Integrating learning and technology (EDU625) has introduced me to several new applications for a variety of learning technologies. Although I was already familiar with each of the major technology categories, I was unfamiliar with specific applications and enjoyed investigating how many of them work, as well as struggling to determine how these tools can be used by students as well as teachers.
Of all the technologies I worked with over the past eight weeks, presentation was the form I enjoyed the most. This may be partly a result of my comfort and familiarity with it. Applications such as Powerpoint, Google Slides, Prezi and PowToon have been around for many years and I had experimented with them in the past. The presentation tool that I used in my project, Educreations, was new to me. Although there were some challenges to using this tool (such as having a device that allowed the use of a stylus for writing and talking at a reasonable pace, volume, etc) I concluded this would be a valuable way for students to share their learning in a nontraditional way (as opposed to a lab report or other written response). Another tool I found to be valuable, although I did not personally enjoy using it, was video with image and voice. I am very uncomfortable in front of any type of camera but concluded that this, too, along with presentation tools like Educreations, is a great way to get students to share what they know without the barriers posed to some students by written assignments.
The technologies I least enjoyed working with in the past eight weeks were “real-life data” and “virtual worlds”. Although I believe that each has its place in education, I did not feel virtual worlds currently has applications appropriate for secondary science education. In my experience, these worlds were merely a gimmick and did not enhance the learning of science content, processes, or skills. This is not to say that such tools do not exist or could not be developed. In addition, through my research on the topic, it appears that there are applications in other fields of study that do enhance learning and/or help students to connect with learning on an emotional level which can then engage them more deeply in learning. I am hopeful that I will be able to integrate this type of technology into my teaching in the future. Real-life data is another “technology” that I enjoyed using less than anticipated. Finding information that is relevant to secondary education chemistry was very difficult. In fact, I was not successful in locating anything that I would be able to use in the courses I teach. Like virtual worlds, this is not to say there is not valuable data, just that it may be more appropriate for other areas or levels of study.
As a result of this course, I have deepened my desire to put technology in the hands of students. I am thinking more about how students can use technology. Of course, I have to be familiar with the various forms of technology if I expect my students to use them, but I am thinking more about how they can use technology to enhance and/or communicate their learning. In a blog post at the beginning of the course, I wrote, “To me, learning is the integration of knowledge and experience that can be used for application in situations or scenarios DIFFERENT from the learning experience. Learning happens through the conscious effort to connect what is read, heard or observed with prior knowledge and experience. Learning happens when preconceived thoughts or ideas are influenced and possibly changed by new information”. As a result of this course, I am convinced that students can use technology to communicate this learning. I plan to model the use of technology on a more consistent basis and have students use technology to communicate their understanding. However, in all cases, I must remember to start with why students are learning particular content, processes or skills and evaluate the effectiveness of technology in each case.
Technology is bound to be a driving force in the evolution of education over the next ten years as it has been in the last ten. I hope that technology will make learning more customized, allowing students to learn at a pace appropriate to their current knowledge and skill level (as opposed to at their own pace which seems to suggest that they can go as slowly as they like, rather than what is appropriate). This will be possible as a result of improved feedback technology that will automatically customize (remediate or accelerate) learning. I also think that students will be required to use technology on a deeper level as technology skills are integrated into curriculum from an earlier age. It is entirely possible that coding will replace cursive (although in most places cursive has already been ousted) and students (and teachers) will be expected to have a much deeper understanding of the technology we all use. A more knowledgeable student body will consequently change how that technology is used. Finally, I think that mobile learning in various forms (social networking, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc) will allow for greater connections between life outside of school and classroom learning, allowing for more meaningful connections and increased transfer of learning.
Do you think current standards in your teaching area (Common Core, N.G.S.S., etc.) promote for the integration of technology by students? What is the most effective way for schools to insist on the integration of technology based educational communication by students? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
See my entire project by going to EDU625 under the “Portfolio” heading.