Instructional Software – Relative Advantages

Below are listed the relative advantages of five types of instructional software:

Drill and Practice

Particularly when isolated skills need to be honed, drill and practice software can benefit the teacher by saving time in creating additional individualized practice.  For the student, the advantage is access to additional drills that provide specific feedback.  According to Roblyer and Doering (2013, p. 84), the advantages of using drill and practice software “have been well-established by research.”


The relative advantage for integrating tutorials into the classroom is the convenience of providing missing or additional instruction to meet students’ needs.  The flexibility of accessing an online tutorial at anytime from anywhere, as well as the flexibility to proceed through a tutorial at one’s pace are other advantages.


Relative advantages of simulations are that can provide cost and time effective, as well as interactive practice for students who are solidifying concepts.  Because the simulations are often available online anytime or anywhere, they provide a flexible, repeatable learning opportunity.

Instructional games

The relative advantage for this type of software is for the additional amusement while exercising skills.  Students will enjoy playing games that provide interest, levity, and entertainment.

Problem Solving software

The relative advantage for problem-solving software is that it often offers unexpected situations that demand higher order thinking skills.  Some software, such as Minecraft, may even promote engagement.


Acceptable Use Policies (AUP)

The purposes of an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is not only to protect students, as is required under the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), but also to describe what behaviors are inappropriate.  According to this act, schools receiving governmental “e-rate” funding must maintain an Internet safety policy that includes:

(a) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet;

(b) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications;

(c) unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online;

(d) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and

(e) measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.

Other organizations, such as the National Education Association (NEA), also suggest inclusion of specific sections in a district’s AUP:

  • preamble
  • definition section
  • policy statement
  • acceptable uses section
  • unacceptable uses section
  • violation section

The suggested parts of an AUP make sense.  The students and their parents need to know the background of the policy, as well as the terms used in the policy.  When districts specify what the key words mean, as well as clarify what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable, then there is less subjectivity and uncertainty of what is appropriate.  To also include the penalties give the students and their parents an idea of the severity of violating the policy.

Often an AUP requires parent and student signatures.  Districts are not uniform in how often they update the policy or have students update their agreement.

Many AUPs tend to be of the don’t-do-this nature, mainly supplying the students with a series of behaviors to avoid.  The emphasis tends to be on the safety of the student.  Issues of safety include avoidance of obscenities, but also personal safety as well as bullying.   Another topic typically found deals with ethics.  Generally, to be ethical online, school districts’ AUPs state that there shall be no selling, threatening, hacking, impersonating, and the like.  In addition, students are to use information ethically, i.e. avoid plagiarism.

As technology and the capabilities of those technologies change, the AUP should also reflect current changes.


Examples of school districts’ AUPs:

1.  From Portland Public Schools in Portland, Washington:

Short, online form:

Or the longer version:

2.  From the Murray City School District in Murray, Utah:

3.  Beals School Department in Washington County, Maine:

4.  Albuquerque Public Schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico:




Getting Started on the Internet: Acceptable Use Policies. Education World.  Retrieved June 20, 2014, from

Guide Print Email. Children’s Internet Protection Act. Retrieved June 18, 2014, from

Week 2 Reflection for EDTECH 541

Unexpectedly, I learned more about my school district’s network than I ever thought possible.  My office is down the technology hallway even though I am officially in the curriculum department.  Besides my counterpart in the technology training department, all of the nearby offices are filled with technicians without backgrounds in education.  Until this assignment, I was never interested in the main server room — enough to find out about it anyway.  Possibly this is similar to how they feel about objectives and assessments.

So for this assignment, I interviewed the district’s Technology Director.  He gladly described the LAN and toured me through the MDF and main data center.  I got to ask questions about the hardware and software we use (Infinite Campus, Microsoft, LIghtspeed, etc.) and how we maintain all of it for the district.  I learned about some of the district programs that are running on our district virtual servers, such as Destiny, the Follett library program.  I don’t know enough about AC/DC to explain it here, but I was shown how the power coming in the main data center is conditioned before going to the servers.

After the tour, I talked with a couple of the Help Desk guys about what I learned.  I felt like a new student of a foreign language who just learned how to say, ‘hi, my name is Cheryl,’ eager to talk to someone about what I learned.  But it dawned on me that they work in a world of server maintenance with all of its complexity, while I am surrounded by teachers, students and the more granular uses of technology.  I imagine a Venn diagram with two bubbles that only partially overlap.  The small overlap does not give either side sufficient insight into the rest of what happens in the technology and curriculum realms.



The other assignment on Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) gave me a chance to dive into the structure of AUPs.  Of the ones I viewed, most were mapped out the same way: preamble, definitions, acceptable uses, unacceptable uses, etc.  As technology and its uses change, the AUP needs to reflect that.  My school district recently deleted “pagers” from its list of devices, for example.  But also, the uses of technology have grown to include social uses.  Some school embrace the use of school Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, etc.  Having policies to delineated the expected behavior and purposes for using social media is important for both the school district and the faculty and students.  During this past year, my school district has received statewide, nationwide, and even international news coverage regarding a staff member’s use of social media and the district reaction to it.  Our school board is currently going through the process of creating and approving new social media policy.

I look forward to what next week brings!



Week 1 Reflection for EDTECH 541

“(O)ur society is beginning to place a high value on the ability to solve novel problems in creative ways.” (p.49)


Technology has given teaching and learning new tools to solve problems in ways that were previously thought to be impossible.  Teachers know that students who can extrapolate their skills into different areas will be most successful as they advance through their educational careers and beyond.  Society expects this, too.  For me, learning more in depth about the processes of educational technology is exciting and rewarding.  Making teaching and learning more effective is an on-going goal that I continue to strive towards.  I am looking forward to all this course and the EDTECH program will offer.

Having worked directly in the field of educational technology for two years, I have a strong sense that being familiar with the foundational learning theories that underlie the integration of technology will make my decisions as an instructor that much more solid.  Often educators will ask, “I want to get some technology, what should I get?”  On the one hand, the interest and motivation these teachers show is commendable.  They are willing to try new tools (whatever they may be) in their time-strapped days.  On the other hand, the question also shows that there is no road map in place for making integrating technology effective.  They only know they want technology, but there is no clear understanding of how and why.  

“Planning must always begin with this question: What specific needs do my students and I have that (any given resources) can help meet?” (p.10)

As I begin this course, I am constantly looking for ideas that I can bring to the teachers in my district.  As a technology coach, the focus has been on training teachers on using technology.  I am starting to see that the necessity for teachers to be willing participants in the ever-evolving landscape of educational technology is a crucial component of a successful technology program.  Teachers deal with curriculum changes, district policy changes, principal agendas, complicated student and parent backgrounds, etc. — all with the assumption that the technology phases are naturally a part of life.  Being able to accept change is a powerful mindset.  

“(R)esources and accepted methods of applying them will change, often quickly and dramatically” (p.10)

Many people like consistency and predictability to provide a sense of control and efficacy.  When constant change interrupts the normalcy of a classroom, school, and district, the reaction will greatly influence and determine how teachers will find balance and improvement in their own teaching.  New technology can be disruptive, or it can be a new way of expanding learning.  

In my role as a technology trainer, I fully stand by the need to provide resources, including ongoing training for teachers as they gain knowledge and confidence to be able to step beyond the normal and risk trying a new process.   Even before this course, I knew several of the statements in Roblyer and Doering’s Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching to be true:

The process of integrating technology effectively into education requires substantial, ongoing investments in technology infrastructure and teacher training. (p. 23)


“Successful technology programs hinge on well-trained, motivated teachers.  A technology plan should acknowledge and address this need with appropriate training activities.” (p. 65)


“Have a backup plan in case something goes wrong at the last minute.” (p.63)

With my first week down, I am looking forward to learning and practicing the methods for the effective integration of technology.



Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010).Integrating educational technology into teaching (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Anciss. (Photographer). 2008. You Can Change the World. [Digital Image]. Retrieved from



Vision Statement

students at computersInstructional technology has become an inextricable component of K-12 education, a process that began in the 1950s with the pre-microcomputer era (Roblyer & Doering, 2010, pp. 8-9).  Passing through the evolution of technology in education, mobile technologies are currently influencing learning and teaching in the classroom.  With so many tools available, classrooms have the remarkable potential of being transformed in terms of levels of engagement, personalization, efficiency, and relevancy. Because of the transformational potential of educational technology, educators need the support and tools necessary to make effective changes in their classrooms.  One way teachers can improve their use of technology is to learn about effective strategies on their own.  According to a study by Gray, Lewis and Tice (2010), 78% of teachers learn independently.  The same study indicated that 61% are prepared to integrate technology by participating in professional development activities.  In fact, one-third of teacher respondents have dedicated more than 8 hours of professional development in the past year to increasing their knowledge of instructional technology.  Most importantly, professional development needs to be available to assist teachers in making shifts toward integrating technology into their classrooms.

Educators may not be able to predict the future of educational technology, but they know that it will be different from the present (Roblyer & Doering, 2010, p. 10).

Indeed, the opportunity to improve students’ motivation and engagement, support students’ learning, and prepare students for future learning (Roblyer & Doering, 2010, p. 26) provides a “powerful rationale” for technology integration.

Gray, L., Thomas, N., Lewis, L., & Tice, P. (2010). Teachers’ use of educational technology in U.S. public schools, 2009 first look. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Dept. of Education.

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013).Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.