Hype Versus Facts

A letter was written by the government stating that childhood health and well-being is declining and it’s all because of technology (Etchells, P., et al.). Well if that isn’t alarming for a parent!

Welcome to the 21st century. Technology is a major part of our everyday lives, whether we are talking about our professions, social interactions, or lifestyle. It is important that children learn the use of technology and have some screen time (Etchells, P., et al).

Etchells and colleagues wrote a very blunt article calling out the government for trying to scare parents by stating that there is a major problem with screen time use in children. However, “this is simply not supported by solid research and evidence” (Etchells, P., et al.). What Etchells and his colleagues are trying to explain, is that what the government has been telling you is not correct. “There is no consistent evidence that more screen time leads to less outdoor play; if anything the evidence indicates that screen time and physical outdoor activity are unrelated” (Etchells, P., et al.). If the issue is children’s health, then a policy needs to be focused on children’s health for it be effective.

This theory regarding children’s screen time being a problem, is something that has been floating around for years. Is it all hype? What does the research really say? The public doesn’t know and instead of doing their own research, they fall for the scare tactics put out there by the government.

I have two young kids, one toddler and one infant. My husband and I both run our own businesses and are constantly responding to emails, answering calls, sending text messages, or just working. For all these things, we use technology. My older child likes to grab at our phones or laptops and copy what he has seen us do with it. They learn at such a young age by watching how we interact with objects, how they should then interact with those objects. We work to correct his behaviour and teach him how to use those objects appropriately. We give him a safe environment to learn to use technology and then when we feel he has had enough time or if he uses the piece of technology inappropriately, we remove that object. We are establishing boundaries with technology in the same manner we do with anything else. We also require so much outdoor and fresh air time, to ensure that the kids experience nature. Seeing the seasons change, watching all the different animals, as well as meeting new people, is a great learning experience for children. We don’t treat learning with technology any different. I agree with Etchells and his colleagues, the government is blaming poor health on technology because it is the new shiny object. It’s easy to point a finger at one thing, but show us the support.

Technology is used everyday, it is our today and our tomorrow. By imposing the same regulations to the use of technology as any other toy and ensuring that my kids are receiving well-rounded daily experiences, we feel that they will grow up to being more well-rounded. My husband and I feel that we can introduce things to the kids with regulation and moderation, by doing so, they learn about more, experience more, and develop more skills. This works for us.

The Impact of Blackboards on Education

A blackboard is an educational tool that everyone is familiar with. Blackboards entered classrooms throughout North America in 1801 (Swinnerton, 2005). It became a standard tool in a classroom setting and for good reason. The blackboards were, and still are, used to aid teachers and instructors in providing learning material in an effective manner, as well as, providing students with learning experiences. This essay examines the impact of the blackboard on education and how the use of blackboards within education, was one of the most impactful technologies created to assist learning.

The creation and implementation of the blackboard into classrooms was a smooth process and was widely accepted throughout the different levels of education. “Looking at blackboard inscriptions formed a crucial part of children’s instruction and school experience” (Wylie, 2012). This was due to the technology being so effective within the educational spectrum. With the low cost and easy implementation, educators were eager to use this technological tool. “When I think of the signifier “school”, I automatically picture the teacher (usually a smiling young woman) standing in front of, pointing at, or writing on a chalkboard” (Krause, 2000, p. 9). The blackboard was such a normal tool, that it became a symbol for the world school, learning and education. Instructor manuals included drawings of how to use the blackboard and what to put on the blackboard for the students, drafting instructional design using this technological tool of blackboards (Wylie, 2012).

The blackboard provided a tool to instructors to enhance the learning experience of their students. Josiah F. Bumstead wrote in 1841 in his book titled The Blackboard in the Primary Schools, that “the inventor or introducer of the system deserves to be ranked among the best contributors to learning and science, if not among the greatest benefactors of mankind” (Krause, 2000, p. 11). This tool allowed instructors to present information and engage students to answer questions, assist with the key points or learnings, and to provide generalized feedback to students. Students are actively engaged with the lessons by handling and dissecting the information that is being presented to them (Wylie, 2012). This changed learning from passive to active. In the late nineteenth century, in England, manuals were published to describe to teachers when to use a blackboard in teaching, but also how to use it (Wylie, 2012). These manuals provided teachers a blueprint, or instructional design to optimize the learning for students and keep engagement. The blackboard became a visual aid for teachers.

