), Evaluating the Quality of Learning in Computer Supported Co-Operative Learning, Journal of the American Society for Information Science. 48(6):484–495

Quellmalz, E. S. & Kozma, R. (2003), Designing assessments of learning with technology., Assessment in Education 10(3), 389–405.

Reznichenko, N. (2007), Learning with Graphing Calculator (GC): GC as a Cognitive Tool, Online Submission.

Schacter, J., & Fagnano, C. (1999). Does Computer Technology Improve Student Learning and Achievement? How, When, and under What Conditions?. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 20(4), 329-43. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ603784) Retrieved February 13, 2009, from ERIC database.

Shacter, J. & Fagnano, C. (1999), EBSCOhost: Does Computer Technology Improve Student Learning and Achievement? How, When and under What Conditions?, Journal of Educational Computing Research 20(4), 329–343.

Swan, B., & Dixon, J. (2006). The effects of mentor-supported technology professional development on middle school mathematics teachers’ attitudes and practice. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 6(1).

Williams, L. A.; Atkinson, L. C.; Cate, J. M. & OHair, M. J. (2008), Mutual Support Between Learning Community Development and Technology Integration: Impact on School     Practices and Student Achievement, Theory Into Practice 47(4), 294–302.

Zhiting, Z. (2003), Teachers Professional Development in Technology-Pedagogy Integration: Experiences and Suggestions from China.



 

 

 

What are the effects of exposing children to technology at a very young age?

My son is currently two and a half years old.  Already he has been exposed to and used mobile phones, televisions, dvd players, computers, remote controls, air conditioners, toasters, and a variety of other electronic devices.  He’s ridden in cars, trains, airplanes, tuk-tuk’s, vans, trucks, Fire engines, motorcycles and on bicycles.  He has a lot of experience for someone his age with technology.

We took a picture of some cell phones my son wanted me to make out of play-dough.  You can see he wanted three identical cell phones, one for each of Mommy, Daddy and himself.  When I was building the cell phones out of the play-dough, it occurred to me that this was an experience I never had.  When I was at the age where playing with play-dough was super-duper fun, cell phones didn’t exist.  Personal computers were just starting to become affordable for the average consumer.  How much our world has changed since I was a kid, and I know this trend is likely to continue.

One of Thanasi favourite past-times recently has been learning how to make letters show up in Microsoft Word by pressing on the keys.  He’s already learned that the Enter key adds a line, and that the backspace key deletes the previous character.  The reason, of course, that he is so interested in computers is because of me.  I spend a lot of my time working with computers, and that has been consistent for Thanasi’s whole life.

My wife the other day mentioned that Thanasi was learning the same skills she is teaching some pre-schoolers, and I began to wonder then, what is happening inside his brain?  Is this too young for him to be exposed to technology?  I’m hopeful that this will just be giving him a bit of an edge in a world that is becoming more and more technology laden but there is the concern that his brain will end up wired differently as a result.  Fortunately for us, Thanasi is quite a social child, so no worries about him deciding to retreat into a digital world.

 

 

What would be an ideal pedagogical design of a technology enhanced learning experience for math and/or science?

Assignment as follows:

In response to Kozma (example article) and the above questions, create your own personal, short statement on an ideal pedagogical design of a technology-enhanced learning experience for math and/or science.

As I think about this problem, I am considering the following variables which influence my ideal design.

  • Students are social creatures.  Learning that happens within a social context is much more likely to be lasting and valuable. Students should therefore be working together.
  • Technology is a valuable tool we can use to help us with our lessons.  It is not a replacement for well designed lessons.  Therefore our lesson must have a back-up plan in case the technology fails, and the technology should not be the exclusive focus of the lesson.
  • Knowledge is generally constructed within a context.  In other words, students add new things they learn within the context of what they know.   We can use technology to help with this process, for example students could include what they work on as part of an e-portfolio, which would help them keep track of what they have learned.  If they also tag each item they add to their electronic portfolio, then they can be simultaneous categorizing their discoveries as well as cementing the connections each topic has with what they already know.
  • At the end of the day, we want the students to have learned something about mathematics or science, and what they learn about technology should not be the focus of the lesson.  The mathematical or scientific concept to be learned should be one that is condusive to learning through technology.
  • Like most good lessons, the focus of the lesson should be on what the students can do, and not what the teacher can say.  So an ideal lesson would involve the teacher avoiding the ‘sage on the stage’ role and become more of a resource manager.

