Chat

April 9, 2008

Where Are the 'T' and 'E' in STEM?

    Guests:
  • Yvonne Spicer is the director of the National Center for Technological Literacy, based at the Museum of Science in Boston.
  • Mary Ann Wolf is the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association.
  • Raymond V. Bartlett is the co-director of Strategies in Engineering Education, K-16.
Caroline Hendrie (Moderator):

Welcome to our live chat on the 'T' and 'E' in STEM, shorthand for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Joining us to discuss this topic, which was addressed in Technology Counts 2008, are Raymond V. Bartlett, the co-director of Strategies in Engineering Education, K-16; Yvonne Spicer, director of the National Center for Technological Literacy, based at the Museum of Science in Boston; and Mary Ann Wolf, the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association. We have loads of probing questions, so let's get started.

Question from Jose Bonner, Professor of Biology and Director of Science Outreach, Indiana University, Bloomington:

Is it not the case that a significant percentage of what is presented in science classes is, in fact, engineering? From the hum-dinger "activity" in the FOSS kits to the Science Olympiad, we frequently ask students to build something. It's engineering. If it were science, students would identify the Fundamental Scientific Principles that are illustrated by the observations students make during their investigations. I think the problem is not that we don't teach engineering, but that we don't distinguish that which is science from that which is engineering.

Raymond V. Bartlett:

I agree, although I think there are a few differences between the principles of the scientific method and those of engineering--engineering being, after all, design, that is, a creative activity where we apply our understanding of a phenomena in the development of a technical solution--and where, oftimes, there can be multiple solutions to a single problem, choice of which to use being driven by factors such as economy, maintainability, etc. My colleague in SEEK-16, Dr. Leigh Abts, and I have developed a STEM Literacy pyramid that places math as foundational, followed by technology, with the Sciences and Engineering as co-equal building blocks above them that speak to 'Realms of Knowledge'. Above them we place Scientific Method, or Inquiry (over the Sciences) and Problem Solving, or Design (over Engineering). We put Innovation at the peak of the pyramid. (This is probably one of those places where a picture is truly worth a thousand words.) The pyramid is simply our theory of action to get at what we see happening in student learning--inquiry and design are far more interesting to many students than didiactic teaching.

Question from Chris Stephenson, Executive Director, Computer Science Teachers Association:

The Computer Science Teachers Association has been working diligently to support the teaching and learning of computer science in K-12 but we often find that school policy-makers do not know the difference between computer science and using computer across the curriculum. How do we help them develop a better understanding of computer science and its critical place in a 21st Century curriculum?

Mary Ann Wolf:

What a great question - and one that I wrestle with frequently. I think the key is continuing to share strong examples with policy-makers on the importance of both computer education and educaitonal technology. As we look at models for 21st Century skills and the issue of competitiveness, it is clear that play an important role. We are losing jobs in engineering and computer science to other countries because we don't have enough well-trained engineers or scientists. Similary, to really focus on the higher level thinking skills, collaboration, and innovation needed in all areas as we look at the global workforce, technology plays a critical role in all subject areas. Additionally, we see that technology can be an accelerator of change in a time when transforming our schools is critical.

Question from Leslie Wilson, President; One-to-One Institute:

What are the statistics regarding US students emerging as engineers vs. same in other mature markets?

Yvonne Spicer:

The situation is dismal. I would point your attention to statistics by PISA, NAEP and visit www.asee.org. Bottomline, our students are not pursuing STEM fields in great numbers, even the ones that are academically prepared(high SAT scores in Math). In other countries far more students are pursuing STEM fields.

Question from Juliet Kissel, Engineer:

One of the best ways to inegrate engineering into a classroom is to get someone with an engineering background to teach. I know when I get a chance to lead a lesson in a school, I tie in engineering no matter what we're discussing. We already know that math and science teachers are in short supply, and engineers especially (who are generally adept at both subjects) can make several times more money doing a variety of other things. Contrary to popular belief, many engineers would really love to teach and are quite good at it but are unwilling to endure the substantial pay cut. With the push for STEM education gaining more momenetum, has any thought been given to adjunct teacher training or other programs to give experienced engineers the opportunity to teach students how engineering applies to the real world?

Raymond V. Bartlett:

You bring up some good points, especially about the idea that engineers would have to suffer a pay cut to become teachers. Those who want to introduce engineering in the classroom in the manner that you do, can help with any of a number of classroom and after school engineering programs such as First Robotics, Project Infinity, Future Inventors and Project Lead the Way. Also, for those engineers who fall in love with teaching and want to make the move, many colleges of education across the country have developed teacher certification programs for career changers.

Question from Diane Bansbach, math teacher, Galena Middle School:

How can individual student laptops be used most effectively in a STEM academy?

Mary Ann Wolf:

We don't see one magic use of the laptops, rather we typically speak about systemic reform as we look at the role of technology in schools. We find that technology can be a true accelerator of change. Each teacher will likely use the laptops in a different way, and the key is that the focus is on the learning, not the technology. We We see 5 key components that need to be in place to maximize the potential of technology, including: 1.Visionary leadership for systemic change using technology. 2.Involvement in and ownership of the leaders’ vision among all stakeholders (parents, students, teachers, education leaders, and the business community) 3.Rigorous curriculum, dynamic content, multiple resources, and relevant technology tools – including online learning – in all subject areas, accessible by teachers, parents and students. 4.On-going and sustainable professional development for teachers and administrators through such models as instructional technology coaches and technologically linked communities of learners. 5.On-going use of data to individualize instruction in all subjects for all students and to evaluate the effectiveness of various programs. In Texas, the Technology Immersion Pilot (TIP), implemented in middle schools, demonstrated that discipline referrals went down by over ½ with the changes in teaching and learning; while in one school, 6th grade standardized math scores increased by 5%, 7th grade by 42%, and 8th grade by 24%. A recent article succinctly highlights the results in two districts: http://www.thejournal.com/articles/20931_1. The evaluation site is: http://www.etxtip.info/, and the program site can be found at: http://www.txtip.info/.

