Approaches and Models in Technology Teacher Education: An Overview
Other pages in this wiki that address technology
Cheaper alternatives to computer hardware and software
Ubuntu (Linux) operating system
Linux and networks
Installing Ubuntu
Open Source software (free)
Finding Open Source software
Examples of Open Source and other kinds of software
Using technology in the classroom
Programming resources that are easy to use and learn
Disruptive innovation
Sonnet Drafter, a program in Python

Banks, Frank RJ. Approaches and Models in Technology Teacher Education: An Overview
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Other pages on this wiki that address technology:
Addressing the Needs of All Students
Video Games Make Your Own
Interactive Whiteboards
What is a Wiki
Critical Thinking
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Cheaper Alternatives to Hardware and Proprietary Software

Ubuntu is an open source operating system which means it can be installed on computer hardware without cost. Ubuntu is one variant of Linux, an operating system created by Linus Torvalds and altered and changed by many different people and groups. Ubuntu is maintained by Canonical and is an easy-to-use distro (distribution or version) of Linux.

Because Ubuntu was written to be light weight, it does not need the latest hardware for installation. You can use older, donated computers. While proprietary software (the kind you pay for such as OS X for Mac or Windows 7 for PCs) tends to require the latest in hardware, Ubuntu does not. If Ubuntu doesn't work on a really old computer, there are distributions of Linux that will. There is a chart of the distros here:

The bottom line is that old hardware becomes new again when you use a light weight operating system; the various distros of Linux are light weight and non-proprietary.
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Linux and Networks
Your school system, as does Capital, has a network to which computers are hooked up. The majority of these networks, such as Capital's :-(, are likely not to accommodate any version of Linux. That means that you will probably not be able to use your school's internet on your Linux machines, although many tech people know Linux and are personally interested in it, so you might be able to advocate (as I am) and even write a grant for your system to be able to accommodate Linux.

Yet a Linux machine that can't connect to the net is still something valuable to a classroom. Ubuntu in particular has a lot of high quality educational software that runs offline.
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How to Install Ubuntu on a computer
There is a lot of information at but here is the gist. This is what you do at home where you are allowed to use Linux. You could not do this procedure from a network that does not allow Linux. These procedures work on PCs. You would want to do some research about how ubuntu works on mac architecture (hardware).

Before you do anything, if you are using a wireless network at home, then be sure you find your WEP key (the password that allows you to get on the internet through your router) if that is part of the process of getting on your router. To find this, download the manual for your particular router from the "support" section of the router's manufacturer. That should tell you how to find the WEP key. Or you could do this at a place that offers free WiFi so you don't have to use a password.

You can buy a CD that will install Ubuntu (you are paying for the CD and the time it took for someone to copy Ubuntu on it, not the system itself), but a better way to do things is to get a USB thumb drive with a lot of space on it (8 GB or even 16 GB), which is not terribly expensive. Download the ISO image for Ubuntu (it's the file that would have been burnt to a bootable CD) to the thumb drive. Turn your computer off and reboot from the thumb drive by putting your thumb drive in the USB slot before turning on your machine. You may have to interrupt the boot process of your computer (instructions vary from brand to brand but usually it involves hitting F1 or some such key just as your computer begins to boot) to enter BIOS, which controls a lot of things, including where your computer first looks for something to boot. Put the thumb drive as the first choice. If this kind of thing seems really unfamiliar to you, look at the web site for your type of computer and find support or type "enter bios [your brand of computer, your model of computer]" in a search engine and print those instructions out so you have them while you are getting into Ubuntu.

Once your computer will find your thumb drive first, it will boot in Ubuntu without messing up the system on your hard drive. Connect to the internet while you are running Ubuntu. Run Update Manager, which is under "System," "Administrator." This will make sure your version of Ubuntu is up to date. Then under "Applications," scroll to the bottom, where it says "Ubuntu Software Center." That is where you can find all kinds of software that is available to you. Even before you start adding software, you will find that there is a lot pre-loaded on your Ubuntu thumb drive. A 16 gb thumb drive with Ubuntu will allow you to install an amazing amount of software--a lot more than what you would have on 16 gb of a proprietary system.

