Rationale Paper

I’ve been the web manager of Weber School District in Utah since 2005. My background is primarily in information technology, but I quickly took an interest in assisting educational organizations around Utah incorporate technology into their existing programs. I assisted the Utah Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and developed a new web site for them, with a registration and payment processing system for their annual conference. I also became associated with a couple charter schools in my area, and developed web sites for them, set up servers, and helped them with their technology plans.

I didn’t necessarily seek out these opportunities. They just kind of opened up to me, and I gravitated toward them. It was about this time I was thinking about pursuing a Master’s degree. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, but I felt it was time for the next phase of my education. My first thought was to find an online Computer Science or Information Technology program, since an online program would be more practical for a full-time worker with a family. After looking at the major options, I narrowed it down to Western Governors University or Walden University. Yet after examining the course offerings from each program, it all sounded so … well … boring. Then I realized I don’t really like computer science. I don’t use much of what I learned in my undergraduate computer science classes, and most of my useful learning has been on-the-job.

I needed something different. I thoroughly enjoy my job, but it’s not so much because of the IT aspect, but the education aspect. I figured since I was in a position of teacher support, I should learn what technology tools our teachers need to excel at their jobs. I turned my attention to teacher programs, and Boise State University’s Educational Technology course offerings just seemed relevant. Even though I wasn’t really sure how much was involved in instructional design, evaluation, or any of the other core classes for the Master’s program, I recognized their importance in the field of education.

1.1: Instructional Systems Design

Instructional systems design places a focus on analyzing, designing, developing, implementing and evaluation (AECT, 2000). These are key components in systematic design, and for this standard I selected the final instructional design project I completed in EDTECH 503. “Digital Parent: Facing Facebook” is a workshop for parents on understanding how to communicate with their children about Facebook, and what they should and shouldn’t be concerned about with the social networking service.

Designing the workshop involved the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implement, Evaluation) process (Gustafson & Branch, 2002), a systematic approach which ensures that learners’ needs are addressed and materials are continuously revised. This project allowed me to carefully consider the process of design, and adapt the instructional model to best suit the goals and objectives.

1.2: Message Design

As the culminating project in EDTECH 506, I developed an online course entitled “Establishing Your Professional Learning Network.” The course is aimed at educators, during which they learn how to use social networking tools, such as blogs, social bookmarking services, and Twitter for learning purposes. For this course I created seven different graphics that follow the Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, and Proximity (CARP) principles. These are fundamental aspects of message design that allow viewers to effectively recognize and comprehend the crucial information conveyed by the graphic (Lohr, 2007). Each of my graphics throughout the lesson focuses on the important and relevant points of the information conveyed in the text that I wanted the learner to particularly remember.

I learned that message design is a highly important part of effective instruction. A well-designed graphic can emphasize and reinforce key principles the instructor is conveying through textual, verbal, and other forms of transmission. Conversely, a poorly designed graphic can confuse or hinder the learning potential of the viewer. The absence of graphics can also be detrimental, but ultimately the content is the key. Even a well-organized and competently written text-only document can be effective for instruction, if it follows the principles of selection, organization, and integration (Lohr, 2008).

1.3: Instructional Strategies

For my final project in EDTECH 532: Educational Games and Simulations, I designed and created a game-based simulation in Second Life. In the game, players learn the basic Second Life building skills by constructing “prims,” or the rudimentary “building blocks” of Second Life, to hold off an advancing barbarian horde. The instructor stands in a tower in the middle of the action, monitors the events, and shouts helpful advice. The instructor also explains how to correct mistakes. For example, part of the activity involves learning how to set the prims to a “physical” mode. If they are not in the proper mode, the barbarians will walk right through them. It is the job of the instructor to advise and explain how to rectify problems such as these, before the barbarians reach the tower.

The game adopts a situated learning model. Situated learning is an instructional approach in which the context becomes important to the learning process. Students learn concepts and skills in the same situation, often simulated, in which a real-life application would occur (Lave & Wenger, 1991). In this case, participants learn how to build in Second Life while they’re actually in Second Life. Players also work in teams in a hands-on, constructivist style, as they collaboratively coordinate their building efforts. Since the barbarians are numerous, and come from all angles, it is imperative that players work cooperatively, and build the blockade as organized and quickly as possible.

