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Baran, B. (2010). Facebook as a formal instructional environment.

British Journal of
Educational Technology, 41(6), E146-E149. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Research Article
Summary:
This article is about a study that was performed at a university in Turkey to determine
how readily students would embrace social networking mediums as a format for formal
instruction. The study was conducted in a classroom of 32 students at the university during a 12-
week undergraduate course entitled ‘Distance Education’. The students were required to join a
Facebook group created by the instructor, and they were responsible for creating and discussing
a library that included videos, links and pictures. The students were advised that they would be
graded on their Facebook-based activities.
The study compared the students’ Facebook usage and attitudes before and after the
course by means of face-to-face interviews and a questionnaire consisting of 16 Likert-type
items. The study showed that the students’ level of daily Facebook use in the course increased
by the end of the course. It also showed that almost half of the students would have preferred a
face-to-face course, and 75% of the students thought that Facebook should be used as one
element of a face-to-face course rather than the sole or primary medium for delivery of
instruction. A large majority of the students felt that Facebook and other social networking
mediums provided a valuable knowledge-sharing environment, and they indicated that their
classmates helped to motivate them in their learning.
The article also dealt with the student-to-teacher interaction through Facebook. All of the
students felt that it was appropriate for teachers to use Facebook, but several of the students
expressed negative opinions about teachers sharing personal information with students. The
culture of Turkey was credited for these feelings, as the idea of formality in student/teacher
relationships is strong in Turkish culture.
Critical Evaluation:
My first thought when reading this article was that it was based on a very small sample of
students, and it was conducted amongst a culture very different from ours. However, I do have
to acknowledge that, especially among the younger generations, the “flattening” of our world has
resulted in generations of people that are growing up in increasingly similar cultures. In this
study, 90% of the students already had a Facebook account before they took the course. With
the prevalence of the internet today, it would be naïve to not believe that nearly all middle and
high school students have an account on a of social networking site. At our own school system,
we have been discussing how to integrate social networking into the instructional process, which
is what initially drew my attention to this article. I wish I could find an article similar to this, but
in a secondary education setting with a much larger sample group. We have had a hard time
convincing our administration of the educational value in social networking because of the
stigma it has acquired through the scandals that make it into the news. This study does at least
provide some evidence that students are interested in using this type of format in an educational
environment.
WIRELESS ISSUES. (2010). Education Week, 29(26), 12-15. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Professional Practice
Summary:
This article highlights the importance of having a robust wireless network in place in
schools that are pushing initiatives to increase the number of mobile devices being used in
classrooms. With many schools today not only adding more and more laptops to their inventory,
but also adding other smaller wireless devices, the demands placed upon wireless networks in
schools are growing right along with the changes in mobile technology. With the prevalence of
constant connectivity, students and teachers often will not have patience with a wireless network
that is performing slower than what they have come to expect. In fact, the article cites that if it
takes more than 10 seconds to find a wireless network, students will quit looking for one. To add
to these challenges is the density of people found in schools. This type of high density
environment is not seen in any other commercial or business applications. This means that
schools that are pushing a mobile initiative must not try to get by with a thrown together
solution, but should look for enterprise grade wireless solutions. Yet another challenge of having
a robust wireless infrastructure is the cost. According to the article, schools can expect to pay
from $75,000 to $125,000 per building for an enterprise grade solution. On top of that is the
expense to maintain the wireless network, which will often require a full-time person to manage
and maintain it. All these issues must be carefully considered before trying to implement a
wireless network, because if you install the infrastructure, but it doesn’t work for the teachers
and students, they will quit using it.
Critique:
I couldn’t agree with this article more. As the district level technology specialist for my
school system, it is my responsibility to oversee the implementation and maintenance of our
wireless network. I can attest first hand to how a “thrown together” wireless network can be
counterproductive in a school system. In 2006, we implemented our first campus-wide wireless
canopy. None of us had ever implemented anything like that before, so it was very much a by
the seat of my pants experience. However, after four years of dealing with that wireless network,
I knew exactly what the problems were, and what we needed to implement to fix them.
However, our teachers had largely lost their confidence in the wireless network, and many of
them, even though they had wireless capable laptops, would still run an Ethernet cable to their
laptop. They would also avoid the wireless laptop carts we had available for them to share
amongst the different departments. To cure that, we implemented a new wireless network this
past e-rate year, and I used the lessons from the first implementation to get it right the second
time. Now we have a very robust wireless network that the teachers have once again come to
rely upon heavily. This article expresses exactly the ideas that the technology director and I have
been pushing to the administration and they have come on board to give us the leeway we need
in order to have an excellent wireless learning environment.
Ash, K. (2010). Building on a Decade Of 1-to-1 Lessons. Education Week, 29(26), 12-15.
Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Theory into Practice

Summary:

This article takes a look at a Sarah Banks Middle School in Detroit, Michigan and the
lessons they have learned implementing a 1-to-1 laptop program during the ten years it has been
in place since 1999. The article first notes the changes that have taken place in the technology
itself over the years. When the program first began, the laptops were primarily used to access
Microsoft Office programs since they didn’t have internet capabilities. Another obstacle at the
time was that batteries did not last long enough to use without some kind of charger hooked to
them at all times. The school now has 900 students and about a third of the students participate
in the 1-to-1 program. The rest make use of the school laptop carts. The wireless network has
also undergone change as it has been upgraded three times since its original installation in 2004.
One of the unusual and somewhat controversial aspects of this program is that parents are
responsible for buying the laptops, if they choose for their children to participate in the program.
It is completely optional, much like buying a band instrument, and the students that don’t have
one still have access to the laptops in the carts. The article notes that this aspect of the program
has been critical in its success and longevity. School administrators admit that they would never
have had the resources to provide every student with a laptop. The article notes that another key
component to the success of the program is strong professional development, especially teacher-
to-teacher, to help the teachers at the school gain a better understanding of how to effectively use
the laptops as an instructional tool. Finally, the article cites that it is impossible to directly link
the implementation of the 1-to-1 program to student achievement, but rather the program is a part
of the bigger picture of instruction that has resulted in test scores that have steadily risen over the
past ten years.

Critique:

I chose this article because as I thought it was interesting from the viewpoint that I have
watched the push for 1-to-1 laptop programs kind of come and go over the last 5 years, as I have
been attending the GaETC conference and the NECC conference. A few years ago, the push was
really strong and everybody was pushing some kind of niche product they had to support the 1-
to-1 programs. However, over the last two years, that push seems to have died away as handheld
devices have been gaining so much ground. Now it seems the focus has gone to iPad and
smartphone type devices and the versatility that these devices offer at a lower price point than
where we currently see laptops. Another thing I found interesting about this article was the idea
of parent-purchased laptops. I couldn’t say for certain, but I would guess that such a program
would cause at least some level of community backlash in our school district. The school in the
article had about one-fourth of the students eligible for free and reduced school lunch, whereas
the schools in our district have over fifty percent of students eligible. This would present a real
challenge for us if the district had to make up that difference by purchasing laptops to have in
carts for the students whose families couldn’t afford to purchase one. I do however think that we
will begin seeing an increase in personal mobile devices being used in an educational
environment. Many students already have some type of smartphone that is capable of
connecting to the school’s wireless canopy and from that aspect the possibilities really become
endless for a teacher wanting to interact with students using the technology that is already
available. Getting the administration to allow students to access the school network from their
personal devices might be a daunting hurdle though.

Powering Up Change. (2010). Education Week, 29(26), 10-11. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Professional Practice

Summary:

This article discusses the recent shifts that have been taking place as mobile devices take
on a bigger role in the educational technology landscape. As some schools are pushing the 1-to-
1 laptop initiatives, other schools are opting to take advantage of today’s mobile devices, such as
the Apple iPods and iPads, new Android based tablets, and smartphone type devices. The article
then moves into some of the aspects of implementing a mobile technology platform in a school
that most administrators wouldn’t think about until problems arose. The biggest of these is the
hidden cost. If the school purchases the devices, they must also consider the expense of having
to support those devices. They also have to account for the additional strain that will be placed
on the wireless network and may have to upgrade it in order to compensate. The article also
points out that teachers will need to be provided with related professional development, and then
they will have to develop lesson plans to take advantage of the mobile devices. All these things
end up costing money in the long run, but it is difficult to pinpoint the amount of money these
issues are responsible for. Little research has been done do correlate the link between schools
that have established 1-to-1 laptop programs and/or mobile device programs and increases in
student achievement.

Critique:

I picked this article to get a kind of “other side of the coin” perspective after reading the
previous article about the push to get more mobile devices into classrooms. While this article
was not necessarily an argument against mobile devices and 1-to-1 laptop programs, it was a
realistic look at some of the issues that need to be considered before trying to implement them.
It referenced one school that used the ARRA money to buy an iPod Touch for each of the
students in one Texas school and used e-Rate money to beef up the schools wireless network. At
our primary school this past year, we were awarded an ARRA grant and we bought 57 laptops
that the teachers are using in the classrooms to give the students access to interactive technology.
The grant also included Promethean interactive white boards for each classroom that got laptops.
After having been directly involved in our school system’s application for e-Rate funding for the
last four years, I believe there will be funding available that will assist in offsetting the cost of
these mobile devices. In particular, as of this year, electronic textbooks are now e-Rate eligible,
and for our school system that means we would only pay ten cents on the dollar for electronic
textbooks. With the money saved by not having to buy textbooks, it would not take much to
justify purchasing an iPad for each student so that they would have access to an e-book reader as
well as a device that will perform a multitude of other functions. As long as we can continue to
get school administrators to embrace these types of technology, we will see them become more
and more influential in modern classrooms.

