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Using Technology in the Classroom
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Using Technology in the Classroom

A shift is underway in education, not only in classroom content but in presentation. Blackboards, whiteboards and overhead projectors are giving way to such technological wonders as multimedia projectors, SmartBoards and electronic portfolios. The tools encompassed by the word "technology" continue to evolve, often faster than we can learn about new developments and figure out how to incorporate them into our classrooms as a tool and not a disruption.

Schools and districts vary in the amount of budget that can be allocated to new technology, as well as in the level of technological capability within each classroom. In addition to funding, teacher training is also needed. Time is already at a premium in the classroom and incorporating technology into existing lessons, or developing new lessons, adds to the workload.

Are having computers, software and the internet in the classroom worth the time and work? As shown in the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project, incorporating technology can enrich a student's learning experience. Further, it enhances the teacher's role by from moving the emphasis from pedagogy to support as teachers then can coach and work closely with students in their quest for learning.

Teachers, too, can benefit from technology in the classroom by using it for planning purposes, assessment, communication with students, parents and each other, and as a tool for professional development. Teachers can also tap into professional resources and organizations, all of which have informational presence on the web.

Not all technology is costly or needed in the classroom. For example, existing computers connected to the World Wide Web can be used for promoting student achievement and publicizing classroom and school achievement and needs.

The following elements of technology are provided to give teachers a basic understanding of what's available to help them in the classroom, and how it can be used. Teachers are encouraged to investigate topics appropo to their classroom situation or need, or check out other technologies with an eye toward incorporating something new in the future.


Hyper Studio



Interactive Television




Video on Demand (VOD)

Cyber Education

Online Mentoring

Video Production in the Classroom

Cyber Instruction





Virtual Reality

Digital Cameras (video and still cameras)

Online Safety


Distance Learning





World Wide Web

Electronic Portfolios


General Technology Resources and Reports

Blogs - web logs - are now a staple in web. They are onlne journals that can be used to motivate students (kids love blogging) and give them an opportunity to improve communication skills and practice writing. Blogs can be about anything, from personal diaries to class assignments to fiction or poetry.

At Blogger.com students can create blogs free. SchoolBlogs.com not only lets students create a weblog but also maintains that blogs have almost limitless potential to support teaching and enhance learning. Education World features Blogging Basics has blogging details, from best topics for classroom blogs to how to set them up. Web Logg is all about the practical use of blogs in education. The site also features a huge list of Web Log Resources. And for those days when the creative cells need recharging, teachers can check out Blogideas.

CD-ROM and DVD technology represents a big jump from the days when VHS or filmstrips were the only ways to get support materials in the classroom. And the time spent gathering and setting up equipment, and finding the appropriate spot on the tape, sometimes made you think twice about using these linear devices.

Today computers with on-board CD and DVD players provide teachers and students a way to incorporate video technology without the hassle of AV systems. And as time is at a premium in the classroom, this technology allows instant access to data through a menu system on the disk.

Teachers can use CD-ROMs and DVDs to allow students to work alone to learn concepts in a variety of subjects, or test their knowledge in various curricula. Unlike other video formats, students using this technology are active learners. Further, CD-ROMs and DVDs can accommodate students with different learning styles or disabilities, and can also easily include the material in different languages.

A group of Ohio schools will soon be participating in Chalkwaves, a service that provides instructional media, digital content and professional development to classrooms through desktop computers. Content is selected by and for teachers and is correlated to state standards. The content, provided in a hard drive, can be instantly accessed a number of ways, including topic, grade or title - without the time-consuming scanning and storage of videotapes or the need to adhere to a broadcast or cable schedule. Chalkwaves is being developed through a partnership of schools and public broadcasters in Kansas, Illinois and Missouri.

Cyber Education (see Virtual Schools)

Cyber Instruction (see Virtual Schools)

The digital age of broadcasting provides another resource for educators. Datacasting is a transmission mode that allows broadcasters to deliver information such as educational materials to digital television sets and computers. Information such as lesson plans and course-related materials can be "sent" to schools and libraries during off-peak hours and stored for retrieval at the teacher's convenience or need.

Datacasting can also take the form of "Web TV," allowing viewers to seek out additional information on topics of interest as they watch the program.

Digital Cameras
Video Cameras
Many schools in Ohio either have digital video cameras in the building or district, or Educational Technology agencies from which they can borrow this equipment. A school or classroom looking to purchase a digital camera will find that these cameras range from $400 for consumer-type cameras to over $2000 for one of better quality and with more bells and whistles.