Question from Greg Pearson, Senior Program Officer, National Academy of Engineering:

Why are T&E overlooked, and what steps does the panel suggest are needed to make these areas of content more visible and relevant to K-12 education?

Yvonne Spicer:

T and E isd overlooked largely due to the structure of K-12 and our history. It's difficult to shift the paradigm, however it is imperative we visit the issue often.

Question from Nick Terpack, Technology Teacher, Montour High School:

Are you aware of "Project Lead the Way"? They are an organization the emphasizes the TE in STEM. They have a great program and you may want to investigate them for your discussion.

Raymond V. Bartlett:

We are very much aware of Project Lead the Way...they have truly 'grown like Topsy' over the past few years. Now that there is such a plethora of engineering and engineering-like programs available to our nation's schools, SEEK-16 is developing a framework of outcomes that schools can use to help make decisions as to what engineering programs they would like to adopt for use in their classrooms or their after-school activities. By the way, SEEK-16 is a collaborative initiative, and people associated with the PLTW program are a part of it.

Question from english bradshaw, consultant:

can you elaborate on how technology and a web-based curriculum can assist in developing student interest and reducing student dropout... give some examples and programs...

Mary Ann Wolf:

Research on engagement certainly confirms that technology can play an important role in developing student interest. Several programs and specific studies point to this, but I will first speak of the Texas Technology Immersion Pilot and the North Carolina IMPACT Model. The Technology Immersion Pilot (TIP) is a program that ensures that students implement 6 critical technology resources at the same time in an immersion package, including professional development for teachers AND administrators, wireless mobile computing device for each student to use at home and at school, online formative and diagnostic assessment tools, online content, productivity tools, and technical support. This means that teachers are learning how to use different resources to change how they are teaching, engaging students in the learning process, making sure that they have different resources and activities to reach individual needs based upon what the data tells them on a daily or weekly basis. Students are often seen around the campus at night using the wireless access they may not have at home, and their parents are engaged in their learning and attended classes. Perhaps the most significant finding related to your question is the fact that discipline referrals in these middle schools have gone down by 1/2. Students who are not getting into trouble, but rather are more engaged are much more likely to learn. The test scores in schools using technology effectively point to similar results, especially Floydada High School where the median household income is 27,000 and only about 57% of the population has a high school degree – and share with you the fact that the language arts, math, and science scores among 10th graders in this school grew 24, 36, and 34% from 2005-2006. The North Carolina IMPACT model involves using technology in the teaching of core curricular areas to improve student achievement, utilizing technology coaches and school library media specialists for on-going professional development, as well as learning 21st Century Skills. In a four year study, students in the high need schools with the IMPACT program have demonstrated that they are 33% more likely to improve one full grade level each year than the control/comparison schools. Student achievement is consistently higher in the IMPACT schools, and teacher retention is 65% higher with this program. College-going rates in Greene County High School, with a modified IMPACT model, increased from 26 to 84% in five years. http://www.ncwiseowl.org/Impact/ We also see techonology providing options for students who may be in jeopardy of failing a key course for graduation, such as Algebra. In Virginia, students can now take a module that they have not yet reached proficiency in on-line in order to be prepared for the end of course and state exams. Louisiana, Utah, West Virginia, and many other states offer similar possibilities to keep kids on the track for graduation. Also, research on the effectiveness of interactive white boards can be found at http://partners.becta.org.uk/upload-dir/downloads/page_documents/research/whiteboards_expansion_summary.pdf Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Question from Kathy Davis, K-12 Education Coordinator, University of Kansas Medical Center and USD #500:

I am project manager of a STEM program that attempts to link schools and resources from our medical school/basic sciences. The challenge we face is getting our innovative programs into the schools.... curriculum requirements seem to leave little time for innovation. Any suggestions on how to facilitate better collaboration between schools and outside programs?

Yvonne Spicer:

Embedded in your question is the real issue---we need to innovate our educational curriculum so it does reflect 21st century, real world skills our children will need to survive and thrive. We are still operating on a 19th century educational model.

Question from Ken Jensen, Secondary Math Coach, Aurora Public Schools:

The Core Plus materials do the best job I have seen at bringing engineering concepts into the regular classroom. The Core 1 geometry unit is a study in statics, and the discrete unit is a study in network optimization. Where as the Core 2 Trig unit uses gear ratios to present the unit circle. These topics along with a constructivist, problem based, collaborative instructional approach is what will develop tomorrows engineers. I also believe that experiences where students take apart and put together computers, copy machines, automobiles etc. are extremely valuable for understanding how things work. We also need more venues like robot competitions. I believe that there are three road blocks to realizing a full STEM implementation. 1) Money and time in the schedule 2) Teacher experience 3) A change in the way education is structured- a change in the way we do things- a cultural change. The first two will occur when the country sees this need and commits its resources to it. The third will occur when the educatiion establishment sees this need and commits its resources to it. How do you suggest we open up these and other road blocks?

