Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reflections on Educational Technology

What is your personal definition of education technology?
My personal definition of education technology is that technology first, and foremost, a tool using in teaching the curriculum of the classroom. With that stated, I also believe that it is highly important to infuse technology into the learning process whenever and wherever it makes sense. Infusing technology into the curriculum will not only align with the way students learn, but will also provide the much needed 21st Century Skills students need to be ready for college and their future careers. Teaching technology tools just for the sake of learning the tool is preparing students for 21st Century Skills. Integrating the tools into lessons as a means for the learning process is the right path. I have been a driving force in my district advocating for technology as such a tool in the classrooms. I have organized Teacher Share websites for each of our district buildings where they can more easily share what works and possible uses. I feel that communication between teachers and time to explore are crucial to staying current with education technology.

How long have you been in educational technology? During this time, what are some changes in technology that you’ve experienced in your school/district?
As a high school English, speech, photography, and yearbook teacher at Pleasant Plains High School for 14 years, I have been an advocate of using technology tools in presenting lessons, in the learning process, and in the product created by students. Printed out word processed essays have evolved into collaborative Google Docs, blogs, emailed research essays, video essays using VoiceThread, etc. Speech class has progressed from presentations within the isolated walls of the classroom to global communication and involvement in flatclassroom projects such as the NetGenEd Project. Photography technology has grown out of the darkroom and into a fully digital photography class focusing not just on the photography skills and photo-editing skills, but also on an online digital portfolio that students can maintain to promote their art. Finally, yearbook class began with film cameras and UPS mailings of photos to the publishing company – a process that currently consists of digital photos as well as text placed in InDesign software and electronically submitted to the publishing company. Next year the process will transition to online software that students can access on any pc in which they have internet availability.

How has technology impacted your approach to teaching?
As a geek, I am continuously researching ways to improve not only my curriculum, but also fresh ways for students to acquire the knowledge and to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts. I have found that my methods have evolved each year as technology has improved. In the last couple of years, as technology has allowed, I have reached out to colleagues in other areas to create collaborative projects that our students could work on together, even challenging myself and my students to get involved in global projects. I encourage backchannel chatter in Google Chat and use Today’s Meet chat during class to open the classroom discussions to include everyone. I am available to my students through email, twitter, and telephone if they have any questions. When I first started teaching, I never thought about how learning can and does occur outside the classroom. I have been able to “be there” for student questions, comments, and demonstrations through technology that I would have missed otherwise.

How much has the process of teaching and learning changed over the last 100 years?
While teaching and learning have made significant changes over the last 100 years in terms of learning standards, reactions to globalization, etc., the major shifts in education are occurring during this century. Student learning has become an important part of the equation. Barbara Chorzempa identifies areas that new teachers need to address to make themselves proficient teachers (2011). These areas include developing a literacy base, creating a positive classroom learning environment, and preparing students for 21st Century Skills (Chorzempa 2011). These areas have become the hot topics of education. Teachers are encouraged to improve themselves not only through mandated continuing education requirements, but also through a culture created by our colleagues throughout the world to maintain literacy in both our areas of study and in technology. Nings like the Educator’s PLN and Classroom 2.0 are just two amazing ways that educators can stay connected and collaborate. Teachers have also tapped into Twitter, using hash tags such as #edchat and #edtech, among others, to collaborate. Personals Learning Networks no longer involve asking advice of the teacher in the room next door – teachers are now able to connect with their peers around the globe.

Chorzempa, B.. (2011). Don't Get Left Behind! Improve Your Experiences as a New Teacher. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47(2), 72-75. Retrieved June 9, 2011, from ProQuest Education Journals. (Document ID: 2219873841).

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