Final Reflections on EDLD_5364 Teaching with Technology
I will be honest and admit that there were many times during the past five weeks where I found myself skimming the text and not really reading closely. Much of what Pitler, et. al. had to say wasn't new information to me. Since integrating iPads into my classroom three years ago and transitioning to project-based learning for nearly all content delivery, I have discovered many of the tools listed in the text on my own or through my connections on twitter. Members of my PLN include educational innovators like Lisa Nielsen @innovativeeEdu, Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher, and Will Richardson @willrich45, who inspired me to go "all in" and create the student-centered, connected, tech-integrated learning environment I manage today.
In the forward to Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, Will Richardson writes that:
In every subject, in every grade, we need to be able to offer our students a variety of learning experiences that are steeped in the rich potential that these tools now offer, not just in terms of productivity but in terms of the creative and inquiry-based learning that we know works best for students. (Richardson, 2012)I believe this is not a vision of the future of education, but the reality of now. Students are no longer content to sit and git; web 2.0 tools and the Internet are so intertwined in their lives that we are doing a disservice by not creating the connected, collaborative learning environments argued for by Will Richardson.
I do not mean to suggest that the readings were inconsequential to my learning during this course. While skimming through the text may not have provided much in the way of new information, it certainly provided validation for how I have transformed as an educator. I have to admit to a certain amount of pride and a sense of accomplishment when I read recommendations such as "communicate learning objective to students and parents." (Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn, 2012, p. 18), "Engage students in the feedback process" (Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn, 2012, p. 38), and "Use cooperative learning consistently and systematically" (Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn, 2012, p. 74). These recommendations are are already in place in my classroom. Through the course I realized what I had yet to do continue the transition to a connected, collaborative, constructivist classroom. Along with validation came the realization that more can be done.
Learn as a LearnerI will be the first to admit that I never cared for group projects when I was in school. I always felt that I could get the project done more quickly without the "help" of others. Having completed a couple of projects now with a diverse team, I understand the value of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and the importance these skills have in problem solving. Having to engage with other people, work through disagreements, build consensus and compromise leads to a better end product and a deeper understanding of what we are asking students to do and why. We had to practice the social/emotion skills identified by Linda Darling-Hammond as essential in project-based learning environments. Our real, authentic work required us "to be able to figure out how to relate to one another, how to divide tasks, how to solve problems, how to probably run into dead ends, pick up the pieces, reorient and go in a new direction.(Darling-Hammond, nd) Do as I say, not as I do is no longer a valid argument. I believe in the end we produced a web site that not only met requirements but, more importantly, required us to use the skills we know are essential for students to possess.
Life Long Learning SkillsAs I mentioned earlier, I have already learned the power of being a part of a connected community of learners. These connections provide me with opportunities for discussions that could never be possible without using technology. It is interesting how well I know people who I have never met, and quite possibly will never meet, in person. Yet their contributions to my learning are as important (in some ways more important) as my colleague across the hall or in the classroom next door. For me this is the challenge that lies ahead, how to create a face-to-face analog network as valuable as the digital network. My digital network "gets it." Unfortunately, many members of my analog network, simply do not. Mired in the past, and beholden to traditional ways they carry on with teacher-directed activities aligned to a summative assessment. Even when they do incorporate technology it is largely teacher-directed. The challenge going forward is aligned to ITSE Technology Facilitator/Teacher Leader Standard VIII. It will take "leadership and a strong vision . . . to push technology use into less familiar, but promising constructivist contexts. (Williamson, J. & Reddish, T., 2009 p. 179) Currently, I am leading by example, but realize that that may not be enough. It may be time to step up to the pulpit and lead not a revival, but an intervention.
Darling-Hammond, L. (Edutopia). (December 10, 2007). . [video] Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/linda-darling-hammond-sel-video
Williamson, J., & Redish, T. (2009). ISTE's Technology Facilitation and Leadership Standards. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education