Online Critical Feedback
To introduce myself, I am a lecturer of Information Technology at the college level for two years now. I used to teach mathematics before but decided to concentrate on IT. I come from Saudi Arabia and have learned the English language early on because it would help me a lot in relating with diverse students who come from different background and culture. The school setting is a very dynamic environment and I have to adapt to changes. Classroom structures change, even the curriculum and the course content, so as my role as a teacher. In my professional work, I have dealt with different challenges just like everybody else. These may be in relation to developing the curriculum, implementing different instructional strategies, managing the learning environment and motivating students. With those challenges, I become a learner who continuously wanted to improve and grow in the craft I have always loved. I decided to pursue further studies to learn more and enhance my teaching skills. It is for my professional growth and with this I also become updated with new trends in teaching, research and information technology.
I have experienced conducting a research when I worked in an IT sales company. Together with the human resources department we performed a field research on the effectiveness of a training program for our salespeople. Based on the sales data, questionnaires and structured interviews, we did a qualitative and quantitative analysis which led us to conclude that the training program increased the sales productivity of those in the sales department. It was a tedious work since we had to go through a very systematic research process. It was a great help that I had a good foundation of basic research in college and I was able to share my skills with the HR department. Through that experience, I learned more about careful planning of research, construction of questions for interviews and questionnaires, data collection methods and statistical analysis of sales data. Most importantly was getting familiarized with some ethical considerations such as informed consent and confidentiality of the participants. We had to make sure that we demonstrated objectiveness and professionalism in what we were doing and it was something I was proud of. I realized that you really got to have sufficient training in conducting the research so you would be aware of the considerations and issues involved. It entailed lots of decision- making and in doing so one should be very careful and attentive to details. We had to make sure that we didn’t get biased results and the answers of the participants were organized properly. Research just like I’ve said is a tedious undertaking, but a very rewarding one. What we did would definitely benefit both our employees and the organization. Our findings aided us in our decision- making with regard to sustaining our training program and providing our salespeople opportunities for career growth and development. Now as teacher, I become interested in doing educational technology research and that is something I am looking forward to do.
Reference: HEROS, Inc. (2003). Class research study. Retrieved August 27, 2007, from the
World Wide Web: http://www.heros-inc.org/classsizeresearch.htm
This electronic journal article reported on several researches regarding class size specifically the study conducted by Dr. Helen Pate-Bain, Ed Whittington and Ben Dennis in 1985. Central in their research was the impact of reduced class size on the teaching and learning process of grade levels 1 to 3 students in the Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Schools. It was a field experiment research wherein 105 students from grade 1 level were divided into seven classes with 15 students each composed the experimental group while 90 students, also divided into class sizes with 25 students served as the control group. The experimental group was selected according to pre-established criteria such as sex, race, economic status, birth date and total pre- reading raw score within 4-point on the California Achievement Test Level 10. These criteria were also the basis from which the blind control was selected to match the general characteristics of the experimental group. The researchers used the intervening variable of reducing the class size from 1:25 to 1:15 and concluded that such reduction produced positive reading and math learning outcomes. The readers could locate the original research since the author stated that the results were discussed in the researchers’ article, “Effects of Class Size on First-Grade Students” published in Spectrum, Journal of School Research and Information, Fall 1985. However the media article did not discuss elaborately the details of the criteria like the ratio of male to female participants, their age range or the races where they came from. More importantly it did not mention about the condition of treatment that was used for the experimental group and if there was random assignment of treatment to the participants. It also was not able to report the limitations of the study and recommendations for future research.
Reference: Dillon, A. & Gabbard, R. (1998). Hypermedia as an educational technology: A review of the quantitative research literature on learner comprehension, control and style. Review of Educational Research, 68(3), 322- 349.
Keywords: hypermedia, educational technology, leaner comprehension, learner control, learner style
This research would fit the post- positivist paradigm wherein the key assumptions were empirical observation, objectivity and theory verification through qualitative analysis of data. The researchers have used archival data composed of empirical published studies on hypermedia use and learning outcome as well as experimental and qualitative studies. In this research they were concerned about developing relevant true statements on measured effects of hypermedia usage on learning outcomes in a much wider context such as covering hypertext, multimedia and other related applications. Their research was a meta- analysis of significant research findings from 1990 to 1996 and some abstracts from Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) and PsychLIT databases. They synthesized these literatures by categorizing the data into 3 major themes which included the comprehension of presented materials, learner control over the presentation of materials and individual differences in learning style. They concluded that hypermedia usage evidently provides a variety of benefits as the students were able to search quickly through lengthy and multiple information resources. Another significant finding across these literatures was that students who have lower ability in manipulating and utilizing the materials have greatest difficulty with the use of hypermedia. In addition to that, maximum use of technology could only take place if there is a combination of learner’s ability and his or her willingness to explore hypermedia. It sheds light on how educators should design hypermedia, considering important factors such as the ability of the students. They suggested that technology should be utilized with the integration of classroom use innovation and opportunities for collaboration and self- paced learning.
Reference: Herrington, J, & Herington, A. (1998). Authentic assessment and multimedia: How university students respond to a model of authentic assessment. Higher Education Research and Development, 17(3), 305- 322.
