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Digital Age I
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Course Outline, Week by Week

Week #

Brief summary of topics to be covered.

Week 1

Quiz Question for Week 1

We begin most class meetings with a short quiz over the reading assignment for the week. The first week's quiz is not based on such a reading assignment. Here are two possible quiz questions. Likely, half of the class will be given the first question, and half the second. Full marks will be given for any reasonable attempt to answer the question.

1. Almost everybody thinks they know how to improve our PK-12 education system. Name and briefly discuss your thoughts on a way to significantly improve our education system. Select a way to improve education that does not directly depend on Information and Communication Technology. This can be something you have seen in practicum experiences, something you have learned in your undergraduate coursework, something you have experienced in life, etc. Give your suggestion and explain why it will improve education.

2. Name something about ICT in Education that you don't already know and that you hope to learn this term. Explain why you feel this topic is important to you.

Some Topics for Week 1 Class Meeting

Improving education through appropriate use of ICT is a unifying theme in the course. After students complete the quiz, we have students introduce themselves and share their quiz responses.

Introduction to the course, especially drawing on the first page of the Course Syllabus Website: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/DigitalAge1/index.htm.Overview of requirements and expectations.

Presentation of and brief discussion of the Big Ideas given in Chapter 0 of Moursund's book: Introduction to Information and Communication Technology in Education. The book was written specifically to meet the needs of student in the DAE 1 course.

Introduction to the Oregon Technology in Education Council (OTEC), NCCE, and ISTE.

Brief introduction to term-long "Roles of ICT in improving education" project and the "Hit the Road Running" project."

Week 2

Some Topics for Week 2 Class Meeting

There is a huge and steadily growing collection of information and knowledge that we call the Craft and Science of Teaching and Learning. One of the largest challenges facing our educational system is that of identifying the more effective components from the Craft and Science of Teaching and Learning in effectively implementing these into our educational system.

Whole class activity: Name some information or knowledge from the Craft and Science of Teaching and Learning that has made a significant contribution to improving education in the past 20 years. Note that there is an excellent book available for free reading on the Web, that is full of answers and possible answers to this question. See:

Bransford, J.D.; A. L. Brown; & R.R. Cocking: editors (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Accessed 8/7/04 http://books.nap.edu/catalog/9853.html.

Five really important topics to be discussed in this class meeting are the following:

  • Constructivism
  • Situated learning
  • Motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic)
  • Transfer of learning (near and far transfer; low-road and high-road transfer)
  • Bloom's taxonomy and the general idea of lower-order/higher-order knowledge and skills. We will include a focus on the idea that it is not necessary to master a full range of lower-order knowledge and skill in an area before moving ahead to tackle problems and tasks requiring higher-order knowledge and skills, and that computers are a "big deal" in this idea.

Week 3

Some Topics for Week 3 Class Meeting

One of the topics for today is the idea of a discipline and that some disciplines play major roles in other disciplines. Each discipline can be defined by its unique combination of:

  • The types of problems, tasks, and activities it addresses.
  • Its accumulated accomplishments such as results, achievements, products, performances, scope, power, uses, and so on.
  • Its history, culture, language (including notation and special vocabulary), and methods of teaching and learning.
  • Its tools, methodologies, and types of evidence and arguments used in solving problems, accomplishing tasks, etc.

We will come back to this list from time to time. You are familiar with the idea of reading in the content areas. Thus, you understand that reading is a generic tool that cuts across all academic disciplines, but that it takes discipline-specific knowledge and skills to be a fluent reader within a particular academic discipline.

The same idea holds for problem solving. It takes both generic (multidisciplinary) knowledge and skills, and discipline-specific knowledge and skills, to be good at problem solving within a specific disciplines.

And, the same ideas hold for ICT. We can talk about generic ICT tools and information, and discipline-specific ICT tools and information.

An elementary school teacher teaches a number of different disciplines. It is important for the teacher to understand the similarities and differences among these disciplines. Since one of the teaching/learning goals for each student to gain an increased level of expertise in each discipline studied, it is important for the teacher to understand what constitutes expertise and increasing expertise in each discipline.