Raymond V. Bartlett:

I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the road blocks, Ken, and also your theory of action regarding the role of engineering in the classroom. More and more educators are coming to understand that engineering, and especially 'design', appeals to large numbers of students, especially the math and science phobic. They are the 'contextual' learners, and bringing them into STEM could solve the issue of increasing the STEM pipeline. More people need to understand that the structure of today's high school is over one hundred years old and does not respond to what we have learned about teaching and learning. SEEK-16 is developing a framework of expected outcomes for secondary school engineering programs that may make it easier for schools and school boards to decide what programs to use. We also need to address the question of who should teach engineering, and may tackle the issue of engineering teacher certification--or at least an endorsement for such teachers. But that is farther down the road.

Question from Susan Sutton, Graduate Teaching Associate, University of Tennessee:

Course requirements for teacher preparation programs have been drastically cut to the bare minimum so we can get teachers out in the field sooner (because of teacher shortage). How can we prepare preservice teachers to integrate technology when they only take one 3 hour course? A three hour course does not give them the time they need to learn the theory let alone the practical side of it. How can we prepare our students for the 21st century if we are not preparing their teachers?

Mary Ann Wolf:

This is a very, very important question. I think the simple answer is actually practicing what we ask teachers to do, which is to utilize the technology when learning pedagogy. Most of the students in undergraduate studies today are comfortable using technology - they use it in their everyday lives constantly, whether instant messaging, social networking, or other Web 2.0 applications. However, knowing how to use the technolgy does not translate into using technology effectively in instruction. We often say that those of us who work in ed tech don't sit around talking about technolgy - we talk about teaching math or teaching science or using data to individualize instruction. Pre-service and in-service professional development also must have a focus on instruction and learning - but it must be on-going and sustainable. We often reference Joyce and Showers (2002) research about the effectiveness of actually changing practice in the classroom and the dramatic change between a one time workshop and the impact of coaching and mentoring. We see several states and districts utilizing instructional technology coaches to work directly with teachers. I realize this is mostly in-service, but I could see how this could work with pre-service teachers, too - especially in practicum or student teaching opporutnities. Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, North Carolina, and others are using the coaching model to provide job-embedded modeling and professional develoment. Please let me know if you would like more information on these specific programs.

Comment from D. Timothy Gerber, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse:

I wanted to provide information regarding how we promote STEM and Engineering Education at the Alice Hagar Curriculum Resources Center (U of WI-La Crosse). See our STEM website (below) and look at the "Designed World" for engineering specifically under the K-12 books, professional STEM societies, and professional teaching sections. http://www.uwlax.edu/murphylibrary/departments/curriculum/stem/index.html

Question from Laurie Sullivan, Teacher, Arlington Public Schools:

What are your suggestions for teachers at the elementary school level?

Yvonne Spicer:

Please visit our elementary curriculum program at wwww.mos.org/eie. Our program is designed for grades 1-6

Question from Carolyn Grace, Physics Teacher, Southridge HS:

Are there schools out there that are role models for integrating technology and engineering into STEM education? Mostly, I see schools emphasizing math and science without the emphasis on applied science. It is the problem solving nature of engineering that will allow us to raise tomorrow's engineers.

Raymond V. Bartlett:

I am not going to claim knowledge of the entire nation, so I will just cite one school that is an exemplar for doing just what you suggest, and that is the Chantilly Academy in Fairfax County, Virginia. I'm certain there are others. Chantilly has successfully integrated technology and engineering into the every-day curriculum, and had brought a number of programs into the school.

Question from Karen Zuga, Professor, Ohio State University:

How can engineering and technology education help to meet the NCLB educational goals?

Mary Ann Wolf:

I will begin with technology, as I believe the role of technology in all subject areas is key to achieving NCLB goals. Data shows that technology can support the following: •Closing the achievement gap by providing access to software, online resources, and virtual learning aligned to academic standards for instruction and learning. •Supporting the development of highly qualified teachers by providing online courses, communities of practice, and virtual communication that ensure flexibility and access. •Enhancing data systems to ensure that educators can utilize real-time data to inform sound instructional decisions and ensure that schools meet AYP. SETDA produces a National Trends Report each year, that is available at www.setda.org and provides information on how all states are utilizing NCLB Title II, Part D funding (Enhancing Education through Technology) and how the use of educational technology supports NCLB goals.

Question from Sandra Goggin, retired (PreSch-Kdg) teacher, now Early Childhood Consultant:

I am convinced that our children in the inner cities have been severely neglected in technological experience. How do we insure that these children, starting in Preschool and Kdg. are given the equipment that will help them succeed in reading and math. With NCLB it is mostly rote learning, no meaning, uninteresting, and memorization with no chance of learning a higher critical level of thinking or understanding so that they can invent their own problems and solve them. The way things are now, there is no fun, no interest, and no positive, long lasting impact on learning. School is boring and will lead to eventual drop outs at a time when you have the most enthusiasm for learning. It is amazing how this arrogant system is allowed to continue to be forced on children, mostly in the inner cities.

Yvonne Spicer:

Thank you Sandra for your astute question. As an African American woman, raised in Brooklyn, NY I am considered "lucky" to have had opportunities. The issue is longstanding for urban areas as well as rural areas--lack of funding, supports for teachers and resources. There needs to be a reexaminng of what we are doing in urban schools and ask the question, is it really serving well students?

