Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Dreamweaver and Flash: Strategies for Updating Communication Systems Instruction; One of the Underlying Constructs That Technology Education Has Always Excelled in Is the Practical Application of Theory

Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Dreamweaver and Flash: Strategies for Updating Communication Systems Instruction; One of the Underlying Constructs That Technology Education Has Always Excelled in Is the Practical Application of Theory

Article excerpt

The rate of innovation and change impacting technology education communication systems instruction has been vigorous for longer than most people can remember. Trends have included analog systems being replaced by digital systems, integration of networks and system devices, computerization, optical storage, and wireless transmission of data (Hendricks & Sterry, 1996; Sanders, 1997). The challenges for technology teachers have included decisions about hardware and software upgrades, revision of curriculum materials, and the learning curve associated with staying functionally iterate with processes, materials, and equipment being used.

Communication systems encompass a wide array of technologies. The range of processes extends from those necessary for production of print media to wireless transmission of Internet data. Production of World Wide Web materials is one type of hands-on activity typically applied to facilitate engaging and beneficial student learning in this area of study. Web page development can be used to address the concepts of encoding, transmitting, receiving, decoding, storage, and retrieval that are central to the study of communication systems (Hendricks & Sterry, 1996; Hill, 1996). In Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (STL) (ITEA, 2000, 2002), creation of Web pages is specifically described as a problem-solving activity for Standard 17 on page 172. Creation of Web pages also affords opportunities to address issues of design and societal impact that are associated with several other standards.

In addition to facilitating fulfillment of content standards, Web materials can be useful as a mechanism for addressing assessment standards. For example, they provide an excellent medium for meeting Standard A-3, presented in Advancing Excellence in Technological Literacy: Student Assessment, Professional Development, and Program Standards (AETL) (ITEA, 2003). This standard calls for systematic, research-based assessment of student learning. The development of electronic portfolios, using Web pages and other online documentation, can provide a very nice environment for managing summative assessment. Materials can be easily modified, added to over a period of time, and the end result can be a product that has enduring value to students and teachers.

Development of Web materials also provides excellent opportunities for students to learn about design. Visual layout principles related to emphasis, contrast, balance, alignment, repetition, flow, and use of images and color can all be addressed as learners are guided in the creation of Web pages. These fundamentals are common to other types of design as well, and Standard 11 of STL can he effectively addressed using these activities. In addition to learning about visual design, development of Web materials involves bandwidth considerations, analysis of audience interests and technical capabilities, site navigation, organization, structure, and other technical elements that also benefit from systematic design processes.

One of the underlying constructs that technology education has always excelled in is the practical application of theory. Content focused on the history, practice, and impacts on society of various technologies has been presented to students, but this has been supported with opportunities for hands-on applications and contextual learning. This facet of technology education, engaging students in opportunities to apply knowledge within real-world problem-solving activities. has been a significant strength.

Opportunities to apply principles of visual design and to consider a variety of technical criteria in the creation of a meaningful artifact are sometimes difficult to manage within the constraints of the modern classroom. Use of models, simulators, and construction projects can involve the pertinent technical processes but sometimes lack the motivation provided when something being created is valued and will be actually implemented by a client or end-user. …

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