Project Gallery

I started working with computers long before anyone imagined that technology could be used as an educational tool.  Needless to say, I am very knowledgeable about computer technology.  So when I started teaching technology, I had to learn a whole new set of skills. That is, how to become an effective teacher of technology.  When I began the Masters of Art in Educational Technology program at Michigan State University, my goal was to become more effective at teaching technology with technology.  Looking back now at the class projects that best met this goal, I feel that they fall into three different areas.  First, I learned how to select technology that is best suited for an expected learning outcome.  Second, with a better understanding of learning theories and educational concepts, I learned how to improve my teaching and consequently my student’s learning.  And finally, I learned the importance of creativity and innovation in education.

Here is a sample of the work that showcases what I learned and how I may apply this new knowledge in my classroom.

Click on each picture to view that actual project.

It is important that students learn 21st Century Skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration.  As a final project in my computer programming classes, students are expected to work in a team and develop an entire software system.  But despite the benefits of collaborative learning, I find it can be difficult to manage group based instruction.  Read how the introduction of a web based project management application called BaseCamp changed the way my students learned about teamwork. I love to play with new technology and it’s fun to find ways to use it in my classroom. But bringing in new technology and then deciding how to use it in education is not always the best approach.  In fact, it is more important to first consider the outcome of a lesson before choosing the technology.  I want my students to have a deep understanding of basic programming concepts and to learn to work in a team. See what technology I chose that best supports this outcome.
Daniel Willingham explains in his book Why Don’t Students Like School? that there is no evidence that matching instruction to a student’s preferred cognitive learning style makes learning easier. He also states that the intelligence a child is born with matters little in terms of their potential which has major implications on the way we should praise student’s work.  See how a team of students and myself portrayed these key ideas in a short video. The real value of adding technology to improve instruction is to look at the big ideas of computer programming.  I know that my students need to know syntax, variables, conditionals and looping. But even more, computer programming gives them a process that allows them to solve complex problems with a computer program. Read how I came to this conclusion by investigating the different learning theories. All students come to class with different prior knowledge and experiences.  They even come to class with misconceptions that are very difficult to overcome.  It’s important to consider these when teaching new material.  As an exercise in learning about common misconceptions, a group of students and myself conducted interviews and collected video data on the common misconception that women don’t want to study for  careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  View the results of our investigation.
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Children go to school to prepare for their future and their prospective careers. But it’s difficult to prepare students for jobs that may not even exits yet.  It’s more important to prepare students to be problem solvers and innovators. This paper looks at how teaching creativity in my programming class can help prepare students to be future problem solvers and innovators. A serious game is a game that is designed for a primary purpose other than entertainment.  I designed a game called Marble Racing Track where a group of students are racing against other groups to build a track from PVC pipe pieces. Unfortunately, they must individually build a section of the track without speaking to their group mates.  Along the way, they learn important concepts about teamwork such as communication, collaboration and planning.  See the results of my serious game.
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A Maker Faire is a gathering of innovative and creative projects made by people who had a great idea for something and used their knowledge, skills and persistence to make it.  In schools, Maker Faires become a place to solve problems, increase intrinsic motivation and make something fun.  See how a partner and I made an electronic quiz board for a Maker Faire hosted by Michigan State University. Wicked problems, as defined by Jeff Conklin (2006), are extremely difficult dilemmas which seem impossible to solve because of complex interdependencies.  In 2013, The New Media Consortium (NMC) determined that there are five essential wicked problems in education.  One of the five problems involves making innovation a part of the learning ethic.  Read how a group of classmates and myself synthesized a complicated solution to this problem by suggesting policies that effect teachers, administrators and policy makers.