Relative Advantage of Presentations in the Classroom

For many years, I sat trying to keep myself awake during a PowerPoint presentation.  I would be popping Vivarin, chased with Jolt, while someone droned on reading words on a screen that I could read myself if there wasn’t so many that they had to use negative four font size to fit them all on the slide.  Then, after forty-five minutes of my life that I would never get back, I had to sit through a half an hour of questions that basically had all the same information provided again.  I didn’t know there was any other way.  Not until I started in this program.

In my Online Teaching class, I created this Google Presentation.  Still, too wordy, but at least there was some interaction to it to keep a student focused.  Then, in YouTube for the Educator, I created this video using PowerPoint.  Since it was a video, it wasn’t interactive (though, I later learned ways to create an interactive video if I want to re-worked this).  It did have a lot more graphics and animation to go with the narration.  Maybe it won’t win a “Tubie” (which is what they should call YouTube Video Awards, if they don’t), but it shows why such presentations can be a valuable asset to the classroom.

Presentation applications have many features that give them an advantage in the classroom.  They can be interactive.  They are accessible for viewing by students who missed the class or re-viewing by students who need to take a second look. Presentations permit a diverse media display:  Images, videos and links to additional resources. Questions can be included, both full-length quizzes and spot checks.  SlideRocket will allow you to add interactive elements to your presentation.

Not every presentation program has the same features.  Currently, there is no ability to add audio to Google.  Searching on the internet, I found that you can work around this somewhat by creating a video narration and embedding the video.  Shrink it real small to hide, or just enough to look like you are TV news anchor in a PIP (Picture-in-Picture) format.  Adding narration will save your voice and ensure that everyone viewing the presentation will get the same information, regardless of when they view it or how many times.  Eliminates the possibility of forgetting something in one of your presentations to one of your classes.

Now that you are aware of the fact that presentations don’t have to be like this, but can be like this, you are well on your way to earning a “Tubie.” (Come on, people.  We need to get a grassroots campaign started).  Or, at the very least, be a reason for Starbucks’ sales to drop on one day.

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INSTRUCTIONAL SOFTWARE

Roblyer and Doering (2013) discuss six types of software in their book, Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching.  These six are:

  • Drill and Practice

  • Tutorial

  • Simulation

  • Instructional Games

  • Problem Solving

  • Integrated Learning Systems

I discuss the first five here.  I would like to take time to discuss Integrated Learning Systems (ILS).  ILSs are network or online systems of computer-based instruction that both track and report on student progress (Roblyer and Doering, 2013).  In my current position at the Pittsburgh Job Corps, I have been asked to evaluate several ILS programs to use with our students who are preparing to take the GED 2014 Test.  The GED Testing Service has several partners, listed here.  So far, I have been in contact with three sites and received information on the services they provide.

While the specific details of each ILS are different, with respect to their GED 2014 Test preparation, they have some common basic features.  ILS programs can easily be individualized for each students.  Generally, when a student begins an ILS course, they will take a diagnostic test that determines which specific areas require remediation.  As students progress, the programs will adapt the difficulty level up or down depending upon student performance.  Teachers will receive reports on student performance and can even be alert when a student needs intervention.

While it is generally recommend that ILS be a supplemental teaching method to an entire program in  order to be most effective (Roblyer and Doering, 2013), we would probably utilize them as the primary method.  Our students have already attended traditional schools and been unsuccessful.  However, this does not mean that lack the knowledge to pass the GED test.  Under the previous version of the GED Test, we had students who were capable of passing without any preparation, those who needed some preparation and students who required expansive tutoring.  With the change of the GED 2014 Test to a computer-only test, there will be fewer students in the first grouping and more in the other two.  These students’ ability will span a vast range.  Therefore, in order to keep them motivated, specialized training is needed to prevent from going too slow or too fast and move at just the right speed for each student.  Plus, by becoming more comfortable with learning on the computer, the students will be on familiar ground when they take the GED 2014 Test.

Does this mean that teachers become unnecessary?  Quite the contrary, I believe. Teachers will be more important.  Students will struggle with learning some concepts with the ILS just as they did in the traditional classroom.  Since the teacher will be aware more often and quicker of these deficiencies, they will have to be ready to interceded and help the students overcome obstacles.  They will have to be capable of switching gears and go from one lesson to another (possibly, in a completely different discipline) at a moments notice.

References

Baker, Mark. (1997). Integrated learning systems – An introduction. Retrieved from http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/mbaker/material/ils.html

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed., New International ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.

What is an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and why is it needed?

An AUP is a document designed to protect a school incase a student goes somewhere on the internet s/he shouldn’t.  With an AUP in place, a school can say the student violated the agreement, which the student (and parents, if the student is a minor) is required to sign before having access to computers at school, can place sanctions on the student for said violation and then walk away as if nothing happened (until the next time it does).  To some, this is a cynical view, to others it is the way it should be.  However, there is a different way.

According to Education World, the number one goal of an AUP should be student safety. All students should feel comfortable while in school, just as employees should feel comfortable while at work.  That level of comfort includes while online.  While rules and sanctions are needed, they are a reactive approach.  The less often they are necessary, the better it will be for all parties.  The best way to ensure that is by being proactive.  If the school promotes a sense of with freedom comes responsibility into the students, then many issues are solved by never occurring.  Thus, a better term would be a Responsible Use Policy (RUP).  Regardless of the name, Education World states that such policy should contain at least 6 elements.

  • The preamble is the reasoning behind the policy.

  • In the definition section, key words are defined.  Also, any terms that might cause confusion need clarified.

  • The policy statement lists what is covered by the policy and the conditions under which student usage is approved.

  • The acceptable and unacceptable uses sections provide examples of appropriate usage and places limits and prohibitions.

  • The violation/sanction section informs what to do in case of a violation of the AUP.

Unfortunately another important component is a waiver/release that must be signed by the student (and parents of minors) that protects the institution in cases where students violate the policy.  One way to neutralize this cold, legalistic document is by writing the policy in a more student-friendly, warm tone.  The only AUP I found that met these requirements was by the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School.  However, it focused a lot more on unacceptable use than it did on acceptable use and was rather lengthy. The North Hills School District, while lacking a definition section, was a much more student-friendly policy with clearly defined acceptable and unacceptable uses.

Regardless of the tone, the Tech and Learning Blog list a few guidelines that should be followed when creating these policies.  The policy should be focused on people and behavior, not gadgets and media, otherwise, every time a new device is introduce, the policy would need to be rewritten.  Therefore, they should be an all-inclusive brief yet, concise document.

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh has a two page document (the previously mentioned Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School has a 17-page document).  Their creation should not come from the top down but, they should involve all the affected parties. This again goes back to the aforementioned philosophy linking freedom and responsibility. Sadly, many schools, like SciTech, take the top down approach.  Finally, they need to be customizable to specific populations.  The language needs to be age appropriate to the students.  A policy for first graders, while similar in intent, would not be a good fit for high school seniors.

References:

Art Institute of Pittsburgh. (n.d.). The Art Institute of Pittsburgh student housing network policy. Retrieved from http://aipstudent.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Tech-Waiver.pdf

Education World. (n.d.). Getting started on the Internet: Developing an acceptable use policy (AUP). Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml

North Hills School District. (n.d.). Policies. Retrieved from http://www.nhsd.net/policies.cfm?pid=26902&searchwords=

Pittsburgh Public Schools (n.d.). Pittsburgh Public Schools acceptable use policy, information security policy and password policy user agreement and parent consent. Retrieved from http://www.pps.k12.pa.us/cms/lib/PA01100449/Centricity/Domain/89/aup_student_agreement.pdf

SciTech. (n.d.). Introduction to the technology & laptop program. Retrieved from http://discoverpps.org/resources/522f3f84aa681/SciTech%20Technology%20AUP.pdf

TechLearning.com. (n.d.). Tech Learning TL advisor blog and ed tech ticker blogs from TL blog staff. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=67&EntryId=4355

Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School. (2013-2014). The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School technology use and CIPA policy. Retrieved from http://ulgpcs.org/ourpages/auto/2013/3/22/29092556/ULGPCS%20IT%20POLICY%202013-14.pdf