Category Archives: 5.4 Long-Range Planning

5.4 Long-Range Planning
Long-range planning that focuses on the organization as a whole is strategic
planning….Long-range is usually defined as a future period of about three to
five years or longer. During strategic planning, managers are trying to decide
in the present what must be done to ensure organizational success in the
Examples include:
5.4.1 Develop a long-range strategic plan related to any of the domains or sub-domains.
5.4.2* Develop and update a long-range strategic school media program plan.
[from (SMETS)]

EDTECH 505: Far West Laboratories Proposal

Dr. Thompson had us “practice” writing a request for proposal (RFP) document. In this document we had to plan how to execute helping Far West Laboratory with their need to educate their school clients.

The pdf document at Google Docs

EDTECH 523: VoiceThread Moderation

I think this is a reflection on what was done for the VoiceThread moderation:

Voice Thread moderation

How do you help students interact effectively in an online course?

A few of us have posted examples of how we help students interact effectively in our discussion areas. Although Chris has not held online discussions with students, she likes the small group approach. In addition she likes the idea of having students be facilitators. Bret  confirms the importance of using multimedia and unique opportunities to engage a discussion. James also likes the idea of having student facilitators and freshness to the content, but cautions against overwhelming the students with too many new ideas or tools to learn. Sarah points out facilitator involvement is crucial, yet the facilitator needs to be careful to not become the discussion. Let the students be the discussion by finding a balance between facilitator input and student contributions. Earl stresses modeling effective communication so novice participants experience what they are expected to do in the discussion. So far our discussion has focused on group size, discussion format or setting, facilitator involvement that may involve student facilitators, and modeling what we expect of the participants. What other suggestions do you have about how to get students to interact in a discussion forum or even with wiki collaborations? We have a few more days left for this discussion, so please provide examples from your classroom, experiences with online learning, ideas from the readings, or unique perspectives you’ve acquired while in this or other online classes. What has motivated you to interact in our online courses?

How do you sustain online discussions?

A few people have shared aspects of online discussions including how the discussion is launched, what happens during the discussion, and how to prolong it. Kathryn stresses the importance of using open-ended questions to allow for freedom of expression of ideas. Bret cautions instructors to not assume that an open-ended question will guarantee student participation that stays focused on the topic. How would you build community building into the online discussion that may be more natural to create in a face to face environment? Sarah seeks the perfect balance between structure and flexibility. What suggestions do you have about how to create flexibility while still giving enough structure so students feel safe in the environment? Earl suggests extending discussions with hypothetical situations. With that in mind, what do you suggest we do to get people who have not posted to this discussion yet, to post to the discussion? Do the facilitators send out personal invitations to the discussion? Do we respect that for this discussion we are graduate students and therefore have the choice to participate or not? If you are working with adults like we are, but who may not be as comfortable with the online world as we are, how would you lure them to volunteer their ideas in an online discussion?

How do you keep a presence in online discussions without taking over the conversations?

So far, everybody recognizes the importance of having the facilitator being a part of the discussion. Kathryn points out that creating a social presence by providing feedback to participants. James suggests instructors target the posts that are not getting many responses by replying directly to those ideas in an attempt to stimulate discussion based on what is said in the neglected posts. Sarah’s audio file was not loading at the time I crafted this summary.  Jessica recommends brevity while including leading questions to further the discussion. How do you suggest a facilitator follows these recommendations without overwhelming the discussion? How does one provide feedback, but not so much that it curtails further discussion?

How do you use online discussion in your blended courses?

So far we have heard a few ways people can use online discussion areas to allow for collaboration or submission of individualized perspectives on a topic. Glori has her students do mini-case studies by perusing the literature and deciding what they would incorporate into their own practice. Adam does a sort of jigsaw where he posts questions about themes in geography and allows students to self-select which ones they will respond to. Then he challenges students to visit a different theme and contribute to its thread. Bret confirms the uniqueness of using discussion forums as a review area for essay exams. He commends Adam for using the discussion area to stimulate student interactions and follows up with questions about procedures for doing such discussions. Kathryn suggested using the discussion areas as a place to do summarizing activities or for students to provide feedback on the course without having time constraints you can have in the face to face classroom. Sarah not only uses discussion areas as a place for students to brainstorm, but since it is out in the open, she can also give feedback and approve their ideas before students prematurely commit to a topic that may not be as fruitful as originally anticipated. What are some other concrete examples of ways you can engage students in an online forum?

