Ed-Tech 541 Final Blog

Part One: 

Throughout this semester, I have learned about the abundance of online resources available to both teachers and students.  Each week when I was researching different types of technology to integrate into my content area, I found myself saying “I love this!  [student name] would totally benefit from this resource.”  With this new found knowledge of online resources, I also learned how to evaluate and critique a variety of resources.  I found some resources where the content was what I needed, but it didn’t fit my target audience, the navigation was awkward, or it was confusing.  Now on each resource, I go back to the SAMR model and ask, does this piece of technology or resource substitute or redefine my lesson?

During this course, I created artifacts that demonstrate my understanding of numerous AECT standards.  I assessed and evaluated technological resources that could be used in order to best support my students’ needs in the area of United States History.  I was able to use pedagogy of technology in the classroom to create and implement my own resources, specific to my classroom and content area.  In addition, I provided a wide variety of articles, websites and books that I used to support theory and application of educational communications and technology.  Finally, through my weekly blog, I demonstrated my ability to reflect on a variety of educational technology strategies and applications in both the general classroom environment and also my own specific teaching practice.

I have grown professionally in my ability to share, critique and develop resources both I and colleagues can use.  In addition, my overall lesson planning improved by incorporating a variety of different sources that meet a diverse student population and by developing lessons that are cross curricular.

My thoughts on technology in the classroom have not changed.  I still believe that technology is an integral part of the classroom.  Technology allows students to become interested in a topic and then share thoughts and ideas in a unique way, access curriculum through assistive technology and practice concepts.  Technology needs to be strategically implemented in the classroom in order to maximize learning.  Technology can be like Thanksgiving dinner; too much food can leave you tired and sick, whereas food in moderation can leave you satisfied and delighted.  My educational technology theory is constructivism and I incorporated the principles of this theory into my various projects.

Part Two:

Content – 70 points

Within my blog post each week, I provided concise, thoughtful, responses to each topic.  In each response, I provided facts and ideas from weekly readings and resources.  In addition, I made connections to my own teaching or real-life experiences.

Reading/Resources – 20 points

In my blog entries, I used both resources provided by the instructor and ones I found on my own to support my blog.  In addition, I used APA format when citing my sources in-text and at the end of each blog.

Timeliness – 20 points

For all my blogs, I posted 4 days before the due date to allow other students ample amount of time to provide feedback and respond to my post.

Response to other students – 30 points

Each week, I responded to two fellow student’s blog entries.  In those responses, I commented on ideas, asked questions, offered suggestions and made connections to my own teaching.


Assistive Technology

There are over 54 million people or 20% of the United States population that have a disability and require a form of assistive technology. (“assistive technology,” n.d.) Assistive technology is defined as “Any device, piece of equipment or system that helps a person with a disability work around his challenges so he can learn, communicate or simply function better.” (Team, 2014) Adaptive technology can help students with a disability access information or participate in activities with same age peers.

One misconception about assistive and adaptive technology is that the technology or devices are expensive.  In some cases this is true, for example, the cost of a text to speech device averages $600 dollars. (“EnableMart | Assistive Technology,” n.d.)  However, assistive technology does not always need to be sophisticated, high-tech devices, it could simply be a calculator or a timer.  In addition, a majority of assistive technologies are programs or apps designed for three platforms; computers, tablets and mobile devices.  There are many free apps and programs through Chrome and Apple that perform the same function as expensive devices.  These platform devices are in every classroom or school and are used on a regular basis, so there is no need to buy additional equipment for assistive technology to work.

The second misconception surrounding assistive and adaptive technology is that when a district or school purchases a piece of technology, it will only be used by one particular student.  Although some adaptive technology is only purchased to be utilized by one particular student, in most cases, the adaptive technology can actually be used by a variety of students.  For example, a text to speech program could be used by both a person who is blind and a struggling reader.

Adaptive technology is a crucial part of universal design for learning.  Universal design is a framework that assists in accommodating a broad range of learners.  A real life example of universal design is a video call.  Video calling may be used by an individual who is deaf, calling a distant family member, showing an individual an item in real time or as a meeting spot when everyone can’t be in one location.  Video calling may have been designed for one specific function, however it has grown to reach many different populations and used for a variety of functions.  School administrators need to change their mindset from thinking that a device or program will only assist one particular student, towards how will this device  help a variety of students.