Any camera you choose should include the capability to record sound, either through a built-in microphone, or the capability to plug in an external microphone. To research this subject more thoroughly, TechLearning.com has an article written by Bruce Johnson that details what to consider when purchasing or borrowing a camera, along with a glossary of terms and manufacturer links. And the Digital Storytelling web site provides support for teachers looking to bring video into the classroom. And how should you use a digital camera? A short list of ideas can be found at Classroom Applications.

With the advent of a device called "Firewire", teachers and students can take the video from a digital camera directly into a computer. Firewire is built into the newer Mac computers. With Firewire you'll still need some way to "process" or render the video. On computers that are not equipped with a Firewire (IEEE 1394) connection, you can use the USB2 port.

Also see "Video Production in the Classroom."

Still Cameras
Digital cameras come with software and connecting cables that give teachers and students the ability to immediately incorporate the photographs into the curriculum. Students can also import these pictures into software such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and PowerPoint. Most operating systems also come with a simple photo editor or paint program that can crop and add special effects to pictures.

Distance Learning (also see Virtual Schools)
Distance learning or distance education has been defined as "formal education in which a majority of instruction occurs while teacher and learner are separate" (Verduin and Clark, 1991). Delivery methods used in distance education includes independent study, videoconferencing and computer-assisted instruction.

Through distance learning, students in small, rural, or low-wealth school districts have the opportunity to take specialized courses that aren't offered nearby. Further, students who are home schooled can get instruction and learn skills that parents may not be able to teach. Distance Learning (DL) has been offered via broadcast, cable or videotape technology; such specialized education is now offered with an online component, or strictly as an online course. Today the term "distance learning" is used interchangeably with virtual learning or virtual schools.

Electronic Portfolios
While there are several types of electronic portfolios, the purpose of developing them is to provide a collection of student work, on an ongoing basis, that shows effort, progress and achievement. Electronic portfolios are not digital file folders, but a tool that offers reflection by students on their work by demonstrating how and what the student is learning. In developing these portfolios with their teachers, students can see ongoing mastery of a subject and gain a sense of accomplishment.

On the EdWeb site, Yolanda Abrenica has an online article by that provides more information on this student-based assessment tool. The ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology sees Electronic Portfolios as an "exciting educational innovation." On the Scholastic Online web site, a teacher looks at electronic portfolios as a great way to evaluate a student's progress. Portfolios Online shows examples of student portfolios, links to online resources, and articles about Electronic Portfolios.

HyperStudio is an authoring application that has been in the classroom for a number of years. The software is inexpensive, easy to use and can be upgraded as new versions come out. HyperStudio can incorporate video, sound, graphics and hyperlinks to enhance a lesson and communicate ideas through technology.

There are a number of HyperStudio web sites that provide direction, information and ideas for teachers. Linda Acocelli is a graduate student who has developed a HyperStudio Guide. Another tutorial is available online at the Building Learning with Technology site. Teachers who are ready to "bump it up a notch" can find Advanced HyperStudio Tips at Teachers-connect.net. A great Multimedia and HyperStudio link page is provided by Prince Charles Public School.

Interactive Television
Interactive television has been provided for a number of years now through a service called WebTV. "Interactive" inherently implies more than one action. With interactive television, viewers have been able to go on the Internet, through their television set, to get additional content and information.

With the conversion to digital television, this technology could offer new opportunities for educational content, or it could fall behind when datacasting and services like Chalkwaves enter the classroom.

The ITV Dictionary provides more information than you would ever want to know on this technology.

MOO is an acronym for "multiuser object-oriented" environment. Chat rooms are modern-day examples of how a MOO works, but for educational purposes, a MOO will have specific academic purpose and goals, which include student assessment following the MOO.

The first MOO designed for classroom use was Diversity University's Rainbow MOO. For more information on Educational MOO, provides a description, and Educational Technology: Educational VR has a list of sites for teachers who may be interested in using this technology with their students.

Online Mentoring
Individuals with expertise in a wide variety of subjects no longer need to be in the classroom, but are available through "online mentoring", "virtual mentoring", or "telementoring." For example, in the Ohio Reading Road Trip project, students can Write to a Writer to get answers to their questions and first-hand information from authors on the writing experience. Other projects that provide virtual mentors can include meteorologists, astronauts and other scientists whose work takes them far away from the classroom, but whose knowledge and expertise gives students a better understanding and real world applications of school subjects.

Teachers who want to check out online mentoring should visit the Electronic Emissary site, which is a web-based telementoring service and resource center at the University of Texas that helps teachers and students with Internet access locate mentor/experts in various fields. Virtual Volunteering provides examples of online mentoring, information on implementing this type of program, addresses safety issues, and shows how to make e-mail communications effective. And PeakLearn is a web site where teachers can find links to mentors and teaching information that's available around the clock.