Program Evaluation Final Project EDTECH 505

The project for EDTECH 505 was a huge challenge and from what I understand, it strikes fear in all EDTECH students. We are expected to evaluate something real. I was no longer in the classroom and have no official affiliation with any schools. I know I was terrified about how I was going to accomplish the project.  I thought about all the resources I have and all the people I have had conversations with about things that may be appropriate for the project. A former boss, who is also like a mentor, came to mind. At the time, she was the superintendent of a Regional Occupational Program I used to work with. We had had a conversation about hybridizing some of the ROP courses. Although I have never had an opportunity to teach a hybrid course, I think they are the ultimate way education can be done. The goal of this project was to see if I created a course her teachers would actually use, how they thought about using the course. They did not use the course I wrote because it was summertime, but if they had shown interest in using it the following academic year, I would have hosted it for them.

Somewhere along the way I picked up the website URL because I wanted to make Moodle classes for teachers. At one time I thought my first million would come from selling pre-made units or courses in a Moodle format to classroom teachers who wanted to hybridize their classes. The Certificate in Online Teaching I did at Merritt Community College taught me how to design and structure Moodle courses, and the class I took from Moodlerooms taught me how to be a Moodle administrator. I was motivated to try Dr. Fujii’s teachers out as possible clients because I really want to influence online learning in a positive way. No I did not charge them anything for what I did for them. I was earning course credit for the project so it would be wrong to accept any pay. What Dr. Fujii and I wanted to figure out is if her teachers who showed an interest in hybridizing their classes would be receptive to the course I designed for them in Moodle. Unfortunately I can’t put a link to the course because the ROP owns the materials I used. I can, however, link to the report I wrote for EDTECH 505.

Social Media Guidelines

Social Media Guidelines

Setting: I work for an online school that does not have formal discussion groups built into the curriculum.  The students are, for the most part, independent learners. I hold office hours, but few students ever come. What if I was to set up a place where we can do online discussions or collaborations on the projects?  Of course, I would have to get the consent from my company to do it if I did it as their employee.  So these guidelines are written with the idea students are engaged in the social network that involves our class. These are kids who are already doing work via the computer so wherever they are, be it at home or at school, there are already policies in place that govern tech use.

  1. Netiquette matters.
  2. You do not have to post your real name to the forums, but you do need to tell your instructor what name you are using as your screen name in the discussions.
  3. You may create an avatar and use it instead of your photograph.
  4. Do not assume the forums are safe- the forum is open to any student who is taking our class, but that does not mean Ms Getz knows everybody personally.
  5. Be careful about what personal information you share with others. Do not give out your social security number, passwords, or any other information that could potentially lead to identity theft. Also be careful of giving out your residential address, especially if you also mention that your family is going on a vacation.
  6. Be punctual with your responses to other people’s questions.  If you know of a solution, say it.
  7. Choose your words wisely. If you are frustrated, you may want to write about your frustrations offline and not immediately write them into the forum.
  8. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation should follow academic structure and language.
  9. You may link to anywhere on the web that is a legal website for minors, to help explain your ideas.
  10. You may post or upload any documents or images to help explain your ideas, just make sure you are using a machine that has anti-virus software. Some exceptions apply- see restrictions below.
  11. When we have formal discussions, your first post must be from your own point of view and must be posted within three days of the question being released. You will then have another 3 days to respond to one other person’s post, and an additional 3 days to have responded to at least a second person’s post or to reply back to the first person with whom you created a discussion.
  12. If you post something in a “help needed forum” and do not get any response within 24 hours from anybody, you are encouraged to tweet us.  Hashtag to be given out at the time these rules go into place- it may be unique per section.
  13. You should monitor our hashtag channel in Twitter continuously for messages from your peers.
  14. You may not post any answers to any questions on any tests or quizzes. You may discuss the concepts on the tests or quizzes, but you may not release any actual questions or flat out give any answers.
  15. If we are doing projects, you may not upload or link to your code online. You can share your fla files with your instructor, but not your peers. You can post or upload the swf file so we can see what is happening, but we don’t want students to literally be able to copy each other’s’ code.

What we’ll be doing outside of our normal classroom management system software:

    1. Discussion forums
      1. Based on concepts brought up in the course material
      2. Based on your own questions
      3. Based on real-life applications of what you are doing in the class
      4. Setting up rooms so students can asynchronously work on projects together.
      5. Oops, look what I did! …. And what I learned….
  1. I will post reminders about some projects. Since everybody is on their own schedule, you will have to rely on your individual calendar for due dates.
  2. Tweeting links to information that is useful for our content or projects.
  3. Arranging for G+ Hangouts or meetings in our Blackboard room so you can collaborate on group projects simultaneously.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Email Ms. Getz at with your questions, comments, or concerns. She set up a Google Form where you can give anonymous feedback.

Resources consulted:

Anderson, S. (2012) Social media guidelines. Retrieved from:

Staff. (2012). A teachers guide to social media. Retrieved from: diagram

Staff. How to create social media guidelines for your school – Introduction to the School Community. Retrieved from:

Tolisano, S. (2012). Twitter in k-8 classroom- globally connected learner. Retrieved from:

Technology Use Plan Presentation

Video of slide show- this means it has audio!





