Monday, November 17, 2014

Article Review #6- Educational Technology Research Past and Present: Balancing Rigor and Relevance to Impact School Learning

Article Review #6- Educational Technology Research Past and Present: Balancing Rigor and Relevance to Impact School Learning

Lowther, D.L., Morrison, G.R., and Ross, S.M. (2010). Educational technology research past and present: balancing rigor and relevance to impact school learning. Contemporary Educational Technology, 1(1), 17-35.


Main Points:
Lowther, Morrison, and Ross researched several areas in educational technology ranging from its effectiveness to its trends.  I focused my review on just one section of their article- Is Educational Technology Effective: Meaningful Domains for Research.  The authors defined effectiveness as its effect size.  It is determined by the amount of achievement gains students make versus a classroom/school that does not integrate technology as a controlled variable.  The authors find it pointless to compare the different types of media available.  They note that nearly any type of media or technology tool could be used in an effective way.  It is dependent on the teacher’s instructional strategies and implementation of the tool.  The tool may enhance or offer alternate methods for the lesson.  The authors make clear that the effectiveness of a tool is dependent on how it helps the teacher and students reach their goals.

The first usage of technology that the authors evaluated is Technology as a Tutor.  One of the oldest and most used types of technology are known as CAIs.  Those are computer assisted instruction.  This type of technology has been around for a while and it was and is used for skill and drill practice.  They are often more engaging to students because of the animations.  The argument the authors make is whether the tool is more effective than a teacher-led lesson.  They see both sides of the debate.  The CAI can take the place of a poorly implemented teacher-led lesson and give better results.  Ineffective CAI can also distract from a well-designed teacher-led lesson.  The authors believe that CAI should be used to supplement, not replace instruction.  Some ideas that the authors suggest to help supplement lessons include: practice of skills, remedial instruction, enrichment instruction, over-the-summer instruction, higher-order thinking activities, and test prep.

The second use of technology that Lowther, Morrison, and Ross evaluate is Technology as a Teaching Aide.  Researchers need to evaluate the role it plays in a teacher’s organization and creation of lessons.  Allowing teachers to create lessons and make the material more meaningful may be an effective use of technology integration.  Technology increases engagement and the ability to interact.  Classroom response systems (clickers or more updated, Plickers) can help teachers instantly view and organize data.  They can give students instant feedback and use the instant data to help student progress.  

Finally, the authors looked into Technology as a Learning Tool.  One startling fact that the authors learned was that education was the least technology-integrated industry among 55 other industries.  Reports showed that high-school students were not prepared with the technology skills needed for many positions in the workforce.  Creating multimedia presentations, typing skills, and communication are skills that are lacking.  Schools that become more technology-intensive became more student-centered and promoted higher-order thinking.  There were increases in writing and problem solving skills.  Students, parents, and teachers developed a more positive attitude toward technology.  Peer-coaching was more present.  In opposition, the authors did not find that students had an achievement advantage on state assessments. There are short-term advantages that the authors noted, like higher engagement and and improved technology skills.  Teachers need to focus less on improving on state assessments and instead make technology more effective.  

Reflection and Application:

The portion of the article I read pertained to measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of media in the classroom.  I feel like much of the information the authors presented is reflective of the debate that teachers are actually struggling with.  Is the tool I am using worthy?  Is this supporting my students academic growth or is this just fun?  I do think we need to evaluate each tool we use.  I also feel like we may not know the benefits or usefulness of a tool until we have actually implemented the tool.  

In the section Technology as a Tutor, I saw a lot of correlation between the authors recommendations for the use of this technology and what I and other teachers I work with are using every day.  We use things like TenMarks, Scootpad, Math Center Games on Pearson, etc.  

In the section Technolog as a Teaching Aide, is where I realized this is the level I am working in most frequently.  I am trying to use technology to make my life easier, more effective, and more efficient.  I am finding that as I use certain tools, some are working well and I can incorporate in nearly every day.  Others, I have once or twice but it becomes tedious or loses its novelty and I discontinue its use.

