It is so hard to believe another semester is over and another course is coming to an end. I have had such an intense year of learning and reflecting about what I knew, what I thought I knew and what I have yet to learn. In the fall when I was taking ECI 831, I was unsure of my technological abilities and spent a lot of the course feeling like I was out of my element. I learned a lot, but was still feeling unsure about my role and confidence level with technology integration. ECI 832 has allowed me to grow so much more in this area and I have been able to find the confidence I need to take a leadership role in my school supporting technology integration. I now have the attitude that I can try anything, it may take a while to accomplish, but I am still capable of doing it.
What new understanding of the role of educational technology to support learning have you gained, acted on, or perhaps strengthened?
I think before the class started that I was confused about what technology integration really is. It is difficult to sort out the difference between doing things in the classroom that use technology or having technology available in the classroom and having real authentic learning activities integrating technology that are connected to curricular outcomes. I think that it is all part of the growth in the pedagogy of teaching that is going on today. Teachers are realizing that it is no longer good enough to fill our students with as much information as we can and hope that they will be able to spit it back to us in the form of tests and assignments. Now we are focusing more on our students and what they can show us. We want them to be responsible for their own learning and thinking and engaged in what they are doing. Student centered learning, needs to be just that…student centered.
Marnie discussed in the Block 8 posting , the 5 things David Warlick thinks we should look for in tech infused learning experiences. When reading his blog post, I couldn’t help but realize I now find it difficult to imagine student centered learning that does not involve technology integration. The two ideas seem interchangeable to me. Our students can now have such broad audiences for their learning and have opportunities to communicate and collaborate with other students around the world. It is a different world that they live in, with so many more opportunities for growth and communication. I think one of the main steps I made in my thinking was to cross the threshold into how I could meaningfully integrate technology.
I think taking this course has helped me act upon applying for two technology integration grants. We are currently involved in school division action research grant, that involves the use of Flip video and digital still cameras and how they can affect student engagement and assessment in math. I have applied for another research grant for next school year that involves using web 2.0 tools with social studies and how that might affect student engagement. I would not have seen myself taking a leadership role in this area before the exposure to technology and internet tools that I have had during this course. I have realized that I do not have to be an expert, and more importantly, I can figure anything out if I try. I am also not afraid to learn with my students. Some of the best learning experiences happen when we are busy learning things together.
What has had the most influence on your horizon of understanding?
I think that the collaboration with other people in this course and reading technology blogs has had the most influence on me. I have enjoyed reading the blogs of other people in this course and it was very interesting to see that we are all dealing with the same types of successes and frustrations. Sometimes it is easy to think that frustrating things only happen in your own little world. That is not the case at all. It was nice to be able to share successes and frustrations and be able to encourage and support each other.
I can’t seem to get enough time to read information being shared on technology blogs. I have found countless ideas and tools that I have used or bookmarked to use in the future. It is nice to stay abreast of what is happening in the educational technology world and have the opportunity to learn from others. I now see the importance of collaborating and feel strongly that it is something that teachers should do more often.
What new question(s) emerged? Where do I go from here?
I think my biggest question is always, how do I encourage and support the teachers in my school to move forward with technology integration and see the connection between technology and student centered learning? It is not a new question for me… but it is a big, important one. I have moments when I think we are not making progress, like when I felt anger at a staff meeting after making a presentation about technology integration. On the other hand, I have had moments when I think we are making progress in this area.
Last week, I had a few minutes to walk about and see what was going on in classrooms… I was pleasantly surprised. In one classroom the students were actively involved in a world water simulation activity. The students were in groups representing different countries learning what it is like to have to ration water. In the next classroom I stepped into, the students were working on photo stories showing what they had learned about skip counting and multiplication and in the next classroom, the students were all in groups on the floor, very actively involved in an input and output math game.
I know that these activities did not all involved technology integration, but for me that is what it is all about. We integrate technology where it makes sense to do so. What was exciting for me, was these students were all actively engaged in what they were doing and they were all learning.
Where do I go from here?
- I guess that I keep doing what I am doing.
- I need to take a step back sometimes and allow people to move at a different pace than me.
- I need to support teachers where they are in the LoTi framework and help them move forward from there.
- I think that it is important that I keep presenting ideas and opportunities that fit with curricular outcomes and that I keep offering whatever level of support is needed for each individual to move forward.
Thank you to everyone who helped me on my journey this semester. I appreciate all of your comments, support and feedback. Good luck to everyone!