Technology Use Plan

I wish there was an easy way to embed videos or I wish this class had taught me how to do it.

Ok, so as a last resort I am putting the video up at YouTube.  We’ll see if the YouTube embed code works.

I did the video in Camtasia because it is really easy to add closed captioning with that software. I just need to find a place other than YouTube where I can use an embed player.  I have no problem hosting videos at my website- I just want to be able to put them in an embeddable player. I know this should not be so hard to do!





A link to the mp4 of the Technology Use Plan, but I still don\’t know how to embed this! Argh!
Guess what? the mp4 does not have the closed captioning! so if you want to read what I’m saying, use one of the links toward the top- they will connect you with the version that is up at OR you could watch the YouTube video- the captioning traveled there quite nicely.

Slide Show using Google Presentation doc:

Technology Use Planning Overview

Before I get too wrapped up in following the instructions for this assignment, I need to express my joy with having someone who may be able to change how things are done in America state that our system of education is archaic and that we need to change the length of the school day and recognize that learning and schooling is a 24/7 event. Although Transforming American Education, Learning Powered by Technology, was not attributed to a single author, it was written in parts in first person so I am going to call Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, the author. In the Executive Summary, he states that we need to rethink “seat-time”(page xiv), a notion that I have fought with for years at the schools where I have taught. I wanted to teach classes from 4:00 – 6:00 pm, but my administrators always had a reason why I could not run my classes at that time. Similarly, I wanted students to do work online via a forum I set up in Moodle or by working on creating a Google site on “their” time. My students for some inane reason fought me because they claimed that their responsibility for doing their work ended when the class period ended. WT-Heck? I am overjoyed that we may finally break away from the agrarian structure of schools where the school year and school day were based on letting children out of school so they could work in the fields. Although, I know from having been a part of our dysfunctional school systems that this type of change may never happen. My philosophy of teaching being a 365 day a year job, of which I get to spend some of the time with students, may never actually be formalized by mainstream people, especially those who teach because they think they have weekends and summers off. It is a joy, though, to read that I am not alone in the pursuit of schools being run as if they are in session 365 days a year and as if learning is something that should be happening 24/7. To my delight, I am happy to read that there is a strong desire to make some of the 24/7 time being spent in online classrooms because that means I may be able to be a teacher who has “her own students” again. Now that I have put my personal opinions in, I should follow the assignment’s instructions so I can actually earn points for doing the readings and thinking about their realistic impacts on education.

Following the assignment’s guidelines, I will talk about:
1. Do I agree that 5 year plans are too long?
2. How do I define technology use planning?
3. How is the National Educational Technology Plan 2010 (NETP) an effective resource when making a technology use plan?
4. John See wrote technology planning articles at the website, National Center for Technology Planning. We are to evaluate his comment, “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology?”
5. I also need to address, “What experiences have you had with technology use planning and what have you seen for outcomes (both good and bad?)”
6. And finally, I am to “use this assignment to reflect upon technology use planning and how you might address it in your school or business.”

1. Do I agree that 5 year plans are too long?
Simply put, yes and no. I agree with John See in his article, Developing Effective Technology Plans, “Technology is changing so fast that it is almost impossible to plan what type of technology will be available for use five years from now.” If we plan to have iPads in classrooms within the next 5 years, which iPads are we going to put in there? We can get a great deal on the iPad1 and soon we’ll be able to get the iPad2 for a good price because I think the iPad3 is supposed to be coming out in the next several months. Ok, so perhaps we say we want tablets in every classroom but don’t specify the brand. With the speed of technology, there is no practical way to foresee what will be relevant or still in use in five years. For example, I bought a new laptop in 2010 because my 2004 laptop could no longer handle Elluminate sessions and the incredibly complicated LMS of the company for whom I was working at the time. I spent enough on the laptop that I am sincerely hoping I can still use it in 2015. Even so, I’ve already upgraded the RAM to 8 Gb, the maximum it can hold. If we bought laptops today for the classroom, how much RAM would we put in them and would it be enough even two years from now? If we put that much memory in them, we would have to be extra careful to make sure the computers are locked down at the end of the day because they may be so enticing that someone would want to steal them. What about if we checked laptops out to students and held them responsible? Have you ever seen what happens to textbooks we check out to students or how many books never get returned at the end of the school year? What makes us think the consequences for laptops will be better? So to plan for 5 years of machines or objects that will be put in students’ hands or in classrooms, we are looking at a huge expense that will have to be repeated more often than every 5 years. I do not mean to steal Mr. See’s ideas, but to save you time from having to flip back and forth to his article, I am putting a huge excerpt of what he wrote here: “If you do develop a long-term plan, tie it to your district’s budget cycle. Pull the plan out every year during the budget process and review it to make sure you have not tied yourself into buying outdated equipment. Do not let a technology plan lock you into old technology and applications just because it says so in the plan. Newer, more powerful, lower cost technology may be available to replace what you have specified in your plan.” My skepticism even goes beyond the useful suggestions he poses because the idea of having an “annual” plan that gets seriously examined and updated every year, while a requirement for accreditation, is rarely taken seriously. Where I live, schools are usually visited by the accreditation team every 3 or every 6 years. Schools rarely do a thorough self-examination at any time other than the year preceding the accreditation visit. The annual report that is supposed to be updated annually or the five year plan that is supposed to be updated annually rarely is. Schools are working on lots of last-minute crisis behavior. The idea of having a plan that actually involved all stakeholders and is updated annually is a lofty and worthwhile goal, but is becoming unrealistic as schools are asked to do too much with too little time and funding.

