Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What is my Digital Footprint?

By definition, a digital footprint is a person's interactions with the digital world. I used to think that I was pretty connected with the digital world; however, over the last eight weeks, my digital footprint has definitely expanded! I used to use computers to check my email, write on my facebook wall, and create worksheets for my students. I was proud at how quickly I could text on my cell phone and watch my favorite TV shows with a DVR. Now, I've been open to a whole new world that includes blogging, designing online visual aids, sharing information through my delicious stacks and google docs, utilizing & mirroring iPad apps during lectures and much more!!
The truth is, the digital era is definitely in full swing! It is my job as an educator to become fully connected to this era because my students are as well. As a way to keep my student engaged, I need to be able to utilize the most current and relevant tools that are available. I look forward to seeing how much more I'm going to learn through this masters program!! Keep watching...I guarantee there is going to much much more to my digital footprint in a short amount of time :)

How has TPACK, UDL, Marzano's Nine, and Digital Equity effected my teaching style?

Throughout my EDTC600 course, I was able to learn about some concepts I have never heard about. I was able to investigate concepts such as TPACK, UDL, Marzano's Nine, and Digital Equity.  TPACK includes the idea of Technology Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, and Content Knowledge are all intertwined to create the perfect educator! It is important for the teacher to not only know the content, but also he or she must be able to teach the content and utilize technology to stay current and relevant with the content. UDL, also known as Universal Design for Learning, uses principles and guidelines to meet each student's individual needs. The beauty of UDL is that it provides resources that may be helpful to meet the needs of students with special needs or learning disabilities. Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies focuses on the idea of nine topics that is vital for teachers to use in their pedagogy design. Finally, Digital Equity introduces ways to narrow the digital divide.

As I have investigated each of these concepts, I have definitely changed my teaching style for the better! I always took pride in creating lesson plans that were engaging and met the required state standards. Now, I have the knowledge to take the same lesson plans and make them even better!! I now have tools such as webspiration and colorcontrast to provide different ways to show vocabulary to my students. Things such as this blog and delicious.com, I'm able to take my new found research anywhere or have the opportunity to share with other educators. Also, I'm able to defend to my administration why I do certain things in my lesson plans. For example, I can tell my principal the purpose to iPad apps is to engage the students (a UDL principal) or Venn Diagrams is a great way to incorporate Marzano's strategy of identifying similarities and differences.

Due to my new found knowledge, the next step is to share this information with others. As I've seen in many of my observations, so many educators are feeling disgruntled in their careers. This is due to lack of knowledge of new and exciting ways to teach topics. So, it is important to provide this information to others!! Ways I plan to do this is to create professional development opportunities as well as through this blog!! 

Looking Back...Technology Professions

As I look back at my Ideal Job Description (from earlier posts), I've realized that there is much more to consider if I was ever to include Instructional Technology. As I stated in a previous post, my definition of instructional technology has expanded. So, it is only natural that my ideal job description would expand as well to include more of the components that I have learned about in the last few weeks.

Originally, this is what I listed as my ideal. Now in red, I have added a few changes:

Job Title: Science Educator, Department Technology Coordinator

Primary Objective:  To provide technology resources to the science department as a way to improve the students' learning. To enhance the current and relevant scientific topics required to be taught by the Colorado State Standards. To create professional development opportunities for educators to include pedagogy strands using NETS standards, Universal Design for Learning, Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies, and Learning Theories.

Lists of Duties or Tasks Performed:
  • Technical support for science educators for computers, peripherals, and network.
  • Support and maintenance of hardware and software for all equipment used by educators.
  • Support and training of technology resources for educators to enhance student learning such as iPads, iPod touches, UDL technological resources
  • Attend District meetings/trainings to stay up to date on all district requirements.
  • Member of ISTE or other Professional Organization; attend ISTE conferences to stay up to date on NETS standards and available resources.
  • Conduct staff training sessions on updated technology.
  • Attend trainings to remain up to date on all techniques.
  • Assist in teacher evaluation of hardware and software used in lessons.
  • Stay up to date on all changes to Colorado State Science Standards.
  • Design, Develop, Utilize, Manage, and Evaluate science curriculum using instructional technology.
  • Evaluate teacher's usage of instructional technology within classroom.
  • Communicate to principal all evaluations.
  • Create Professional Development classes to teach peers about Universal Design for Learning (with resources), Learning Theories, Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies and TPACK.
  • Be knowledgeable about NETS standards for teachers and students; be able to provide resources for other educators to incorporate NETS standards

Description of the Relationships and Roles:
  • Supervisor of school's science teachers
  • Communicate with school's principal, especially on teacher's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Problem solve with a solutions for any weaknesses expressed with a teacher.
  • Be open-minded to suggestions and criticisms from all teachers within the science department; express with principal.
  • Create an open door policy among the science department.
  • Create an open door policy for other educators to learn ways to incorporate NETS standards
Typical qualifications and experience:

  • Bachelors of Science in one or more science fields
  • Secondary Teaching License in Science
  • At least 5-10 years teaching experience
  • Knowledge/Experience of Current Technology techniques and practices
  • Member of a Technology Organization such as AECT or ISTE and attend any professional opportunities throughout these organizations.
  • Masters in Instructional Technology
  • Masters to Bachelors of Science (particularly in more than one science field)
  • At least 5-10 years teaching experience
  • Currently work with Current and Relevant Technology techniques
Other Relevant Information:
This job requires you to be a "people-person." It will entail day to day activities with multiple people and require patience when assisting others. This job will also require constant education to stay current on all technology techniques which may require traveling to conferences to stay up to date. It also will required a great deal of time to research ways to close the gaps caused by digital divide throughout the district.

Because of my Instructional Technology Program, I now know there is much more to technology than just  computers and internet. It also interconnects so many different strategies and learning theories to meet each student's individual needs. As an ideal job description, this needs to incorporate all these new strategies as well!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Looking Back.Did Instructional Technology definition stay the same?

At the beginning of my EDTC600 course, I had decided that the definition of Instructional Technology was:
"Instructional Technology gives teachers the techniques to make learning relevant and current. Because of technology resources, it allows teachers to truly enhance the students' learning experience."

