Tag Archives: educational technology

Art’s Importance to Education

Blog Inspired Tweet: @agoscinski

On December 1, 2014, CBS Chicago’s news website posted an article titled “Teacher, CEO Advocates Arts Education In Chicago.” In the article the “Chicago Sun Times,” and Shakila Stewart are quoted defining and defending art teachers. The Chicago Sun Times states, “Arts teachers who were rescued from layoffs aren’t always spread out enough for students from diverse neighborhoods to utilize.” Therefore, there are many students in an educational system lacking an art program. With all of the new applications of art, there are certainly resources available to the students. As a college student studying education, I was able to observe a class in a low-income neighborhood. Though they had an art program, the other surroundings schools that did not. However, the surrounding schools still maintained a computer program, and because of new technologies and art applications the teachers could use the computers to implement an art program. “The internet links millions of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities.” (Turkle, page 3). So could our computers introduce art in a new way?

“My degree in theater and dance led to my desire to invest in the lives of children who had the gift of performance but whose parents just couldn’t afford to put them in a performing arts program,” explains Shakila Grigler Stewart, an art instructor. An art program gives students the ability to discover wha they enjoy, and what they are passionate about. Creativity, Imagination, and Artistic Abilities are not subjects in school. However, they can positively influence a student’s education. Just as student’s are taught to find their favorite books or subjects, they should also find their favorite type of art. Music, drawing, painting, acting, singing, they are interests that derive passion, and isn’t that what we want for our student’s?

“When they come to school they cannot focus on learning if these emotions aren’t let out in a positive way. Theater allows them to do that. Dancing allows them to be heard, and it gives them a way to express themselves in a way that maybe when they’re taking a test it might not.” (Stewart). Academic curriculums are constructed around producing well rounded and developed students. Art programs should also be viewed as an important step to the students educational career. “When they’re reading the scripts they’re learning literacy. It helps them with their comprehension skills and vocabulary words. I believe education and creativity make [students] become inventors for the future.” (Stewart). Can art be used as a new literary technology? “Students’ writing will be published writing, and it will be produced in genres and by processes that depart radically from the traditional ways writing has been practiced and taught.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Though art is not the traditional way to teach student’s, it very well could be. With proper introduction and implementation art can become a new technology to education.

The Twitter Teacher or Teaching Twitter

On November 23, a #tfwf14 classmate of mine, @hamilt35, posted an article on twitter. “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” by “The Irish Times.” As I have discussed the importance of “Zite” in my prior blog post “Educational Innovations,” here is another example of it’s asset to education. This article was posted on an Irish news website, on November 22, 2014, and without “Zite,” would have never made it to my computer screen. Zite is not the only application providing a positive academic resource, Twitter is also implemented into classrooms all around the world.
Teachers are learning how to shape their curriculum around new technologies that their students are using. This process helps teachers engage their student’s conscious effort, attention, and participation. Any college student in Rowan Universities’ Introduction to Writing Arts course, #tfwf14 #tfebt, could explain how Twitter can be used as an academic asset and an educational resource. Now, there is evidence world wide of Twitter’s positive influence on a classroom, as well as, the student’s success.
The article “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” explains the process of how Twitter can be utilized in an academic setting. “For a typical class, groups of students are asked to research a topic online and then to start tweeting facts in chronological order. He monitors quality, deleting misspelt or out-of-sequence tweets. He then uses Storify to grade and document the tweets. The groups have a sense of researching like historians, he says.” His lessons are structured around the established use of Twitter in the classroom. This creates a positive way for students to use their cellphones in class, therefore, combining the educational information of the History class with the common interests of the students. Essentially providing an efficient way for teachers to obtain their student’s effort and dedication.
Porter and DeVoss express the influence of new technology on writing. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Twitter influences student’s writing in the classroom. Instead of writing their notes on paper, the chalk board, or typing them on a computer, Twitter has provided an user friendly interface. The respond rate is almost instantaneous, allowing students to observe their classmates ideas. Twitter remediates word documents, pen and paper, and even the chalk board, because the teacher and students can read and respond to the individual comment, or post. Bolter defines remediation as “homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Twitter and Zite are two new educational applications, that offer an academic resource for students of ages. Implementing student’s interests into a lesson plan can derive enveloped participation and academic success.

Educational Innovations

I was recently introduced to a new educational technology, “Zite.” Zite now has an influence on my research processes. This application is an academic resource for discovering and obtaining new educational information. For me, it has replaced news websites, and television channels. What is Bolter’s ideology of remediation and new technologies? “Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23). Zite offers a user friendly interface, based on educational and personal interests important to the individual. Therefore, Zite essentially eliminates aimless scrolling and wasted time. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t need more hours in a day?

I probably would have never read this article if it wasn’t for Zite. I did not have to research websites or search engines, I just opened my Zite application on my iPhone and there it was. On November 19, 2014, Keith Sawyer published an article titled, “Ten Educational Innovations To Watch For In The Next Ten Years.”
“Education experts at the Open University (UK) led by Professor Mike Sharples, have identified ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education.” (Sawyer). The influence on education is existent, but not defined. According to Porter and DeVoss, “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Though the technologies educational resources and academic assets are not yet evident, it does not mean that they will never be.

Ten Educational Innovations:

1.) Massive open social learning: social networking

2.) Learning design informed by analytics: “design and analytics work together to support the development of successful learning and teaching.”

3.) Flipped classrooms: Video lectures, allow students to work at their pace, pausing to make notes when necessary.

4.) Burn your own devices: “teachers become managers of technology-enabled networked learners, rather than providers of resources and knowledge.”

5.) Learning to learn: Web tools/activities such as reflective journals and concept mapping support learning to learn.

6.) Dynamic assessment: The assessor interacts with students during testing, ways to overcome each person’s current learning difficulties.

7.) Event based learning: “do it yourself science” engineering and crafts projects

8.) Learning through storytelling: Developing a narrative to create a meaningful whole

9.) Threshold concepts: a new way of thinking about a problem, a subject or the world.

10.) Bricolage: a practical process of learning through tinkering with materials. Learning through play.

Disney Creatively Inspires Learning

On December 4, 2014, Brooks Barnes of The New York Times, posted an article titled “Disney to Introduce New Apps Focused on Learning.” To a college student studying new technologies influence on writing, learning, and education, this title jumped off the page, and captivated my attention. However, due to my current use of new literary technologies, this metaphor is relatively obsolete. Now I have to say, jumped off the “screen,” because the article by Barnes was not posted in The New York Times newspaper. It was posted on The New York Times website, with no subscription or purchase necessary. If this is not supporting evidence of technologies influence on writing, than what is?

The New York Times website is an evident example of technological remediation. Defined by Bolter, “Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Do The New York Times’ online articles improve their newspaper? If I were to answer this question I would say absolutely. The networking capabilities of the Internet created an efficient and accessible news station. Ask my grandfather the same question and he won’t dignify a response. Though there are assets and complications to both sides of the news publishing processes, the importance lies with The New York Times “implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23).

As well as The New York Times, Disney has had an essential influence on the public for multiple generations. Disney’s’ intentions to implement positive learning applications are similar to the progressional effort of The New York Times, and the creation of their website. They should not be viewed negatively, and according to Barnes, “Disney Publishing Worldwide unveiled a technology-driven learning initiative called Disney Imagicademy. Aimed at families with children aged 3 to 8.” The use of technology has substantially increased in children, and Disney is taking a positive advantage by providing a “learning” resource. “The media conglomerate is being careful to describe the initiative as learning and not educational,” due to “harshly criticized marketing claims tied to its Baby Einstein line.” (Barnes). Porter and DeVoss offer some support for Disney’s effort. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (page 195).

Disney’s application’s “significant impact on basic literacy” is yet to be defined. Though there intentions are clearly positive and progressional. Barnes explains, “Disney developed Imagicademy in conjunction with advisers like Douglas H. Clements, an expert on early childhood mathematics from the State University of New York at Buffalo.” “Imagicademy will include more than 30 app-based “experiences” centered on various subjects – math, science, language arts, emotional and social skills.” (Barnes).There are a vast variety of applications available to children, and Disney is trying to provide an app. that derives a learning process from it’s users. An unsurmountable amount of applications need parents to consciously consider the hindering interference they have on their child’s education and ability to learn. Bolter explains that the effort of improvement is the important property (page 23). “This is a substantial commitment,” Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products, said in an interview.” (Barnes). Disney’s conscious effort and commitment is clear. Imagicademy, was developed based on “learning,” and should be the last application ridiculed, as well as, accused of deceit.

Technologies’ Influence on Education

One of our blog co-administrators, Samantha Regina (@samantharegina8), tweeted an article from The New York Times, “Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say,” by Matt Richtel. 

In this article, the information presented for new technologies influence on students, was obtained through a teacher survey. Richtel explained that, “the researchers note that their findings represent the subjective views of teachers and should not be seen as definitive proof.” (page 1). However, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, states that the “teacher’s views were subjected but nevertheless could be accurate in sensing dwindling attention spans among students.” (Richtel, page 4).

In Turkle’s article, “Who Am We?” an excerpt from her book, “Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet,” she explains “ how computers are not just changing our lives but changing ourselves.” (page 3). According to Vicky Rideout’s research, discussed in Richtel’s article, “media use among children and teenagers ages 8 to 18 has grown so fast that they on average spend twice as much time with screens each year as they spend in school.” (page 1). New technologies have an influence on students’ academic careers, as well as, their lives outside of the classroom. The teacher’s that were surveyed said that, “technology was as much as a solution as a problem.” (Richtel, page 3).Therefor, efficient implementations and conscious adaptions are essential to the technologies’ educational resources, and the students academic success. This is a clarion call for a healthy and balanced media diet,” said Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media. (Richtel, page 3).

“The internet links million of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities.” (Turkle, page 3). Technologies within a classroom can become a positive asset, or a negative interference. The associate director for Pew Surveys, Kristen Purcell said, “that the education system must adjust to better accommodate the way students learn.” (Richtel, page 2). Dave Mendell, a forth grade teacher, supports Purcell’s ideology of adapting teaching processes to accommodate the way students learn. “Educational video games and digital presentations were excellent ways to engage students on their terms.” (page 3). Other teachers that participated in the survey explained that “they were using more dynamic and flexible teaching styles.” (Richtel, page 3). In an educational setting, an accommodating teaching style is nothing new. The evidence is expressed in the introduction of ESL (English is a Second Language) programs, to understanding the differences between visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Is there a difference between involving the three different learning styles and introducing the beneficial use of new technologies in an academic lesson? Or is the evolution of educational technologies progressing; producing new obstacles, outdating older technologies, under constant revision, and in a state of acceptance or rejection?

When Turkle discussed computers as a technology, she said “allow us to cycle through cyberspace and real life, over and over. Windows allow us to be in several contexts at the same time.” (page 3). This introduces the main controversial aspect involving the computers influence on it’s users, and therefor the computer’s influence on students. The acceptance argument is “that the Internet and search engines had a mostly positive impact on student research skills, (…), such tools had made students more self-sufficient researchers.” (Richtel, page 2). Whereas the rejection argument is “that digital technologies were creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” (Richtel, page 2). “Windows have become a powerful metaphor for thinking about the self as a multiple, distributed system. The life practice of windows is that of a decentered self that exists in many worlds, that plays many roles at the same time.” (Turkle, page 3). However an agreement can be made by both sides, students are easily distracted, which makes it difficult for teachers to captivate their attention, conscious effort, and constant engagement.(Richtel, pages 1-3). Dr. Christakis said “students saturated by entertainment media, were experiencing a supernatural stimulation that teachers might have to keep up with or simulate. The heavy technology use makes reality by comparison uninteresting.” (Richtel, page 4).

When used in moderation outside of school, as well as, monitored within the classroom, computers can become an accepted academic resource and a successful educational technology.

iWrite Words: The Handwriting App

As a iwritefuture educator, I am always on the lookout for creative ways to make learning fun for    my future students. With the Common Core‘s heavy presence in the classroom, various forms  of  writing instruction are crucial. Today, technology is so natural to children and is becoming  more popular  in the classroom, so being able to incorporate technology into writing  instruction will be extremely beneficial for the students while making learning fun.

In preschool and kindergarten classrooms, it is important to have the students practice forming uppercase and lowercase letters. Understanding that children must begin to write letters and numbers by tracing them first is key.

The app iWrite Words is something that can be used to do just this! iWrite Words is available on iPads, iPhones and iPods, and is an excellent way to get children interested and involved with the early stages of the writing process both inside and outside of the classroom.

iWrite Words helps to teach kids how to write the letters of the alphabet, numbers up to 20, and simple words using tracing. While it does help if kids already know how to count and read numbers up to 10 in order to play this game, this app can teach children the basics of letters. This app is available in English, French and Italian, making it a great for dual language learners, too.  After the child traces the letter or number, they hear a cheer, then see their actual handwriting appear based off of how they traced the letter.

This app has received rave reviews which include, “The whole app is delightful to behold. Bright background colors are juxtaposed against equally bright and scribbly child-like artwork that convey the word being spelled. You and your child will enjoy tracing your finger along those necessary building blocks of language. With its memorable artwork and way cool physics engine, it is sure to entertain and teach your child,” and many more.


The next time you are searching for the perfect new app to introduce or reinforce the basics of writing, keep iWrite Words in mind for your preschool and kindergartners.

*This app is available on iTunes for $2.99.