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TELE Design

Jonassen’s (2000) comments on learning with technologies were a great reminder of how to use technology in the classroom and reconfirming, for myself, many of the topics raised so far in the course. As educators, effective student learning should always be the primary goal we are trying to accomplish. As Jonassen discusses, this is accomplished by “thinking in meaningful ways.”   As a result, engaging students with activities and meaningful lessons, which may or may not involve technology, should accomplish that primary goal of thinking and learning in the classroom. In terms of design, educators need to utilize and implement technology to enhance or support their lessons. Roblyer (201) discusses these pedagogical goals and how it relates to theories of learning, students abilities, curricula etc. In attempting to develop a technology-enhanced learning experience for my own classes, first and foremost I have to consider what subject or topic is currently being taught. The activities come after and hopefully, an online resource or other equipment are able to support that learning and allow students to produce understanding and meaning for themselves. The activity needs to provide a learning experience that allows students to simultaneously question their current understanding of concepts and develop an appropriate and better understanding of a topic.


Keywords: Potential, Enhance, Transform

I interviewed a colleague after school on Friday, January 20th, at school Steveston-London Secondary. The interviewee has been teaching Junior and Senior Sciences, as well as Junior Math, in the Richmond School District for approximately 9 years. In the context of the interview, we discussed aspects of digital technology in one of her current classes – Science 10.

The primary issues discussed were how technology is used in her classroom and the subsequent advantages and disadvantages to using them. The interviewee stated that she used technology on a “daily basis” but the “levels of degree” varied day to day. She typically uses PowerPoint presentations combined with pictures and videos to augment lessons and present “vital concepts and lecture.” The teacher also uses other forms of technology to enhance school material and this can take a variety of forms including: online simulations, formative assessment tools, devices for research projects or to fill in study guides and/or other programs to collect data or for graphing purposes.

The educator feels that technology has the potential to transform learning with its ability to “increase student interest” and “as a result, increase learning.” She feels that there are many benefits in using technology as it largely increases focus, motivation, and the interaction with the material. She does have some reservations in that technology alone does not necessarily promote “increased learning.”

In contrast, technology can also be a distraction to students. For educators, troubleshooting and the time required to develop and implement technology can be drawbacks. At times, the technology, particularly hardware, is also not always available to be used in the classroom with limited resources. In summary, the educator strongly believes that advanced technology is vital and inevitable to teaching materials in classrooms.







Interview Below:

  1. How do you implement or integrate technology into your classroom?

I use technology almost on a daily basis but to varying levels of degree each day. Minimally, I use a digital projector and present the vital concepts and lecture through PowerPoint presentations. These usually include pictures and other images to enhance the presentations. At times I also include videos or YouTube clips to further show or demonstrate science concepts.

Besides lecture presentations, how else do you use digital technology in the classroom?

Throughout the year and depending on the topic being covered we also digital technology for:

  • classroom homepage (to update students on homework)
  • using websites to find information and fill in study guides
  • (through the use of laptops and/or desktops)
  • formative assessment (e.g. online quizzes)
  • online simulations (earth science and physics unit)
  • graphing programs (physics unit)
  • data collection programs (physics unit)
  1. What are some positive learning experiences for students have you encountered by using technology? 

I feel that there are several positives to using digital technology:

  • Greater focus and motivation when using digital technology
  • Increased immersion with the material
  • Allows for greater interaction between the content being learning
  • In certain instances allows to complete material at their own pace
  • Greater immediacy with the material

What are some negative learning experiences?

  • At times, can be a distraction (with access to laptops and devices)
  • Troubleshooting apps, programs or even simply logging
  • Also, if sites are down or closed and lessons are based on them sometimes it’s hard to find a replacement or alternative site with the same information
  1. Do you feel that an increased implementation of technology in the classroom corresponds to increased learning?

I think it really depends on the specific material being taught at the time. Certain concepts or materials are more inclined to using technology.   Technology can certainly increase student interest in a particular concept and as a result, increase learning.   I’m not sure if technology alone is responsible for increased learning. If a student does an online quiz it doesn’t necessarily indicate more learning has occurred if the quiz was down on the overhead. In terms of ‘higher’ technology – perhaps more learning has occurred if a student has completed a simulation as opposed to simply reading a book.

  1. What limitations does technology impose on your classroom?

As much as I would like to increase the use of technology in the classroom, there are some limiting factors.

One concern is the availability of hardware. Our department has 15 desktops and 15 laptops but as these are shared with around 10-11 science teachers sometimes the hardware is not always available to use. Further, with usually only around 15 devices per any one class, students often have to share equipment and are unable to use one for themselves.

Another factor is the time it takes to locate and/or develop lessons that use the technology. This can be a time-consuming process, especially with courses proceeding throughout the year.

In regards to the availability of hardware, how do you feel about the use of students bringing their own digital devices (cell phones, etc) to use in the classroom?

