Technology in Education

March 11, 2006

A discussion/information forum for educators...

Hello, my name is Jared Goruk, I am a recent graduate from the University of Alberta in Secondary Education, and I am now enrolled in a Master of Arts program in Humanities Computing. As part of an Internet course I am taking, I have established this Blog with the intention to create an archive of useful technology-(and internet)-based learning resources for educators. The goal will be to allow for the easy sharing and distribution of new and useful ideas, techniques, resources, websites, etc. making it easier for all of us to find and acquire useful educational resources to bring to the classroom. I recently completed a research paper on the subject, and I will make it available to you here. I hope to continue to work with I.T. in Education, and I hope I can help some of you out there to do so as well. My proposal to get into Humanities Computing went like this:

Research Proposal for Humanities Computing

My undergraduate experience has crossed several fields of study, including Education, Computer Science, and several of the Social Sciences. In combining these areas of academic study, I am really interested in being able to research and develop proven resources that will help to effectively combine all elements from the Information and Communication Technology Program of Studies into the newly developed curriculum of the Humanities-based Social Studies program in the Province of Alberta. The ICT program is a recent addition and a required component of the Alberta Provincial Kindergarten to Grade 12 Curriculum that states as a part of its philosophy:

Technology is best learned within the context of applications. Activities, projects and problems that replicate real-life situations are effective resources for learning technology. The ICT curriculum is not intended to stand alone, but rather to be infused within core courses and programs.

The ICT program is supposed to be integrated into all of the existing programs of study throughout all of the grades in Alberta’s educational system. Despite the explicit intention to designate the learning of technology into a required component of the Alberta curriculum, there is a dearth of reliable instructions and resources available for teachers to fully integrate and evaluate these outcomes into their Social Studies teaching. The preliminary work with ICT objectives will need to be studied to determine what are the most effective methods to use them in enhancing Humanities-related study within the Social Studies program. My undergraduate Major is in the interdisciplinary Humanities field of Social Studies, and there is a new Social Studies curriculum under development that will be implemented in stages from September 2005 (for K-3) to September 2009 (for Grade 12). I feel that now is an excellent time for study and research to be done that would eventually lead to the development of ICT curricular resources that can best help teachers combine ICT curricular outcomes with their teaching of the Social Studies program. The creation of curriculum-related software tools like the “Canada: Confederation to Present – An Interactive History of Canada” CD-ROM (developed by Bob Hekseth and Chris Hackett for university students), is just one of many ways to satisfy some of the ICT outcomes, in this case just by “reading the course textbook.”

Each grade level in this new Social Studies curriculum revolves around an “Overarching Issue,” which raises such topics like “Democracy: Action and Participation” covered in grade six, to “Historical Worldviews Examined” covered in grade eight. In high school, a natural progression through the interrelated topics of Globalization, Nationalism, and Citizenship is developed in sequence from grade ten on to grade twelve. The advantages of technology could be applied here to create multiple educational tools that cover all three topics in just one CD-ROM set. Each “Overarching Issue” is also looked at through different social science disciplines including history, geography, political science, economics, and anthropology. Input and collaboration with the academics who are directly involved in these fields would be more effective in properly incorporating these disciplines and the study of them into technology-based curricular resources. The outcomes listed in the ICT Program of Studies are detailed and specific. There is not, however, an explicit means of actually applying them to any particular course. For example, in just one of the ICT outcome categories - “Processes for Productivity” the following outcomes are required:

General Outcome: Students will integrate various applications.

Specific Outcomes:
1.1: integrate text and graphics to form a meaningful message
1.2: balance text and graphics for visual effect
2.1: integrate a spreadsheet, or graphs generated by a spreadsheet, into a text document
2.2: vary font size and style, and placement of text and graphics, in order to create a certain visual effect
3.1: integrate information from a database into a text document
3.2: integrate database reports into a text document
3.3: emphasize information, using placement and colour
4.1: integrate a variety of visual and audio information into a document to create a message targeted for a specific audience
4.2: apply principles of graphic design to enhance meaning and audience appeal
4.3: use integrated software effectively to reproduce work that incorporates data, graphics and text

There is nothing in these specific objectives that explain how a teacher can usefully integrate them into their English Language Arts or Social Studies classrooms. Not all teachers are technologically literate, and the study of the Humanities can often shy away from the use of technology. This is especially true for teachers and academics who completed their studies many years ago. With a background in Humanities Computing, specific classroom resources can be developed for Humanities educators in the primary, secondary, and even post-secondary levels, to integrate these outcomes into today’s Humanities classroom. Making it possible for students to use various types of technological resources to help them learn in their interdisciplinary Social Studies courses will not only allow them to meet the objectives of the Information and Communication Technology curriculum, it will make the learning objectives of the Social Studies curriculum easier for teachers to teach and much more interesting and relevant for the students to learn.

I also have other interests that a Humanities Computing program can help me to study further. I have a keen interest in Alberta history, and in the electronic archiving of different Alberta-related historical documents. I am interested in developing ways to turn paper copies of these records from our past into electronic ones, forever preserving their contents for future generations. Creating a large internet-based archive of Alberta history and primary source documents would be something I would like to pursue as a way to keep our history accessible to all Albertans. I have also become quite interested in the Library and Information Studies program, and I believe that a better understanding of LIS content would be beneficial not only in helping me to pursue my interests in Alberta history, but also in developing a Humanities ICT program as the ICT curriculum itself considers the understanding of technology for the purposes of research to be critical:

2.1: use a variety of technologies to organize and synthesize researched information
2.2: use selected presentation tools to demonstrate connections among various pieces of information
3.1: identify patterns in organized information
3.2: make connections among related, organized data, and assemble pieces into a unified message
4.1: use appropriate strategies to locate information to meet personal needs
4.2: analyze and synthesize information to determine patterns and links among ideas

Anyway, enjoy this blog and feel free to make use of it as often as you can. The more resources that can be pooled together the better.

-Jared Goruk B.Ed '05

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