Keywords: authentic assessment, multimedia, information technology, traditional assessment, student’s role, authentic activity, indicators
The research would fit the pragmatic paradigm in which it concentrated on the problem of educators’ preference to use only traditional assessments such as computer- based programs in assessing higher-order learning instead of authentic measures. However, like the previous study it was also characterized by some post- positivist claims such as empirical observation and measurement. It was a qualitative study wherein the researchers were concerned about finding a solution to this problem in the educational setting by collecting data from observation of participants’ work sessions and interviews. The participants were eight (8) BS Education undergraduates who were also pre- service teachers and asked to work in collaborative groups by doing an ill- defined task. They were to investigate assessment strategies in a mathematics program through the use of a multimedia package and their performance of this task would be assessed by their lecturer and peers based on their written and oral reports. The researchers concluded from the findings of the study that an authentic assessment characterized by vital elements such as context, student’s role, authentic activity and indicators is very possible in an interactive multimedia environment. Generally, students responded favorably to different authentic assessment strategies while having developed an understanding of the content of the multimedia package.
Reference: Vuokko, R. & Berg, B. (2007). Experimenting with eXtreme teaching method- assessing students’ and teachers’ experiences. Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, 4, 523- 534.
Keywords: Implementation of information systems, teaching in computer science, eXtreme
teaching, assessing teaching, teaching interaction
This research would fit the pragmatic paradigm which is characterized by problem- centeredness and real- world practice orientation using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The researchers used mixed methods of surveys, questionnaires and observations in this study in order to assess the experiences of the students and teachers with Xtreme teaching method. It is problem- centered since it wished to address the problems of teachers in motivating the students and evaluating their performance in information science courses. As a backgrounder, Xtreme teaching method has been developed by Andersson and Bendix in 2006 at the University of Turku in Finland with the aim to provide learning experiences to students through fostering values such as feedback, communication, respect and courage. The research was conducted in 2006 by the researchers who also served as the teaching assistants in the implantation course. The thirty- eight (38) college students were grouped into groups and were tasked to produce four essays using theoretical approaches being integrated to real- life situations on the topic of technology and information systems. In addition to this class exercise, there were also lectures and demonstration sessions about the essays made incorporating the Xtreme teaching method. The researchers later on concluded that the students were able to actively participate in the learning process through collaborative and creative activities that facilitated self- expression, teamwork, increased motivation and respect among the members. The students also developed positive feelings about the method also because of coaching from the teachers. However, this approach required teachers to carefully plan their activities and demonstrate skills that would facilitate active learning.
Critical feedback: Managing Staff in Remote Work Locations by Bernadette Barry
Working for an organization committed for societal change like the education of young children, parenting and health and nutrition is definitely a challenging task. The objectives could only be achieved if there is an effective communication among the people involved in the project and the communities concerned, if the resources are sufficient to sustain the project and if the roles and tasks are clearly defined. In addition to the focus questions, the author could also address the problem by posing questions on how to facilitate effective remote location management and how could organization workers cope with challenging work situations.
Critical feedback: Teaching the English Language to Bengali Students by Summaya Mahdya
One common problem of teachers in any subject matter and grade level is the tendency of the students to rely heavily on memorization to perform a required learning task. This is incongruent to the teachers’ objective of having the students learn through deep understanding of the subject concept and its application to real- life situations. The author of this vignette raised important issues in the teaching of foreign language and maybe she could also add a focus question about what are some written and oral class exercises that could be used to address the difficulty of some students in learning the language.
Research Story: Beth’s Story: The Search for the Mother/ Teacher (Gitlin, A. & Myers, B, 1993)
The researchers in the story positioned themselves as participants in the knowledge and advocates of change. The Educative Research served as a venue for the researchers to voice out their personal experiences regarding their roles and behaviors in the classroom and more importantly their experiences with the implementation of school policies. This research contained an action agenda for reformation that was intertwined with politics; the teachers as marginalized in policy- making and how schools used control and authority to meet objectives. Self- empowerment arose from the making and the critical analysis of personal and school histories. The researchers used these devices to tell the story in which it was arranged in a thematic order. They introduced how this kind of alternative research came about, what were the processes involved in the research as creation, reflection and analysis and laid out the contents of personal and school histories derived from their own self- study. This kind of self- study enlightened them about taking the confidence to voice out their real experiences with the school system. Beth learned that the school should be a place no different from home. Students should be taught with intimacy and nurturance just like a mother to her son or daughter. Children should not learn from strict compliance and continuous reinforcements through assertive discipline. Andrew, the professor was also enlightened by this research approach that he has implemented to the students. The curriculum should be flexible enough to accommodate students’ ideas and expectations. Generally, research could serve as a vehicle for self- expression, change and progress.
Research Story: “The Suburbs was Supposed to be a Nice Place…” (McLaren, P., 2003)
Just like the previous study, the researcher in this article was positioned as a participant in the knowledge and voiced out the need to address an important educational issue which is empowering the socio- economically disadvantaged students by first changing the mindsets of the people in charge of educating these children as well as their respective communities. The research story was arranged in a chronological order, just like a diary in which it included some accounts of his students’ experiences from the start of the school until the end. It was ordered according to dates and emphasized on the students’ alarming situations that involved their families, their ordeals, their dreams, their feelings and their differing perspectives about life. Through this self- study process, the researcher pointed out the root of inequality in the society that affects the learning experiences of the students. He went beyond the safe bounds of describing the school system on a much positive tone. He felt the need to share personal experiences in a real- life school setting in order to show that there is a desperate need for social change. He cited some examples to reform different aspects of the school system. The researcher also used the story of Fred who has left a legacy to become more sensitive of the needs of the disadvantaged children and offer equal opportunities for them. It should be a collaborative effort among the educational policy- making body, school officials, teachers, students and communities who should strive to break the barriers and achieve optimum learning and development.
The significant person in this study is a colleague from the Faculty of Education who also teaches Information Technology to university students. He has been with the school for five years and has been admired for his dedication to teaching. He has been using a variety of instructional strategies in the classroom that the faculty finds effective. He also conducts workshops, seminars and lectures on information technology education. His insights would be very helpful in my teaching profession, such as the classroom management.
The following are the interview questions:
What is your general educational philosophy that guides you in creating and developing learning environments?
In your years of teaching, what are some of the challenges you have met as far as getting your students actively involved in the learning process?
What are some of your students’ learning difficulties that affect them in meeting the requirements of your course?
What are some instructional strategies that you have incorporated into your curriculum in order to sustain the interest of your students in the subject?
What do you think are the current issues and trends in the teaching of information technology?
In the IT Education, it is important to integrate Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) into the curriculum, what are the essential conditions for its successful integration?
What are competencies required of a teacher in relation to ICTs integration to the curriculum?
How do you find the support that is given by the school in terms of maintaining the standards in information technology education classrooms?
What advise could you give to your co- teachers in information technology department with regard to effective teaching?
How do you improve your craft?
I had to deal with some ethical considerations before, when I conducted a research study on the training program effectiveness. First was the informed consent wherein I had to make sure that I told them about the nature of the study and be given the consent if they wished to participate. They had to sign a formal paper that included the purpose of the study and other considerations that may affect their decision in participating. The second one was the issue of confidentiality. Since the research also served as an evaluation of the effectiveness of the training program and the facilitators of the training, the participants had to be de- identified. Some felt that their answers might be used against them so I felt the need to conceal their names and sales divisions. In addition to that, the results of the study were limitedly disclosed to the Human Resources Department and the management who were included in the informed consent. The third ethical consideration was debriefing. It was to give an opportunity for the participants to know about the results of the research such as what part of the training program was proven effective for the majority of the salespeople and their suggestions for improvement. This was also to show them that the research was carried out systematically and that the results were to be used for the improvement of the training and development programs in the company.
A Category System for IT Education Classroom Management for Active Learning and Participation
The coding process used to analyze the interview data is very helpful in organizing constructs and in making sense of the data. Through the process, some important points and patterns become evident. Three major categories that have been identified included the learning environments, learning tools and ICT teaching competencies. The answers from the interview revolve around these categories such as general educational philosophy, how students learn and what teachers should do. These are broken down into subcategories defining much specific details which included the types of learning environments, instructional strategies and types of competencies. All these categories and subcategories are directed toward central issues of student learning and student participation.
Reference: Re- presenting the subject: problems in personal narrative inquiry (Larson, 1997).
An obvious issue regarding the narrative inquiry that the author pointed out was the differing methodological assumptions and expectations of the inquirer and the story- giver about the research process. The inquiry was expected by the story- giver as an exchange of ideas to give more meaningful interpretation of their same perspectives on feminism. However, it turned out to be frustrating on the part of Larson, thus not much information was shared. The inquiry was also influenced by inquirer bias in such a way that non- disclosure of rich information was affected by the inquirer’s silence, passive presence and non- conversational method. Not only did they have incongruent assumptions of the methodology but also with the assumptions of knowledge production. From the self- study that I have done, I learned the same thing. I have to make the most out of the research process by a collaborative effort with my research participants in understanding real- life experiences through an exchange of views and ideas. When we become strictly guided by step by step procedure of scientific method of inquiry, the research process becomes inflexible. We have to become aware of cues or if there’s a need for us to modify the questions or the interview process in order to get rich information from our participants. Narrative inquiry is a social process and it breaks down some constraints that limit the story- giver to speak up, to relay clear perspectives and to exchange life’s meanings. With a dialogue, the inquiry would be able to convey experiences that are truly meaningful for the story- giver through probing questions.
Reference: That’s a good story. But is it really research? (Ceglowski, 1997).
Ceglowski discussed that the two main issues in using stories particularly experimental writing genres were the methodology and its perceived significance in various disciplines. An important aspect of the methodological procedure was being guided by literature standards and the need to evaluate its accuracy with the participants themselves. The use of this story technique should also be valued since implementation systems of a particular institution or program could be intertwined with mundane events. In conducting my own self- study, I was able to describe realistically classroom events that somehow reflected certain school policies. My audience would be able to know and be informed of what is really happening within the classroom walls if I could engage them in my story. Through this kind of narrative story, the audience is no longer separated from the social or historical events, but they become parts of the context. They would be able to make sense of the reality similarly on how I, as the writer and researcher experience it. On the other hand, it could happen as well that the content and the presentation of the story could be subjected to different interpretations and assumptions. I would be able to get both positive and negative responses because not all people think in the same way that I do. Therefore, I should be prepared for this kind of circumstance; anyway what matters is not really to please the readers but to relay honest information on the needs, problems and obstacles faced by disadvantaged social institutions.
To ensure the quality in my qualitative research project, I should carefully plan for the structure of the research design, data collection procedures, data organization, interpretation and analysis. This is to make the research process systematic so I would also know where to go back if I felt that my focus questions were not really supported. However, this self- study should also be flexible in such a way that it is done in a linear procedure of inquiry. There would definitely some events that I had to modify my vignette or re- structure my interview questions just to ensure the quality of my research project. Since this is also a self- study, a collaborative effort with my colleagues and other friends could definitely enrich the data or information that I would be gathering. Through their ideas and experiences, I would also be able to take an in- depth look at my own professional teaching experiences and how my perceptions of those events are similar or different with those of the others’. Another way to ensure the quality of this research project is through comprehensive and critical analysis of literatures. I should also make sure that they come from reliable sources such as schools, professional organizations or government- recognized agencies. In my data collection methods such as interviews with significant people, I have to be aware of ethical considerations involved which include the informed consent, confidentiality and debriefing and other issues that should be considered such as interviewer bias and the need for probing questions and interactive method of inquiry. In analyzing the data, I have to carefully use coding systems that would help me sort out and organize my data. This is important in order to examine the relationships and patterns between some variables and constructs or if they really revolve around on previously constructed focus questions. Although I would be able to have a rich and enormous amount of data but somehow they are out of context, then they become useless. It would be also beneficial to consult the research progress with my colleagues and become open for suggestions and areas for improvement.
My Research Story
It was typical Tuesday morning. I entered my Information Technology Education classroom and was greeted by forty- five college students with blank faces who watched me as I laid my bag on the table and started pulling out some course modules and laptop for today’s presentation. I noticed a few members of the class scribbling something on their notebooks, fortunately, some were browsing their required readings and some were just waiting for me to start. As my discussion on a new topic, the Theory of Technology Diffusion went on, I could recognize some students in deep thought similarly to that state when one is daydreaming and noticed some who constantly glanced on their watches and probably were waiting impatiently for my class to end. I tried to ask them if they had questions but nobody raised their hands. There was silence as when someone dropped a needle and the rest could still hear it. I continued to go on with my discussion and occasionally included some real- life situations, in which my students could relate to in my hope that they would be encouraged to share some thoughts with the whole class. Somehow, they became interested in the topic and I could see some who were smiling, nodding and relating similar incidents with their classmates. Unfortunately, the effect ended in that state. As I moved to the next slides and the more serious parts of the topic, they went back to silence and note- taking. Then it was 10:30 am. My students hurriedly packed their “empty- looking” backpacks and tote bags and left their seats. I was in the middle of the room in front of forty- five empty chairs and asked myself, “How could I make my students be excited about my class from beginning to end just as they are when they leave the room at 10:30 am?”
As a teacher of information technology in a university, my main concern is getting my students to participate actively in class discussions while motivating them to take the subject seriously. I teach the basic courses and introductory theories in Information Technology which are compulsory to all the university students. Usually these courses are taken during their freshman and sophomore years. The number of students in my class could range from forty to fifty and I could say I have relatively large IT class. Some of them are second- takers whom I have to accommodate as well. From Mondays through Thursdays we hold classes in a regular classroom. During Fridays, we have sessions conducted in the university laboratory wherein they are given lectures on computer softwares and applications. They are also divided into groups since the laboratory is equipped with only twenty- five computers and some are still under repair. Accepting the responsibility of handling such a large class is all right with me. However, as I have observed some difficult classroom situations brought about by the large class size and insufficiency of IT resource materials, I become overly concerned about the quality of learning that my students get from the course.
In my class I have been conscious of students’ behaviors such as the degree of participation that they exert. I have observed them just listening from their seats and absorbing information from my lectures. It is also noticeable that some of them are sleepy and fighting the temptation to rest their heads on their armchairs. I also have students who are consistently jotting down notes, sometimes word by word as they view them from the slides. I encourage them to participate by posing some questions that would require them to integrate the knowledge they have acquired from my lectures to practical applications. However, they are very hesitant to answer and same people are courageous or confident enough in clarifying vague concepts. On my part as a teacher, I do not have clear feedback of the pacing of my lectures. Is the pacing just right and assume that my students are ready for the next lesson or is there a need for me to go back to past discussions and explain them once more?
