Rationale Paper

Rationale Paper for AECT Standards

Ashlie Cox 3rd/4th Grade Social Studies Teacher, Eminence Elementary

Fall 2011

When I first started the Master of Educational Technology program in the fall of 2009, I was a reading recovery teacher at Eminence Elementary, working with 1st and 2nd graders. As I am finishing the program, I am currently a Social Studies teacher for 3rd and 4th graders. What has been interesting about the position change and ending my Master’s program is the differing opportunities for technology use in the classroom. In 2009, I did not have a wide range of knowledge about using technology in the classroom. Through this program, I gained more knowledge semester by semester, but I was limited to technology programs that related to reading. Now, in 2011, I have an extensive knowledge of technology that can be applied to the classroom in all subject areas because of the curriculum I learned in each course at Boise State University.

I became interested in the technology program at Boise State when I realized that technology is a great complement to the classroom and is an effective strategy to teach material in an interactive and engaging way. By enrolling in this program, I wanted to learn more about how to incorporate technology into the classroom and ultimately fulfill my goal to be a technology coordinator.

Throughout this paper, artifacts from courses I have taken in the M.E.T. program will be showcased, as well as how those artifacts relate to the AECT standards. I will also explain the theory behind each artifact and my thoughts about how they can be used in the classroom.

AECT Standard 1- Design

1.1 Instructional Systems Design-

Instructional Systems Design (ISD) is an organized procedure that includes the steps of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating instruction.

The instructional design system focuses on how to design instruction that includes analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating instruction. An example that connects to this standard is the Instructional Design Project (EDTECH 503). To complete this project, I developed a system of instruction for NEO computer (http://www.renlearn.com/neo/NEO2/default.aspx) training for the teachers. In this particular training, the procedural learning model was used. According to Smith & Ragan, procedural learning is knowing the steps of a procedure and having the ability to apply those steps to situations (2005). In the NEO training, the teachers were required to know the steps to operating a NEO computer and apply those steps to complete an assignment. Within this project, I conducted a needs analysis to have a better idea of how to design and implement instruction to meet the needs of the teachers. During the project and at the end, I took the time to evaluate my training instruction with the use of formative evaluations. What I found most beneficial through this project was the needs analysis. I realized that I don’t take enough time to find out where my students are before I create a lesson; I end up teaching them material they already know because I haven’t made the effort to find out their needs and design the lesson around them. Each step in the instructional design process has an important role to the overall instruction.

1.2 Message Design-

Message design involves planning for the manipulation of the physical form of the message.

Message Design focuses on the physical form of the message and how it is portrayed. Three artifacts that I completed can fit into this standard. From EDTECH 506, the Organization Principle and the Typography Principle align well with the standard, as well as the Synthesis Paper from EDTECH 504.

The Organization Principle helped teach me more about message design because I “categorized and ordered my information to make more sense” (Lohr, 2007, p.65). According to Linda Lohr, the organization principle is based on the mind’s tendency to process and remember “chunks” of information. This can be done by using a hierarchy, which can be accomplished through the use of an outline. To portray organization, I chose to create an outline to detail questions to ask when determining the setting of a story. To make my message more appealing to my 2nd grade audience, I chose primary colors with a sharp contrast and made the font large and easy to read. The questions were written in kid-friendly language. By including contrast, large font, and kid-friendly language, the message is easier to understand.

The second project, Typography Principle, also fits under the standard of Message Design. This project introduces the word typography which means the art and science of the letterform. “Typography takes place when a word or letter is presented in a particular way to form a message" (Lohr, 2007, p.14). To me, typography is a way to portray a message through a word without having to explain the message. In my Typography project, I represented a message through four different words. The words were fantasy, character, main idea and setting. Each word included an image that related to the meaning of the word, like a face in the middle of the letter c in character.

The synthesis paper created in EDTECH 504 required me to pick an educational learning theory and relate it to the usage of a current technology. I chose to write about how the constructivist theory relates to increased student engagement through the use of Smart Boards. Smart Boards relate to the constructivist theory because they allow for more student-directed learning with the student taking charge of their instruction. Smart Boards open up the ability for interactive learning, independent work, and new and unique ways to learn the material. In essence, through the use of Smart Boards, students can construct their own learning.

1.3 Instructional Strategies-

Instructional strategies are specifications for selecting and sequencing events and activities within a lesson.

