Final Project Options

I’m going to offer a couple options for the final project to give you an opportunity to explore what is interesting and relevant to you. We will discuss these more in class.

The first option is to write a short research paper on a topic we’ve explored (or related topic) in this class. This could be the current and/or future role of technology in education, the impact of certain technologies on learning (pros/cons of distance/hybrid learning or 1-1 laptop initiatives, flipped instruction, apps and mobile devices, role/importance of computer literacy, etc.), the pros/cons of the backward design model, or anything else related to technology in education. You can download the assignment specifics here -> ET 503 Final Paper.

If you are, have been, or expect to be a classroom teacher you can choose to write a lesson plan of sorts that focuses on how technology can be used to extend/enhance the learning through the creation of a “learning environment” in which technology facilitates and supports a more student-centered and inquiry-based approach. You can choose any content area you wish. You can download the assignment specifics here -> ET503 Final Integrated Project.

EDIT: I just realized I forgot to include the Backward Design Template part of the integrated project assignment. Oh well. If you wish to use the template that is fine but it’s not a requirement at this point.

Discussion 4 – Computer Literacy

Read the two articles posted in the Scratch assignment and this short story – and watch the video.

You might also want to check out this site –

These articles and the video are arguing for an element of computer literacy in education that is more or less lacking currently. Not doing so could lead to a world more like the one in the story “The Machine Stops”. Maybe that’s overreaching a bit, but how important is it for people today to understand how and why computers and related technology works? Should we be incorporating more computer literacy into regular instruction? Why or why not? Discuss.

Please post your initial comment by April 7.

Transforming Tech Project (Scratch)

I appreciate everyone’s willingness to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. While I have used Scratch with students, this is the first time I’ve incorporated it into this class. I have my reasons for doing so and shared them during our first class meeting and tried to reiterate them during our last class. Here are a couple articles that I think add to the discussion. Please read them. We will have our next discussion on this topic.

The Assignment (due 4/15)

The next project is an opportunity to explore ways in which a tool like Scratch can be used to do more than simply regurgitate content (often the outcome of powerpoint type projects). As you may be realizing as you explore Scratch, the nature of programming requires a lot of planning, attention to details, patience, and a lot of logical thinking and problem solving – skills necessary to being a successful learner and successful in life.

For this project you will select a learning outcome for any grade and content you wish (non k-12 is okay too if  you have an idea). There may be some for which Scratch isn’t the best approach so please choose carefully. We will discuss this more in class. A good place to start would be looking at CDE standards (if you are interested in k-12) or those for students in your home country, or course competencies for college level courses if you prefer (may be harder to find but the Common Course Numbering System in Colorado offers a lot of examples).

Next, consider how you might have learners meet the learning outcome you chose. For example, 7th grade science standard 2.3.a says “gather, analyze, and interpret data and models on the different types of cells, their structures, components and functions.” Part of meeting the outcome might be developing a story and interactive “game” providing information about cells such as this one

Finally, develop your own Scratch program that meets your learning outcome and is done in a way similar to what you would expect from your learners. In other words, become your own learner and construct an example. Share it and post a comment with a link to your project before class on April 15. We will share them briefly with the class.

Note – you do not need to create a design template (backward design process) for this project but you may wish to for practice. Your final project will include a completed design template. You will, however, turn in a short document outlining the learning objective you chose, expected outcomes and a description of how the project is expected to help meet these objectives/outcomes.

Steps in the Project

  1. Select a learning objective for any grade/content you are interested in.
  2. Develop a plan for meeting the objective using Scratch.
  3. Construct a Scratch program similar to how you expect your learners to and share it.
  4. Write up a short description of the learning objective and how your project helps to meet them. Turn in by sharing with me (i.e. Google Drive).

There is no rubric for this outside of following the steps above and creating a completed project that works (i.e. you have to troubleshoot if it doesn’t work). You may work with a partner but you will need to each write your own separate reflection on the pros and cons of this type of approach (add it to step 4 above).

We will discuss the project more in class on Tuesday.

No Class Tonight

Sorry for the late notice but I need to cancel class tonight. My daughter was scheduled for surgery this Thursday but it was moved to today. I’m still at the hospital but will provide some updated information later (she is doing fine). I will post some more information on Scratch tomorrow so you can practice over the break.

Discussion 3 – The Backward Design Process

Now that you have had a chance to use backward design as part of a learning project, I’d like you to reflect a bit on the value of this process (or lack of value). What are the strengths/weaknesses? Have you used a similar process in the past? Do you think you will use this process (even if you don’t use the template itself) in the future?

Having taught in K-12 for a number of years I can say that based on my experience backward design mainly happens by accident when it does rather than being purposeful. What I mean by that is teachers often used textbook driven lessons and the outcomes or goals were to essentially do the lesson an learn the content. This approach falls short. The question of what students should be able to do with the learning is often not considered. So, to phrase the above question a different way, would the purposeful use of backward design help to address this? Why? Why not? Is the another approach we should be considering?

Post your initial comment by March 10.

Evaluation Questions and Feedback

Just a few ideas as you debrief with your students.

  • What did you like most about the online lesson/activities?
  • What did you like least?
  • Was anything particularly confusing?
  • Did you know what you were expected to do, online, and how to do it? Explain.
  • Were the online activities helpful? In what way? Or if not what would have been more helpful?
  • Did the in-class activities reinforce what you learned online? Explain.
  • Did you come to class with questions and were they answered?
  • What about the online and in-class activities caused you to think and helped enhance your understanding?
  • In what ways did the online and in-class activities encourage you to think about or reflect on your learning?
  • Is there anything else you thought of that might have help make the learning more effective, engaging, fun, relevant, etc.?
  • Is there anything additional teachers would like to know about or ask their students?