Because ICT is now part of the content of each discipline and provides both generic and discipline-specific tools in each discipline, this means that every teacher now needs to know quite a bit about computers. (We will explore this and other arguments for requiring that all teachers meet some sort of ICT in Education standards, such as the ISTE NETS for Teachers.)

As an inclass activity we will explore various disciplines to increase our general understanding of what constitutes increasing expertise within each discipline and roles of ICT in this. Of course, we will talk about Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Science. But, in some of these we will delve more deeply.

For example, think about what constitutes a good education in history. That is, what constitutes increasing expertise in history? An answer lies in a combination of History Content Knowledge and History Maturity. Three examples of the latter are:

  • causality reasoning
  • generation and testing of history-related hypotheses
  • reading and information retrieval in history, including knowing how to find and make use of (often conflicting) primary and secondary resources.

Now, consider the discipline of ICT. What constitutes increasing expertise in ICT? Think about this from the point of view of ICT Content and ICT Maturity.

As an in class activity, we will do some self-assessment relative to the ISTE NETS for Students. Where do you currently rate within these standards? Keep in mind that the ISTE NETS for Teachers call for teachers to meet the 12th grade NETS for Students and to know a whole lot about ICT in curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional practices.

Most students currently entering college do not yet meet the 8th grade ISTE NETS for students. Although computers are being increasingly used in PreK-12 education, most of the use is at a relatively low level, what I call "first order." Most of the applications are not being used in a powerful enough manner to make a significant change in education or to significantly improve our educational system.

As time permits we will also discuss the idea of where goals for education come from. With a steadily increasing totality of human knowledge, it is easy to suggest new and deeper goals for education. But, the curriculum is overloaded already.

Week 4

Some Topics for Week 4 Class Meeting

ICT as Curriculum Content. ICT is a broad and deep discipline in its own right. This discipline of study is often called Computer and Information Science. In addition, ICT has become an important component of each other discipline of study. For example, one of the winners of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded this prize for his previous 15 years of work in Computational Chemistry. By the early 1980s “Computational” had begun to be an important part of the content area in many different disciplines, including all of the core curriculum areas: language arts, math, science, and social science.

As we have noted earlier, each academic discipline can be defined by the types of problems it addresses, the tools and methodologies that it uses, the results that it has achieved, and so on. Within each discipline, ICT opens up new problems that can be addressed, brings powerful new tools and methodologies, and is contributing significantly to the results that have been achieved. The amount or level of the ICT contribution varies significantly from discipline to discipline. Thus, ICT is a "really big deal" in mathematics and all of the sciences, in economics and cognitive psychology, and in most of the professionals such as Architecture, Business, Education, Engineering, Graphic Arts, Journalism Medicine, Music, and so on.

In Weeks 1 and 2 and subsequently we have briefly discussed the Craft and Science of Teaching and Learning. Current and past research in Brain Science is contributing to this field. ICT is a powerful aid to doing empirical studies of brain functions, and it is a powerful aid to developing models of the brain and its functioning.

Week 5

Some Topics for Week 5 Class Meeting

Generic Computer Tools. The term "generic tool" is used in this document to represent ICT tools useful in many different disciplines and that might be taught to most or all students. Typical candidates for this designation include:

  • Word processor.
  • Database.
  • Spreadsheet.
  • Graphics (both Paint and Draw).
  • Graphing (of data and functions), using both computers and graphing calculators.
  • Desktop publication systems.
  • Desktop presentation systems.
  • Multimedia and hypermedia authoring and use systems.
  • Connectivity, including email, the Web, and groupware.
  • Calculators (the full range, from low-end 4-function calculators to high-end calculators that can solve equations, graph functions, and may be programmable).

Each of these generic applications has been found to be "Compelling" by large numbers of people. A combination of intrinsic motivation on the part of the user and extrinsic motivation from the user's employers has led to large and continuing sales and use of each. But, we get a different story when we look into our educational system. During this class meeting we will explore some of the uses, and lack there of, for these generic applications in our PreK-12 education.