I also give out home works and tasks to be completed at home so I could evaluate how much they have learned from the class. I would ask them to send their assignments via email as part of integrating technology use to course exercises. However, only some would comply with this kind of arrangement since majority of the class would just want to personally hand me their home works. I asked my students why they prefer that kind of paper submission even though they have the access to the internet. They told me it is more practical since they would not have to log in and they could always see me in class anyway. This is in contrast with my desire for them to exercise the skills in technology use and develop appreciation for the course since they would be able to experience the positive impact of technology to their everyday lives. It is also a way of actively participating in the course since though this way they become familiarized about the utilization of various means in sending information and knowing what information technology in their generation truly is.
It was Friday afternoon at 5:30 pm and the faculty heads and members were gathered for a meeting to review the curriculum and share classroom difficulties as part of informal discussion. I have started liking these meetings because for one thing, in the end of the day I would learn that all of use teachers had the same sentiments about the school system. I was not alone after all. We were seated around a rectangular table and started taking down notes of some issues we would want to bring up. Participants in that meeting were given the chance to speak and suggestions for IT education improvement became the focus of the agenda. Most of us agreed about doing some revisions on the curriculum for the inclusion of other subjects needed by the students for higher order learning skills. I have also suggested updating our IT educational tools in order to open up opportunities for university students to experience interacting with multimedia learning resources that would facilitate more active learning. This was also for them to develop new technological and communication skills that they could later on use as they enter the job market and become qualified from its set technical requirements. I suggested that it is time for the school to adapt web- based learning to be accessed by the students as well as by the faculty to expand knowledge and improve learning. This could address the need of sustaining the interest of the students in a particular subject and engaging them in a pro- active learning. However I was discouraged by the board and the faculty heads since the university’s budget is not yet prepared for this kind of endeavor. There were other plans being prioritized by the school and my suggestion could be considered in the future. Then as I walked towards the school gate’s exit I told myself those people were right. Aside from the budget there was another major issue which was a particular concern for me. How could we implement web- based learning when IT teachers also act as the technicians? No one maintains and repairs the technical system other than us.
Focus Questions: What kind of learning environment should I design in order to facilitate students’ active participation in the class? What activities or exercises would I have to incorporate to my curriculum to motivate my students to learn? How could I address the problem of further improving technology- enhanced learning in my classroom considering the insufficient resources of the university?
Designing the learning environment
As teachers we have different ways of presenting our curriculum and developing teaching methodology based on specific learning environments. We set different teaching procedures and classroom schedules depending on the needs of our students. As I share my story of certain classroom experiences, it led me into this journey of questioning, reviewing and analyzing the kind of learning environment that I set for my students. Are they really learning from the course? Why are they finding it hard to participate in the class when the learning atmosphere that I consistently create is very encouraging and warm?
Teachers may set varying learning environments for their students depending on the classroom resources, teacher’s knowledge and skills as well as students’ needs and interests. However in IT education classrooms, there are certain learning environments based on certain educational philosophies that are proven to be effective in maximizing the learning potential and participation performance of students. A colleague in the IT department stated:
“A constructivist learning environment is a deviation from the traditional way of teaching students. These are university students we are teaching. They now take responsibility for their own learning. They’re not like a sponge that would just absorb anything that we say. We’re just there to facilitate their learning. They need to formulate their own questions, organize thoughts and ideas and take part in the development of the course. With the multimedia interaction, I adhere to the democratic kind of learning environment. You offer them a control of the package but should be there to remind them of the consequences.”
(Interview, Michael, 8/15/07)
A constructivist learning environment enables the students to discover relationships between concepts and apply new- learned knowledge and principles to new situations (Chen, Hsu & Hung, 2000). I have utilized this when I teach them about the theory on technological diffusion and asked my students to think of real-life situations in which a principle from that theory could be applied. However, I feel that my students are hesitant to share their ideas because of this fear of making an “incorrect answer” in front of a large class. Thus I also believe in a humanistic approach of exerting an effort to encourage students to exchange their views with the rest of the class to foster much participation. A Comparative Literature teacher agreed:
“When students are asked to critique an article or a book, only a portion of the class could confidently speak up. It’s quite difficult for them to engage in such exercises because it would require them to summarize some ideas and use literary critique styles and standards. So I would have my class form a circle so everyone would feel at ease and comfortable with each other. It would look like a normal conversation and you’d just realize that ideas start to bounce from one student to another.”
(Questionnaire, Sue, 8/ 18/ 2007)
This kind of learning environment also provides opportunities for learners to acquire knowledge from multiple perspectives and share common understanding with other students (UNESCO, 2002). It is a venue where learners could work collaboratively as they utilize a variety of tools and information resources in order to solve problems in exercises or classroom activities (Dexter, 2002). Thus it is not sufficient for me to say that participation from students would be demonstrated from mere questioning regarding related topics. This constructivist educational philosophy could be integrated with technology and other medium in order for the students to grasp basic concepts presented in every topic.
My colleague whom I have interviewed mentioned about designing a democratic learning environment that is integrated with an interaction with a multimedia tool. He expanded on this:
“Our teaching philosophy should be in consistent with how we design tools for student use. Democratic learning should enable the students to choose the topics and pacing of a multimedia package. They should be able to control and manipulate information in order to answer the problems in the exercises.”