An example of an technology-enhanced lesson would be the following:

  1. Before the students enter the room, the teacher has used some simple network tools (like Remote Desktop for example) to set up all of the computers in the room so they are ready to go.
  2. Student enter the room and sit in their assigned seats, and are quickly briefed, either in electronic form or by the teacher, on what the objectives are for the day.  During the lesson, students keep track of bookmarks to things they discovered and/or created during the lesson.
  3. Students self gather into small groups and begin to digest the information given to them.  Basically they read and reread the problem they are presented so that they understand it.
  4. Using tools they have learned in previous classes and any other suggested tools presented by the teacher, students begin to plan an investigation into a mathematical or scientific phenomena.  While this is going on, both students record notes while chatting with other about what their plan of action will be.  The teacher circulates around the room at this stage and gives advice on what might work, and what might not.
  5. Students try out their chosen plan of action, and the teacher supports each plan and provides assistance where necessary.  Students make sure to electronically record their observations.
  6. Students discuss with each other using an online public forum what they discovered.  Teacher joins and guides the discussion.  Each student logs their participation in the discussion.
  7. Students write a quick summary of what they have learned, and use the bookmarks to their various resources they have gathered to create a mash-up of what they learned in class that day.
  8. Once the students leave, the teacher examines what each student has produced (using an RSS feed or similar technology) and writes down his/her own observations on the class, and decides how he/she will either refocus the next lesson, or move onto new material.
  9. At the end of the semester, each student’s e-Portfolio is used as a primary assessment of what the student has learned.

 

Which definition of technology or metaphor for technology appeals to you and why?

My ETEC 533 instructor provided us with some quotes which describe ways we can define technology.  The question is really, what is technology, and what is a useful metaphor for describing technology.  I think you can’t really separate the two from each other given a constructivist point of view.  Basically, in order to define something, anything, we use a metaphor to explain how this definition fits into what we already know.

Okay enough pre-amble.  Here’s the definition/metaphor that resonated most with me.

"Feenburg (1999, 2003) suggests that technology is the medium of daily life in modern societies. His impression is that technology is humanly controlled and value-laden just like a social institution." – summarized by my instructor from Feenburg, A.  (2003).  Questioning technology.  New York, NY: Routledge.

The idea to me is this.  We decide as a society what we consider technology and what we do not.  If a school decides they want to spend more on their technology budget, they aren’t going to go out and buy a bunch of fax machines, photocopiers and overhead projectors.  This isn’t what schools generally mean by ‘technology’.  Schools who want to increase their use of technology are talking about cutting-edge technology, stuff that is relatively new.  They don’t actually mean those older things which for the most part no one considers technology anymore.  I’ve mentioned this before on this blog and it seems to me to be a common theme for my course, but I’ll say it again:  If it is ubiquitous and reliable as a toaster, it’s no longer considered technology.

I wasn’t sure what is meant by medium of daily life in this context so I had to go read Feenburg’s description of his book to figure it out.  Basically, he suggests that every once in a while a cultural upheaval happens, and the way society views the world shifts.  Our currently evolving view of technology is just one of those shifts.  In his book, Feenberg argues that technology has become how we live our life, rather than a tool we use in our life.  I’m not in complete agreement with him on this one, but I would agree that hardly anyone (in the 1st or 2nd world) could go a day without using some sort of pretty advanced technology, and maybe our reliance on technology isn’t such a good thing.

Anyway, I see technology as that which would have been magic 10 years ago.  If it was around 10 years ago, probably today most people take it for granted.  Under this perspective, computers in a school computer lab aren’t really technology anymore, it’s the web browsers running on them and the software they run that really control of what they are capable.  People make choices about what should be on those computers based on sociological factors.

