EdTech 506 – Typography

September 22, 2013

Image

Justification:

The users of my final project will be students from grades 4-12 and adult instructors.  The majority of the students are advanced readers.  Both students and instructors will be familiar with the four words I selected and are very creative people.

I think my solutions will work for the following reasons:

Robotics – I used the Berlin San FB Demi font along with the Cog auto shape from Adobe Fireworks to create the gears.  Lohr (2008) mentions that you can use type to express emotion or to enhance a message (p. 213).  I think the typeface I used makes robotics seem fun and less threatening to people who may be intimidated by the concept.

Building – I used Consolas as the font because it is mono-spaced which allows for the letters to line up evenly.  I think the stacking of the letters shows that it is building, but is still readable.  I wanted to spell the word from the bottom up, but it became difficult to read since we usually read from top to bottom, left to right.  I think this typeface in addition to decreasing the leading adds a structural feel to the word, but still makes it one word.  Lohr (2008) shared an example of how decreased leading in a multi-line title helped it seem to belong together (p. 236).

Program – I used the word “program” in the Bauhaus 93 font to mask the binary code in the Consolas font.  The binary code in the background adds more meaning to the word “program” that could be misinterpreted to mean something other than software programming.

Solutions – I used Times New Roman and symbols for some of the letters in the word “solution.”  I added the equal sign, parenthesis, and square to make it tie to solving more complex types of problems.  I think the mathematical symbols helps to make the solutions seem more advanced and exciting.

I had a friend look at my images.  We discussed the design of “building” the most to determine the most effective way to arrange the letters, starting at the top left and moving either straight down to down and to the right.  We decided on going in the direction that we normally read.

Resource:

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


Visual Literacy and Universal Design

September 7, 2013

DiscoESample

I selected a sample page of the curriculum I help to develop at an educational resource company.  Lohr (2008) stated, “the goals of universal design focus on making information and learning accessible in the broader sphere of life for all people” (p. 8).  I think these building plans help to provide performance support (p. 6) to instructors and students.  In the sample, color-coded parts and arrows are added to provide instructions for building simple mechanical devices used to teach various STEM concepts.  This method of visual literacy (p. 5) to provide instruction enables various types of learners to be able to successfully complete the building of projects in our kits.  Rather than only showing a completed model for students to copy, steps are broken down in an order that helps novice builders be successful.  According to CAST (2012), universal design for learning is necessary because “individuals bring a huge variety of skills, needs, and interests to learning.”

Occasionally, text is used to provide tips to students but its use is not required.  The color-coded order follows that of a rainbow.  A reminder of the color order is provided at the top of each page of building instructions.  Parts in real-color are also provided on the left-side of each step so students have an easier time finding each part they are going to use.  The arrows visually instruct students on the direction in which to place or turn parts so they fit together properly. A stop sign is used to signify that students need to stop the current assembly and place the parts to the side before moving on to the next step.

Resources:

CAST, Inc. (2012). Why is UDL necessary? Retrieved from: http://www.cast.org/udl/index.html.

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


Personal Introduction Image

August 30, 2013

EdTech506-Personal_Image.fw

I have created an image using Adobe Fireworks to introduce myself in the EdTech 506 course. The background is a picture I took of my favorite type of flowers, cherry blossoms.  Not only are they usually pink, but they bloom during my favorite season, spring.  I have included a list of the top things I like to do: jewelry making, baking, cooking, traveling, and shopping.  In addition to those, I enjoy spending time with my dog, Seamus, who keeps me healthy by making me take him running.  I currently live in Boise, Idaho, but grew up in Hawaii on the island of Oahu.  Most of my family still lives there and I plan to eventually move back.  I included the quote by William Butler Yeats because it describes my passion towards education.  I hope to inspire others to do great things in their lifetime.


EdTech 541 Final Course Blog Entry – Reflection and Self-Evaluation

December 10, 2012

Part 1: Course Reflection

Through this course, I have learned effective strategies for integrating technology into the classroom.  While researching and completing projects, I focused on the elementary classroom, particularly the 4th grade.  I accumulated and learned how to use a wide range of application tools, instructional software, and Internet-based programs, many of which are free, that can be integrated into curriculum to provide students with engaging lessons and activities.  I also identified and learned about the relative advantages of using such tools within the curriculum I create for students through current research on teaching and learning with technology.

