Technology in Education

Programming as an Entry-Level Requirement

As technology in school systems grow there is an increasing need for teachers to be proficient in computer software beyond Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. With more courses moving to online formats, teachers are finding a need to become familiar with online Learning Management Systems (LMS), interactive games, and web design. With the new rise of these technologies it is becoming easier to create online classes through various software. However with all of these things coming forth in education it leads to the question: Is programming becoming a core skill for teachers?

With this week’s resources reflect on the following questions:

  • Will programming become a necessary skill for teachers in the near future?
  • What additional skills (i.e game design, web design etc) may be necessary for teachers in the near future?
  • Will educational programs for teachers change to accommodate the need for online learning techniques?

Explain your reasoning for your answers using this week’s resources (linked below) and additional resources found on the web. For additional guidance please reference the grading rubric linked below.

In order to facilitate better discussion please submit your initial post by Friday and your responses to classmates by Sunday.

Resources

Heggert, K. (2014) Coded for Success: The benefits of learning to program Accessed December 8, 2015 http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/coded-success-benefits-learning-program

Orsini, L. (2013) Why programming is the Core Skill of the 21st Century Accessed December 8, 2015 http://readwrite.com/2013/05/31/programming-core-skill-21st-century

Serdyukov, P. (2015). Does Online Education Need a Special Pedagogy?. Journal Of Computing & Information Technology, 23(1), 61-74. doi:10.2498/cit.1002511

Solomon, G. (2015). FROM CODING TO CODING: Programming to Software to Web Tools to Apps to Programming in Classrooms. Tech & Learning, 36(2), 32-33.

Discussion Grading Rubric

 

How to Engage Online Learners

What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

Its always good to know the technology that is available however, in Boettcher & Conrad, (2010, p. 57) they note that it is wise to focus on the essentials before heading into the additional technology tools involved in a course. This is important to consider simply because if you overload yourself with technology tools you may find that it is too much at one time, not only for yourself but also your learners. Also whenever you introduce  a new technology to your students it is important to ease them into it.

Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

In order to have a successful online community and add the respectful nature to your classroom. The syllabus in an online course is what sets the standards for a class. (Boettcher & Conrad 2010, p. 72-73) The syllabus is not only like a contract for the class but also sets the expectations for a student in terms of policy and procedures.

What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

There were plenty of suggestions for a successful start of class from Boettcher and Conrad (2010) however the most helpful were 1) creating a rhythm for the class 2) creating good discussion questions.

Both of these points are important in the overall scheme of your online class. With point number 1 a rhythm helps the students budget their time and keep in time with the assignments. For example the standard rhythm for the class I am currently taking is discussion due by Wednesday and everything else due by Sunday. This helps the majority of students be able to know when things are due and plan accordingly. 

The second major point is to have interesting discussion questions. The purpose behind this is to make sure that students give insight into their own take of the learning resources. You must make it engaging by asking for evidence to support their ideas, cause and effect questions, and linking or extension questions. (p.92) This helps the learner connect what they learn and reflect on situations.

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Online Learning Communities

Depending on who the community consists of, both student learning and satisfaction with online course can vary greatly however as Dr Pratt mentions it is everyone’s responsibility to create a successful learning community. From the instructor to the students everyone must participate to make a positive and influential learning experience. Some of the essential elements of building an online community come from making sure everyone has similar goals in mind. For example, in the Walden classroom most people in a particular program are following the same sequence of courses throughout the year. Many of the people who are in this class with me were in previous classes with me. In addition to that we all have the same goals of graduating from the Instructional Design Masters program. The similar goals of the students are one aspect to helping sustain the online community, however the instructor also serves a purpose by continuing the dialog and keep moving students forward in the classroom.

When pairing effective online instruction and community building you must tailor your classroom to the course materials. What this means is if the technologies do not line up with the course objectives they should not be used. For example, with the Master in Instructional Design most of the material is theory based or discussion based so it makes sense that most of the homework assignments would be discussion or essay based. It would not make sense for Instructional Designers to present in front of each other on programs such as Skype simply because most of the discussion can be done through forums.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Timing is Everything

Describe a project, either personal or professional, that experienced issues related to scope creep. What specific scope creep issues occurred? How did you or other stakeholders deal with those issues at the time? Looking back on the experience now, had you been in the position of managing the project, what could you have done to better manage these issues and control the scope of the project?

With any project the schedule is one of the most important aspects of a project. Unfortunately, until recently I did not realize what this meant in business terms. Whether its a large project or a small project scheduling is important at the very least to keep you and others on track. My projects never went well until I figured out: Timing is Everything

When I started my projects (yes, this happened more than once) I would typically have an idea and rush to get it started and going, hardly any planning and no schedule to speak of. Project after project fell flat or did not carry through. The it hit me, I had nothing to keep me on track. As Portny et al (2008) addresses there must be some sort of activity-time estimate, project strategy and project objective. I very rarely had any of these things and so no matter what I lost track of my project and it fell to the wayside.

At the time the stakeholders did not have much investment in the idea I had created so they did not care much for it. So, naturally, as I forgot about the project, they did. In addition because I did not take the time to contemplate a plan or objective it had no direction. It was a good idea but it was only half thought out.

