ED 205 Blog-Top 5 applications every student should learn

May 28, 2007 at 12:38 am 1 comment

 Many educators feel that students should be taught the software applications they will have to know to succeed in their lives beyond school (e.g., work or college). Please make a list of five specific applications you think every student should learn, from more important to less important (you can name the application or just give the title — e.g., Word or word processors).

Explain your ranking in your blog entry. At what level in school do you think each application should be taught? Why?

My rankings would be:

1.      Word

2.      PowerPoint

3.      Excel

4.      Research and reference tools/Databases

5.      Web Authoring

I think that word processing is the most important for students to learn because they will need it throughout their education and life in order to type papers and letters, create professional looking documents, create their resume, and anything else that can be typed. In my opinion, word processing should be learned by third grade because students are really starting to get into writing long paragraphs and stories, instead of just sentences. Next, I think that presentation software should be learned. Students tend to find these programs fun, and it is then a different way for the students to do projects and presentations. Presentation software should be introduced in fourth grade because y then they know how to somewhat gather information and they can start to put together presentations about the information, as they get older they can continue to learn about all of the different features that can make their presentations even better. Excel is next on my list because once again it is useful in the school, work, and even personal environments. With spreadsheets student can become more organized, program in formulas, alphabetize lists, keep track of budgets and money, create graphs, etc. This should be taught in early middle school or late elementary school when students are learning formulas and learning to keep track of information by graphs and such. Fourth on my list are a research and reference tools or databases because I think this is important in the top five, and the students can use this in many different settings. It is useful for students to learn this earlier, when they actual start researching more in depth, like third and fourth grade. My last pick of my top five applications for students is Web Authoring applications because I do think that as our society does move more and more to technology and computers that websites are becoming very important in future careers and advertising. Students need to learn how to create websites and effectively create websites. I don’t think that students need to learn this until high school, but middle school could also be a time to learn about creating websites. Websites can be tied into the curriculum as a history project, i.e., creating a website on information on the era they are learning about, or as a website demonstrating an opinion or idea. All of the applications mention are important to me because I believe that they can not only be useful in the curriculum, but also because students can use them when they move on from school and into the real world.

 

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Multimedia Software in the Classroom-Ed 205 ED 205 Blog Comment #2

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jeff Utecht  |  June 1, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I can here to see what your class was all about and read this post.

    I believe it is the type of thinking in this post that is holding technology back from becoming a part of our everyday classroom. I’m not criticizing you as you answered the question that was given to you. But I believe the question is the wrong question to be asking or considering in the 21st Century.

    This question…this thinking is what we need to overcome in a new flat world, digital age. We should not be focusing in on software application but instead be focusing on the skills students need to obtain to be successful in this new world. When you list your 5 applications you are really talking about skills, and skills are were we need to focus. The applications will change, but the skills needed in the 21st century, are skills that all students should be taught. In fact, in 2001 Bloom’s Taxonomy of high order thinking was revisited and updated to better align with the knowledge and skills students need in today’s ever changing world.

    By focusing on applications we miss the true skills that are needed…that are being taught. That’s where our focus should be, on the skills. Where should those skills be taught? In my opinion they should be taught in the classroom embedded within the everyday curriculum content that the classroom teacher teaches. Using your post as an example let me see if I can change this application driven question into a question of skills.

    Word

    I think that word processing is the most important for students to learn because they will need it throughout their education and life in order to type papers and letters, create professional looking documents, create their resume, and anything else that can be typed.

    So the skill you are really talking about is typing. Typing or input skills are a key skill that every student should learn. With children as early as 3 and 4 using a computer, for the most part students by 3rd grade already know how to type. It my not be what we consider the correct way of typing, but it is their own way…which in many cases is faster than the ‘home row’ that most of us learned. So, we need to make sure that students can type…although as voice recognition software continues to evolve I’m not sure how much longer this skill will be needed.

    Powerpoint

    Presentation software should be introduced in fourth grade because y then they know how to somewhat gather information and they can start to put together presentations about the information, as they get older they can continue to learn about all of the different features that can make their presentations even better.