Creating lessons that included a sequence of events is the main purpose of standard 1.3. I created two projects that revolved around following steps in a sequential order to accomplish the end goal. One of those projects is a Virtual Field Trip I created in EDTECH 502. In this virtual trip, elementary students learn about the biomes of the world. They navigate through the biomes in sequential order, while reading information, viewing photos and watching videos related to each. On each biome page, they are also required to answer questions and the answer key is found at the end of the trip.

Another project that uses sequencing events is the WebQuest I created in EDTECH 502. The WebQuest is titled, Food Pyramid WebQuest, and it requires students to navigate through five different web pages to answer the question, “What are the food groups in the food pyramid and how can we include them in our 3 meals every day?” Because I am now teaching health this year, using this WebQuest in the classroom is a great way to introduce the food groups and also provides students the opportunity to improve their computer skills.

In both of these projects, students are using problem-based learning because they are solving a problem by following specific steps. The virtual field trip and WebQuest allow students to learn the material independently and they are responsible for their own learning. By selecting these assignments, students can construct their own learning and participate in student-centered instruction.

1.4 Learner Characteristics-

Learner characteristics are those facets of the learner's experiential background that impact the effectiveness of a learning process.

The focus of this standard is on learner characteristics and how those can impact instruction. Learner characteristics include age, gender, motivation level, and prior knowledge. Knowing this information is useful when designing lessons. In my Learner Context Analysis project (EDTECH 503), I analyzed the knowledge that teachers had regarding NEO computers. After giving and analyzing the survey results, I had a clear idea of the needs of the learners and how to modify my instruction to meet those needs and maximize the learning process. The needs that the teachers expressed through the survey were learning how to name and save a file, opening a saved file, and how to open the Accelerated Reader program. With the results of this survey, I was able to train the teachers at my school about how to use the NEO’s in ways that would benefit them in the classroom, such as working on writing portfolios and earning more Accelerated Reader points.

AECT Standard 2- Development

2.1 Print Technologies-

Print technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials, such as books and static visual materials, primarily through mechanical or photographic printing processes.

The unit I created in the Unit of Instruction from EDTECH 506 was created through the use of posters, worksheets and ideas I used in my 2nd grade reading class. The 2nd graders were learning about realism and fantasy, characters, setting, and main idea. The students were having trouble remembering the difference between characters and setting and realism and fantasy and figuring out what the main idea was. I decided to make informational posters to hang on the wall and handouts for the students to use when they were struggling. These posters and handouts displayed tools and tips for the students about how to distinguish the difference between realism and fantasy, questions to ask to determine the setting of a story, and a graphic organizer to organize the main idea and details. These static visual materials were produced through printing processes and served as a way to teach curriculum.

2.2 Audiovisual Technologies-

Audiovisual technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials by using mechanical devices or electronic machines to present auditory and visual messages.

When material is delivered using mechanical devices or electronic machines to present auditory and visual messages, it is related to standard 2.2. A project that I created that falls under this sub domain is my Rich Media Tutorial from EDTECH 522. In this video, I give learners a tutorial on how to navigate through and use PowerPoint. I am delivering my message using an electronic device and presenting the material orally as well as providing visuals of me and the PowerPoint screens. Using only audio in the video would have gotten the point across, but using a visual of me helps students to become more engaged. According to Clark and Mayer (2008), the cognitive theory of multimedia learning is consistent with the belief that the visible author technique can help prime a feeling of being in a conversation with the author. The visual presence of the instructor encourages the student to engage in deeper cognitive processing during learning. I could possibly use this video with elementary students to guide them through the steps of using PowerPoint. It could also be used with online students if I were ever to become an online teacher.

2.3 Computer-Based Technologies-

Computer-based technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials using microprocessor-based resources.