I think given certain conditions that I would allow students to bring and use their own

devices. It works particularly well for things like online quizzes (Kahoot) and occasionally for doing things like research. The one drawback is that it is difficult to sometimes monitor 30 students if they are all using their own devices but generally, it has worked well.

  1. How can technology transform learning? Do you have an example?

As I mentioned previously, technology allows students to fully interact with the material they are learning about. For example, during the Earth Science unit the class uses a PhET simulation to visualize and understand the Greenhouse Effect. They are able to control and manipulate different conditions and see an immediate transformation in the simulation. This is a very different learning experience from simply reading it out of the textbook and through a lecture.

  1. Can you share how your assessment of student learning has changed with the integration of digital technology into your math or science classroom?

I think different websites allow for more opportunities of formative assessment. Things like Kahoot allow students to see what they currently and immediately understand. Although there are the occasional technical issues (internet access at times, device availability), generally students greatly benefit from the technology.

  1. What are some challenges in the future for classrooms around technology?

As mentioned above, the availability of the technology in the classroom is one challenge. Another is the time it sometimes takes to locate, test, and implement the technology (whether it’s a device or program or app). I think also that even though there is a ‘push’ for increased technology in the classroom, it doesn’t always translate to increased learning and it’s important to recognize when technology should or shouldn’t be used.


Video Analysis of Cases 3 & 4

Through the ‘Case 4’ video clips, the educator effectively summarizes his opinions on the three possible levels of incorporating technology in the classroom. Briefly, they are:

  • Level 1 – Lecture enhancement (through direct control by the teacher)
  • Level 2 – Lockstep student usage (students perform a technology based activity simultaneously)
  • Level 3 – Self-directed and self-paced student learning (students progress as their own rate through a study guide)

These three levels are a great reminder of how digital technology could be effectively used in the classroom and perhaps, how they should be appropriately or better used to enhance learning.

Level 1 remains the most simplistic and easiest use of technology without any changes to pedagogy. A lecture can be enhanced with a PowerPoint presentation or digital projections of images but the essence of the lecture remains the same. Lawrence mentioned in his blog post last week that the use of technology should be for more than just a replacement of archaic methods. Current digital technology has the ability to surpass previous methods of lecture with increasingly complex representations of information and media. For instance, animation or video clips can now be easily integrated into a lecture.

Both Levels 2 and 3 introduce a greater integration of technology in the classroom with each level increasing the change in pedagogy. Level 2 promotes direct technology usage by students. Through simulations or similar activities, small groups of students interact with their learning. For example, online digital dissections provide an avenue for students to prepare for, or even in place of, actual dissections. Level 3 seems to be the pinnacle of digital technology and learning with students largely directing their own study at their own pace. As evident in the video, students were investigating a problem with guidance by the educator.

Through the video clips, the benefits of effectively implementing and integrating digital technology are evident. Students are engaged and challenged with their learning. As described in the ‘Case 3’ videos, students develop transferable skills that will inevitably enhance their own lives outside of the classroom. Despite these advantages, however, there are likely some limitations or issues. The instructor himself mentions the need for a support unit, especially to troubleshoot any potential problems with the technology. As technology increasingly advances, it will likely be more difficult to have mentors to support and fix this cutting edge material. Further, the hardware and software itself needs to be constantly updated, which can be both costly and time-consuming without the proper support; thus, resulting in funding complications. For example, in attempting to spontaneously run a PhET simulation this past week, the school computers did not have the proper update and administrative rights to correct the problem. Unfortunately, since this needs to be completed by the district tech support, the class has to omit that simulation. Other concerns at Level 2 are also evident in the ‘Case 3’ video, which demonstrated a physics class attempting to perform a laboratory exercise with digital technology. The use of computer programs and other apps do require some front-end loading. As mentioned in the video, curriculum is a key factor in determining lessons and often, time constraints prevent the full exploration of technological uses. This specific problem poses another challenge – the balance in using technology or not. I appreciate that throughout the year certain labs required technology and others did not; but a key issue remains how much do educators immerse their lessons in technology. The video mentioned for that specific lab they would not have to be “bogged down by data collection” and could instead focus on analyzing the physics but retrieving and data collection is still an aspect of science that should be valued.

Finally, while Level 3 is the ideal merging of technology and learning, I wonder about the ability of executing the realities of such a task in a secondary school setting. While this type of learning is well suited for a post-secondary, university level program, other audiences (secondary or elementary) or a more diverse classroom might not always be as receptive or have positive results, as described in the video.

With changes to the secondary curriculum in B.C. through the elimination of the provincial exams and the promotion of ‘core competencies’, there seems to be more freedom in creating lessons and units allowing educators the opportunity to incorporate advanced technologies to their teachings. Inevitably there are both benefits and challenges to incorporating technology to promote learning, where do you stand at integrating technology into your practice?


Unpacking Assumptions

Personally, digital technology in the classroom encompasses many different learning devices and tools that can help promote or facilitate learning in the classroom. This can include a variety of different sources such as the Internet, computer programs, tablet apps, or other forms of physical devices and/or equipment to promote learning. A more digitally immersed classroom could also incorporate other forms of technology to organize lessons and units such as a digital calendar (like Planbook), class website or blog (like Edmodo), or other forms of social media tools (e.g. classroom discussion boards). A classroom can also be simply utilizing technology to convey information through the use of digital projectors or PowerPoint presentations. Regardless of the amount of the digital technology present in any classroom, the purpose behind their usage is of the utmost importance.

As a secondary school teacher in B.C., the effective use of digital technology in the classroom is primarily to support and reinforce concepts currently being learned in the classroom. I utilize the technology available from digital projectors, certain lab equipment, the Internet, and various other means to assist and strengthen classroom material. I also sometimes utilize digital technology to introduce concepts and allow students to explore specific concepts before it has been officially taught. Students have also, on occasion, used websites and other online tools to learn a very specific concept in the class. Through these carefully planned ‘study guides’, students self teach the material without any formal teacher instruction. I feel that I use the technology available effectively to support student learning in my classroom but am largely restricted by what resources are available.

In regards to conceptual challenges in the classroom, digital technology is able to provide an alternate avenue for students to learn from (aside from teacher instruction). These methods allow students to fully interact or better visualize concepts and material that might not otherwise be as well represented. In short, digital technology can be infused into any classroom to any level of degree but in order to be effectively utilized, there needs to be a balance in the intensity of digital technology used with traditional teaching pedagogy. Choosing which advanced technology to use in a classroom environment should be dependant on how it benefits as well as how much it improves students’ learning. In terms of my vision for the imminent future, I would like to see digital technology to be more fully integrated where users understand the costs and benefits of using it as well as the financial challenges to implement it in classrooms.


Conceptual Challenges

Students conceptual understandings and ideas are likely long established prior to entering the classroom. While these can be based on personal experiences or long-held beliefs, these ideas are, unfortunately not always correct. These overall themes are evident in the short documentary, A Private Universe (1987), as well as presented in the readings on constructivism (Fosnot, 2013). Both the video and reading establish that students have their own pre-existing concepts and notions, which ultimately need to be “straightened out” as new concepts emerge and compete. Fosnot further argues that the role of educators is to change not necessarily “dispense knowledge” but also to provide “opportunities and incentives” to construct learning.

The article selected for further examination studies several different misconceptions held by both teacher and students in regards to the physical sciences (Burgoon, Heddle, & Duran, 2010). The misunderstanding of particular interest is one regarding the general concept of gravity. The article discusses the common confusion with the concept in which objects at different heights experience a different force of gravity. The study confirmed a general belief and association by both teachers and students alike that objects at a higher elevation are experiencing “more gravity” wherein fact gravity is always present regardless of height or elevation. The article addresses some of the concerns raised in educating students if teachers themselves held misconceptions but proposed some solutions such as increasing awareness and professional development.

In regards to digital technologies and instructional activities to help nurture student understanding, there are online simulations, phet labs, and video clips. Fosnot, however, would argue that students need opportunities to change and construct their learning, to help my own students overcome the gravitational misconceptions explored by Burgoon, Heddle, and Duran (2010), I use a combination of digital motion detectors linked to graphing to allowing students to create their own explorations on relationship between gravity and height. By dropping objects from various elevations, students are able to examine and confirm the notion that the force of gravity and acceleration remain constant.


Burgoon, J., Heddle, M., & Duran, E. (2010). Re-examining the similarities between teacher and

student conceptions about physical science. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 21(7),

859-872. http://10.1007/s10972-009-9177-0


Fosnot, C.T. (2013). Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice (2nd ed.). New

York: Teachers College Press


Sahiner, A. (Producer), & Schneps, M. (Director). (1987). A private universe [Documentary].

United States: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Greeting from Vancouver!

Hi everyone,

I live in Vancouver, B.C. but work as a secondary school teacher in Richmond.  I currently teach a variety of sciences including Chemistry, Physics, Earth Sciences but not, unfortunately, Biology for which I am technically trained in.

This is my eighth MET course having previously completed 512, 500, 510, 511, 522, 530, and 540.  I feel I use technology comfortably in my courses but lack the time to fully incorporate or develop newer aspects that are available.

Outside of school and the MET program, I have two young children (a five year-old and 3 month old) that occupy most of my time but on the occasional  downtime I enjoy the odd console game and or catching up on reading.

Looking forward to learning with you all!

Thoughts on Tech and Children

My current thoughts with digital technology at the moment revolve around their usage by my own children at home. Specifically, how the existence will affect, for better or worse, their development intellectually and socially. My six-year-old at the moment is more than comfortable with the digital devices available to her (a tablet, two different laptops, and several different cellular devices). My youngest at 3 months, while not adept at using such devices yet becomes easily transfixed on digital screens whenever around.   I am curious as to how technological advances and forthcoming devices change and influence how educators change their practice and pedagogy as the population and likewise, their abilities also change.