Applying Technology to a Problem of Practice in Education
A. Name of reviewer:
B. The technological & educational innovation title and address
C. Description of the innovation
II. Problem of Practice
A. Need s
A. Role of teacher
B. Role of learners
C. Subject matter
D. Physical setting
IV. Technology-Integrated Solution
A. Brief Summary
C. Logistics of solution
a. Developmental resources
b. Implementation resources
V. Benefits of this Solution
A. Claimed benefits
1. Do you believe them?
A. Lesson learned from the project
B. Implementing variation of project
1. If no
2. If yes
a. How you vary project to own setting?
(Done using Inspiration software)
A. Reviewer: Souheir Abu-Zahr
B. The technological and educational innovation: Inspiration and Kidspiration version 8
“Innovation and kidspiration” is an instructional software product which provides the educators with a three products which are “inspiration”, “inspiredata”, and “kidspiration”. This software helps the students in visual thinking and learning through concept maps (tree form, web form, and split tree form), webs (literary web, character web, comparison web, and pre-writing), idea maps, and plots (Venn plots, bar charts, stack plots, pie plots, axis plots, and animated time series) in order to inspire the students to develop and organize their ideas, to understand concrete and complex concepts, and to make connections between ideas.
II. The Problem of Practice: A Need or an Opportunity
The educational need that “Innovation software” seeks to address is teaching the students visual learning techniques in order to increase the students’ short-term and long-term benefits such as to facilitate learning and comprehension, improve writing skills, and increase the probability of retention and recalling whether the students are high or low achievers. These techniques help the students to:
A. Capture ideas quickly and easily online which helps in classifying ideas and brainstorming.
B. Organize information in order to collaborate, share, and communicate more effectively with others.
C. Diagram processes for clear understanding of the subject under study, and visualize ideas and relationship between them.
D. Create clear, concise written documents which help structure written projects, and research in a successful way.
All of the above open the opportunities for the students to:
A. Think actively as they learn; develop a deeper and stronger meaning of what they are learning; and build bridges between what they already know and what is new and connect it to real-life situation.
B. Master critical thinking skills such as determining cause and effect, making comparison, decoding ideas, generating questions, evaluating information, and testing one’s knowledge.
C. Learn how to prioritize decision making.
D. Help in problem solving.
III. The Setting
A. Role of Teacher
The teachers should be knowledgeable in technology and use the project as a professional after several training sessions on the use of the program to its fullest potential. The teacher’s roles during the project are:
1. A facilitator or a guide who:
· Organizes the lessons with the integrated project.
· Helps students to explore the topic under study using the different view environments, and to enrich the instructional design with symbols, hyperlink, and videos to increase students’ motivation to learn.
· Discuss the content actively based on a structured outline, and encourage the students to structure their work.
· Provides help until the students are ready to use the project effectively.
· Takes the responsibility for operating the technological equipments.
2. A researcher who collects data on the students’ performance with the integrated technology through the use of e-survey that is provided by the inspiredata and join action research conducted in their school.
3. A professional teacher, who seeks for life-long development, could join the annual conferences held by the National Educational Computing Conferences (NECC) and meet the inspiration team. Also the teacher could subscribe to the professional development Bulletin to receive news, up-to-date products, workshop materials, special offers from inspiration Inc.
B. Role of Learners
During the project, the learners are taking an active role in constructing their knowledge (I have elaborated in the problem of practice section).
C. Subject Matter
Innovation software could be used in any subject area at the K-12 school level. The program provides examples in the major curriculum areas such as language arts, science, social studies, math, and technology. Each inspiration product is dedicated for specific grade level such as “inspiration” is for 6 -12 graders, “inspiredata” is for 4 -12 graders, “kidspiration” is for 5th graders.
D. Physical Setting
Innovation software could be used in labs in order to be used by all the students and teachers. Also it could be used in the classes if they are equipped with the proper equipments such as LCD projector, laptop for the teacher, and desktop computers or laptops for the students. Also the inspiration related technology could be used in the classroom to facilitate the integration of the inspiration software to the school curriculum.
IV. Technology-Integrated Solution
A. Brief Summary
Inspiration software provides the students with the visual learning techniques to support their learning. The graphic organizers act as a kind of mental scaffolding for what is being taught, identify how the new information is ordered, interrelated, and how it is also related to previous knowledge. This makes the new material appears more familiar and meaningful to students, and easier to recall. It also helps the teachers to plan, organize, and present their subjects in structured and related forms by using diagrams, outlines, and templates which save the teachers’ time in explaining concrete and complex concepts; and makes it easier for the students to absorb.