Computer-based technologies can be delivered in the forms of drill and practice, tutorials, simulations, educational games, and applications. These technologies are forms of instructional software. According to Roblyer and Doering (2010), “instructional software is applications software designed specifically to deliver or assist with student instruction on a topic” (p. 76). The purpose of instructional software is supporting instruction and learning. The Instructional Software Presentation that I created in EDTECH 541 details types of instructional software and gives examples and benefits of each. The specific examples I used related to aspects of social studies learning like government, geography, and economy. Each type of instructional software focuses on specific instructional uses to help kids learn. For example, drill and practice, instructional games and problem solving focus on skill practice. Tutorials help deliver information. Simulations, instructional games, and problem solving help students explore the concepts more deeply. Gagne, Wager, and Rojas (1981) suggested a way to look at software and its instructional functions and then design appropriate integration strategies that make use of these functions. They went on to say that drills, tutorials, and simulations help gain attention, provide learning guidance, provide feedback, and assess learning performance. Educators must determine the teaching role that each software serves and where it can fit in the instructional process (Roblyer and Doering, 2010).

2.4 Integrated Technologies-

Integrated technologies are ways to produce and deliver materials which encompass several forms of media under the control of a computer.

One project that I created that produced and delivered material that encompassed several forms of media was a Moodle Course Design in EDTECH 522. For this project, I created assignments for another student to complete about visual rhetoric. On this Learning Management System, the student was required to complete assignments that covered a blog post, an Elluminate Live! session, an online quiz, and a forum post. The course also required online research conducted by the student. The project prepared me and allowed me to experience what online teaching would be like if I ever decided to take that route or if I ever decided to have an online course in addition to a traditional classroom. Students could use the online course for homework postings, additional help or information, and to see what assignments they missed.

AECT Standard 3- Utilization

3.1 Media Utilization-

Media utilization is the systematic use of resources for learning.

The Relative Advantage Chart (EDTECH 541) portrays a systematic use of resources for learning. In the book, Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, Roblyer & Doering (2010) define relative advantage as “deciding on instructional problems and whether or not a technology-based solution would be better than other ways of addressing the problems" (p. 51). They argue that people will change how they do things if they clearly see the benefits of a new method. The chart focuses on ten learning problems that are encountered in the third grade. For each problem, a technology integration recommendation is given, as well as the relative advantage of using that specific technology in the classroom. Each integration strategy is geared specifically for a specific learning problem and the advantage of using the technology is clearly identified. It is important for all teachers to have a purpose when using technology. By using this chart, teachers would see a systematic way to use technology when they encounter specific learning problems.

3.2 Diffusion of Innovations-

Diffusion of innovations is the process of communicating through planned strategies for the purpose of gaining adoption.

Standard 3.2 focuses on communicating through planned strategies with the plan of adoption. The Digital Divide Letter I wrote in EDTECH 501 correlates to this standard. In my letter, I define digital divide as meaning, “the difference between those with access to the Internet and with those who do not.” A more detailed definition of digital divide was addressed by Norris Dickard (2002) in his article, " The Digital Divide: Where We Are." Dickard defines digital divide as the “gap between those individuals and communities that have, and do not have, access to the information technologies that are transforming our lives." I wrote my letter to teachers that were knowledgeable in technology and would be able to understand the letter and have a major part in offering support. What my letter focused on was not necessarily solving the problem of students having computers at home, but rather solving the problem of computer illiteracy by using computers and the internet in schools frequently. The letter focuses on why changing the digital divide is important and strategies to use to change it, improve students’ knowledge of computers and the internet and hopefully adopt a proactive plan.

3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization-

Implementation is using instructional materials or strategies in real (not simulated) settings. Institutionalization is the continuing, routine use of the instructional innovation in the structure and culture of an organization.

The Accessibility Page was created in EDTECH 502 and it focuses on how to design web pages that are accessible to everyone, specifically people with disabilities. Having a web site that is accessible allows people with disabilities to understand and find their way around the web easily. This artifact correlates with the standard because it can be used in a real setting for web designers or teachers to teach them how to create a web site that can be used with all students. In the four classes that I teach a day, I have many students with disabilities, so knowing how to create web accessible sites and what assistive technology should be used can save me a lot of time when trying to teach curriculum to the class.

3.4 Policies and Regulations-

Policies and regulations are the rules and actions of society (or its surrogates) that affect the diffusion and use of Instructional Technology.

Using technology requires following specific rules and actions in order to be courteous internet users. One project that I did that illustrates this principle is my Netiquette Lesson from EDTECH 502. This site defines netiquette as, “the network etiquette; or behavior rules for acting appropriately online.” I researched some ways to show good manners online like using respectful and appropriate language, being careful about what you say and how you say it, and respecting the privacy of others. Showing this site to my group of elementary students before using the internet would be a good way to teach them how to be courteous web surfers and also help them to be aware of cyberbullying. In the article, "Cyberbullying", it is defined as the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person (New, 2009). Young people need to learn netiquette so that they do not become a cyberbully and so that they do not get involved with a cyberbully.