Now that I have finished the coursework, I still agree with my original definition. However, I now think there is much more to instructional technology than I thought. Throughout this course, I was able to learn about the Digital Divide, TPACK, 21st Century Skills and Standards, Learning Theories, Marzano's Essential Strategies, and Universal Design for Learning. All of these topics are intertwined into Instructional Technology. This makes the definition of Instructional Technology much more in depth and complex than I originally thought! Not only does it include technology resources such as UDL strategies like AIM Explorer or ColorContrast. It also takes into account learning behaviors such as Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism. I was able to visualize the interconnections of Pedagogy Strands using  Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies to Univeral Design for Learning and Learning Theories. Throughout this course, I learned some great new ways to visualize my research with webspirationpro, and creating my very own blog!! Because of such technological resources such as delicious.com, google docs, and iPad apps, I'm able to have my new found resources at my fingertips everywhere I go. So, looking back at my previous posts I can now say that my definition has expanded. I now believe that the true definition of Instructional Technology is:
"Instructional Technology allows educators to use learning theories, essential strategies, and standards to create a current and relevant learning experience for students. It incorporates multiple strategies and technological resources to enhance the learning for students and allow to meet all student's individual needs."

My journey into exploring instructional technology is just beginning, so my definition my expand even more in the future. As of right now, I look forward to enhancing my own educational experience through my future courses. Because of EDTC600, I plan to create a blog for my students and re-evaluate some of my previous lessons to incorporate more resources that I investigated through this course. So far, this has been a truly wonderful experience for me. I can't wait to see what my future classes will offer!! :)


When it comes to the education world, things change on a regular basis. As a teacher, I'm constantly analyzing and evaluating my lesson plans. I definitely look at everything to see what works well and what doesn't. If it doesn't work, I change it. If it works well, I still change it! It is important to truly evaluate your students wants and needs, so you can make their experience in your class a great educational experience.

The best way to evaluate my lesson plans, I like to have my students reflect on the class each quarter. I don't do this for every project or unit, but I do find it important to do this every quarter.
At the end of each quarter, answer the following questions:

1. What did you learn in science class this quarter (be specific)
2. What did you like most? Why?
3. What did you like least? Why?
4. What percentages of effort/achievement did you give this quarter?
5. Do you have any suggestions how Mrs. Gaunce can help you be more successful next quarter?

By doing this, I'm able to hear from the students what they like and what they didn't. Of course, many of them like to tell me that they hate doing homework. I have listened to them and changed homework assignments to be more focused for project completions. This is what I like to call compromise!! :)

As a way to get my students to take ownership in their reflections, I like to have a class discussion beforehand about the importance to reflections. How it helps the students really evaluate their own performance in class as well as mine as a teacher. It also allows me the opportunity to listen to my students without them feeling intimidated. This is due to the fact I have the student reflect anonymously first quarter, but by fourth quarter they take ownership and write their names on their reflections. I do this as a way to make my students feel comfortable in my class. By the end of 4th quarter the students and I have developed relationships where they feel comfortable telling me the truth about the class!

Now, that I have taken a technology class, I've learned there are multiple ways to create methods of reflection beside a written format. These include things such as blogs and polls using cell phones/iPod touches. Personally, I still enjoy the written format, but I look forward to using these ideas for some quick project reflection ideas instead of just at the end of the quarter.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Revision of a Lesson

This week, I took the opportunity to analyze one of the lessons I teach to my 7th grade students. Because of my master's program, I have encountered a few new resources, so I took some time to incorporate some of these new resources into a revision of one my old lessons.

This link shows my old lesson with some new things added. Everything in red has been added to incorporate some of my new found "technological knowledge." I used to pride myself on using technology with my students, but this week was definitely an eye-opener on the ways of how much more I can use technology!!

Revision of a Lesson: Cells

Before I even analyzed my lesson, I took a look at my old lesson plan book. Then, I used webspirationpro to design a planning tool for a newly designed cell unit. I've come to really enjoy using webspirationpro because I can take it anywhere I have Internet access!! Also, it really caters to my "visual learner" needs. It was very easy to take the research and information I had discovered over the last couple of weeks. I'm definitely becoming a strong advocate for technology because everything was at my fingertips with just a few clicks of a mouse!! When you look at my revision, you will be able to see how many things I was able to add to an already great lesson. There is something to be said about professional development!! Due to my new found "expertise" of technology and 21st Century Skills, I know I will be do a lot of re-evaluating of many of my lessons.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mining the Data - The digital divide among schools

As I've discussed in a previous blog, when it comes to the induction of the digital era, so does the digital divide. I had the opportunity to look at two different schools, one that used the hands on approach with outdoor classrooms while the middle school prided itself to use a great deal of technology. Both schools seemed to thrive meeting the needs of their students; however in completely different ways!

Things that were done well by both school was digital equity. Both schools offered technology resources. The middle school seemed to do this much more than the elementary school. There were definitely more technology gaps in the elementary school than the middle school. This may be due to lack of available resources, but it also may do to lack of confidence of technology usage by the educators as well. Based on my observations the middle school definitely showed signs that students have equal access to technology with a variety of computer labs, mobile laptop labs, and other technology devices to check out for home usage (including iPod touches!). The elementary school only had 15 computers + teacher computers. However, in the short amount of time, I realized the elementary school seemed to have more meaningful technology instruction. This was due in part to the parent volunteers that came into help the teacher. Many of the middle school teachers had larger classes making it difficult to provide the one on one attention that some students needed. In addition, there were a few teachers that didn't seem confident to use technology.

The middle school (school #1) takes pride in bridging the gap in digital divide by creating professional development opportunities for teachers to learn the different types of technological uses that can enhance the students' learning experiences. However, during my observations, I came across a teacher that doesn't seem to know a great deal of technological uses or feel confident to use it as often in the classroom. The second school (elementary school) did a great job of keeping all the teachers educated on newer tools/resources. This may be due to the size of the school. The elementary school only had three teachers and only fourth grade students. (It was a magnet school that uses outdoor classrooms as its main mission). Since the middle school has over forty teachers, there may be some lack of communication, especially with new advances such as technology resources. A way to solve this problem can be offering more professional development opportunities. I know the middle school has creating its own technology team. By having the technology team create free classes for teachers, this may help.
On a side note, the middle school seems to working on digital equity by encouraging teachers to attend ISTE conferences and other classes offered on technology resources. The elementary school has not done this because of lacking of funding. However, there are many opportunities by joining ISTE or researching online. The key is to give these teachers that opportunity with time and guidelines from someone that does know new information.

