Mane (CRIN 604)

         Digital tools in education

March 20, 2010

Larry Cuban: Oversold and Underused

Filed under: Larry Cuban,Technology integration — mepada @ 7:46 pm

In Larry Cuban’s Oversold and Underused, I found his viewpoints realistic yet a bit discouraging. He points out that that teachers who use computers for instruction do so infrequently and unimaginatively and also argues that Computers can be useful when teachers sufficiently understand the technology themselves, believe it will enhance learning, and have the power to shape their own curricula and that these conditions can’t be met without a broader and deeper commitment to public education.

To that effect I wanted to find out if we had in our area (and beyond) any such local commitment and teachers who actually have stepped out of the box to integrate effectively technology in their classroom.

These two reports, The Geddy Award Nomination for Berkeley Middle School, and 2008 Excellence in Technology Winners are proof that good things are happening in James City County and beyond in regards to creative and successful instructional technology approaches.

Berkeley Middle School:  “Two years ago, the school began purchasing additional laptop and desktop computers and document cameras at the request of its faculty members to allow the faculty, staff, and students the opportunity to integrate this technology into the classrooms in the hopes of expanding our efforts at differentiation and curriculum access.”

–          The teachers shared their innovative lessons with one another

–          They held monthly faculty meetings where faculty discussed how technology integration made instruction more authentic, vivid, and relevant, and how it brought students closer together in partnership with their teachers and one another in the classroom…

–          Innovations were seen in Civics and Economic (election campaign, stock market), English (poem project), Music (self-critique), German (proper pronunciation), After School tutoring programs, etc.

–          Community engagement was enhanced (V-Brick system)

–          They have become a greener and paperless facility (Starportal, electronic classroom materials, etc)

–          Training was provided to initially introduce the new technology and to share in ways in which they could integrate the technology into their classrooms.

–          Additional training was offered for  the wireless keyboards, the Interwrite pads, and the V-Brick system.

–          More:


WHRO 2008 Excellence in technology Winners:

Nicole Sneddon (Riverside Elementary) for example, facilitates (reading and writing) progress through student blogs, and bubble-map graphic organizers in Kidspiration.

Glenn VanHouten (Shelton Park Elementary School) “As a pioneer user of clay animation, he combines his love for history with digital multi-media.”

Mary Ann Hutchinson, Principal, (McIntosh Elementary School) introduces her students and teachers to distance learning, elementary computer labs, virtual field trips, teleconferencing, interactive whiteboards, and more.

Ron Trainum (Toano Middle School) uses PowerPoint and a WebQuest application to guide students through the process of designing their own fitness program with an evaluation rubric and approximately 60 hyperlinks in the presentation.

Anthony Vladu (Heritage High School) brought into the classroom podcasts, wikis, and blogs to increase student participation with greater attention to writing skills. “He uses TeenBiz to improve reading skills, and a web site to inform students and parents, to deliver quizzes, and PowerPoint reviews. He incorporates the Classroom Response System for immediate student feedback, and SmartBoards for creating maps and interactive lesson plans.”

Connie Pritchard (Independence Middle School) for example “worked with the 7th grade science team where students made a storyboard, created 3-5 minute movies, added text, titles, and credits, recorded narration and added background music. They used the movies in the presentation process to teach one another about biomes.”

Janet Kreider (First Colonial High School) “ …worked collaboratively with the Computer Information Systems and English 11 classes to create a unique connection of poetry that linked to designing a section of a quilt, initially electronically involving scanned images, digital photography, video images, streaming and downloadable images from the internet. Once converted to the final actual quilt, it will be donated to the St. Jude’s Research hospital.”

Stephanie Bourgeois, Principal (Crittenden Middle School) has promoted “math use of TI-Navigators, Movie Maker in Science and Social Studies, Band compositions in Finale Notepad, wiki and blog applications, magnet photography, multimedia product generation and establishment of a gaming club and curriculum.”


Terry Lyle, Principal (SECEP REACH Program) “Initiatives during her tenure include acquiring touch screen monitors, special switches and other AT hardware and software, use of data projectors and unitedstreaming™ content, use of video conferencing, bedside computers, and using the internet for residents to reach parents outside of the area.”



Larry Cuban would be pleasantly surprised and proud of these educators!

February 21, 2010

Chapter 4: The Promise of the Computer

Filed under: Laptops,Larry Cuban — mepada @ 1:38 pm


Chapter 4 reminded me immediately of the “One laptop per Child” initiative that took place in Uruguay not long ago. In 2006, the government of Uruguay, most specifically their president, Tabara Vazquez, decided to provide all public school students with apple laptops. 380,000 computers were distributed.

A little history:

  • These mini/energy-efficient computers were designed at MIT by Professor Nicholas Negroponte.
  • US Scientist founded the “One Laptop per Child” group which distributes these computers to selected governments.
  • The computers are rugged, low-cost and energy-efficient laptop with Internet connectivity, learning software and a photo camera.

What great news some may think! Poor children can now have access to the same resources as their wealthier counterparts!

However, when we referred back to the questions posed in Chapter 4 (page 74):

  • What is the nature of the innovation?
  • How is it being introduced?
  • Who are the users, and how much are the machines used?, and
  • Should computers be used in the classroom?

It makes us reflect on how some teachers in Uruguay reacted to this initiative.

This article, All Public Primary School Students in Uruguay Will Now Have a laptop ( states that this decision did not please all teachers, “Some would have preferred to use the funds to reform the local school system or to increase teacher salaries”

Miguel Brechner who heads this program called “Ceibal Plan” stated:

“The goal is to teach students how to work in a different way, so they can get better jobs five to six years from now”, and added: “…we also would like to give students equal opportunity. As a result of this decision 220,000 more household now have a computer, and half of them are among the poorest ones.”

According to this article, (as of November 2009) the internet has not yet reached 25% of Uruguay elementary schools, however, they plan to have wireless connectivity by the end 2010.

When the students took the laptop homes they realized that their parents have never touched a keyboard before. Therefore they have implemented free local training programs for parents and community members on how to use the equipment.

The article also points out that this program is still too recent to measure its impact.

During 2010 they plan to extend this program to the high schools. Brechner stated that this time “It will be a compact version of the popular notebook, with greater power and memory than the computers given to elementary school children.”

“Preliminary results from one study… shared with a group of international experts who met in Uruguay… apparently show that, as a result of increased access to technology in the two years since the rollout of Ceibal commenced, eight-year old children now have the same level of computer literacy that 18 year olds demonstrated just a few years ago.”

More formal research and studies are being conducted to determine the impact of this program. They hope to discover useful information that would perhaps allow us to answer some of Cuban’s own questions:

“What is the most useful frame of reference for assessing the impact of Plan Ceibal in and on Uruguay?  Standardized test scores?  Something broader?  How about it’s larger societal and community impact?”

Cost of this program:

“The amount (of the Ceibal program) accounts for less than five percent of the primary school budget, according to Miguel Brechner, who heads the program.”

“…cost the state $260 (£159) per child, including maintenance costs, equipment repairs, training for the teachers and internet connection.”


February 13, 2010

Chapter 3: Use of Machines in the Classroom

Filed under: Larry Cuban — mepada @ 10:27 pm

This chapter hit home. Years ago -before changing careers from education to instructional technology- I taught for several years (at the Higher Ed level). Oftentimes new technologies would pop ‘up and there would be either an administrator and/or an “early adopter” pushing us to adopt it and use it in the classroom. My personal reaction is explained very clearly on page 60: Teaching itself nourishes a cautionary attitude toward change and an arms-length response to automated devices.

This type of “un-gentle” request always made me nervous however, as Cuban states on page 55: Compliance with authority is expected in organizations. I had (and the same applies today) many concerns that needed examined and questions that needed answers before I would even start to consider such an adoption.

Many of these items link directly to some of the assertions mentioned in this chapter. Even though Cuban concentrates in the K-12 environment, I believe the same criteria can be transferred to Higher Ed setting as well.

Today, in my role as an instructional technologist /technology programs coordinator, with less classroom teaching responsibilities but increasing faculty training obligations, I continue to bring to the table the same set of questions and concerns I had when I taught students back in the day!:

  • What is this technology tool?
  • What does it do?
  • What are its limitations?
  • Will it help deliver content in a more effective manner?
  • Will it improve teaching/learning? (pg 65: The changes teachers have embraced…have solved problems that teachers identified as important…)
  • Will this tool help my students get better grades?
  • Will I have time to learn it? (I was really overloaded as it was!)
  • Will the college/university offer training?
  • Will the college/university provide support?
  • Will I have to re-arrange my classroom layout?
  • Will the students require/need same level of training/support?
  • Will the students have access to the equipment?  In a lab?  In the classroom? At home?
  • Will the lab be open enough hours? Evening hours?
  • Will we (instructors and students) have to incur any additional costs?
  • What happens when something goes wrong?
  • Will this technology go away when a new one is introduced?
  • Is it worth the time/labor/effort?

After all, as mentioned in The Three-E Strategy for Overcoming Resistance to Technological Change: If you just build it, they won’t come—you need to shape users’ behavior by acknowledging their world view rather than your own as a technology implementer. (