The Lancasterian method prescribed particular ways for the classroom to be setup in order to allow instructors to teach and work with a large group, versus individualized instruction (Gershon, 2017). “The blackboard offered an inexpensive and efficient way to make lessons visible to large audiences of students” (Wylie, 2012). This technology allowed teachers to work through problems or concerns with their students. An unknown writer was quoted referring to the blackboard as “the MIRROR reflecting the workings, character and quality of the individual mind” (Krause, 2000, p. 11). This visible representation can allow instructors feedback as a class.  “You can look around the class and if you see confusion or people not being happy, it’s easy if you have a blackboard to explain” (Hendry, 2015). Receiving nonverbal feedback while standing in front of the class and having a tool to address the class as one audience, is a tool that didn’t exist. Infact, it has been said that this tool, cannot be replaced. Technology may have made small changes or adaptation to the original blackboard, mostly cosmetic changes, the actual concept of the blackboard hasn’t changed since inception (Hendry, 2015).

This blackboard technology has proven that the concept for learning and education cannot be improved upon. Technology has now seen the innovation of the integrated whiteboard (IWB). This technology has been quoted as the second most revolutionary instructional technology, with the first most revolutionary technology being the blackboard (Mal, 2010, p. 134). This technological innovation works similar to a blackboard, describing the ability to teach to the audience with information from a computer being linked to a large white screen. As each of the authors has confirmed, the concept of the blackboard is something that, even after 200 years, is just as relevant today as it was in 1801.

The authors cited, Wylie, Krause, Gerson, Hendry and Mal, all used empirical research to support their articles. The cited sources were all from Europe or the United States, which shows a narrow scope of information, possibly showing that the information is not for global or worldwide use. A similar issue throughout the articles, is that there are lots of sources being cited, but no data from the studies where the sources got their information; simply using quotes to support the quotes. In some cases, there were limited sources being used, making the article seem more like an opinion versus a well supported article. In one case, there were no citations for the quotes, which makes the validity of the interview and support seem questionable. In general, strength could have been added to these articles by incorporating study data and adding depth to the support or sources used. Although there are pitfalls within the articles used, it is clear that each of the articles point to the same conclusion.

The blackboard was a tool used in demonstrating and creating the idealized teacher. This normal item of a classroom, has become imperative to teaching and providing relevant instruction. The blackboard enhanced teaching styles, improving instructional design methods.   Although this technology is old, it works. Even with technological advancements happening everyday, the technologies are really an advancement on something that is already working, the blackboard, which is why the blackboard continues to be the most impactful technology within education.

References:

Swinnerton, J. (2005). The history of Britain companion (p. 128). London: Robson.

Wylie, C.D. (2012). Teaching manuals and the blackboard: accessing historical classroom

practices. History of Education 41(2), 257-272, DOI: 10.1080/0046760X.2011.584573

Krause, S. (2000). “Among the Greatest Benefactors of Mankind”: What the Success of

Chalkboards Tells Us about the Future of Computers in the Classroom. The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, 33(2), 6-16. doi:10.2307/1315198

Gershon, L. (2017, December 21). How Blackboards Transformed American Education | JSTOR

Daily. Retrieved October 1, 2019, from https://daily.jstor.org/how-blackboards-transformed-american-education/

Hendry, C. (2015, December 21). Chalkboard teaching in the age of technology. Retrieved from

Chalkboard teaching in the age of technology

Lee, Mal (2010) ‘Interactive whiteboards and schooling: the context’, Technology, Pedagogy and

Education, 19: 2, 133 — 141. doi:10.1080/1475939X.2010.491215

So Far, So Good!

M. David Merrill wrote a very intriguing article regarding the “four phases of learning” (Merrill, 2002). I found this article really resonated with my teaching style and what I try to bring into my classroom for my students. Through this article, Merrill focuses on problem-centered instruction. Problem-centered instruction is not a new theory, this is a concept that has been around for decades. Merrill cites, “much of the current work in cognitive psychology has shown that students learn better when engaged in solving problems” (Mayer, 1992a, p. 45). In fact, when I was a University student, I found that this type of instruction helped me understand the content better and put the content into use. By learning through a problem, I felt I was better equipped to handle problems and implement the teachings.

I was recently hired to teach Business Finance courses at a University and had to switch my mindset from student to teacher. I spent a lot of time reading about different teaching philosophies as I was quite nervous to teach my first class ever. Not only was it my first time teaching, I was teaching a full course load of four courses. Nervous was an understatement. So I took to the internet and brought in a few different teaching and learning theories from educators and professionals that I admired. For example, the idea of mastery from Salman Khan. I have setup my classes so that the basic content is mastered before we move on the more complex questions or real-life questions. The theories from the different educators and professionals that I brought together in order to create my instructional design process closely align to Merrill’s four phases: “… (a) activation of prior experience, (b) demonstration of skills, (c) application of skills, and (d) integration of these skills into real-world activities” (Merrill, 2002, p. 44). Merrill goes on to elaborate that problem-centered instruction along with four other phases of effective instruction: activation, demonstration, application, and integration, are the focus of the theories stressed by Merrill (Merrill, 2002, p. 44).

