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Part II Technology and Education: So what do you want it to do?

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We have this idea, right? Everyone comes in and says, “Oh the Internet, it's global now. It's international now. “It’s the future. We all have to learn how to use it.” We have this wonderful utopia of the web and socialization and communities and media and all of these wonderful technologies. If we just learned how to use them, we could create that ultimate nirvana. That educational perfect world. But the truth is—and the research says—it’s not going to happen yet. Not in the current state. Not in the way that it’s being used. You have computers, but you still have people that are bored. It’s not about introducing the technology that’s necessarily going to make it a more effective classroom. That’s going to make it a better educational system. When I was speaking earlier about this idea of “Is that the best you can do?” What I’m actually talking about is this idea of forget about the technology or the paper or whatever you’re using, and think about is this the best model given my current resources that I can offer to my students to achieve the goals and objectives of my class and my teaching? Now the problem. When I first started out with technology and using technology I had a background in it. I was desktop support. I did these things in Australia and really started learning about it, but not learning so much about how to teach it. How to use technology in education. I know how to use computers. I know how to fix some things, some issues with I've never heard of a killer dust ball... When you start talking about technology in education, CALL rooms, CALL labs, computer assisted language learning you enter this world of the tech geek. If you’re a new person to it and if you have fear of technology, if you’re not comfortable with technology there is a certain amount of trepidation because you’re worried "These tech guys. I have got to go...These guys, they all know more about it than I do." If you are a teacher, the first thing you really start with—for a lot of people in university systems—is usually one of these three platforms. WebCT is related to Blackboard in that WebCT was bought out by Blackboard. But you have WebCT, Blackboard, and Moodle. CMS: Content Management Systems So for me it started with WebCT. With these systems you’re getting an out of the box package. It does this, it does that and again this top down model of the teacher saying “Oh, I have this. I need to learn how to use it. I can use it in my classrooms. How can I use this in my classrooms?” You’re presented with a software, with a model, and it’s the teacher’s job to start saying, “I need it to do this. I need it to do that. How can I make it do this?” The problem, and where I really started to make this big break in the way that I think about technology in education I started making demands on the system starting with WebCT. The beginning of every semester "I have a WebCT class. I need to get my students registered.” “Okay, what we need you to do is make a comma separated file. That means put all your students’ names and then put a comma in there with their student numbers. Then you email that to us and then we’re going to put that up in the system. Then they’re going to get some passwords. We’ll give you a printout of the passwords. And…” And then halfway through the semester, you have two or three new students join in “I have these new students, I just want to add them to my WebCT.” “I’m sorry you have to go to desktop support and then they are going to register you, and then come back to me.” So the first part, from just an administrative side, it was a nightmare. It was ridiculous that if I wanted to do this, I had to keep going to someone else. “I need this. I need this.” “Okay, no problem fill out this form in triplicate and we’ll rubber stamp it for you and we'll eventually get back to you and then you can start using it." So we have WebCT working. We have it in the classroom. I have some ideas about what I would like to do with my students. And the problem is, it doesn’t do it. WebCT at the time, and again for anyone that might say, “it can do that!” Maybe now it can, but back 10 years ago when I was using it, it couldn’t. "I would like to use a video. I want to put a video in there." “Okay, no problem. You can put a video in there. You upload your video into this folder and then the students will have a video.” Bing! Great! Why is it so small? There should be a button so that we can watch it full screen. “No, you can’t. We’re sorry. You have to just watch it in the little postcard size.” And again, I’m talking about ten years ago. I know it is different now. “But I also want to be able to have these collaborative” which is what exists today, these collaborative files “I want to put a file up there in an environment where the students can have access to it. To edit it. To make changes to it. And then we can all work on these projects together." “You can put the file up and they can print it out. But they can’t change it because you are the teacher so you have the managerial control over that. So, no, we can’t do that.” For me it started off with these things, but very quickly I got to the point of saying, “I want this!” And even to the point of saying, “I want this” and having the tech side say to me, “well, why?” “Not your concern! I’m the teacher. I’m the one that has these objectives. I’m the one that has these goals. Not your concern, why. I don’t need to explain to you why. I just need it. Can we do it?” “We’ll try but probably no.” That started putting me into this kick. My real first use of technology in education in the classroom that was the real impetus to get going. To start doing things on my own. And that started with something very simple. A camera. “When I was in Australia, tech support, I used to have access to files where I could download all the student names, numbers and their photos. So I need some photos of my students.” “We have the files.” “Oh? I just need those.” “You are not allowed to have those files. Those are the students’ private photos, private files. Only the university can have those files.” “Okay. Camera! Day 1, week 1, “everyone line up I’m taking all your pictures.” Now I’ve got pictures. Now I have a photographic record that I can use to try to match faces with names. That was the first introduction of technology that these standard out of the box models didn’t do what I wanted them to do. The only way it’s going to get done is that I need to do it on my own. But how do you do it? The next thing where we get into this “tech trap” is that you go to the tech people. The people that already have experience in the field. The people that already know something about it. And I mentioned this earlier. This is just the most recent for the JALT CALL SIG. The articles that were published… But that’s not what I’m doing in my classroom. I need to know if I want to do A or B or C, how do I do that? So when you go this route, where you’ve got these resources that you start reading the journals and saying I’ll find something. Again, you find lots of good tips and you find new things and new ideas and new tasks, but it really didn’t tell me what I needed to know. I have this idea. I want this. We want it to do this. Where is the technology to do that? Support not coming from the university or from the educational system. Support not really coming from the literature because it’s not focused or targeted on what you want to do. That was a problem. There is a gap there. A gap between new technology users that want to use the technology, and the people that are experienced in using technology. How do we start to bridge that gap between these two groups?

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 6 seconds
Country: Japan
Language: English
Producer: Robert Perkins
Views: 68
Posted by: shoukoedu on Sep 1, 2011

Part II of a lecture given by Robert Perkins for Nara JALT August 20, 2011

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