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Philosophy of Tech.

Education 1

Running Head: PHILOSOPHY OF TECH. EDUCATION

Philosophy of Technical Education

Joshua P. Kelly

University of Connecticut
Philosophy of Tech. Ed. 2
When first introduced to the idea of creating standards for implementing
technology into the classroom environment, I was extremely critical of the idea. I felt
that as a future high school English teacher, technology isn’t relevant to the way that I
would set up my classroom. Technology works great when dealing with tangible
subjects, but English Language Arts tends to fall more on the side of abstracts and
opinions- not to say that there aren’t tangibles in the field, however. Incorporating
technology in a classroom that is mostly rooted in abstracts and opinions seems a rather
daunting task.
Then I read a quote that said we “need to use technology to move away from a
teacher-centered classroom” and this caused for some reflection. Technology, if used
properly, can certainly allows teachers more ways of engaging their students and
potentially getting them more involved in the class dialogue. This is the point when
technology went from being thought of as irrelevant to a source of internal dialogue as to
how it can be made relevant for a high school English classroom. A major philosophy of
mine is that while the teacher should be an anchor for the classroom, if it is too teacher-
centered, this neglects the building of social skills that is essential to the schooling
experience. In a classroom that is more student-centered, students are encouraged to
actively engage with the material to see how it may be relevant to their lives, and in doing
this they will incorporate their own opinions and experiences into the class dialogue.
Therefore, in order to create a higher level of discussion, technology seems to the proper
stepping-stone.
Technology can be used to serve many purposes. At its most basic use,
technology can be used to transform the text into a way that can be visually processed
through the use of video clips. I have seen this technique be used in a classroom where
we were discussing Waiting For Godot and we were shown multiple video clips of
various performances to show how Samuel Beckett left the setting of the play essentially
up to the reader’s imagination. While rather simple, it can still be very effective if it’s not
overdone and is directly relevant to the content at hand. As an English teacher, I will also
be dealing a great deal with research papers. Teaching students how to use internet
databases, whether just in the library at school so they can find books and articles of
potential usefulness or to track down harder to find material on the internet can be
extremely rewarding and aid students in learning the value of proper research.
Technology has opened the world of information to students in a way that is
unprecedented. However, due to this, it is easy to go overboard with technology.
Technology must be used for the benefit of the curriculum, not simply for its own sake.
As teachers, if students recognize that we have a firm understanding of the content being
discussed, they are more likely to listen to what we have to offer- if it seems that we’re
dependent on outside sources, they will have less respect for us.
It is important to recognize that not all students in our classroom may have access
to advanced technology at home for a multitude of reasons. The student’s family may not
have the money to be able to provide technological access in their homes would be an
example of how fiscal capital can be a deterrent, while a family with strong ties to
agriculture or first-second-third generation immigrants from countries that are
technologically behind may have difficulties grasping the importance of technology as
well as how to go about using it. Therefore, this increases the importance of
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incorporating technology into the classroom environment because it’s important that all
students are at the very least exposed to and taught the basics of computers and more
specifically the internet. Building in power-points within lesson plans is a first step
towards students recognizing technology as an important part of their education. If you
are in a school with a computer lab, giving lessons to your students on how to create web-
blogs is a way that can directly incorporate student usage of technology- combining
direct instruction on the basics of using a computer and the internet and allowing the
students to directly engage with the computer.
Technology supports the learning needs for high- and low-achievers due to the
fact that it can help the students find the information more relevant. In this modern age,
students are increasingly finding the traditional teaching methods of lecturing and writing
on the blackboard not suiting their needs in the classroom. Technology can help open up
dialogue that discusses not only the content but the means of how the content is presented
and portrayed, can incorporate usage of videos that can present the content in a way that
is more relatable to the students, and can present the material in a way that can responds
to varying types of learning styles, as students tend to lean towards being a visual learner,
verbal learner, or an aural learner. Studies have also shown dramatic increases in younger
students of all ethnic backgrounds using technological mediums such as computers,
television/videos, and music, thus it can help build a curriculum that identifies a common
unity between a great number of students in the classroom. The small number of outliers
(i.e. students who don’t have the means of technological usage) can be reached through
ideas such as having them create web-blogs during class time, and through these lesson
plans, possibly be more inclined to spend time in libraries honing their skills and
maximizing their potential.
Power-points and web-blogs are going to be the main mediums through which I
will incorporate technology into my classroom. Each medium offers a number of
benefits to all levels of academic achievers. It is my belief that web-blogs are especially
useful for high-achieving students, while power-points will help low-achieving students
to interact with the material a little better; however, this isn’t to say that the opposite ends
of the spectrum and all the students in the middle wouldn’t be able to utilize the
technologies as well. High-achieving students usually push classroom dialogue forward,
therefore I believe they would be more likely to utilize to their advantage a web-blog that
I could set up. The blog would be set up to post questions, newspaper articles, videos,
and other mediums all in one confined place that relate to the bodies of work being
discussed in the English curriculum; this would allows for students to continue dialogue
established in the classroom by exploring the themes that are presented or asked about in
the blog entries. This would be most useful in honors or AP level classes were students
are more actively engaged with the content of the class, and therefore would tap into the
various advantages a web-blog present, advantages such as: giving students who have
trouble participating in class discussions, reflecting upon the videos and articles posted in
a way that calls for them to discuss and draw from their own personal experiences in their
progress towards making connections to how the themes are relevant to their own lives,
and allowing students the chance to fully articulate their thoughts. This last theme is
important because in the classroom responses are more instinctual, yet it is essential to
cognitive developments to be able to hone both kinds of thinking, fully articulated
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thoughts and instinctive gut reactions, and will aid them at higher levels of education by
teaching students to properly utilize quotes- on one hand to make a quick point in class or
to more elaborately discuss themes through the web-blog. On the flipside, there are many
advantages of using power-point to help assist low-achieving students. Power-point
presentation can be an effective method of understanding information due to the fact that
the material is visible. By the material being visible, this allows students to interact with
it on multiple levels: reading off the screen, listening to the teacher explain the material
aloud, and may make the student more inclined to take notes because it’s easier than
trying to follow along and write down what the teacher is saying. Power-point
presentation would only fit in well, in my opinion, with lessons on tangible content- such
as grammar, sentence structure, and composition. By using power-point, students can not
only see definitions for the content but also examples of how it’s used. It is through
making connections of how it is used and how it is defined that students can progress
forward to understanding the concepts.
The most important way to gauge the effectiveness of our use of technology in the
classroom is by evaluating how students are engaging with the technology. Is the
technology opening new avenues of discussion? It is imperative that the technology is
built in with the content; what this means is that in using power-point to explain rules of
grammar, the teacher isn’t simply just reading the definition of the rule and then reading
the example and then moving on. Instead, the students should be engaged- they should
be asked to read the definition, and then discuss what they think it means and why is it
important. Once the discussion shows a sound level of understanding throughout the
class, another student can be called upon to read the example. Having students directly
apply the definition to the sentence can help lead to asking students to craft more
examples of how the grammatical rule can be applied. If students are able to make the
proper connection between the definition of the rule and how it is presented in the
example, it reinforces the power of the visual model that power-point technology
provides. The ultimate goal as an educator is not simply the content itself but students
understanding the content, being able to explain further and explore the content beyond
what is discussed in the classroom. If students are beginning to show these levels of
understanding in their web-blog discussions, in their papers, in the way they approach
each text, then this can attest to the power of the technology. If students are just
regurgitating information in way that is typical to a lecture-style classroom, then the
technology isn’t engaging and the students aren’t getting anything from it, which means
there is a failure in the implementation of the technology.