The current research I used during this course provided me with great insight to using technology in the classroom.  The theories shared supported the need for technology integration at all levels of education.  It made me think about my role as an educator, especially when it comes to addressing “digital literacy” as I shared in my post on Obstacles and Solutions when Integrating Technology into Language Arts.  The current research articles also provided me with an abundant amount of resources that I can use to support the lessons and activities I create for students.

This course has helped me to develop many new skills as an educator.  I started the semester with a few technology tools in my pocket, but I am leaving with more practical and meaningful technology resources than I ever thought existed.  As a professional, I feel more encouraged to continue researching new tools and resources for technology integration throughout my career. I have realized that there are so many ways to teach the concepts I have taught in the past in much more meaningful ways that help to meet the diverse needs of students.

All of the projects I created during this course demonstrate the impact what I learned this semester has had on me.  Please visit the website I created using Google Sites to host the course projects: https://sites.google.com/a/u.boisestate.edu/nicole-hirai-edtech-541-final-project/.  The weekly projects encouraged me to find and explore many new technology resources.  They also forced me to create lessons outside of my comfort zone based on my previous teaching and learning experiences.  As a result of this course, I will continue to support lessons and activities I create with current research and theories surrounding technology integration.

Part 2: Self-Evaluation of My Performance

The following is a self-evaluation of my blog posts using the course blog rubric:

Content (68/70 points) – I feel that I provided a lot of rich and meaningful content throughout my blog posts based on the class readings and other resources I found.  I provided insightful thoughts that clearly connected to the topic of the week.  I analyzed the information I presented by providing clear connections to how it can be used in teaching.  I also received positive feedback from peers regarding my posts which make me feel like I did a good job in providing information to share that others could connect to.  Although I feel I provided a lot of details and depth of concepts, I probably could have made more connections to real life situations in some of my posts.

Readings & Resources (18/20 points) – I supported each of my blog posts with information from the assigned class text as well as other resources.  I used APA style incorrectly at first to cite text references, but figured out what I needed to do (include page numbers in citations) and started to do so.

Timeliness (18/20 points) – I posted all required blogs before the due date/time to allow time for others to respond to my entries. I tried to allow at least 24 hours for responses, but was not able to do so for a couple of the posts.  Despite a shorter response time than I normally provided, I still received feedback from peers on those posts.

Responses to Other Students (30/30 points) – I provided two or more substantial posts with at least one detailed response made to address another students’ post each week we had a blog assignment.  When providing a detailed response, I made sure to relate what was shared by my peers to something meaningful in my teaching and learning experiences.

Total Score: 134/140 points


Accessibility Features in Windows 7

December 2, 2012

The computer I use for this class uses Windows 7 as the operating system.  Regarding technology application, Roblyer and Doering (2012) stated, “the general goal is always the same: to harness the potential of technology in ways that offer an individual with a disability increased opportunities for learning, productivity, and independence – opportunities that otherwise would not be available” (p. 400).  After exploring the different accessibility features available through the Ease of Access Center in Windows 7, I realized that Microsoft helps to support this goal.

I grouped the features based on the type of disability they can help to accommodate.  I have focused on cognitive, physical, and sensory disabilities, but the features could also be applied to help at-risk and gifted/talented students, depending on their situation.  Please keep in mind that many of the accessibility features can accommodate multiple disabilities, but I have listed each only once.

Students with Cognitive Disabilities
According to Roblyer and Doering (2012), the issue for students with mild cognitive disabilities “is not physical access to technology, but reading, writing, memory, and retention of information” (p. 406). 

  • Narrator
    This feature can be setup to help someone who has difficulty reading the on-screen text due to a cognitive disability or someone with a visual impairment.  The Narrator also voices each key typed on the keyboard. That would be helpful for someone who has difficulty with keyboard typing, although they would need to type slowly in order to allow time for the software to work appropriately.
  • Blinking Cursor Thickness
    This setting allows the user to increase the thickness of the blinking cursor used when typing in programs that are on the computer, such as Microsoft Word. I did not notice it being applied online when composing an email or chatting.  This feature could be helpful for someone with a visual impairment or for a student that has difficulty focusing or tracking while typing or reading.
  • Animations and Background Images
    The Ease of Access Center allows for the user to choose to turn off animations and remove background images when available.  This could help those with focusing problems to minimize distractions as much as possible.