Throughout my observations, I realized how important it is to stay educated on new strategies and techniques. I know it can be difficult to do, especially when you don't know where to look. I personally feel that the middle school demonstrated a great way to create digital equity by creating a committee that is responsible to learn information and teach others. This can be a great thing for other schools to do the same!

Digital Divide, does it exist?

As part of my research on digital divide, I took the opportunity to visit a couple of schools. At first, I looked at two different elementary schools; however, both seemed to show the same digitial divides. So, I decided to also evaluate a middle school that takes pride on the amount of technology is attainable at the school.

Divide #1: (Digital Divide) Lack of technology usage at homes as well as in the classroom. Many of the students have computers at home, but, according to the students, they don't use them very often.
During my observation, I only saw one class using computers out of three classroom observations. One of the teachers informed me that her class does use computers on a weekly basis, but she makes sure that her homework is not from internet/computers because her students don't seem to use home computers. When I asked the students, twenty of the twenty-three students said they had computers at home and like to play games on them. However, none of the students seem to use computers at home for education purposes. The solution to this seems to be incorporation of computers into the class on a weekly basis. Since the teacher has twenty-three students, she has two parent volunteers come in to help her with the facilitating and helping the students. I had the chance to watch many of the fourth graders create a newletter/flier with microsoft publisher. Many of the students knew how to download pictures from the internet and paste them into their newsletters. It was pretty neat to see!!

Divide #2: (Digital Equity) Lack of knowledge of technology uses
During my observations of the middle school, I took the opportunity to visit a Language Arts teacher. The first day, she used the computer/projector to show a video. The second day, she didn't even use the computer or projector. This particular teacher seemed to have a great deal of knowledge on her content, but didn't realize there are technogical resources to help her enhance the students' learning experience. I asked her if she had ever heard of "quizlet," an online flash card program instead of having the students create actual flash cards. She said: "I have not." When it comes to technology, I know that I try to take as many classes as possible to further my knowledge and ways that I can enhance my teaching. However, some teachers are still not comfortable with technology. The solution to this is to create more professional development opportunities. By creating classes that teach technology and give time for educators to learn the material (so they develop confidence) will be beneficial for the teacher as well as the students!

Divide #3: (Technology Equity) Lack of Technological Resources
At the elementary school, I noticed that there was only one computer lab with fifteen computers were available for the school. The teachers had one computer available in their classrooms, but throughout my observations, the teachers didn't seem to use them that often. I asked the director of the school if they used a great deal of technology, and he said there was a little, but they didn't use it that often because of lack of resources available to them. A solution to this is grant writing! Many technological enterprises are willing to give discounts and possiblities for donations. The key is to ask!

Digital Divide Resources

Jobe, H. (n.d.). Technology, equity, and access. Retrieved from http://www.edtechactionnetwork.org/technology-equity-and-access

Sutton, B. (2008, August 17). [SITEBlog]. Retrieved from http://siteblog.aace.org/2008/08/17/168/

Sutton, B. (2006, August 17). Digital equity: Working together for a solution. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/digital-equity

The digital divide: Issues and possible solutions. (2007, January 27). Retrieved from http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2007/01/27/the_digital_divide_issues_and.htm

Warschauer, M., Knobel, M., & Stone, L. (2004). Technology and equity in schooling:. Retrieved from The digital divide: Issues and possible solutions. (2007, January 27). Retrieved from http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2007/01/27/the_digital_divide_issues_and.htm

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Universal Design for Learning - What is it? Does it follow other pedagogy?

This week I researched the concept Universal Design for Learning (UDL). It is a framework of principles and guidelines that help create curricula that gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL breaks down the brain's framework into three primary networks: Recognition, Strategic and Affective thus creating the three main principles: Representation, Action & Expression, and Engagement. Throughout my research, I was able to discover that UDL is fairly similar to Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies and Learning Theories.

As I created the following matrix, it is easy to see how many concepts, classroom practices are similar for all three pedagogy strands:

Pedagogy Strands

In the matrix, I was able to visualize how Marzano's Nine, Learning Theories and UDL all use the same type of classroom practices to meet the needs of each individual student. However, UDL does seem to have more assistive technologies for students with special needs. By creating things such as AIM explorer, mouse camera, or digital dictation devices like those shown in the UDL resources and examples, it is evident that UDL does make sure to include more assistance to students with special needs. However, all three pedagogy strands take into account ALL students' individual needs.

When comparing and contrasting the Learning Theories: Behaviorism, Cognitivism, & Constructivism to UDL, all three learning theories seem to be interrelated with UDL principles and guidelines. Behaviorism seems to be linked to Representation; Cognitivism is interconnected to Actions & Expression, and Constructivism is interrelated to Engagement. As proof of this connection, Behaviorism and Representation both take into account ideas of direct instruction and classroom practices that assist with direct instruction such as Venn Diagrams and Color Contrast. Cognitivism and Action & Expression show similar connections by examining the strategic network by bringing in problem-based learning. Finally, Constructivism and Engagement are definitely interconnected with motivation and cooperative learning. (Please see the matrix above for further visualization).

Along with the three learning theories, UDL is also interconnected with Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies. Some examples of this include:
Representation - Identifying Similarities/Differences (Venn Diagrams)
Action & Expression - Summarizing & Notetaking (IVF statements)
Engagement -Setting Objectives & Providing Feedback (Rubrics/Reflection sheets)
There are many more examples listed in the matrix in the Pedagogy Strands link that is listed above.