PowerPoint is easy to use presentation software developed by Microsoft. It's also a tool to help students move beyond the average report or paper.

Internet4Classrooms has an awesome Microsoft PowerPoint tutorial site, with everything from basic to more detailed slide shows, integration ideas and presentations you can download or use as templates. Another tutorial is available from the Building Learning with Technology site. Education World presents Creating a Class PowerPoint Presentation, which details step-by-step instructions on how plan, prepare and produce a good PowerPoint presentation.

Projectors in the classroom no longer go "tick-tick-tick" as the film rolls on and on. They are quiet, and they are now called "multimedia projectors." These multimedia projectors can be hooked up to computer screens for presentations, web sites or training programs, or for videoconferencing and video playback units. Students no longer have to crowd around a monitor or computer screen; they can remain at their desks and get all the information.

When considering projectors for the classroom, choose one that has long bulb life, a shorter lens to allow you the option of keeping it with you at the front of the classroom, and perhaps including a document camera so you can illustrate either with books or single sheets of information.

Keeping students safe online is of prime concern to educators and parents. Unfortunately the same technology that can bring the world to the classroom and enhance learning is not always capable of keeping inappropriate material from showing up on the computer, so teachers need to monitor students as they go online.

Further, it is important for school personnel to protect student privacy and keep confidential information from being disclosed. School districts have developed policies to protect student privacy not only in monitoring what information is included in web sites and e-mails, but also how students respond to web sites that request personal information from them.

Danger Online! Educating Kids and Parents About Internet Safety offers steps teachers and parents can take to protect students and educate them about potential dangers. The Internet Safety Debate takes a look at arguments for filtering Internet content (keeps students from viewing pornography and undesirable language) and teachers who disagree with use of this software (blocks legitimate sites and sometimes porn sites slip through).

Scanners are relatively inexpensive items that can enhance student creativity with classroom assignments. Now text can be scanned and converted for use in word processing documents. A Few Scanning Tips will get you started in the classroom. A full list of links can be found at desktoppublishing.com.

SMART Board is an interactive whiteboard that has the combined power of a projector, computer and whiteboard. As teachers work, they touch the board to highlight points and add information with an electronic stylus. SMART Board presentations can also be saved as files and used in any other way a file can be used - printed as handouts, e-mailed to students or other teachers, or posted to a web site.

Students can enhance reports and projects using the capabilities of the wordprocessing and spreadsheet applications that are on most computers today. Microsoft Word can be used for desktop publishing. Word supports images files, includes drawing tools and offers text art capabilities. Students can set up tables for information or use the column feature as another presentation tool. With Word - or with just about any word processing application - students can organize and write, including diaries or journals showing their progress in certain areas. Microsoft Excel can be used by students to create graphs and charts to supplement reports.

Simple paint or picture programs can help students crop or size their photos and create special backgrounds or drawings. Check out the Microsoft Word tutorials online at TeacherPD.com

Our visually-oriented society has changed the way teachers teach. In recent years, video was used solely as an adjunct to teaching, offering support for a lesson, or as a means of presenting information.

In today's classroom, video can be used to motivate students to learn as they prepare their own projects (see digital cameras). Such experience sharpens a student's organizational and preparation skills and improves communication skills.

For additional information, see "Digital Cameras," or "Video Production in the Classroom."

Videoconferencing is much the same principle as using a telephone, where you connect two or more people at different locations. In videoconferences, though, participants can see each other - as well as visual aid elements, computer applications and videotape playback - and hear each other.

Ohio is one of many states that provides videoconferencing capabilities to schools. The technology can take several forms, from the more formal videoconferencing room where groups of people can gather for a meeting, to desktop videoconferencing, which connects individuals at their computers.

Planning can boost the benefits of videoconference to students. This technology can allow a number of classrooms to connect with each other, or with an expert thousands of miles away, as with the Jason Project.

To learn more about using videoconferencing for learning, Videoconferencing for Educators offers an introduction to the technology, along with planning information and tips for classroom use. Videoconferencing for Learning is an excellent resource for anything you need to know about the technology of videoconferencing. And The Global Schoolhouse is dedicated to providing opportunities for teachers and students to communicate and collaborate on projects through classroom conferencing.

Video on Demand (see Chalkwaves)
Video on demand has been in the classroom for many schools in Ohio. In southwestern Ohio, teachers in schools that are part of the Time Warner cable system can contact the educational agency and request a video to be fed on one of four cable channels at a certain time and day.

Future video on demand features will allow teachers or students to search a video library and call up the video instantaneously, and let them mark the segments they want to use without losing precious classroom time cueing tapes. The best example of that is Chalkwaves.