2. How do I define technology use planning?
First, how the Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan, version 2.0, defines technology planning: “Technology planning is an activity that provides direction and helps users understand clearly where they are now and imagine where they want to be.” (page 9)
I thoroughly agree with the optimism expressed in the Guidebook, but can’t seem to stifle my critical voices that remind me of what I experienced in the school where I tried to be a part of the group that did the planning for our Digital High School grant and at the school where I was merely a teacher who wanted to do as much technology based activities with my students as I possibly could. In the former school, our planning committee did NOT involve all stakeholders through the entire process even though they masqueraded as if they were. To give you an idea of what they got away with… they eliminated our Mac lab which cost our technology person her job and denied teachers of a computer lab with machines that actually worked, switched us over to a PC platform that was not designed to handle the bandwidth needed for the equipment they chose, and within two or three years all of these “leaders” were off to be either with other schools or businesses where they could use this item on their resume to build a false impression of what they really contributed to our school. Our school was left with machines that did not work properly and continuously needed upgrading and various other challenges that should have never happened because they should have been anticipated. I want to point out that my husband bought them enough optical mice to stock one of the computer labs and gave them one of his “old” servers which was still good enough to become the school’s main server. Even with the digital high school money, the school was still in a position where they were surviving on the generosity of people affiliated with the school instead of on a well thought out plan. The later school was very good about having meetings, but I could never figure out when they were being held. I only heard about them after the fact.

I’ve given you the Guidebook’s definition of technology use planning and what my opinion is of what adequate technology planning is not, so I should step up and tell you what I think it is. I want to embrace the Guidebook’s optimism that there can be places where “planning is a fluid, ongoing process.” (page 10) I would like to imagine a living document that has the memory of a wiki, the collaborative possibilities of a Google doc, and the power of what what is turned in to the visiting committee before an accreditation. The document has a survey that is always live so they can accept stakeholder input 24/7. In addition, the survey results are updated and are made public so anybody can engage in a discussion of what others are saying. It is like doing a Google form whose results land in a blog that can thereby be continuously evaluated and considered. I want to see the leadership team for the technology plan to be people who have long-term investments in the school, the district, or whatever facility will be using the plan. I agree with the idea of focusing on applications, however I will share that opinion later in that section.

It is funny how the description of the process and document produced for the technology use plan mirrors what is expected of schools going through an accreditation process. The Guidebook suggests having a Vision Statement, a Mission Statement, a description of the demographics of the institution, a list of who was a part of creating the document, data collected, interpretations of the data, what the school plans to do as a result of the data they collected, and what will their “action plan” include. In accreditation terms, the action plan is the process the school plans to follow so they can address the needs that were exposed during the self-study process. I find this process to be universal and logical. I see no reason to change what the Guidebook suggests for the process of making a technology plan.

3. How is the National Educational Technology Plan 2010 (NETP) an effective resource when making a technology use plan?

The NETP has many inspiring phrases that make people like me happy. For example, on page one, they say, “schools must be more than information factories; they must be incubators of exploration and invention.” Oh how I tried to manifest this in my classroom! The NETP goes on to say, “Educators must be more than information experts; they must be collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge and constantly acquiring new skills alongside their students.” You have no idea how difficult it is for me to curb myself from going on another tirade about my past and what I’ve experienced, and how it contrasts this optimism. Since this entry is already probably much longer than it should be, I will force myself to focus on answering the questions.