Activation “learning is promoted when relevant previous experience is activated” (Merrill, 2002, p. 46). The activation phase is shown in my teachings during the beginning of class when we do a class review session on the chapter that the class has read and taken study notes on. Demonstration “learning is promoted when the instruction demonstrates what is to be learned rather than merely telling information about what is to be learned” (Merrill, 2002, p. 47). This phase occurs right after activation with a quiz. The quiz provides examples and allows my students to put their learning into use. Application “learning is promoted when learners are required to use their new knowledge or skill to solve problems” (Merrill, 2002, p. 49). The application phase is put into practice when we, as a class, begin working through simple problems to recall their reading and put it into use with some basic level practice. Problem-centered “learning is promoted when learners are engaged in solving real-world problems” (Merrill, 2002, p. 45). I find this is best to incorporate into my teaching closer to the end of each class. Student feedback shows that they find the case problems, which are based off of real-life events, to be really helpful with their course learning and development. The integration and problem-centered phases correlate as both are put into practice through completing real life cases or situations. Integration “learning is promoted when learners are encouraged to integrate (transfer) the new knowledge or skill into their everyday life” (Merrill, 2002, p. 50). The integration phase occurs when students go to complete their homework after class; they are able to put their learnings into further practice and then provide a reflection on the chapter through an online discussion group.

We are one month in, coming up to the first set of midterms and so far so good. Students are responding positively to the instructional design format and finding that they are getting a good grasp on the content through the different levels of learning that take place within one class.

References:

Merrill, M.D. ETR&D (2002) 50: 43. https://doi-org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.1007/BF02505024

Mayer, R.E. (1992a). Thinking, problem solving, cognition (2nd Ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman.

Introducing Scott Cook and Salman Khan

I had a tough time deciding between two individuals to introduce to you all, so I decided to just introduce both.

Scott Cook is an extraordinary business man and a personal idol. Mr. Cook is most famously known for being a cofounder of Intuit software. His Forbes Billionaire profile provides a brief overview of his background. Intuit has changed the accounting industry in ways people could never have imagined. From bookkeeping software to tax software, Intuit has created it all and it is all available online and/or in the cloud. I personally use this software for my clients and I have built my business by promoting myself as a cloud based accounting firm. Mr. Cook’s learning lesson of “looking for the surprise” (Acevedo & Beier, n.d.), has been something that I have incorporated into my business style. When I feel stuck or unsure, I think back to this video or watch this video again and I push forward. Scott Cook’s impact on allowing the everyday person to learn how to do accounting in a simple manner, in my opinion, is one of the largest impacts on the accounting industry. Competitors are coming out of the woodwork every day to try and compete against Quickbooks or other Intuit software systems, and yet it remains the industry leader. His thoughts on innovation in the workplace and how to foster a learning environment and culture are terrific.

Salman Khan is an aspiration. He is an educator who developed Khan Academy which is a free online educational platform in which he has contributed over 6,500 instructional videos. Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that provides educational content to anyone, anywhere in the world. In 2015, Khan did a Ted Talk on Education and why we should teach mastery and focus on ensuring the basics are being understood instead of just rushing students through due to deadlines. His talk was incredibly motivating and had been a real focus for me when setting up the structure for my university courses. Mr. Khan has been cited for creating the future of education. I took this concept into my courses that I am teaching this semester. I have provided the lecture material upfront and requested that the reading be completed before classes, so that I can focus on the actual teaching and instructing of how to do the accounting calculations in class. All of my students have been raving about the setup of my classes and are finding that they are actually learning more by working through problems in class versus receiving a lecture.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Mr. Cook and Mr. Khan.

The Educational Revolution

Reiser provided a very interesting take of the history on instructional media. I really enjoyed reading the sections on World War II; knowing that this is when overhead projectors were first introduced is really amazing. This same technology was still used in University for teaching when I was attending my post-secondary education. It has now changed to document cameras, screen casting, or just updated projectors. I used projectors when I did training seminars with my old job as a Territory Sales Representative. The concept of using this type of technology for training is something that hasn’t changed in over 100 years. The technology may have gotten better, but the actual technology medium or equipment and usage is still the same. That is pretty incredible.

