Monthly Archives: April 2013

PLN Activity 8

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http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/online-courses-could-widen-achievement-gaps-among-students/42521

Jake New proposes an interesting point of view on online courses in this article. He explains that online courses could be actually widening the achievement gap of today’s students. Jake says that although studies have shown that online courses can be of great benefit to older students who are living at home and can’t attend a physical school, there are other studies that have been done that suggest online courses decrease a student’s likelihood of getting a degree.

I found this piece of information rather insightful and began to wonder why this may be the case. I came up with a few possible reasons:

  1. Students taking these online classes already lack the motivation and drive to attend a classes in a physical setting.
  2. There isn’t as much of a feeling of community when you’re online because the face-to-face interaction isn’t there; whereas at a university, you attend classes and see familiar faces around classes, which may prompt you to enjoy the college experience/education moreso.
  3. Student’s who are enrolling for these classes may just be looking for an “easy way out” of attending school by taking online courses, but end up learning that they have the same (if not harder) level of difficulty as any other class.

Regardless of the reasoning behind this data, it prompted me to wonder what education will look like in 10, 15, or even 20 years. Online courses are a rather new idea, as they’ve only been around for the past decade or so. Will they become more popular in years to come? Or will people lose interest and start to prefer attending physical classes instead?

What do you think?

PLN Activity 7

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Return to ECMP

The blog I’d like to review today was created by a man named Dean Shareski. While browsing through his site, I found a variety of insightful information whether it was videos he’d created or presentations he’s given. Dean writes about the world of modern education and shares some of his thoughts on technology in the classroom.

One blog post that I found particularly valuable and relevant to our SPED 312 class revolves around Dean’s thought that “if we really want to assess school we need to include evaluation and assessments that happen years after a course.” In his blog post, he did just that. Reaching out to students he had years back in the first classroom to ever use pod casts, he asked his students to reflect on how his class may have influenced them (if at all) later on in life.

To touch base with them, he decided to meet via a video chatting program. The students he talked with were asked whether the things they’d learned from his class made a difference in their lives. Majority of the students said that the course he taught did impact their teaching careers and they find themselves using what he’s taught every day.

I thought what Dean had to share about his assessment philosophies was rather insightful. His perspective that you can’t truly tell how much a student learned from your class unless you test them years in advance is something that resonated within my own beliefs. I think they should implement more long-term testing in education to see whether students are actually retaining the information they learn.

He also encourages his students to blog, and even refers to himself as a life-long subscriber to their blog posts. I found this ironic considering the class that I’m blogging for is my Technology in Education course. It makes me wonder whether I will continue to keep up with my colleague’s blogs in the future (I hope I do!) This also really made me realize how powerful a tool blogging is because you’re sharing your ideas with the entire world! (how neat is that)

Mini Challenge 6

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In this blog post, I will provide a comprehensive review of 5 assessments that I got the opportunity to examine in my SPED 312 class.

Turning point anywhere software

The first assessment I reviewed was the Turning Point Anywhere Software. This software is an interface for polling in PowerPoint, polling in any application and self-paced polling. I got the chance to actually create a poll using it, and found it very easy to learn how to do as well as administer the poll. Another benefit of this software is that it’s totally up to you what kind of questions you want to include in the poll. For more information on how to use Turning Point, here’s a YouTube video to help you out:

Discovery Education Assessment

The Discovery Education Assessment was intended to provide a detailed review of scores via charts and other tools. This assessment was created to test how well students learn from Discovery Education. Discovery Education prides themselves on providing “award- winning digital content, interactive lessons, real time assessment, virtual experiences with some of Discovery’s greatest talent, classroom contest & challenges, professional development and more.” They have a variety of content areas that are filled with tools and multimedia items. I found this assessment to be very innovative and modern.

Individual student report

The individual student report was a great tool because you could see the breakdowns of each section. It gave a detailed report of which categories and subcategories the student excelled or struggled in. The only disadvantage to this is that you can’t extract any of the thought processes that were involved in achieving the score. The student could have made a blind guess and gotten the question correct, or conversely could have had all the thought process to get the question right, but made one simple mistake.

Excel/data analysis

The excel/data analysis assessment was valuable because it gave a visual representation of the collected data. The administrator types scores into a blank document and then there’s an option to “graph” these points. From there, you can clearly see whether there is a strong linear correlation by selecting “fit” in order to get a line of best fit.

Dibels

The last assessment I reviewed was Dibels. The purpose of the Dibels assessment is to test a student’s literacy abilities. With this information, teachers can tailor their literacy instruction to the needs of the student. By reviewing the assessment, I had to listen to a recording of a student reading, and then pay attention to how many words they got correct. From this information, I could make judgments on how easy or difficult the text was, and teachers could use that to modify and adjust lesson plans.

Why is assessment is an essential tool to the special education teacher?

I believe that assessment in the classroom is critical because teachers need to have an awareness of the variety of levels present among students. Without this information, they wouldn’t know whether the lesson plans or instructional methods they’re utilizing are effective. Because there is such a wide variety of needs in a special education classroom, knowing the specific levels and needs of the students is crucial in order to provide the best kind of education for them.