When looking at this matrix at a whole, I personally think that Marzano's Nine is the easiest pedagogy to implement into my designed curricula because of the break down of the nine essential strategies. It is easy for me to take an entire unit and design different activities to meet each essential strategy. However, after researching the Universal Design for Learning this week, I now know that it can be just as easy to use when creating curriculum. As I investigated the UDL, it was fairly easy for me to come up with ideas for units and lesson plans by using some of the examples and resources listed in the UDL principles and guidelines. I encourage other educators to do the same.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quick Think - Standards and 21st Century Skills

As I finish this week's goal on examining standards and 21st century skills, a few things come to mind. One, there are multiple organizations that discuss standards and 21st century skills; however each organizations has the same concept! Despite a few differences in terminology, all the concepts are interconnected. This is definitely proved when the Colorado Department of Education decided to use the same national standards that ISTE created. I also like the idea that ISTE's NETS are designed for students as well as for teachers. Through this research, I definitely gained some knowledge and framework to use as I create curricula for my own classroom.

NETS' teacher standard that discussed: "Engage in Professional Growth & Leadership" really hit a home cord with me. As I transition from being a "younger" teacher to a more "experienced" teacher, I've noticed that I've become lazy in lesson planning. It is easy to use the same lesson plans that I created in previous years, but I shouldn't do this as much as I have in the past. As the digital era becomes fully included into the education world, it is my responsibility to stay current in my lesson plans. So, creating lessons to include more technology such as blogs and iPad apps will help with this. As I discover these new concepts, it is also vital for me to share this information with my colleagues. This way all students are able to receive an effective learning experience!

Along with the technology standards, the 21st century skills are just as important. During my research, I was able to visualize the interconnection between the two. For example, 21st Century Skills uses the term: Inventive Thinking, while the NETS' standards uses the term: Creativity and Innovation. Both concepts mean the same thing! Being a science teacher, I have the opportunity to be creative in my lesson plans on a daily basis. The key to learning science is inquiry!

Now, that I've become knowledgeable of standards and 21st century sills and their interconnections, I can teach this to other educators.

Matrix to Standards & 21st Century Skills


Aect advanced standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aect.org/standards/advstand.html

Aect initial standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aect.org/standards/initstand.html

Colorado department of education. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeassess/UAS/CoAcademicStandards.html

Education technology and information literacy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cde.state.co.us/edtech/plng-etil.htm

Kelley, A. (2011, March 23). Involve, prepare, apply, and develop: ipads in the classroom . Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/article/involve-prepare-apply-and-develop-ipads-in-the-classroom/47763

Lawson, E. (2011, March 28). ipads, ipod touches, and iphones as assistive technology in education. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/article/ipads-ipod-touches-and-iphones-as-assistive-technology-in-education/47768

NETS ISTE Standards for students. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-students.aspx

NETS ISTE Standards for teachers. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-teachers/nets-for-teachers-2008.aspx

The three principles of uld . (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl/3principles

Udl guidelines - version 2.0: Examples and resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/implementation/examples

What is universal design for learning?. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cast.org/udl/index.html

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Presenting Standards in Schools

When it comes to communication at schools, sometimes it is done efficiently; however, most of the time, it is not. At the middle school I teach at, we are all strong users of our email. There are days that I receive over 50 emails and most it is useless information!! Because of the use of email, I have a tendency to skim through them so quickly. By breezing through these emails so quickly, I can sometimes miss great information such as new literacy strategies from our school's literacy coach!

Now, email is not the only way to receive new information. There are multiple scheduled meetings and professional development days to fill any free time. The middle school that I teach at requires us to have a PLC (Professional Learning Committee) each week with our content grade level colleagues, weekly team meetings, weekly meetings with the whole team and administration, , monthly department meetings (which I run for the science department), monthly grade level meetings, monthly staff meetings, and 4 required professional development days. Usually, this is the time we are represented with new instructional strategies and 21st century skills.

Along with the meetings, it is the job of team leaders and department chairs to deliver information to the designated staff. For example, it was my responsibility to let all science teachers know about the revised Colorado State Science Standards and provide them with a copy. Then the entire science department went through the standards to create vertical alignment and each grade level is currently working on horizontal alignment as well.

Since I'm a firm believer on using time as efficiently as possible, I chose a couple of options to present new information to my science department. By providing copies of the standards to each of the teacher and sending an email allowed us to save time when it came to meeting as a department. When we did meet, we were able to discuss the standards in detail, ways we planned to align our curricula with the new revisions and vertically align among grades 6-8.

As a presenter, it is important to get all the information to the staff members, but also realize that their time is precious. I think it is great to give them the information before a meeting, them come together as a group to discuss strategies and 21st century skills. I also like to provide examples to teachers as well. Just like we need to model for our students, it is important to model for teachers as well. So, when presenting new information, standards, or 21st century skills, I provide examples of how I would use it with my students or even go through a quick lesson plan. In my experience, I've found teachers really enjoy it when there is active participation...just like our students! I know when I'm successful in presenting information when other staff members have told me how they are using it in their own classrooms.

This January, as part of our required Professional Development days, I will be working with science teachers and vertical articulation. This is an idea of how to bring in technology standards and 21st Century Skills during these professional development days:

Introduction to Technology Standards and 21st Century Skills for Educators

Standards...Are they important?

In education, there is one question that always seems to come up: "Is the standards really important?" My college professors, colleagues, and administration reinforces the idea of standards being essential when it comes to lesson planning because it makes sure every student is getting the necessary information.  Being an educator in Colorado, the Colorado State Standards are constantly on my mind! It has been drilled into our heads that they are vital to use during lesson planning and teaching our students. So, I've become quite knowledgeable about the Colorado Science Standards. However, since I've gone back to school to study instructional technology, I took this week to research Information Literacy and Technology Standards.

I looked at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, The American Association of School Librarians, the Colorado Department of Education, and 21st Century Skills by NCREL. Each organization had their own set of standards; however, ironically, it was all the same! Some organizations websites were a little easier to navigate and find the necessary information fairly quickly, but once I found the standards, I realized it was all the same.

The most surprising discovery was the Colorado Department of Education uses the National Standards created by ISTE. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) has always had its own set of standards for Colorado students. However, the CDE has deemed the ISTE's national standards to be acceptable for Colorado as well. This definitely made me feel like Colorado is becoming more in sync with other states and organizations. Of course, I have appreciate the high expectations Colorado State Standards requires of our students, but using the national standards proves that the nation also has high expectations with information literacy and technology.

By creating my matrix of information (using webspirationpro), I found that I kept writing the same words such as: Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Digital Responsibility, Innovation, and many others. With this type of visual, I was able to see how twenty-first century skills are interrelated to Information Literacy and Technology Standards. Another realization was that these skills and standards just describe good teaching!

As an educator, I, personally, believe it is important to make your classroom as creative and innovative as possible. It is my job to keep my teaching current and relevant, especially in this new digital era. When I was in middle school, there were overheads and powerpoints, but nothing compared to iPads! I've noticed that many educators are "afraid" of the new technologies; however, they don't realize that it is created to help them! During my research, I found iPad apps that can be used in my class; however there is so much more than just iPads and iPod touches. I also came across many different websites that offered free teacher tools. The key is for teachers to stay educated on the newest technologies, so they may be able to meet all their students' needs.

As a way to share my knowledge, I plan to use my matrix when teaching at professional development classes. As part of my position of science co-department chair, it has been one of my duties to create classes that teachers need to take as part of their professional development. So, when I'm asked during my classes: "Are Standards important?" I can say YES!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How do People Learn?

Since I spent this week looking into the learning theories: Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism, I took the opportunity to really examine adolescents and the way they learn.
I've decided that people learn best when they can apply the information to themselves. This week, I watched as middle school students explored grasshoppers through a hands on dissection and another class watch a movie about periodic elements. The class that was conducting the grasshopper dissections was completely engaged in the assignment. However, the class watching the movie on periodic elements was falling asleep!!! What's wrong with this picture?
I think the problem is in the methods of teaching. The teacher that was conducting the grasshopper dissection (whom happened to be my student teacher) was proving the students with a hands-on experience that is applied to a real-life organisms that students see on a regular basis. The dissection provided information through scientific inquiry. The 8th grade science class that I observed was being provided with a visual of elements, however, the students had no personal connection to the material. Because of this lack of connection, there was no interest, and studentes were falling asleep!!
When it coms to my teaching style, I definitely keep in mind "theories of learning." Throughout my research this week on Behaviorsim, Cognitivisim, and Constructivism, I realized that I take a lot of these components into my own lesson planning. I believe that is important to keep topics current and relevant. By doing this, the students are much more interested and engaged. To my advantage, I get to teach an interesting topic, biology. Because of this, many of my students are able to relate the material to themselves.  Since adolescents are considered egocentric (caring about subjects/topics/things that affect them personally), they only seem interested in school topics that affect them! 
As a great guideline, Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies is a way to incorporate current and relevant teaching styles.Within all three learning theories, each of these strategies can easily be applied. For further detail:
Learning Theories: Jigsaw to Matrix

Thinking back to Week One of my EDTC 600 class, I was asked my definition to Instructional Technology. My definition was as stated:

Instructional Technology is scientific theory to keep objectives current and relevant. It is used by myself, the educator, to facilitate cooperative learning among my students and use 21st century skills.

I still believe this! To expand, I now believe, that I'm a firm believer in the learning theory constructivism as well!!

During my classroom observations, I noticed the use of scientific inquiry (constructivism), positive behavior support (behaviorism), and hands on activity with a grasshopper dissection (cognitivism). Like I mentioned in my definition of instructional technology, it isn't just about use of technology (computers), but it involves cooperative learning as well. During my observations, I was able to see this in one class, but the need of improvement in another science class. Since I do have a student teacher this year, I'm getting the opportunity to work with science teachers and how they can take the standards and ideas and incorporate them into 21st century lesson plans!! If I get the opportunity to work with this teacher, I plan to help this person create some hands on labs to show periodic elements. A great example of this may be: A lab using idodine and sulfer to pull fingerprints for desktops!!

The Learning Theory: Behaviorism

This week, I took the opportunity to research the three types of learning theories: Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism.  Although I believe all three are equally important, I chose to examine Behaviorism. Since I became an educator, I have had the chance to evaluate cognitivism and constructivism through professional development and continuing education. So, I asked myself, does behaviorism really play as important of a role in learning as the other two theories. To answer this question, I took that time to really reseach behaviorism.
To summarize, behaviorism analyzes behavior and role it plays in the classroom environments. It is broken down into two concepts: Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning. As I discovered, both of these types of conditioning are vital to creating a classroom designed for learning. So, yes, Behaviorism is just as important as Cognitivism and Constructivism in education!

As a way to visualize, here is what I discovered:
Concept Web: Behaviorism

Jigsaw to Matrix

For further detail: Paper: Learning Theory: Behaviorism


Friday, November 11, 2011

Technology Available for Instruction

Through my research, I've discovered some new technology resources. Click on the link and discover some things that may be useful for you!

Technology Available for Instruction

Hopefully these are just as useful to you as they have been to me!

What kind of Technology do Schools have?

This week, I took the opportunity to observe two different middle schools in two different districts in Colorado Springs, Colorado. These schools (which will be known as Middle School #1 and Middle School #2) have a great deal of technology available for students and teachers. Because of this, instructional technology was evident and abundant throughout each school. One school, Middle School #2, seem to be on the rising use of the newest technology resource, iPads.  Middle School #1 did not have iPads, however, it did have an abundant amount of resources and technology tools that were not available at Middle School #2. This is what I found:

H:\Masters Program\EDTC Technology Comparison.mht

Since I've recently become an iPad2 owner, it has become my obsession. So, as part of my focus during my school observations, I went with one question in mind: Are iPads in classrooms more effective than other technological tools?

In my opinion, iPads are the key to the educational future! Although Middle School #1 had an abundant amount of technological resources, which I saw used regularly and effectively, Middle School #2's iPads just seem to make the learning environment current and easier. The students were able to research a topic such as invertebrates. I watched as one student found a picture of a Mollusk while another student found the characteristics of Mollusks. Then they "bumped" each other's iPads and both iPads contained each student's research. This was done in a matter of minutes! I was completely amazed!
Middle School #1 seems to be on the iPad wavelength as well. The technology specialist at Middle School #1, recently wrote a grant to get eight iPads. These eight iPads will be distributed among a test group of teachers to use in their classrooms. This way, the school will be able to test iPad effectiveness in classroom instruction. It is decided that iPads are effective, then the school has a wish list for a mobile lab of 32 iPads to be used in classrooms. It makes sense that Middle School #1 plans to create mobile labs of iPads versus giving each student a device because Middle School #1 is three times the size of Middle School #2.

During my observations, I wasn't surprised by the technology resources used in classrooms because both these schools come from more affluent school districts. However, I was surprised by the amount of technology. Middle School #1 seemed to have a great deal more technical resources at hand than Middle School #2. Middle School #2 seems to have devoted most of its funds to iPads while Middle School #1 seems to have devoted its funds to everything else. Because of this Middle School #1 seems more well-rounded with a variety of technological tools; however Middle School #2 seems to more current with the newest type of technology to use classroom instruction. Since I saw two schools that seem to have an endless amount of technological resources, so I would like to look at school that has little to no technology available.

In my opinion, there are many pros and cons to technology. Pros include keeping classroom instruction current and relevant. It allows students to use the newest tools to learn as well as creates the ability to meet all students' special needs. Technology also allows communication among parents, teachers, and students to be faster. However, I think that Technology is decreasing students' social skills. Because of technology, many students don't know how to physically go talk to a teacher face to face. I've noticed that interpersonal skills seem to be decreasing among all students as well as parents and educators. The question is: "How do we balance technology without taking other things such as interpersonal/social skills away?"

What is TPACK? Is it useful?

This week, I took the time to research TPACK, formerly known as TPCK. For those of you that don't know what this is, TPACK stands for: Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. TPACK allows educators to really look at the effects of integrating instructional technology into the curriculum. In order to really visualize such effects, TPACK also looks into nature of teacher knowledge. The following model is a demonstrates a graphic organizer displaying the framework of TPACK and teacher knowledge:

TPACK Image (rights free)
This Venn Diagram examines how each of these, Technological Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, and Content Knowledge, are equally important and interconnected. In order to comprehend the value of this diagram, it is important to understand each of these concepts.
Technology Knowledge (TK) describes the educators' knowledge of basic technologies such as textbooks, overheads, and blackboards. It also looks into educators' knowledge of more advance technologies such as internet and digital videos. In this digital era, there is a great deal more of technology to use in classrooms. It is important for educators to stay on top of these new advances as a way to keep the curriculum current and relevant. Not only should educators be able to utilize standard software such as microsoft word and internet browsers, they also need to be educated on how to install and remove software programs. Because of this increasing expectation, school districts are requiring teachers to participate in continue education classes and professional development days that focus on increasing technological knowledge.
Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) examines the methods of teaching. It looks, in depth, at the overall purpose of education and its values. By looking into educational purposes, we are able to determine techniques and methods that are effective in the classroom. These methods are constantly evaluated and changed to meet the needs of each targeted audience. It is vital that educators understand the biological, cognitive, social developments of the age groups they are teaching. By comprehending these developmental theories aides teachers when designing teaching methods for his or her classroom.
Content Knowledge examines educators' actual knowledge of the topic or subject matter. In the state of Colorado, teachers are expected to be "highly qualified" in their field. As proof, passing the Place or Praxis test demonstrates the teachers' knowledge. If teachers do not know the content, it can be detrimental to students' education.
Technological Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, and Content Knowledge are equally important, but it is just as vital to understand they work together as well. TPK, otherwise known as Technological Pedagogical Knowledge, looks into the ability to use effective technological strategies in the classroom. These can include wikis, blogs, WebQuests, teaching resources through websites, digital gradebooks, and many others.
Technological Content Knowledge, TCK, really examines the knowledge of current and relevant technologies used in the classroom. By using some of these newer resource tools such as iPads, Smartboards, and others can expand and enhance the students' content knowledge as well as the learning experience.
Pedagogical Content Knowledge, PCK, proves that both teaching methods and teacher knowledge of content definitely are interrelated and equally important! PCK connects the teacher's knowledge of content as well as "how" to teach it. It educators don't understand both content and methods, then students may not receive an effective learning experience. Lack of content causes misrepresentations of the subject matter. Lack of pedagogy skills causes even more misrepresentations of the learning experience. If you have both working together and working together effectively, then we call that good teaching!
Once PCK and TPK are combined together and design TPACK, this creates the tools and framework to an effective and GREAT LEARNING ENVIRONMENT!!!

Koehler, M. (2011, May 13). TPACK - Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge. Retrieved from: http://www.tpck.org/

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Research Model Breakdown

In my EDTC 600, I was able to take the opportunity to analyze a few research models. I looked at Big 6 and Marzano's Nine. This is what I discovered:

Model Breakdown

Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies...are they a good thing?

This week, as part of my Master's Program, I was responsible for researching Robert Marzano and his Nine Essential Strategies for Classroom Instruction that works. Marzano's strategies are nothing new, but he has taken scientific research to prove the strategies' effectiveness. Because of Marzano, teachers are now able to use the same terminology to describe great instructional strategies. So, to answer the question, "Are Marzano's nine strategies a good thing?" Yes, in my opinion, they are a good thing.
When I was a first year teacher, Marzano's strategies had become quite popular. Book studies were conducted to really analzye each of the nine strategies and how to apply them in our own classes. Since I was a first year teacher, these book studies were quite useful as a way to guide me in developing my teaching style as well as lesson plans.
Some examples of things I have used in my class are the following:
1. Identifying Similiarities & Differences - Venn Diagrams
2. Summarizing & Notetaking - IVF statements after a movie or lab to summarize main points/topic in one sentence. I also provide my students with 3 column notes of science vocab terms with definitions. The student highlight main ideas while we discuss the terms as a class.
3. Reinforcing Effort & Providing Recognition - I like to provide my students with lots of positve recognition (part of our PBS- Positive Behavior Support plan used throughout the school).
4. Homework & Practice - The phrase "practice makes perfect" doesn't apply to science as much as math classes, but it is still very important. If and when homework is given in class it is used to reinforce learning and skills, not for busy work!
5. Nonlinguistic Representations - pictures always help in science. I like to show video clips for many of the vocabulary terms. Also the students draw pictures in the third column of their notes as a way to nonliguistically represent the vocabulary.
6. Setting objectives: Everyday, I put an Essential Question on the board. This way the students know what to expect to answer before the end of class. This provides a purpose for the students and keeps me focused with the standards.
7. Providing Feedback - Rubrics are useful for both the students as well as me!! This way, I'm able to give students explanations for their achievements as well as a guideline for me to follow and stay consistent and fair with each student.
8. Generating & Testing Hypotheses: This happens in science on a regular basis. At the beginning of each unit/topic, we start with a question (problem). We use the scientific method to create scientific inquiry as well as design our labs.
9. Questions, Cues, and Advance Organizers: All three of these are used on a daily basis to my "Question of the Day/Essential Question" on the board, to my cue of "Stop and Listen" (all the students know these three words mean to stop everything and look in my direction), and a variety of different ways to organize all the information given in class.
As we enter a new "digital era," it is important to utilize technology with Marzano's nine. This can happen fairly easily. Venn Diagrams can be created in presentation apps on iPads, wikis and blogs can provide immediate feedback, games, simulations, and picturesr can be downloaded as nonliguistic representation, labs can now be conducted virtually, and notetaking can be done on iPads and bumped to others iPads. There are endless possibilities. The question is, how come we are not using as much as we possibly can? There are so many teachers that prefer the old way of teaching. How can we change this and open their eyes to the endless possibilities that technology offers. I know that lack of funds is a typical excuse. I know I have personally used this. So, what are some ways we can bypass this excuse?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Personal Research Style

This week is all about Research. Why is it Important? How is it useful? For my career in science, research is extremely important! Science is always changing and new discoveries or theories are found or accepted on a regular basis. Since it is my job to teach science to blossoming students, it is vital that I stay current.
My students like to affectionately call me a "science geek." So, it is obvious, science is my passion, particularly wildlife biology. Naturally, I spend most of my "research" time looking up ecological topics as well as anything that may be useful in my classroom. When it comes to research, I definitely take the scientific method approach: Always start with a question! Once I have a question, I will take it to the next level, by researching facts to answer that question. Recently, I heard about the Javan Rhino was officially extinct in Vietnam. The radio didn't give a lot of information, so it became a question I was eager to find out about.
Once I've determined to research something like the Javan Rhino extinction, I immediately go to the Internet. I, personally find the Internet a very useful tool when it is used the right way. If I'm using the Internet, I usually look at sites that contain a .org or .edu. This way I know there is some educational relevance to the material versus someone's personal opinion. In this case, I found the Telegraph an useful online newspaper that gives facts versus opinions.
Recently I purchased an iPad2, so research has become even faster and easier. One of my many apps is Wikinodes (a great research tool!!). When it came to the Javan Rhino, I just typed in "Javan Rhino" to my Wikinode app, and I was given tons of information!! This app not only gave me a lot of information, but it does so in a visually appealing concept map (perfect for visual learners like myself).
Once I found information, many times, I come up with new questions, this may require more extensive research. In this case, I will re-evaluate my research topic, and may change it. In the case of the Javan Rhino, I changed my question to "What steps are being done to conserve this species?" Due to this animal's extinction, it has sparked a passion in Rhino conservation. Along with finding legitimate research sites with .org/.edu, I have recently started to read blogs. Reading other people's thoughts and opinions is definitely a useful education tool as well. Because of this, I even accepted the International Rhino Foundation as a friend on Facebook. Because of this, I am showing support as well as possibly sparking the interest of others.
So in answer to the two questions from the beginning: Why is research important? and How is it useful? Research gives us relevant information that may help us learn about things outside of our daily lives as well as how we can make a difference in this world. In this digital era, research is definitely more useful because it gives us information with just a few clicks of mouse or an app. The real question is: Why not use research?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ideal Job Description 2

Based on my research this week on Instructional Technology, this would be an second ideal job description.

Job Title: District Science Curriculum and Differentiation Coach
Primary Objective: To design and develop current and relevant science curriculum for K-12 science
Lists of Duties or Tasks Performed:
  • Stay up to date on Colorado State Standards
  • Create curriculum to be used in K-12 science
  • Support and training of technology resources for educators to enhance student learning.
  • Design District Professional Development training days for science educators.
  • Conduct staff training sessions on updated technology.
  • Attend conferences to remain up to date current and relevant curricula
  • Design, Develop, Utilize, Manage, and Evaluate science curriculum using instructional technology.
  • Evaluate teacher's usage of instructional technology within classroom.
  • Communicate ways to differentiate lessons for teachers/students that struggle or need to be challenged. 
  • Communicate to all school principal all evaluations.

Description of the Relationships and Roles:
  • Supervisor of all district school's science teachers
  • Communicate science curricula to science teachers
  • Discuss ways to differentiate with science teachers.
Typical qualifications and experience:

  • Bachelors of Science in one or more science fields
  • Secondary Teaching License in Science
  • At least 5-10 years teaching experience
  • Knowledge/Experience of Current Technology techniques and practices
  • Masters in Instructional Technology
  • Masters to Bachelors of Science (particularly in more than one science field)
  • At least15-20years teaching experience
  • Currently work with Current and Relevant Science and Technology techniques
Other Relevant Information:
This job requires you to have an abundant knowledge on ALL science subjects in order to create current curricula. Because of this, it will required an abundant amount of time spent on research and travel to stay current and communicate findings to all district schools.

Ideal Job Description

Based on my research this week on Instructional Technology, this would be an ideal job description.

Job Title: Science Educator, Department Technology Coordinator

Primary Objective: To provide technology resources to the science department as a way to improve the students' learning. To enhance the current and relevant scientific topics required to be taught by the Colorado State Standards.

Lists of Duties or Tasks Performed:
  • Technical support for science educators for computers, peripherals, and network.
  • Support and maitenance of hardware and software for all equipment used by educators.
  • Support and training of technology resources for educators to enhance student learning.
  • Attend District meetings/trainings to stay up to date on all district requirements.
  • Conduct staff training sessions on updated technology.
  • Attend trainings to remain up to date on all techniques.
  • Assist in teacher evaluation of hardware and software used in lessons.
  • Stay up to date on all changes to Colorado State Science Standards.
  • Design, Develop, Utilize, Manage, and Evaluate science curriculum using instructional technology.
  • Evaluate teacher's usage of instructional technology within classroom.
  • Communicate to principal all evaluations.
Description of the Relationships and Roles:
  • Supervisor of school's science teachers
  • Communicate with school's principal, especially on teacher's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Problem solve with a solutions for any weaknesses expressed with a teacher.
  • Be open-minded to suggestions and criticisms from all teachers within the science department; express with principal.
  • Create an open door policy among the science department.
Typical qualifications and experience:

  • Bachelors of Science in one or more science fields
  • Secondary Teaching License in Science
  • At least 5-10 years teaching experience
  • Knowledge/Experience of Current Technology techniques and practices
  • Masters in Instructional Technology
  • Masters to Bachelors of Science (particularly in more than one science field)
  • At least 5-10 years teaching experience
  • Currently work with Current and Relevant Technology techniques
Other Relevant Information:
This job requires you to be a "people-person." It will entail day to day activities with multiple people and require patience when assisting others. This job will also require constant education to stay current on all technology techniques which may require traveling to conferences to stay up to date.

My Own Definition of Instructional Technology

This week, my class required me to find out the definition of Instructional Technology. I interviewed three specialists as well as did some independent research. I discovered there are many different definitions, however there always seems to be one commonality to all definitions. Instructional Technology is meant to be a tool or resource to help acquire information or an objective. In an earlier blog, I explained what some of my colleagues thought of the subject, and they seemed to come to the same consensus. However, I, personally, thought there was more to instructional technology than just being a tool to help acquire information. This is my definition:

Instructional Technology is scientific theory to keep objectives current and relevant. It is used by myself, the educator, to facilitate cooperative learning among my students and use 21st century skills.

Being that I'm a science teacher, I naturally leaned towards the ideas of a scientific theory. In science, theories are accepted in nature, but have not been proven or disproven. Many educators may argue that Instructional Technology ruins teaching while others may disagree and believe that it helps the education world. I agree with those that believe that it helps education.

According to the AECT, Association for Educational Communications and Technology, "Instructional Technology means a discipline devoted to techniques or ways to make learning more efficient." As a teacher, I'm constantly trying to find ways to teach my students. Of course, there is always a textbook, but why use it when there is something better. By the time the textbook is published, it is already out of date with science discoveries. For example, the textbook that I was given when I a few years ago still expressed that Pluto was a planet! If I used just a textbook, then I would be teaching inaccurate facts to my students!

Instructional Technology doesn't just mean the use of electronics. As I learned from James Pershing and Michael H. Molenda, "Technology actually means a "technique" or "tool" that be applied to solve a problem." According to Pershing and Molenda, even a textbook is a type of technology. However, it might not be the most current use, so that is when other forms of technology may need to be used in the classroom. Since it has been recognized that textbooks have become outdated faster than they are published, a new technique is used: the online textbook. By designing and developing online textbooks, they become much more relevant to utilize in a classroom. Also, they can be constantly evaluated and updated when new science discoveries occur.

Instructional Technology emphasizes techniques or tools to make learning more efficient. As I expressed in my earlier blog, technology should never take the place of an educator. It should be only be used to enhance the learning experience. According to the Reflections on the 2008 AECT definitions, traditional instructional systems are de-emphasized. In this "digital era," no longer are educators teaching the standards in traditional classrooms. There are flipped classrooms, webquests, podcasts, and even online classes. Because of these, it is making life much easier. Adults are able to go back to school because they can in the comfort of their homes. However, it is a tool but not a way to replace the educator. Teachers are still needed to facilitate. I completely agree with AECT thoughts on Educational Technology.

According to the AECT "Educational Technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources." As an educator, it is my job to design lessons that will enhance my students' learning experience with the use of technology, but it should never replace me as the facilitator!!

What is Instructional Technology?

As part of my Master's Program, I'm currently enrolled in EDTC600, Pedagogical Practices in Instructional Technology. As my first week's assignment, I had the opportunity to interview three technology specialists and ask them what does "Instructional Technology" mean to them?

The first interviewee was Shannon S., the building technology coordinator at the middle school where I currently teach. Her job entails development and maintenance of our school's webpage as well as the teacher's links. It is also her job to make sure teachers enforce district guidelines with all technology usage with students as well as their own independent projects. Because of Shannon, our school has webpages and an abundant amount of technology for teachers to use as a teaching tool.

The second interviewee was Mike S., the school's technology para. His job entails to schedule all the computer labs, clickers, digital cameras, and mobile laptop labs for the teachers. He is also responsible for setting them up in the teacher's classroom per his or her request and assisting the teacher if there are any technological problems.

The third interviewee was Jeremy B., the technology teacher at the middle school. Jeremy teaches five different classes which include things such as video production, digital photography, web design, theater tech. crew, etc.

I found all three interviews worthwhile because I was able to connect with some of my colleagues that I hardly get a chance to see, but also hear their thoughts on Instructional Technology. All three of them agreed that the term Instructional Technology a way to use any technology that aides getting information. It provides a resource to enhance teacher's lesson plans, but it is not meant to be in replace of the teacher. By understanding the best practices and goals, then technology can be used to reach those goals.

The role of technology in instruction is meant to be understood to be a tool but not the means to an end.  Being that we are in the "digital age," this is the time to really take advantage of technology, but it is no means something to take place of a teacher. Technology is definitely a quick tool or resource that can be used to acquired the information or objective. If technology is used, then teachers should be taking the time to work with the students and the technology, not let the technology do their job.

The expectations of an Instructional Technology Specialist can be very different from one another. The three interviews that I conducted this week all played completely different roles in the middle school; however, they all had the same goal in mind: Design, Develop, Utilize, Manage, and Evaluate all technology to provide a "digital" experience in education. Because of this, our students are getting the chance to learn the required Colorado State Standards as well as the technology tools that will enhance these standards.

After I interviewed these three specialists, I completely agree with them. Instructional Technology gives teachers the techniques to make learning relevant and current. Because of technology resources, allows teachers to truly enhance the students' learning experience.

Now, what does instructional technology mean to you?