1.4: Learner Characteristics

As part of my “Facing Facebook Survey” workshop from EDTECH 503, I created a needs analysis survey for the potential participants of my course. Since the workshop was aimed at parents, I collected results from parents of varying ages of children, using both qualitative and quantitative measures, on their children’s Facebook usage and the parents general concerns about social networking and Internet safety.

From this activity, I learned how to analyze data and produce meaningful statistics on learners. I also learned that it’s important to use the data gathered from a learner analysis before creating instruction, otherwise designers may find they designed their instruction for no one. I had some ideas about what I would cover in my workshop, but the survey results steered my instructional design in certain directions. For example, a significant number of parents believed there was little to no privacy on Facebook, so I arranged extra time for discussing how to secure a Facebook account from unwanted viewers.

The most in-depth participant characteristic analysis I’ve conducted was my “Evaluation of Moodle as an Online Classroom Management System” project I completed for EDTECH 505. In this evaluation, I gathered data on how Weber School District’s implementation of Moodle benefits our teachers and students, and the effectiveness of our course management system in a hybrid learning environment. I discovered that both students and teachers believe Moodle eases the assignment preparation, submission, and grading processes, but is lacking in collaborative learning advantages. From the evaluation, I learned how to use predetermined criteria to gauge and analyze different responses and synthesize them into comprehensive and meaningful results.

2.1: Print Technologies

Despite everything becoming digital, print technologies is not solely about paper-based material. The basic concepts of printed material production branches to digital media. My “Glog About Virtual Worlds” represents a graphically appealing summary of the kinds of activities possible in virtual worlds. The way printed material looks directly impacts its ability as a learning tool, and in this “glog” I used different colors and relevant graphics to draw attention to each activity.

The graphics in my “Establishing Your Professional Learning Network” online course are my other example of print technology. In creating the graphics, I designed them to appeal to myself, since I’m largely a visual learner, and lay a foundation for the written instructional text and videos I share. At the same time, I realize I shouldn’t focus too heavily on any one learning style, since the way I like to be taught isn’t necessarily the way other students prefer.

2.2: Audiovisual Technologies

My EDTECH 504 “Educational Technology and Learning” presentation I created in Google Docs is about the role, importance, and application of educational technology. Each slide is preceded by a graphical representation, followed by an explanation of a key concept and a description of how the graphic ties into it. The idea is that the graphics act as both a visual stimulus and a mnemonic device for the metaphor, and the combination of visual and textual information strengthens the delivery of each concept. The EDTECH 503 “Instructional Design Presentation” slides apply a similar process. In this case, however, each graphical metaphor is explained in simpler terms on the following slide, with boldfaced words identifying the primary object of the image.

For Weber School District’s summer technology conference in 2009, one of our keynotes was actually a group of six Technical Services Department’s staff members sharing their insights into how Weber School District’s manages and deploys various technology tools. Each staff member spoke for about five minutes, comprising a 30-minute keynote presentation. All the speakers sent me PowerPoints they created for their presentations, and I created a Prezi based on the slides.

I quickly learned that making a good Prezi is significantly different from designing a good PowerPoint. There is more freedom in the design elements. For example, I created a circle for each speaker’s presentation, and put all the text and graphics inside. The Prezi zoomed out to each circle between each speaker, giving the viewer an overall sense of the topics covered. Pertinent keywords and graphics were enlarged to foreshadow what would be discussed, and reinforce the presenters’ topics when they were finished speaking. When subtopics were discussed, I turned those into smaller objects encapsulated inside the text and graphics of the parent topic, and the Prezi would zoom into and focus on these, instilling the notion that the speaker was “diving deeper” into the concept being discussed. The DigiKnow Prezi artifact demonstrates my competencies in creating interactive presentations with audiovisual media which, while linear in nature, presents instructional concepts in both real and abstract forms.

2.3: Computer-Based Technologies

In 2007, I developed a media-sharing site for Weber School District called WeberTube. It has been one of our most popular sites since it was launched. I believe that whenever a school or district blocks something useful for educational purposes, it is obligated to provide an alternative. Our school district blocked YouTube (although we recently opened it up to our teachers), but WeberTube was our answer to that.