Another key idea to explore comes from looking at the four core content areas: language arts, math, science, and social science. In many of these areas, education tends to be "delayed gratification." But, this is not always the case. Progress in reading soon leads to the ability to read for pleasure. There are a huge range of books available that even beginning readers can enjoy reading.

And, even a little progress in writing can bring some pleasure such as being able to write one's name.

Now, contrast this with other disciplines. And, then think about the same idea with respect to the generic pieces of software. Can we create situated learning environments in which a modest amount of learning of a generic tool leads to a situation in which the student gains pleasure in using the tool, which in turn leads to more learning of the tool?

For quite young children, we might achieve this with Kid Pix. (Is it a generic tool? Sure, the graphics can be used across several disciplines.). For somewhat older elementary school students we might achieve this with a simple music synthesizer and accompanying software. This probably falls into a domain specific category, rather than generic.

Still another aspect of this is the idea that increasing expertise in a game or edutainment tends to be a goal in its own right. Contrast this with increasing expertise in a generic tool, where much of the increasing expertise is measured in terms of being able to solve problems and accomplish tasks that, in essence, lie outside the narrow domain of the software. Hmmm. This idea needs to be explored. One can gain increased expertise specifically within the tool, but it takes much broader knowledge and skills to gain increased expertise in problem solving using the tool, plus other tools, etc. This vaguely relates to the idea of child prodigies occurring mainly in relatively limited domains that have relatively restricted categories of problems, such as in chess.

Week 6

Some Topics for Week 6 Class Meeting

ICT as an Aid to Teaching and Learning. A simple-minded description of a school is that it is a place where “teachers teach and students learn.” ICT provides a variety of aids to teaching and to student learning. This week of the course explores some of these aids, including Highly Interactive Intelligent Computer-Assisted Learning (HIICAL), just in time instruction, and Distance Education. We are living at a time when there is an emerging trend to having a variety of HIICAL that is more effective than tradition classroom instruction.

The mission of the North American Council for Online Learning is to increase educational opportunities and enhance learning by providing collegial expertise and leadership in K-12 online teaching and learning. Accessed 12/22/03:

http://www.ecs.org/html/offsite.asp?document=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Enacol%2Eorg

To try out some CAL, go to:

http://www.plimoth.org/olc/index_js2.html

Week 7

Some Topics for Week 7 Class Meeting

ICT and Assessment. Adaptive Testing. ICT is now a widely used aid to student assessment. One use is Adaptive Testing, in which the questions presented to a student are immediately scored and the results are used in determining the next question to be presented to the student.. In addition, the introduction of ICT into school curricula has brought with it the need to assess student learning of ICT. Finally, self assessment is of growing importance in education, and ICT can play a significant role in it.

Week 8

Some Topics for Week 8 Class Meeting

ICT in Special and Gifted Education. Many children have two or more exceptionalities, and may well be both TAG and Special Education. Very roughly speaking, approximately 8-percent of students fit standard definition of TAG and approximately 8-10 percent fit standard definition of special education. However, more broadly used definitions of special education may lead to 20% or more of students receiving this classification.

ICT has helped to provide a wide variety of tools and opportunities for both special education and gifted education students. This week provides an introduction to some of these tools, opportunities, and ICT-related challenges for special education and gifted education students..

Week 9

Some Topics for Week 9 Class Meeting

Thursday November 25 is Thanksgiving holiday. No class meeting this week.

Week 10

Some Topics for Week 10 Class Meeting

In-class presentations on "Hit the Road Running" term project assignment. We will have about half of these presentations on Tuesday (4:00 to 5:50) of week 10, and the other half on Thursday of week 10. We will also do the Course Evaluation on Thursday of week 10.

Week 11

Exit Interviews

This is the scheduled Final Exam week, December 6-10. The scheduled Final Exam time is 1:00 Wednesday December 8. We will not be having a final exam. However, there will be an individual 25 minute "Exit Interview" scheduled for each student. Time slots will be available on Friday December 3, Monday December 6, Tuesday December 7, and Wednesday December 8. This will be a 15-point graded activity.

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