In addition, innovation software incorporates: a) hyperlink to gather research easily and streamline projects; b) multimedia environment such as Quick Time movies, MP3 files; c) auto spell checker to improve spelling skills and quickly correct students’ written errors; d) word guide with innovative dictionary and treasures which help the students to write with clarity and build vocabulary; e) learn to use section for immediate help; f) interactive demonstration, videos, help center, ideas, examples, and lesson plans in the major curriculum areas, in language arts, science, social studies, and math; and g) quick tour for each product.
I have confidence in the Inspiration and Kidspiration software because it is based on a group of research on the educational theory and cognitive psychology which proved the importance of graphic organizers on learning. Furthermore, the inspiration software is based on the 12 principles by Brophy.
Through the use of this software, the teachers are displaying concern and caring about the students understanding, comprehension, and retention level which creates a friendly and supportive classroom climate. The teachers encourage students to socialize with others through the expression of their thoughts using visual techniques which reflects the students’ patterns of thinking and encourage communication and participation. On the other hand, the inspiration software cares about the parents’ opinions and tries to convince them about the usefulness of the program by providing the numerous awards that the inspiration software Inc. received from teachers’ education magazine and computer learning labs during the past 10 years. In addition the program presents more than 30 research references on the usefulness of graphic organizers as authentic evidence.
Through the use of graphic organizers, the teachers could be more prepared for their materials, and could start quickly the lesson by presenting the main idea, the subtopics and the linking between them even to prerequisites. The quick changes from diagrams to outline view to the smooth transition to word processor facilitate the link between visual and written modes of expressions which provide the students with reminders and cues for better retention and recalling. This motivates students to be on task during the lesson; and provide an opportunity for them to learn.
Curricular alignment, establishing learning orientation, coherent content, and thoughtful discourse could also be achieved through the use of graphic organizers. The teacher could cover the desired topic in great depth; ask important questions in sequence form; link it to prior knowledge and pre-tests; present the links between the important contents in as structured form; and explain the important idea. Also the teacher could provide time for discussing each idea without losing the sequence of the topic; and assess with authentic learning activities.
In addition, the practice and the application activities and co-operative learning are also attainable using the graphic organizers. Presenting the required topic in a structured form helps the teacher to assign activities and assignments on each related idea. The teacher could assign each subtopic to a group of students to search about it; and to present their work in class to receive immediate feedback. Through the graphic organizers, the students’ global work could be linked together to present the whole related information of the topic which helps in the achievement of co-operative learning.
Furthermore, scaffolding students’ task engagement is another principle that could be achieved by using the inspiration software. During the class activities and co-operative learning, the teacher could monitor the students’ work and provide help, explanation, modeling, and coaching until the students are capable to work by themselves then scaffolding will be faded. Therefore, modeling, and providing explicit instructions and feedback to students within their Zones of proximal development make the teaching strategy most effective; and help the students to reflect on their work which is another achievement of Brophy’s principles. In addition, graphic organizers act as a kind of mental scaffolding for what is being taught (elaborated in the brief summary).
Before the last, the goal-oriented assessment is another principal that the inspiration software is based on. The visual learning methodologies and graphic organizers provide the teachers with the tool to fulfill a well-developed curriculum with effective assessment such as monitoring students’ progress with observational checklists, electronic portfolio which includes homework, self-reflection, essays, and projects. Definitely, conducting an effective assessment doesn’t mean setting unbearable standards. Therefore, the standards that are set by the inspiration program are realistic and attainable despite that they are highly positive which lead us to the last principle that the program is based on, the achievement expectations. The program expects successful work from every user and provides a “help to learn” section and help center in order to assure the effective use of the program.
C. Logistics of solution
1. Scope of the application:
The inspiration software could be used in school or university settings whether in class or labs or media centers. It could be used in all the curriculum areas. Each inspiration product has its own target: “inspiration” is for 6 -12 graders, “inspiredata” is for 4 -12 graders, “kidspiration” is for 5th graders. In my opinion inspiration and inspiredata could be used by the university students in all the subjects’ areas.
2. Sequence of the application:
The inspiration software could be used on daily basis from the beginning till the end of each session. The students could use it from the beginning till the end of the school year.
