I really enjoyed the roleplaying adventure that my classmates and I went on last Thursday. We were tasked with figuring out what happened at a sister station in Second Life, Isis Tempus. Everyone was divided into three teams that were transported by one pilot, had one command officer, and two scientists. Each person had their own role to play and mine, as command, was to gather as many clues as possible and to communicate with my fellow command officers to ensure that the entire station was ‘clear’.
Upon landing, I immediately got myself into trouble by forgetting how to shoot my gun; I eventually remembered, but my team took some fire before I could protect them. One of the scientists came down with paranoia and headaches while I was exploring the station. Once I figured out how the elevator worked, I went on to explore while my teammates dealt with the hoover craft issues and the sick player. I found three ‘notes’ left by the commander as well as Severus the commander. I also discovered the command level and the different alarms. I clicked around with them a bit and decided that I liked the blue setting because it didn’t beep constantly. Turn out that around that time, the scientist was able to deactivate the faulty reactor that filling the station with radiation.
Our time got caught short, but we were able to determine that the commander refused to let his crew leave the ship despite the immediate danger and they most likely perished. Most of all, we learned the value of roleplaying in game-based learning. We all had different experiences but it made it all the more meaningful when we came back together to reflect.
Part One: Reflect on the entire course
- Even though I’ve been using technology in my classroom for five years, I’ve never had formal training on how to do it effectively and thoroughly. In this class, I have learned a variety of different ways that technology can be integrated into the classroom, including web-based tools, apps, social networking, video, assistive technology and more. I definitely become more of an expert on how to use technology in the history classroom plus I even learned how to integrate technology into other content areas, including English, Art, Music, PE, and Science.
- EDTECH 541 helped me to development lessons, assignments, and projects that follow technology integration theory, instead of just using technology for the sake of using technology. For example, many times I would just toss in some technology into a lesson without much thought about why I was using the tool and how this tool was helping my students. My projects, however, had multiple tools integrated to ensure that the why and how are fulfilled.
- The coursework has definitely helped me master the AECT standards. EDTECH 541 gave me the opportunity to go beyond just content knowledge and content pedagogy and start creating, designing, and researching into ways to fully integrate into the classroom.
- As a professional, I feel that I have grown significantly due to this course. I have a more thorough understanding of the relative advantage of integrating technology into the classroom and how to effectively use technology to fulfill goals and objectives. I also feel that my understanding has grown beyond just history and social science to include more content areas.
- After completing this course, my teaching practice has been impacted greatly. Instead of just tossing technology into a lesson, I plan to be more systematic and thoughtful about the tools that I use in my classroom and the way that I use those tools with my students. Technology is a powerful tool for both teachers and students, but its full power isn’t realized until it is used thoughtfully.
Part Two: Assess Blogging Performance
Throughout the thriteen blog posts for this course, I feel that I have done an excellent job at creating posts that are rich in content, including connections to my own life, experiences, and classroom. I made a conscious effort with every post, regardless of the prompt, to discuss it as thoroughly as possible and make it as relevant to my life as possible.
Readings and Resources: Outstanding
Based off of the prompts, I feel that I have done a thorough and detailed job of including the readings and other resources into each blog post. Many times, my blog posts are just me talking about my thoughts and ideas so this course challenged me to be sure to integrate class resources and outside resources into each post to support the ideas that I would discuss.
Overall, I feel that the timeliness of my posts could have been better. There were some weeks that I was able to get my posts up early on in the week, but when the craziness of work would hit I wouldn’t post until that Saturday or Sunday. The majority of posts received comments, but I believe I could have done a better job of posting sooner. The weeks that I did post earlier in the week I felt that I had good discussions with my classmates.
Responses to Other Students: Outstanding
Every week, I was sure to comment on at least two different blog posts and provide thorough and detailed responses that added to the conversation, asked questions, or brought up counterpoints that they did not mention within their post. I always enjoyed reading through my classmates’ posts to see what they were learning and how it applied to their specific situation; it was especially interesting to read about what non-teachers were doing.
Total Points: 134/140 Points
At Minarets High School, we are 1:1 with MacBook Airs for both the teachers and the students. In my three years at Minarets, I have found that Apple provides users with many accessibilities features, ones not as easily available on Chromebooks. As I researched more into these features, I was surprised to learn that in 2017 Apple launched a new accessibility features websites as well as promotional videos that showcase how individuals use these features (“Apple Highlights Accessibility Features in New ‘Designed for’ Video Series – Mac Rumors,” n.d.) The four main areas of features available include vision, hearing, physical and motor skills, and learning and literacy skills (“Apple – Education – Special Education,” n.d.).
For those with visual limitations, Apple has introduced VoiceOver, which “gives auditory descriptions of each onscreen element and provides helpful hints along the way…and it supports more than 35 languages” (“Accessibility – Mac,” n.d.). This feature can be used in various Apps, PDFs, websites, and messages and integrates Gestures, the Rotor (the visual controller), and Braille support. Other features include Siri (App that can perform tasks with spoken or typed commands), Zoom (built-in magnifier), cursor size, contrast options, reduce motion, and iTunes (“Accessibility – Mac,” n.d.).
For those with hearing limitations, the MacBook Air offers Facetime (a way for those who use sign language to communicate), type to Siri, closed captions, Mono Audio (playing both left and right audio channels in both ears), screen flash for notifications, and messages with iMessage (“Accessibility – Mac,” n.d.).