Students with Physical Disabilities
According to Roblyer and Doering (2012), “Physical disabilities typically affect a person’s mobility and agility” (p. 409).

  • On-Screen Keyboard
    This feature would be ideal for someone with the inability to type with two hands since they are able to use to use a mouse to make their letter selections on a keyboard that appears on the screen. Unlike having to type an entire word with possibly one hand or one finger, the on-screen keyboard uses word prediction which can help someone “type” faster with the use of a mouse.
  • Speech/Voice Recognition
    After setting up the software, users are able to control their computer with their voice. The settings under Speech or Voice Recognition can help users with both visual and physical impairments that keep them from being able to see what is on the screen or from being able to use a keyboard and/or mouse effectively.  
  • Mouse Keys
    Allows for the keyboard number pad to be used to move the mouse pointer around the screen rather than the mouse. Settings can be changed to adjust the speed of the movement using the number pad.  This can be helpful for those with a physical impairment that keeps them using the mouse effectively.
  • Sticky Keys
    Allows for keys to be pressed consecutively, rather than simultaneously, when using keyboard shortcuts (such as Ctrl + x for cut).  This can help someone with a physical impairment that is unable to press multiple keys at once.  It is also helpful for new keyboard/typing students to learn shortcuts.
  • Filter Keys
    Ignores or slows down brief or repeated keystrokes and adjusts keyboard repeat rates.  These settings are helpful for someone with a physical impairment that may have difficulty controlling their movements which could cause inaccuracy and frustration while typing. 

Students with Sensory Disabilities
According to Roblyer and Doering (2012), “Sensory disabilities involve impairments associated with the loss of hearing or vision” (p. 409). 

  • Magnifier
    The Magnifier zooms in on the screen and temporarily makes everything in that area larger.  In this section of the Ease of Access Center, the size of text and icons can also be adjusted to 125% and 150%.  The Magnifier feature would be a great accommodation for someone with vision impairments that just need a little added assistance in viewing what is on the screen, especially website text that is often very small.
  • High Contrast
    The High Contrast feature would also be helpful for someone with visual impairments.  It allows for settings to be modified making the computer easier to see by changing most backgrounds to black with white text.  I can see how this would also be helpful for any user in a dark environment, making reading and typing easier on the eyes.
  • Audio Description
    This is another feature that would be helpful for someone with a visual impairment while watching a video.  When available, it provides descriptions of what is happening in videos.  I am not aware of how often descriptions for videos are available, but this would be a great feature to consider using if a student is unable to watch videos.
  • Toggle Keys
    Provides an audio cue that caps lock, number lock, or scroll lock have been activated or deactivated using the keyboard keys.  This can be helpful for anyone, especially someone with a visual impairment, to notify them that a keyboard setting has been changed.
  • Mouse Pointers
    Users can change the color and size of the on-screen mouse pointer.  This can be helpful for those with visual impairments to make keeping track of the mouse pointer easier.
  • Visual Cues
    Enable users to get notifications in writing (pop-up windows) rather than sounds. These settings would be helpful for someone with a hearing impairment. 

Additional Resources:

Microsoft Accessibility in Windows 7 overview webpage:
http://www.microsoft.com/enable/products/windows7/

A Guide for Educators – Valdosta State University:
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Cw17khcH3q4J:ww2.valdosta.edu/access/documents/AccessibilityGuideforEducatorsversion3.docx+&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

YouTube video on how to find the Ease of Access Center in Windows 7:
http://youtu.be/4Km-jz97SNE

Reference:

Roblyer, M. D, & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. 


Obstacles and Solutions when Integrating Technology into Language Arts

November 19, 2012

There are a variety of challenges that come with integrating technology into the content areas, particularly with language arts curriculum. Roblyer and Doering (2012) stated, “technologies have also brought about dramatic changes in the format and types of communications that literate people must deal with, thus presenting an array of new challenges to English and language arts teachers” (p. 266).  Not only do educators have to teach students how to read, write, and communicate effectively, they now have to teach students how to use technology to help them accomplish those tasks as 21st century learners. 