(Interview, Michael, 8/15/07)
A democratic learning environment incorporates control, feedback, collaborative and meta- cognitive strategies. My students would learn not just from slide presentations, exams or lectures, but more importantly from tasks that would entail authentic learning and assessment. When they just take down notes, what is a meta- cognitive skill that a student develops? It’s just merely transferring information projected by audio and visual stimuli to one’s notebook without necessarily organizing and integrating key concepts or ideas. Learning from active participation is crucial. An example of this is schema training wherein the student would have to generate relevant structures in order to comprehend a presented material and not just relying on my instructions (Schwier, 1994).
I also believe that my students will participate more in the class if they develop appreciation in the course. I wanted them to develop love for learning the subject and seeing the significance of information technology in their daily lives such as being able to send their assignments via email. These values would be developed if there is an appropriate learning environment that best prepares graduates in higher- order thinking through active learning approaches (Lowry & Turner, 2005). These would include real world problems and cases that would require students to go through investigative and research process or developing a product or creation through projects. This approach also incorporates student- centered learning (Lowry & Turner, 2005).
Implementing classroom exercises and activities
Every start of a semester, I would ask my students about their expectations from the course that they submit together with their class schedules and contact information. Most of these expectations are directed towards me, as their teacher and not really about the course like: “I wish that the instructor would be accommodating and helpful”, “I expect that the teacher would give reasonable projects and be considerate”, “The instructor should be available for consultation”. Though their statements have been helpful as to what kind of approach should I implement in the class, students are less concerned about how they could learn from the course. With such a large class, I try to give group activities such as reporting and discussions. However, I have come to realize that students become used to these kinds of activities and they need novel learning situations in which they could perform tasks that require new set of skills and strategies. Some class exercises and activities are being suggested by my colleagues from the IT department and researchers from selected literatures. These learning experiences are based on specific learning environments as previously discussed.
Examples of class exercises and activities for active learning and participation
Class exercises and activities
Lowry & Turner (2005)
-small learning teams of 5-7 to solve real world problems and cases through research process
– projects that offer students with a degree of choice and allow flexible time completion such as technology planning for the schools or companies or multimedia design
– lectures, discussion and lab sessions for face- to- face communication, online discussions and file sharing on the net
– course web with database connection wherein students are required to add to course content
– reading circle wherein students could critically select, read & discuss materials on latest IT issues and trends
Monday & Barker (2005)
-role play that serves as “live” projects on real- life business problems(includes story-telling, discussion of issues, presentation of some elements of conflict and decision- making processes)
-group hypermedia projects wherein students are required to create sophisticated presentations to introduce a content, issue or topic and use a variety of strategies
“Michael” (interview, 8/15/07)
– multimedia program package in which students could navigate through storyboards, answer self- checks and organize information which has on- screen advice buttons, provides students with visual map of their choices
– brainstorming and debates
– research proposals in which students would choose a topic of their own choice related to IT
– problem- based group exercises and examining technology systems of various companies
– research discussions in which students would share with their group mates the future of information technology based on available journal articles from the web
– group reporting so everybody would be given the chance to share
“Sue” (questionnaire, 8/18/07)
– “Bring Me” sessions wherein students present to the class some softwares they are using even outside the course and describe their functions and applications
From the suggested activities, I could clearly see innovative and creative ways of facilitating teaching in the classroom. What is being emphasized is the learning of the students, how they acquire the knowledge and how it is being applied to different learning situations, may it be in a multimedia environment, in the classroom situation or in the outside world. It really boils down to the changing role of the teacher in an IT education classroom and I began to think if all teachers are trying out new things to maximize the learning capabilities of their students. The answer is probably not. These activities present a well- rounded approach to learning since they target not only the cognitive skills of the students but also the socio- emotional domain as they work in groups and respect one another’s views and ideas. However it demands careful and systematic planning on the part of the teachers and not everyone could do that. Just the mere thinking of work loads could discourage one from doing so. I do not want to become skeptical about the emerging trends in the learning environments and teaching methodologies. I could see their long- term effects on the student motivation and participation. What I have been constantly emphasizing is that students should first learn to love the course, or at least commit themselves in meeting course requirements. Through these exercises they become responsible for the outcomes since they are given the freedom to select the articles that they like, choose the manner of presenting the information through hypermedia or even add content to the course. After they completed the tasks, I know my students would appreciate individual effort made by each member of the group and the knowledge they got from my course in order to solve real-life problems.
Making technology- enhanced learning possible
My job description covers a wide scope of responsibilities and this holds true for the rest of the teaching staff in the IT department. Realistically speaking, the university could not sufficiently support new projects that we would want to implement for our classrooms and we would have to heed this call through our own capacities and resources. A colleague added into this:
“As teachers we always wanted the best for our students. We wanted to offer them quality education that provides them life- long learning skills through highly active learning experiences. However, considering the university’s financial constraints in providing effective software tools or facilities and maintaining the equipment by hired technicians, we find difficulty in supporting this kind of learning. We are somehow required to take these matters on our own hands and perform a miracle. But we are teachers. We have to do it.”
(Questionnaire, Lisa, 8/18/2007)
I feel the same thing and I would want to turn this situation into a good opportunity of trying other possibilities. Part of being an educator is finding alternative means of implementing technology- enhanced programs despite the constraints mentioned. From the interview, Michael stated:
“We have to accept the reality that the school system can not always support us. We have to go beyond what is asked of us. From the teacher seminars I conducted, I advise the participants to become responsive to the needs of IT education and become creative in thinking of strategies that could work best in their classrooms. ICTs in the classroom need not to have be complicated and expensive but something which are accessible to all, convenient to use and aligned to democratic and constructivist learning of students. Because of the lack of maintenance support such as for the repair of laboratory equipment, students should also become aware of their responsibility in managing their own classrooms and taking care of school properties. Teachers and students should work as a team.”
Just like Michael, I believe that managing the IT classroom is a shared task. My students should become responsible adults who are aware of the classroom rules and procedures most especially in the computer laboratory.
He later on suggested proven effective program strategies that integrate ICTs in the classroom. In the course of my self- study I chose some of these strategies that I have found feasible to implement in my class considering the physical conditions in the learning environment and technological skills of my students. These are Web- based Lessons particularly WebQuest which is an inquiry- based activity in which the students are given a task and use their research skills by finding information from the web in order to complete the assigned task (UNESCO, 2002). I have found this strategy helpful since it encourages my students to make use of web resources and organize presented ideas. Within this context, I could also integrate other important issues and concerns such as plagiarism and critical evaluation of web information. My students may have encountered these kinds of issues in their other courses wherein they are also required to do researching from the web. They could do the task conveniently at home and we could the follow- up and processing of the exercise during class hours. Another helpful suggestion from my colleague is Telecomputing Project which is also Internet- enhanced learning activity that serves as an opportunity for teachers and students to interact as well as to share data and problem- solving strategies (UNESCO, 2002). What I could do is to have online discussions and electronic mailing lists. These allow time for reflection and immediate feedback for reinforcement and understanding. Schneider and Molson (2004) suggested that teachers could also use multimedia learning materials in their classrooms which include multi- goal oriented and problem- based activities that are self- paced and self- directing. Sample activities include grouping students wherein the members would create a multimedia slide show and shooting or editing a video to design computer- generated movie.
Pursuing web- based learning for the university would be really beneficial to all. Students could access learning anytime and anywhere and teachers would not have to deal with large classes. However these technology- enhanced learning activities serve as major steps towards achieving of that goal. Through this self- study I have realized that it is not only the university and the teachers who should be prepared for this big project but most importantly the students. Having encountered the problem of my students who prefer not using the email, I have learned they should experience first of getting used to the online environment. Let them have a feel of interacting with their classmates through a different medium and acquire basic communication and technological skills.
Teachers should be equipped with necessary educational and technical competencies for the integration of Information Technology Communications (ICTs) in the classrooms. Such pre- requisite is needed in order for the teachers to design technology- enhanced learning alternatives. Michael (Interview, 8/15/2007) stated:
“Teacher educators should be aware first of their technological proficiency. Since they are integrating ICTs to the curriculum, they should be able to effectively apply technology in the presentation of topics and teach students with necessary skills and knowledge such as in multimedia or hypermedia design. They should be competent in both the technical and the instructional domains such as good understanding of specific software operations, models for implementation strategies and even trouble- shooting. Professional development is also an important aspect of effective technology integration. We should have opportunities to examine instructional goals related to educational technology. We could learn a lot from others’ experiences and expertise.”
For integrating and implementing technology in the classrooms, teachers could discuss about materials being used and their learning outcomes. Professional development program becomes a collaborative environment wherein teachers could reflect on and provide feedback about the role of educational technology and how it aids students’ learning (Dexter, 2002).
The school is a community of learners and as a teacher I also learn from my colleagues and even from my students. This self- study is a journey towards empowerment and change. Empowerment is about rising above the difficulties and believing that I could still do more for my students. It is about pursuit of excellence and the humility to accept that there is still room for change. I somehow strive for perfection but I also realize that in order to achieve that, I have to go through a continuous process of learning and improving. Change is about innovation and creativity. It also means empowering my students to develop love for learning and appreciate the knowledge that is being provided by the university. There should be change in how they view things and commit themselves in the pursuit of learning and competence. I am here with them.
Chen, D., Hsu, J, & Hung, D. (2000). Learning theories and IT: The computer as a tool. In M. Williams (Ed.), Integrating technology into teaching and learning (pp. 185- 201) Singapore: Pearson Education Asia Pte Ltd.
Dexter, S. (2002). eTIPS- Educational technology integration and implementation principles. In P. Rogers (Ed.), Designing instruction for technology- enhanced learning (pp. 56- 70) Pennsylvania: Idea Group Publishing.
Jakobsdottir, S. (2002). United we stand- divided we fall! Development of a learning community of teachers on the net. In P. Rogers (ED.), Designing instruction for technology- enhanced learning (pp. 56- 70) Pennsylvania: Idea Group Publishing.
Lowry, G., & Turner, R. (2005). Information systems education for the 21st century: Aligning curriculum content and delivery with the professional workplace. In D. Carbonara (Ed.), Technology literacy applications in learning environments (pp. 171- 202) Pennsylvania: Information Science Publishing.
Monday, A., & Barker, B. (2005). Developing graduate qualities through information systems an information technology literacy skills. In D. Carbonara (Ed.), Technology literacy applications in learning environments (pp. 95- 105) Pennsylvania: Information Science Publishing.
Schwier, R. (1994). Multimedia design principles for constructing prescriptive, democratic and cybernetic learning environments, (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.ED388294).
Schneider, K., & Malson, J. (Spring, 2004). Rethinking multimedia instructional material design for an equitable and critical pedagogy. Retrieved September 8, 2007, from the Concordia University Web site:
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Williams, M. (2000). The internet in education. In M. Williams (Ed.), Integrating technology into teaching and learning (pp. 140- 166) Singapore: Pearson Education Asia Pte Ltd.
Reflexive Dialogue and Small Report
My critical friend of whom I had dialogue with is also a teacher but from the Department of Mathematics. He has been with the department for three years and also teaches introductory courses. We oftentimes exchange notes about our teaching experiences and classroom stories even before this reflexive dialogue. From those small and light talks we are able to share our perspectives on different matters regarding the educational system, politics or cultures. He is an American and though we disagree on some issues sometimes, our conversations have become a venue for knowledge production. It is being open to new ideas as well as being respectful to individual thoughts and feelings. I have decided to choose him among my other friends because he is from another department. He still has no clear picture of the IT education environment and sharing with him my personal narrative would somehow provide another perspective, without the biases and shared sentiments.
When I have still been doing literature review for this research I have already informed him about my plan of sitting with him sometime and discuss with him my personal narrative. He readily agreed despite his hectic schedule and I appreciated it. It would just be at least one day of focusing on the content and style of my writing but we could still have small talks when we have the opportunity. I gave him the copy of the personal narrative a week before the scheduled date of our meeting to give him more time to go through it and write his comments. We decided to have the reflexive dialogue at my house during the weekend. After all, he’s used to coming over for lunch or dinner with my family.
Then finally we met on the scheduled date at my house. He came in the morning and noticed that he brought his bag with him. I told him beforehand that it would just be a usual conversation though we were focusing on a quite serious topic. When I saw him pulling out the copy of my personal narrative, I saw some pencil marks at the side of some pages and that gave me an impression that he really took time in reading it. We agreed to go through the narrative in the same sequence it was arranged but if he felt about giving comments on any themes on the paper then he was free to do so.
Transcription of key aspects of the dialogue
Legend: R- researcher CF- critical friend
1. CF: The research questions were clearly stated. They were specific and researchable. Learning environment and tools, as well as technology- enhanced learning are variables that have supporting research studies, establishing validity and reliability. Furthermore, those topics were something that teachers could easily relate with.
R: The focus questions were personal concerns. Significant information from colleagues and the related literatures would definitely aid in decision- making pertaining to classroom management.
2. CF: The materials provided such as the answers from interviewee and friends were consistent with the research questions. Interview questions were somehow comprehensive in scope but still were able to touch on the focus questions.
R: The interviewee was main source of information. He was able to shed light on the most important issues and concerns in IT education.
1. R: There was difficulty organizing ideas from different people and making sense of the texts from related literatures. It was a tedious task incorporating an overwhelming amount of data from various resources so there should be some sort of strategy to make the work much easier.
2. CF:All throughout the paper, there was coherence. There was like a thread linking ideas and thoughts from different people. There was continuity. The choice of words was right and understandable by any lay person and educator.
3. CF: The table containing the answers on exercises and activties was correctly labeled. Good thing that sources were properly cited within the text and table. The desriptive narration and literary style was very interesting. It would give the audience clear picture of events and settings and draw their attention to the story. It was very interesting to know that a research could be done using a narrative story and still answer important research problem or questions.
Reaction on issues and problems posed by the focus questions
1. CF: There were situations mentioned that were similar with personal teaching experiences such as handling a large class and getting the students’ attention. Some of the students were struggling in passing the course because they were either afraid of the subject or just disinterested at all.
2. R: Students’ participation drives the course. Passivity would not facilitate quality learning, thus the skills and competencies of the teacher really matter.
3. CF: Multimedia learning is also an important learning tool in Mathematics education. Students could do simulation exercises or practice drills. It could be incorporated to the Math curriculum and the students would surely benefit from it.
4. R: Lots of other teachers from other universities are maximizing the potentialities of multimedia learning tools, may it be in the sciences, geography or engineering. It is just a matter of training the teachers and preparing the learning environments.
Short reflective response
The dialogue was a very wonderful experience since I was able to share something which was very personal. It was also enlightening that a teacher like him would be interested in multimedia learning and was not afraid to try a totally different approach from a traditional teaching style. Other teachers should also be empowered to take control of events happening in their teaching lives and make a difference. It was also evident that my critical friend knew what to look for in the paper and he shared thought- provoking insights and questions. He highlighted the parts that needed close scrutiny such as the clarity of focus questions, the scope of the study, the writing style and the coherence of ideas. His comments were constructive and the dialogue was very effective in exchanging ideas and contributing to the social consciousness of other people.