Tech Expert Module

Brief description:
I understand that not everything we cover in class will peak your interest. In fact, I hope that you view the concepts, topics, and tools with a healthy dose of skepticism. You should constantly be asking yourself if a given tool or resource would add value to your teaching in the context of your content area and grade level and your particular pedagogical approach. With this in mind, I do not require that you produce some type of artifact for each of the major topics we will cover in the course. Rather, I ask you to select two of the focal areas to develop artifacts, one for the "Tech Expert Module" and one for a lesson plan that you might use next semester in your student teaching.

The first artifact will be a Tech Expert Module. Sometimes as teachers we run across a particular technology tool or resource that really captures our interest. While this is not necessarily the ideal starting place, sometimes this may be a starting point for integrating technology into the teaching and learning process. We must not be too quick, however, to try to force a fit of the technology into our teaching. This project will challenge you to critically analyze the affordances and constraints of a particular technology tool or resource and consider its application in the classroom. Your "deliverable" will be a tech expert module that will be made publicly available through the Connexions Web site - both for your classmates and the larger ed tech community world-wide.

You may work alone or with a partner on this project. To develop your module you should proceed through the following suggested sequence of steps:
  1. Identify a particular technology tool or resource that seems particularly promising for your teaching. To ensure that we don't have any duplicate modules for this class, please post your idea here prior to beginning any substantive work. If a classmate has already posted your idea, you may choose to work together, develop a slightly different approach to the topic, or choose another topic of focus.
  2. Once you've selected a tool or resource, take time to explore your topic in depth (to the point where you'd feel comfortable answering substantive questions on the topic from a colleague). In this exploration, you should create some type of help sheet (preferably including screen shots) that would help a new user to become familiar with the essential steps and functions of the tool/resource. View this module as an example of appropriate depth/detail. From Karen: Rather than having them create a help sheet, I was thinking about having them collect links to resources that would help others learn how to use the tool. I was guessing that most of these tools will already have help files available.
  3. Now that you've become an expert on the operational aspects of the tool/resource, you will now need to explore classroom-based examples of how teachers have implemented the tool or resource. Ideally, these examples will be from your grade level and content area, although this is not necessary. After you have explored many examples, select four of the best examples and create a brief description of each implementation with a link to the write-up of the lesson project you found online.
  4. After exploring the tool or resource in depth and examining classroom examples, please develop an annotated list of the affordances and constraints of the tool or resource. In other words, what value might it add to the classroom and what might teachers need to be wary of in incorporating the tool or resource into their teaching.
  5. Finally create a short list of tips that teachers might consider in implementing the tool or resource into their teaching. Try to keep this as concise as possible while still being useful for the teacher.
Please post a link to your module on the class Tech Expert Module page.

From Karen: Thanks, Mark, for doing my work for me! This is almost exactly what I had in mind with the exception of my note for #2. I was thinking there might be youtube/teachertube videos they could use as well.

From Pattie: Teaching this class for the first time, I am wrapping my brain around all of this slowly...but surely. I like this project. I understand what Karen is noting about the help sheet; however, I find that often times I need to create my own help/tip sheets to focus the information on that which I want to emphasize. Also...when you have to create the help sheet, you really need to understand the tool. So I will probably go in that direction. The links are a great idea, and work nicely with my plan to use Portaportal as well with my class. Karen...that is a great idea about youtube/teachertube videos! Do the students have access to Atomic Learning? AND...I know you probably already told me this...but what about Camtasia? For the record...I will take any and ALL advice!!

GOOD COMMENTS! I'm not sure where I come down on this. I agree with Pattie that creating your own helpsheets is an important tool and really forces you to learn the tool. On the other hand, this could be the most time-consuming portion of the assignment, which isn't my intent. I'm going to have to think this through...

As for Atomic Learning and Camtasia, unfortunately the answer to both is no. :(

From Karen again: I think it goes to your definition of "expert." I'm thinking about them being the curriculum expert rather than the tool expert. I do agree that having them create help sheets would really force them to learn the tool but I'm wondering if that is something an elementary teacher does a lot of? It would be a great chance for them to use one of the free screencasting tools: For now, I'm not doing this until late November so I can wait for details. It is only worth 10 points in my course so I'm hesitant to make it too time consuming and I agree with Mark that the job aides would be the most time consuming for the students. I think I'll wait to see how they respond to some of the other stuff I'm doing.

From Pattie again: Wow...this really helps me think this information through. Thanks for setting this up, Mark. I am certain that I will be revising as I go this semester. I want the students to experience as much as possible, but I don't want to overload them. I don't think teachers create a lot of tip sheets at any level. So that is an important point. Karen, you always find the coolest tools.