Now that you have updated your Ubuntu software and added everything you think might be helpful in the way of applications, you are ready to use your thumb drive on the old machines at school. Shut down Ubuntu (upper right hand corner) and remove your thumb drive. When you boot your computer again without the thumb drive, it will go into your regular system. Use the thumb drive to boot your used computers. There will be a feature that will allow you to install the system on these computers and that's what you want to do. When this is done, you will have computers that have a grand array of software even if they can't get on the net. Students can use them for all sorts of things and you can just use your school-issued computers for the net.
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Open Source Software:
Open source software means that anyone can download the source code (the code for the actual program) and alter it to his or her own needs. This software is free to download and use, although the programmers would probably appreciate a small donation. There are three levels of "finished-ness" for programs: Alpha, Beta, and regular. Regular (doesn't say Alpha or Beta) is probably fairly bug-free and works well. Beta is mostly bug free and works pretty well. Alpha can work well but it can also crash a lot.

Using open source software means that you may have to get a little more tech savvy. You can find tech support for many open source programs by using a search engine (type in: "support for [name of program]" or even put the specific question you have in the search engine). You will find that developing more tech skills will open up a huge set of resources.
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Finding Open Source Software:
In addition to finding alternatives to proprietary programs, you can find just plain old open source software. A wonderful place for doing this is:
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Here are some open source or free programs that I have used and found useful.
Open Office ( This is a productivity suite (word processing, drawing, presentation software, spreadsheet). This program can output to a pdf file and it also can open a wide range of files, including 20 year old Macintosh files.

Foxit Reader. This is a pdf reader that has a free version. The advantage to Foxit over Acrobat is that Foxit is a lot faster. Also you can bookmark pages in Foxit.

Mozilla Firefox. A good browser that is well-accepted by web pages across the net.

Google Chrome. This is a light-weight web browser that is minimalistic and that runs very fast. There are some web pages that don't work in Chrome, but the majority do and the speed is great (better than Firefox).

Lily Pond: This is music writing software. Writing out music in it is a lot like writing html code, but once you get the hang of it, the product is beautiful. The creators of this program set out to develop a way of creating printed music that had an aesthetic quality to it, and they succeeded. It has two really great sets of documentation, including plenty of sequences you can copy and then paste into your Lily Pond writing area so you don't really have to know much more than how to write the types of notes you want. It creates a pdf with the printed music and also a midi file with whatever you notated in it.

Red Notebook: This is from sourceforge and it is like a diary. The neatest part is the "cloud" of tags so that words that you use a lot are big. You can basically search any word you used and find what you wrote. You can also connect files of various types to it. It is like a personal wiki.

Mozilla Sunbird: Calendar software.

Tea Timer: This is a little timer you can set on your computer. When it goes off, it sounds like a teapot whistling. It's sourceforge.

Riva: I have used Riva software for a long time. They have an flv video player and also a program that turns flv videos into mpeg which Windows Media Player can play.

MySQL: I have not played with this much. It, like Open Office, is sponsored by Sun Microsystems. A lot of Open Source programmers use it as a basis for their software, so I downloaded it in order to run other software.

DVD Flick. In the past I have paid $$$ for Nero. DVD Flick is not nearly as agile as Nero, however, it will create a DVD with a menu and it works. It is light weight so you can actually do other things on your computer as you are waiting for it to process your DVD.

Media Coder: Different media have different formats. A player that is programmed for mpeg may not be able to play an flv video even if they are both video files. So, you have to recode one format into another. Media Coder does this. When I first began playing around with recoding videos, I had to learn about what formats different programs will accept, so I didn't just start using this thing perfectly the first time (first ten times) around.

Easy FLV Player: this plays FLV video files.

COWON Media Center Jet Audio. This program seems to open media files that other programs (Windows Media Player) choke on.

Z Batch Helper. If you are trying to use materials from a DVD, you are dealing with VOB files, which a lot of media players do not read. Z Batch Helper recodes them into something more readable (avi, I think).

Duplicate Files Finder. This is a sourceforge program that finds all the files on your computer that have both the same name and are the same size. That way you can decide which one to keep. I have computer files dating back to the eighties, so I had a lot of duplicates.

Python. I have this on my Ubuntu machine and my XP machine. On XP it comes with a piece of software called IDLE which allows you to create and run programs in python. There are great tutorials on the web for python and python was designed to be both powerful and easy to learn.

Audacity: you can record tracks. Buy a reasonably good microphone and it's like having a record studio on your laptop. I have used this program for several years to do a lot of different projects.

Pencil: this is an animation program. Understanding how these things work is a challenge, but this is the software that will allow you to get started.

Alice: Alice was designed to be an introduction to programming, but it is far more than that. It is 3D animation that you can manipulate with commands. This is a wonderful gift from the kind folks at Carnegie Mellon University and it is an example of the kind of program that surprises you with the many things it can do and the many possibilities it opens up.
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Using Computer Technology in the Classroom
Instead of thinking of classroom activities, think about the function of these activities and how those functions might be managed with technology. This is not to say that everything in a classroom should be accomplished via computers; rather there are some goals that are better and more effectively met through technology than through traditional means. We should use technology where it will enhance learning.

