Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Journal Article #8: Technology & Social Justice

Social Justice: Choice or Necessity?
By Colleen Swain and David Edyburn
L&L March 2007

This article underscores the importance of equity in the classroom with regard to instructional technology for students of all backgrounds and abilities. It makes the case that equity refers not only to access but to expectations of fluency and the enhanced learning strategies made possible by the computer.
Colleen Swain and David Edyburn argue that while problems with limited or no access still persist in some schools, concern should also be raised that teachers need to ensure that all of their students receive the maximum benefits available through the use of instructional technology. In other words, just because the technology is present doesn’t mean a teacher has achieved social justice in the classroom. They like David Miller’s definition of social justice, which they quote as follows: “…how the good and bad things in life should be distributed among members of a human society.” So, for instance, a teacher should monitor computer time in the classroom to ensure boys don’t end up with more time than girls. A teacher should be mindful to offer challenging technological tasks to students with lower grades or scores and not just to the star pupils.
1. What can a teacher do at the outset to further technological equity in the classroom?
To achieve the best results possible, a teacher needs to know which students have access to a home computer and an internet connection, and which students do not. Per Swain and Edyburn, this information should be collected discreetly from each student. That way, a teacher can make sure to maximize the resources and time available for the student without home access.
2. What can a teacher do to ensure technological social justice for a student with special needs?
The laws and resources to provide maximum opportunities for children with special needs are now substantial. Therefore, one of the most important things a teacher can do is identify any children that might have special needs and recommend an IEP, if appropriate. Most children with special needs can be mainstreamed into the regular classroom, and still access special technology as needed.

Journal Article #7: Project-Based Learning

JournalArticle#7

Project-Based Learning Around the World
Kristen Weatherby
L&L; February 2007

In this article, Kristen Weatherby discusses her work with Microsoft in creating project-based curriculum for teaching information and communication technologies (ICT) around the world. Microsoft’s Partners in Learning initiative, which also includes ISTE, is a movement to create stakeholders worldwide---governments and education ministries that will use the program to teach students basic ICT skills and train teachers how to use technology by customizing learning projects.

With the help of ISTE, they developed a dozen learning projects or about 40 hours of classroom time. Then they went through a process of localization, where general themes were adopted for local use. Thus far, more than 200 “master trainers” in about 50 countries have been trained with the materials. Weatherby reports that the first adoption of the ISTE curriculum occurred in Denmark and that the program was highly successful.

1. Is project-based teaching an effective way to teach information and communications technologies?

It is! Based on my experience in EDUC 422, the technological realm, at least as much as any other academic area, is well-suited for project-based learning. Also, ICT is extremely useful for an interdisciplinary curriculum as created by ISTE.

2. Is project-based learning a feature of San Diego’s pubic schools?

I am familiar with High Tech High School in San Diego, which is a public charter school that emphasizes project-based learning and technology. From talking with faculty there, I understand that the results are mixed. The students tend to like it, but the faculty turnover rate is high because of the lack of structure. Teachers are given broad parameters and must decide what to teach and create project plans from scratch. Some love this, but many do not. Additionally, they eschew AP courses, and I don’t know if colleges are receptive to this.

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