At the beginning of CEP 810: Teaching for Understanding with Technology, my first graduate course in matriculating through the Master’s in Educational Technology (MAET) program at Michigan State University, while I anticipated it would include a rigorous workload, I was pleasantly surprised by realizing how much I missed being a student. The course not only provided me with many new insights on how students learn, theories on technology and the importance of collaboration through personal and professional learning networks (PLNs) but, most importantly, it challenged me to re-think how technology should (and can) be integrated in education to provide the most positive learning experience for students.
Given the conventional nature of essay writing, I was slightly perplexed when I learned I’d be writing an expository essay during week one of a technology course. Yet, it was the perfect opportunity to evaluate the answer to a widely-discussed, critically important and foundational question; what is learning? Upon reading and analyzing “How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School,” (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000), I defined learning as a comprehensive process that encompasses the transfer of knowledge and skills, and translates into understanding and the ability to make real-world connections. Additionally, I recognized the importance of collaboration, goal-setting, reflection, autonomy and the utilization of digital productivity tools in supporting an optimal learning environment. If interested, the full essay can be read here.
While working on the initial assignment, my focus was through the lens of a teacher and the impact I could have on my students. Although, I’m intrigued by the parallels I’ve observed to my experience as a learner throughout this course. I’ve come to realize that to best prepare my students, I must consistently maintain a growth-mindset, devote myself to being a lifelong learner and be willing to take risks. CEP 810 provided the opportunity to explore a variety of digital tools (i.e., Google Keep, Evernote, Popplet, online help forums), most of which I deemed useful, yet it was through the experience of play, analyzing, and reflection that I was able to realize that just because something may be useful to me, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be seen as useful by my students. For example, I found David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) workflow system to be helpful in improving my ability to stay on top of the multitude of seemingly never-ending things on my to-do list, however it’s not for everyone. As I learned, although the learning process is unique for everyone, their core competencies as fundamental literacy practices must be strengthened by giving them the ability to make educated decisions for themselves (Hobbs, 2010).
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity that CEP 810 offered me to positively impact my digital footprint as an educator through blogging and by expanding my personal and professional learning networks, things I look forward to continuing. Furthermore, my networked learning project allowed me to explore online communities of puppy trainers, witnessing the power of curating digital information. I’m proud to say that I’ve continued training my puppy, Lucy, with the help of YouTube videos. Of course it’s not without great effort, but learning to evaluate credible information online is one of the most valuable skills I’ve enhanced and a main focus I’ve adopted for my own students.
A question I look forward to exploring the answer to is, how, in a finite amount of time, and given a subject matter dictated by curriculum and course timelines, in a classroom every day with a diverse set of students, do I ensure I’m leveraging technology appropriately and efficiently in a way that will resonate - in one way or another - with all of my students? In addition to being mindful of differentiated learning when it comes to the content itself, how do I also differentiate effective modes of technology and, further, how do I evaluate their effectiveness?
CEP 810 has provided me with a great deal of inspiration and motivation moving forward in my graduate studies. I look forward to beginning my next course, which focuses on further exploring TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge) (Koehler & Mishra, 2006), continuing to enhance my PLNs, and diving into the “maker culture.”
Thank you for coming along for the ride. I’ll be continuing to blog about my experience in the classroom moving forward, so stay tuned!
Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: brain, mind, experience and school (pp. 3-). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368.
Getting Things Done. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2017 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done
Hobbs, R. (2010). Digital and media literacy: A plan of action. Washington, DC: The Aspen Institute. Retrieved from http://blogs.uoregon.edu/artinsociety/files/2010/11/Digital_and_Media_Literacy_A_Plan_of_Action.pdf
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/journal_articles/mishra-koehler-tcr2006.pdf download .pdf