Technology may have brought about some new aspects to teaching, but it also offers ways to help educators and their students.  I have included solutions to some of the types of issues teachers of English and language arts must confront as shared in the following bolded bullet points by Roblyer and Doering (2012):

  • Teachers’ Responsibilities for the “New Literacies”

Teaching digital literacy and information literacy through online software is one way to make it fun and engaging for students to develop an understanding of the way digital information is presented on the Internet.  By teaching students about the resources available to them and providing opportunities for them to explore, they not only learn how to navigate and interpret the information, but begin to learn to communicate in similar formats.  Classroom Aid has shared many resources to help with teaching digital literacy.

  • Challenges of Motivating Students to Read and Write

Technology can bring many distractions from practicing reading and writing skills, educators need to find entertaining ways for students to work on them.  There are a variety of free online reading and writing activities, including games to practice basic skills and help students develop as young readers and writers.  Students can read online picture books written and illustrated by various authors at Magic Keys.  They can write and then publish their own short story on sites like Mixbook.  Free phonics based games can be played at Starfall and students can even practice writing a letter at Knowledge Adventure.

Regardless of the obstacles that face us as educators, we must do what we can to help our students become literate in technology to enhance their learning in language arts.  Technology may do a lot to help us accomplish daily tasks and support reading and writing, but it does not replace the basic skills necessary to communicate effectively.  Since technology is here to stay, finding ways for it to be a helpful tool in learning will make it part of a solution to some of the obstacles it presents. 

 

References:

Roblyer, M. D, & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. 

 

Websites Shared:

Classroom Aid (resources for teaching digital literacy): http://classroom-aid.com/educational-resources/digital-literacy/

Magic Keys (online story books): http://www.magickeys.com/books/

Mixbook (book publishing): http://www.mixbook.com/

Starfall (reading games): http://www.starfall.com/

Knowledge Adventure (spelling & other language arts games): http://www.knowledgeadventure.com/subject/spelling-games.aspx


Relative Advantage of Using Technology in Major Content Areas

November 11, 2012

Today’s students have grown up immersed in technology and use it in all aspects of their life: entertainment, communication, and learning.  There is a need for educators to make lessons of the major content areas engaging, relevant, and authentic.  This can be done through the use of integrating technology into K-12 education.  In a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Using the Technology of Today in the Classroom Today,” Klopfer et al. (2009) describe the use of technology by businesses and government institutions to teach and train their employees.  They stated, “Although that may seem a bit ‘off the wall,’ the fact is major corporations, the Department of Defense, and the medical community would not use these tools if they were not highly effective.”  Effective, technology integrated lessons are what students need to be successful.

One of the major content areas is language arts.  According to Roblyer and Doering (2012), “New technologies introduced in the era of the Internet have expanded the definition of literacy to include proficiency not only with texts in many different formats, but also with the devices that store them” (p. 267).  Language arts is no longer simply learning how to read, write, and communicate effectively.  Standards, such as the Common Core State Standards (2010), are evolving to include requirements of being able to use technology as part of demonstrating proficiency in language arts.  Therefore, the most relative advantage to using technology in language arts is enabling students to meet the standards.

Mathematics is another major content area that can benefit from integrating technology. Roblyer and Doering (2012) stated that technology “provides learners with the opportunity to visualize and make more concrete the generally abstract world of mathematics” (p. 310).  Using technology in math activities provides many advantages for students to manipulate, visualize, calculate, practice, and communicate concepts that enhance their learning.

Regardless of the subject area, technology can make learning more engaging, relevant, and authentic for students.  Edutopia (2008) stated, “It also enhances the relationship between teacher and student. When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach.”  This is an important advantage in facilitating a learning environment that students enjoy being a part of.  Technology is continuously transforming the way students are educated.  Teachers need to understand the advantages of using technology to provide students with the knowledge and experiences necessary to be successful in the 21st century.

 

References:

Common Core State Standards Initiative (2010). Standards for English language arts & literacy in history, social studies, science, and technical subjects k-5.  Retrieve from http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_ELA%20Standards.pdf

Edutopia. (2008). Why integrate technology into the curriculum?: The reasons are many. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction

Klopfer, E., Osterweil, S., Groff, J., & Haas, J. (2009).  Using the technology of today in the classroom today: The instructional power of digital games, social networking, simulations and how teachers can leverage them.  The Education Arcade, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Retrieved from http://education.mit.edu/papers/GamesSimsSocNets_EdArcade.pdf

Roblyer, M. D, & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.