It’s really quite amazing to me how quickly this first course in my Master’s of Arts in Educational Technology has come to an end. As the saying go “Time flies when you’re having fun!” This CEP 810 (Teaching Understanding with Technology) has given me the opportunity to gain a better understanding of using technology in the classroom to enhance learning and a perspective on what learning actually means. The first week of the course we were required to write an essay and explain what our understanding of learning.
My initial definition of Learning was:
My current definition of learning is the process to which a person can build up their current knowledge and/or skill set for a specific topic in order to use it at a later time or for a later experience. Particularly one can build on their current knowledge set through various ways – a formal classroom or teaching setting, through life experiences or personal self-study.
After the readings and through reading some of my classmates essays, I definitely feel like I missed a part of what learning means especially when it comes to talking about the crossover between being a novice and an expert and the transfer of information.
I enjoyed being given the opportunity to think about this — because ultimately the biggest question/concern that any educator has is:
How can we teach our students for understanding? How can we help produce motivated thinkers, doers and creators from the bare minimum? And, how can we help our students learn to understand SO THAT they can transfer their learning to future situations, classes and experiences?
The second week of the class went from how we can get students to learn to understand, to how teachers can advocate for themselves with using technology. Or rather, what kind of mindsets do teachers need to adopt in order to facilitate learning and facilitate learning with technology.
During that week, my favorite reading was the TED blog post by Will Richardson – which honestly just raised a question that is constantly on my mind:
How can we get our top down (administration, Department of Education – both state and national) to change an outdated system so that we can progressively change education and help our current (and future) students to move forward in a 21st Century world?
“Why must schools change how they teach? What’s at stake?
Schools were built upon the fundamental premise that teachers and knowledge and information were scarce. That is no longer the reality. Now, as so many more of us gain faster and broader access to the Web, all of those things are suddenly abundant. That means that the traditional role of school, to deliver an education, is quickly becoming less and less relevant. If we continue to see schools as the place where our children go to master a narrow list of content, knowledge and skills that were originally defined almost 150 years ago, we risk putting those kids out into the world with little idea of how to take advantage of the explosion of learning opportunities that now exist. The problem, however, is that most “reform” efforts are aimed at simply doing what we’ve been doing better, almost exclusively in the form of raising test scores. But doing “better” on measures that don’t account for this huge shift we’re in the midst of is the absolute wrong emphasis. Instead, we need to think very differently about the experiences, outcomes, skills and literacies we desire for our kids when they come to school. ”
Richardson, W. (2012). Posted by Jim Daly. Why School? TED ebook author rethinks education when information is everywhere.
As an educator, I find myself frustrated more than not when I have so much to be “graded” on and so much is at stake, but we are told to teach in a way that is out-dated.
Our students have so much access to information and technology outside of the classroom — that when they come in here, teaching them to memorize facts rather than to think about the How and the Why when they’re learning – isn’t benefiting them. It’s boring and students are becoming less engaged unless we change the entire system.
Week 3 of this course we set out to understand how to network better through Professional Learning Networks (PLN). I feel like I use so many different social networks, but I liked learning about the RSS feeds and now I regularly check my Feedly page to see the latest articles/news on Education and Educational Technology.
Technology for better workflow and productivity was brought up during Week 4 where we explained how we use technology to help keep us on track. The lecture by David Allen about the art of Stress-Free Productivity engaged me to think about how I keep myself on (or even off) task and how to be more productive.
I took a few quotes from Allen’s lecture to heart:
“‘Mind like water.’ A body of water responds to physical forces around it totally appropriately. It doesn’t over-react, it doesn’t under-react. Flexibility trunks perfection.”
“Life is not static, there is no perfection.”
“If you do not pay attention to what has your attention you will give it more attention than it deserves. ”
-David Allen – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
I think that these quotes made me think more about how I think and how I setup my daily and weekly tasks. I am going to make a more conscious effort to write things down (or put them down in my Notes application on my phone) and force myself to look at them periodically so I can alleviate space in my brain for more creativity rather than thinking about all of the tasks that I currently have to do or need to get done.
Week 5 I was introduced to the TPACK model — something that I had only heard in passing but never really understood. I enjoyed our cooking with TPACK activity, where we got to cook with tools that might not necessarily be used for that specific recipe. It was interesting to apply the thoughts of this exercise to my classroom and how we aren’t always given the necessarily tools to perform specific tasks, but as educators we have to find a way to manipulate technologies so that it can perform the function that we need it to in class.
The final weeks of this class, we took everything we had been taught to create a lesson plan for 21st century learning. I think that this was a great way to compact everything that we’ve learned into something applicable to the classroom. I also liked the opportunity to get some feedback directly from another classmate and find out what they thought of my activity (and see what ideas they had for their own lesson plan).
Five of the seven weeks of the class we also had focused on a Network Learning Project (NLP) where I got an opportunity to teach myself how to mix music. That was really fun and I kept thinking to myself — I get to play with music while also learning and obtaining my Master’s. I am really looking forward to the rest of my classes in my MAET program — I hope to continue learning, networking and applying these concepts that I learned in this class to my future classes (and to my own classroom).