3. Resources needed:
a. The resources needed for the development of the project are:
1) Human resources:
· The technology expert teachers and the professional teachers of the school or university should preview the materials during the selection process in order to determine the appropriateness of the project to their students, and to the curriculum objectives. This could be achieved through the real understanding of the program contents, and the use of the materials to their fullest potential.
· Maintenance staff should be available in order to repair troubleshooting of computers and maintenance of equipments.
· Special mentors should be available to train the teachers on the proper use of the project; and to assure that the program is used to its fullest potential. The training could be provided by the inspiration inc. on request and the teachers could contact the inspiration training resources at any time.
· Follow up procedures are needed to assure that teachers are using the project efficiently and effectively; and it has affected positively students’ performance.
2) Physical resources:
· Equipments such as LCD and overhead projectors, teacher’s laptop, desktop computers or laptops for students, printer paper and devices.
· Physical facilities should be arranged for proper use by the students such as comfortable seating, adequate ventilation, climate control, suitable lighting, wireless connectivity, enough power facilities, white board or roller screen, and suitable curtains or blinds.
· Security equipments should be arranged to decrease loss equipments from vandalism and theft such as alarm systems, security cabinets, and lockdown systems.
· Some additional software should be installed before using the project such as:
§ Safety protection software such as “filtering and firewall software” to prevent access to inconvenient specific websites addresses.
§ Viruses’ protection software is needed to prevent the attack of internet viruses to the school’s software.
§ Copying software such as “Turnitin” is needed to prevent students from plagiarism.
· Some policies are also needed before using the project such as:
§ Acceptable use policy (AUP) is needed to be signed by the students and their parents to agree on the use of the internet and the school’s websites; and to abide by the safe behavior on the internet.
§ Equity policy is needed to ensure the equity usage of the software between the students’ levels and the different curriculum areas.
b. The resources needed for the implementation of the project are:
1) The inspiration software package with its lesson plan books, the text book connections, and the related technologies that are provided by the inspiration software.
2) Prepare the learners by providing:
· An introduction giving a broad overview of the content of the project.
· A rational telling the students how this project relates to their materials; and how they will benefit if they use it during the learning process.
· Access to computers in class on daily basis for all the students.
V. Benefits of this Solution
The claimed benefits of the inspiration software are the following: First, the inspiration software is the leader in the visual thinking and learning which supports multiple learning styles with three environments: diagrams, outlines, and mind maps. These environments help the students think, brainstorm, organize, analyze, write, and work individually or cooperatively in order to improve their academic productivity and professional performance. Seconds, it helps the students develop thinking skills, plan, organize, communicate clearly, analyze, and recall.
In order to assess their claims, I have installed the 30-days free trial on my PC in order to try it. I have created many concept maps and turn it to outline and mind map view. One of them is on the EDU805 main project; and another is on the Math lesson of quadrilaterals which I am going to present in the EDU805 class. Another is on the water cycle which I will present in the social study class with a brief description of the inspiration software and its benefits on learners. I have found the inspiration software friendly and easy to use, and the whole related information was presented in a clear and structured form.
On the other hand, I believe their claims because they focus on instructional design which helps the teachers organize and structure their materials in order to help the students organize their understanding, make better sense of what they are learning, and retain what they have learned. In addition, innovation software provides a sample gallery that presents how others are using the Webspiration such as the business use samples, the college use samples, and the personal use samples. Furthermore, they present more than 30 research references in both educational theory and cognitive psychology to provide genuine evidences on the importance of visual thinking and learning, and the role of graphic organizers. Moreover, they presented the numerous awards during the past 10 years. Finally, they presented many successful stories about the students and teachers who used inspiration software in their classrooms.
A. Lessons learned from this project regarding technological innovations in education are:
1. Choosing the right technology and providing the adequate resources could make a positive impact on the teachers, parents, and students especially the low achievers.
2. Inspiration Software could be used under the behaviorist and constructivist approach.
3. Flexible learning environment could be achieved.
4. The use of laptops and desktop computers by the students increase the use of innovation technology in education.
5. Support the people with disabilities (at-risk students and learning disabilities students).
6. Opening the opportunity for distance learning.
B. Implementing variation of project to fit own setting
We need to make some variation in the Inspiration and Kidspiration software in order to fit our own setting such as to choose the language (English), the computer program (Window, or Macintosh) and the correspondent version to our computer system ( Win98, Win 2K, Win XP), and to choose the product that fit our students’ age from the inspiration software “inspiration”, “inspiredata”, and “kidspiration.
The outline converted into diagram view, “Tree format” (using inspiration software)