Comment from Pat Tsunemori, Teacher, Elko High School, Elko, NV:

The answer to your question is simple. There is no technology or engineering proficiency exam that students have to pass to graduate from high school. Schools have cut science classes in the past to meet proficiency in the language arts; they’ll have no problem cutting technology and engineering classes to meet proficiency in math and science.

Question from Billy T. Wirta, Graduate Student, College of St. Scholastica:

How does Social Studies fit into the bigger picture of STEM? Because of the range of areas within Social Studies, is technology the only part that is applicable to Social Studies? Thank you, Billy

Raymond V. Bartlett:

This is a terrific question! There's no doubt in my mind that social studies can be integrated into STEM. If you turn your question on its head, as a kind of proof that it can be done, we know that the history of the world since the Enlightenment can be taught as a history of science. But we both know that what I'll call the accepted high school curricula, as reflected in textbooks, are simply not organized that way, and its up to individual teachers to ensure that STEM is taught within a social construct. That said, the whole question of how we structure curriculum enters the discussion. Stephen Jay Gould coined the phrase 'Realms of Knowledge', which gets at the fact that we don't live in a world compartmentalized by disciplines. Translating that idea--of multidisciplinary teaching and learning--is, for me, the last great frontier that could, if we could figure out how to do it, revolutionize teaching and learning. Dr. Leigh Abts, one of the other co-directors of SEEK-16, refers to STEM as a metadisicpline. We need to extend that approach to all learning.

Question from Patrick Chang, Administrator:

Just relocated from CT to NC and looking for an administrative position. One of the frequently asked interview questions most certainly has to do with technology. How does a building administrator create a technology friendly school when they do not control the budget?

Mary Ann Wolf:

Patrick, We do see adminstrators looking at things differently and being innovative with their budget and priorities to provide technology in their schools. This may involve public-private partnerships, applying for competitive grants through the state and the Enhancing Education through Technolgy (EETT) program, and redistributing funds previously allocated to textbooks and facilities, as an example, to fund technology. We also see administrators garnering public or PTA/PTO support as an impetus to the change. The key is that visionary leadership, professional development, and stakeholder support accompany the purchase of the technology.

Question from Pamela Taylor, Manager, Office of the State Superintendent of Education:

What are three effective ways that technology and engineering can be incorporated into a program for middle school students? Is this research-based?

Yvonne Spicer:

I would ask why just midddle school? I would certainly start at elementary school so you are building on an established foundation of understanding in technology and tengineering. Planting the seed early. Please visit www.mos.org/eie The middle school years is cultivating the seeds if you will. I would focus of the following: 1. A deep understanding of problem solving skills and the engineering design process. 2. Collaborative teamwork in solving technological problems in the real world (e.g. renewable energy, transportation) 3. Focusing on the value of using math and science to solve technological and engineering problems.

Question from David Ogden, Seattle, Washington:

The Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate (IB) requires students to study technology for all five years of the program. Students are expected to solve problems through the creation of products/solutions using the design cycle. The course asks schools to focus equally on three branches of technology: information, materials and systems. Is this a good approach or should schools stay focused on computer literacy to prepare their students for the future?

Yvonne Spicer:

The branches of technology you have selected are excellent. Problem solving is the best approach to fostering innovative and creative thinking and teamwork skills. I would also hope that you use the rich resources in the Seattle area to explore the practical applications (e.g. Boeing, Microsoft) of the content.

Question from Jean Donohue, informal science educator and media maker:

I'm interested in how teachers can be supported to integrate engineering into the classroom. What will be required?

Raymond V. Bartlett:

Talk about the $64,000 question. First of all, parents, school administrators, and even school boards, will need to develop an understanding that engineering is more a verb than a noun, and that 'playing and tinkering' with technical solutions to problems is a highly effective learning activity. Many teachers and schools understand this, hence their promotion of such programs as Project Infinity, DTeach, Engineers of the Future, First Robotics, Project Lead the Way, and many others. Given the fact that we're still taking baby steps in the introdution of Inquiry into science classrooms, it's clear the integration of engineering on a major scale is a long way off. But I think we have a good start--it's just going to take time for the education establishment, nationally, at the state level, and locally, to recognize the value of engineering education.

Question from Gary Wynn, E\T Department Chair, Greenfield-Central High School:

Do most individuals involved in STEM, at the national level, consider the "T" to mean Instructional Technology such as computers?

Mary Ann Wolf:

Hi Gary, We actually see technology as having 2 meanings within STEM. The first - the big "T" is Technology Education - the teaching of computer science, the actual use of technology or programming. The other role is actually educational technology and the one that SETDA focuses much of our attention. We see educational technology as having a role in all 4 areas of STEM because technology used in instructing science, technology, engineering, and math is critical. Both are important!

Question from Paul Bond, Retired Tech Ed Teacher:

What is you definition of technology education and how it relates to engineering.

Yvonne Spicer:

Technology education is the application of math and science to solve real world problems through technology and engineering--it's not just computers.

Question from Sara Delahanty, Sabbatical Teacher, Brooklyn Technical HS:

Please address the particular role "canned" curriculum have and the impact on education. In NYS one PLTW course has been approved to cover required Art Standards. Is this happening elsewhere? How are the marketers and producers held accountable ?

