• Integrating Digital Learning Objects in the Classroom:
      A Need for Educational Leadership
    • many teachers remain resistant to using technology in the classroom (Johnson 2003; Shayo and Olfman 2003; Koohang and Harman 2007). In order to encourage uptake of new educational technologies, Roblyer (2005) argues that fundamental research on the potential impact of technology on school life must be conducted.
    • In order to overcome teacher resistance to technology in the classroom, we have sought to follow a process described by Friesen (2004) to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the educational use of digital learning objects (DLOs) from the teachers’ point of view.
    • we envision a DLO that can assist school principals in the facilitation of educational leadership and help transform teachers’ attitudes toward technology-based teaching.
    • A digital learning object is “any digital resource that can be reused to support learning” (Wiley 2000, 7).
    • DLOs enable students, both individually and collaboratively, to work hands-on with complex content and ideas. Students can, for instance, manipulate and experiment with variables, carry out simulations, prepare exhibitions with authentic artifacts, and explore new concepts in game formats. DLOs challenge students to question, investigate, analyze, synthesize, problem solve, make decisions, and reflect on their learning. Finally, DLOs enable students to work at their own pace and can provide scaffolded learning tasks that offer real-time feedback on performance in a variety of supportive and engaging ways.
    • A complex chain of thinking skills fuels students’ process of presenting a science project, from mastering fair-testing concepts to applying those concepts in crafting new hypotheses and finally to designing ways to test those hypotheses. Students use prior knowledge and then interpret, implement, analyze, and evaluate to create a new product. To borrow Anderson and Krathwohl’s (2001) categories, this process involves moving from lower-order thought processes (for example, remembering, understanding, and applying) to higher-order ones (for example, analyzing, evaluating, and creating). Guided by their teachers, students working on fair-testing DLOs from the Le@rning Federation completed the science fair learning process and entered display boards in the regional competition. They then produced digital stories to describe their uses of DLOs (Exhibit 3).
    • students’ motivation to engage with the DLO tasks was high
    • Teachers felt that the DLOs allowed them to overcome significant difficulties presented by the lack of science laboratories in the school
    • Teachers’
    • thought that the use of DLOs was equivalent to having a virtual lab and that DLOs made fair-testing teaching more efficient
    • the principal concluded that her leadership role was one of facilitation (Exhibit 6). Rather than taking a top-down approach, she attempted to facilitate technology adoption among teachers in a way that gave them ownership of the transition.
    • educators involved displayed leadership in transforming organizational culture, extending the effect of their experience beyond the level of their personal development to create change at the school level.
    • Results from this study support Freebody’s (2007) assertion that DLO integration in schoolwide learning activities requires different types of school leadership at different uptake stages.
    • Joel Barker’s assertion that “information technology in education has a transforming effect on the setting or institution itself” (Morrison, Barker, and Erickson 2006, ¶19). Moreover, DLOs have another unique role to play in educational leadership development. DLOs can be designed to help educators overcome their initial resistance to innovation uptake and understand the powerful teaching potential technology-rich learning environments represent.
    • Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Janson, A., and R. Janson. 2009. Integrating digital learning objects in the classroom: A need for educational leadership. Innovate 5 (3). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=581 (accessed July 23, 2009). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.

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