For example, class discussions that foster critical thinking, extending and sharing knowledge, and working at a higher level of Bloom's taxonomy, is best done through traditional means (sitting in a circle and talking). In contrast, individualizing math instruction so that each child is working within his or her zone of proximal development is not so easily accomplished without technology. In this case, technology allows for a higher quality form of instruction because it meets each student at his or her challenge level whereas whole class instruction on math is likely to miss as many students as it helps.

Here are some examples of teaching activities and how they might or might not be improved via computer technology.

Lecture: The function of lectures is to convey a body of knowledge from teacher to student. The problem is that an individual lecture in a given class session is likely to go too fast, too slow, have too much repetition, have not enough repetition, have too many examples, have not enough examples, and so forth across the array of students in a classroom. Here is a place that technology can help students. Teachers can video their lectures and place them online which allows students to go over the lecture enough times for their personal learning needs. Adding power points, different types of explanations for difficult concepts, web-based resources, and even "take away" resources (mp3 audio files that students can download and listen to the lecture while driving in a car) gives students more ways to learn the material. Requiring students to engage with the lecture material prior to attending class is relatively easy, given school-based online resources such as Blackboard. Put the material on Blackboard and create a small Blackboard-based assessment that is due prior to the class session. Class sessions can then be used for extending the material via discussion.

Cooperative learning: students in small groups working on a project can learn a lot simply because a small group requires that everyone participate in the project. The problem solving that goes into doing a project gets students to construct their own knowledge. Computer technology can enhance cooperative learning because it greatly increases the possible formats of projects. For example, without using technology a project might have a paper-based outcome in the form of a set of notes from the group, a group-written document, a poster, a diagram, etc. Using computer technology the same project can have an outcome as a video, an animation, digital photography, wiki, blog, comic, and so forth. These other formats are often significantly more motivating for students than paper-based projects. When the final product is motivating, students often learn a lot more.

Computer technology also enhances learning by providing instant access to a wide range of knowledge. While we don't want to encourage students to use Wikipedia as a resource in writing formal papers, Wikipedia is a great resource during class discussions and group work because most often it provides a good to great overview of a topic. Discussions and group work are enhanced by the immediate availability of information.

Assessment via testing: technology can enhance assessment in a number of ways. First, it can grade student work and give immediate feedback, which is necessary for students to learn from their mistakes. Course management systems such as Blackboard even allow you to give corrective feedback when a student makes a mistake so the assessment process can actually reteach a concept. Multiple choice tests on Blackboard can be set up so that questions are given in a random order and possible answers randomly shuffled in a given question when a student takes a test again. This means that you no longer have the hassle of preparing two different tests on paper. Students have a hard time helping each other when the test questions are in a different order from computer to computer.

Qualitative assessment via portfolios: if you are asking students to maintain a portfolio, using technology not only saves paper but it allows for work across a variety of media to be part of the portfolio, including videos, sound files, and any other electronic media that are part of the classroom. Students can maintain electronic portfolios for several grades which helps teachers to see evidence of long range growth as well as long range issues that need to be addressed.

Qualitative assessment of skills: technology allows students to demonstrate a wide range of skills, particularly through simulations that are available.
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Many people believe they cannot learn to program because programming is "hard." It is a challenging puzzle, true, but there are several free resources that can teach you the concepts of programming and a programming language (Python, as in Monty Python) that uses English but that is also powerful.

Alice (as in Alice in Wonderland) is free software from Carnegie Mellon University that allows students to create computer-animated stories while also learning about how to do object-oriented computer programming. This is a very powerful three-dimensional "world" where students can choose all sorts of options for creating their stories yet at the same time, they don't have to do any writing and there is a minimal amount of reading. This type of program would allow a student with reading and writing difficulties an opportunity to create something complex and to demonstrate his or her thinking abilities without having to use a lot of language.

Alice comes with a tutorial that gives you the basics of what the program can do. It is really worth some time to explore this amazing program and its possibilities:

There is also a version of the software specifically for telling stories (and encouraging girls in particular to learn programming).

Here is a detailed tutorial for Alice:

Scratch operates a lot like Alice, however its world is somewhat simpler as it has two dimensions. This makes it more possible to create your own characters ("sprites") with a simple paint program. Here is the website for Scratch, which includes excellent documentation and lots of other people's programs that will run on your browser (try some of them out).

In years past (circa Apple II) there was a programming language called Basic. It was English-based which meant you could "read" a program without too much effort and understand what the program was doing. Yet Basic was not a very powerful programming tool--you could only do so much with it.