Raymond V. Bartlett:

Sara, I'm unaware of the situation you describe. Given that those of us who comprise SEEK-16 (which is really a collaborative group of like-minded individuals who believe in the value of engineering in secondary school education) view 'engineering' more as a verb than a noun, and that to 'engineer' is to design, I can conceive of what you describe occuring. That said, one of the issues we face in the introduction of engineering programs into secondary schools is that there are not, at least to SEEK-16's knowledge, commonly accepted standards or a framework of expected outcomes. As far as I know, Massachusetts is the only state to adopt standards in engineering, and the National Academy of Engineering is considering the issue. SEEK-16 has just started a process for developing a framework. Whoever does it, the important thing is that we need a commonly accepted framework of what engineering is, and what should be taught, to at least assure a productive discussion among school policy makers.

Question from M. Clarke Corcoran, Independent Consultant:

What do the panelists believe needs to be done to ensure that teachers are trained in the effective use of technology for their subject areas?

Mary Ann Wolf:

Professional development is a critical component to effectively using technology in the classroom. Training for teachers must be on-going and sustainable to truly see change in the classroom. We see many models to support this, but we know that the one time workshop is very unlikely to lead to actual change in instruction. Joyce and Showers' research (2002) shows that coaching and mentoring is key to actually changing what happens in instruction and learning. We see many states and districts utilizing instructional technology coaches in schools to work directly with teachers and teams of teachers to plan lessons, find the best resources, and actually model and/or co-teach the lessons. We also see on-line communities of learners playing an important role in connecting teachers over time and space -this may involve a course or an on-going dialogue. Iowa recently conducted a scientifically-based research study on a professional development model that connected teachers with each other and with coaches primarily through the use of video-conferencing. Peers and coaches could share feedback and lessons learned. In Iowa, after connecting teachers with sustainable professional development and technology-based curriculum interventions, student scores increased by 14 points in 8th grade math, 16 points in 4th grade math, and 13 points in 4th grade reading compared with control groups. Finally, using technology to actually change the way that learning occurs leads to many significant gains, as teachers can often reach students with different learning styles and achievement levels.

Question from Gary Gray, Engineering & Technology Teacher, Valparaiso High School:

In Indiana we have had a great evolution of a Technology Education curriculum over the past 25 years. In the last 7 years we have developed into a state with the highest number of schools offering the PLTW Pre-Engineering program. These curriculum show where the T & E is in STEM. How can we get past the concept of still only being Shop classes for the underachievers? How can we make policy makers realize that these courses require funding and are not vocational education (which is where all the $$ are directed now)?

Raymond V. Bartlett:

I'm certain we both know that there is no easy answer to your question. Among a number of things, SEEK-16 was organized to tackle this issue of public understanding of what engineering actually is, and what it brings to the classroom. Others are trying as well, including the National Academy of Engineering. As is so often the case, the challenge comes down to changing pre-conceived notions, in this case, the fact that if you use the word 'engineer', 99% of the populace immediately conjures up the noun--a job. But engineer is also a verb, and that is where the gold lies. To engineer a solution to a problem; to design the solution to a technical problem. With that understanding informing our dialogue, the conversation should change, and all of a sudden there can be understanding that we are appealing to contextual learners--those great innovators who have made our nation a leader in technology.

Question from Francie Lindner, Unit Director, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory:

What efforts are underway to support STEM learning in Indian reservation schools? What are the challenges and strategies associated with providing STEM to reservation schools.

Yvonne Spicer:

Not enough-- At the NCTL we are starting work with a few states MN and ND that are focus on serving this underrepresented group. The key is respecting cultural values and norms, while working with reservation leaders to make the shift in curriculum. This is a community engagement that must come first.

Question from Jerry Jewell Engineering/Technology Education Teacher, William Henry Harrison High School, West Lafayette, Indiana:

Why is Technology Education (alias Industrial Education) not used in part of the solution to where is The T and E? Have you seen the current curriculum model for Indiana? http://doe.state.in.us/octe/technologyed/welcome.html

Raymond V. Bartlett:

I have not seen the Indiana curriculum for Technology Education. A previous query in this chat referenced the great strides Indiana is making in this arena, and I will follow your link to take a look. This is exciting news. SEEK-16--which is a collaborative comprising educators from across the country--teachers, curriculum developers, representatives from hgih education, as well as folks from industry and non-profits--is working on development of what we hope will be commonly acceptable outcomes for secondary school engineering studies, and I suspect the Indiana model will provide valuable information. We would love to tie you in and if you're interested, send an email to [email protected]

Question from Leslie Wilson, President; One-to-One Institute:

What is the predominant technology tool(s) being used in STEM curricula in the US?

Mary Ann Wolf:

Hi Leslie, I don't think that there is just one answer - we see many types of tools used in STEM from the broader laptops with many different types of content to probes and digitized equipment. The EAST program which began in Arkansas (Environmental and Spacial Technologies) Program provides a class with many different tools to solve community-based problems, such as GIS, GPS, and CAD software. You can find out more information at http://www.eastproject.org/. We also see a large use of video streaming products, document cameras, and interactive white boards in STEM areas. The commonality seems to be the ability to make topics, especially STEM related ones, come to life and to reach students with different learning styles with various types of instruction and content. What we do know is that tools and technologies exist that allow students to have more actual experience with topics and to become creators of knowledge. This allows for greater achievement in the STEM areas (see examples in Missouri and Texas in our National Trends one pager at www.setda.org) and in 21st Century skills.