Teachers all over the district were able to upload and share videos in their classes. They use webcams and digital cameras to record students’ presentations, reports, classroom activities, and school newscasts, then share them on WeberTube and embed the videos on their blogs. They can record their lectures each day and share them for students who may have missed class. Over 4700 videos have currently been uploaded to WeberTube.

I later implemented the ability for teachers to publish directly from WeberTube to their district blogs, and also added document support, so teachers could upload Microsoft Word files, PowerPoints, PDFs, and virtually any other type of document file. Sites like TeacherTube allow document uploading, but they leave out the ability to embed them, and this became a valuable part of WeberTube. Teachers are able to directly embed their PowerPoint lessons and other course material on their blogs, and share them so students can review previous lesson material. Over 1500 documents have been uploaded to WeberTube since this feature launched in 2010.

WeberTube highlights a major focus of research I will be pursuing following my graduation from the M.ET. program. There are several sites like TeacherTube and SchoolTube which provide an education-related media-sharing service for teachers. However, they act more as YouTube clones, instead of being built from the ground up to address the unique needs of educational professionals. They miss one major point: Teachers don’t just teach with videos. Historically, they’ve taught with curriculum-based lesson plans, which may or may not include videos. I’m currently in the process of creating a new, open source media-sharing site from the ground up which directly maps all content directly to U.S. state curriculum standards. Moreover, the various curriculum standards and objectives are mapped to each other, so degrees of relation can be established between various states (and eventually other countries). With this, I hope to create a system that directly analyzes and ties various forms of media to learning objectives, enabling teachers to easily find the most relevant content for their lessons.

My creation and ongoing development of WeberTube meets this standard, as it demonstrates my ability to manage and deliver a system for computer-based instructional materials, with data organized and optimized for K-12 teachers and students.

2.4: Integrated Technologies

My “Virtual Tour of British Castles” I created for EDTECH 502 is a good example of integrated technologies. It combines an interactive map, videos, photos, Wikipedia articles, and other web sites to deliver a concise representation of five famous castles in Great Britain. Viewers discover the answers to prompted questions, by researching the resources provided. These self-study opportunities provides an engaging way for learners to experience different facets of the castles, reinforced by the audiovisual media.

The “Establishing Your Professional Learning Network” online course I created for EDTECH 506 further demonstrates integrated technologies, by harmonizing written, audio, visual, and interactive media together. Participants are guided through a learning experience which combines all these media types, and involves hands-on constructivist learning opportunities as they learn about social networking tools.

3.1: Media Utilization

Media can add vividness and authenticity to learning experiences. At the same time, overuse of simultaneous media can overwhelm a student’s cognitive load, so the right balance has to be taken into consideration (Cairncross & Mannion, 2011). My “WebQuest on Digital Citizenship” I created for EDTECH 502 illustrates what I consider a good balance and diversity of media. I selected the media-based activities carefully to provide relevant learning experiences in accordance with the specifications for the assignment. Participants review two slideshows, a video, and two articles, then and collaboratively discuss the characteristics of each. After this, they create a collaborative blog post, and individually create a Prezi demonstrating the concepts of digital citizenship they learned. These constructivist activities, combining both written (blog post) and visual (Prezi) media, encourage participants to think carefully about the most important aspects of social content awareness, mobile media, and leaving a positive “digital footprint,” then consolidate it into summarized media formats.

3.2: Diffusion of Innovations

I’ve selected two artifacts for the Diffusion of Innovations standard. The first is a paper entitled “The Case for Ed Tech” which I wrote for EDTECH 501. In the paper, I responded to an email I received from a parent, and argued for the adoption of educational technology in education. K-12 students today are already immersed in a digital environment, and it is a mistake to think educators can simply ignore their natural curiosity and drive for technology tools. Instead, teachers should use that passion and demonstrate how to use the tools for educational purposes. Technology skills are crucial in the modern workplace, and students will enter the workforce deprived of these necessary skills if they are not taught in K-12 education (Ringstaff & Kelley, 2002). Students’ skills in math, literacy, writing, and logical reasoning improve when technology is introduce (Mouza, 2005), and technology has been to shown to benefit those who struggle with the learning tasks in general (Dunleavy, Dede, & Mitchell, 2007). In Weber School District, we recently deployed Kindles to groups of elementary special education students who struggle with language arts skills. Teachers have reported that students’ reading has increased 400% since this adoption. They attribute this to the “hip” factor of e-readers, and the fact that these struggling students can mask the lower grade-level of the books they read, avoiding personal embarrassment.

