Presentation Advantages

PowerPoint and  Google Slides. Both of these presentation tools are used frequently in classrooms. Usually these tools are used with a teacher in the front of the room, lecturing, while many students are nodding their heads, pretending to pay attention to the monotonous and repetitive slides. However, with a few simple additions, these presentation tools can be effective technological tools  in a classroom to guide teachers as they deliver necessary content. It is easy to make these presentations come to life.  Add a few links, a few videos, and a few interactive elements and you have something that transforms a boring, dull lecture into something that is potentially engaging, interactive, and intriguing.

Presentation slides can be a useful tool for the teachers and instructors. They provide a guide for the direction of the lesson or lecture and help the teacher to stay on topic.  It’s easy for a teacher to lose focus and direction during lectures, especially when students ask the questions that are off-topic.  Additionally, presentation slides can be easily modified. Teachers can easily add, adjust, or recreate sections of their presentation without much time.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that presentations slides be used appropriately. Presentations should never guide the instruction. Rather, the teaching should guide the presentations. Keeping the slides interesting and informative is a balance that instructors often find challenging. Busy slides are distracting. Boring slides cause an audience to lose interest. Too much information on a slide can create a feeling of panic in an audience trying to take notes. Again, it’s a balancing act.

Interactive elements might be the key to finding the balance. Useful videos can add rich and interesting content that doesn’t come from the teacher. Links to interesting and interactive sites can break up the monotony of the “lecture-notes-next slide” routine. These links can also direct students to explore topics more thoroughly than the in-class lecture allows.

When instructors can create presentations that can find just the right balance, they can be a powerful teaching tool.


IIMS 1994: Khoo – interactive multimedia for teaching, learning and presentations. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2014, from

LEARN Center. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2014, from


Relative Advantage of Instructional Technology- Social Studies

I remember many of my history classes in middle and high school. I recall trips to the school library to look up facts in the encyclopedias, taking pages and pages of outline notes, playing the Apple II version of Oregon Trail, and using a bead loom to make Native American bracelets. I don’t recall a single instance in which I felt excited to learn about history. Not one. It wasn’t until I was asked to teach an 8th grade history class that I was able to appreciate the power (and excitement) of history. History is anything but “boring”, and with the use of instructional technology, a dull social studies classroom can transform into a room full of passionate, inquisitive, and curious learners.

The instructional technology resources that support social studies instruction is anything but lacking. The advantages that each tool brings can support current classroom lessons, provide opportunities for extended learning experiences, and allow students to seek out new learning on their own.

While I am not an advocate for  memorizing historical facts and dates, there is something to be said about having a good foundation of basic information. Drill and practice software allows students an opportunity to develop a solid foundation of those facts. Geographical sites, dates of key historical events, and key people in history can be studied by using drill and practice software.

Tutorials are useful for students who want opportunities to be more independent as they learn about history. While a tutorial can never replace the passion of a teacher, a self-paced tutorial provides an opportunity for a student explore historical topics that are often only brushed over in our traditional history classrooms.

Competition can be a motivating factor for many students. Instructional gaming software can often be the source of motivation in some students. Gaming software that incorporates the use of game rules and competition will often spark an interest in learning more about the given topic.

Simulations and problem-solving software are instructional tools that can provide the “real-life” experiences that students often have a hard time relating to. Simulations allow students to see how systems of people, geography, and time can work together to create a series of cause and effect relationships in history that are often hard for students see. Solving historical dilemmas for themselves often puts historical events into perspective.

While there are a number of factors to consider when trying to inspire young historians, instructional software can often be the key.


“Why Should Schools Embrace Integrated Studies?: It Fosters a Way of Learning That Mimics Real Life.” Edutopia. Web. 22 Sept. 2014. <;.


Acceptable Use Policies

An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is essentially a list of guidelines and expectations regarding computer and technology use that all invested parties agree to follow. Acceptable Use Policies are common in educational settings, but are they are often found in workplaces as well.  Quite simply, the purpose of an Acceptable Use Policy is to define the acceptable purposes of the technology that is found in a school setting, workplace, etc. The policy also defines the consequences for those who are fail to adhere to the policy guidelines.

When creating an Acceptable Use Policy for a K-12 educational setting, it is important to be familiar with the federal and state laws associated with technology and internet use by children. A district policy should be built upon a firm foundation of  the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) , the  Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the Protecting Children in the 21st Century portion of the Broadband Data Services Act.

CIPA  laws were put in place to address the concern over children being exposed to inappropriate, obscene, or otherwise harmful content and images over the internet. Schools and libraries receive discounted internet access provided that they abide by the CIPA laws. The protection measures must block or filter Internet access to pictures that are: (a) obscene; (b) child pornography; or (c) harmful to minors ” (FCC).

The FCC website clearly lists the internet safety measures that school and libraries must adopt.

COPPA laws, while still in place to protect children, serve a very different purpose. Rather than protecting children from inapproprate conent, COPPA laws regulate unfair and deceptive acts connected with the collection of personal information about children on the internet. This law is not about online safety; COPPA compliance does not mean that a site is safe for children. A COPPA compliant site is one that provides privacy policies explaining the use of any information a child provides. It “also  allows parents to retrieve that information and also to not allow that site to solicit information from their child. This law is still enforced and applies to children 13 or younger” (Forbes).

The Broadband Data Services Act was signed into law in 2008. Within the Act, a portion of the law called “Protecting Children in the 21st Century,”  requires schools to educate children on the safe use of the Internet. This rule requires schools to educate children  “regarding appropriate online behavior including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and regarding cyberbullying awareness and response” (Rethinking).

