A face-to-face, 75 minute introduction to online collaborative explorations

The following script was used at a 16 May 13 session with technology leaders from K-12 schools to provide a face-to-face, 75 minute introduction to online collaborative explorations.  [Times in brackets indicate the time spent in the session, not the time in an actual collaborative exploration.  When times are not given, the activity was not undertaken at the session.] Read more of this post


Guided tour of my teaching ’98-’01: Teaching portfolio, critical thinking journey, etc.


In the statement for the tenure review in 2001, I discussed my teaching under the headings:

  • A. Wide Scope of My Teaching and its Active, Ongoing Development
  • B. The Philosophy of Teaching Critical Thinking I Brought to UMB
  • C. Teaching Critical Thinking about Science in its Social Context
  • D. Leading Students from Critical Thinking to Taking Initiative
  • E. Learning from Difficult Courses in a Thoughtful, Respectful, and Professional Manner
  • F. Learning from Educators beyond CCT
  • G. Promoting Collegial Interaction Around Innovation in Teaching

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Guidelines about specific situations and specific ways in which specific technologies are of significant pedagogical benefit

With the objective in mind of making educationally justified and sustainable choices of when and how to integrate technologies (see previous post), these guidelines emphasize the following general ways — from most important to least — that college faculty, teachers and/or students can use computers and other technologies as tools in education.
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More notes on the use of educational technology

This post expands on the objectives presented in the previous post for educators when learning about computers and technology in education.  (The objectives set the scene for general guidelines for the use of educational technology to be presented in the next post).

Consider objectives b to e in turn:

b. Plan to learn through ongoing Professional Development how to use the technologies you decide to adopt or adapt

Administrators have often allocated funds for new software and hardware and promoted new initiatives to promote computers in education without providing teachers the training, support, and opportunities for ongoing professional development they need to use those purchases well and keep up with initiatives (Becker 1994). In order to address this imbalance the first goal of any course should be to engender in teachers a commitment to and capacity for ongoing professional development (PD).

c. Develop Learning Communities in which we help each other to learn about learning and think about change

PD is like a journey in that it takes us into unknown areas or allow us to see familiar areas in a fresh light; involve risk; require support; create more experiences than can be integrated at first sight; and yield personal changes. In this sense, PD is also personal development and it is essential from the outset to work on building learning communities (see Appendix 1 for more on PD learning communities). In a PD Learning Community we can learn a lot from each other and from teaching others what we know (see Appendix 2 on Learning to use new tools). We can also transfer this learning community model into how we help students learn and into how we find technology “mentors” to guide and support our future, self-directed learning.

d. Respond to the Push for Teachers to Use Educational Technology

The push for teachers to use educational technology often means we try to bring computers into teaching without a clear idea of pedagogical advantages and of ways to ensure learning happens and knowledge is gained. We should be able to respond to the push with more discrimination and to influence decision-making if we:

    a) develop guidelines about specific situations and specific ways in which specific technologies are of significant pedagogical benefit;
    b) identify questions that need to be researched (or that we need to locate the up to date research on);
    c) evaluate critically the stated reasons given for the push; and
    d) understand the less-often-discussed reasons (social, historical, commercial, administrative).

(See Appendix 3 for warm-up, critical thinking exercise.)

e. Examine the Wider Social Changes Surrounding Computer Use

To be creative and critical about the use of technological tools we should consider possible future changes in computers and related technology in society at large — many of these will feed into education and into our lives and those of our students. A toolkit for thinking about these visions of the future would include themes to interpret where we have come from (the history of computers in society, Edwards 1996) and alternative possibilities for where we might be going. As Joseph Weizenbaum, author of Computer Power and Human Reason responded, when asked if computers could one day replace teachers, “Yes, computers could to that, but why would you want them to?”


Becker, H. J. (1994). “A truly empowering technology-rich education‹How much will it cost?” Educational IRM Quarterly 3(1): 31-35.
Edwards, P. N. (1996). The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Extracted from http://www.faculty.umb.edu/pjt/etguidelines.html

COMPUTERS in education vs. computers in EDUCATION

Although I use a variety of technologies in my teaching, I had not articulated my philosophy until I had to teach teachers about computers and education in 2001.  I did not find a text that I resonated with and during the first semester began to develop my own guidelines, which are included in the posts to follow.  I cannot claim much success getting students to address my guidelines or to articulate their own pedagogical rationale for using computers.  For the start of the second semester, I prepared a typically didactic powerpoint presentation (summarized below) to try to set the terms for the course.  The collapse of the internet stockmarket bubble helped to create more space for critical thinking about the use of technology, but still I was not very successful in keeping students’ sights on the education side of computers in education.  (My college hired a technology booster so I was relieved of that teaching assignment after that.)  A similar technology-trumps-education situation seems to be emerging with the more recent discourse about changing our teaching to reach digital natives, the subject of a future (skeptical) post.

Two emphases in using computers in teaching

COMPUTERS in education computers in EDUCATION
First… get technical skills explore pedagogical need and possibilities
Then… build lessons and other practices using computers develop technical comptency when needed (using especially peer assistance)
Emphasis taught by… people who are keen on technology — often not classroom teachers people who love to teach students
Emphasis driven by… hi-tech industry, administrators, availability of funds, bandwagon, fear of being left behind small counter-current to the mainstream
Success is claimed when… technology is used and flash is added teaching/learning something that couldn’t have happened without the technology
Response to the other emphasis Students find it more fun to use technology. 

Technology use adds flash to lessons.

There’s immediate gratification for teacher in mastering a tool.

Once taken up, we can build on this basis and get better in education

“Yes, you can do it with technology, but why?” 

Usage of new tool declines after the first flush of enthusiasm/first flash.

Time and support for further Professional Development is rare.

The major challenges Use skills in actual classroom siuations with equipment available. Establish plans and connections and PD practices for ongoing learning
Support those with the other emphasis Respond to pressures from those with the other emphasis
+…? +…?
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