Ash, K. (2010). Teachers Testing Mobile Methods. Education Week, 29(26), 26-27. Retrieved
from EBSCOhost.

Theory Into Practice:

Summary:

This article once again takes a look at using mobile devices in the classroom, but it takes
a look more specifically at what mobile devices can be used for, including the cellphones and
smartphones that most students already have. One of the biggest challenges to implementing
mobile devices in the school environment is professional development and getting teachers to
understand there will be many times when the students simply know more about the technology
than the teacher does. The challenge for the teacher is to be at peace with this and use it as a
learning experience. There is still not a concrete set of best practices or a wealth of professional
development material available to schools, and the rapid pace of change in technology makes it
that much more difficult. However, if the teacher is eager to incorporate this technology into
their lessons, it becomes much less of an issue. One of the teachers uses text messaging in her
ESOL classrooms and allows students to call in and record their oral assignments from their
mobile phones. According to one source in the article, his school is trying to break the paradigm
that the only moment of education occurs in 50 minute blocks in favor of the idea that teaching
can happen anywhere and at any time.
One of the schools referenced in this article uses a piece of software called mCLASS,
which uses mobile devices to deliver assessments to students, allowing the teacher to make data-
based instructional decisions and allowing school administrators to make professional
development decisions. Another school system uses software called Poll Everywhere that allows
students to use their cell phones as a classroom response system. Finally the article advises that
the key to success with mobile devices is establishing what you want the kids to accomplish.

Critique:

The thing I liked about this article is that it went into more detail about the specific
solutions that schools are using with these mobile devices to get results. One of the most
difficult hurdles in trying to find a way to push a mobile device initiative for our school system
has been finding concrete ways in which these devices can contribute to the learning process and
the software resources required to do that, but this article names specific examples. After
reading it, I went online to look at mCLASS and Poll Everywhere. As we move forward and
slowly increase the number of mobile devices we have available, it would be fantastic to be able
to show how something like Poll Everywhere can use hardware that is already in the students
hands to facilitate instruction. We would have to get over the administrative and policy-related
hurdles in order for this to happen, but I believe that the key is showing that there is educational
value in what we want to do. Another tool mentioned in the article that I think many of our
teachers would use is Text Marks which sends out text messages to a defined list of subscribers.
Teachers could use this to send out homework assignments, due date reminders, etc… The only
thing I was curious about that I didn’t see was whether any of the schools had problems with
using the students’ personal phones. Aside from strict policies, approximately 80% of the
classrooms in our district have little to no mobile coverage. I would like to see the issue
addressed where perhaps schools had to implement some type of hardware solution to boost
cellular reception inside the school building.

Johnson, L. F., Levine, A., Smith, R. S., & Haywood, K. (2010). Key Emerging Technologies
for Elementary and Secondary Education. Education Digest, 76(1), 36-40. Retrieved
from EBSCOhost.

Professional Practice

Summary:

This article takes a look into the crystal ball at what the current trends are in technology
and where technology will probably be heading, in an educational environment, in the years to
come. It hits on five key ideas that are the catalyst for many of the changes that we are currently
seeing and will be seeing in technology in the future. Those ideas are that technology is
increasingly a means of empowering students and is ever more an inseparable part of our lives,
and that technology continually changes how we work, play, and communicate; the perceived
value of innovation and creativity is increasing; there is now interest in alternate and non-formal
avenues of education such as online learning; and the way we think about learning environments
is changing. The idea is that technology is changing every aspect of our lives, and even more so
the lives of students, right down to the most basic aspects of what we do on a daily basis. Many
of the things that we “know” about education, students, and how they learn are changing, and
often on a daily basis.
The challenges that this brings to schools can be quite daunting, especially when
considering the variance of ages among school staff and administrators. The article cites the
following challenges: the importance of digital literacy is ever increasing, the change in students
and how they learn and interact is outpacing the rate of change in instructional methods, policy
makers and educators agree that reform is needed but can’t seem to agree on what the new model
should look like, the fundamental structure of the K-12 education system needs to change, and
more and more education and learning takes place outside of the classroom. The point is that
because of how profoundly technology is changing our lives and the lives of our students, we
have to be willing to change how instruction is delivered to meet the needs of today’s students.
Expectations for today’s graduates are not the same as twenty or even ten years ago, but there is
not much being done to prepare students to satisfy those expectations.
The last section of the article focuses on technologies to watch in educational
environments. The first is cloud computing and collaborative environments, or to put it in
layman’s terms, Google Apps and Google Docs. The second is looking two to three years out at
the widespread acceptance of game-based learning and the adoption of mobile devices in
classrooms. The final section addresses augmented reality and flexible displays. Flexible
displays refer to screen technology that is becoming thinner and thinner and even becoming
flexible. The applications for this type of technology in schools could be virtually endless.