Additionally, new state laws regarding cyberbullying have been put into place in light of the media attention surrounding the issue of online bullying.  A list of Cyberbulling Laws by State can help individual districts identify state laws regarding cyberbullying.

A clear understanding of these laws is the starting place upon which to build an AUP.  As a school district develops its AUP, it important to address the following topics in the policy:

  •  District Technological Resources
    • How will the district technological resources be used by staff and students? What kids of activities, communications, etc. are deemed inappropriate?
  • Stakeholders
    • Who will research, develop, and write the Acceptable Use Policy? What role will parents,  students, and classroom teachers play in the development of the policy?
  • Intellectual Property Issues
    • How will copyright issues, plagiarism, forgery, etc. be addressed?
  • Communication
    • What  guidelines should be in place regarding electronic communication among and between staff and students?
  • Mobile Devices and BYOD
    • Will (and how) will personal devices be used in classrooms/school campuses? How will filters, networks, and firewalls be impacted by the used of personal devices?
  • Consequences
    • What will the consequences be for those who violate the policy?

No one can deny the challenges a district faces when designing and revising its AUP.  While a policy must be comprehensive enough to protect students and district staff members, it must also be flexible enough to allow for rapid changes that occur with educational technological resources. Some districts in the country have been able to develop some exemplar policies that other districts may want to use as resource. Examples are listed below.

Katy Independent School District Student Responsible Use Guidelines for Technology

New Canaan Public Schools Information and Communications Technologies Acceptable Use Policy Guidelines

North Arlington High School and Middle School Computer/Internet Acceptable Use Policy

Loomis Union School District Acceptable Use Policy



Broadband Data Services Improvement. Retrieved September 13, 2014 from

Children’s Internet Protection Act. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2014  from

FTC Clarifies Children’s Online Privacy Law (COPPA). (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2014, from

Guide: Childeren’s Internet Protection Act-FCC. Retrieved September 13, 2014 from

Patchin, Justin W. & Hinduja, Sameer.  Retrieved September 13, 2014  from

Survey: Many parents help kids lie to get on Facebook – CNET. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2014 from

Rethinking Acceptable Use Policies for Digital Learning: A Guide for School Districts. Retrieved September 12, 2014 from


Vision Statement

Educators are constantly seeking ways to improve student learning. At the very least, educators work to improve student learning by implementing new strategies, incorporating new instructional tools, and altering previously used assessment measures. Educational leaders recognize the power technology has to transform education and  and improve student learning.

While it is true that the research on the relationship between instructional technology and learning is not perfectly clear,  a number of recent studies highlight the positive impacts of technology integration. A recent analysis found that  “Web 2.0 tools seem to extend and deepen the educational environment when they facilitate meaningful communication …toward authentic goals” (Light and Polin, 2010). Isn’t “deeper” learning something that educators have been longing for? Is technology integration the key to making this happen? Perhaps the technological tools are not the solution in and of themselves, but the way in which educators utilize these tools to foster learning is the key. The positive effects of technology as an instructional tools are “ not necessarily attributed to the technologies per se but to how the technologies are used, and how one conceptualizes learning” (Hew and Cheung, 2013). Much like other curricular tools, instructional technology is only as effective as the teacher who implements it.

Our world has changed as a result of technological advancements. Information about any topic is quite literally in our pockets. Teacher communication with colleagues- in the room next door or thousands of miles across the ocean- is only a few clicks away. Educators can harness these revolutionary abilities to help our students learn and prepare for their futures.

The notion that education is intended to prepare students for the future is not an unfamiliar concept to educators. But with the rapid changes in technology, teachers are left to wonder what kind of future they are preparing their students for. The Partnership for 21st skills advocates for 21st century readiness for every student. Other organizations, such as  the Center for 21st Century Skills, are also working closely with educational leaders to advocate for 21st Century Readiness. These organizations are have developed frameworks to guide educators in developing skills that will prepare students for this unpredictable, but exciting future that lies before them. Core subjects are essential components in a strong education, but the critical need to teach the skills that will allow our future leaders to work in a 21st century environment cannot be dismissed.  While the future jobs have yet to be created, much less imagined, educators can equip students with skills that will allow our students  to work in any environment. Skills such as  problem-solving, collaborating, and critical thinking will be necessary in any workplace setting.

Technology maximizes learning by bridging the gaps between classroom instruction and real-world problems. It allows students to learn at their own pace, and in many cases, have more power and control over what they learn and how they learn it. Opportunities to share their learning experiences with a real audience (rather than a single teacher) are unlimited. Tools used for feedback and reflection on learning allow for more meaningful learning experiences that have real world application. Technology creates authentic parallels to future experiences.
Memorizing facts and tidbits of information is no longer as necessary at it once was, nor does it prepare students with the skills they will need in the 21st century. Combine an internet connection with a  person equipped with minimal technology skills,  and that list of facts can be pulled up in a matter of seconds. It is no longer about students know; it is about what they do with what they know. It is time for educators to re-think our current pedagogy as they prepare students for the future that lies ahead of them.




Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2013, 12). Use of Web 2.0 technologies in K-12 and higher education: The search for evidence-based practice. Educational Research Review, 9, 47-64. doi: 10.1016/j.edurev.2012.08.001

How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. (2000). National Academy of Sciences.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2014, from

Rana Tamim Et Al 2011_what Forty Years of Research Says About the Impact of Technology on Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2014, from

Skills21: The Center for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2014, from

Technology Integration Research Review. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2014, from