Assistive technology can be affordable, reach a wide audience and likely requires no additional equipment that is not already found in a typical classroom or school.

assistive technology. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2016, from http://www.dmd-aapd.org/assistive-technology/

EnableMart | Assistive Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2016, from https://www.enablemart.com/

Team, T. U. (2014, June 1). Assistive Technology in the Classroom | Assistive Technology Tools. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/assistive-technology/assistive-technologies-basics/assistive-technology-what-it-is-and-how-it-works

Obstacles and Solutions for Integrating Technology in Social Studies

Technology in the classroom has many advantages and applications.  However, there are also obstacles a teacher faces when planning a lesson that requires technology.

Obstacle 1:  Not Enough Computers when 1:1 is Necessary

At my school, each teacher has only enough computers for a 2:1 ratio.  This is a problem when a lesson or activity requires each student to have an individual computer.  For example, during drill/practices and game-based learning.  There are two ways of approaching this obstacle, depending on the lesson.  One solution is to split the class in half.  While one group participates in the technology portion of the lesson, the other group works on a different activity.  If all students need computers at the same time, a second solution would be to borrow a set of computers from another classroom.

Obstacle 2:  Reliable Sources

History is similar to a game of telephone; the more times it is repeated, the chances increase that details are left out or changed.  When students are researching a topic, it can be difficult to determine if a website is reputable and its information is accurate.  One solution to this obstacle is for teachers to provide students with pre-approved articles, search engines or databases.  A second solution would be for instructors to have a lesson that teaches different characteristics a student should look for when determining the reliability of a site.  (“Identifying Reliable Sources and Citing Them | Scholastic.com,” n.d.)  

Obstacle 3:  Multiple Points of View

Although reporters and historians strive to be objective and impartial, points of view are inevitable in any newspaper or journal article.  These points of view can skew a reader’s understanding of the facts or truth.  A solution to this obstacle is to teach students the difference between a fact and an opinion.  In addition, teachers can create a lesson where students have to compare two different newspaper articles on the same topic and analyze the similarities and differences.

Identifying Reliable Sources and Citing Them | Scholastic.com. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2016, from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top-teaching/2010/11/reliable-sources-and-citations

Integrating Technology into Social Studies

Technology can be incorporated into many aspects of a student’s day.  Technology increases student motivation, encourages creativity and allows access to concepts and information not normally accessible to a student.  Integrating technology into a social studies curriculum has content related advantages.

Technology brings real-life and problem solving elements to a social studies curriculum.  The topics I teach in social studies took place between 100 and 200 years ago, long before my students were born and many concepts are complex and confusing for a student.  The use of simulations, “[Technology] allows students to take an active part in historical situation that would otherwise not be possible due to historical or physical distance.” (Roblyer, 2015)

One of the most important aspects a teacher can incorporate into any social studies lesson is primary sources.  Primary sources “Provide a window into the past—unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period.” (“Why Use Primary Sources?,” n.d.) Technology makes it possible for students to have access to primary sources.

In 5th grade U.S. history, there are many facts students are expected to memorize; states, capitals, regions of the U.S and presidents, to name just a few.  Technology provides different resources to assist with the memorization, whether it be through videos, music, simulations or drill and practice games.  Technology opens up a variety of options to help best suit each student’s learning styles and needs.

Every student loves going on field trips.  A majority of the social studies curriculum centers around Washington D.C. or the east coast.  Living in Idaho makes taking a field trip to Gettysburg not realistic.  However, through technology we are able to take virtual field trips of these locations that are vital to our nation’s history.  A virtual field trip “Helps [students] see and understand a variety of cultures, sights and events outside their own communities.” (Roblyer, 2015)

Technology in a classroom is beneficial.  Technology in social studies has the opportunity to transport a student back in time, across the country, explore first hand documents and memorize key facts.

Roblyer, M. D. (2015). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, Enhanced Pearson eText with Loose-Leaf Version — Access Card Package (7 edition). Pearson.

Why Use Primary Sources? | Teacher Resources – Library of Congress. (n.d.). [webpage]. Retrieved November 2, 2016, from http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/whyuse.html

Relative Advantage of Using Digital Games

Digital game-based learning is defined as an instructional method that incorporates educational content or learning principles into video games with the goal of engaging learners.   (“Digital game-based learning,” n.d.)  There are many beneficial reasons to use digital games for student learning; increases interest and motivation, engages students, provides instant feedback, and builds confidence.

It is safe to say that a majority of students enjoy playing video games in their spare time.  87% of 8 -17 year old students play video games 13 hours a week.  (“Game based learning,” 09:13:37 UTC)  Students have to have interest in a topic, a connection to their lives or any type of buy in, in order to learn.  Video games help bridge the gap between student interest and academic curriculum.  When my students are given the opportunity to play various digital games, it is the highlight of their day.  I have a few reluctant readers who are more than eager to hop onto a Chromebook and play a reading based digital game.

