Difficulty in Integration for upper level HS English courses

It is possible I may have picked one of the more difficult content areas to weave in integrated technology, and surprisingly, it is English.

Not just regular language arts mind you, no, Advanced Placement English. 11th and 12th graders. (Oh, and AP History can be an issue too

The reason: I have discovered that quite frankly, AP English (at least the instruction of it) is a bit test-centered, even if the instructor is not.

The use of blog, electronic journals, and discussion boards are relatively easy, but it was deeper projects, such as the use of Excel/spreadsheets, or finding instructional software (there is a plethora for math and science, just Google and here it comes).

It is not that the content is phobic or not conducive to integrating technology, but these two particular content areas are indeed a transition from pedagogical approaches to andragogical examinations, but for some reason, again due to test-centered concerns, the courses could be considered rigid and ironically accidentally ignore both principles.

(What I mean by this is AP English in of itself can be directed at only one or two types of learners. Case in point: I have math and science students who have not done well in my class in the past because it can involve so much abstract learning that it truly baffles them).

Yet, as Malcolm Knowles expressed, andragogy involves self-concepts, experience, readiness to learn, orientation to learning, and motivation to learn (Knowles 12, 1984 cited in infed.org). All of these can be covered by integrating technology.

However, I found myself treading new frontiers as I prepared my lessons. For example, it took about an hour for me to figure out a way to incorporate physical education into AP. Then, using experience from my days of running and hiking and adding it to my new found daily journaling, I found a nature walk concept to incorporate into Glogster. Suddenly, multi-sensory approaches so common in pedagogy (but generally limited to the primary educational experience) could be introduced to help in the andragogy approach of building experience, readiness to learn, and motivation to learn.

Another big problem: Cost vs time. There are some great tools out there, but some of the open source tools tend to have a higher learning curve, so adding infographics, eBooks, and early in its inception, Prezis and Google Docs, can be hard for teachers and students. While some tools have indeed become much easier to use, some of the better tools such as in the eBook creation category can carry a price tag or be restricted to a Mac (iBook Author is a fantastic free creation tool, but it is limited to Macs…and Macs that sport the Lion OS).

Thus, educators need to provide a big tool kit bag when offering project-based learning approaches (similar to those provided by Dr. Jackie Gerstein for my Ed Tech 541 course) so that options are not only plenty, but also help various learners.

Even then, educators need to play with a plan first before putting it in the hands of students. Knowles said this concerning orientation to learning: as a person matures “his time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem centeredness” (Knowles 12, 1984 cited in infed.org). In essence, integrating technology is a problem-centered situation and as teachers, we need to take time and problem-solve how to get quality approaches in the hands of our students when limitations (and they will happen) hit us.

infed.org | Andragogy: what is it and does it help thinking about adult learning? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://infed.org/mobi/andragogy-what-is-it-and-does-it-help-thinking-about-adult-learning/

The Quality Improvement Agency. (2008). Multi sensory learning, 1–3.


2 thoughts on “Difficulty in Integration for upper level HS English courses

  1. I really appreciate that you tacked this from the advanced placement lens. It’s something I haven’t seen discussed a lot, and I think for more teachers to be willing to integrate it showing them the level of rigor that be achieved is a great way to start.

  2. Cary,

    As usual, great post. I really fastened on to your point about time/cost. It can be intimidating to find
    and become proficient in all the different tools available in today’s market. My opinion is that we
    don’t really need to be experts on all of it. What we need to do is stay current on what’s available
    and to make it available to our students. This gives them the ability to choose their own presentation
    or creation medium. This moves the responsibility of the how to use it off of the teacher and on to
    the student. This will also give the student a more complete sense of ownership because they have
    controlled the entirety of the process. Thanks for the very interesting post.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s