Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

Day: February 9, 2009 (page 1 of 1)

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.