education & tech

mLearning, teacher, scholar, social media

Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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How Does Technology Help in Learning Languages?

It’s something almost all of us pick up from our parents and those around us, this thing we call our mother tongue. We learn it instinctively and through repeated usage, and we hardly give it a second thought. However, development of language skills and excellence in a tongue comes about only when you engage in exercises that further them, like reading, writing and experimenting with other aspects of the language.

How Does Tech Help in Learning Languages?A second language is harder to learn for most people, unless they’ve grown up in households or places where they are surrounded by people who speak in two dominant languages. Some of us learn a new language through necessity while others do so because of an interest in the lingo, and the rest just pick up bits and pieces through intermittent usage. Whatever the reason to learn a second or even third language, technology does help in picking up the basics and even mastering it, because:

  • It provides us with access to variety of resources: It’s easy to learn a language without a tutor today simply because of the multitude of resources that exist on the Internet and through other technological avenues. You have online lessons and worksheets that you can access for free or at a reasonable cost, some of which are interactive and so much more useful than books. Besides this, social networks like Second Life hold virtual classes for those willing to learn languages, so you can enroll in these just as you would in a regular class.

  • It allows us to learn when time permits: When you use technology to learn a language, you don’t have to set fixed times to attend classes or take lessons. You can learn anywhere, anytime. Besides the resources available on the Internet, you have applications that can be accessed using your iPhone, iPod and other smartphones, so you’re always connected and in a position to tap the various opportunities that exist online.

  • It provides handy and instant answers: If you’re struggling for a word in the language you’re learning, you now have the answer at your fingertips through online dictionaries and other translation resources. It’s easy to pick up words and phrases that are commonly used and which come in handy when you visit a new country and need to communicate with the locals for information.

  • It allows us to practice: Using technology to learn a language means you don’t need other people who speak the tongue to practice your skills and develop them further. With television programs in foreign languages and other interactive tools, you can pretend to engage in imaginary conversations and improve your vocabulary and sentence making skills.

This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of online degrees. Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email


"Teaching FOR the Test And Teaching TO the Test"

During the edchat, a collaborative tool for teachers, and followed on Twitter this last Tuesday, Theresa Gray was contributing to the conversation with thoughtful questions and facts that we had to continue our own research to understand better what she was talking about. The topic for the online meeting was: What is the role of standardized testing in education?

@theresagrayTheresa stated : "Teaching FOR the test and teaching TO the test are two very different things! Don't need a unit name for that!" but she also questioned the terminology, she thinks teachers some times get confused with wordy and take as synonyms the words, evaluation, testing and assessment. The concepts of testing and assessment still today, continue to be considered interchangeable by many, although they have incredibly different definitions and educational values attached to each of them. If we are to promote the clarity of performance in our students and schools, then we likely want to consider being clear in our own word choices.

As some brought to our attention during the #edchat , the topic turned to be more debated that expected, as always, when education community touches the words 'evaluation' and 'tests', everyone sets themselves at ease. Moreover, what exactly do standardized test and assessment mean? And what impact do the use and understanding of these terms have on educational and promotion decision-making?

We had to turn to the The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing in order to help ourselves about definitions. They define test as "an evaluative device or procedure in which a sample of an examinee's behavior in a specified domain is obtained and subsequently evaluated and scored using a standardized process." While the assessment is defined as "any systematic method of obtaining information from tests and other sources, used to draw inferences about characteristics of people, objects, or programs."

The disenchantment many participants felt that day was evident. They would likely change that way the use and applied standardized test but there is no much they can do, since is the government and test designers who have the last word on decisions of this magnitude. Assessment and testing are part of curriculum, but when designers pay little to any attention to teachers, parents, students and society, there are very few option to improve American schools and education. I am sorry Mr. Duncan.

In a interview conceded to Scholastic, Grant Wiggins considered a guru on the assessment matters, said: "When teachers assess student performance, they're not placing value or judgment on it — that's evaluating or grading. They're simply reporting a student's profile of achievement."

Regarding the teaching FOR/TO the test brought by Gray, he points out:
Many teachers think that they have to teach worse in order for their students to get better scores on standardized tests. Not true. The tests are usually simplistic and generic, so if teachers have a rigorous local curriculum and assessment system, their students should do very well. The test designers aren't interested in teaching through the test — all they're trying to do is find the quickest and easiest way of getting at some basic skills. Teachers' standards should be much higher than the test designers' standards, which are minimal.
Teachers work in different ways to create their profiles, develop their own assessment and even evaluate. It is also dependable on what each state allows and directs, but all professional of education need to look besides their classroom, there are not only social and professional responsibilities but legal connotations, as well. It is quite easy to implement and apply standardized tests but requires incredible work to gather evidence of student performance over a period of time to measure learning and understanding, despite all psychological terminology involved.

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Learning Isn't For Nine Months; It's Forever

Jay Mathews of The Washington Post writes "he liked showing up the first day of school with a fresh binder and newly sharpened pencils." as much as today's kids love it, but Mathews also rise concerns: "How would school have turned out for me if I had been able to ignore what grade I was in and skip ahead to the pleasures of J.D. Salinger, or stay out on the ball field for a week until I finally learned how to catch a fly ball?"

And he goes on models and the experiential education proclaimed by John Dewey. However this is the part that really make us think about our practice:

...We should keep in mind how artificial that learning environment is compared with what students will find as adults. At The Post, for instance, I have had to learn to blog. For a while, I pretended that I did not have to do this. When I finally, grudgingly, started writing blog posts, I acted as if they were just short stories for the paper. I sent them to my editor and asked him to put them on my blog. I put off learning to do it myself. I used vacation, bad weather or sniffles to excuse myself from training. But I wasn't in school anymore. The Post wasn't going to give me a report card with a C-minus in blogging and ask me to do better next year.

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