EDTECH 541 Course Reflections

May 3, 2010 at 4:18 am (ED TECH 541, Portfolio) (, , )

What I Learned

Coming into this course, I had minor experience incorporating technology into lesson activities. Additionally, while my job responsibilities at McGraw-Hill very much focus on evaluating and reviewing lesson and instructional design, I have much less experience actually creating lessons from scratch without lesson plans. In this course, I learned a great deal about some of the tools available for students and teachers to integrate the Internet as a resource in everyday class work. At the same, I was able to gain valuable first-hand practice in building lesson plans of my own, without subject-matter experts to guide every step.

As I worked through the course, I was able to reinforce my understanding of the importance of continued learning and reminded of the vast amount of information and the sheer volume of tools available on the Web. It is very overwhelming at times, and my favorites folders have swelled from all of the interesting and helpful links I encountered inside and outside of the course materials. This wealth of information supports the idea that both open source tools and materials and pre-developed lessons and packaged materials have important places in today’s classrooms. Teachers have an incredible responsibility, and the everyday tasks are very time consuming. While lessons and teaching can take place heavily influenced by Web materials, premade materials are still an important source of controlled learning to enhance learners’ growth.

AECT Standards Met (http://www.ncate.org/public/programStandards.asp?ch=4#AECT)

1.1.1.a Write appropriate objectives for specific content and outcome levels.

Each of the assignments for Weeks 4 through 13 of the course, as well as for the final thematic unit activity, included a list of objectives, and the final thematic unit activity includes evaluation/assessment components that delineate outcome levels and associated metrics.

1.1.2.a Create a plan for a topic of a content area (e.g., a thematic unit, a text chapter, an interdisciplinary unit) to demonstrate application of the principles of macro-level design.

For EDTECH 541, I created a thematic unit around the big idea in social studies – Production. Various technology and Internet resources were researched and incorporated in the final thematic unit lesson plans. 

1.1.2.b Create instructional plans (micro-level design) that address the needs of all learners, including appropriate accommodations for learners with special needs.

Week 14 included specific information about how to incorporate accommodations for diverse learners, as well as a blog post discussing the importance of including these accommodations for learners. Additionally, accommodations are included in the final thematic unit lesson plans.

1.1.2.d Incorporate contemporary instructional technology processes in the development of interactive lessons that promote student learning.

Throughout the course, technology materials have been included as part of each lesson activity developed for the thematic unit and incorporated in the final thematic unit activity.

1.1.3.a Produce instructional materials which require the use of multiple media (e.g., computers, video, projection).

The thematic unit activities require the use of computer technology, a microphone for recording an audio blog, posting a video to a free video-sharing Web site, creating a Glogster poster presentation, and working with a presentation software as part of a team.

1.1.3.b Demonstrate personal skill development with at least one: computer authoring application, video tool, or electronic communication application.

Throughout this course, I have further refined my ability to develop Web pages using Dreamweaver and I have maintained a blog for the first time for weekly assignments.

1.1.5.a Utilize a variety of assessment measures to determine the adequacy of learning and instruction.

Several types of products and assessments were incorporated in the thematic unit materials.

2.1.3 Use presentation application software to produce presentations and supplementary materials for instructional and professional purposes.

Students were encouraged to use online tools that act as presentation tools (eBook, Glogster, presentation software, and so on) for several assignments during the course.

2.2.3 Use appropriate video equipment (e.g., camcorders, video editing) to prepare effective instructional and professional products.

We completed a video blog for one assignment and a voice thread for another assignment. I incorporated these tools an another assignment during the course that was built into a learning activity for students.

2.3.2 Design, produce, and use digital information with computer-based technologies.

In EDTECH 541, I have used Dreamweaver to create online lesson plans, WordPress to maintain a weekly blog entry, Glgoster to create an online lesson, created a video library of resources, researched a potential budget for purchasing educational technology tools, research assistive technologies for students with diverse learning needs, and created a video and voice response activity. The list could go on and on, as the entire course involved the use of computer-based technologies in the creation of coursework.

2.3.4* Incorporate the use of the Internet, online catalogs and electronic databases to meet the reference and learning needs of students and teachers.

The main focus of this class was to incorporate Internet tools and resources in lesson activities for students.

2.4.1 Use authoring tools to create effective hypermedia/multimedia instructional materials or products.

We used a variety of online tools to create materials for the course. Glogs, video blogs, WordPress accounts, eBooks, and voice threads, just to name a few.

2.4.4 Use telecommunications tools such as electronic mail and browsing tools for the

World Wide Web to develop instructional and professional products.

Browsing tools are essential to the creation of materials for this course, as well as essential for the development of learning activities for potential students.

2.4.5 Develop effective Web pages with appropriate links using various technological tools (e.g., print technologies, imaging technologies, and video).

Throughout out the semester, I have created Web pages for EDTECH541 connected to my Ed Tech homepage for BSU.

2.4.8* Prepare instructional materials, bibliographies, resource lists for instructional units, and other materials as appropriate to support students and teachers.

We created example activities and other support materials in the creation of lessons for this course.

3.4.1 Identify and apply standards for the use of instructional technology.

Identifying and correlating to NETS is an important, and graded, aspect of the thematic unit lesson plan structure.

4.1.1 Apply project management techniques in various learning and training contexts.

As the holder of a Project Management Professional, this standard hits home with me. Every lesson and project completed requires solid project management in the development of learning materials. To complete lessons on time and with specified feedback, a strong plan must be in place for each week’s assignment.

Professional Growth

While I am not a teacher, and do not hold a teaching certificate, I do work in educational publishing, so my professional growth based on all my courses and Boise State is varied and important. EDTECH 541 ended up being very timely for me, as my current role at McGraw-Hill is creating a new reading intervention program for grades 3-8, with technology as the leading component of the program. In particular, one of the three rotations of the program, a 40-minute block of time, five days a week, is comprised of a project-based learning with a focus on both writing and 21st century skills and constructs. Many of the projects in the course have helped in the development of the instructional design for this project-based learning. Specifically, we have been exploring free online tools and a poster tool for presentation. The work in building a technology budget encouraged me to find some free online tools, and those immediately became part of the toolset for the program I am working on. Additionally, Glogster has served as a spectacular model for what we had already planned on doing to enhance an existing poster-creation tool for my company.

Outside of the project-based learning, I have incorporated my learning in other areas. The way Dr. Gerstein has encouraged us to work through the materials has greatly enhanced my understanding of how to build materials in preparation for my BSU portfolio. This has been a fantastic side benefit of this course. However, more importantly now, the course required that we build our materials to share online (I chose to continue with the BSU personal Web site) and to maintain a blog. Both my work on the Web pages and on the blog have turned out to be very useful to me both in my current job and in my efforts to land a new position with a greater direct relation to educational technology. For instance, with the short-form writing and with links in hand, I have been able to use my coursework as writing and technology samples for several jobs I have pursued. Additionally, I was able to quickly and effectively create a Web site for sharing work samples to focus group participants for our new program by leveraging the skills I have gained in this course.

Change in Teaching Methods/Thinking of Teaching Based on Course Assignments

While I of course knew there were innumerable Web resources for education, the tasks in this course helped to focus me on some of the more important and widely used tools available on the Web. The projects and assignments provided insight on tools, practice and application of skills, and experience looking for the right materials in the right places. I was required to use tools that I have reviewed in the past, but never really thought about including in my assignments or in my work experience. Often, we default to including some basic productivity tools or simple Web searching or Webquests in lessons, but the effort to really step through the process and incorporate the Internet into lesson plans can take teaching in an entirely different direction.

My instructional design experience has long been on the side of directed instruction. Often, this end of the educational spectrum is tied to teaching of core knowledge and facts, as opposed to the use of 21st century tools. I would posit, however, that this is either a simplification or a result of older programs and materials that have not been revised to really focus on how technology can be incorporated successfully. Throughout this course, I have been able to create assignments that are true to the teacher-directed instructional design I know well, but also include new tools and content creation tasks students need in today’s classroom. In the end, that is what I think I will take away from this course; a clear exemplification of how these two, often conflicting approaches to instruction can be combined into cohesive learning activities.

How Theory Guided Project Development and Assignments

I have to go back to the first assignment of the course to really start a discussion of how theory guided my assignments. One concept is based on a presentation I participated in by David Warlick in 2008. In his presentation, Mr. Warlick focused on how we are facing an uncertain future, but with unprecedented tools to approach that future. (2008) The second piece I re-reference here is a research paper about the economic impact of neglecting technology for today’s students. (McKinsey, 2009) These references lead me to choose the big idea of production for my thematic unit. I wanted to address how technology can be used to take student from being consumers to creators of content, but, at the same time, introduce them to the idea that the world truly is shrinking and that technology tools are essential for communication and growth across their school, and, eventually, career choices.

There are other theories and concepts that certainly played their role in my work—the importance of 21st century skills and learning goals, Blooms Digital Taxonomy, among others; however, they were more on the assignment-by-assignment basis. The first two concepts are the guiding reasons why I have chosen to work on an Educational Technology degree. As the father of two young children, I see the absolute importance of building education, communication skills, and digital know-how throughout their lives. We, as educators, must make a commitment to take technology from the land of theory into the world of reality.


McKinsey & Company, Social Sector Office. (2009). The economic impact of the achievement gap in America’s schools. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved April 24, 2009, from: http://www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/socialsector/achievement_gap_report.pdf.

Warlick, D. (2008, June 30). Our students, our worlds . Presentation at the National Educational Computing Conference, San Antonio, TX.


1 Comment

  1. Jes Caron said,

    I really liked your assessment on how theory impacted your choices in this class. I was particularly interested in your comments regarding students as producers of content as well as consumers! Great reinforcement with your reference!

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