What you have learned?
It is honestly difficult to write an account of what I learned this semester because I have learned so much. It seems like each module presented even more useful content than the last and I was able to implement what I was learning into my work immediately. I would say one of the biggest themes that struck home with me was the importance of leveraging technology to the advantage and inclusion of students with special needs. I really appreciated that each of the readings specified tools for special needs students in a variety of contexts in addition to open source tools. For low budget education programs these are both very important considerations. It seems like a lot of what we were learning was relevant to what was happening at my work. For example, the module on social media. The schools I work with had for some time completely blocked any social media but theNAT (the Natural History Museum) had wanted to use a social media app called iNaturalist. I was able to describe the importance of using social media apps and their relative advantage to the educators and in turn the teachers who attend the rotation. Not only did we decide to use the app but I demonstrated through my projects that we didn’t have to stop there. That in fact, social media tools like Skype could connect students with experts from all over the world.
How the course work demonstrates mastery of the AECT standards.
Standard 1: DESIGN
Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to design conditions for learning by applying principles of instructional systems design, message design, instructional strategies, and learner characteristics.
This course was mostly about design and technology integration driven by research and current educational theory. Being provided opportunities to design, from scratch, lesson plans, learning activities and educational media, was highly valuable and receiving feedback from the instructor and classmates was crucial to improving on my skills in this area.
Standard 2: DEVELOPMENT
Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to develop instructional materials and experiences using print, audiovisual, computer-based, and integrated technologies.
Being given the opportunity to develop lessons using technology that I was either not very experienced with or reluctant to use, was great. It really opened my eyes to many new possibilities and forced me outside my comfort zone. This is something I expect of my students so it’s really something I should be able to to do as well. Technologist need to be able to use many different forms of media and utilize them effectively so this course provides you with a range of tools and guides you in how to use them effectively.
Standard 3: UTILIZATION
Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to use processes and resources for learning by applying principles and theories of media utilization, diffusion, implementation, and policy-making.
The module on video integration stands out for me here. It’s something I, like many others, completely take for granted as a technology tool. Learning more about the history and theory behind video integration and interviewing co-workers about how they utilize it, was incredibly insightful. Rather than simply pointing educators towards tools and resources for video integration, I am now better informed to discuss how and why to use videos in education.
How you have grown professionally?
I feel like I have a more solid grounding on why technology integration is important. As a museum program technologist, I am constantly challenged to justify why tech is important in education and I am often required to be an advocate for technology use, amongst sceptics or untrained personnel. Even something as simple as writing a vision statement, helped me to refine those points and come to terms with the idea that this work we do is truly important, if only for special needs students and the idea of giving students 21st century skills they will require in the future.
How your own teaching practice or thoughts about teaching have been impacted by what you have learned or accomplished in this course?
As mentioned earlier, this class has been very valuable for my work. Its provided context and research driven talking points for discussions about technology integration. Its impacted my outlook as a technologist and helped shift part of my focus to special needs students and ELL. Both groups tend to be neglected in various ways and I feel strongly that technology can even the playing field for them and enable them to participate in ways they might not have been able to before. I even feel like technology should be more integrated than I previously believed. Taking into consideration that 21st century skills are crucial for all modern students, the idea that incorporating more and more technology seems natural to me now. Students require every opportunity they can get to use the tools in productive ways and become more experienced technology users. I always had a hard time convincing educators to go paperless in their classroom. Now I feel strongly this is a good idea and fairly easy to achieve.
How theory guided development of the projects and assignments you created?
As mentioned earlier, the stigma about social media use in education has been debugged do to research and educational theory around this topic. I had discussed with other technologists that its a shame social media cannot be utilized in education when so many students engage with it outside of school. We had come to the conclusion there was simply nothing that could be done because social media is just too dangerous and inappropriate for students. I now see how wrong I was. Not only can social media be utilized in safe educational activities, it really is a unique and powerful tool for connecting students with information and experts outside of the classroom. I believe it is the role of the educational technologist to stay up to date with the latest theories and research so they can make informed decisions about technology integration. Of course, others I work with are not yet totally on board with the idea that social media can be used in an educational way but given time, I feel this will be an antiquated perspective.
Part Two: Assess Your Performance
I drew heavily on my work experiences for this course and my blog posts but I tried to make an effort to take the readings and content from each module as point of departure. For me it was interesting to learn the theories around tech integration and compare them to what I have personally experienced in the k-12 (museum program) environment. I think one of my biggest advantages, is that I am surrounded by many educators across many subjects and age groups. I work with classroom teachers, museum educators, teaching assistants, heads of departments and administrators across a variety of educational positions. I have learned a great deal from them and many of the experiences I discussed in the blog were influenced by their positions.
Although I take all the readings seriously and made an attempt to go above and beyond the expectations, I think I could have done better at citing the references I was drawing from. I would put this down to simply not being as organized as I should be in documenting where my ideas are coming from. My approach tends to be to read as much as possible and spend a couple of days letting the concepts sink in while looking for examples in my own work.
Due to time management issues with my work and other responsibilities I did not always meet my goal of posting early in the module. As mentioned earlier, I take my time contemplating the readings and I don’t rush to put my thoughts on paper. I tried my best to provide ample time for others to read and respond to my posts and I usually had at least two responses.
Response to other students 28/30
As usual, I found the social interactions in this course to be some of the most beneficial content. We all come from such diverse backgrounds, I really enjoy reading the other posts and chiming in. I thought this was a great requirement for the course and it definitely helps to make the course more social despite being online.
Thanks for reading!