Whether big or small, college or elementary school, technology has made its way into the educational platform for nearly every student, ages kindergarten through college. In today’s day and age, technology can be found in almost every classroom from smartboards to iPads.
Dr. Kristin Webber, an assistant professor in the early childhood program and graduate program, uses iPads and an app called “Nearpod” in her classroom to teach her students, as well as to prepare them for the technological filled classrooms of the future.
With the iPads, Webber is able to show students “different pieces of technology that they can incorporate into their own teaching. I model it using stuff that we are doing in the classroom and then they can put it back into their own teacher.”
The students in her literacy foundation classes get to try it out firsthand with students at Cambridge Springs Elementary School, where they are observing and teaching during the last few weeks of classes.
“I’m trying to get them to use the iPads in their own teaching and plan lessons using the iPads. They are a little bit reluctant, but we are working on it by nudging them along and encouraging them to use them with the students.”
Another feature that Webber uses in her classes is an app called “Nearpod.”
“I am using the Nearpod app a lot..It’s a really neat tool and it’s a free app. You [may] pay a little bit. We have to pay for a subscription to get all of the reporting stuff, but the basic use of it is free,” Webber said.
According to Webber, the app allows her to do real time assessments so she can quiz students right on the spot. She can also administer open-ended questions to see what they are really thinking and get the feedback. She can also send them homework links.
“I will give them like a pre-quiz on the content...We will look and I will present the content, and then I will give them the same quiz afterwards like a post quiz, and see ‘did you get it,’” Webber explained.
Additionally, Webber is teaching ECED390, which is a technology integration in early childhood education course that goes with the new STEM endorsement.
“We got the science, technology, engineering and math endorsement from the PA Department of Education this summer. We are one of seven universities in the state to offer it and one of three in PASSHE schools to offer it so, yeah, it’s very exciting,” Webber said.
“We added a new technology course, a totally online course, so the students are engaged in technologies again with the aim to take that into their own teaching. We have done a lot weekly. [And] you know it’s different things that I introduce them to, a different type of technology or new [technology]. This weekend we are looking at audio. Using audio, so they have to create learning centers that have some aspect of audio in it. It’s really neat to see.”
With technology being a part of our everyday lives, Webber’s aim is to “follow the students that take these classes into their fields and into their student teaching to see if its transferring and if they are using those things and the effectiveness of it,” because this is what they know.
Assistant professor Linda Best, of the early childhood and reading department, also incorporates new technologies into her teaching.
For online courses, Best uses Edinboro University’s Desire 2 Learn (D2L) Course Platform. She also uses the D2L platform for her face-to-face course, adding, “I teach directly from my D2L course and allow the students to use their tablets/devices to follow along with the lecture/discussion. I have seen an increase in student participation with this course structure. The students are connected to the same information that I am projecting on the Smart Board.”
A new feature Best has used is called “Socrative.” According to Best, the tool allowed her to engage and assess students as learning was going on in the classroom using formative assessment.
“With real-time questioning, aggregating the data, and then projecting it onto the Smart Board, I was better able as a professor to gain immediate insight into the students understanding of content. It was very interactive and allowed us to talk and collaborate in groups in my STEM class and grow as a community of learners,” said Best.
In addition, Best used the “Poll Everywhere” app which is a free mobile app that allows people to respond to polls, present polls, and more.
During a research forum that Best hosted on campus, she used the app to ask the audience questions and present their answers live. She also used a site called “MediaSite” during the forum to record the presentation live to a broader audience.
“As the face-to-face participants are sitting in the room interacting with the researcher, the global audience members could interact in real-time as well by sending in their comments and questions via the app Poll Anywhere,” said Best.
Best also uses a feature called “Blackboard Collaborate,” which allows her to communicate to her online students wherever they may be.
“I hold virtual office hours in BB Collaborate and answer questions, share documents and review information in real time. It is like a mini classroom with cameras and audio built right into your online course.”
Cell phone use has made its way into Best’s classrooms as well.
In her face-to-face STEM class, a guest speaker helped teach the class a “problem based learning engineering activity” called, “The Marshmallow Project.” Students had to solve problems in groups using material like toothpicks, marshmallows and tape.
Once completed they were to log into “Socrative” to take a poll about what they had just done.
In terms of technology enhancing the education process, Best stated, “As an early adopter of technology, I have seen firsthand how the tools that technology provides allows the professor to add more teaching and learning tools in their toolboxes. The evolution technology allows students immediate and real time learning. Classrooms today both face to face or online are much more interactive and promote active learning. This is important as we move into preparing students to enter a workforce that will demand newer and more sophisticated skills.”
“I often times remind my students of an old quote ‘what is as important as knowledge is knowing where to seek
and find it?’ We are faced with preparing students for a future that requires critical reasoning, problem posing, problem solving, and collaboration,” added Best.
“Technology will be a tool for the self-directed learner of the future....they can go anywhere, talk to anyone, locate information with simply a touch or the sound of their voice. This level of access to a vast and broad knowledge base will enhance the skills of collaboration as our students work in teams all over the world to solve problems. It is a very exciting time to be involved in education.”
Assistant chairperson Lisa Brightman of the early childhood and reading department stated that
while she uses the typical technology in the classroom, such as Smartboards and YouTube, she also uses things like Kidspiration, InspireData, and Excel for graphing.
Most recently, Brightman started using Blackboard Collaborate with her online students to allow them to do the same activities as they were in a traditional classroom.
“Although it is still in the pilot stages of development, the students seem to enjoy it and the data collected
thus far shows favorable results, suggesting that activities conducted in traditional classrooms can be replicated in an interactive online environment,” said Brightman.
“Student participation and providing class time in which all students meet and interact online synchronously. This helps the students to better connect with the course content and with key concepts being developed.”
In terms of technology as a benefit, Brightman said, “The most important thing is for students to see the value of how technology can help them learn. It is not enough for students to simply learn how to use a variety of software or the latest technology device, they need to learn how to use them in meaningful and relevant ways. This is especially important in education.”
“It is our job as educators to provide students with the necessary tools to learn. We need to make sure we are using the right tool for the job. Much like you wouldn’t give students markers to solve a math problem, you want to make sure you are using the right technology and/
or software that will help students to learn best,” added Brightman.
Technology has begun to take over our world. It is now a digital world. The point all looked to make is that while they all agreed technology is a wonderful thing, they all also brought up the point that it is always good to have a “plan B” for when things don’t go as planned, such as Internet being down.
They also added that while cell phone use hasn’t really made its way entirely into the curriculum, it is used occasionally in class to look up things or take pictures.
Technology has not only walked into our doors but also into the doors of our youth.
Karlee Dies is the News Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org