Reiser states that “….enthusiasm and interest [in a new medium] eventually fade, and an examination reveals that the medium has had a minimal impact on such practices” (Reiser, 2001). This statement really grabbed me. I disagree with several aspects of this statement. The introduction of a new medium of technology is very exciting and always draws a lot of attention. Just look at the number of people that read or watch the Apple new product launches, but I don’t think that the interest fades, I think the medium becomes part of the norm. The initial excitement brings the medium to being used by everyone and with social media, that adaptation is quick. To say that these new mediums have minimal impact on practices doesn’t seem to hold true. Just look at computers or tablets. In my new position as an instructor, I take my iPad Pro to every class. It holds all of my educational materials, I can access my textbooks and online teaching materials, and I can hook it up to the University projectors or computers. This medium hasn’t had a minimal impact, it allows me to take a lighter and smaller device to do my work more efficiently. Yes, I could use a computer or laptop, but again those mediums had a great impact on educational practice as well. Without these devices, I wouldn’t be setting up online homework assignments, providing the readings ahead of times, or doing online quizzes each class for my students. My students use iPads or tablets every class to complete note taking, assignments, and quizzes. This portable iPad/tablet medium allows me to be more efficient and effective for my students.

After reading Weller’s article, I feel like even though technology is changing everyday, maybe we aren’t quite where we should be. Educational technology and the adaptation of technology within the educational industry has been quite slow. “….edtech is not a game for the impatient” (Weller, 2018). This is surprising given that technology has had such a large impact on education, by providing the ability for students to learn online. I think it surprises me because through providing online learning applications, shouldn’t technology be changing at a greater pace in order to stay relevant and give students the best learning environment and tools in order to succeed? With more and more educational institutions providing online learning platforms for students, I hope to see more change and advancement. I hope we can look back in twenty years and say, wow!

References:

Reiser, R.A. ETR&D (2001) 49: 53. https://doi-org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.1007/BF02504506

Weller, M. (2018). Twenty Years of Edtech. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/7/twenty-years-of-edtech

History of Educational Technology

When I think about Educational Technology, I feel like it is such a broad term. So let’s start with a definition. “In today’s concept, educational technology can be defined as an abstract concept or as a field of practice” (Mishra, 2009). Mishra’s idea of it being “today’s conception” really stuck out to me (Mishra, 2009). Technology is a quickly changing industry and it’s very difficult to try and say what educational technology is because we don’t know where it is going or where it will be tomorrow. Looking at the goals of educational technology can help with defining it: cost savings, increases in production, improving accessibility, adapting to different learning styles, and more. The impact and reasoning for educational technology, is quite vast. Since we can’t look at what it is today or will be tomorrow, let’s look at the history.

Nicholson states that e-learning goes as far back as the 1960’s. Education, Business, Training and the Military all used computers in some form to support and enhance learning (Nicholson, 2007). There’s other documentation mentioning educational technology going back as far as the 1700’s. “Some early educators recognize that a technology of instruction must consider the development stages of the learner” (Saettler, 2005). In order to implement instruction, the appropriate technology for each stage of learning must be developed (Saettler, 2005). The history and where educational technology comes from, seems quite controversial between educators. I, personally, didn’t think of educational technology going so far back, but that just shows you how vast the definition of educational technology really is.

When I think of educational technology I think of the big box Apple computers that we used in school for typing class. There was a cotton tea towel that was placed over our hands, which were placed on the keyboards and this was to stop us from peaking at the keys. Then we had to type. ASDF JKL;. The lessons continued into sentences and paragraphs. From the time that I started learning on computers to now, about two decades, there has been extreme advancements within technology. With these advancements, education has also developed and grown. It has to adapt with the changes in technology. For example, using screen casting, lesson plans, teaching and communication apps, online homework and textbook options, as well as full office style programming. The changes have been vast in such a short amount of time; it is truly incredible what we now can do with technology. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

 

References:

Mishra, S. (2009). Educational technology: A definition with commentary – By Alan Januszewski & Michael

Molenda. British Journal of Educational Technology40(1), 187–187. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-

8535.2008.00925_4.x

Nicholson P. (2007) A History of E-Learning. In: Fernández-Manjón B., Sánchez-Pérez J.M., Gómez-Pulido J.A.,

Vega-Rodríguez M.A., Bravo-Rodríguez J. (eds) Computers and Education. Springer, Dordrecht

Saettler, L. P. (2005). The evolution of American educational technology. Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates.