Research paper

Technology is and has always been an important cog in the education wheel. From the beginning of time when one caveman created fire and he had to teach another caveman, technology has always passed from one person to the next.  Looking at where we are now, the obstacles that need to be overcome and planning for the future are steps on the continued journey of technology and education together.
Where I am now

I don’t see educational technology as a “solution” but a vehicle. I think that anything could be educational technology but it’s up to the teacher to choose wisely and reflect on the end product. If it didn’t teach the standard then, you failed. I have used several websites in the past including the Mozart effect, the History of Rock and Roll and the Beatles. At the end of the project, I asked the students what was something new they learned. I got very low level responses and nothing memorable. Whether is was the way I used it or the website itself, I dumped the whole idea.

The technology at my school would best be described as an island in the sea of technology. The weakest areas are technical/infrastructure support, training and budget. The strongest areas are internet access and administrative information. It seems that in a budget crisis, the “bells and whistles” got cut to keep the meat of the school. In retail, it would be like cutting your advertising budget and then wondering why you went bankrupt. It seems that the data collecting burden would be eased tremendously if a little more more was spent on technology like assessment tools. If more money isn’t spend on training and Infrastructure then the materials that we have will start falling apart.

Obstacles

Looking at the national and global level, some students are at a disadvantage because of the technology available to them at home. Barzilai-Nahon, K. (2006) identified the main areas of differences to be: Ethnicity, Income, Age, Gender, Education, and Rural Residence. These studies and others focus on the idea of the “haves and have nots”. They also identify the difference in the terms access and use, as there are those who have access and choose not to use technology.

As time passes and technology spreads, there has been a change from the use of the term “digital divide” to “digital inequality”. DiMaggio and others have now identified new areas of concern: Equipment; autonomy of use; skill; social support networks; and use patterns (2001). The good news is that these areas can be changed through education. DiMaggio continues by adding “new adopters who are disprivileged with respect to one or more status parameters may serve as conduits through which information about the new technology flows to others who share those disadvantaging characteristics.” (2001)
The Future

Looking to the future, there are many exciting technologies in the “works”. Alternate Reality was the most interesting tool in the 2010 Horizons Report. Using a phone or computer with a camera you can see an overlay of information on top of the real picture the camera is seeing. Students in my Chorus classroom could scan their music, then get useful information like tempo and key changes as well as background information on the composer and time period. Of course, this is in addition to material at hand and is for enhancing what is already happening in the classroom.  In Devany’s article, the art teacher Reese states :”It doesn’t matter the age; these kids are so technology adept that all you have to do is show them the basics and they just take off,” she said. “I think [technology] can replace some of the traditional forms of art instruction, but I think there’s a need for the tactile feel of clay and paint, and getting dirty–it’s a real need.” (2008)

In addition to direct instruction in the classroom, online learning is seemingly passing it’s beta testing with flying colors. Schomburg, G., & Rippeth, M.  state ”Online learning is fast becoming a viable educational option for high school students across the country. Changes in lifestyle and life circumstances make the daily grind of high school impossible for some students. The self-discipline that students need to be successful does not magically develop when they log on to a virtual school at home, however. Research and past experiences led Eastern to choose a modified route as a third alternative: an in-house virtual lab where students could work at their own pace and have access to subject-area teachers. More importantly, by structuring the lab within the school day and providing support in the lab itself, students were successfully encouraged and supported to stay on task to complete courses and graduate.” (2009).

The future holds much promise. As the spread of technology flattens our global community, users become more familiar and comfortable with it and it becomes cheaper. There are many applications for the technologies already being adapted for use in the classroom. The inequality lessens and the budget isn’t stretched as tight. But, there are also drawback to the availiability of technology..

Research has shown that there is a downside to spending too much time online. Lei, J. and Zhao, Y. present the findings as “students can benefit from spending up to about 3 h per day using computer technologies; however, when they spend too much time (more than 3 h a day) on computers, the benefit seems to be canceled out or even replaced with a deficit.” (2005)

I’m so glad we had this time together

Like the old Carol Burnett song, there are many great reasons that technology and music education, specifically, go together. But at the end of the lesson, there is no replacement for good practice and thus you have to say goodbye. In the “Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan” it states “Interesting and engaging technologies can intrigue a student, but it is only through instruction, study, and practice that a student becomes competent. With increasing levels of competence a student becomes more

empowered and productive.” (1996)
Summary
The present is bleak. We ask ourselves, “Where is the technology we saw in the old sci-fi movies?”. The reality is that we are still moving very slowly forward as a global community. There are obvious obstacles like accessibility and budget that came be overcome. There are wonderful technologies on the horizon waiting for us to open them like a Christmas present. In the end, it is important to remember that all these toys are an enhancement to our classrooms. They are very necessary but should not take a backseat to the reason we teachers are in the classroom: the passing of knowledge from one person to another.

Bibliography
Barzilai-Nahon, K. (2006). Gaps and bits: Conceptualizing measurements for digital divide/s. The Information Society, 22(5), 269-278.

Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003. (2006). Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006065

Devaney, L., (2008) Technology makes art education a bigger draw. Retrieved from http://www.eschoolnews.com/2008/09/19/technology-makes-art-education-a-bigger-draw/

DiMaggio, P., & Hargittai, E. (2001). From the ‘digital divide’ to ‘digital inequality:’ Studying Internet use as penetration increases. Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Working Paper Series number, 15. Retrieved from http://www.princeton.edu/~arts…gittai.pdf

Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan, (v 2.0). (1996). Prepared by Graduate Students at Mississippi State University. Retrieved June 20, 2005, from http://www2.msstate.edu/~lsa1/nctp/Guidebook.pdf.

Lei, J. and Zhao, Y., (2005) Technology uses and student achievement: A longitudinal study. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.libproxy.boisestate.edu/science/article/B6VCJ-4H9GRC1-1/2/c5c2212df057edb78aaca98dfb6dd368 doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2005.06.013

Schomburg, G., & Rippeth, M..
(2009, December). Rethinking VIRTUAL School. Principal Leadership, 10(4), 32-36.  Retrieved December 12, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1935531511).

See, J., (1992) Developing effective technology plans.The computing teacher 19(8)

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