EdTech ePortfolio - Rationale
Stefanie Brimacomb, M.Ed.

MEETING THE STANDARDS AND MAKING THE GRADE

Stefanie Brimacomb, M.Ed.

Boise State University Educational Technology Portfolio

May, 2013

Introduction

     When signing up for Boise State University’s Master of Educational Technology (MET) program, I imagined the courses on educational technology and instructional design would be similar to curriculum development.  As our district’s IT director and a secondary classroom teacher, I hoped to develop some skills in training my colleagues how to integrate technology into their content areas while helping to create curriculum that aligned to the National Common Core State Standards.

The program has taken me further than I could have imagined, and offered me myriad opportunities to share innovative technologies with my students and peers. In the past two years, I have learned to troubleshoot networks and program mobile apps for teaching and learning. Just as we are aligning our curriculum with the National standards, Boise State University requires that the program’s graduates demonstrate mastery of AECT standards.

My reasoning behind this degree is to continue on in the Ed.D. Program and ultimately be qualified to help others in their endeavors to grow. As a professional technical educator with multiple academic endorsements and an accidental tourist in the IT department, I know a lot about educational theory, teaching in a classroom, IT issues and design techniques but I don’t know much about the unique climate of the very population I want to serve – adult and teen students in an on-line learning environment, with a focus on those who are incarcerated.

 

This document provides a rationale for the course artifacts that I have selected towards that purpose, and is organized sequentially according to AECT’s five standards and their respective subcategories.

AECT Standards

STANDARD 1 DESIGN

Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to design conditions for learning by applying principles of instructional systems design, message design, instructional strategies, and learner characteristics.

Standard 1.1 Instructional Systems Design The projects that I selected to demonstrate my ability to procedurally analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate instruction are found in artifacts from two different courses addressing online, print, and mobile device instruction.  The first example is EdTech 503 – ID Project  which demonstrates my use of analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation (ADDIE) model (Smith, 2005) when designing instruction. The lesson is the cumulating activity in a unit that teaches speech or language arts students how to use Microsoft Live Moviemaker to finalize a public service announcement.  The lesson plan was different from a classroom lesson plan because I was creating it for another teacher to be delivered in a “blended” environment. I had to take a systematic approach when developing the activities. The feedback from the students and the classroom teacher gave valuable input as to how the lesson met the objectives, and I modified the sequence of activities and the instructional delivery tasks accordingly.

Through this lesson, I learned that developing a learning environment using multi-media and graphic design tools requires attention to every aspect of the course goals and instructional delivery. Whether designing or teaching a course, it is important to know the intended outcomes. Designers can create assessment tools, but designing the lesson from both the instructor’s and learners’ viewpoints was a unique experience and led me to incorporate a formative pre-assessment survey to determine the learners’ needs, and a summative evaluation from the instructor.  I believe this is the area where instructors have an advantage with face-to-face instruction, a quick verbal quiz – body language – subjective measures all add up to formative assessments that continue to challenge the online course designer.

An iOS user, I was thrust into the Android realm and found that my ability to procedurally analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate instruction was stretched to the limit on every assignment!  One of my favorites was the EdTech 597 Quiz Bowl assignment, in which I had to spend extra time analyzing my content needs to find Creative Commons pictures that would be applicable to this app.  After evaluating the app with a student, I decided that the first version update will include a variety of “correct" answers, since the app is prone to unforgiving syntax errors. To counter that problem in the course version, I added the correct answer to the "incorrect" message to help students recognize whether or not their response was close

Standard 1.2 Message Design Message design involves planning for the manipulation of the physical form of the message, such as the appearance or layout. Prior to taking EdTech 506 I was unaware that selecting font attributes and graphics placement had a significant impact on learning and student achievement. This course met the standard in every assignment, but the one that most stands out is the lesson on the “Three C’s (Lohr, 2008). Lohr references Mayer (2001) who has identified seven characteristics of effective instructional visuals, but these three (concentrated, concise, and concrete)  relate to the cognitive task of selection. Concentrated emphasizes key graphical and textual elements, concise strips away all but the most basic information, and concrete refers to visual cues and elements in the design that make the message easy to visualize. I am proud that the resulting artifact is not only used for training volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians, but it is also displayed on the wall of our ambulance for quick reference in critical situations. Because I took the time to implement these three principles into my design, it makes the protocol selection easy during stressful transport situation.

Standard 1.3 Instructional Strategies I found EdTech 504 Building a Framework for Lifelong Learning to be a valuable resource for thinking about why I subscribe to certain pedagogical theories when selecting and sequencing events and activities for instruction and delivery. I feel my research best reveals my viewpoint on designing instruction. This paper describes my belief that teachers construct the learning environment with the instructional strategies they choose to use to optimize learning.  Although I am describing my face-to-face class, the activity brought me to consider how I might revise those instructional strategies should the goal be to educate and reform juveniles and adults who are incarcerated. My possible solutions were to “1) change the way instruction is delivered to become more personalized 2) use technology simulations to reshape the learner’s world view, and 3) educate the instructors with their peers (who share in their teaching experience) how to incorporate the use of technology into curriculum in order to set the same goals and expectations for their learners” (Brimacomb, 2012).

This research helped me to realize a shift in my thinking about instructional design, and made me recognize the importance of teacher training with like-minded colleagues. For example, how might Idaho best train its correctional facilities instructors for technology integration and web 2.0 tools when Internet availability is prohibited to those who are incarcerated. Providing specialized professional development for these educators may result in “thinking outside the box” and gaining new insights about incarcerated learners.

Standard 1.4 Learner Characteristics Learner characteristics are those facets of the learner's experiential background that impact the effectiveness of a learning process. Every learner processes new information in a unique and personal manner, while at the same time, using tools of their time. Today’s learners share an aptitude for social media and shared experiences. The challenge posed by EdTech 541Considering the Outcomeswas not only discovering what innovative technologies were proven tools of instruction, but how each could benefit social learners with individual needs while complying with various state and federal mandates and local policies and procedures. My paper examines instructional technology from three viewpoints that all come back to today’s learners. This concept is evident when teaching volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians. The learners range from high school students to “empty-nesters” all with different backgrounds and learning habits.

EdTech 541’s video library activity helped me to plan for a variety of adult learners who are taking a basic EMT course. These Internet resources are easily accessible and present the information in different ways that will appeal to different learning styles.

STANDARD 2 DEVELOPMENT

Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to develop instructional materials and experiences using print, audiovisual, computer-based, and integrated technologies.

Standard 2.1 Print Technologies My EdTech 512 Lesson Overviews were designed as print materials. The overviews were used by middle school math students as they completed the online activities in my blended classroom.  I received feedback from the students asking to modify the overviews to include more specific instructions and standardize the instruction so they knew at a glance where their lesson preview and activities could be found.  Word got around among the students and the remedial math teacher asked me about the course and asked if I could extend it to his learners as a beginning of course refresher.

Standard 2.2 Audiovisual Technologies Audiovisual technologies present auditory and visual messages through mechanical devices or electronics. I had to overcome my dislike for creating live video and audio presentations with the EdTech 513 File Management project. The resulting screencast uses audio and images to create effective instructional materials. The project was designed in such a way that using technology was a natural fit for this lesson. I found this presentation useful (albeit embarrassing) in teaching staff members how to develop a custom file organization system. What was most beneficial was when I used it to show a teacher some possibilities, and the teachers’ response – “how did you do that?” My ability to help my colleagues get out of their comfort zones and extend their instruction with the myriad web 2.0 tools that incorporate audio and visual made my discomfort worthwhile.

I found the EdTech 501 – Digital Divide paper provided an enlightenment that gave me a deeper understanding of the difficulties that present themselves when creating a collaborative multimedia project in an online environment.  Even with today’s audio/visual communication opportunities, collaboration across time zones proved to be challenging.

Standard 2.3 Computer-Based Technologies Computer-based technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials using microprocessor-based resources. I chose the EdTech 513 What Matters PodCast for its audio component, both in the development and delivery of the content on test anxiety. The PodCast was the first experience I had with recording my voice for Internet distribution, and I found the experience difficult, having to revise the recording multiple times. I am still uncomfortable with recording my voice, but doing so gave me the ability to help others do the same.

The EdTech 502 JigSaw lesson on Cyberbullying incorporates multiple computer-based technologies and has group activities that allow students to form a group of four (or equal to the number of available sub-topics). Each group member researches a specific subtopic and becomes the “expert” – reporting back to the group members when done. I find a lot of value in the JigSaw activity and have used it for instruction several times in my current position at a middle and high school level as well as for staff professional development days.

Standard 2.4 Integrated Technologies Integrated technologies are ways to produce and deliver materials which encompass several forms of media under the control of a computer. The assignments within this standard demonstrate my use of current and emergent technologies into my lesson plan development. Of all the assignments that I have completed in the EdTech program, the EdTech 597 Final Project is the one I struggled with most. I am very proud to know that I successfully completed the Android App development with a product that may ultimately be of value in a pre-hospital care environment. This app is complex in its design because it moves between screens and features an interactive component. The use of a complex algorithm determines the estimated time of patient arrival at the Emergency Room. Developing this app gave me enough confidence to integrate app design into my course work and use new technologies in every facet of my life.

Other projects that I would like to highlight for this standard are the EdTech 502 Virtual Field Trip and the EdTech 522 Google Lit Trip. Similar in development and deployment, I have used these two assignments to show classroom teachers how integrated technologies can enhance teaching and learning even though they differ in design. The former (field trip) is for a set grade level while the latter is designed to span across grade levels (Lit Trip). The field trip integrates Internet resources to purposefully guide the learner on a tour of the virtual destination. The Google Lit Trips integrates photography, Google Maps, Satellite imagery, text, and audio in an interactive manner, allowing the learner to be the guide.

Finally, I used the EdTech506 White Space to revise an earlier project focused on researched-based design principles that optimize learning and performance in instructional technology.  In the lesson I further developed a previously submitted design using ACE/PAT design components for a unit on bleeding control and shock management to be delivered online to adult learners. Taking Lohr's suggestion to weed out extraneous design elements (89) was made more difficult because I felt the textual elements were necessary.  Nevertheless, I analyzed the original design for clarity and began removing design elements one by one until only the basic message was remaining to facilitate attention and retention.  The resulting design clarified the remaining text, the circular shape brings unity, and horizontal and vertical spaces create the illusion of organizing lines. Together the elements provide the balance that is so critical in online delivery.

STANDARD 3 UTILIZATION

Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to use processes and resources for learning by applying principles and theories of media utilization, diffusion, implementation, and policy-making.

Standard 3.1 Media Utilization Media utilization is the systematic use of resources for learning. The two artifacts that I chose to represent the standard were those from media-rich courses. My EdTech541 Final Reflection emphasizes my viewpoint on using available resources and assistive media to address the needs of students with exceptional needs. While developing the EdTech 506 CARP assignment, I realized that my lessons rely on visual representation in the form of presentation software. Here contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity (CARP) design elements are used to better communicate a lesson or message through visual representation. Each of these elements impacts learning, and a good design will improve the course content.  I chose grey-scale for my design, planning a contrast punch with black and white text and graphics. I chose the organized feel of rectangle shapes and symmetrical rows and columns they create, while using repetition to lighten the tense lines in the image. Each row a different color, but the proximity of clone like text boxes reveals the concepts therein are connected. In the end, I'm pleased with that decision feeling like I have met the first course goal - "to apply principles of visual literacy o the design of instructional messages."

Standard 3.2 Diffusion of Innovations Diffusion of innovations is the process of communicating through planned strategies for the purpose of gaining adoption as the EdTech 501 Digital Divide     group research assignment proposed. This presentation is the result of a scenario in which we were members of a Task Force to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction with the task of evaluating instructional technology alternatives, possibly suggesting other alternatives, and giving recommendations on which alternatives the State should adopt. As a technology leader in the state of Idaho, I frequently work with the administrators in school improvement planning and communicating ideas for the purpose of gaining adoption, so this activity was relevant and purposeful.

Standard 3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization Implementation is using instructional materials or strategies in real (not simulated) settings. Institutionalization is the continuing, routine use of the instructional innovation in the structure and culture of an organization. Jonassen and Land contend that the educational shift towards student centered learning is the breeding ground for a wide variety of theories (e.g. project and problem-based learning and constructivist learning environments), and although they may have some differences in the way they are carried out in real settings, they share the concept of learner-centric environments (Jonassen, 2000).  Although some approaches rely heavily on technology to support simulations and experimentation, others stimulate the learner to use a variety of learned skills for determining the best approach necessary to solve problems (Brimacomb, 2011).

Such instructional innovation is found in the EdTech 504 Final Project which examines the implementation of instructional technology, course materials, and teaching strategies in the culture of juvenile and adult correctional facilities. My study found that oftentimes implementation of online or innovative instructional methods is postponed because of the distinct professional development needs that arise due to instructors being isolated from their like-institutional peers.

Outside the penal system, I am currently part of a team that determines how to best implement the educational technologies and instructional strategies in my K-12 public school setting.  I plan and deliver staff training projects, share technology publications, and mentor my colleagues in the effective use of instructional technology so that together we can bridge the digital divide (Brimacomb, 2011).

Standard 3.4 Policies and Regulations Policies and regulations are the rules and actions of society (or its surrogates) that affect the diffusion and use of Instructional Technology. The Maturity Model Benchmark Impact Table provided in EdTech 501 offered a means of analyzing the impact of technology efforts on specific components of the organization. Five key areas are identified: Administrative, Curricular, Support, Connectivity and Innovation. Each area is an important ingredient in attaining high levels of technological maturity and as such needs to have in place policies and regulations as addressed in the EdTech 501 School Evaluation Summary.

I developed the  EdTech 502 Netiquette page as instruction to elementary and middle-school learners of basic rules of Internet use. I incorporated the school’s “Salmon River Savage” mascot to further personalize the message. The lesson is now used in orientation during the first three days of the school year and is delivered in conjunction with signing the district’s Network Use Agreement. This standard is further met on the backend. I used the W3C html and css validation tools to ensure that I designed my instruction in a manner that is available to everyone following accessibility protocols. The most beneficial aspects of this project were learning to use CSS and finding out how to check my web pages with W3C tools.  CSS is a time saving tool which allows me to separate the formatting appearance from the HTML structure.  I have used it extensively when updating my personal and school’s website. It makes websites easier to update and supports accessible Web design.

STANDARD 4 MANAGEMENT

Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to plan, organize, coordinate, and supervise instructional technology by applying principles of project, resource, delivery system, and information management.

Standard 4.1 Project Management Project management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling instructional design and development projects. This standard was met time and again over the past two years, but I have found one open-source research utility to be invaluable in managing research components such as citations and .pdf files. I liked that I could integrate it into Microsoft Word or Open office. Once the add-on is downloaded, I can quickly add sources and citations to my Zotero folder, including the citations I used for an EdTech 501 group project. I now have well over one hundred sources and citations added to my Zotero folder.

EdTech 554 – iPad Training was a successful teacher professional development opportunity for the teachers at my district. The project was designed with SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). Three primary goals of this training were to improve all students’ learning, improve teacher effectiveness, and differentiate the learning.  My administrators and I planned to use a two-day teacher in-service for this training to allow the teachers the opportunity to compare their use of laptops and iPads in an instructional setting. The teachers had been integrating the laptops in their instruction, but the iPads were distributed as “rewards” rather than instructional devices. Students viewed them as gaming devices, but not much more. After this training, teachers reported more confidence in using the devices, and building administrators observed a marked increase in iPad integration as part of the instruction and assessment. Students are eager to access the instructional apps and report more interest in learning.

Standard 4.2 Resource Management Resource management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling resource support systems and services. Key resources are allocated to assistive technologies, so I selected my EdTech541 assistive technologies resource page to demonstrate my understanding of this standard. I serve as a volunteer advanced EMT on a rural ambulance. During my eight years of service, I have experienced exhilarating triumph and painful tragedy. With each call I become more acutely aware of both the fragility and the resilience of human life. I have learned that it takes only one act (intentional or unintentional) or one bodily systems failure to change lives. A stroke may leave an individual unable to use his right arm. In most activities, this impairment may be minimal – but in other activities which require the use of both arms, this loss puts our friend at a disadvantage with others – it becomes a disability (Brimacomb, 2011). If the impairment or disability inhibits the individual from fulfilling a role, it becomes a handicap (Robleyer, 2010). Educational technology provides the means to level the playing field, and when considering resource management, assistive technology is an absolute element.

Standard 4.3 Delivery System Management The EdTech541 Integrating Technology Across the Content project demonstrates how delivery system management involves planning, monitoring and controlling 'the method by which distribution of instructional materials is organized' . . . [It is] a combination of medium and method of usage that is employed to present instructional information to a learner. The project integrates many social and web 2.0 tools to promote learning. Rather than pushing against the tide, schools can embrace the benefits of social networking technology in a safe and controlled environment designed specifically for the unique needs of K-12 education. These tools help support diversity and the development of communities through safe user friendly platforms that encourage dialogue and the sharing of perspectives, ideas and events.  Such environments can be found with educational vendors such as Gaggle.net (2011) which offers portals and safe YouTube viewing. In their Learning and Leading with Technology article Save the World with Web 2.0,  the authors maintain that human narratives merge well with the ethical questions to form an “activity framework for preparing students for global citizenship” (34).  “Sample activities include having learners research the importance and impact of an issue prior to promoting their cause on social networks, blogs, wikis, global networking, and other Web 2.0 venues to raise awareness and save the world”(Cifuentes, 2010).

Standard 4.4 Information Management EdTech 554’s Tech Plan Analysis was the impetus to developing a new technology plan for the district in which I work, and I feel this artifact appropriately represents how information management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling the storage, transfer, or processing of information in order to provide resources for learning. Ware states, "Aligning appropriate technology tools and resources within the continuous improvement planning process positions technology leaders to engage in dialogue with system and school leaders who are working toward the common goal of student and school success" (Ware, 2009).  Performing the tech plan analysis helped our trustees, administration, and other stakeholders define what they wanted education to look like within our district. From there they were more open to developing the new technology plan.

STANDARD 5 EVALUATION

Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to evaluate the adequacy of instruction and learning by applying principles of problem analysis, criterion-referenced measurement, formative and summative evaluation, and long-range planning.

Standard 5.1 Problem AnalysisProblem analysis involves determining the nature and parameters of the problem by using information-gathering and decision-making strategies. I used the EdTech 501 Maturity Benchmarks Model as the foundation to the school technology summary described in Standard 3.4. The Maturity Model relates to four benchmark stages:

1) The Emergent Stage
2) The Islands Stage
3) The Integrated Stage
4) The Intelligent Stage

I performed the school maturity benchmarks evaluation to determine the nature and parameters of our technological maturity and the stages of technology. The purpose of this benchmark is to link the technology resources to their use in every learning environment. In this way, our committee determined the existing level of support for students, teachers and support staff. The premise is founded on the theory that both resource availability and behavioral changes are required to improve educational outcomes (Boise State University Educational Technology 501, 2011)

The project, along with a project in EdTech 554, was the impetus of a district wide conversation that resulted in a restructuring of our district technology plan, which was approved by the Board and State of Idaho.

Another project from which our district benefitted was the EdTech 505 Project Evaluation. Teaching and learning are as essential to education as are speaking and listening to communication. When we are hired to evaluate a program, it is critical that we identify early on what it is that is being evaluated, and for what purpose the summary and recommendations are to serve. My school district had purchased instructional technology a number of years ago that was never integrated. Teachers had unused five-year old student response pads sitting in their stock closets. Some had tried to use them over the course of one quarter, but most had never installed the AA batteries into the devices. Working with the administrative staff and teachers, we deployed a Survey Monkey survey based off the CDW teacher survey (2010). We identified two distinct needs:  1) teachers’ comfort level and 2) the need for data-driven education.  As an inside consultant, I worked with the administration to perform the tasks, collect the data, and analyze the results. The information gleaned was used for program changes and decision making. I found that programs repeatedly create shifts in the educational climate, and evaluators must understand what it is they are evaluating.