Working in an elementary school, one thing I have noticed is that students can get tired of an activity or a game very quickly.  Many digital games allow students to “level up” after mastering certain tasks.  This provides students with a new challenge every time they log into the game.  Also, many games now come with a battle or challenge mode, where students are able to compete against other students.  Students thrive on competition.  Many games have a high score feature and students are always wanting to get their score higher and higher, which leads to an increase in trials.  Both the leveling up feature and challenge mode, makes a digital game engaging for students.  “Learners playing the handheld game [math fact game] completed nearly 3 times the number of problems in 19 days and voluntarily increased the level of difficulty.” (“Game based learning,” 09:13:37 UTC)

An additional positive aspect of game based learning is that students receive instant feedback while they are playing the digital games.  Feedback positively affects students because when they receive feedback, they get instant gratification.  Without the use of technology, feedback can take hours, days or weeks to receive.  Furthermore, digital gaming builds confidence in a student.  Confidence comes when students feel successful and this happens when students are working at their instructional level.  Educational digital games often allow teachers to set an instructional level or the game itself will place the student where they will be most successful.  

Digital gaming is a beneficial teaching tool in the classroom for any subject, yet it is uniquely useful in social studies.  One of the most difficult aspects of social studies is to connect with situations that happened hundreds of years ago.  Many times we ask students questions such as, “What was it like to be on the Oregon Trail?”  Students do not have the same life-experiences as someone had while on the Oregon Trail, making it difficult for them to truly connect with the lesson.  Through digital games, students are able to get a taste of what it was like to live and solve the problems that arose during a particular period in history.  The relative advantage of digital games is that they can virtually transport a student to a particular time period.  Digital gaming can provide a different avenue for students to learn curriculum in a fun, engaging way.

 Digital game-based learning. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4970

Game based learning. (09:13:37 UTC). Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/kkapp/game-based-learning-24469553?ref=http://www.ulqcl.com/kappnotes/index.php/2013/07/cibp-forum-resources-and-slides/

Acceptable Use Policies

Many of us cannot go a day without connecting to the internet, it is incorporated into our lives and the lives of our students.  With the increased need and use of internet at school, school districts and individual schools have created Acceptable Use Policies.  Many times school districts send these home in the beginning of the year along with the student handbook.  Parents and students must sign, indicating that they have read and understand the policy.  Acceptable Use Policies, also known as AUP, are policies that outline how schools or districts expect their teachers, students and community members to behave when using technology. (“1-to-1 Essentials – Acceptable Use Policies | Common Sense Media,” n.d.) According to the National Educational Association, an AUP needs to contain six key elements; preamble, definition section, policy statement, acceptable uses section, unacceptable uses section and violation/sanctions section. (“Education World,” n.d.)

Examples of Acceptable Use Policies:

Boise School District

Boise State University

Nampa School District

North Thurston School District

West Ada School District

The internet has its advantages, however, if users do not practice internet safety, they could be put into a bad situation.  In addition, not all content on the internet is appropriate for K-6 students.  School districts and schools do an excellent job utilizing filtering software to block inappropriate material from students, however this does not stop students from giving out personal information.  Teachers need to instruct students about digital citizenship.  Roblyer provides 8 topics of digital citizenship; internet safety, privacy and security, relationships and communications, cyberbullying, digital footprint and reputation, self-image and identity, information literacy and creative credit and copyright. (Roblyer, 2015)  In my school district digital citizenship is a required subject.  Most of the resources used by the teachers comes from Common Sense Media.  Teachers need to teach students digital citizenship and netiquette so that the internet is a safe learning environment.

1-to-1 Essentials – Acceptable Use Policies | Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups

Education World: Getting Started on the Internet: Acceptable Use Policies. (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml

Roblyer, M. D. (2015). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, Enhanced Pearson eText with Loose-Leaf Version — Access Card Package (7 edition). Pearson.

Benefits of Multimedia in the Classroom

How Technology Can Boost Student Engagement. (2014, May 1). Retrieved from http://researchnetwork.pearson.com/learning-science-technology/technology-can-boost-student-engagement

Multimedia in the Classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2016, from http://fcit.usf.edu/multimedia/overview/overviewa.html

Roblyer, M. D. (2015). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, Enhanced Pearson eText with Loose-Leaf Version — Access Card Package (7 edition). Pearson.