Critique:

I thought this article did a good job of breaking down the issues as they relate to the
advancement of technology and what we as educators are doing to keep up. I can tell you first
hand that it is not getting done. For instance, next year all 8th graders in the state of Georgia will
be required to take a technology literacy assessment. However, they do not start receiving any
type of formal technology related classes until they are in middle school. The middle school
standards do not have any sort of keyboarding component, meaning that teachers of those grades
do not have time to cover keyboarding along with all of their other standards. However, there
are NO standards for elementary or primary schools regarding keyboarding or any other
computer-based applications. This means that if a school system wants kids to be taught
keyboarding or any type of computer applications class, it will have to be a paraprofessional
teaching the class without any kind of state provided standards or curriculum. It equates, in my
mind, to saying that all high school seniors have to take a test on their knowledge of agricultural
mechanics, while only a portion of the students ever take that class, and even then the depth of
knowledge is not where it would need to be to pass a standardized test.
I also thought the article was very explanatory in presenting the challenges that we face.
Even though it did not claim to offer any solutions, it did present the challenges in such a way
that we can begin to form our own ideas as to how to address them. It is going to take more than
just one or two teachers in a school or one or two schools in each state addressing these issues to
make a difference. There needs to be an overhaul of the K-12 education system nationwide that
will make what and how we teach relevant to today’s students.
Being a nerd at heart, I thoroughly enjoyed the “technologies to watch” segment of this
article. The cloud computing and collaborative environments are going to be a very near and
dear issue to us in the coming years. We are already looking to move our email system over to
Google Apps, which not only gives us a more robust email system, but also a collaborative
environment that we would never be able to deliver in-house. One of our teachers at the high
school is already using Google Docs in his class to facilitate collaboration on projects, and the
students love it. Teachers embracing technology in those kinds of ways are how we are going to
overcome this gap in what we are doing and what we need to be doing for our students.

Selwyn, N., & Husen, O. (2010). The educational benefits of technological competence: an
investigation of students' perceptions. Evaluation & Research in Education, 23(2), 137-
141. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Research

Summary:

This article was a research article aimed to determine students’ perceptions of the
educational benefits of technological competence. It is based on a questionnaire that was given
to 1,303 students of an average age of 11-16 from three different schools in the UK. While this
article does not analyze the entirety of the information gleaned from the questionnaire, it does try
to determine student attitudes related to technological competence. A large portion of the
questions on the survey were statements requiring yes/no answers such as ‘young people are
better than adults at using technology’ and ‘media such as film, television, and the internet are
more important than books’. The study attempted to answer the questions of what proportion of
students see technological competence as associated with doing well at school, how does this
belief compare with school students’ other beliefs about their use of technology, and how are
school students’ beliefs about the educational value of technological competence patterned by
demographic and socio-economic factors?
The analysis of the survey outlined in this article had some surprising results, especially
considering the preconceived notions about the effectiveness of technology competency resulting
in an increase in student achievement. The results indicated that a very low percentage of
students in the survey believe there are educational benefits to technological competence. Two
groups in the survey, students that attended the more urban school of Greater London, and
students in their first year of secondary education, had about 30% of the population that believed
there were educational benefits to technological competence. Almost every other way the
students were grouped showed that about 20% of the student population believed in the
educational benefits of technological competence.
In conclusion, the article does point out that this study is not longitudinal in that it does
not address how specific students’ opinions may have changed over time. It also pointed out that
the survey did not collect data about students’ beliefs about other aspects of schooling. The
overarching conclusion, however, that students’ perceptions regarding the value of technological
competence is very different from our perceptions as personnel and school administrators.

Critique:

The authors of this article did a good job of making a “disclaimer” that this study might
not necessarily be indicative of the actual perceptions of the students, but the results were no less
surprising. I feel that the larger scope of this study and the similarity of the results among most
of the groups of students lend more to its credibility. The only question I have regarding its
credibility, and the discussion section of this paper addresses the same concern, is that any
survey is likely to have a good number of unreliable answers. I am not sure what kind of study
would have to be done to gather facts rather than opinions, but I would feel more comfortable
with the results of the study if it were not so heavily reliant upon information that could easily be
false.
I feel that the students I have worked with would probably answer that they don’t see the
correlation between technological competence and an educational benefit, but their actions
would not reflect that belief. The same students are more likely to be engaged in the lesson if it
involves some sort of technology. Our physics classes at the high school are a prime example.
The teacher has a set of laptops that he has been using for about six years now, and when I am in
his class, you can tell that the students are eager to use the laptops as part of the lesson. I
understand the explanations provided in this article for why students would have expressed the
opinions that they did, but I do believe their actions speak more to their actual opinions than the
survey does.