    So what you are really saying is student need to learn how to present. That presentation skills need to be taught at an early sage. I couldn’t agree more. The problem I have is that we focus on the application of PowerPoint and not on presentation skills. We teach students that giving a presentation IS PowerPoint, when really you use the application to support a presentation. We must teach the skill of presenting, of creating content, speaking, engaging an audience. That’s what makes a good presentation. Too often I’ve seen teachers have students create a presentation and then grade the student poorly because of a bad PowerPoint. Or not grade the powerpoint at all and focus on these presentation skills…so why take the time to create a powerpoint anyway? There are so many ways to present information now days. A website, a movie, a digital story, a podcast/interview/radio show, and PowerPoint that we focus to much on the application instead of looking at the outcome we want as teachers. Again, these skills need to be taught within the context of the classroom and not as separate skills in a computer lab with a computer teacher that carry no meaning. That technology specialist should be in the classroom with you helping you and the students to learn these presentation skills.

    Excel

    With spreadsheets student can become more organized, program in formulas, alphabetize lists, keep track of budgets and money, create graphs, etc.

    I love your wording here. You use the words create and organize. Both of which are higher order thinking skills according to the new Bloom’s Taxonomy. Organizing data can be split into evaluating an analyzing date. So we again focus on the skills of being able to evaluate data, analyze data, apply our findings to create something new. Those are the skills we are really after. Now you can do them in Excel or a number of any other programs….but it’s those skills that we want to teach…those skills our students need…and those skills that we over look because we’re too busy trying to teach students how to bold and center a cell.

    Research and reference tools/database

    I agree this is a top 5 skill (notice it’s not an application). In fact this is my number 1. With the Internet today and the amount of knowledge that is now available to use all, being able to sift through that knowledge to find what you need is a skill we all need to learn and continue to revise as new tools are created. Google is a powerful research tool, but only if you know kow to use it effectively. Used ineffectively and you end up wasting time and finding results that are not focused on your topic. This skill I believe should be taught from day one in our schools. With students today growing up with computers like I grew up with the TV it is a skill that will serve them far beyond what we can imagine. This skill needs to be embedded in every lesson, every day. Whether finding information in a book, in a library, or on the web, learning to research, analyze and evaluate information is a skill that is a must in my book.

    Web Authoring

    I understand where you are coming from here and this is one I am struggling with myself at the moment. I’m sitting here looking at your blog and wondering what web coding did you need to know to create this great looking site? None, now you might have some skills but to set up a site today takes an e-mail address and knowing how to click. So are web authoring skills needed? They are in the sense that we need to know how the web works, but do we need to be teaching HTML or JAVA? Or are those skills becoming a niche, college major, set of skills that only a few need to know? I have 150 5th graders who all have blogs, they write content every day and have very little web coding skills: Although I am teaching them some because they are moving to a level that they want to make their site ‘cooler’ so we talk about how to copy and paste web coding into their sidebar widgets so they can have cool new features on their blog. The other day I watched a high school girl hack up the coding to her myspace page. Where did she learn that skill, know what to do? From her network of friends both face-to-face and online who taught her the skills she needed to get started from there she went on her own and learned what she needed to know…so do we teach these skills…or do kids teach themselves the skills they need?

    I hope I”m not out of line here. Please understand that I am not attacking you….but taking a look at the question you were asked and believe it is the wrong question for the 21st Century. We are at a point where technology and these applications make up the tools of our classrooms, and just like the pencil and paper we must teach students how to use them, but we teach them through practice that is embedded in everything we do in the classroom. We do not send students to the pencil lab to learn how to run a pencil nor should we be sending them to the computer lab. Instead those labs need to be embedded in our classrooms, in everything we do. The computer…these technologies…are the pencil and paper of our time.

    How do we change our focus in education if the question is worded this way:

    Many educators feel that students should be taught skills they will have to know to succeed in their lives beyond school (e.g., work or college). Please make a list of five skills you think every student should learn, from more important to less important (you can name the skill or just give a description).

    How does this question focus our teaching? I encourage you to think about this question, think about the skills you think are important, and then try to accomplish the teaching of those skills without using technology….hopefully you can’t. 🙂

    Thank you for the conversation!

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