Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Technology in the Classroom

Last night of Ed 404, lots of input, reflections on the past quarter and time to apply some of this to what's happening in the field. Especially useful was discussion of problem statements and methodologies. It was the perfect continuation of Monday night's presentations with plenty of food for thought and feedback. The next couple of weeks will provide an opportunity to synthesize my research notes and identify what's being learned by the students and the teacher with iPods in the classroom.

The elements for creating a framework to view the iPod Research Project through is still developing. I have considered a mini-ethnography, a methodological study for the best way to determine (or possible measure) learning, a study on the engagement of students when using the device, comparative case studies and a view through the lens of student perceptions. Possibly some mixed-method from the above. This is all in my head. I need to now get observations sorted out in print, determine what is valid information, develop a working lit review and think seriously about Chapter one. First of all is the story behind what I'm doing and why it's important that I'm doing it.

Meanwhile, Human Subjects Approvals for two universities, possible educational presentations, more visits to the school being studied and a scramble to get some firm idea of what has been learned and what is being planned. Presently, only online searches are implemented for specific reports and the devices are stored the remainder of the day. A constructivist, open-ended learning environment is new territory for staff and there is apprehension about going that far. Presently, teacher-centered learning is the modality.

There is no doubt however that there is an electricity in the air when the students get their hands on the iPods. The room instantly drops a few decibel units and the students become instantly engaged in something unexplainable, maybe unfamiliar. The students are having fun learning and can't wait to do something new with the devices. The conversations are collaborative, small groups are jumping ahead of the lessons with newly discovered shortcuts, some students are a bit behind. Still, those that are learning proudly share their new found knowledge with those needing help and bilingual students quickly translate to ELL students what they need to know.

So here, in the teacher centered room, is teamwork and collaboration that is self-perpetuating.
Constructivist activities are sprouting where they weren't intended, and students are learning valuable skills faster than they can be taught from the overhead. There is something going on here that needs to be harnessed, or more likely, let go.

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