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From Here to There: Module 1 Reflection

Which hat is my favourite?

Because I have taught for more than twenty years now, I have witnessed many philosophical and/or educational changes; some of which have been driven by advancements in educational technology. In my first school, we had a typing lab; the year was 1990. Soon thereafter (around 1993) that typewriter lab gave way to a desktop computer lab. Today, our modern facility provides Wi-Fi access throughout the campus and fosters a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy. Soon our students will no longer need a computer lab. Thanks to smartphones, tablets, and Chromebooks, users are mobile. Any space can become a lab or learning commons. Learners can learn while on the move; therefore, learning is no longer isolated, or hidden behind closed doors.

Learning spaces and new handheld devices aren’t the only changes I have witnessed. Teaching has changed too. When I started, the classroom was teacher-centred; students collaborated—sometimes—most of the time though, they worked on their own. Technology tools were used to type or word process papers. Media was added to the mix and became a teaching tool, and I suppose, a learning tool as well. Eventually SMARTboards and projectors encourage a more interactive approach to teaching and learning. Classrooms became more student-centred and collaborative, if not inquiry based. Now learning is expected to mirror the real world. Learners must embrace change, or be the change.

My role has changed too. With each role, comes a new hat. I started out as a high school English-Language Arts teacher. Nowadays I do more than teach ELA. I am a teacher, a technology coach, a curriculum designer, a technology integrationist, and an information and digital literacy specialist.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I like wearing different hats. Like the learners I work with, I too must embrace change, or be the change.

From Early Adopter to Change Agent?

Because I am an early adopter of technology, I have always embraced change or at the very least, been open to change. With that said, what I hope to gain from our class, EdTech 504, is the answer to this question: how do I become a true change agent?

Like Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta (n.d.), I know “technology-based learning promotes active learning and ownership of the learning experience.” I have witnessed this in the classroom. I also agree that successful learning requires: 1) human interaction, 2) opportunities for active engagement, 3) relevant and timely content, and 4) feedback and support. (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta, n.d.) Do I think that successful learning takes place each and every class? No, I do not. This kind of learning doesn’t happen as often as it should. There are government standardized tests, like PATs (grade 9) and Diploma exams (grade 12); there are some not so relevant curriculum outcomes, and other hoops to jump through too. Do I think the bar is set too high? No, I do not. Sometimes we simply have to work within the parameters given to us; does that mean I have to settle, or that you have to settle? Of course not. Set the bar; go for it. However, at times I am not sure how to reach that bar. Exploration, experimentation, immersion definitely help. Both teachers and learners should be “free to fail.” (Petraglia, 1998) There is nothing wrong with failure, despite popular beliefs. With that said though, I certainly want to do more good than harm! I want to provide my students with authentic learning experiences. However, I have to be honest—I am not always sure what authentic learning is. The “Shift Happens” (2008) video states that we are “preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet.” I don’t know about you, but I find that whole idea daunting. I want to be a change agent, but I am not always sure how to bring about the right kind of change. By the end of this course, I hope I can answer the question posed here.

I also hope to write my own definition of Educational Technology someday. After reading quite a few definitions I have narrowed my search down to two possible definitions:

“Educational Technology is a combination of the processes and tools involved in addressing educational needs and problems with an emphasis on applying the most current digital and information tools.” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p. 6)

I like that they have considered both educational needs and problems in their definition. I am curious as to what is meant by problems. Obviously this definition requires more exploration.

According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), “Educational Technology is the full range of digital hardware and software used to support teaching and learning across the curriculum.” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p. 5)

I also like the ISTE definition because they consider both teaching and learning across the curriculum. Quite a few definitions only consider one or the other, not both.

Even though these definitions are strong, I still feel like something is lacking. I cannot put my finger on it yet, but I hope to find a suitable definition by the end of the course.

From Here to There

Blended learning, which is a training approach that combines a mix of on-line and face-to-face training delivery for improved engagement and better retention (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta, n.d.), is something that we are expected to embrace this year.  For me, it is another opportunity to wear a new hat. Yet, I wonder how this hat will fit. Will I be able to move from here to there? Will I be able to help others move from here to there? Again I come back to my question: How do I become a true change agent?

While wearing my many hats, I am expected to lead others in the right direction. Keeping to my mantra of wanting to do more good than harm, I wonder if I can reach that bar and help others to reach that bar too—while also providing authentic learning experiences for our students.

I know Jonassen (as cited in Petraglia, 1998) is right; I have to “adjust the strategies, models and tactics necessary to attune the nature of the task to the perspective of the student.” This adjustment seems daunting too. I hope I am up to this challenge as well.

I must move myself, and others, from here to there.

References

Fisch, K., & McLeod, S. (2008, December 28). Shift happens [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emx92kBKads

Koller, V., Harvey, S., & Magnotta, M. (n.d.). Technology based learning strategies. Social Policy Research Associates Inc. Retrieved from http://www.doleta.gov/reports/papers/tbl_paper_final.pdf.

Petraglia, J. (1998). The real world on a short leash: The (mis) application of constructivism to the design of educational technology. Educational Technology Research and Development46(3), 53-65.

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (6th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

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