Question from Dan Crosby, The White Mountain School:

To what extent have others observed the following mild to moderate hurdle? In a typical high school classroom, certain tools and materials are readily accepted, such as data probes, analysis software, typical lab materials. . . However, various tools such as saws, drills, etc, are usually considered unique, and often cause at least a little bit of concern with regard to safety. The safety concern is always appropriate, yet we tend to accept beakers of acid, yet worry about a drill as "dangerous". My overall point is that we often stay too "clean" in our classrooms. We use probes and apparatus designed by someone else (which is often great and certainly has its place!) but don't always let ourselves partake more fully (sometimes due to time, sometimes due to inclination) n the "think, create, roll up your sleaves, design, build, test, anaylze, re-try" process that is innovation.

Raymond V. Bartlett:

Yours is an interesting question. I can just imagine the situation you describe. It is so typical of our siloed approach to education: you want to have students design and build a technical solution to a problem and somehow you can't get school administrators past their concerns about litigious parents and let you bring all the tools you can to building the solution. (I'm going to digress and mention that this was a subject Garrison Keillor tackled in this past week-end's 'Prarie Home Companion'. Funny but sad.) What you describe is a metaphor for how we approach education overall. My hope is that as we develop understanding that STEM is a metadisicpline, that we apply that same understanding and allow for the free exchange of ideas--and tools--across all the siloes.

Question from Juliet Kissel, Engineer:

I've spent a number of years leading and participating in engineering outreach programs, especially those targeted at girls and minorities, and have encountered very few teachers who have had a really great understanding of engineering, especially at the elementary and middle school level. Considering the growing need for a more diverse engineering workforce, the fact that girls tend to lose interest in science and math in middle school, and the knowledge that engineering is inherently a great way to combine math, science, and social issues, is there a push out there to make sure all our teachers know that engineers don't just drive trains?

Yvonne Spicer:

Yes there is a push!!! We are working very hard here at the NCTL to address the very issues you raise. I invite you to visit our website for programs on K-12 engineering education www.nctl.org ( K-12 Initiatives).

Comment from Thomas Ho, Professor of Computer & Information Technology, IUPUI:

I don't know anything about SEEK-16's digital portfolio, BUT IF it isn't developed YET, I would take a look at the Epsilen portfolio system: http://epsilen.com

Question from Gary Endsley, Director, Education Opportunity Associates, Jefferson, TX:

What are recommended approaches for systems modeling in high school STEM courses?

Raymond V. Bartlett:

What I'm best able to do is direct you to three schools that have incorporated systems thinking, or engineering, if you will, into their engineering curriculum: Metro School in Columbus, Ohio; McKinley High School in Washington, DC; and High Tech High in San Diego. There may be others.

Question from Jim Geringer, Former Governor, Wyoming:

EdWeek’s latest report, Technology Counts, continues to credit the acquisition of the stuff of technology rather than grading enhanced student learning or achievement through the productive use of technology. Technology should be graded by its ability to do two fundamental things in education: 1) enable access to knowledge that would not be possible without the technology and, 2) enhance student achievement in a traditional setting. In both cases , technology would substantiate progress that could only be documented anecdotally by the teacher who had no technology based assessment tools. What would you recommend as a more meaningful way to grade technology as a means to enhance student learning?

Mary Ann Wolf:

Hi Governor - We still see a need to have the data to share what is happening in schools, but I think that the positive is that we now have significant data based upon scientifically-based research that shows exactly what you are describing. We do know that when used effectively technology increases access to rigorous coursework and relevant information and also increases achievement. The US Department of Education actually provided grants to 10 programs in 9 states to look at the effectiveness of programs. SETDA will soon be releasing a website with the final data, but the synopsis can be found in the National Trends Report tri-fold at www.setda.org. In addition to data on achievement and closing the achievement gap, we saw important findings related to the decrease in discipline referalls and the significanly higher teacher retention rates in some schools.

Question from K. Kramer, instructor, UNL:

Do you think that the issue is that educators don't know what the difference is between Science and Engineering? Paraphrasing Joe Bordogna, NSF quote... scientist investigate what is; they discover new knowledge by peering into the unknown... And engineers create what has not been; they make things that have never existed before." Teachers are trained in the areas of math and the sciences, and learn how to be users of technology's "tools" in it's many forms. However, have teachers, in the general sense, ever really learned (or been taught) about engineering and its creative aspects of the engineering design process - learning from both failures and success, and how it can be applied in and outside the classroom?

Raymond V. Bartlett:

Your's is an apt desciption of what we face. As you know, engineering (the verb) is being introduced in secondary schools across the country, often (so I hear anecdotally) with difficulty for precisely the lack of understanding you cite. Few are the teachers with this understanding. Backing up stream, few (I suspect) are the colleges of education teaching this understanding. We live midst the bounty of a techical world created by engineered solutions to needs and market forces, yet that essential understanding is not there. It baffles me!

Question from Georgia Shirley, Teacher, Cherokee Elementary:

How can we make technology and engineering learning equitable when there are so many schools without funding to support the latest technology to implement such programs?

Yvonne Spicer:

Yes this is federal and state funding issue that we are consitently speaking with legislators to solve. If we say STEM is critical , let's invest in supporting it.I would also say we need corporate partners in this effort as well.

Question from Randall Sanders, Dean of Technical and Industrial Professions Division, University of Arkansas Community College at Hope:

What techniques can occupational program instructors use to partner with math and science instructors so that the relationships between the classes, which many of the students regard as unrelated, becomes evident and therefore relevant?