List of resources for my ETEC 533 writing assignment

For my ETEC 533 class, I am planning on writing a short essay analyzing some current research on the effect of technology training for teachers on student achievement.  I’m interested in this because it combines two things I’m currently working on improving in my own professional practice, effective use of technology and leading professional development.

Here are some research links I’m planning on looking into in more detail:

Most of these links approach the idea from the perspective that if using technology shows no improvement on student scores, then teaching teachers how to use it will not have an effect either.  Assuming we can clarify that hurdle the next step is to show if there is a relationship between the amount of teacher training in a technology and its effectiveness in increasing student achievement.

 

 

Reflection of our course discussion about the use of technology in the classroom

Part of any useful activity is to make sure you reflect upon the outcome of that activity afterward.  This reflection helps you improve your practice and retain the connections you have developed through the course of the activity for a longer period of time.  Sustainable practice is only possible through careful reflection.

We just finished a week long exercise where we were to interview a person in our school or workplace and find out what their use of technology is, and what they think about the use of technology in a classroom.  After transcribing and analyzing the interview, we were supposed to post our observations to our class forum.  Once we finish our discussion, the last step is to write down what we got out of doing the activity.  My answers to the guiding questions are below.

How is your understanding of this issue changing? 

Well first I realized that there were some common threads between all of the interviews.  I had not thought that everyone had the same considerations about how to use technology, so it was encouraging to see some agreement between some very different people.  Pretty much everyone agreed that technology was most useful (or would lack use if this isn’t present) when it is carefully included as part of a repetoire of tools.  Technology should not be used for technology’s sake alone.

I was also surprised by how many people indicated an almost complete lack of support for training in their workplace for the use of technology.  In fact, I sent off a suggestion to my Alma Mater for a technology training course at my university and received a well reasoned out negative response.  It seems that even some teacher training programs are reluctant to take on the role of helping teachers come to grips with their technology woes.

What more would you like to learn or know?

I’d like to have more data.  Our anecdotal evidence was pretty convincing but there are definitely some sampling errors introduced by our biases when selecting interviewees.  It is unlikely that any Luddites would have consented to being interviewed for example, so most of us probably selected people who had some opinion about technology, one way or another.  A nationwide survey of teachers, where we find out what technology they use, where they want additional support, and what technology would they like to be able to use, would be a really useful tool. 

In what ways was your interview unique or similar to others?

Well my interview felt unique in the sense that the person being interviewed didn’t complain about the cost of the technology.  This is probably because we both currently work in a private school where the per student expenditures are higher than in a typical public school.  As well, our labour costs are incredibly cheap because of our location (Thailand) so the school has a much stronger budget for technology.

I’ve already mentioned a major similarity between my interview and other interviews, which was that technology as a tool  needs to be implemented carefully and not haphazardly.  Without this, it lacks purpose and can end up getting in the way of student understanding.

What does this say about the context/place or the issue?

It seems to me that, in terms of context, the use of technology is very similar in a wide variety of situations, but specific issues that arise can be quite location dependent.  In my school we have excellent physical resources, but lack strong internet connectivity.  Many of the videos and simulations we’d like to be able to use, for example, are much too bandwidth intensive to be useful in our part of the world.  However, unlike other schools we have all of the hardware that we need.  Instead of debating the cost of LCD projectors in classrooms, we have LCD projectors in every classroom in my school.  The context of the discussion that occurs is therefore very important as different observations can be made in different schools.  What seemed to be contextless however was the realization of all the participants in our discussion that technology, when used wisely, is a powerful educational tool.

Which issue do you want to explore further and why?

I’d like to have more of a  discussion about different types of technology.  I’d also like to be able to contact some of the people who were interviewed (which of course we cannot do because of privacy concerns) and get some more ideas from them.  Many of the teachers were mathematics teachers who had some very interesting ideas on how to use technology.