I would like to see their embrace of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) not only be implemented, but be something that happens because it has to. I want UDL to be automatic for everybody, not just those who have to prove they have a disability of some kind. Of course I’m speaking from personal experience, but it is more than that. The idea of us (the people without disabilities) and them (the people with disabilities) is a farce. All of us can and will benefit by making access to information easier. Even people without documented disabilities benefit from closed captioning. Since I have disabilities, documented and probably some that are not, I can’t use myself as the best example of how “normal” people benefit from the things that exist so that people like me can physically get from one place to another. In a more appropriate setting I will be happy to point out the numerous ways compliance to ADA has failed. To undo the “digital exclusion” (page 20), the technology use plan needs to seamlessly integrate how it is going to allow for all populations to not only have physical access to objects, but the digital ones as well. I dream about the time when universal design for textbooks is a reality. The hours I have wasted trying to maneuver the paper text used in 503 is ridiculous. Although I contacted the disability department at BSU, nothing came of my request for help. First, I should not have to contact a disability department so I can get “special treatment” to get a textbook that I can manipulate. Second, nobody should have to go outside the normal route to access a textbook they can use. Not only should objects be available, but we should not have to prove we are eligible for these special objects. These “special” objects should automatically be a part of the mainstream. It would be amazing if what the NETP describes on pages 19 – 22 not only became possible, but it was so much a part of society that the “accessible devices” would not be seen as an add-on to what is normally done. Inclusion should be automatic not an after-thought.

Another passage that would be ideal is for the assessment philosophies and suggested practices to become reality. I would love to see students engaged beyond the multiple choice exam, even the online multiple choice exams. Shifting to using the Internet and online courses has to go beyond making the Internet a cesspool of paper products that have become digitized. In the second section, Assessment: Measure What Matters, they not only detail how assessment can go beyond regurgitation factoids but how it can include authentic interactions and experiences. I would love to see their ideas reach not only the populations they feature as exemplars of how the assessment can happen, but the designated under-served populations, as well.

The third section is about training teachers. That, too, is something I have experience with and have seen how it can be done poorly. Again, this is already long enough- I will have to tell that story elsewhere. I see their philosophies and ideas about how teachers need to be trained in how to utilize technology in the classroom as once again, a dream that I hope becomes reality. Some of what they give as examples of what is already happening such as, online collaboration, PBS TeacherLine classes, or Twitter networks, are things I am already doing or have been a part of. That part of the dream is already a reality, but how do we pull in the teachers who are still uncomfortable using a computer or those who think the school day ends thirty minutes after the students leave? While I don’t mean to be pessimistic with all of my approaches to a technology plan, it will still be several years before the teachers who are not embracing the Internet or use of technology retire and make way for those of us who want to properly challenge our students by expecting them to use what is available. I need to pause on what is mentioned on page 47, the Growing Demand for Skilled Online Instruction. The NETP was not my inspiration for choosing to earn a degree in Educational Technology, but I can attest to the importance of what they say. “Crucial to filling this need while ensuring effective teaching are appropriate standards for online courses and teaching, and a new way of approaching online teacher certification that functions across state lines.” What is currently in place is archaic and needs to be revised. I am a Nationally Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) which essentially means I’ve proven that I care about students, what they learn, and how they learn. Even so, for me to teach online in a state outside of my own, I need to get a credential for that state. While that should not be a big deal, since the country went berserk over the Highly Qualified Teacher, just being a NBCT is not enough for some states. I’ve taken one of the Praxis tests to prove I actually know chemistry (and missed the high ranking by one stinking point.) Even so, for some states I have to jump through other hoops to prove that I know enough chemistry factoids to teach online. What exactly does online teaching look like? Can anybody walk into an online classroom to see what is being taught and how it is being taught? I have not figured out how to do that. I did manage to get hired by an online teaching company for a very short period of time. What I experienced while in that position is what was one of the primary motivating factors for me to earn a degree in Educational Technology. What I experienced were some of the worst ways to teach students chemistry. I fear that if the government pushes this move to online learning, that the companies who have already established a strong foothold in the online school market will be the ones who determine what online schooling will be like. Since so much of it that can be seen is merely theory and what is not seen is hidden from the non-paying public view, I fear that if what is described in section 3 is not carefully monitored, we will only be reinforcing the horrible behaviors we see manifesting themselves in the face to face classrooms of under-served populations.

Sections 4 and 5 are probably more applicable to a technology use plan than other parts of the document. Section 4 discusses ways to reach their technology goals and section 5 explains the resign and transform process. A few parts that were especially interesting to me include:

      – Figure 4, page 59, the Framework for software services in a technology-empowered learning environment
      – The idea of embracing continuous improvement, page 65
    – And the process of reorganizing teaching and learning, page 68

4. John See wrote technology planning articles at the website, National Center for Technology Planning (NCTP). We are to evaluate his comment, “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology?”

I agree. Mr. See says that we need to focus on the output more than the input. For those of us who do not think in those terms, what it means is we need to focus on the products our students can make and emphasize less on the machines they will be using to make those products. In some cases we should focus on the “input” if it is software that students will want to learn so they can grow along with it as it becomes upgraded. Even then, what we are focusing on is what can the student produce? Can they make a website? Does it matter which software they use to make the website? Given that there are now places online where for a small fee (or less) your website practically creates itself, unless they are planning to be the designers of that type of software, they probably don’t need to learn Dreamweaver or other expensive commercial software. I completely agree that we need to empower students to be problem solvers who can maneuver through technology’s barriers to produce a product that can be understood by anybody who encounters it.

The article says, “Trying to standardize your district’s purchases on one brand or model of computer and make it perform all present and future applications of technology is impossible.” Again, agreement. Technology changes too quickly for you to get hung up on loyalty to a brand. Heck, we can’t even get IBM quality Thinkpads anymore. (Trust me, my 2010 machine came from Lenovo.)

5. I also need to address, “What experiences have you had with technology use planning and what have you seen for outcomes (both good and bad?)”

I have included many examples of bad experiences throughout this dissertation. Some of my experiences I have not included are:

– Working at a school that chose to download and make accessible a Moodle environment (2009-2010)
– Working at a university that used Blackboard and provided free professional development to instructors so we could learn how to set up our own class (2005). Setting up my own class in Blackboard.
– Working at the same university where I could take classes for free in Dreamweaver, Access, and other software. (2004 – 05)
– Working at a school that let me download software off the internet and place it on every machine so my students could do the virtual DNA fingerprinting lab (2001 I think). Not only did they let me download it, but that night they pushed out a new image to all of the machines so I got to download everything again. Oh joy!
– I don’t know if this applies but I was allowed to create my own biotechnology class where I was able to integrate any technology I could afford or acquire through begging, borrowing, or dumpster diving. (1998 – 2004)

6. And finally, I am to “use this assignment to reflect upon technology use planning and how you might address it in your school or business.”

At the moment my school or business are merely hypothetical entities. My business, a survey company, lives on my laptop and Yahoo’s servers. I’ve had the company for 5 years and even though I don’t have any clients at the moment, I’m happy with what I’ve done and accomplished. At the moment I don’t want to do another technology plan for my business.

I am otherwise unemployed. I want to be hired as an online teacher so I can see how bad things really are. My first experience was dreadful and I am really hoping I was misunderstanding the way things were done. I would love to play a role in designing the software used for teaching online and am hoping that the degree I earn from Boise State will facilitate that to happen. I understand that I’m to create a technology use plan, but at the moment I am too worn out from all of this writing to be creative enough to state what I would do if I was able to follow the lofty goals that I have been reading and writing about for this entry.

Technology Trends

Technology Trends: Augmented Game-based Gesture Learning Analytics

Although my title may suggest an inability to make concrete decisions, to me it reflects my imagination. While reading/listening to the Horizon Report 2011, I imagined things I currently do or thought about how to expand on activities I’ve done with students. Now what I would like to create is a game that is augmented by being in a biotechnology lab environment, game-based because it involves solving a murder mystery, gesture-based because it involves three dimensional pieces of equipment students can manipulate in a 3 dimensional space, and analytical because the students will do labs that generate data that can be pulled from databases and used to determine whose DNA is at the crime scene. I’ve already done much of this in the classroom, but it was with real lab equipment and I gave them copies of data and made up scenarios for them to calculate genotype frequencies with hypothetical situations.

The outreach person at CEPRAP, Barbara Emberson, created an augmented game several years ago that I’ve used with students.

Image of virtual DNA fingerprinting lab "game"

Image from the DNA fingerprinting software game. I used it to introduce students to the idea of what we’d be doing in the lab before we did it. It helped some students understand what we were doing with the micropipettors and why we were doing the labs we were doing, however in some ways because it was completely virtual with students not actually using equipment, it was somewhat a waste of class time. If given a choice between having students do a virtual lab and having them do a real lab where they are working with real lab equipment, my vote is for the real lab.

Not every school can afford the real biotechnology equipment and now that science education companies are getting into the biotech scene, much of what is made is a bunch of junk.  It would be more economical for a company to design a micropipettor that can be hooked up to a computer system so the user can get immediate feedback on their technique.  They’d have to dial the numbers correctly to micropipette the correct amounts of liquids, run the gels, stain them, photograph them, and gather their results with the three dimensional and computer equipment. Although I was not able to use the software with my students, computers now map the location of bands and do all of the calculations necessary for the sizes that are in each lane. Although I used the electrophoresis method to teach students how to draw a graph using a linear regression curve, I don’t know that they have to know how to do that by hand anymore. One of my former students who is now getting a PhD in microbiology laughs at me when I talk about the sequencing gels I ran when I was in grad school. She does not do any of her own sequencing. She sends her sample to a sequencing service on campus and several hours later she gets her results. We can simulate this for high school students by using the various technologies mentioned in the horizon report. Below is an image of student working with a micropipetter. In this picture you can also see the carbonless copy lab notebooks we used.

picture of high school student using micropipettor

picture of high school student using micropipettor

Electronic books- Imagine lab manuals that can call off the instructions to the student and they automatically get checked off as the student physically does that step in the protocol.  I don’t know if I want lab notebooks to be virtual, but my student also informs me that the carbonless notebooks that I have students use in the biotech class are now being replaced by typing in results in the computer. I can only imagine equipment becoming sophisticated enough that it automatically logs into a data sheet what the human did during the lab. In my simulated biotechnology lab game, if the student micropipettes 42.6 uL of liquid, then it could automatically be written into an electronic lab notebook.

Augmented reality- the student could view their manual actions taking place in a virtual biotechnology lab. Their gestures get recorded as they use plastic equipment that mimics real laboratory equipment. The difference is that the student will virtually make a gel and pour it. They wear gloves in the lab anyway, so why not have them wear gloves that keep track of where they are moving their hands. They can make the agarose, heat it up, let it cool down, and pour it. We’d write the game so that if they poured it too soon, the gel would be brittle and have lots of unnecessary bubbles. Imagine being able to measure the gestures so well that in the virtual lab, students would have to demonstrate the same techniques they’d have to really do in the lab.

Game-based- to make the lab game based, all we have to do is immerse it in a context. Frank Stephenson wrote much of the BABEC lab stories that when I had the time to embed the labs in a story, I did. Link to  BABEC curriculum: BioRad has also submerged many of their labs in a context. For example, I used to use the BioRad primers to test foods for evidence of genetically modified organisms (GMO) with my students. Link to BioRad GMO investigator kit: Although BABEC also provided primers, I liked the BioRad ones because they made the purpose of the primers much more obvious. Imagine doing a lab like the GMO lab with classrooms all over the US instead of just with the few samples done with my students. This particular lab does not have to  be a virtual one; I’m just brainstorming about how I could have expanded the GMO lab to include data that went beyond our local grocery store and our few results. All it would take is a little imagination to turn the GMO-PCR lab into one that either stayed hands-on with real equipment and foods, or became virtual where our samples being tested were already ones sitting in a database.  If done hands-on, then I would love to see the lab expanded to a global context. The could even collect data outside the US as genetically modified foods become more global.

Gesture- based- If we turned the biotech labs into virtual settings with “real” equipment analogous to the models used in Wii games, then we could have gestured-based learning. With this type of biotech equipment, there would  be nothing to wash at the end of the period. I would not have to have multiple sets of equipment that would have to stay “in use” by one section while another section did a multi-day lab. The $200 micropipettor would hopefully be replaced by a less expensive plastic one that was connected to a computer so its physical use could be monitored. Imagine being able to have eight sets of lab equipment for what it used to cost to have one or two sets.

photo of students working in a high school biotechnology lab class

Students collaborating in a high school biotechnology lab class.

Learning Analytics- one thing I detest about most of what is available for high school students in the biotech classroom is imaginary lab settings that can not be directly connected to what is done in a real forensic or research lab. For example, I even had a graduate student come in and want to do a simulated crime scene lab with me where the students used restriction enzymes to discern the human DNA found at a imaginary crime scene. While restriction enzymes (RE) have their purpose in the lab, mainly for cloning pieces of DNA into a vector, they have not been used for human identification for years. You need too much DNA to do a RE digest. The grad student seemed so offended that I shot down his idea of wasting my students’ time by doing a lab that had no basis in reality anymore. I was appalled that he had the nerve to suggest I waste time doing something with my kids that was antiquated and now a part of the history of forensic science instead of being a current trend. When you watch a tv show that suggests using RFLP analysis, you know the show is dated because that is now a waste of time, money, and human energy. Plus, it requires too much DNA for it to be practical. Using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is now done to categorize DNA and its patterns. Last year I tried to create a scenario where my students used genotype frequency data to determine the likelihood someone’s DNA occurs in the population. I was basing the data on a list of specific allele frequencies that have been identified in a population. Finding this data was not easy, nor was it easy to show my students how to use it. Link to article with data I used with the class: Two of my students demonstrated how ineffective the exercise was when for their final project they decided to use data that resembled what one gets by doing RE digests of DNA.  I was furious when I saw that this is how they wasted their time and ours, but unfortunately since it was the end of the year I did not get to express to the class how what we just did was completely inaccurate and demonstrated how not to use DNA to find answers to questions. Now if I had access to a database where students could have used software to easily do the math that shows how multiple allele frequencies need to be used to show the rarity of a specific genotype, then I would have been less likely to have students who chose the easy way out for their assignment.  Since the entire class would have been able to follow the math involved with the allele and genotypes easier by having a computer program that let them play with the numbers, the entire class would have seen the students’ final project was a bunch of junk and it would not have had to fall on the teacher to be the only one who understood what was going on. I would like there to be an online database of allele frequency data so that biology and/or biotechnology teachers could use the data and have students calculate or figure out whose DNA was found at a crime scene. Is that too much to ask for?

Other images of students doing work in a biotech lab:  Imagine what could be done in a virtualized setting…

image of students using pH meters
Image of pH equipment- hand held meter and more expensive ones in background
student cutting a leaf for plant tissue culture
Imagine being able to teach plant tissue culture techniques that could be monitored

How we should spend the money for digital needs?

This is an assignment for EdTech 501. We were given 7 recommendations and were asked to evaluate them, followed by our suggestions on how to spend the money. I made a PowerPoint presentation that can be accessed at:  There is no audio at the SlideShare link.

In addition, I made a video in Camtasia, but it turned out to be huge. I don’t know if you’ll be able to open the video. Here is the link:

Elements of Educational Technology

Instructions: You will explore and provide your perspective/reflection on one of the following elements, specifically how the word relates to or enables a better understanding of the definition of educational technology: (1) Study (2) Ethical practice (3) Facilitating (4) Learning (5) Improving (6) Performance (7) Creating (8) Using (9) Managing (10) Appropriate (11) Technological (12) Processes (13) Resources.

Definition of Educational Technology (2004):

According to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.

My Response:

The one I pick is number 3, facilitating. Even though it may seem like I picked facilitating because it was near the beginning of the chapter, that is merely a coincidence.  When I read the description that goes with facilitating, it proved to be different than what I expected.  I expected to read about how as education has become influenced more by the invasiveness of technology, the teacher’s role has been replaced by that of a passive facilitator who merely monitors the students.  I thought that in this facilitator scenario, teachers do not have the responsibility of determining what gets taught or how to teach it because when the technology comes in to play, the teaching is exuded through whatever media the students are using.  Turns out I was wrong!  It has been known to happen.

As I read the passage about facilitating, I felt like I was reading my ideal job description.  The way the authors described the teachers’ actions is more like the teacher being a coach who has made it possible for students to have open ended opportunities to interact with content such that they gathered the important parts and built them into their psyche. The teacher still scaffolds the lesson, but it is done in such a way that the students take ownership of the direction of the learning and therefore they have mastery of the subject and not just a spectator’s point of view.  The concept of constructivism comes into play because the students are constructing meaning.  Fortunately when I was taught how to be a teacher, I was taught methods that follow the constructivist approach.  It is something that I’ve tried to embody in all of the classes I’ve taught, however the factoid based tests tended to interfere with the slower methods used in constructivism. That soapbox is one I shall stand upon at a later time.

Another aspect of the facilitating philosophy is that the teachers are not seen as the oracle of knowledge. Being in a classroom is not for students to sit and listen to a teacher talk at them. Even if the teacher is using “technology” via PowerPoint slides, the point of the technology is not to make lecturing easier on the teacher. The point of the technology may be to use the PowerPoint slides to engage the students by having them take roles in explaining concepts shown on slides. Technology is used to facilitate getting the information in the students’ hands so they can determine how to use it and to make sense of it.  Page 4 has a statement that sums this up perfectly, “the key role of technology is not so much to present information and provide drill and practice (to control learning) but to provide the problem space and the tools to explore it (to support learning).”  There are so many teachers I’ve taught with who really need to think about that statement. Too many times they act like they are doing the right thing because they are using the technology, but in reality they are merely fooling themselves because they’ve transformed the technology to be yet another way for them to control student behavior.

I hope that I will be able to become a facilitator of student learning by using technology to help students acquire and utilize information. I still want them to guide the direction and flow, but I hope to have the opportunity to build their scaffolding.  The TECH museum in San Jose, CA has done just that by creating curriculum that empowers students to find solutions to what may seem like common everyday problems. With these projects, students construct solutions to the design challenges.  Most of the challenges are low-tech, meaning the students don’t have to use anything that involves electricity to do their project, however if they found a technology that helps them build their solution, it certainly would not be discouraged.  The point of many of the design challenges is for students to collaborate and come up with something that exists in three dimensions.  They often create a prototype, test it, and then make changes as they see the flaws that remain. This is not dissimilar to what happens in educational technology where instructional designers use technology in a ethical manner as a way to foster student projects that reflect what they learned and the means by which they learned it.

Video of someone at the TECH museum in San Jose explaining how their Design Challenge activities work.  This is one way constructivist ideas can be brought into the classroom:


Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1977). The definition of educational technology. Washington, DC: AECT.

Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Chapter 1: Definition. In Educational technology: A definition with commentary (pp. 1 – 14). NY: Lawrence Erlbaum, Inc.

Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). (2004)The Definition of Educational Technology.
Washington DC: AECT, Definition and Terminology Committee

found at: