There has been technology the dawn of time. Technology 200 years ago meant nothing to do with electricity. It could be simply as a lever and pulley system for automatic door opening at Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. Technology has always scared people as it is something new and unfamiliar to them. What people see as fancy technology today will only be a thing that the next generation is used to and feels is old.
When the printing press was first invented by Johann Guttenberg the aristocracy was afraid of what the new machine would mean for the disseminating of information amongst the people. In the end they learned how to use it and took advantage of its abilities themselves. Adaptations have been made and new technology has been invented since, but the principle is still the same. Copy machines, fax machines, and scanners all use the same idea behind the machine. If you ask a student today to use a typewriter to write their paper and then type another copy for themselves they would look at you like your crazy. They would either write it on a computer and just print another copy or run to a copy machine.
When it comes to finding the information that they use in their papers, students in the past decade have turned to the internet in increasing numbers. Students in college feel that libraries are a place to access the internet and a quiet place to study, not to look up information in the books that are on the shelves. The Dewey Decimal system in cataloging books has gone to the way side in favor of online version of texts that students can access.
In its early stages, the internet was more or less just a collect of text based documents without the capability to display images or video files. Just as with any technology, the internet continues to evolve. With websites such as YouTube©, Facebook©, and Twitter© teachers have a wide variety of places to look up information and supplements to their lessons. However some sites have been criticized for the information they contain. Wikipedia is one site that when it first started was a place to allow people to post information about any topic that people could then look up all in one place. But along with new topics, people were changing the information that was already on the site with incorrect information. It was not until the death of actor Heath Ledger that the creators of the often cited source began to change how information was updated. While the site still allows most information to update without review, information about persons of high interest and information about government policies and laws must be approved before they are posted online.
The majority of teachers do not think about technology they use on a daily basis. From their cars to get to school or their smart phones to access their email from parents, teachers use technology and the internet to make themselves a better educator.
There is not much research available to how the internet has affected researching in teaching. While there is a plethora of information on teacher perspectives of technology and an abundance of articles dealing with the internet in schools, not much information is available to how teachers have changed their teaching style in dealing with any kind of research their students conduct. There is a varying degree to which teachers approach the internet now. From subject to subject, students are faced with different styles. If there was guide for all classes, students would be able to go to each class and know how to conduct research in a proper manner that all their teachers would accept.
In this phenomenological study, I will interview for Northern Virginia high school teachers on how the research process changes for them with the growth and availability of the internet.
Significance of the Study
With more and more school systems pushing for teachers to use technology, some teachers are weary in how it affects their students. The No Child Left Behind Law has forced teachers to address how they introduce material to their students. While the internet has been used by students to conduct research, it now the teachers that have become the students in an attempt to understand what their students are looking up and how they can use it in their classroom. But how has the internet changed how teachers address research? This study is seeking to determine to what extent a variety of teachers have done in an attempt to address their student quest for an education.
Review of Literature
The unknown is full of fear. Technology can be a scary thing. Teaching can be a mind-blowing thing. If one is, the combination of all three is something that is only seen in schools today. Teaching with technology is a paralyzing fear that all teachers face on some level. With only a few hours available outside of the classroom, training is not available to all teachers. Such fear of the unknown and unavailable training, cause many teachers to reject technology on a wide scale.
Technology in the Classroom
Honey, Culp, and Craig (1999) gave a perspective in a paper they presented at a national conference, on where technology and educational research are heading. Based on their research, they found three main factors that made them think differently. The first dealt with the nature of technological elements. The second was the kinds of things that were being asked in research. The third one they mentioned was how the research itself was being done. The main focus of their research was Union City, New Jersey. In 1989, the school was failing almost all of the standards that the state uses to judge schools on their performance. In fact they only passed eight of the 52 that are stated. To face these, they went through a massive overhaul including extending class periods and increasing the in-services required for its teachers. Amongst these improvements, computers were added to each classroom to assist in learning. All of these as well as those in the local city office building, libraries, and others were joined by computer. After a few years of studying this school system, they determined that the technology that was brought in had the largest impact on the students. It bolstered several successes including those with creativity and the whole language approach.
While new teachers are familiar with this information, Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, and Woods (1999) examine what teachers believe the role of technology should be in the classroom. This study focused more on the elementary school level. Even with increased technology including smart boards and one if not more computers available in each room it is still hard for teachers to feel comfortable working with the new “fancy” equipment. While some felt that they did not want to teach with technology, some just felt that things were fine and nothing new had to be done. They found that the teachers they interviewed, observed, and surveyed mentioned on some level that technology supported what they were doing in the classroom. Some made references to the use of technology in regards to how it enhances their current curriculum, but any use beyond that is not being used. There were minimal references to any emerging technologies. One teacher described that she found that students were more likely to work in pairs and groups on assignments. When the eight teachers were asked what were their reasons were for using technology, student benefits were near or at the top of all the lists. While there were a number of other benefits, some of the teachers mentioned that several metaphorical barriers were present. They found that time was a big factor in how much technology they use. While once programs and other equipment is running, it makes several things run faster and smoother, the time it takes to make sure it runs properly can out-weigh the benefits. While the teachers faced the barriers, they found several ways to work around them through local college and community support. One of these ways is in parental support for teaching children about technology earlier.
Bergen (1999) interviewed an 8th grader on how she views technology in the classroom. Kristen, the student, was raised on computer that were manly used for games that were made to be educational only. While she was in elementary school, a new computer lab was built and allowed her access to more programs. However, it was not until middle school that she was able to use computers more to help with reports and find icons to place in reports. They also found that many teachers were starting to increase use of technology as more and more attention was brought on individualism and the diverse programs available encouraging students to work harder.
It is up to the individual teacher to foster creativity and help their pupils become better students. In a U.S. Department of Education study (2005), teachers were asked on their perspectives on technology available to them. Technology that could reach beyond the classroom ranked at the top of a list of technologies teachers felt were the most useful for them. Computers that had internet access were 68% the most essential amongst all teachers. Based on their 2000-01 survey, only 57% felt that the technology that they had was sufficient. That is just within the school. Only four percent said the same thing when it came to technology in the individual classroom. While this number has increased over the past five years, it is still lower than what most principals and school district wish they could do.
A new wave of technological scare is the cell phone as Burns and Lohenry (2010) discuss in regards to their use in the classroom. With several schools now having policy against cell phones, more and more students are actually having them and secretly using them in the classroom. While it is essential to keep and maintain order in the classroom, student that were surveyed said that they would be more into the lesson if they were going to be able to use their cell phone. A number of professors at the college level have started to allow students to use their cell phones for texting while in class as long as have them on silent or vibrate. Phone calls and texting during a test is still off limits.
Mason, Berson, Diem, Hicks, Lee, and Dralle (2000) take on the role of discussing how technology can be used to help prepare social studies teachers. They discuss how teachers are trained in college how to use technology to further their learning, they are often more knowledgeable or willing to learn newer techniques. In a recent National Center for Education Statistics study, 95% of schools and 63% of classrooms are connected to the internet. These schools have made use of the digital archives that many schools are creating to help with social studies research amongst students. One of the issues Mason et al (2000) bring up is the accessibility of inappropriate information. This is taken care of by a number of technological programs that prevent certain sites from being accessed. Some of these include peer to peer sites that allow the trading of music illegally. This is to help students stay on task while also keeping the school safe from legal action. Several programs are discussed that are accessible through online sources that students and teachers use alike to help within the classroom. While technology is important to use, it’s just as important as training to use it properly.
Social Studies of course is not the only subject that is taught. Mathematics is one of almost all schools core subjects as it is used in most other classes. The Wang et al. (2008) article discusses about how effective technology can be in early learning environments. Their study was one of the first on early learning. Many studies deal with middle school and higher levels, while this study dealt with pre-school. While the lessons and the printed materials are still for a younger age, kids were seen using digital cameras, digital microscopes, and digital video recorders. They focus on the supports and what technology can mean to kids. In the age when electronic toys are the strong majority of the market, kids are introduced to electronics at a very young age. They recommend kids be introduced to the proper use of technology at a young age and that all children get an equal and fair access.
Li and Ma (2010) take a different approach from the mathematics class point-of-view. They argue that since computer technology had become more popular that is undeniable that its role as an important tool for learning. They discuss some of the encouraging figures including their study in how mathematic scores have increased when teachers use technology. They actually argue that more research is needed to be done from a mathematics point of view.
Uses of Internet in the Classroom
While the internet is a form of technology, it takes it to a whole new level. The information available to students and teachers is astronomical and some of that unknown is scary to them.
