As this course, Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society draws to a close, I am taking the time to reflect on what I have learned and how it will affect my growing technological abilities, my knowledge to effectively integrate technology in my classroom, and how to become a teacher leader in the area of technology integration
In what ways has this course helped you to develop your own technology skills as a professional teacher?
This course has helped me develop a broader understanding of the availability of the different types of technology. More important the course has expanded my knowledge on how to integrate digital tools into my classroom efficiently. Although the terms such as podcast, wiki, and blog are not new concepts to me, they have been more of an abstract concept, which I gave little thought to integrating into my class. Through this class, I have expanded my instructional practice to incorporate more virtual experiences for my students and have begun planning outside the four walls of the brick and mortar. November, (2008) indicates blogs have the capabilities to create and move the classroom and information beyond the school environment. The learning audience for the teacher and the student’s transfers from being in class peers to a global community that includes parents, other learners around the world. In addition, November, (2008) cites that the benefits of blogging provide authentic learning opportunities as students to be empowered to collaborate and develop accountability, and add value to our ever changing world.
In what ways have you deepened your knowledge of the teaching and learning process?
Prior to taking this course, I was believed that I had been successful in integrating technology into my lesson through incorporating PowerPoint’s and other media presentation. Through this course, I have a deeper understanding that technology is more than just switching from a lecture to a PowerPoint. Dr. Thornburg, (2010) in his lecture entitled The Emergence of Educational Technology, cites educator need to challenge ourselves to envision technology outside of Microsoft Office Suite (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). I have come to understand that technology is not simply the act of using a device to enhance learning; its purpose is to help students move forward in their understanding of the world at large. Furthermore, I must keep in mind Dr. Thornburg (2010) assertion in his lecture that technology is not a pedagogy, but releases teachers to develop new and creative ways to facilitate ongoing dialogs and learning experiences (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).
In what ways have you changed your perspective from being teacher-centered to learner-centered?
In teaching, I have always been a strong advocate for learner-centered environments. My lessons are geared to develop collaborative experiences for students and real world opportunities. What were lacking were experiences outside of our community and school environment. Computers and technology allow teachers to differentiate based on the individual learning needs of students, while broaden the depth of their understanding of the material (The Changing Role of the Classroom Teacher: Part 1, 2010). What makes technology inherently learner centered is the power it creates within a teacher to develop different ways of teaching. The key is to not just repeat your practices and simply adding a computer, but to truly alter how the student engages and approaches a given topic (The Changing Role of the Classroom Teacher: Part 1, 2010).
In what ways can you continue to expand your knowledge of learning, teaching, and leading with technology with the aim of increasing student achievement?
In order for schools to remain viable and relevant, they need to alter their perception regarding the exchange of teaching and learning between staff and students. Merely purchasing the latest tools will not ensure student achievement. Tools are meaningless unless they are used appropriately and with purpose (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008). Technology is a vehicle schools have at their disposal to” empower students with thinking and learning skills, and help students interact with complex materials” (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008). As an instructional leader, I need to help empower my colleagues to seek out technology that will expand and challenges their students understanding. This can be done through sharing articles, conducting professional development opportunities and coordinating with my building principal and technology coordinator to lead a technology task force.
Set two long-term goals (within two years) for transforming your classroom environment by which you may have to overcome institutional or systemic obstacles in order to achieve them. How do you plan to accomplish these goals?
In reflecting upon my goals for the coming years, of course I want to ultimately complete my Masters in Technology so that I can be more effective instructional leader and educator. In relation to my classroom environment, my first goal is to be more intentional and deliberate in my incorporation of technology into my lesson plans. Even though not every lesson plan I have and implement requires technology, I want to integrate various technology tools to expand how my students explore and demonstrate knowledge. To that end, I want to explore resources that will enhance my instruction and allow me to expand upon students existing knowledge. In a sense, this goal is directed how I am going to plan and instruct my students with the support of technology.
The second goal I have is to use technology to develop inquiry based activities that require students to use a variety of technology resources. Although this goal relates to my initial goal of effective planning, this goal is directed at creating a learner center environment that fosters 21st century skills and independent learners. The activities will continue to be collaborative, but the collaboration will expand beyond the brick and motor. I would like to incorporate more virtual experiences for my students in which they can engage in the material in a variety of novel activities.
In life, we face a multitude of obstacles in order to ultimately achieve our goals. With the two goals I have outlined, I am faced with both institutional and systematic obstacles. First, within my school there is a hierarchy of needs that places emphasis and resources upon those curricular areas covered on standardized testing. As a result my content, Spanish, is lower on the hierarchy thus creating difficulties with access and use of technology. In the past, access to computer labs, mobile labs, projectors, response clickers were only available for the 21st century teachers. Even when this precedent was altered there was still an unspoken understanding that certain contents had priority over the available resources. In order to combat this current deficit, I have to illustrate to my administration that through my incorporation of inquiry learning and technology I am in fact supporting all the other content areas. I will need to meet with my leaders, articulate lesson plans, and invite staff to observe the greater benefits students are receiving. Once I am able to demonstrate success, access should be easier to achieve.
The systematic obstacles relate simply to the lack of up to date computers and resources within my school district. This is a struggle most schools and districts have, and one that cannot be easily remedied in the current economic situation. As a result, I am going to have to simply work with what I have and spend time researching and practicing how best to use current technology ideals with outdated resources.
Refer to your checklist from Week 1. Have any of your answers changed after completing this course?
When I reflect back upon the checklist created in week one I noticed that I rarely incorporated 21st century skills and technology into my educational practices. The greatest element I have gained from this class is the awareness and understanding of how technology interacts with curriculum planning and design. The areas I personally saw the most growth were in how I design and collaborate with students my learning activities and experiences. I am more comfortable and familiar with available technology resources to expand my lesson into a virtual classroom. In addition, I feel more competent as an instructional leader to model and assist others in the development and understanding of current technology practices.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). The changing role of the classroom Teacher: part 1 [Video webcast]. Retrieved from: https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_1342456_1%26url%3D
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). The emergence of educator [Video webcast]. Retrieved from: https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_1342456_1%26url%3D
Keengwe, J., Onchwari, G., & Wachira, P. (2008). The use of computer tools to support meaningful learning. AACE Journal, 16(1), 77–92
November, A. (2008). Web literacy for educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/bbcswebdav/institution/USW1/201260_04/MS_EDUC/NCATE_EDUC_6710/Week%201/Resources/Resources/embedded/November_Ch6.pdf