In the end, I have realized that moving forward I must have a deadline set in place. Recently I have taken on other projects and have made the effort to come up with objectives and reasoning as to why I am doing the project. In addition I have started making small schedules to be able to stick to.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Budgeting: Simple task and complex worksheets


With a concern for budgets and time regarding any project it is important to make sure your numbers are as accurate as possible. While everyone is aware of the capabilities of excel worksheets in creating formulas and helping manage numbers, not every is a wiz at excel. As someone who has beginner skill level with excel it is important whenever I embark on a project to find something that will streamline the process in a simple and effective way. Below are some resources which I have found to help the process of budgeting and adjusting for numbers.

Smart Sheet
https://www.smartsheet.com/product-tour

Smart sheet was an interesting first look into budget tracking design. The first thing I absolutely loved was the ability to use a collaborative measure in budgeting. While it offers some of the basic project management tools such as budget spreadsheets I loved the fact that you could include budget as well as progress tracking into the report. So, not only can you use this tool as a budget spreadsheet but you can use it as a project tracker as well. This would work excellently in projects where long distance communication and collaboration were needed.

Sigma Estimates
http://sigmaestimates.com/how-it-works

Sigma Estimates is a paid service that estimates the cost of projects. As I was reading the software description I noticed that there were features such as being able to adjust for adjusts in price, profit etc.  When looking at the free trial I liked how when I entered a projected change to the budget it adjusted everything accordingly. It also had ways to make your own template or use a pre-made one which is always useful for new users.

With any budgeting experience is is always good to have contingency plans and extra budgeting needs. (Portny, 2008) With both of these services I would be able to allow for contingency budgeting based on what I have played around with. The services provided by these two resources offer a lot in terms of needing to budget both time and resources. As mentioned previously the added advantage to Smart sheet was its ability to not only budget manage but project manage in a collaborative way. In addition Sigma Estimates had the advantage of creating your own template, but since I am a novice at spreadsheets I will be sure to use the pre-made options.

Sigma Estimates. http://sigmaestimates.com/how-it-works Accessed: 6/4/2015

Smart Sheet. https://www.smartsheet.com/product-tour Accessed: 6/4/2015

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The Art of Communication

With each form of communication I got very different tones:

Email: With the email version I definitely read it as rushed but not rude simply because email tends to be a form of communication where immediate response may not happen.

Voicemail: This seemed the most impersonal and also rude out of the three because her voice sounds panicked and there is no telling based on facial clues if she is panicked or calm.

Face-to-face: I always feel anything face-to-face is better in general. In this particular case it was clear that she was calm but rushed as opposed t the voicemail where it sounded like nothing but panic.

Most of the factors which influenced my thinking were things such as facial recognition. I tend to be very action focused and need to have the facial expressions and words to go along with it. I realize that may not be the same for everyone but it also shows me that everyone can have their own interpretations of everything. Overall I learned that different communication methods can always be interpreted entirely differently in terms of how its said and what is said. As discussed in the video “Communicating with Stake holders” is that tonality, body language timing as well as the perceived personality of the person conveying the message is all important in communication. If someone is communicating by email you may not convey the message correctly.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

New job, new failures: Project “post-mortem”

The project at hand was a little side project to help with quality in the building, in terms of inventory.For this project I jumped right in and started making ideas and coming up with solutions. I talked the ideas over with a manager and it seemed as if the project was taking flight. As the project continued it started to lose momentum and I did not understand why. Finally the project never officially ended or saw a result. So, this project in hindsight was doomed to fail from the beginning.

What contributed to the project’s success or failure?

Planning, there was none. As Portny et. al (2008) states step 1: “Planning includes specifying results to be achieved, determining schedules and estimating resources required.” (p.3) As I started the project it became clear that I had no idea when I wanted this project to be over, what was a suitable time frame etc. I did however know the budget for the project was supposed to be no cost. One of the guidelines of the company I worked for was frugality so it made sense that they would want a low cost (including free) solution to the issue at hand. So I jumped in without a timeline, without much of a guideline and no support from management. Since most of this project was driven by my own ideas related to quality with not a lot of input from other departments.

At this point you may be saying “this isn’t project management”. In essence it is true because by definition project management is seen as a group dynamic where one person is overseeing the work of others. However, according to Portny et. al (2008) “projects may involve many persons or just one.” (p.2) In this case I was managing myself and getting the advice from others and not well I might add.
Which parts of the PM process, if included, would have made the project more successful? Why?

With all of these details in mind, refer back to Portny et al (2008) Chapter 4 and the Planning a Project Life Cycle.

  1. Conceive phase: an idea is born
  2. Define phase: a plan is developed
  3. Start phase: a team is formed
  4. Perform phase: the work is done
  5. Close phase: the project is ended

(Portny et. al 2008 p. 76)

The crossed out phases of the PM process were the phases which I neglected or ignored altogether. Notice that that consists of 3 out of the 5 phases of effective project planning. So in hindsight, it was not that the project had issues with some minor details, but there was no plan to begin with and no direction for the project. So I definitely would have included a better define phase, perform phase and close phase to this project in order to help it be successful.

I would have better developed my plan for the define phase, before during and after phases of the project such as making sure deadlines were in place. That way when I got tot he final 2 phases of the project it would have been outlined for me as to what needed to be done and in what time frame.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.