What I gained from these projects is that after all is said and done—survey and assessment instruments are developed, measurements are observed, interviews are conducted, attitudes are assessed and every last piece of data is collected, disseminated and reported—if we evaluators do not take the time to fully understand the background, purpose, and implementation of the program studied, we will arrive with biased results. (Brimacomb, 2012)

Standard 5.2 Criterion-Referenced Measurement Criterion-referenced measurement involves techniques for determining learner mastery of pre-specified content such as the rubric created for EdTech 554 Microsoft Live Moviemaker software evaluation. The project was a group endeavor in which we developed the rubric for classroom teachers to evaluate instructional software.  The rubric focuses on technical elements, functionality, program design, adaptability, and freedom from bias. I found the rubric useful as a technology director, and asked my staff to complete it voluntarily with regard to their use of Microsoft Live Moviemaker. One of 14 teachers agreed to assess the software using a 4 point Likert rating, and determined that the software was a good fit for his classroom video projects. I was disappointed at the lack of volunteers, and would like to use this rubric again during a staff development day tied to Digital Storytelling.

Standard 5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation Formative evaluation involves gathering information on adequacy and using this information as a basis for further development. Summative evaluation involves gathering information on adequacy and using this information to make decisions about utilization.  I developed the EdTech512 – Evaluation Chart during my first semester as an EdTech student. In retrospect, creating this artifact prepared me for developing instructional technology and provided a strong foundation for subsequent coursework.

My EdTech505 summative evaluation on the value of certain web sites for math instruction used three common measures: 1) Facilitates Navigation (load time, appearance, and working hyperlinks); 2) Pertinence to Field (Education) Likelihood of Revisit/Bookmark. I used a Likert rating from 1 (low) to 5 (high) to determine my top five sites.

Standard 5.4 Long-Range Planning I feel that the artifact that best demonstrates long-range planning that focuses on the organization as a whole (strategic planning) is my work on the EdTech 501 - District Technology Survey. The survey helped us to focus on what instructional and support technology we have now, and where we want to be in three to five years. During strategic planning, managers are trying to decide in the present what must be done to ensure organizational success in the future. The completed project gave my employer, the Salmon River Joint School District 243 a base from which to work when developing our District Technology Plan (now approved by the State of Idaho). I was proud to be able to use my coursework to make a real difference in planning a project of this magnitude. A state approved technology plan is mandated for federal funding, and that requirement was fully met with no revisions necessary.

Conclusion

In the changing landscape of technology, it seems no matter how much I learn, there is always more to know in my current role as IT coordinator and technology teacher for a small district with a demand for up-to-date technology to provide its students a quality and competitive education, and a budget that is unable to support more than one staff member to cover all aspects of instructional, network, and management technologies.

I am working towards a higher goal, but have decided to pursue the M.E.T. before continuing on for the Ed.D.  I am feeling my age (51 at this time), and I feel somewhat of an anomaly in the tech world - but here I am, and looking forward to learning with my younger colleagues.

Resources:

Brimacomb, S. (2011, July 26). Extraordinary Times for Extraordinary Needs. Retrieved from EdTech Learning Log: brimaponder.com/2011/07/26/extraordinary-times-for-extraordinary-needs/

Jonassen, D. a. (2000). Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Luppicini, R. (2005). A systems definition of educational technology in society. Educational Technology & Society, 8(3), 103-109. Retrieved from http://www.ifets.info/journals/8_3/10.pdf

Robleyer, M. a. (2010). Educational Technology Into Teaching (5th ed.). Allyn and Beacon, Pearson.

Smith, P. a. (2005). Instructional Design (3 ed.). United States of America: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Ware, A. (2009). Unlocking Excellence with Keys to Quality. Learning and Leading with Technology, 22-23.

Wesch, M. (Performer). (2007, January 31). The Machine is Us/ing Us. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE