In what ways has this course helped you to develop your own technology skills as a professional teacher?
What a whirlwind course this has been! The students in Walden University’s class entitled Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society have learned about blogs, RSS feeds, wikis, Skype, and podcasting (Richardson, 2006). I was one of the lucky ones because I had the good fortune to learn about these tools a couple of years ago from a wonderful educator, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. However, as I explored these tools through the eyes of an AMSTI math specialist instead of a classroom teacher, I have learned about new possibilities for these tools, and my excitement has been rekindled.
I began blogging several years ago, but I became busy with other things (like graduate work) and neglected my blog. Blogging would be a wonderful way for me to communicate with the teachers I serve through AMSTI. I want to post lesson ideas, grant opportunities, math websites, and real-life math applications. The teachers I serve are a ready-made audience for my blog. I already send them frequent emails containing these items, but a blog would be a better place to store this information for easy retrieval. I would also like to use my blog as a forum for conversations about best practices in teaching math. Throughout a typical week, I hold many great conversations with individuals. My blog could be a meeting place for teachers in different schools to share ideas and learn from each other.
I have also maintained several wikis, and I have not neglected them like I have my blogs. I will continue to post lesson ideas to my 7th grade math wiki, and I want to add more resources to the 6th and 8th grade wikis. The real power in wikis lies in collaboration (Tapscott & Williams, 2007), and I need to find others willing to collaborate with me in this effort.
Before this class, I had never created a podcast. It was much easier than I thought it would be. I spend quite a lot of time driving between schools. It might be very easy for me to record my thoughts as I am driving and then turn the recording into a podcast. The challenge would be finding something worthwhile to say!
In what ways have you deepened your knowledge of the teaching and learning process?
Since minoring in computer science in college, I have felt that technology has the power to engage students. I also knew that technology was able to illustrate concepts clearly for students from my experiences with The Geometer’s Sketchpad software and graphing calculators. This course has given me research to back up my intuition and experience. I am now conscious of the difference between “automating technology” and “innovating technology.” (Laureate, 2008b). Both have their place in the classroom, but I am now looking for innovative ways to use technology to change pedagogy. The main purpose of the Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative is to “improve math and science education in Alabama so all students develop the skills necessary for success in post secondary studies and the work force” (2009). This requires a change in teacher pedagogy, and my job is to support that change. I can share how Darren Kuropatwa’s (2009) students are blogging about their learning. I can show teachers that RSS feeds can connect them to free online professional development. I can share information from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (n.d.) about what their students need to know before entering the workforce. I can model lessons in which students use the critical skills of decision making and communication (Laureate, 2008a)
In what ways have you changed your perspective from being teacher-centered to learner-centered?
I have long been a believer that classrooms should be learner-centered. Students learn more when they are interested in what they are learning. Teachers must rise above the notion that it is simply enough to cover the content. We must focus on whether or not students actually learn what we are trying to teach. Technology makes it easier for teachers to individualize instruction for different learning styles, intelligences, and ability levels. However, this approach requires the teacher to be student-centered as opposed to teacher-centered (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008).
In what ways can you continue to expand your knowledge of learning, teaching, and leading with technology with the aim of increasing student achievement?
The best way to learn about something is to do it! I am very interested in exploring the best practices of technology. I want to connect math content to specific teaching strategies that are most effective for that particular content objective. As I observe teachers and study their test data, I will look for successful teaching practices that I can share with other teachers. When something works in one school, it is very likely to work in another one.
Because of the economy, our travel budget is limited. I cannot attend out-of-state technology conferences like NECC, but I can take advantage of online opportunities like the K12 Online Conference. I should be brave and submit a presentation for this fall! I can also learn a lot about using technology in the classroom from reading educational blogs and joining in the conversations taking place among colleagues from around the world.
Set two long-tem goals (within two years) for transforming your classroom environment by which you may have to overcome institutional or systemic obstacles in order to achieve them. How do you plan to accomplish these goals?
I don’t have my own classroom, but I work in many classrooms. One obstacle I continue to face is strict filtering policies in school districts. I have two school districts that return nearly every email I send to them as SPAM. I need to develop relationships with the decision makers in these districts to get them to allow emails from me. They will never be allowed to unleash the power of Web 2.0 if they cannot even receive emails.
I have a goal of boosting the technology in the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative so that it is given as much attention as math and science. Technology has always been the weakest component in our initiative because of the expense involved in bringing technology to classrooms. However, in my area, all teachers have Internet access and at least one computer in their room. Most also have access to a computer lab. Some of my schools have state-of-the-art classrooms that include interactive whiteboards, LCD projectors, sound systems, and wireless tablets. Many of this equipment is not being used to its full potential because teachers don't know how to use it and/or they do not have the time to explore and plan lessons using it. I can model appropriate technology use for them, provide lesson ideas, and share the innovative practices I see as I travel across my area.
We hold Summer Institute at eleven or more sites every summer. The curriculum training is the same in each location. I would like to link the trainers and participants through a wiki so that teachers can access a wealth of resources created by other teachers in the state and organized by grade level. I have already created the wiki and trained other specialists' on Web 2.0 tools. I must continue to remind them that it is available and encourage everyone to share their resources. The time may be right to excite other specialists about the powerful and FREE tools available through the Internet!
Refer to your checklist from Week 1. Have any of your answers changed after completing this course?
I marked “Often” on all but four of these at the beginning of the course. The four that I marked as “Sometimes” are difficult (or impossible) for me to do because I do not have my own classroom. This course strengthened my belief that it is necessary to embed 21st Century Skills (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, n.d.) into today's classroom.
Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative. (2009). Retrieved April 25, 2009, from http://www.amsti.org
Keengwe, J., Onchwari, G., & Wachira, P. (2008). The use of computer tools to support meaningful learning. AACE Journal, 16(1), 77-92. Retrieved April 14, 2009 from Education Research Complete database: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/ehost/pdf?vid=3&hid=106&sid=546f8efb-c047-4286-8ff1-83f282c03ac9%40sessionmgr109
Kuropatwa, D. (2009, April 13). A Difference. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from http://adifference.blogspot.com/
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2008). The changing work environment: part 1. [Motion picture]. In Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore: Author.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2008). Evolution of technology and pedagogy. [Motion picture]. In Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore: Author.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/images/stories/otherdocs/p21up_Report.pdf
Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. (2007, March 26). The Wiki workplace. Businessweek.com. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/mar2007/id20070326_237620.htm?chan=search