Blackboard, Podcasting, and SKYPE, Oh My! Navigating Digital Tools in Teacher Preparation

By Christine Macfarlane

Just as Dorothy found herself in the strange world of OZ where things did not appear or work like they did in Kansas, teacher preparation candidates enrolled in distance learning, and technology-rich course environments often find themselves lost on the information highway and wondering what to make of OS (operating system). Candidates need a roadmap to facilitate acquisition of course content while utilizing a range of technology tools they may or may not be familiar and/or fluent in using. Similarly, university faculty members need expertise and options for implementing alternative course delivery methods. Distance learning is a necessary part of learning in today’s society. Continue reading

Two Tin Cans and a String

By Elizabeth Drake-Boyt

If the fundamental agreement between students and their instructor in carrying on a public discourse through an online class is compared to two tin cans and a string between them, what happens when one of the two ends of the string doesn’t stay connected? If either the instructor or the student fails to respond across the Internet in a timely manner, then the structure of continuity and cumulative dialogue-building so crucial to the nuances of a liberal arts class falter. While the failure of an individual student to respond does not destroy the class (I call such students “flat-liners”) the failure of the online instructor to respond quickly and efficiently certainly can.

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Are constructivism and computer-based learning environments incompatible?

By Stephen Gance, Ph.D. <>

Calls for the widespread use of computer-based educational technology often justify themselves by the potential to support some version of constructivism, seen to be a major improvement in education over more behaviorist or information transfer notions of teaching. In a seminal article, Allan Collins, an early proponent of constructivism and a leader in forming the field of cognitive science, contrasts two views of pedagogy that “have been at war for centuries”: the didactic and the constructivist (Collins, 1991, p. 29). Here Collins associates the didactic view with the behaviorist and information transfer models of teaching where the facts and concepts of a domain are directly taught to students. Constructivism shifts the attention from teaching to learning where students are to “construct their own understandings and capabilities in carrying out challenging tasks” (Collins, 1991, p. 29). Collins further links constructivism and technology implying that the new technology requires moving to this new philosophy of pedagogy.

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EduTech InSites

By Jeff Cooper

In my position as Education Technology Specialist for the School of Education at Pacific University, I sometimes find myself in the position of apologist. Aside from apologizing for computer crashes, oftentimes I find myself placed in a defensive stance, answering barbed questions and jibes such as:

  • Why do we need to use computers? I hate them.
  • My classroom only has one computer, so I can’t really do much anyways.
  • Computers aren’t good for little kids, and I’m only teaching second grade.
  • The hardware and software don’t work half the time, so why bother?
  • I’ll never understand how to use this program (which seems pretty useless and overpriced anyways) and I don’t have the time, energy or inclination to do so.

Technology often becomes today’s scapegoat. The following papers and resources give short shrift to the aforementioned concerns. Instead, I will address the pragmatics of technology and curriculum integration. In short, this paper will help jumpstart K-12 and university educators and present methods, software, websites and philosophies intended to make their lives easier in the long run, help flatten the learning curves, and give sustained support for taking the necessary steps.

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