Tuesday, December 13, 2011

811 Reflections

Photo Attribution:
Original image: "6th Graders working on infoflyers"
By langwitches Released under an Attribution, noncommerical, share alike
For the past eight weeks, my mind has been consumed with educational technology. The course objectives for CEP 811 (Adapting Innovative Technologies to Education) were simple in wording, but quite complex in practice. The objectives consisted of understanding ways in which interactive computer technology may be employed in direct support of independent student learning and the roles that Internet-based tools and resources may be effectively used in classrooms in support of educational goals. I can say that this objective was mean; however, a full understanding could not be achieved as the technologies are every evolving. Some of the ways that I enjoyed having the chance to explore were webquests, stand-alone instruction resources (StAIR), and web creation. As a result of these technology explorations, I had a chance to try a webquest with my students. Although the lesson was still mostly teacher directed (due to the needs of my students and their limited abilities with utilizing a computer independently), I felt that they experience of using the webquest was as good for the students as myself. The students were able to see the entire lesson organized upfront. Even though they may not be able to read to content, they still were able to see the organization and the activities for the day. For me, the organization also helped in pacing of the lesson and creating needed adaptations. The StAIR project was truly an experience. Although it was quite time consuming, I see so many applications for creating one to use within the classroom as well as use online. One of my goals is to start creating lessons available for parents to review with students online, such as name practice, letter practice, or sight word ‘flashcards’. My StAIR project using PowerPoint as well as the other examples from class, have given me several ideas in which to make this happen. Lastly, the website creation project was a perfect building block from the blog creation. This also gave me exposure and practice with various website services which will help me when I begin to explore creating my own ‘tech’ website over the next 6 months or so.

Photo Attribution:
Original image: "21st Century Skills"
By langwitches Released under an Attribution, noncommerical, share alike
Choosing and using technology within the classroom is often a tricky task, especially when you are new to the curriculum, new to technology, or both! This course help me develop a foundation for being able to assess a technology for value and then assess whether the technology adds value to the curriculum. One of my ‘pet peeves’ is teachers saying they are using technology when they are (a) using a new technology, but an old purpose; such as using a SMART Board only for projection and saying you are using a SMART Board (b) using technology, but the technology doesn’t match the lesson or add value to the lesson being taught; hence, using technology to say you are using technology. Through the TPACK exercises, webquest evaluation, and the classmate comments in MERLOT, I feel that I have a better understanding of what technology integration should look like as well as the pedagogy behind the appropriate integration.

The section of this course that most interested me was the session on online learning. Living in Ohio, the commercials seem to inundate me with information about all the online schools available. My own school district has started a Moodle site (yes, exploring this will be my “self assigned” homework over winter break) in order to incorporate more online learning for students and staff. I was intrigued by the information regarding Michigan’s online requirements and I wonder how long until these are found in other states, such as Ohio. Although I enjoyed this session, I think it may have left me with more questions than answers.

Lastly, this course allowed me to explore and experiment with technologies I was familiar with, but did not know the full possibilities of using these technologies to create amazing educational resources for students. My main goals have not changed. I want to explore the various technologies and figure out ways to use ‘mainsteam’ web 2.0 technologies with ALL students. I want to be able to make curriculum and instruction more accessible though the use of these technologies and have the UDL framework become more of a part of ‘best practice’. I want to continue to be a resource for other educators for how technology integration can work in ALL classrooms and benefit ALL students.

As I continue this technology journey, I will let this quote provide a framework: 
"Technology is a tool that serves a set of educational goals, and if we don't think about what we want the technology for first, we end up with technology-driven solutions that have very little impact in the lives of children and in our educational system.“ 
- Linda Roberts, Director of Education Technology, U.S. Department of Education

1 comment:

  1. It's great to read about all the ideas (and questions -- questions are good!) that you're taking away from 811. I think this takeaway is especially powerful: "This course help me develop a foundation for being able to assess a technology for value and then assess whether the technology adds value to the curriculum." Best of luck with your tech explorations and teaching.