The Copyright Scavenger Hunt (EDTECH 502) is aimed towards copyright and fair use policy. The scavenger hunt requires teachers to navigate through three web sites and answer questions along the way. Each web site explains the copyright and fair use guidelines for teachers. An answer key is provided at the end of the site. Because teachers use outside sources in their classrooms, copyright issues arise frequently. Conducting a training for the teachers using this site would be helpful to the teachers at my school.

AECT Standard 4- Management

4.1 Project Management-

Project management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling instructional design and development projects.

An artifact that involves planning, monitoring, and controlling development projects is the Evaluation Project from EDTECH 505. This project focused on planning and controlling an instructional project and involved an evaluation, timeline, and budget focusing on the usage of SMART Airliner wireless slates at Eminence Schools. Teachers completed a survey about how often they use an Airliner and for what purposes. Once the data was collected, the results were analyzed and an evaluation was made based on the results. The purpose of the Evaluation Project was to find out if Eminence was making a good decision in purchasing wireless slates for each classroom. If teachers were not using them frequently or for inappropriate reasons, the school could make the decision to spend the money on something more useful.

4.2 Resource Management-

Resource management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling resource support systems and services.

An artifact that focuses on planning, monitoring, and controlling resource services is my Grant Proposal from EDTECH 551. The proposal was written for a Read to Achieve grant asking for money to purchase computers and Kidspiration software. The goal was to improve reading scores. To monitor reading improvement, student reading scores would be evaluated every four weeks using the Developmental Reading Assessment.

4.3 Delivery System Management-

Delivery system management involves planning, monitoring and controlling 'the method by which distribution of instructional materials is organized' . . . [It is] a combination of medium and method of usage that is employed to present instructional information to a learner.

One project that involves planning, monitoring and controlling the method by which distribution of instructional materials is organized is the Mobile Learning activity completed in EDTECH 502. . Because of the increased capabilities of cell phones and mobile devices, accessing the internet anywhere is possible, which in turn, makes learning on a mobile device possible. This project required me to create a web site on Dreamweaver that could be viewed using a mobile device. The mobile learning activity was created for students who are taking a field trip to the zoo. Students use their cell phones to take pictures of certain animals at the zoo and then use Google to research three specific questions about each animal. This mobile project gives students the opportunity to have a more enjoyable experience at the zoo and to learn more about the animals that live there.

Another project that involves planning, monitoring and controlling the method by which distribution of instructional materials is organized is the Jigsaw Activity from EDTECH 502. In his book, Nobody left to hate: Teaching compassion after Columbine, Elliot Aronson defines the jigsaw method as a cooperative learning activity that involves all group members and that requires them to participate and complete their part of the activity (2000). It is called the jigsaw method because each student has a piece of information or a question that they focus on and research. Later on, the group members come together, talk about what they learned and each piece of information that is needed is put together like a puzzle. For my activity, the students are divided into three groups and each group is assigned a step of the water cycle that they become experts on by researching the given web sites. They answer specific questions and then present their step to the class. Using the jigsaw method in the classroom is a great way to allow the students to have control of their learning and to give them an opportunity to work together and learn from each other. Aronson writes, "The jigsaw process encourages listening, engagement, and empathy by giving each member of the group an essential part to play in the academic activity. Group members must work together as a team to accomplish a common goal; each person depends on all the others. No student can succeed completely unless everyone works well together as a team" (2000, p. 2). I use this method in my social studies classroom weekly and have found it to be effective for student learning and enjoyable for the students.

4.4 Information Management-

Information management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling the storage, transfer, or processing of information in order to provide resources for learning.