Video Production in the Classroom
TV-type production can be a motivating factor in a classroom. It can also improve student storytelling skills, and help students learn about topics not only to produce a video but also as "teachers" showing the video to their classmates. According to Victoria Deaton, president of Digital Storytelling, video production "makes students better communicators." Video production can help students understand real-world application in organization skills and planning.

Another way to use video in the classroom is to illustrate or explain a complex subject.

Many classes will want to edit material they photograph, to remove bad shots or incomplete information, to form a story, or to just make it look interesting. There are a number of software programs available and many of them operate on the same principles as word processing programs: choose what you want and drag it into the place you want it. Avid provides Avid Free DV, which is a limited version of a commercially-used product. Microsoft has software for this included with Windows XP, and Apple's iMovie is included with the Mac OS.

Additional classroom support comes from Apple, with Online Resources for Video Capture & Editing. Teachers can also check out "Videography for Educators," a site that features information on defining the project, planning, and assessing effective videos. The site is provided by Digital Video in Education, which also has a page for students to help them plan and produce a successful project.

Videostreaming takes information or lessons in video form directly to a student's computer via the World Wide Web. To incorporate videostreaming into the classroom, there are minimum requirements: a computer with a minimum of 64 MB of RAM, a sound card and speakers; software including a media player compatible with the streaming source; and an internet connection that is at least 56K. This is the absolute minimum needed to receive streaming video; a more powerful computer, additional RAM, and a broadband internet connection (ISDN or cable) will improve conditions and allow for smoother picture and sound.

Virtual Reality
A computer generated world is almost old hat these days but can still help the learning process.

Virtual Schools
Generally, virtual schools are defined as educational organizations that offer k-12 curriculum to a student's home through the Internet or Web-based methods. For many, this method of education is not seen as a substitute for classroom and teachers, but a tool to enhance the classroom experience.

There are schools online that offer degrees to students who work independently or through synchronous (real time) instruction. Cyber instruction is comfortable for many students today because they are used to getting information this way and learning new technology-based skills.

Like Distance Learning, virtual schools allow students in more remote areas to study curricula not offered in their district. And students who are ill, or students who have dropped out of school, have an opportunity to get the education they need.

Only a few states that have adopted CyberSchools. In Ohio, there are 11 virtual charter schools The Ohio Virtual Academy, an online charter school for grades K-7, opened in the fall of 2002. The Virtual Community School of Ohio is sponsored by the Reynoldsburg City School District.

The Akron Digital Academy,an extension of the Akron Public Schools, started in 2002. That same year, the Cincinnati Public School District revamped its Virtual High School to provide better structure for students who are enrolled.

WebQuests can be found on the web, or teachers can create their own for students. A WebQuest, as defined by the creator, is an inquiry-oriented activity in which the students get information from resources on the internet. This information can also be supplemented with video or audio conferencing.

The WebQuest site has information about WebQuest, and there's a "techtorial" titled "Tips for Creating Your Own WebQuests" that can be found on the Education World web site. WebQuest News is available at. Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators has a page of links for WebQuest information.

Whiteboards (see SMART Board)

World Wide Web
From a resource for information to a wealth of classroom lessons integrating technology, the World Wide Web has captured the imagination of teachers as they explore the ever-increasing number of available sites.

Programs such as WebQuest (above) help students learn by doing web searches for research. Teachers can also guide students in creating a class web site that is both attractive and informative.

Education World's Gee Whiz! Great Site-Building Advice from 'Web Wizards' has tips and information particularly designed for teachers who have not yet created a web presence for their classes. TeacherWeb.com provides space for classroom web site and can help you create one and The Learning Network's MySchoolOnline provides a free 30-day trial for class or school web sites as well as easy web-page-building templates and tools. Finally, Schoolnotes.com gives teachers an opportunity to post notes and assignments on the Internet without the hassle of learning html and other web design skills.

Additional Technology in Education resources:

Center for Technology in Education
Technology in Education Institute

Education World's Technology Integration provides a huge list of sites designed to help teachers at all levels of technology in the classroom.

Education World's Archives gives teachers access to a huge database of articles that address issues such as turning a one-computer classroom into a positive teaching and learning experience, 19 easy (and painless) activities to integrate technology into your daily routine, how to teach the skill of Internet searching, and how to publish student writing on the web.

New Century School Houserevolutionizes the "desks-in-a-row, teacher-at-the-podium' style of teaching and learning, and prepares it for the 21st century. This site describes itself as "an open canvas for cutting edge ideas" in order to prepare students for a future that could be real-life science fiction.

The Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project, Project-Based Learning with Multimedia has curriculum and activities, classroom examples and a listserv where teachers can interact about multimedia-based education.

© 2004 ThinkTV Network - Greater Dayton Public Television