Application 4: Online Learning in K-12 Schools Podcast

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reflection on the Impact of Technology on Society

As I reflect on the past eight weeks of study in this Walden University course, the impact of technology on the many facets of society is apparent. I have read through and viewed numerous resources provided through the course materials and have gained a better understanding of how to integrate technology in my own classroom using balanced literacy. According to an article by Zach Miners and Angela Pascopella, balanced literacy is a classroom approach “that incorporates traditional print media, electronic media, and everything in between” (Miners and Pascopella 2007). This course has been one more step down the path toward earning my Master’s Degree in technology integration, achieving balanced literacy, and developing students’ 21st century skills in my classroom.

In order for me to use technology effectively to enhance student learning, I must first develop my own technology skills. This course has introduced me to unfamiliar technology as well helped me gain a deeper understanding of technology I am familiar with. Over the past eight weeks I have been exposed to blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other “learning objects...that can be used to illustrate, support, supplement, or assess student learning” (Cramer 2007). Blogs are a tool that I am already familiar with and use in my class as a means of communication. After this course, I know of more meaningful ways to use them to guide and assess instruction. Wikis were unfamiliar to me before this course. By collaborating with my colleagues on constructing our own wiki, I now have the knowledge to introduce them to my students. In addition to these tools I also now know how to create a podcast and publish it on the Internet. All of these web tools are excellent ways for students to publish their works and collaborate with their peers.

The next step I will take in expanding my technology awareness is to continue earning my Master’s Degree. I will also participate in as many professional development courses in which I am able to enroll. I will urge my administrator and colleagues to push for more district-sponsored training in the area of technology integration. I must continually “find ways to incorporate…the information and knowledge that…students acquire outside class in their digital lives” (Prensky 2006). I must understand that the gadgets and gizmos that students use in their personal lives can be used to enrich their academic lives as well.

There are two goals that I would like to achieve in less than two years. These goals involve the transformation of my classroom into a “collaborative space where student-centered knowledge development and risk taking are accepted as the norm and where an ecology of learning develops and thrives” (Nussbaum-Beach 2008). First, I want each of my students to have their own blog where they can share their thinking and works with other students. To achieve this I must introduce blogging to them early in the school year and ensure that they have a firm grasp of its uses. I must also be vigilant in evaluating their progress and participation. Then, I will consistently conduct lessons that incorporate their blogs in the final product. My second goal is to teach my students how to create their own podcasts and publish them on the Internet. To accomplish this I will have the students brainstorm real world problems that affect their lives and then create solutions to these problems. Using all of the data and research they have collected they will create a video podcast similar to a news report. In order to achieve the two goals I have set for myself I must also increase the amount of technology in my classroom. To attain this I will request the school’s computer lab as often as possible to ensure that my students have access to the resources they need to complete their projects.


Cramer, S. (2007). Update your classroom with learning objects and twenty-first century skills. Clearing House, 80(3), 126–132.

Miners, Z., & Pascopella, A. (2007). The new literacies. District Administration, 43(10), 26–34.

Nussbaum-Beach, S. (2008). No limits. Technology & Learning, 28(7), 14–18. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2005). Listen to the natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4), 8–13.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Evaluating 21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, or P21, is an organization that promotes integrating technology into schools in order to prepare students for the "new literacies" that are becoming more prevalent in society (Miners and Pascopella 2007). This group sponsors a website of the same name that contains many resources for educators to use as they develop their technology integration skills for their own classrooms.

My initial reaction to the website was that it was neatly organized and visually appealing. It was very simple to navigate around the site and find what you are looking for. It was also excellent to see all of the tools and resources available to educators. I also found it pleasing to peruse the “In the News” section with the latest announcements regarding the progress of the partnership’s initiatives. I believe this website’s ease of use and visual appeal makes it one of the more exceptional education-related websites I have visited.

There were several pieces of information on the site that surprised me, but one item in particular. When I noticed the list of states that are considered “P21 Leadership States”, I noticed that my own state was not listed. I found this disturbing because I believe that my state needs to pay extra attention to 21st century skills. Montana is a very rural state with a total population under 1,000,000. Many of the students who graduate from high school will leave the state to go to college. In addition, many college students will leave the state upon graduation. If they leave the state unprepared for the workplace of the future, they will be left behind by their peers. “Students will spend their adult lives in a multitasking, multifaceted, technology-driven, diverse, vibrant world – and they must arrive equipped to do so” (Partnership for 21st Century Skills n.d.).

I found very little to disagree with on the P21 website. However, I was troubled to learn of the founding organizations of this website. Almost all of these organizations are based in technology. These companies have a tremendous stake in the future of technology integration in the classroom. They make their money from school districts and other companies who purchase their products, therefore it is imperative for them to make sure that as much technology as possible is used in the classroom. This makes me slightly uneasy because it produces a conflict of interest of sorts. How do we know if these companies are true proponents of education of merely thinking about their bottom line?

There are serious implications to our society if we do not begin to incorporate the initiatives of P21 in our schools. The workplace of the future will require certain skills such as “information literacy, critical thinking, communication skills, problem solving, and information technology skills” (Laureate 2008). The 21st century skill levels of future workers will be “a critical factor in the generation of national wealth” (Bates and Phelan 2002). Many of the occupations that have historically provided the most jobs are on the decline. In addition, the occupations that are on the rise are those in technology related fields that require many of the skills mentioned previously. If students of today are not gaining the skills necessary to be successful in the future, they will struggle to find jobs that will enable them to support a family and create personal wealth. (Levy and Murnane 2004).

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a valuable organization that will keep putting pressure on states to realize the importance of technology in the classroom. Many states have already dedicated resources to this cause, but many more have not. It is up to educators and friends of education to join with P21 in the fight for a change in thinking regarding educational philosophy. The status quo is no longer acceptable if we as a nation want to compete with the rest of the world in the workplace of the future.


Bates, R., & Phelan, K. (2002). Characteristics of a globally competitive workforce. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 4(2), 121

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). 2008. Skills for the 21st Century [Motion picture]. Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society. Baltimore: Author.

Levy, F., & Murnane, R. (2006). Why the changing American economy calls for twenty-first century learning: Answers to educators' questions. New Directions for Youth Development, 2006(110), 53–62.

Miners, Z., & Pascopella, A. (2007). The new literacies. District Administration, 43(10), 26–34.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved from

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ideas for using blogs in the classroom 11/11/09

One idea I have for using blogs in the classroom is for website evaluation. My lesson would involve giving the students a website address that they would visit. Using a predetermined rubric, they would assess different aspects of the website such as educational value, visual appeal, accuracy, and so on. Then the students would post their findings on a blog. The next step in the lesson would require the students to choose two of the websites their classmates evaluated and post their own comments about those websites.

According to Will Richardson, "the use of Weblogs can enhance the development of expertise in a particular subject." The ability to assess websites for their usefulness and value is an important skill that students need to acquire due to the increasing demand for research on the Internet. I believe by participating in this lesson students will be "creating a database of learning that she can continue to build on."

Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wiks, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.