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November 2007 - Vol 67, No.3 - International Technology and ...

November 2007 - Vol 67, No.3 - International Technology and ...

Getting instruction on

Getting instruction on “flying” a two-seater plane. (Wolferman, 2002) that increase sales for the paper. The $200,000 cost of software and consulting services has been credited with an increase of $614,000 in revenue. Cox Newspapers, Inc., Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, is using technology to combine and improve all aspects of its production, including advertisement, human resources, and payroll data. Technology is now seen as a way to increase revenue because the cost-reduction technology that provided large savings in the labor and material previously has, for the most part, run its course. Wolferman noted that there is “one word of caution: Like most modern tools, decision-support software can only be as effective as the user” (2002). Software will not make an amateur an expert. “Only trained and skilled analysts can turn the pieces into fuel for new revenue” (Wolferman, 2002). Communication Understanding, selecting, and using information and communication technologies (STL Standard 17) leads to interesting interaction with others. We have pen pals in Kansas whom we can email regularly. For many of the students, school is their only chance to have this experience, as they are not online at home. While we do email our pen pals, we also write conventional letters. Doing both allows for a comparison of both types of communication. We also watch the weather reports on television for both places and “plan” what we can do at recess based on that. Will we have a recess in the gym, or will we be able to go outdoors? Trucking The trucking industry has also moved toward using GPS to keep tabs on where trucks are at any given time. Drivers report to a central office through onboard computers. Taking a tip from the railroad systems, trucking companies are beginning to use the radio-frequency identification (RFID) system. Graniterock Construction in California is just one such company. Its 600 trucks are equipped with the RFID system, and they have reported an increase in customer satisfaction since the installation. The online Our class used “found” materials to create our own unique vehicles. journal, eWeek, toured the facility, completing an evaluation that noted they were “impressed by the efficiencies Graniterock has been able to attain by using its business intelligence reporting system in combination with RFID tagging” (Chen, 2005). STL Standard 18, “Students will develop an understanding of and be able to select and use transportation technologies,” can be met through exciting hands-on activities. Begin with a complete unit on transportation that is geared to your students’ level and be sure to include field trips. To help my students gain knowledge and experience with this standard, we have taken a field trip that included a stop at a trucking company, a commercial bus terminal, and a local agricultural airport. Planning the field trip was an exercise in scheduling in which we had to discuss what would happen if we were late getting from one place to another. For example, if we left the trucking company late, we would miss the bus at the terminal and would not have the opportunity to get on and look around. Other Industries Other industries are using technology in new and astounding ways. Automobiles have become more complex, using computer chips in many components. Repairing a vehicle often necessitates a trip to the repair shop where it can be “put on the computer” to determine the problem. Sewing machines are computerized as noted by DeAnn Hebert in Des Moines, Iowa. With $20,000 in funds allocated to her family and consumer sciences department at East High School, she pointed out that they have, “the best sewing technology rooms in the state” (The Des Moines Register, 2006). Help for Students The need for technology education is apparent when researching the job market. No doubt it would be difficult to find any jobs that had no technology associated with 6 • The Technology Teacher • November 2007

them. If technology is on the increase and students in low socioeconomic areas are not receiving an adequate education, as Mayo noted in The Clarksdale Press Register, educators, administrators, parents, and students must ask themselves what the solution is to this problem. One obvious answer is to improve the quality of technology education because neither these students nor their families have easy access to funds to provide technology education and use it at home. Technology use by socioeconomic brackets is not just a problem in the United States. Research in Canada has shown that, “despite widespread diffusion of the new technology, recent research indicates that home computer ownership varies significantly amongst different income and educational categories” (Nakhaie & Pike, 1998). In homes where the head of the household held a university degree, 55.6% owned a home computer, while in homes where the head of the household had a less than ninth grade education, only 9.1% owned a computer. The research also pointed out that families in homes with lower socioeconomic incomes were less likely to use the computer if they had one. When using the computer, these families typically used them to play video games. Yet, the education a person receives can reverse this trend. People from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who go on to receive higher levels of education tend to use computers more than those people from the same income bracket who do not get higher levels of education. An important concept to consider is to what extent children from lower socioeconomic homes have ready access to computers at school (Nakhaie & Pike, 1998). Teaching Technology Effectively Learning to effectively use technology is an important life skill for today’s students—especially as society has shifted from an industrial society to one that is knowledgeintensive. Students must have the technical knowledge and skills that enable them to either enter the work force or help them to complete higher-level degrees. Teachers are assigned the task of meeting these technological needs of students. A key component in staff development for teachers on using technology across the curriculum is to understand that it is not just about learning the technology, but also about the learning process and pedagogical concepts that entails (Jacobson, 2001). The work of such theorists as Piaget and Vygotsky is relevant to meeting the needs of students in the educational technology arena. Teaching technological knowledge and skills to students must be based on sound doctrines of learning and must take into account the technological background children bring with them to school. The socioeconomic backgrounds of students have a significant impact on the information base about technology that they bring with them to school. Even so, all children participating in technology education made huge gains in their knowledge and skills using computers and the Internet. One continuing concern is that there is a growing gap between students in higher and lower socioeconomic settings and the depth and breadth of their technological knowledge. Implications are that schools must close this gap (Somekh & Pearson, 2001). Information Communication Technology (ICT) remains one of the most difficult subjects for educators to teach students. Five important findings from a pedagogical viewpoint have emerged. These include the concept that (1) the classroom teacher’s attitude and computer literacy level affect student achievement; (2) reciprocal teaching and modeling among students are effective learning strategies; (3) teachers’ one-on-one advice is beneficial to children looking for information; (4) collaborative and competitive group activities are motivating, and (5) professional technical support is imperative (Akahori, 2002). The U. S. Department of Education has developed the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) that state education departments can use to form their technology framework. For example, the Mississippi technology framework lists ten performances students should be able to demonstrate before completing the fifth grade. Standard 5 states: Students will be able to use technology tools for individual and collaborative writing, communication, and publishing activities to create knowledge products for audiences inside and outside the classroom. A simple and inexpensive way to meet this standard is to have electronic pen pals with a school in another state. Conclusion For all students to become successful, productive citizens in the future, it is apparent that they must be well educated in technology. Those students who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have further to go in attaining that education because they often do not have the capabilities at home to practice technology nor do they have the prerequisite background knowledge. Schools are their means for obtaining technology education and hands-on practice and, as such, are charged with the responsibility of closing the technology achievement gap. Virtually all students in public schools in the U.S. have access to computers and the Internet in their school as reported by 7 • The Technology Teacher • November 2007

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