Educational Technology

 

Educational Technology can be defined as technology (online or off-line) that enhances an overall learning experience. This can include: assistive technology (making educational content available to all learners with disabilities) or learning technologies that can enhance the traditional classroom environment (this includes: clicker systems, educational online videos, online synchronous or a-synchronous collaboration tools). Properly incorporating technologies into an educational setting can also promote active learning environment where students are more engaged with the course content that is being presented to them at that time. Educational technology tools can also be used by learners to supplement content with on-demand digital content.

Net Neutrality

What if learning management systems made a deal with ISPs to provider the fastest possible bandwidth to certain publisher websites and online tools? As an educational technologist in higher education I see how academic department and instructors adopt publisher online tools that integrate well with our learning management system at the university. McGraw-Hill Connect is a tool that is widely adopted by our business school while Pearson’s MyLab is popular in the sciences and Mathematics. WileyPLUS and W.W. Norton online educational content are not popular publisher tools that are integrated with our learning management system; most instructors explain to me that they do not integrate seamlessly with our system. Could it be this way because Blackboard does not have a financial agreement with them (or as good as the agreements that they have with Pearson and McGraw-Hill)? I believe this a big reason why there should be net neutrality as it impacts education in a profound way. Faculty are likely to adapt online content that works seamlessly with the delivery system that they are utilizing; this may be the case even if another publisher has stronger and more relevant content. If the delivery of the content is not effective, how can it be an effective learning resource?

Identity Theft of Students, Faculty and Staff

Individuals around the world are becoming more aware of the critical issue of data and identity theft and how it affects their lives. As consumers, we hear about breaches on systems which hold our valuable and private information. Many remember the breach on Target, the second largest retailer in America, where their credit card system’s database which compromised millions of consumers’ financial accounts and personal information (Bergman, 2015, p. 119). Incidents such as this keep consumers weary of the security of their personal information in daily transactions.

 

School systems and financial institutions alike make their constituents’ data (students and customers) available online for logistic and accessibility reasons (Robinson et al., 2010, p. 92). This allows hackers with the appropriate technical skills to easily gain access to sensitive and personal content. Gaining access to the sensitive information, the hacker will benefit from the victim’s personal, legal and financial information (Kirk, 2014, p. 449).

When breaches of databases of personal information has taken place, those affected and the public are not always made aware of the situation as a vehicle for disseminated the information is not available. This is especially true in smaller venues such as school districts (Robinson et al., 2010, p.94). When breaches of data take place on larger organizations we are likely apprised of the incident via media sources. Larger organizations, as Kirk (2014) explains, “hold huge amounts of personal data on most of us, which are used both to predict our consumer appetites, and to market products. We place our intimate details on Facebook or in the Cloud, and are surprised when someone accesses and publishes them, or even blackmails us” (p.449).

Educational institutions as well as other organization who hold sensitive data should enhanced their network security and privacy protocols. This may result in pushback from those who are involved with accessing those networks (students, staff, parents, consumers, etc.) but with added security there is an increased chance that a hacker will not be successful in their quest. As Kirk (2014) explains, “one issue for the financial institutions remains that consumers will show resistance to having to tolerate more complexity in accessing their funds, or their online bank accounts, or their Amazon account, even if it means they are more secure” (p. 450).

 

References

Bergman, K. M. (2015). A target to the heart of the first amendment: Government endorsement   of responsible disclosure as unconstitutional. Journal of International Human Rights, 13(2), 117-151.

Kirk, D. (2014). Identifying identity theft. Journal of Criminal Law, 78(6), 448-450.

Robinson, L. K., Brown, A. H., & Green, T. D. (2010). Security vs. access: Balancing safety and productivity in the digital school. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Disruptive Technologies

Direct Supervision of internet usage in elementary school is important as it relates to the students’ safety and learning outcomes. Robinson et al. (2010) mention that tools are available that allow educators to track students’ online usage by way of automated reporting systems or by simply reviewing browser history (p. 21).

I have personal experience utilizing NetSupport (http://www.netsupportschool.com/index.asp); a tool that allows a classroom or lab facilitator to monitor students in real-time from the instructor station. In my experience, the students’ awareness that the tool was monitoring their computer usage was a deterrent to keep on task with the computer lab session.

 

Monitoring systems, such as NetSupport, can keep students from accessing specific sites that are not related to course content. Additionally, this software can block sites that should not be used for course-related research (i.e., Wikipedia).  Flavin (2016) explains that “the disruptive use of technologies in higher education may also be problematic, because the dilution of the gatekeeper role of the [higher education institutions] means it is more challenging to quality assure the learning resources that student use” (p.11). Software solutions or individually monitoring student internet usage (albeit logistically difficult) reduces the disruptive use of technologies.

 

References

 

Flavin, M. (2016). Disruptive conduct: the impact of disruptive technologies on social relations in higher education Education & Teaching International, 53(1), 3-15.

Robinson, L. K., Brown, A. H., & Green, T. D. (2010). Security vs. access: balancing safety and productivity in the digital school. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.