Now there is Python which has the ease of use of Basic but it can also be used to create sophisticated programs. Many of the programs on were written in Python.

This website includes a lot of documentation to help you learn Python.

Even if you don't want to program yourself or take the time to learn a lot about it, make these resources available to your students. Being able to make the computer do something is a powerful motivator, particularly for kids who have not been motivated by school things. Once one student gets started on it, others will follow and teach each other. You will be giving kids access to a skill that can help them no matter where they end up working.
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Disruptive Innovation

Innovations in any field are not the product of a slow, step-by-step climb. They are characterized by leaps and jumps. A recent example has been the jump into computer technology and particularly the internet made possible through the development of affordable personal computers. In thirteen years, the web has grown from just a few hundred sites to, as of March 2009, 224,749,695 sites (

One of the original people to point out this pattern is Thomas Kuhn, the author of "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." Here is an outline of that book:

The idea of a paradigm shift, I believe, is akin to Piaget's concept of equilibrium and disequilibrium. A paradigm or a scheme is a way of understanding the world. It's the group of rules and laws that we use to predict the outcome of novel events. Children's paradigms for animals have often been used to illustrate the need to change a scheme: a child who owns a dog is likely to see a cat (four legs, furry, not-human) and call it a dog. The anomolous information the child gets is that this is not a dog, it's a cat. Dogs go bow-wow and cats go meow. So the child has to adjust his or her scheme to account for this information.

The same thing happens on a more sophisticated intellectual level to scientists. For example, one paradigm shift that arose was when the telescope was invented and scientists discovered that we live in a heliocentric system rather than a geocentric system. In other words, the earth goes around the sun and not the other way around.

Disruptive innovation is a concept developed by Clayton Christensen to describe what happens when a new technology or idea significantly changes how something is done. In business, it is useful for decision-makers to consider, if they want their company to not become obsolete.

For example, digital cameras are a disruptive innovation. They are rapidly replacing film cameras. But initially they weren't on the radar for high end camera companies because originally their quality was low. They were initially attractive to a market niche that the high end camera companies were not that interested in serving--people who wanted the convenience of digital pictures but didn't necessarily mind the lower quality.

Eventually digital cameras' quality has changed for the better and now they are of interest to high end photographers. Probably within the next fifteen to twenty years film technology will be almost completely finished, if not before.

In the education field, the disruptive innovation has been the development of the internet as a medium for teaching.

Technology reaches students who have not connected well with traditional forms of school. Technology-based learning doesn't carry the same emotional qualities as a teacher who tells you you are wrong and who gets frustrated because you are not learning. It allows for a huge array of possibilities that used to require very specialized, expensive equipment (recording studio, video editing, animation, and so forth). Students can control how they learn--how many repetitions of the material they need. As teachers collect a range of resources that convey essentially the same information across media types, they will find students learning more and more because of the choice of media.

Technology can also make disabilities invisible. There is a coolness factor in carrying around a laptop that wasn't there for those clunky "special ed" cassette tape recorders that screamed "stupid" to kids and the students around them. There are so many open source programs that can help students engage with material on an even playing ground with other kids, which allows them to be able to express their ideas even if reading a text is not something they can do easily.

We have already seen how 21st century technology has supplanted many of the old forms of technology (have you threaded a film projector recently?). As we learn more and more about what technology can do, we can make some educationally sound decisions about how to incorporate it.
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Sonnet Drafter (a program in Python)

The sonnet is one of the most exacting forms of poetry; it requires a particular rhyme pattern (the Shakespearian sonnet is ababcdcdefefgg) and a particular meter (iambic pentameter). For students to get comfortable writing sonnets, we need a scaffold. Here is a computer program I wrote to help. This program will generate a sonnet with the correct rhyme scheme and a correct enough metrical pattern (if you enter words of the correct number of syllables, as specified).

Download Python 2.6.2 at
Open IDLE. In IDLE, under file, choose "New Window"
Copy the code below and paste it in the new window. Save it as
Under Run, hit Run Module. You will be able to write your own sonnet.
Below the code there is a sonnet I wrote using this program. I thought about painting (visual arts) and tried to make all my words relate to that idea. By the way, as you read through this code, can you figure out how it works? Python is a great language because it is fairly readable by humans.