Raymond V. Bartlett:

I can only suggest what I would do were I in your place, and that is advocate for development of a multi-departmental capstone course in your college that requires marrying inquiry and design--the scientific method and problem solving. Perhaps this will succeed in pulling math and the sciences in. Given the reputation of community colleges as innovators it may even be possible. It's a wonderful idea. Most of our attention has been on secondary schools and on how to scafffold the progress we're making there. Clearly all the same issues apply in the nation's community colleges.

Question from Levon Thomas, Technology Education Teacher, Pickerington High School Central:

Where is Technology Education in all of this? I see that there is and Educational Technology person but that is only the use of technology in the classroom. You need to bring in more Technology Education persons because we are the experts on the practical application of Math and Science.

Yvonne Spicer:

My definition of technology education extends beyond computers in the classroom. To me, technology encompassess everything in the human-made world. As former technology education teacher, I do consider myself an "expert" in the many areas of technology inclusive of Engineering Design, Communication Technologies, Manufacturing Technologies etc...

Question from Wendell Chu, Superintendent, Fire Island School District:

So often technology is presented to students as teachers use technology to make presentations or enhance instruction. How do we provide more opportunities for students to create content and develop interactive learning settings for consumption by peers and the general public through the technology? I'm thinking of something like a second life community of tutors for assisting other students in learning things, a technological study group, or elementary students creating a website for sharing information they have learned and acquired through class work.

Mary Ann Wolf:

Hi Wendell, In recently being a part of an initiative on the future of content (http://www.contentcongress.com/), I was amazed to hear many district and school leaders talk about the role of project-based learning in increasing achievement and improving 21st Century skills. This type of approach when using technology encourages students to become both critical consumers of information, but also the creators of knowledge to actually share as a final product. The work process requires collaboration and team work, other skills deemed critical by companies hiring our graduates. We see this approach in other programs with proven results, including eMINTS, which began in Missouri and is now in 9 states - http://www.emints.org/. This project based approach has led to significant gains in student achievement and 21st Century skills, but also the closing of the achievement gap. The Arkansas EAST program that I mentioned in a previous program is targeted at high schools, but also has a project based approach geared towards community service. Research on this program shows that it changes a students career path after high school. Although project based learning is only one approach, it certainly leads to the type of interaction that you mention.

Question from Jim Geringer, Former Governor, Wyoming:

Science and Math create new knowledge and innovation. Technology and Engineering bridge the gap between theory and practice. Each needs the others. What curriculum changes would enable students to grasp the necessity of all four?

Yvonne Spicer:

An integrated approach to STEM education. The K-12 content has traditionally been taught in silos with the exception of elementary school. For example, high school is organized in specific content areas with rare opportunities for collaboration between teachers in specific fields. I believe until our students are graduating with a deep understanding of content as well as how iot is applied in the real world, we will continue to fall short in education.

Question from Brendan Noon, Science Teacher, Argo Community High School:

What financial resources are available for teachers who are trying to teach with technology in school districts that lack up to date technology and financial support? Brendan Noon http://www.sciencewithmrnoon.com/ http://www.youtube.com/noonscience

Mary Ann Wolf:

As a former teacher, I understand that this can be a struggle. I do think that small grants are available - whether through the PTA/PTO or other organizations. NCTI offers an annual grant program, as does Best Buy and others. Looking more broadly, the federal government provides funding through NCLB, Title II, Part D - Enhancing Education through Technology - provides funding for technology in through states in the form of formula or competitive grants. This funding has decreased dramatically since the inception of NCLB, but still receives about $267 million in FY08. You may want to reach out to your principal or district coordinators to see about opportunties for utilizing these funds or for applying for a competitive grant. You emphasize the importance of technology specific funding because when assumed, other programs rarely cover the cost of implementing or the professional development needed to maximize the potential.

Question from Mike Fitzgerald, Technology Education Specialist, Indiana Department of Education:

I have advocated that the "T&E" in STEM is Technology Education for many years. I have also advocated that the "T&E" has been contributing to the STEM movement for nearly 20+ years when it was formerly known as MST. I was excited to learn in the last chat that the ITEA's Standards for Technological Literacy and the standards of Massachusetts for Engineering Technology Education were mentioned as being recognized by the National Governors Association. My question? Why is it that if the NGA report recognizes the STL that the T&E content area is not finally getting the respect and support that it deserves? -mfitz

Mary Ann Wolf:

Mike, First of all, I would like to commend NGA for recognizing the importance of the T and E in STEM and ITEA and Massachusetts for their leadership. I think that we are all interested in this chat because we believe that the T and E are critical. We have an opporutnity to get the word out to the more general public about the crisis in America due to the lack of engineers, computer scientists, and other related fields. We hear the PISA statistics and the numbers regarding how many engineers and scientists are now overseas rather than in America, but in my opinion the mainstream public sees the problem as an eventuality, rather than a problem now. We need to continue to share this information, but also provides states, districts, and schools with support to implement these programs - and the ability to make then relevant for students. We continue to work in this direction and appreciate any thoughts that you may have.

Question from Thomas Ho, Professor of computer and IT, Indiana University Purdue University. Indianapolis:

Mary Ann: I wonder IF you're being overly optimistic about how familiar students actually are with Web 2.0 services?

Mary Ann Wolf:

I think that students continue to amaze us with their capabilities and use of technologies, including Web 2.0. We have an opportunity to maximize their interest in these areas. Speak Up Day - with Project Tomorrow - just released their 2007 data on what students are using, and you can view this at http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/index.html.