Relative Advantages of “The Basic Suite”

The Basic Suite application consists of word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs.  These applications are installed on all computers in my district and are accessible through our Google Account For Students (GAFE) accounts.  By using Basic Suite applications in the learning environment, teachers and students can improve productivity by being more organized and time efficient.  In addition, visual quality of the final product is improved when using these applications.  Finally, general accuracy is improved, whether it is through spell check in a word processor or calculations in a spreadsheet. (Roblyer, 2015) Utilizing Basic Suite applications has many advantages in the area of social studies.

Word Processing

Word processing allows students to have alternatives to presenting information, through built-in templates for newsletters, letters or flyers.  Students can create a newsletter for events happening in Philadelphia in 1776 or a flyer to recruit soldiers for the war.  In addition, for many students writing is a weakness, whether it is through mechanics, spelling or handwriting.  Word processors allow students to communicate thoughts and ideas in an efficient and understandable manner.  Through GoogleDocs, students are able to share documents with teachers or classmates, in order to collaborate, edit or proofread in an efficient manner.


Spreadsheets allow students to clearly organize numerical information, in particular dates in history, populations or percents of ethnicity.  Students are then able to easily create accurate graphical representations.


Presentation applications such as Powerpoint, Google Slides and Prezi allow students to present information visually.  Many teachers are getting away from straight lecturing and instead are using some type of presentation program.  By using a presentation program, teachers are able to present information both orally and visually, reaching a variety of learning styles.  Teachers are also able to insert an interactive component to presentations by including videos, quizzes, polls or creating a game. (“Learning Modules for EDTF 200 & 300 (Spring 2011),” n.d.)


Roblyer, M. D. (2015). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, Enhanced Pearson eText with Loose-Leaf Version — Access Card Package (7 edition). Pearson.

Learning Modules for EDTF 200 & 300 (Spring 2011). (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2016, from http://thanomsing.com/courses/sp11/modules/mm/ppt_interactive.htm

Instructional Software

Drill and Practice

Drill and practice are exercises in which students work example items one at a time and receive instant feedback.  Drill and practice software is often used to commit knowledge to long term memory and the automaticity of lower order skills. (Roblyer, 2015)

Relative Advantage:  By using drill and practice software within a lesson, students are able to receive immediate feedback, repeat practice on skills or facts, build confidence and increase motivation.

Example: Capitals and State Location


Tutorials are entire instructional sequences on a topic, where students are able to learn a topic without additional resources.  Tutorials are often used for self-pacing reviews, instruction or when teachers have a substitute. (Roblyer, 2015)

Relative Advantage:  Tutorials in a classroom allow students to work at their own pace.  In addition, some tutorials adjust to meet each individual learning needs and level.

Example: U.S Government


Simulations are a computerized model of a real or imagined system whose purpose is to teach students how systems work.  Simulations are used for a variety of reasons.  First, a simulation can compress time, so that changes that take a year, months or days, now takes seconds.  Second, it allows students to see changes that in nature would be invisible to the naked eye.  Third, it allows students to repeat events changing different variables.  Finally, it gives students an opportunity to experience different events that may not be applicable in their life. (Roblyer, 2015)

Relative Advantage:  Students are able to experience, discover and explore different events and concepts that may not be available in real-life.  For example,  a student can not actually experience what it was like to be a slave traveling on the Underground Railroad or a colonist in Jamestown.  Through simulation, students are able to get a better feel for what is was like to live during that time period.

Example: U.S History Simulations

Instructional Games

Instructional Games are computer games or video games whose purpose is to bridge the gap between entertainment and learning through a fun, educational experience.  Instructional games are used to grab a student’s attention on a topic or can be used as a reward. (Roblyer, 2015)

Relative Advantage:  Motivating a student or getting students to “buy-into” a lesson is one of the most important steps of any lesson.  Students who are invested in a lesson will be more willing to learn and will get something out of each lesson.  When incorporating instructional games into a lesson, a teacher is appealing to a majority of the students’ interest…games and having fun.

Example: Where in the U.S.A is Carmen Santiago

Problem-Solving Software

Problem-Solving Software is used to specifically teach problem-solving strategies. Problem solving software teaches three components:  recognizing the problem, the physical process of completing the problem and the cognitive operations. (Roblyer, 2015)

Relative Advantage:   Using problem-solving software promotes good problem solving and critical thinking skills.  In addition, it increases motivation and interest in students to solve each particular problem.

Example: History Mystery
Roblyer, M. D. (2015). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, Enhanced Pearson eText with Loose-Leaf Version — Access Card Package (7 edition). Pearson.