Teachers also benefit from instructional technology in professional development. They can connect to a wide range of educational professionals through the Internet, in ways they never could just 20 years ago. A sense of community improves teachers’ commitment to schools, and the connection opportunities afforded by the Internet can positively impact the ways a teacher instructs (Hausman & Goldring, 2001).

My second artifact for this standard is the email correspondence I initially wrote to the principal and technology coach at a charter school. In September 2011, I began working with Quest Academy, a technology-driven K-6 charter school in West Haven, Utah. They are looking to align their curricular standards to best practices in educational technology, and create learning opportunities that leverage the technology to optimally engage students and make them better digital citizens.

Quest Academy was initially looking to set up teacher blogs and a media-sharing site for uploading videos and documents. During the correspondence, I proposed two possible open source applications that could accomplish this: WordPress, and phpMotion with some extra customization to allow for document uploading (I eventually settled on a third one called jVideoDirect, due to its relative ease in implementation). I also suggested other possibilities such as giving students the ability to host their own portfolios, blogs, and coordinate with other classrooms around the world to involve their students in technology-based cooperative learning remotely with other students. This would provide a strong basis for a social constructivist learning environment.

During our first face-to-face meeting, I learned more about their server infrastructure, and discovered that Quest Academy was in the process of building a junior high school. I suggested they buy a new server capable of virtualizing different operating systems that could be used to expand with their future development efforts over the next several years. They agreed, and I am currently working with them on the setup of the new purchased equipment, and have set up their teacher blogging system, which will continue to develop as more teachers adopt it through Quest Academy’s training efforts.

My artifact for this standard demonstrates my competency by communicating how I planned to bring about change in Quest Academy’s operation, how I raised awareness of the possible solutions to the problems Quest Academy faced, and how I engineered the solutions and implemented them in Quest Academy’s infrastructure. With my assistance, Quest Academy has already begun to see significant changes in how teachers embrace technology, and is transforming into a technology-using school that seeks out and adopts the best instructional and learning practices for their students.

3.3: Implementation and Institutionalization

This standard applies well to my position as a “technology facilitator” than a classroom teacher. Even if I’m not physically using the technology with my own students, I’m able to impact my school district, and steer the direction the organization moves with how I implement different solutions.

My largest project on the horizon is our district’s implementation of virtual worlds. I’m the only one in our organization with any significant experience in using virtual worlds for education, building structural and learning content, and configuring them on a server. As a result, the responsibility to advocate, devise learning strategies, and integrate them into our organization largely falls on my shoulders. My artifact for this standard is a paper I wrote in EDTECH 504, “Constructivism and Its Application to Game-Based Learning Activities.”

Games provide a meaningful interactive environment for problem-based learning (Kiili, 2005). In this learning model, students form strategies to address clearly-defined problems the teacher has introduced into the game world, and test their hypotheses in the game world, which gives immediate feedback and allows student reflection and re-testing if necessary. In my paper, I lay out strategies and examples for problem-based learning activities. For example, students playing Sid Meier’s Civilization can be instructed to attempt to resolve a military conflict peacefully, and the turn-based game allows students to retract their moves when they fail, revise their strategies, and attempt a resolution again.

3.4: Policies and Regulations

The Copyright Scavenger Hunt activity I completed in EDTECH 502 gave me an opportunity to investigate and study the Fair Use laws in the U.S., and how they apply to teachers. I have found this is an area where many teachers are uninformed. It’s not uncommon for teachers and school districts to receive copyright violation notices from individual or corporate copyright holders, but if educators were more properly informed on appropriate use of copyrighted material, and learn how to find and use public domain or Creative Commons-licensed material instead, there would be fewer complications and lawsuits. The scavenger hunt activity provides links to external resources on the web, and quizzes the participants on what they read.