Question from Mike Fitzgerald, Technology Education Specialist, Indiana Department of Education:

I am aware of the Projects from the MoS National Center for Technological Literacy (even visited there twice last year) and Project Lead The Way for addressing the "T&E" in STEM? -mfitz What other high quality curriculum projects are you aware of that advance the T&E in STEM?

Raymond V. Bartlett:

I don't pretend to have an encyclopedic knowledge of these programs, and certainly you've cited some of the best. But you could check out "Future Inventors" from the Inventors Hall of Fame; I understand "DTeach" from the University of Texas is useful; and "Teach Engineering", from the University of Colorado. Jay Brockman, from the engineering school at Notre Dame, just published a text book for high school engineering (Wiley Publishing). I've seen parts of it and its great!

Question from Gail Lovely, independent educator:

Your description poses the question "And how can schools go about improving their efforts to teach students about technology and engineering?" and I think that is part of the issue... should we be teaching students ABOUT technology and engineering, or should we be teaching WITH technology and engineering? The infusion of technologies into learning and the overt use of engineering principles will go a long way in changing the view of these as separate and not equal. Given this, how do we help teachers learn what "engineering" looks like in action at the elementary level, particularly when engineering was not part of the teachers' own education?

Yvonne Spicer:

Please visit www.mos.org/eie for the professional development schedule designed for elementary teachers. We are offering a workshops acrosss the country. I agree, we should be teaching students WITH technology and engineering.

Question from Lisa Solmose, Science Coordinator, New Jersey Department of Education:

As I visit classrooms filled with laptops and SMARTboards, I can't help but wonder if these tools have really changed educational practice, or have they provided just another way to practice the same educational theory? As a professional development provider, how can I direct teachers to use technology in the most productive way?

Mary Ann Wolf:

Hi Lisa, YOu ask an important question, as we definitely see the jumps in achievement when technology is used effectively to actually change instruction and learning. We do know that a one time workshop is very unlikely to lead to change in practice, but Joyce and Showers (2002) show that as you move to mentoring and coaching, practice actually changes - a jump from about 5% to almost 90% with the coaching and mentoring. Teachers need practice and support in creating and implementing lessons that use the technology to change the learning for students. We also see gains when teachers learn how to use data to then use the technology to individualize instruction and/or help students become creators of knowledge. Missouris's eMINTS (www.emints.org), North Carolina's IMPACT model, the Maine Laptop Initiative (MLTI) and Texas' Technolgy Immersion Pilot (TIP) all have very important examples of professional development that changes practice and improves achievement.

Question from Chris Smith, Classrooms for the Future Coach Technology Educaiton Teacher, Conestoga Valley School Disrict Lancaster, PA:

Edweek recently released a detailed state comparison in their “Technology Counts” section that mentioned it was associated with “STEM: The push to improve Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” The study was a comparison of “Technology”. Now if you read the fine print in the report is says, the report is, “to assess the status of K-12 educational technology across the nation in the areas of access, use, and capacity.” It seems as though Education Week as well as many others are defining technology as educational technology, such as, computers, internet, etc. In reality however, they are simply products of technology, the technological process and the design process (Engineering) much like a pencil or overhead projector or the chalkboard. So if we are going to define technology as educational technology and computers, then are we going to have to define Technology Education/Industrial arts as Engineering?

Raymond V. Bartlett:

I hope not. As we both know, technology is simply a tool, and it's what you do with it that's important, even to the extent of recognizing that there are some dynamite tools out there, for example, probeware that enables students to observe and record physical phenomena over time, etc. The possiblities are endless, limited only the teachers' and students' imagination. We have a similar challenge in helping people understand that engineering is a process that can also ignite students' imagination.

Question from Barry Golden, Charter Schools Consultant, WI Dept. of Public Instruction:

Should we be emphasizing the use of technology specifically in science and math or should we be expecting the use of technology in all subject areas to promote information literacy for all students?

Yvonne Spicer:

I would say all subjects should be utilizing some form of technology to further student learning as well as to be consistent with students 21st century experience as learners (e.g. IPOD, blogs, myspace, GPS systems, CAD). Technology is all around us, and the tools that have made life easier should not be left out of classroom discussion our expectations.

Question from David Charak, Grant Director, Elluminate:

What role does distance learning and web collaboration have in STEM programs?

Mary Ann Wolf:

Distance learning and web collaboration have the opproutunity to provide access to both rigorous subject areas and projects, but relevant projects and collaboration efforts. We see this again and again in areas that would not be able to offer STEM courses, especially advanced ones, due to lack of teachers or resourses or for students who may not have room in their schedules.

Caroline Hendrie (Moderator):

That's all that we have time for today. For those with further thoughts on this topic, please go to www.edweek.org/go/tc08 and enter a comment on one of the array of STEM-related stories in Technology Counts 2008. Thanks to everyone for participating.

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The Fine Print

All questions are screened by an edweek.org editor prior to posting. A question is not displayed until the moderator poses it to the guest(s). Due to the volume of questions received, we cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered, or answered in the order of submission. Guests and hosts may decline to answer any questions. Concise questions are strongly encouraged.

Please be sure to include your name when posting your question.

Edweek.org's Live Chat is an open forum where readers can participate in a give- and-take discussion with a variety of guests. Edweek.org reserves the right to condense or edit questions for clarity, but editing is kept to a minimum. Transcripts may also be reproduced in some form in our print edition. We do not correct errors in spelling, punctuation, etc. In addition, we remove statements that have the potential to be libelous or to slander someone. Please read our privacy policy and user agreement if you have questions.

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