#This is the beginning of the code
#sonnet program
print 'This program will draft a sonnet that you can later edit'
print 'For this project, you might like to have a list of words. You can find one here:'
print 'From that page you can get lists of other parts of speech.'
#input words
print 'Enter 14 two-syllable adjectives. Type a word, hit return, then type the next word.'
adj1 = raw_input ()
adj2 = raw_input ()
adj3 = raw_input ()
adj4 = raw_input ()
adj5 = raw_input ()
adj6 = raw_input ()
adj7 = raw_input ()
adj8 = raw_input ()
adj9 = raw_input ()
adj10 = raw_input ()
adj11 = raw_input ()
adj12 = raw_input ()
adj13 = raw_input ()
adj14 = raw_input ()
print 'Enter 14 two-syllable verbs.'
verb1 = raw_input ()
verb2 = raw_input ()
verb3 = raw_input ()
verb4 = raw_input ()
verb5 = raw_input ()
verb6 = raw_input ()
verb7 = raw_input ()
verb8 = raw_input ()
verb9 = raw_input ()
verb10 = raw_input ()
verb11 = raw_input ()
verb12 = raw_input ()
verb13 = raw_input ()
verb14 = raw_input ()
print 'Enter fourteen one-syllable plural nouns (e.g., dogs, men).'
noun1 = raw_input ()
noun2 = raw_input ()
noun3 = raw_input ()
noun4 = raw_input ()
noun5 = raw_input ()
noun6 = raw_input ()
noun7 = raw_input ()
noun8 = raw_input ()
noun9 = raw_input ()
noun10 = raw_input ()
noun11 = raw_input ()
noun12 = raw_input ()
noun13 = raw_input ()
noun14 = raw_input ()

print 'Enter fourteen two-syllable prepositions.'
prep1 = raw_input ()
prep2 = raw_input ()
prep3 = raw_input ()
prep4 = raw_input ()
prep5 = raw_input ()
prep6 = raw_input ()
prep7 = raw_input ()
prep8 = raw_input ()
prep9 = raw_input ()
prep10 = raw_input ()
prep11 = raw_input ()
prep12 = raw_input ()
prep13 = raw_input ()
prep14 = raw_input ()

#input pairs of nouns that rhyme
print 'Now you need seven pairs of one-syllable rhyming nouns.'
print 'For example, your first pair could be moon and spoon while your second pair could be dog and hog.'
print 'For rhyme ideas, go to:'
print 'First pair of rhyming words. Enter first word, hit return, then enter second word.'
rhyme1 = raw_input ()
rhyme2 = raw_input ()
print 'Second pair'
rhyme3 = raw_input ()
rhyme4 = raw_input ()
print 'Third pair'
rhyme5 = raw_input ()
rhyme6 = raw_input ()
print 'Fourth pair'
rhyme7 = raw_input ()
rhyme8 = raw_input ()
print 'Fifth pair'
rhyme9 = raw_input ()
rhyme10 = raw_input ()
print 'Sixth pair; you are almost done'
rhyme11 = raw_input ()
rhyme12 = raw_input ()
print 'Last pair.'
rhyme13 = raw_input ()
rhyme14 = raw_input ()

print 'Now I will print your sonnet.'
#syntax of each line
print 'The', adj1, noun1, verb1, prep1, 'the', rhyme1
print 'The', adj3, noun3, verb3, prep3, 'the', rhyme3
print 'The', adj2, noun2, verb2, prep2, 'the', rhyme2
print 'The', adj4, noun4, verb4, prep4, 'the', rhyme4
print 'The', adj5, noun5, verb5, prep5, 'the', rhyme5
print 'The', adj7, noun7, verb7, prep7, 'the', rhyme7
print 'The', adj6, noun6, verb6, prep6, 'the', rhyme6
print 'The', adj8, noun8, verb8, prep8, 'the', rhyme8
print 'The', adj9, noun9, verb9, prep9, 'the', rhyme9
print 'The', adj11, noun11, verb11, prep11, 'the', rhyme11
print 'The', adj10, noun10, verb10, prep10, 'the', rhyme10
print 'The', adj12, noun12, verb12, prep12, 'the', rhyme12
print 'The', adj13, noun13, verb13, prep13, 'the', rhyme13
print 'The', adj14, noun14, verb14, prep14, 'the', rhyme14
print 'Congratulations.'
print 'William Shakespeare would be proud of you.'

#This is the end of the code

The yellow shapes annoint about the paint
The chartreuse forms stipple above the brush
The aqua lines painting into the faint
The maroon frames lining among the rush
The turquoise lights shaping inside the light
The umber tints framing between the frame
The orange shades create beside the flight
The grayish values thinking along the game
The carmen brushes feeling onto the shape
The fuschia fronts picture outside the tint
The purple backs align below the tape
The lilac turns brushing betwixt the cent
The rosy cubes dripping aside the norm
The reddish spheres blotching unto the form

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