Scheuerell (2010) discusses some of the fears of allowing students to use the internet. Some fear that it will make more students work alone. Video games and other electronic devices have forced more students to seclusion. While this is true, they provide evidence that while the student might be at the computer for game console alone, they are often using the internet to play with others via voice-enabled communications. The internet is also used for video chatting which can enable students in different locations to collaborate on assignments. Scheuerell explains that students do better on assignments, even online ones, when they are tasked with interpreting what they have learned, more than just looking up information. They feel that they are part of the work and that it is just not some kind of “busy work.” Cooperative learning can be done even on a local network and not the full internet. Many colleges and universities have local networks that allow students to use multiple computers to work on a project and then send to each other. The students that were observed and discussed in the article were tasked with creating a webpage about local history in Missouri.
Fear can also be used to welcome in the internet. Bonk (2010) explains that it might take a catastrophe to have how people look at schools in regards to the internet. He goes on to say that Katrina enabled many high school and college students to take classes online from other states and other universities. Indiana University High School is an example of how the internet can be used as a virtual high school. Students who attend this 21st century high school range from rural students to pregnant teenagers. The coursework that is done is the same that would be done at a local school, but for those that are unable to attend on a daily basis for a number of reasons this increases the chance that the student does not get frustrated. Bonk developed 10 methods that are available today. These include e-learning and blended learning to real-time mobility and portability. Digital books, as is discussed, are another step in using new technology in the classroom. With the iPad and Kindle, students are able to access their books all at once, instead of carrying them around in a backpack or in their locker. These devices, especially the iPad, have several other uses including display programs and teaching programs that interact with the students and are more than just words in a textbook. With these, teachers can have an assignment tailored to each individual students needs without having to write or print out several directions or discuss individual directions out loud in front of the entire class.
How can all these fears be relieved? Frye, Trathen, and Koppenhaver (2010) discuss the different needs that are met by using internet workshops and blog entries. Internet workshops are when teachers create a research based activity that students use to make a report on a subject. One of the top sites they mention teachers send students to is Delicious.com. Teachers are able to help guide students by creating social bookmarks that other students can use to help them, which cultivates the cooperative learning skill. They go into detail on how the internet workshops are built and designed by teachers to use it for more than just the one class, but available for multiple classes the student might have. The other topic they touch on is how the internet is used to keep up-to-date information available. Web-logs or “blogs” for short, are used along with internet workshops. Teachers can use blogs as journal entries for academic reasons and keep an accurate, detailed record of what the student(s) have been doing.
It is not just teachers that need to know how to safely navigate these new technologies. Hardacre (2010) surveyed a number of students on various ways of communicating on the internet. In the early part of the 2000’s a strong majority of student said they used MySpace compared to Facebook. Now the numbers have reversed. More and more teachers have begun using Facebook and other internet services to connect with their students. Libraries are increasing the number of computers and other technologies students can use to access the internet. Laptops are the top choice both amongst students and libraries to buy if they had money.
But even if you relieve the fear of the use, the ability to use it could be difficult to come by. In the Technology Counts (2010) article, the topics of the problems in using and creating wireless networks are discussed. Connection issues have plagued wireless networks. From people not seeing a signal to slow speeds, wireless has its issues. The article states that if it is difficult for students to connect to a wireless network, they become frustrated; some even more so than what they would have been with paper texts. Networks are also expensive to create. With the number of people who would be accessing them, a good, professional level network is needed to accommodate the bandwidth. These can cost up to $125,000. That is just for the initial costs. A server administrator is needed to maintain and fix issues that arise. While a current staff member can serve this post, it is a full-time job that requires constant maintenance. They also discuss the benefits such as using smart phones to help alleviate some of the issues that the networks have. When the internet is used to such a large extent, that students need the internet to do their research and just function in school.
Shiveley and VanFossen (2009) provide an explanation to how much the internet is actually used in the classroom. This literature review provides many sources as references, but states that there just is not much research out there for actual use in the classroom. Most of the material states what it should do and how it should help, but it does not provide detailed information on what teachers are specifically doing in class using the internet. They go on to discuss how in the social studies classroom, the attitude toward the internet is as a source of information only. Many teachers even limit the amount that a student can use as many false sources are on the World Wide Web. The full potential of the internet is not often realized by teachers who are afraid of false information. With many different programs and classroom materials available including WebQuests1 social studies teachers need to learn how much their curriculum can benefit from the internet.
Mossbarger (2008) discusses the why the internet has actually become an addiction to some and should be included in textbooks. In his meta-analysis, Mossbarger mentions that more and more children are relying on the internet for social interaction and fail to see or understand the consequences. His data concludes that there are a few textbooks that deal with students and this addiction. The more attention, Mossbarger argues, that is brought to this, the more resources that will become available to treat it.
Ratzan (1994) discusses how the problems faced in the earlier stages of the internet are still relevant today. “One advantage of working with the internet environment is that things change quickly. One disadvantage of working win the internet environment is that things change quickly” (p. 62). He discusses some of the different sources that are available including email and several types of books. These would all be available for students to do research on as a number of free sites are mentioned. There are a number of these that are geared primary toward a particular subject.
Gayton (2008) explains the uses of teaching business in regards to the internet. All three of the teachers observed and interviewed, in a interpretive anaylsis found several flaws within uses of the internet. Most demonstrated and stated that the time it takes to create a lesson using the internet is too time consuming for their intended purposes. While being observed, each teacher was engaged in several poor teaching habits in regard to undirected usage. Gayton recommends that teachers, not just business ones get adequate training in use of technology and internet abilities and integrate them into their curriculum as its proven to have a positive impact on their students achievement. Most of the research available today comes from the public school sector. But with an increasing number of students attending private schools, thanks in part to school vouchers and school accountability, the internet has become a hub of information that these parochial schools have begun to incorporate.
The Role Of Ethics In Education
The lifestyle of a human being is closely bound with ethical values unlike other organisms living on this planet. This highlights the importance of embracing ethics on our day today activities. According to the New Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary ethics is defined as “the moral principles that control or influence a person’s behaviour.” In other words as mentioned in an article appeared originally in “Issues in ethics” IIE V1 N1 (Fall 1987), ethics is two things. “First ethics refers to well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness or specific virtues. Secondly, ethics refers to the study and development of one’s ethical standards.” As a person moulding the younger generation, a teacher has to act as a role model to protect the honour, culture and the discipline of the school while achieving educational goals with success due to sheer dedicated service to the teaching profession. Therefore it is quite obvious that ethics play a major role in the teaching career.
There are several ethical rules to be followed for a good moral conduct. To elaborate more on this topic, I have chosen two standards taken from the teaching of ethics of Graduate School at Penn State. At first, I wish to discuss about fairness or impartiality which is one of the most challenging codes of ethics a teacher can possess. It is extremely important to act neutral while judging the performance of a student because being biased towards some students may hurt and lower the self-esteem of other students. “Fairness: Recognizing the inherent subjectivity involved in grading, instructors ought to ensure that their grading practices are as objective as possible by creating and adhering to unambiguous criteria.”(From the teaching ethics of Graduate School at Penn State). An outstanding teacher understands that all students require equal love and attention. A teacher trying to be fair among the students will not even bother to look at the name on the top of the paper when awarding a grade for a student.
Next, let me discuss about showing respect to the others. Respect can be defined as the consideration of self and of others. Teachers and the whole department of academic and non-academic staff work as a team no matter where they come from. Hence being respectful to each other makes a well-oiled team which in turn strengthens the unity of the school. Further, respecting the views and ideas of the learners may help them build their confidence in learning and sharing knowledge. “Respect for Persons: Teachers ought to encourage mutual respect among students. Additionally, instructors ought to show respect and common courtesy for students both during interpersonal interactions and in responding promptly to students’ need for guidance and feedback.” (From the teaching ethics of Graduate School at Penn State).
Thus it is clear that following ethical rules is a key factor in achieving excellence not only for one’s own self but also in the teaching profession as well..
B) As a potential teacher, I see myself as a valuable person capable of delivering a mammoth service to the humankind. My roles include not only teaching but several other aspects as well. Meeting the needs of the learners through effective teaching strategy is my topmost priority. But on several occasions my roles differ from time to time according to the given situation. Sometimes I will have to be a planner with a suitable teaching plan to make the learners understand the lessons better. Sometimes as an assessor ,monitoring and evaluating the students providing appropriate feedback. Next a facilitator supporting and guiding the students to learn on their own, an information provider, conveying knowledge, a resource developer, managing the available resources and a role model capable of influencing a learner’s attitudes and behaviours. To compare my roles with two other professionals in my organization, I would like to choose a sports coach and a professional school counsellor in this regard.
