EDT 670
Technology and Educational Reform


Steve Schatz
Hillyer 226

Office Hours: Monday 2 – 4; Wednesday 7 – 9 PM and by appointment



During this semester, we will investigate how educational technology can and cannot impact reform. Often people in this field talk about the ways the latest new technology will revolutionize education. As we will see, the revolutions are easier to predict than accomplish.

We will follow four tracks during the semester, which will intertwine as we explore.

•  The first will be reading and discussing experiences pertaining to technology – first exploring the problems with utopian views of reform, then investigating means that may provide guidance to use or development of technology that might actually make some change in education.

•  The second track will involve applying what we talk about to an online tool developed by the instructor that is attempting to, if not reform education, at least develop a new, helpful tool. This site – Teachers' Help Desk – is designed to grow and evolve based on the input of users. We will see how our participation can shape the growth of a tool.

•  The third track will be an exposure to hardware and software of educational technology. Each week, a class member or the instructor will take the lead in showing a hardware or software tool. During class, we will emphasize evaluation of these tools using a rubric designed in class.

•  The fourth track will be an effort on your part to identify a problem in your school (or your own class), gather information about it, attempt to develop a solution where technology may provide an effective solution, and, if possible, implement the solution, then reflect upon the experience.


As graduate students and professionals, this course will be a group exploration. I have spent more time studying these issues, so am in a position to facilitate our explorations. However, we will follow the scent where it leads us. We will use the schedule below as a map, but will not be bound by it.


Projects and grading

I assume that you are interested and motivated learners. I assume that your motivation is a desire to learn about the field. The reason for the projects assigned during class is that by participating in them, you will interact with the material, considering and thinking… making your own connections. I will not grade for quality of work. You know how much time you want to spend on a project and I hope you will pursue each project until you get something from it. I will grade using a check, check plus, check minus system. If you do all of the projects, you will get a check and will earn an A. If you do extra work, you will earn a check plus. If you do very minimal work, you will earn a check minus. Of course, if you don't do the project, you receive no points. Each of the projects and their respective scores are detailed below.

During the course of the semester, you will have 7 opportunities to earn points.

  1. Short hardware/software exploration

During the semester, we will be looking for technology that attempts to reform and reform efforts that use technology. To this end, each person will be responsible for investigating a site, a reform effort or a technology that somehow applies to reforming education or supporting reform efforts. You will present to the class, providing a brief explanation of what the technology attempts/purports to do, then a reflection on the positives, negatives and any other pertinent considerations. In addition, you will hand in a short (1/2 - 3/4 page) reflection that summarizes your findings.

Points – Check = 50, Check Minus = 25, Check Plus = 60

2. Your own tech usage

During the first class, we will develop an observation tool for you to note your use of technology. During the week between the first and second meeting, you will record your use (or lack of use) of technology in your work. Short task – it should take less than an hour during the week.

Additional work – reflect on your use of technology, what you would have LIKED to have had/used; what worked; what didn't. Less than a page of reflection.

Points – Check = 50, Check Minus = 25, Check Plus = 60

3. Some other teachers' (2 – 4) usage


Using the instrument for observation developed in class and refined during your self observation, you will interview 2 or 3 of your colleagues, asking them about their use of technology. While we will see later in the semester that in order to develop interventions, you will get better information by direct observation, at this point, asking other teachers for their self assessment will be useful. Write up your results and reflect on what you found (about 2 pages). This project should take about 3 – 4 hours.

Points – Check = 100, Check Minus = 50, Check Plus = 125


4. Class participation

There are two components to class participation – summaries of readings and talking in class. For each reading, I will post a 3 – 5 questions by the day of the class (on Blackboard). It will be your responsibility to post – BY TUESDAY MORNING AT 8 – a summary of your readings that briefly answers those questions. It will then be everyone's responsibility to log on to Blackboard on Tuesday or Wednesday and read the others' comments. That way, we can have a discussion that is a bit more useful. The purpose the questions and your review is cause you to think about and reflect upon the writings and what you think about the ideas presented. A major goal in this class is to encourage you to develop your own ideas and opinions about reform efforts that use technology.

Readings Points per class – Check (you did it) = 6, Check plus = 10

Talking Points per class– Check – (you were in class and talked) = 6; Check plus = 10


It is important to the class to start on time. If we aim to be in the class at 4, then all will be in place by 4:10 , when class will begin. It is disruptive and rude to come in late. Please try to avoid being late.

If you are going to be absent or late to class, please send me an email. I will check email up until I walk down the hall to class.


5. THD participation

During the semester, you will participate in an online tool developed by the instructor. Teachers' Help Desk, (www.teachershelpdesk.com) is an effort to meet the needs expressed by in service teachers and administrators. We will explore and use this tool and use it as a springboard to developing your own technological interventions to support reform.

You will be expected to log on at least twice a week and add at least one comment to one of the discussion boards each time you log on and to add a resource at least every other week. During each class, we will have a brief discussion of the ways THD has been useful or had problems and how we might guide the evolution of the site to be more useful.