In the final section, Technology as a Learning Tool, is what I feel I am working towards.  This will happen a little easier and faster when our school goes one-to-one.  I struggled to give students all the opportunities I want them to have with limited availability.  I think selecting the right tools and deciding how and when to use them is a very important task to tackle.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Study #5: Research on In-Class Use of Laptops and Other Devices: Effects on Students’ Learning and Attention

Study #5: Research on In-Class Use of Laptops and Other Devices: Effects on Students’ Learning and Attention

(2014, September 24).  Research on in-class use of laptops and other devices: effects on students’ learning and attention.  The Teaching Center Journal. Retrieved from



The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of laptops and other electronic devices on a student’s attention and learning.  The authors looked into separate studies for sufficient data.  Researchers noted that students bring laptops to school for a variety of purposes, some educational and others not related to the course.  Some of the data will show that there were lower levels of engagement and negative relationships to students’ learning. Researchers investigated the difference between paper/pencil note-takers and laptop note-takers.  They noticed differences in memory retention.  Students that handwrite their class notes find way to select the most important information in order to keep up.  Those that were note-taking on their laptops give more of a transcript versus key notes.  The researchers believe there may be cognitive memory differences.  Researchers also noted that students who are “heavy media multitaskers”- able to switch between media and other tasks frequently had more difficulty separating relevant and irrelevant information.  This was further tested in the studies.

Participants and Methodology:

In one study conducted at the University of Michigan Center for Research Learning and Teaching.  The researchers selected sixteen various courses at the college.  In eight of the courses, the instructors were required to integrate technology and web-based lecture tools within their lessons.  The students could use their laptops to interact with lesson.  In the other eight courses, students could use their lessons but the instructors were required not to integrate web tools.  A total of 595 students were included in this study.

The second study was conducted at small university in the midwest.  137 students were surveyed.  The students were allowed to bring their laptops but the professor was not required to incorporate them into the lessons.  They completed multiple surveys related to attention, clarity in the lesson, and level of learning.  


In the first study, the courses that integrated lecture web tools and technology had higher levels of student engagement when compared to the classes that did not integrate technology into the lesson.  The integrated courses had 60% engagement whilst the control group (non-integrated lessons) had only 39% engagement.  In terms of learning, the integrated-technology courses had 53% of students reporting that the laptops helped their learning.  40% of the students in the non-integrated reported that it helped their learning.  In addition to reports of higher engagement and learning, 75% of the students in both groups also indicated that the laptops increased the amount of time they spent doing non-related activities on their computers.  They often felt distracted by other students’ computers as well.  The researchers determined that if the instructor incorporated technology into the lesson, the benefit was greater.  

In the second study, 83% of students reported that they used their laptops to take notes during the lecture.  At the same time, 81% of the students also reported using their laptops to check and send emails and 68% instant messaged.  43% surfed the web and 25% even played games.  In this study the researchers found that the use of laptops negatively affected a student’s course grades.  It also revealed that the students had lower engagement in the lesson and less understanding.  


I felt after reading this study that this is the real debate of going one-to-one.  Of course money and maintenance is a major consideration but what about the benefits on education.  These studies had conflicting data.  Technology can benefit learning but it can also cause unnecessary distraction.  One thing that I thought was key in the first study was the comparison courses that had technology integrated into the lesson versus the courses that did not.  This just goes to show how students prefer to learn and ways to help them stay engaged in today’s classroom.  As we have said before in class, technology is a tool.  If students are using it simply for the sake of using it, what is the benefit?  With younger students, it may be easier to control the technological distractions.  They are eager to learn the device or program.  The lesson may be more structured and the teacher may be more active in the activity.  As students get older, I see the multi-tasking increase and I see the teachers allowing more freedom with the technology.  The distractions may increase as well.  I think as we come into this new age of education, we are going to continue to see difficulties but also successes.  As the teacher, we need to be proactive and able to take risks.  I think, especially for older students, we need to gain a new type of patience.  We may not be able to control everything that is happening during the lesson in regards to the use of technology but we have to support the students the best way possible.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Article #4- Understanding Multimedia Learning: Integrating Multimedia in the K-12 Classroom

Understanding Multimedia Learning: Integrating Multimedia in the K-12 Classroom

SEG Research. (2008, September). Understanding multimedia learning: integrating multimedia in the K-12 classroom. 1-17.

 Main Points:

The SEG researchers approached multimedia in the classroom through study of the brain. Current students in the classroom are called digital natives. They are students that have grown up with technology in most aspects of their lives as opposed to many adults that have adapted to technology. Multimedia education is the use of the visual and auditory processing in the brain. The brain has a long term memory and a short term memory. The short term memory is also known as the working memory. The long term memory is where we store and combine new information. This is where our learning is growing and changing. The researchers pointed out that information cannot be stored in your long term memory until it has worked its way through your working memory. The working memory cannot store very much information and it only last for approximately 20 seconds. Researchers say there are visual and auditory channels within your working memory. Thinking about the way that students often receive information in the class room does not support both channels in your brain. Text is visual and somehow has to change itself into an auditory form in your brain. Researchers say that the visual channel can handle less information than the auditory channel. The research shows that if both channels are addressed at once, the more information your brain can retain. The researchers concluded that if multimedia information is presented in an effective way, more information will be transferred to the long term memory.