A sports coach is a professional who works in the school. He/she is responsible for training athletes while understanding the different skills of each individual separately. These include diet plans, training sessions, physical examinations etc. My role as a teacher shows some similarities with the roles of a sports coach such as being a mentor, adviser, supporter and motivator, dissimilarity being that it is done in a more academical context. Examination of the calorie intake and physical fitness do not necessarily include in my roles as a teacher.
A professional school counsellor is someone who counsels the students with a genuine heart to solve the problems of them, be it academic or personal. A teacher also plays a role as a counsellor looking into the affairs of the students when they confide in them, dissimilarity being that the teacher might not have a professional training on counseling whereas a professional counsellor must have had. Hence a teacher relies on logical analysis and personal experience in solving problems during counselling. In some instance they may require help from others too. It’s important to note that although different professionals work together in a school, everyone should understand their professional roles and invest their maximum effort in succeeding them.
C) Teams comprising individuals working together towards a common goal while holding themselves accountable for the team output is known as teamwork. The most valued advantage of teamwork is its efficiency. In team, the work often gets done faster thus saving a lot of time. This is because large tasks are organized into smaller assignments and divided among the team members equally while sorting out the individuals best suited for the job. While working in a team, each individual’s unique skills and ideas gets combined effectively and put to usage to produce the desired outcome. These combined skills lead to an increase in creativity. Hence this helps in strengthening the team unity and the team spirit. The team members will also develop a sense of responsibility since they depend on each other for success. Sharing ideas with one another and relying on other’s feedback gives a better team output close to perfection.
While responsible team members invest sufficient time and effort, the low productivity of some members due to lack of commitment and dedication is a setback to the whole team. In some instances, this may cause resentment and a rift between the teammates. Hence a better output is not expected. Some members delay their portion of work. This will not help in finishing the task on time. Contrasting personal styles and difficulty in accepting ideas which differ from their own can result in clashes between the team members thus reducing the efficiency of teamwork. To understand team work better, Bruce Tuckman first came up with a theory called ‘forming, storming, norming and performing’ in 1965. Later, he added a fifth stage called ‘adjourning’.
Working individually is completing the given tasks on your own without the help of the others. When working individually, we get to think independently and incorporate our ideas into the task. Hence it develops our hidden potentials. Since there are no intruders, conflicts may not arise. Hence the speed and clarity could be an added advantage. Even the laziest person is put to work here thus giving an opportunity to shoulder responsibilities. The disadvantages of working individually include possible chances of having errors since the task is not checked by the others, no room for variations and a combination of creative thoughts, occurence of some doubts regarding the accuracy of the task and the possible chance of socialization getting hampered.
It’s important to understand that some activities in the school like the sports meet, prize giving and shramadana campaigns are best done in teams while maintenance of registers, library book keeping system and lab experiments are best done individually.
D) Interpersonal relationships are social associations or connections between two or more people. In an organization such as the school, basically there are three types of interpersonal relationships. They are: student-teacher, teacher-parent and teacher-teacher relationships. It is vital to maintain a healthy interpersonal relationship with the others. The student-teacher relationship is a very special one. The teacher should be able to understand the learners and help them out. This is only possible if there was a healthy relationship among the students and the teacher. The teacher-teacher relationship is also equally important because the teacher might decide on lesson plans and strategies according to the feedback and the advice given by their colleagues. Further, planning on several occasions which are to be held at school could be done if the teacher-teacher relationship is healthy. To advice and talk about the short commings of a student, a healthy teacher-parent relationship is required. These types of positive interpersonal relationships can further develop the roles of a teacher while magnifying its effects several times.
Sometimes the above mentioned interpersonal relationships end up in conflicts if there was no understanding between the two parties. Due to the uneasiness prevailing among the two parties, the activities meant to be carried out together may not be completed to perfection thus affecting the school as well. The teachers might also not be able to concentrate on their work and may feel restless. This will have a great impact on their professional role. Hence a teacher should be wise and tactful in handling different types of interpersonal relationships so that it may only bring out a positive improvement in their professional role.