Category Archives: Technology for learning

Sharing Flickr Images via Twitter and Facebook

Finding and using images on photo sharing sites like Flickr can offer endless opportunities for educational purposes. See my previous post  for ideas and suggestions. Sharing images on social networks is a great way to have students view them. Here is a quick tutorial for finding and sharing images via Twitter and Facebook.

Hint: First create a Twitter account and/or  Facebook page or group that you can use for teaching.

1.  Go to Flickr. Search for images.

2. Notice the share options that are at the top of the image.

3.  To share on your facebook page, click the FB icon. Next, your share options will open. You can also write a message.

4.  When you are ready, click “Share Link”.

5. To share on Twitter, find your image. Next, click on the “Twitter icon”.

6. The following screen will pop up with the URL for the image already to share. You can add text to the twitter message if you wish. It is that easy!

Give it a try!

Flickr Fun for Education

Using a photo sharing site like Flickr can provide unlimited opportunities to integrate photos into teaching and learning. Whether you are teaching online or in traditional settings, having access to literally millions of images can provide creative opportunities for educational purposes. Here are a few ways that images and the site itself can be used.

1. Current Events: Images regarding current events can be shared for discussion.

For example, images from the recent floods in Thailand may offer compelling items for a current events lesson.

2. Writing prompts: Images can be used in writing for brainstorming or for writing prompts.

For example, what story might this image inspire?

3. Math: Images can be used to investigate geometric shapes. For example, you could use the following images to discuss angles.

4. History: What about finding images to spark historical inquiry? What questions might be generated from a few selected images?

The Globe Theater

5. Science: How can Flickr be used in science education? A post on Quest (from Northern California)  gives many ideas related to integrating images into science.

For example, images of the metamorphosis of a butterfly could viewed.

The possibilities for using images are endless. Virtual field trips, teacher and student presentations, and current events are just a few other ways to use images from photo sharing sites. Flickr also offers a “commons” area where photo downloads are free and all individuals can use them.  You can also access photos from NASA, the White House, and other libraries and government agencies.

Students can also upload their own photos to create portfolios or to demonstrate their own knowledge and understanding of a subject area or to share other important concepts.

Quality use matters…

We need to go beyond looking at all technology integration efforts as equal. They just aren’t.

Example:

Teacher creates a Power Point to support a lecture vs. student creates a Power Point to document what he learned.

Question: Which example do you think has a greater potential of improving student learning?

Answer: The student created project. This assumes, of course, that the student is required to fully document learning with clear and high expectations above over just the visual aspects of the project.

A number of frameworks exist for looking at how technology integration can support learning. Overarching themes can be found in all of the frameworks. These themes essentially involve teachers becoming more student-centered in their efforts as they progress up each level. Additionally, teachers include higher level thinking activities and the technology use becomes more sophisticated and may even go beyond the classroom walls as the teacher progresses.

One very popular framework is the LoTI Framework developed by Dr. Christopher Moersh. This framework provides a way to examine technology use in the classroom. The framework moves from Level 0 (non use) to Level 6 (Refinement). This framework aligns nicely with Bloom’s Taxonomy and project-based learning. Essentially, the higher the level, the more student-centered the learning becomes. At level 6 the technology use moves beyond the classroom, reaching out to the outside world in some way. For example, a high school Spanish class may create a web-site for a third grade class also learning Spanish. You can also read about this framework in Dr. Moersch’s book, Beyond Hardware: Using Existing Technology to Promote Higher-Level Thinking .

Another framework comes from the ACOT research project which looked at how a group of teachers adopted technology over a ten year period. These stages are: Entry, adoption, adaptation, appropriation, and invention.

Here again, teachers become more sophisticated as they use a technology application. During the invention stage, a teacher may begin to use a technology application to support other learning objectives that had nothing to do with an original intention.

You can read more about this study in, Teaching With Technology: Creating Student-Centered Classrooms.

Another framework that examines how an organization adopts technology, is the diffusions of innovations theory. Dr. Rogers (2003) studied how a technology or new practice is adopted over time in an organization. The results of his work show that the adopters emerge in a bell-shaped curve. Rogers describes five groups in regards to adopting a new technology or new practice. These groups are:

1) innovators 2.5 % of the population

(2) early adopters 13.5 % of the population

(3) early majority 34%

(4) late majority 34%, and

(5) laggards 16%

Rogers also describes a series of stages that may occur during adoption:

1. awareness,
2. interest,
3. evaluation,
4. trial, and
5. adoption

There are a number of other frameworks that exist. These frameworks help to describe what can happen to a teacher as they begin to learn about how to best use a specific technology application. As the teacher becomes more proficient with the technology, she can begin to more clearly see how to best use the technology to promote student learning. However, teachers need to be encouraged to think deeply about what their students are doing when using technology. They need to ask themselves about the thinking that students are doing as they use technology and encourage higher level thinking activities. An understanding of these frameworks may help school leaders understand that teachers may be in different places and that teachers may need additional time and support to move beyond beginning stages. Teachers would also benefit from knowing that they may move through stages. Knowledge is power.

Baby steps: Start small, but start!

After doing many technology workshops for teachers (K-12 and higher ed.) in many different settings, I am convinced that many faculty members feel so overwhelmed with technology offerings that there is a tendency to just “say no!” to the idea of using it at all. I think the solution to this issue is “taking a baby step”. Start small. Keep growing.

Why the reluctance to change? Most teachers lack models for using technology. They just aren’t sure what to do. Many teachers argue that they have been very successful teachers without using technology in the past. So, why start now? Teachers may also see very little value in using technology or they may have very little in the way of technical support. A lack of technology support is especially true for many K-12 teachers. Teachers may have a lot of fear of using technology. They may have tried a technology and it didn’t work well or they fear looking like they don’t know what they are doing in front of their students. They may have very limited access to technology. In light of our nation’s focus on testing, teachers can’t get into labs. However, I believe that educators have an obligation to find ways to help prepare students for their future and this includes integrating technology into curriculum. In fact, 21st century learning skills includes those ideas that reach beyond technology, however, integrating technology can clearly support many of these objectives. Here is a link to the Framework for 21st Century Learning.

I will soon write more about the the compelling research about why we need to push harder to do a better job in in this area. Beyond engaging and motivating our students, when used properly, technology can increase student achievement.

So- start. Start small. Take a baby step. I would argue that this should be true for those who already feel comfortable integrating technology. Challenge yourself to learn a new technology each year. Find support. Talk to the digital natives and let them help you! Carefully observe how students are using it. Ask some questions:

  • Are there ways to support higher level thinking with this technology?
  • Can I integrate this into what I am already teaching to enhance and engage students more fully?
  • How can I provide a framework for its use but still support student creativity and empowerment?
  • Where can I get technology support and help when I need it?
  • Do I have a plan if the technology isn’t working?
  • Is there someone I can partner with to try a new technology application?

A baby step approach to technology integration:

For Faculty: Start small. Try a new application each year and work through the fear. See if my list of questions is helpful.

For School Leaders: Understand that teachers need support. Encourage and reward small steps. Remember that each of your faculty are in a different place. For one teacher, checking and sending emails to parents and students may be a big leap. For another teacher, having students create digital videos to show their learning may be an appropriate goal. Support ALL of your teachers as they learn and grow.

For Tech Support Personal: Make yourself available to your educators. Be patient and make sure that you provide hands-on support. Sometimes educators may come to you after they are already frustrated. They may have spent a lot of time already trying to solve a problem. Write out an FAQ sheet /webpage for easy to solve common problems that your educators face.

For educational technology trainers: Provide HANDS-ON support and be available for follow-up. Don’t come in and give a bells and whistle show and then walk out the door! All learners need practical hands-on experience. Additionally, not every person in a training session is at a point where they will be ready for the training. If you overwhelm your audience and cause frustration, you may actually push faculty in the opposite direction.

Technology for learning-that’s the point…

As I began to think about this blog, I wanted to make sure that the focus stays on how technology can support learning. I am the first to admit that I am tempted to be swayed by the bells, whistles, and excitement that new technologies can offer. I tend to be a “yes” person when it comes to technology as I am not afraid of change, in fact I embrace change. However, educators who use technology need to think carefully about how technology is supporting learning objectives. That being said, sometimes we don’t know how technology can support learning until we play with it a bit. From my own experience, as we begin to use a new technology we move through stages as we begin to understand the technology and we begin to see how it can support learning. Sometimes it is our students who teach us how a technology can support learning. I am currently playing around with Twitter- and am thinking about how I might be able to use this in a teaching situation.

That being said the research on technology for learning tends to support a number of themes:

  • The learners should be engaged with the technology as much as possible. Specifically, the learner should control the technology, not the other way around. For example, in most cases, drill and practice software games keeps learners out of the driver’s seat and thinking at fairly low levels.
  • The technology should support higher level thinking. Typically, this can be seen when the learner is engaged in inquiry-based learning or project based learning. (Think- constructivism!) For example, learners who create a digital video project to demonstrate their learning are most likely working at a higher level.
  • Certain technologies are better at supporting certain content areas over others. For example, students in mathematics should be exposed to graphing calculators. Science students should be working with probes and digital scales.
  • HINT: The students should be using the technology– not just the teacher! Many teachers are using technology on a daily basis but they have not made it a priority to get their students using it. For example, using a Power Point project each day with your students really does not constitute an optimal learning experience.

It’s time to really examine HOW we are using technology in the classroom and WHO is using the technology.