I often encounter teachers in my school district who are unfamiliar with the fair use standards (purpose, nature, proportion, and marketability), and how to apply them to their instructional tasks. I regularly remove videos teachers uploaded to WeberTube, my district’s media-sharing site, that violate copyright and fair use laws. Whenever this happens, and it typically does at least once every three or four weeks, I use it as an opportunity to educate the teacher on appropriate use of the media. Many teachers rationalize using copyrighted materials by insisting they will only use it behind password-protected logins in Moodle, but if the material does not meet the four fair use standards, the use is not acceptable.

Online learning is an increasing trend, and as they become more popular, it is increasing necessary that students understand the impact their online interactions have on others. My “Netiquette” artifact I created in EDTECH 502 provides some straightforward rules to adhere to when communicating online. As Weber School District expands its hybrid learning presence, and also moves toward fully online learning, it is vital that students recognize the importance of leaving a positive “digital footprint.” I plan to eventually teach online courses, and an understanding of the netiquette rules I outlined will be required of all my future students.

4.1: Project Management

For the Project Management standard I selected my “Evaluation of Determining Instructional Purposes” project I completed with the cooperation of a classmate, Jason Mackenzie, in EDTECH 505. The purpose of an evaluation is to produce statistical data that helps sponsors and staff members choose appropriate resources, identify areas in need of adjustment, become aware of program strengths and weaknesses, and understand the outcome of actions conducted in a program. The evaluation was written to a fictitious organization marketing training packages to school districts, but addressed all these elements.

The proposed evaluation laid out an itemized budget of services, and schedule for monitoring participants at varying stages of the program. This project was an exercise in assisting an organization to choose, improve, and measure the instruction and learning process, and helped me understand the importance of adopting a defined, systematic process to recognize the aspects of a program.

4.2: Resource Management

My artifact for this standard is a blog post I wrote about the general cost savings of thin clients, inspired by an experience I had budgeting, organizing, and setting them up in a school.

I’m one of the founding members of Venture Academy, a charter school in Marriott-Slaterville, Utah. In 2007-2008, my cousin Norm Bagley and I comprised the technology team for the school, and correlated with the principal to determine a technology budget plan. When we came on board, the school’s entire technology budget for the initial start up was $30,000. The principal had plans to leave out a dedicated computer lab from the school, and instead put a mini-PC lab in every classroom. Each PC would be equipped with Windows XP, and software like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office. Then laptops could be carted in as necessary, to fulfill the remaining gaps. The idea was to keep the learning environment uninterrupted, so students wouldn’t have to walk to a separate lab on a predetermined schedule.

We broke the budget down into each individual component, received quotes on educational licenses, shopped around for the best deals on hardware and servers, and calculated how much the essentials would cost. It was concluded that the original plan was financially unrealistic, since with new computer and software licensing costs, this nearly quadrupled our available funds just to put desktop PCs in the school, each with its own software. That didn’t even count the laptops that had to be purchased to be carted in, and it left no room for servers, wiring, and other hardware and software the school required.

We concluded that we could solve the problem with thin clients. We started asking the community for donations of old PCs, and eventually received about 100 workstations and monitors, with enough peripherals. Following this, we removed the hard drives from each, only left minimal RAM modules, and installed a network card (which cost about $9 each) that allowed the computers to boot off a network. Then we set up two thin client servers which cost about $2000 each, and used ThinStation to allow these bare-bones PCs to boot into an instance of the server’s operating system. The other advantage was that only one license of each software such as Photoshop and Office needed to be installed, instead of 100, resulting in significant savings to the school. This has allowed every faculty and staff member to have access to premium software for instructional use, at a fraction of the originally anticipated cost.

4.3: Delivery System Management

I’m the administrator of Weber School District’s Moodle server, so I have quite a bit of experience with managing the overall system which delivers instructional content. Many of the students in our district come only have lower-end computers in their households, and many in the rural areas still use dial-up Internet connections. I manage the Moodle server, and frequently optimize it to more adequately meet the minimal hardware requirements of our users. I also provide direct support for Moodle-using teachers, and indirectly support the students when they mention technical errors to their teachers.

In addition to managing the delivery from a strictly technical end, I’ve also earned experience directly supporting my own online courseware. I built an online course I built in EDTECH 522, titled “Creating a Social Bookmarking Network with Diigo.” This course was specifically designed for Janat Hetrick, an English teacher. During an interview with Ms. Hetrick, I assessed her unique learning requirements, and determined an appropriate tool that would benefit Ms. Hetrick and her colleagues: the social bookmarking tool Diigo. This activity helped me understand how to pay attention to a user’s technical requirements, and design instruction specifically addressing the learner’s needs while providing continuing support.

My selected artifacts for this standard are the “Blog and Wiki Usage” design document I created for EDTECH 503, and its accompanying survey. The survey functioned as a needs analysis for learners prior to their participation in a workshop on using blogs and wikis for educational purposes. It allowed me to gain an understanding of the technical requirements and expertise of the learners, as well as their prior knowledge related to the instruction. The artifacts concretely demonstrate the research conducted to plan and organize the workshop, according to the learners’ needs, and how it helped me determine the format of the workshop.

4.4: Information Management

I’ve selected my educational technology WordPress blog as my artifact for this standard. This seemed a logical choice for the standard, since the blog’s purpose is to manage, organize, and disseminate information, and monitor incoming traffic to see how people find and use the content. Before and during the M.ET. program, I wrote frequent blog posts about my experiences with educational technology, focusing on topics of particular interest to me. The blogging platform allows visitors to leave comments, and I’ve engaged in some meaningful exchanges, an example being my post Turning Students Into Teachers with Moodle. Teachers can use the blog to post classroom assignments, and hold discussions with their students, who improve their writing skills as they interact with their teacher and classmates. As I demonstrated in my post Why Teachers Should Encourage Students to Blog, students can interact with a much wider audience than typical in a traditional classroom, and become creators, owners and distributors of their own content, which gives the student blog a strong association with constructivist learning theory (Andersson, 2010).

5.1: Problem Analysis

I conducted a study, “Evaluation of Moodle as an Online Classroom Management System,” as part of my EDTECH 505 course. Weber School District has used Moodle since 2007, without any real feedback on how it was benefiting the district. Moreover, there were only loosely-defined goals for its usage. This evaluation was beneficial since it forced me to interview and define the district’s goals in hybrid learning, and organize questions according to intended objectives. I selected four categories: Collaboration, Attitude, Presentation, and Delivery, and created questions within each of these categories. Three open-ended questions were posed as well.

Since I’m the Moodle administrator for my district, I have access to statistical data on the learning management system’s usage, so I discovered the popular Moodle activities from the server logs (assignments, forums, and quizzes), and specifically asked questions pertaining to these. This process proved advantageous to me by helping me identify and obtain a general idea of how teachers use Moodle before the evaluation itself, and later ensure they were using these tools optimally. Analyzing a problem is the intermediary step between recognizing the problem and arriving at a solution, and it involves using data collection and forming decision-making strategies. However, defining clear goals and objectives is an important part of problem analysis, too, and this artifact is an excellent reflection of how I accomplished this.

5.2: Criterion-Referenced Measurement

During my time in the EDTECH program, I’ve come to realize the value of criterion-referenced measurement in assessment. As one of my artifacts for this standard, I’ve selected the follow-up assessment I created for my final EDTECH 503 project, the “Facing Facebook Follow-Up.” This is a post-survey intended to be conducted a week following the workshop, and assesses how adequately the participants met the instructional goals, as well as the effectiveness and impact of the instruction. This artifact demonstrates my ability to determine a learner’s mastery of a subject.

5.3: Formative and Summative Evaluation

Every year, Weber School District hosts a technology conference called BrainBlast. It is primarily organized by the district’s technology coordinator and a 3rd grade teacher in the district, who works part-time in the Technical Services Department. I provide technical support and build the conference web site every year, as well as the registration systems necessary. In 2010, I wrote an evaluation of the BrainBlast 2010 survey results. While I did not write the survey, which primarily used Likert scales but also allowed open-ended feedback, I was able to use the data, as well as the data collected during the registration process, to identify common trends, complaints, and assurances in how participants reacted to the conference. The intent of the survey, and my accompanying evaluation, was that my Technical Services Department would have an idea of changes that needed to be made to make BrainBlast 2011 a better experience.

There were a few changes implemented in BrainBlast 2011 that directly resulted from my evaluation. One was as trivial as getting rid of T-shirts for everyone, since enough participants indicated they were a waste of money. Another common complaint was that the classes were too easy for the “tech-savvy” teachers, and that there should be beginner and advanced classes. After some consideration, we decided every class should be a beginner class, since most of BrainBlast’s participants were repeat attendees. We put the school principals in charge of selecting attendees for the 2011 conference, with the instructions to only enroll those who had never attended BrainBlast before. As a result, we were able to tailor our conference sessions to a more like-minded audience.

Another complaint discovered through the survey and my evaluation was that a lot of the sessions were irrelevant. The participants didn’t find them very useful. To address this, we created multiple conference “tracks” based on the grades or subjects of each teacher: three elementary tracks, one secondary track, one Career and Technology Education (CTE) track, one Special Education track, and one Administrator track. This approach helped provided optimal, relevant learning experiences.

My evaluation of BrainBlast 2010 satisfies both the formative and summative evaluation requirements of this standard. It is formative in that BrainBlast is an ongoing event which we’re consistently trying to improve every year. Any feedback we gain is used as a basis for development of not just BrainBlast, but all our professional development endeavors. It’s also summative in that it directly referenced the information gained from the survey results for one specific conference event, and determined if my department was achieving its instructional goals.

5.4: Long-Range Planning

I selected “Evaluation of Moodle as a Classroom Management System” as my artifact for this standard. My school district has been using Moodle since 2007, but we had not yet collected any hard data on its effectiveness. This proved to be a great opportunity to do so, especially since a few months previously we made a significant move to train 150 teachers on using Moodle at our summer teachers’ conference, BrainBlast. Long-range plans are important to an organization, since they supply a map for guiding future efforts. No one can always accurately predict what will happen in two or three years, since technology changes too rapidly. However, a long-range strategic plan is not intended to be an unalterable agenda, but a timeline that is subject to later revision as necessary, through information gathered from later evaluations. The project gave me the information I needed to make informed decisions about which benefits Moodle provided, and where to direct future improvement efforts in accordance with Weber School District’s objectives.

Conclusion

The Master’s of Educational Technology Program has provided me with the skills and knowledge I need to make the informed decisions necessary to coordinate my school district’s technological implementations and learning processes. The activities in which I have participated are already benefiting my district, and it has been exciting to create projects that I can immediately use in my field of work. I have acquired lifelong learning skills that will guide and help me. I have many planned projects on the horizon that are a direct result of my research and learning in the Educational Technology Program, and I look forward to continuing my journey and exploring educational technology throughout my career.

References

Andersson, A. (2010). Learning e-learning: The restructuring of students beliefs and assumptions about learning. International Journal on E-Learning, 9(4), 435-461.

Cairncross, S., & Mannion, M. (2001). Interactive multimedia and learning: Realizing the benefits. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 38(2), 156-164.

Dunleavy, M., Dede, C., & Mitchell, R. (2009). Affordances and limitations of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations for teaching and learning. Journal of Science Education & Technology, 18(1), 7-22. doi:10.1007/s10956-008-9119-1

Hausman, C. S., & Goldring, E. B. (2001). Sustaining teacher commitment: The role of professional communities. Peabody Journal of Education, 76(2), 30-51.

Kiili, K. (2005). Digital game-based learning: Towards an experiential gaming model. The Internet and Higher Education, 8(1), 13-24.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning. Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.

Lohr, L. L. (2007). Creating Graphics for Learning and Performance: Lessons in Visual Literacy (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Mouza, C. (2005). Using technology to enhance early childhood learning: The 100 days of school project. Educational Research & Evaluation, 11(6), 513-528.

Ringstaff, C., & Kelley, L. (2002). The learning return on our education technology investment: A review of findings from research. San Francisco: WestEd. Retrieved from https://www.msu.edu/~corleywi/documents/Positive_impact_tech/The%20learning%20return%20on%20our%20educational%20technology%20investment.pdf

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