During EDTECH 505 and EDTECH 541, I was required to create a blog. A blog is an artifact that fits this standard dealing with planning, monitoring, and controlling the storage and transfer of information in order to provide resources for learning. According to Dawley (2007), a blog is a web page that serves as a personal journal for an individual. She goes on to say that blogs are a recent Web-based tool that has gained popularity with online educators and that there are currently over 32 million Americans reading 8 million blogs. There is no doubt that blogs are a popular way to transfer and receive information. In EDTECH 541 and 505, I wrote reflections on materials I had read, opinions on readings and theories and I read other blogs from classmates and responded with my thoughts and comments. Writing a blog is a great way for me to gather my thoughts and take time to reflect on what I read. It also helps me to better understand the concepts that I have been reading or learning about. Because of the knowledge I gained about blogs, I have opened up the option of allowing my 4th graders to complete homework assignments on a blog instead of paper. They have enjoyed the freedom of using a blog and being able to comment on other classmate's blogs.

AECT Standard 5- Evaluation

5.1 Problem Analysis-

Problem analysis involves determining the nature and parameters of the problem by using information-gathering and decision-making strategies.

An artifact that focuses on determining the nature of the problem by using information-gathering strategies is my ID Project 1 from EDTECH 503. This project dealt with integrating SmartBoards into the classrooms. In this project, I first determined the computer skills of the teachers at Eminence Independent School and their knowledge about SmartBoards. This was done through a survey given to each teacher. Through the survey, I learned that teachers were in need of SmartBoard training because 79% of the teachers wanted to learn how to use it to enhance their teaching. With the information I received, I created a training program. The goal of the program was for teachers to be able to create a lesson plan using SmartBoard features and be able to demonstrate how to use the SmartBoard features. This project gave me experience in how to determine a need, gather information about the specifics of the need, and then find a solution to accommodate the need.

5.2 Criterion-Referenced Measurement-

Criterion-referenced measurement involves techniques for determining learner mastery of pre-specified content.

An artifact that I created that demonstrates criterion-referenced measurement is the WebQuest Rubric from EDTECH 502. The rubric gives students a clear idea of what the project entails and specific guidelines for them to follow to get their desired grade. Rubrics are an easy way to show students your expectations in an understandable and measurable format. Creating rubrics in college was one of the most beneficial skills I learned because rubrics save me time while grading student work. I think students enjoy using rubrics as well because they don’t have any questions on how to get a good grade.

5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation-

Formative evaluation involves gathering information on adequacy and using this information as a basis for further development. Summative evaluation involves gathering information on adequacy and using this information to make decisions about utilization.

Formative evaluation is gathering data about the effectiveness of materials and using that information to improve the effectiveness. In my Instructional Design Project for 503, the Formative Evaluation piece at the end of the project relates to this sub domain. In my formative evaluation, the principal looked over my training materials for the NEO training. Through his formative evaluation of my work, I was able to tweak the materials to make them more applicable to the teachers and easy to understand. Formative evaluation informs your teaching so that you can make modifications based on student progress and understanding.

Summative evaluation is another type of evaluation that is just as important as formative evaluation. Summative evaluation is an evaluation that occurs at the end of a program to rate its effectiveness. An artifact that connects to this evaluation is my Evaluation Project from EDTECH 505. This project evaluated the results that were gathered from a survey given to each teacher about Airliner usage in their classroom. The summative evaluation results indicated that the Airliner is an effective tool that needs to be used in the classrooms and some teachers are still in need of adequate training on how to use the slates.

5.4 Long-Range Planning-

Long-range planning that focuses on the organization as a whole is strategic planning. Long-range is usually defined as a future period of about three to five years or longer. During strategic planning, managers are trying to decide in the present what must be done to ensure organizational success in the future.

The Technology Proposal that I wrote in EDTECH 501 demonstrates my ability to write a long-range sustainable plan. When writing this plan, I worked with the technology coordinator at my school to look at the current status of the technology. Knowing what equipment we had and knowing the needs of the students at the school, I developed three technologies that the school could benefit from year after year. I created goals that could be accomplished if the school purchased these items along with reasons why these technologies were effective. A timeline that detailed when items would be purchased and a budget were also created. Writing an extensive technology proposal takes time and careful planning. You must consider how everyone involved will be affected. This plan demonstrated strategic long-range planning that focused on everyone in the elementary school.


The Educational Technology program at Boise State University has not only taught me valuable information about education and technology, but it has also taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to. There were many things that frustrated me like Dreamweaver and AdobeConnect, but I have seen how they have and will continue to benefit me as I use them in the future. I feel confident that I have the ability and the credentials to further my career in school technology coordination or online teaching. Earning this Master’s degree has helped me to focus on the needs of my students and on using every opportunity to use technology in the learning environment.


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