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Integrating Technology to Assist English 101

Students with Their Essays

Introduction

Knowing how students learn helps instructors effectively utilize media and technology. In
the beginning weeks of class, students in the English 101 class were given a syllabus which
outlined various course readings. Students were also treated to lecture and class discussion based
on textbook readings. In the first two class meeting, the same students seemed to engage in
classroom discussion and ask questions based on the lecture; however, too many students did not
partake in class discussions or ask questions about the lecture. After taking anecdotal notes on
each of the non-participating students and reviewing the Study Skills Results, it was discovered
that 12 of the 16 students scored poorly in the area of Reading/Textbook Use. Clearly, the
students did not enter the class with the necessary background knowledge to read multiple pages
of text. Therefore, the time spent trying to read information equated to learning lost. The English
101 students are a perfect example of why an instructor is charged with creating an inviting and
engaging learning environment.

FCC Study Skills Results (2011)


Student Concentration Reading/ Time Memory Listening/ Motivation Test Total
Textbook Managemen Note Taking
Use t Taking Strategies
1 Average Poor Good Average Good Good Average Average
2 Average Poor Good Average Good Good Good Good
3 Average Poor Good Good Good Good Good Good
4 Average Poor Good Good Good Good Good Good
5 Average Poor Good Good Good Good Good Good
6 Average Poor Poor Average Good Good Poor Average
7 Average Poor Average Poor Poor Average Average Average
8 Average Poor Good Average Good Good Average Average
9 Average Poor Good Average Good Good Average Average
10 Average Average Good Good Average Good Good Good
11 Average Poor Poor Good Average Good Average Average
12 Poor Poor Average Poor Poor Good Poor Poor
13 Poor Average Average Average Good Average Average Average
14 Good Good Good Good Good Good Good Good
15 Good Good Good Good Good Good Good Good
16 Good Poor Good Average Average Good Average Good
Instructional Environment

Smaldino, Lowther, and Russell (2008) define learning as “a persisting change in


capability resulting from the learner’s experience and interaction with the world.” It is quite
often the case that students do not gain or retain knowledge when simply told what to do, but
students do learn and become engaged in their learning when they are shown what to do and
given opportunities to demonstrate what they know. After careful consideration has been given
to the learning styles of students, a learning environment has to be created. In the words of
Chapman and King (2008), “an environment should be designed to provide students with the
most positive, productive, and nourishing learning experiences possible.” A learning
environment should have a climate that is inclusive and has high expectations (Bernacchio &
Mullen, 2007). The foundation for a positive, productive, nourishing, and welcoming
environment is the right combination of affective and physical environment requirements. The
affective environment considers attitudes, feelings, and values. On the other hand, the physical
environment is composed of classroom furniture, displays, and lighting. With the instructional
environment in mind, Roblyer (2006) poses three questions that must be addressed:

a. What media and technology are needed to carry out instructional strategies?
b. How should resources be arranged to support instruction and learning?
c. What planning is required to make sure technology resources work well?

Technology Resources

Within a learning environment, technology and media serve many purposes. According
to the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (2007), “students understand and
use technology systems; select and use applications effectively and productively; troubleshoot
systems and applications; and transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies.” Just
as there is an expectation for students, teachers are charged with using “their knowledge of
subject matter, teaching and learning, technology to facilitate experiences that advance student
learning, creativity, and innovation (ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Teachers,
2008).
From the standpoint of student-centered, students become the primary users of media and
technology (Smaldino, Lowther, & Russell, 2008). In contrast, teacher-centered instruction,
technology and media would be used to present instruction (Smaldino, Lowther, & Russell,
2008).

What media and technology are needed to carry out instructional strategies? Before
delving deeply into choosing media and technology, a teacher must assess the learning styles of
his/her students and possess the necessary technology skills necessary to engage students
(Johnson, 2006). Choosing media and technology can require complex thinking. Factors to be
considered include the available media and technology, the diverse learning styles, and the
objectives (Smaldino, Lowther, & Russell, 2008). Some guidelines:
a. Computers – Room H250 is equipped 21 Dell Optiplex 760 desktop computers available
for student use and instructor use. All computers have Internet access. Since the class is
wireless, students can also use their personal computers in the class.

b. Copies of software and media – Windows XP is installed on all student and instructor
computers. Smart Technologies software is installed on the instructor’s computer to
make the SmartBoard screen interactive with the instructor’s computer. The supplemental
software used by the English 101 students, www.Hackerhandbooks.com , can be
accessed from any computer with Internet access. Students can use the software as a
guest or registered student. The software does not have to be copied. Other media, such
as textbooks, are purchased by students from the College bookstore and other places.

c. Access to peripherals – Although H250 is equipped with a printer and packages of paper,
students do not print any work. Essays are submitted via Turnitin.com. Other classroom
equipment includes a document camera, a printer, and a CD/DVD player.

d. Handouts and other materials – Handouts are emailed to students prior the start of
classes. Also, students are able to access many of the handouts online from the student
resource center using a password and username.