If the educator can find a way to use multimedia effectively it can reach the auditory and visual processing in the working memory. The teacher recognizes that text is difficult to process and that they can capitalize on the working memory in a better way. Researchers noted that using words and pictures together is more powerful than text words or spoken words alone. Narration and video is more powerful than a teacher narrating a text. Like I mentioned before, the narrating and reading of text functions from the same channel of visual. Some sort of presentation that includes animation and narration is more effective than a text filled presentation. If information can be presented with visual at the same time as the narration, it has a better chance of reaching the long term memory. Even having the imagery and the text closer together makes a difference. Researchers mentioned not to waste the working memory's space and to only present your objective as focused as possible.

One benefit of using multimedia is through differentiation. Students can view the information at a pace that is more appropriate for them as a learner. They can slow or pause the information to gain meaning. When students are given the opportunity to interact or utilize the presentation of information, they are more likely to enjoy the experience and perform better. They become actively engaged in the content and it is more meaningful to them. Researchers mentioned Gardner's Multiple Intelligences and using multimedia is a great way to reach the most learners.

Reflection and Application:

 As I think about creating lesson plans, I think back to college when we had to formulate each lesson in a very specific and detailed way. The lesson needed an opening/engagement piece and a closing/wrap-up. The goal is to embed the lesson into the learner's mind. We do that as teachers now. But, to think about how little space and how little time the mind allows a person to retain information is crazy. You have to be so precise and refined and focused. The way in which you present the information must play into that time frame. This article makes me rethink how valuable and effective my lessons are. Am I engaging the kids fast enough? Are they going to keep this information and be able to transfer it? Did I have extraneous information that is going to confuse them? How can use technology tools and multimedia to enhance my lessons?

Some of the things that came to mind when I was reading this article are actually some of the tools that we are discussing in 6215. The researchers mentioned that the closer the text is to the animation or images the more powerful. That makes me think of powerpoints or prezies. They also mentioned how narration and animation is even more powerful. I think about the screencasts that we will be creating. Like the article mentioned, they can pause and slow the information to meet their needs. I can see the benefits of screencasts. Using this in addition to other lessons could help students to transfer the information to their long term memory. Even the podcast could be more beneficial than the teacher lecturing. The student can pause the information and take notes.

One con I find to some of this is the loss of teachable moments or those tangents that inspire conversation. The one-on-one contact to see where a student is struggling and how to adapt and change to fit their needs. In light of some of those cons, there seems to be many benefits to using multimedia in the K-12 classroom.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Study #3 An Empirical Examination of the Sustainability of Social Bookmarking Websites

Benbunan-Fich, R. and Koufaris, M. (2010).  An empirical examination of the sustainability of social bookmarking websites.  Information Systems & E-Business Management, 8(2), 131-148.  Retrieved from



Authors Benbanun-Fich and Koufaris researched factors that contributed to why social bookmarking sites have persisted in high usage online.  Social bookmarking allows users to bookmark sites and tag keywords.  Many sites allow users to bookmark/tag their sites privately or publicly.  They can organize their information and collect their bookmarks in one place.  Users can tag a site using any word of their choosing.  If a public bookmark, other users can then find that tag and find links to other similarly tagged information.  It allows users to locate information they may otherwise not have accessed without using social bookmarks.  The authors are concerned that even though there are so many benefits to public social bookmarking, so few users actually contribute.  They are either private users that do searches or they are known as lurkers, users that simply retrieve information and do not contribute.  The authors believe that only a small fraction of users actually generate bookmarks.  The authors point out that if that small fraction of users are the only public contributors, that the pool of information will be depleted and will not multiply.  


The authors collected data from the social bookmarking site, (  Simpy is one of the oldest social bookmarking sites available so the site would have a variety of users.  The authors used the sites cloud page to retrieve user names.  They collected 2,837 users that were referenced in a particular tag in the cloud.  From there, they used a sample of 1000 users.  From those users, the authors calculated three pieces of data including the bookmarks that were made public, length of time a user has been contributing to the site, and which users contributed most often.


