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ETEC511: Foundations of Educational Technology

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Week 4 – Copyright

In Japan the new copyright law was just applied on October 1st and now downloading copyrighted material (only music and movies) “without recognizing it is a pirated copy” will be a criminal offense. This has created a major controversy because the government’s definition of this law is ambiguous—it’s so confusing that some people now think it’s illegal to watch videos on YouTube, which of course is not the case. The problem here is that there are so many different options for “enjoying” music or movies. Is it ok to listen to music on smartphones? How about watching movies on an iPod? Should all web caches be deleted in computers?
Here is the article about this law.

Week 3 – Is technology almighty?

As technology developed, some people started to believe that technology is almighty, but this is not true. The benefits of technology in education must be proven so confidence in technology is not misplaced.  But as Mayer (2003) points out, discussing whether people learn better from computers or not is a little too simplistic, so a question like, “Which aspects of e-learning environments help which kinds of learners to learn which kinds of knowledge?” would be more appropriate.  Educators need to realize what works and what does not in educational settings.  I recall when people first started creating their personal websites, they were often over decorated with lots of irrelevant music, pictures, icons, etc. Web designers eventually learned that less can be more. Probably the genesis of educational technology was a little like that – a lot of irrelevant information was added without it being proven effective.  Technology development needs to be sophisticated and sort out the right information and the most effective methods to use.

Reference:

Mayer, R. A. (2003). Elements of a science of e-learning. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 29(3), 297-313.

Week 2 – PowerPointless

My colleagues never use PowerPoint or even an overhead projector. They teach in a traditional way, using a chalkboard. Their hands and clothes are often covered with white chalk powder. They are wonderful and experienced educators but I felt their traditional approach—writing on a blackboard, erasing, then writing again—sometimes makes the students’ learning experience slower and less efficient. The reason they do not use PowerPoint or any other technology is very simple; they’d rather focus their efforts on their lesson plans than learning how to use PowerPoint. It’s their choice not to use PowerPoint, which I have no objection against.

I also had a few opportunities to observe classes at a different university. There, to the contrary, the teachers use PowerPoint a lot, actually they ONLY use PowerPoint in class. The pace of their teaching is much faster and they show explanations and images as if they were flashcards. Although the class seemed impressively organized, I had one big problem:

I almost fell asleep.

It was embarrassing but I couldn’t help. It was not because the class was boring, but just because PowerPoint makes me sleepy.

I recall the same thing happened in class when I was a student; PowerPoint always made me sleepy because I think PowerPoint makes students more passive and less interactive. And yes, the room is dark or half lit.

In light of those experiences, this week’s article about PowerPoint was very interesting. They state that “PowerPoint does not impact academic achievement” but “there is an appreciable increase in positive feelings toward instructors using PowerPoint,” (Adams, 2008).  Although many people use PowerPoint now, I believe that PowerPoint still has the “power” to impress people; however, that power, interestingly, does not necessarily improve students’ academic performance. PowerPoint is great software and can make the lecture seem organized and attractive, but it can become dull if not accompanied by other tools in class. That’s ironic, isn’t it?

Reference:

Adams, C. (2008). The poetics of PowerPoint. Explorations in Media Ecology, 7(4), 283–289.

Week 1 – Self-introduction

My name is Shuichiro (Shu) Takeda from Quebec City. I am originally from Japan.

I started the online masters program in Educational Technology at University of British Columbia this month. Before I started this MET course, I googled “educational technology” and found several websites that showed definitions of this term. However, the word “technology” confused me (I knew it was not only about the Internet or computers, but couldn’t think of other good interpretations) and I felt I could not really put my finger on it. I just vaguely assumed that educational technology was how to use new methodologies to improve the performance of learners.

I am looking forward to my journey through this program!

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