Technology in the Classroom

Technology in the Classroom

Virginia Willems-Rossman

 

It is very interesting to think that the Ancient Greeks and Romans did not have a numeral for zero in their mathematical system.  Their counting system started at one (one=I, two=II, three=III, four=IV, five=V, six=VI, seven=VII, eight=VIII, nine=IX, ten=X).  Due to this fact, it is probably not hard to believe that the first personal computers were math based, first the abacus, then the calculator.  The first devices used for writing, after the stone tablet, slate and chalk, papyrus and pens, were telegraph machines.  However, these were not personal and private devices, and were not located in homes of individuals.  The first personal computer capable of print, were typewriters.  In fact, students attending school in Canada in the 1980’s first learned how to type on electric typewriters. Bill Gates has this to say about the technological evolution, “Since when has the world of computer software design been about what people want? This is a simple question of evolution. The day is quickly coming when every knee will bow down to a silicon fist, and you will all beg your binary gods for mercy.” (20)

Now, not only does North American society have access to desktop computers, there are notebooks, tablets and cellphones, all with the same capabilities as larger computers of the past. As one is using a computer, one has access to documents, templates, folders, sky & cloud drives, email, twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest etc.  It is hard to deny the fact that these technological advances have changed the way we think, learn and interact with the world around us.  Including, the fact that children now have the option to learn how to read and write using tablets (Leap Frog).

Despite all the amazing technological advances, very little has evolved in the way lessons are delivered to students.  Once a student enters a classroom in Canada, they are given paper and pencils and taught how to read and write using these tools.  They then graduate to workbooks and pens, not to tablet computers.  The majority of students continue to learn from large textbooks, not e-readers, despite the fact that the Toronto Public Library has made the majority of their book selection available to be downloaded for free.  The Guggenheim has also downloaded their library. The majority of classrooms are still equipped with blackboards, some may have graduated to whiteboards, but very few have smart board technology. It is time for our technological revolution to meet out educational revolution.

When students first went to school in Canada, they were taught in one room school houses.  In the 1880’s, students had their own personal slates.  Those slates have been replaced with personal computers in the form of notebooks, tablets, and even cell phones.  In the 1850’s, personal slate boards were replaced by large blackboards.  These large blackboards were replaced in many schools, with large whiteboards.  Whiteboards are now gradually being replaced by Smart boards.  There are also a number of High Schools, Universities and Colleges offering online courses which demonstrates the gradual progression in the evolution of combining technology and education.  However, more needs to be done to increase the availability and ease of use of technology when teachers are presenting lessons in the classroom.  North American society continues to evolve with amazing technological advances, however teaching tools and methods continue to be slow to evolve and these technologies have not been adopted into the majority of mainstream classrooms.  In this age of inclusive education, it is very important that North American society includes technology as part of the evolutionary advances it continues to make.  The following is an example of an Independent Study Project for the Media Studies portion of the Grade 12 English Ontario Curriculum.  This Independent Studies Project incorporates teaching methods, technology and tools, and an open cooperative classroom environment which allows for choices to be made by the students.

Independent Studies Project:  Media Studies

Overview:

Media Studies is a major component of the English curriculum.  It is comprised of different components including; television, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, posters, television, radio and print advertisements…..the list goes on and on!

What You Will Do:

Part One

  • Write a newspaper article about the G20 Summit.  Your article will have to answer five questions; who, what, where, when, why & how. This will comprise 40% of your mark.

OR

  • Write      and record a television, or radio news report about the G20 Summit.  You will still need to answer the questions stated above, however you can decide to put yourself in front of the camera, or on tape, or you can become the writer, director and      producer of your own news report, and invite a guest to be in the spotlight.

OR

  • Write an essay about the G20 Summit.  Remember that an essay should be five paragraphs long; Introduction, Body Paragraphs and Conclusion.

Part Two

You will choose ONE of the following options which will comprise 60% of the mark. 

Artistic Option: 

  • Art is loosely defined for this component; you may create: a multi-media presentation, a piece of visual art (poster, collage, and est.), a short      story, poem or a cartoon.   
  • In addition to your piece of art, you will write a 1-2 page reflection about your art piece. For full marks, you will include some research and be prepared to cite your sources.
  • Create a scrapbook of G20 information using current and historical newspaper articles.  You will also include a 2-3 page summary of your research.
  • Using pictures, you will tell a story which connects what was expected to happen during the summit, to what actually happened.  A minimum of 10 pictures will be displayed creatively with an explanation for each picture.  Include your research to support your photojournalism display.  You could follow a scrapbook approach as well.

Advertisement Option:

  • Create an advertising plan for the media which will give the public information  about what they need if they are going to participate in a protest.   A good advertising plan should help the advertiser tell people about the business, about the products and services  for sale, or how they can donate to your cause.  The promotion ideas will need to be neatly displayed on suitable backing material with appropriate  explanations as necessary.  The promotion ideas are:
  • Design a window display for a mall setting
  • A specialty media item (t-shirt, mug etc.)
  • A billboard
  • A 60-second TV commercial, which should be written and then shown using proper technology.

Some Basic Guidelines

  • Include your rough draft in addition to your final project.
  • Remember to include a bibliography.
  • What you choose to research  and how you present it is up to you.      
  • If you are uncertain, always talk to your teacher before making a final choice

 

 

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