Points – Check = 75, Check Minus = 150, Check Plus = 200

6. Reform plan

We learn best by experience. You will plan, develop, implement and reflect upon an attempt at reform using technology. The focus can be on your own class, or someone else's or a school.. or the world (your choice). We can learn as much from a failure as a success, so do not let that limit you. One of the greatest benefits of being in school is the opportunity to attempt new efforts that may not succeed – providing a wonderful cover that would not necessarily be available without the legitimizing influence of school. In other words – take a chance – try something new and different. We will walk through the process together. You will develop your ideas and talk with both the professor and the class several times as you decide on the project, gather information, develop your intervention and attempt to implement a reform.

Your final product will be a short paper describing your reform process – the target, the plan, what happened, and reflection on what you learned, as well as considerations for future work.

Points – Check = 150, Check Minus = 250, Check Plus = 300

7. Extra credit

There are several conferences during the semester. I will be attending some of them. If you have the opportunity to go to a conference and come back and report on what you learned, you will earn 25 – 50 points.

Other opportunities for extra credit may be suggested by class members during the semester.


The schedule below will be used as a guide. We may deviate as need arises.

Part one – Introduction to technology and education – not all roses

1. 9/1

Introduction - Syllabus. Register for blackboard and THD.

Discussion – What is technology to you? How do you use it? Can we categorize some of its applications?

Activity Develop a questionnaire to observe your own and other's use of technology for education.

Homework 1. Read Cuban p 1 – 26. Summarize (about a page) the readings with answers to questions handed out. 2. Note, using questionnaire developed in class, your use of technology during the week.

2. 9/8

Discuss – Cuban

Explore – THD

Discuss – Your use of technology

Activity – Revise questionnaire for investigating other's use.

Activity 2 – Develop rubric for hardware/software exploration.

Homework 1 – Cuban 27 – 50 Answer questions given in class.

Homework 2 – Investigate other educator's use of technology.


3. 9/15

Discuss – Cuban 27 - 50

Discuss – Hardware/software exploration.

Develop – tech application grid

Homework – Cuban 51 – 104 (skim)

Homework – More observation – ready report


4. 9/22

Discuss – Cuban 27 - 50

Discuss – Hardware/software exploration.

Report – Observations of technology usage.

Homework – research and report a one page (or less) description of an educational reform – when it happened, what it wanted to do, maybe the learning theory basis.

Homework 2 – Read Semple and skim Dewey


5. 9/29

Reform movements – Dewey, Constructivism, Inquiry, PBL

So – what is reform?

Develop – Reform grid (who apply, what pedagogy… what else?)

Activity – Analyze some technologies and a reform effort using the rubric.. does it work?

Homework – Read Schwen, Goodrum & Dorsey; and Cherns (on Blackboard)



Now we begin a section where we look at different ways we can investigate our users or potential users, to see how we might be able to make it better.


6 10/6


Socio-technical design

Discuss – Cherns and Schwen

Activity – Group discussion of a case (the Internet Learning Forum) answering 1. How does socio-technical design explain the successes and failures? What could be done differently?

Homework – Read Rossett (to be posted on blackboard) p. 145 – 162)



7 10/13


HPT analysis

Discuss – Rossett

Activity – Observe an activity. Compare notes on what was collected.

Homework – Read Sensemaking (articles to be announced) and Social shaping of technology (to be assigned)



8 10/20


Sensemaking – A Tool for Analysis


Discussion – Sensemaking

Homework – My paper on developing unique functions – just the part focusing on the USE model.

Conference - October 25 Connecticut Educators Computer Association (ISTE affiliate) 2004, Radisson, Cromwell , Connecticut , http://www.ceca-ct.org/CECA2004/index.html



9 10/27


Putting it all together .. the USE model

Activity – Plan a reform – How would you research it? How would you plan it? What might it look like?


Now you begin to plan, research, design, build and implement your own reform


10 11/3


Report to the class .. what you are going to do.

Activity – Develop action plan, what to do, how to do it, questions to ask.

Seeing through the hype … evaluating hardware and marketing claims

Homework – Petroski The Evolution of Useful Things – Preface & Chapters 2 & 3. (on Blackboard)


11 11/10


Discussion – Design as evolution

Activity – How has THD changed over the semester? How should it change in the future?


12 11/17


Report on the TechLearn Conference


Activity – Reports on progress. You should have your reform planned and might have implemented it. Feedback from class on how to improve.


Conference - Nov 17–18 MassCUE's (Massachusetts ISTE affiliate) 2004 Annual Conference, Sturbridge , MA , http://www.masscue.org/mcdocs/conf/index.html


13 12/1

Activity - how would you decide how to spend $5 K?

Guest (possible) – marketing your reform


14 12/8 Final reports



Conferences during the semester:


Nov 17–18 MassCUE's (Massachusetts ISTE affiliate) 2004 Annual Conference, Sturbridge , MA , http://www.masscue.org/mcdocs/conf/index.html

Oct 14-16 NEATT Worchester , MA


Nov 14 – 17 TechLearn