Tables 1, 2, and 3 show how English 101 students are grouped. Students participate in
whole class, small group, and individual activities. Each grouping approach is matched with
media, media formats, and instructional materials. The media and media formats were chosen to
meet the diverse learning styles of the students.

Table 1: Whole Class


Grouping Media Media Formats Instructional
Approach Materials
Whole Class Text Discussion The Bedford Handbook

Audio Demonstration The Bedford Guide for College Writers

Person Presentation SmartBoard

Google Docs

Sample MLA paper


Table 2: Small Groups and Pairs
Grouping Media Media Formats Instructional
Approach Materials
Small Groups Text Discussion The Bedford Handbook
and Pairs
Audio Presentation The Bedford Guide for College Writers

Person Drill-and-Practice Computers

Visuals Peer Review Free & Open Resources

Sample MLA paper

Google Docs

Peer review

Think-Pair-Share

Table 3: Individual
Grouping Media Media Formats Instructional
Approach Materials
Individual Text Drill-and-Practice The Bedford Handbook
Visuals
Independent Study The Bedford Guide for College Writers

Peer review Free & Open Resources

Presentation Graphic organizers

Sample MLA paper

Rubric

Google Docs

Multiple intelligence presentation

Self-Reflection
Images of Instructional Materials

http://www.Hackerhandbooks.com

Handouts of Instructional Materials

Bedford/St. Martin's Sample MLA paper

Peer review

Education Oasis Think-pair-share

Rubric

Graphic organizers

Multiple Intelligence Presentation

Self-reflection
Access Plan

How should resources be arranged to support instruction and learning? The college offers
a wide variety of services to assist students in succeeding at the College. Students with
disabilities who are in need of accommodations or who have questions related to disabilities
services should contact the Services for Students with Disabilities office at xxx-xxx-2408. Of the
remaining 14 English 101 students, there are no students with special needs.

With regard to privacy and safety issued, the English 101 students are of college-age and
can use the Internet without adult supervision. However, the instructor’s computer is equipped
with LanSchool, a tool which monitors student computers. During the first class meeting, a
demonstration using LanSchool was presented to students. Furthermore, the Acceptable Use of
Information Technology Resources states, “……computer resources, network, and internet
access is provided at the College for legitimate academic pursuits. However, use of the College
computer resources is a privilege and users have certain shared rights and responsibilities
(Policies and Procedures, 2008).” During Orientation Week and the first week of classes,
students are made aware of the College’s Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources
and that the College reserves the right to limit, deny, extend, or restrict privileges in cases of
misuse.

Logistical Plan

What planning is required to make sure technology resources work well? Should
technical issues arise, the College Help Desk is the point of contact used by faculty and staff with
technology problems. Should major technical issues occur during class, there are three options –
students will share computers; the class will move to another available lab; or students will
complete any assignments requiring a computer at home and email the instructor.
Reflections

Bernacchio, C., & Mullen, M. (2007). Universal design for learning. Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Journal, 31(2), 167-169. doi:10.2975/31.2.2007.167.169

When preparing the instructional environment, it is quite easy to solely focus on the
desired or needed technology, and left by the wayside is learning. Goals, objectives, clear
expectations, sample work, graphic organizers, and rubrics all serve to facilitate learning.
Universal design, like multiple intelligences, recognizes the need for alternate ways to
demonstrate knowledge of subject matter. Moreover, with universal design, instruction is
straightforward; information is communicated effectively; multiple instructional strategies are
encouraged; and the learning environment is positive and welcoming of all.

Johnson, J. A. (2006). Beyond the learning paradigm: Customizing learning in american higher

education: 10 bellwether principles for transforming american higher

education. Community College Journal of Research & Practice, 30(2), 97-116.

doi:10.1080/10668920500432951

Will technology enhance the lesson? Is technology being used just because it is
available? Why should learning be customized? The first two questions have to be asked in the
early stages of instructional design. If technology will not improve a lesson, then, it should not
be used just to say it was used. Customized lessons are engaging. Technology and media
customize learning. Simply having students sit and listen to lectures or participate in discussions
negates other intelligences possessed by the diverse student body. Hearing is enhanced with
visual aids. However, the customization cannot and will not take place if the teacher does not
fully embrace technology. Teaching can be measured by how well students are engaged. It
should not be taken that technology is needed to enhance all aspects of teaching, but it can be
concluded that the correct technology will get students involved in their learning. Nevertheless,
teachers must commit to using technology and software to enhance and transform traditional
teaching and learning.
References

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