I am about to complete one of several courses for my masters degree at Walden University. In this course, I learned a great deal about how technology has affected others, how it does and can affect my students, and how it has and will shape how I teach and communicate to my students.
The three technology skills I have developed through this course are blogging, creating and using a wiki, and creating a podcast. Not only did I learn what these resources were, I was also able to collaborate with my fellow classmates regarding these resources and actually experience the setup and use of at least a blog and a podcast. My overall technology skills have improved in the sense that I now have some tools under my belt and know where to find additional tools and support where I did not have those resources prior to this course.
My knowledge of the teaching and learning process has deepened as my eyes are even more open to what my students are bringing with them to class; a wealth of technological experience. Although I favor defining technology users as "exposed to technology" and "not exposed to technology" as opposed to a "digital native" versus a "digital immigrant," I am really beginning to see what technology can add to my classroom, in the way that my students think and the technological skills they are bringing. Infusing technology into my teaching process is a must for my students' learning process based on these realities.
The perspective from being a teacher-centered to a learner-centered began to change for me even before this course, but this course showed even more proof and benefits for technology as a collaboration and problem-solving medium. Although my reality is still more of a teacher-centered classroom, I can feel momentum within myself and class building towards a more learner-centered environment.
I feel that technology's biggest advantage in the classroom is that of differentiation. Using wikis, blogs and podcasts as examples, all three differentiate learning through collaboration, repeated instruction and review, and accomodating all learning styles. I need to continue to use what I have put into place in my blog and wiki beyond this class in order to continue collaboration and stay abreast of fresh ideas in technology. I also need to keep trying different techniques and mediums in the classroom without disrupting the flow of learning. That means I need to double my planning efforts in order to not only appropriately integrate technology, but also to make sure it is done the right way. In doing this, I should see a rise in student achievement, as students are more exposed to the content, able to collaborate outside of the classroom, and as students are excited to use the technology, want to do better as they use the different tools.
Two long term goals over the next two years are to increase information availability and collaboration for my students, and to acquire technology to use on a daily basis in my classroom.
The first goal is already in progress, and I hope to have a process worked out before this school year ends. My class web site will be set up by the beginning of November, and a class blog and podcasting will be set up by December. My goals here are increased communication to parents through podcasting and the web site, and increased student collaboration through blogging. Set up and maintenance of these tools will motivate students as they are rotated through the list of class jobs.
My second goal is to acquire either an interactive white board or a class set of the ITouch or laptops, allowing me to weave in technology on a much more consistent basis with my students. This goal will be obtained through grants and in becoming an advocate for technology in my district. If we as a district do not have the tools presently, I will work beginning in the spring of 2012 with my district to acquire the needed tools.
Regarding my checklist from week 1, I am currently not at a different place in my classroom compared to when I began this course. Although I have learned much about different tools to bring technology to my classroom, I have not figured out how to bring those tools into class and what it means for my students. With my goals mentioned above, I know my checklist will look much different even by the beginning of next year.
This concludes my reflection for this course. I am excited for what the next two years bring as I change my planning and teaching habits to reflect a more technologically rich environment!