The authors chose a resource-based model and data they collected on ListServes.  The availability of resources is dependent on the membership level including the membership losses on a social bookmarking site.  As the membership levels grow, the availability of resources grows as well.  The authors make four hypotheses.  The first being, "The majority of users of social bookmarking sites will make most of their contributions publicly available to the other users" (Benbanun-Fich & Koufaris, 2010).  This would explain why social bookmarks are continuing to function so highly.  The second being, "A minority of contributors will provide a significantly larger portion of public
content than the remaining majority of users" (2010).  This would explain why the sustainability would be depleted by fewer contributions.  The third being, "New users will contribute more of their resources to the public repository than
existing users" (2010).  This would explain the possible decline of some resources available.  The last being, "The majority of users will contribute regularly to the public repository" (2010).  This would explain the ability of social bookmarks sites to continue to thrive.

Results and Findings:

The authors determined that 943 of the users in their sample made contributions of over 474,000 bookmarks.  Only 17 users contributed nothing at all.  Of the 474,000 bookmarks, 412,000 bookmarks were social.  They figured then that on average, one contributor added about 412 bookmarks.  The authors found that a very small fraction of users kept their bookmarks private and/or did not contribute.  This would add positively to the sustainability of the sites.  They also found that there were "regular" contributors to the sites.  The authors determined that the option to make bookmarks private does not affect the success of a social bookmark.  They also determined the need for bookmarking sites to pull in "regulars" to keep new information posted.  Benbanun-Fich and Koufaris also found the need to attract new users as they are the highest contributors to the sites.  

Reflection and Application:

I would say that after reading the findings of these authors that I find myself to be a user of several different social bookmarking sites however, rarely am I a contributor to the sites.  I utilize the sites for the acquisition of new information.  I do not always know what I am looking for and social bookmarking is a great way to give me access to new categories of information.  I am grateful for the regular contributors to social bookmarking sites.  With users like me frequently these sites, there is a need for new and fresh information.  If the same set of bookmarks come up when I'm searching I know I would be far less likely to go back to that site.  

Social bookmarking is such a simple way to access and retrieve information that this Web 2.0 tool has really begun to sprout.  As a user, I am less likely to use a site if it is time-consuming or difficult to use.  I am always looking for new information and the contributions that new users are making keep me from see the same information recycling frequently.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Study #2: Innovation Impacts of Using Social Bookmarking Systems

Study #2: Innovation Impacts of Using Social Bookmarking Systems

Gray, P.H., Iyer, B., & Parise, S. (2011).  Innovation impacts of using social bookmarking systems.  MIS Quarterly, 35(3), 629-643. 



The purpose of this study was to determine two conclusions relating to social bookmarking.  Gray, Iyers, and Parise discuss just what drives society to innovate and reach for change.  Change often comes from preexisting material but they are recreated into new formats.  Social bookmarking is one way that professionals are using these new formats to organize and consolidate previously found resources.  One purpose of social bookmarking is to increase the possibility of locating the same information via people that have the same needs.  It should make people more efficient whilst allowing them to reach beyond their immediate resources.  Too many resources or places to look online creates less organization and less efficiency.  Social bookmarking allows users to find research or information they, otherwise, may not have ever come across.  They follow in the shadow of another user leading them to new searches.


The study was conducted through a sample of social bookmark users.  Using a firm's large employee pool, 850 social bookmarkers were studied ranging from high, medium, and low usage amounts.  The sample of employees created "structural holes" or gaps in connections.  The authors did not want any previous connections to each other's social bookmarks to ensure randomness of connections.


The authors hypothesize two theories.  The first of which looks to find the relationship between how innovative/creative a person is to how thoroughly they search using social bookmarking.  The predict that, "the number of times an individual accesses social bookmarks will positively predict his/her level of personal innovativeness" (Gray, Iyers, & Parise, 2011).  The second theory looks at the number of people one individual accesses through the use of social bookmarking.  The authors predict that, "the number of people a person connects to by accessing their social bookmarks will positively predict his/her level of personal innovativeness," (2011).


The authors concluded that social bookmarking has many benefits that contribute to one's personal innovativeness and creativity.  There are also some drawbacks attributed to this social media tool.  Through examining samples of the social bookmarks, the authors determined that individuals miss out on the opportunity to participate in mutual interactions. These interactions can be vital to accessing rich discussions.  Many social books do not allow users to specifically influence particular readers' interest.  It is generally open to the public and not always ideal for small groups.

On the other hand, a benefit owed to social bookmarking is its ability to track and bookmark resources without needing to communicate two-ways.  It makes sharing quick and efficient.  There is no fault or cost to the person bookmarking the sources.  

Overall, the authors felt their study supported the theory that innovative individuals were those that were more actively involved in social bookmarking.  They had more access to new ideas and were inspired by other resources that they may no have originally personally searched for.  It helps people fill in the missing holes of available information by expanding their initial searches.  


I was excited to find this study as it will pertain to my key assessment.  It is an overarching category that includes sites like Diigo, teacher-friendly Symbaloo, and popular Pinterest.  When I began researching what a social bookmark was, I found sites like Diigo.  As I thought about it, I realized a user-friendly version like Symbaloo can serve a similar purpose.  Perhaps the most popular (by personal observation) is Pinterest.  I feel it serves the same purpose as well.  Sites like Pinterest have grown to be a major contributor of many teachers' planning.  I enjoy that I can repost a site or a photo or resource without having to reach out the the previous finder.  As I click deeper and deeper into the posts, I have strayed far off from my original purpose but found many other resources or fresh ideas that I would not have otherwise found.  

With sites like Symbaloo, a user can again post or link resources to a user-friendly dashboard and access these in a convenient manner.  The user has the option to share publicly or keep private.  

Diigo is a site that I just linked to my blog.  A great feature of Diigo is the ability to create groups.  Like the authors mentioned previously, social bookmarking has had trouble allowing users to share specific resources to specific people.  

I am looking forward to exploring tools like Diigo and Symbaloo in my classroom planning and research needs.  I believe the benefits the authors found, outweigh the cons.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Article Review #1: 21st Century Learners

Article Review #1: Essentials for Engaged

21st Century Learners

Jones, V.R.  (October 2012).  21st Century Learners.  Techniques, 16-19. Retrieved  from

Noren, L. (October 2011).  Who is the Millennial Generation?  Retrieved from


Main Points:

In this article, the author addresses the needs of 21st century learners, also known as the Millennial Generation.  The Millennial Generation, or Millennials, are the generation born between 1977-1992 (Noren, 2011), though some data suggests a start date in the 1980's and an end date in the early 2000's.  The author notes that Millennials' brains are actually physically different due to the amount of technology in and around their lives.  This generation commands the use of technology-rich learning opportunities and thrive in it.

Virginia Jones calls to attention our traditional education environment.  She notes that the majority of current teachers are "non-digital natives" or "digital immigrants" (pg.17).  They are aware of the technology and may be capable of implementing it but they do not embrace it in the classroom.  These teachers struggle to reach learners beyond the Millennial Generation.  Jones mentions the importance of needing to integrate the technology-rich world into the everyday education setting.  "It requires outrageous and courageous education- a seismic shift in content delivery," (Jones, pg. 18).

Millennials and the generations that follow spend most of their time adapting technology to better their lives and make them more efficient.  They need to be fully immersed in their learning and take on a lead role.  Collaboration online plays an important part.  Reading has begun to take on a new appearance.  "Digital immigrant" teachers assign reading, especially books.  This new generation finds that resources available online can serve the same purpose.  Multitasking is a vital part in most Millennials everyday.  

Jones points out how adaptable Millennial learners are to their education.  They have little fear of using new technology.  They can apply new tools to their learning environment and, eventually they will apply to their workplace.  


The article concludes by providing suggestions for the reaching the 21st century learners.  Teachers must reshape their lessons utilizing technology and allow these learners to explore and take charge of their education.  These learners need to be engaged in their education and educators must innovate their teaching to better match those needs.  The author suggests e-books instead of textbooks.  Use databases instead of libraries.  Incorporate video and audio to reach those other learners.  Current teachers have a big responsibility to facilitate a new type of learning.

Reflection and Application

When I was looking for article or study to read, I almost passed this article up.  As I skimmed it, I realized this is a major contributor educational technology.  This is why I am taking an educational technology class.  Although I fall into the Millennial Generation and I feel fairly tech-savvy, the learners that I will be teaching from this point on are fully immersed in a world of technology.  I grew up knowing both learning environments.  I don't want to be a "digital immigrant."  I want to be prepared to engage all learners and implement technology tools that better facilitate their learning.  

In terms of lessening the collision of "digital immigrants" and digital learners, staff development must be readily available.  Teachers that are ready and willing need to be supplied with the necessary tools to better support their students.  Districts need to consider moving faster to a 1:1 device system.  Teachers need to be able to provide guidance to fellow staff members.  If we are to be a part of the changing world, teachers need to be innovative and willing to take risks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014