For those with physical and motor skill limitations, Apple has created a new Accessibility Keyboard that is customizable as an onscreen keyboard that gives users with mobility impairments more advanced typing and navigations options (“Accessibility – Mac,” n.d.). Other features include Siri, Switch Control (technology that allows users to use adaptive devices like switches, joysticks, keyboard space bar, etc.), Sticky Keys (allows users to press one key at a time for commands), Slow Keys (adjustable sensitivity of the keyboard and delay between the key being pressed and when its entered), Mouse Keys, and Dictation Commands (“Accessibility – Mac,” n.d.).
For those with learning and literacy limitations, the Macbook Air offers Text to Speech, type to Siri, word completion, Simple Finder (limits the number of apps in the Dock), dictionary, and speech.
All the technologies described above are standard features on each MacBook Air that require no additional or hidden costs for users (Apple, 2011). As a result, all students, regardless of disabilities, are given the option to use any or all these features as a way to support their learning and instill more confidence inside and outside the classroom. It is also helpful that students and teachers use the same devices so it makes it easier for teachers to learn and show students how to use these features.
I couldn’t easily embed it on my WordPress Blog so I embedded it on a website:
Technology is a powerful tool that can make seemingly boring content become interesting, engaging, and highly relevant. But technology does have it downfalls and challenges, especially when integrating it into your own classroom. All teachers face various challenges and obstacles with technology, but I wanted to discuss those specific tot social science teachers.
One challenge is that time and resources tend to be focused away from the social sciences since they are not tested like language arts (reading and writing) and mathematics. Unfortunately, this means that social science teachers have to be creative about how they use their resources, including technology (Roblyer, 2016). They need to find free and/or cheap alternatives to meet their needs while using their own time and money.
Since “teacher’s technical expertise and professional experience in using technology is critical for students’ successful learning experiences”, it also important for social science teachers to be fully trained on these programs (Zhao, 2004). In fact, Zhao’s study found that the majority of social studies faculty members at colleges are not actively integrating edtech, which means incoming teachers do not have a model of how to learn, explore, and teach using these tools (Zhao, 2004). This means that social science teachers must find time and money to get the necessary professional development they need for success.
Another challenge is the overabundance of information and materials made accessible by technology, which has been added into the already vast curriculum for social science teachers. Of course, there is not enough time in the year to cover all the information, which makes teachers feel overwhelmed and stressed (Roblyer, 2016).
On top of this, the vast amount of information available has fueled an ongoing debate about what should and should not be covered (Roblyer, 2016). Social science teachers are challenged to be truthful about issues of race, tolerance, and acceptance while also having parents that have become “more vocal over content to which they object” due to the increased role of social media in politics (Cassutto, 2017). As a result, social science teachers are confronted with the dilemma of being “truth-tellers without being accused of bias (Cassutto, 2017).
This abundance of information also means that social studies teachers must train their students to be critical consumers of information. “In the pst, more information that students received was sifted through a reliable filter”, but today students must use their digital literacy skills to ensure that their sources are accurate (Roblyer, 2016).
It is clear that the integration of technology in a social science classroom is not an automatic fix for all problems; in fact, it can create new problems that were not present before. It is important to be aware of these challenges and obstacles so that integration of technology can go as smoothly as possible.
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching(7th ed.). Pearson Education.
As part of a quest for Edtech 532, I needed to become an active member of a role-playing group. After checking out a few of the suggestions options, I discovered The Havens, which is made up of five different havens with their own groups of people. After exploring the main Haven, I decided to join the StarHaven, a group of female Amazons that guard the jungle and protect their queen. Of course, I needed to look the part, so I got one of their free outfits and teleported to StarHaven.
When I landed there, I was immediately greeted by Atli, who gave me a better understanding of the group. She explained the Havens and the expectations. I learned that in order to become an Amazon, I needed to apply and get approved by her or the Chieftan. I found it interesting that I had to pay to be part of the group and then apply to be part of a subgroup. Seems like a lot of hoops, but ok.
She offered to give me a tour and show me around, but I opted to explore around myself. While I was exploring, I figured out how to get myself my own horse to ride around and feel like a fierce Amazon warrior. I also found a dragon and flew around some; I don’t think the dragon is part of the StarHaven, but it was still fun. It was really interesting to see all the different things that you could in Second Life and it’s clear why so many people enjoy this game. It’s pretty easy to get lost in your character.
During my adventuring and dragon-flying, a random pirate landed and started talking with me. I decided to fully embrace my Amazon character and talked with him in character. He kept asking me whether the Governor was around to pay the random and if I was his woman. I proudly declared that there is no “his woman” as we serve our fearless and powerful Queen. I also decided to talk in more ‘old-school’ language, just fully get into it. After he understood that we are a bunch of independent women, he asked if there were any women (including me) available to keep him company during his stay. Fiercely, I told him no and that we have our duties to protect the jungle and our beloved queen, not entertain visitors. He ended up leaving and I felt incredibly proud.
As I continued exploring, I realized that I had wandered into SunHaven, the pirate port and that he probably WAS in the right place. I wasn’t in my Jungle anymore, but apparently, I was so confident that he believed me and left. So that’s good for me, right..?
Despite my mistake, I decided to celebrate my accidentally trolling of a pirate by hanging out by the elephants and waterfall. Its a tough life as an Amazon, but someone’s got to do it.