I cannot believe that I’ve reached the end of my first course in the MAET program! The 7 weeks have flown by! Although the course is ending, I’m glad that I still have several weeks of summer break left, because that means I have time to continue to reflect on what I’ve learned in the course and make changes for next year based on what I’ve learned.
What I’ve Learned about Teaching for Understanding with Technologies
What I’ve appreciated most about this class is that we were asked to focus on teaching and learning along with the technology. I’d heard about TPACK before I signed up for the MAET program (and it is part of why I chose to enroll in the program!), and through my experiences reading, researching, and creating in this class, I feel like I’m really starting to understand why it’s so important. As a teacher, I need to be familiar enough with technology, the content that I’m teaching, and best practices in pedagogy that I can thoughtfully choose learning opportunities for my students and can repurpose technology tools, when appropriate, to support their learning. A desire to incorporate technology should not take precedence over using good pedagogy in my teaching. When used carelessly, technology can interfere with my students’ ability to learn and understand the content. Through this course, each week I’ve had a chance to experience first-hand as a student how technology can be used effectively at different points within learning cycles (Learn, Explore, Create, Share) to help me learn. I’m excited to take those principles back to my school next fall and incorporate them into my professional practices.
How My Professional Practice Will Change
In this course, I’ve been challenged to use a variety of technology tools such as:
- YouTube to learn new things.
- Evernote to organize my life.
- Camtasia software to create videos that document my learning.
- Jamendo and Advanced Google Image searches to add Creative Commons music and images to my course content without violating copyright laws
- Google Drive (Sheets & Docs) to create products, submit my work, and receive feedback.
- WordPress blogs and Twitter to share what I’m learning with a wider audience.
By being required to use them as a student, I’ve come to a much deeper understanding of these tools. I know that I will continue using some of them for myself, and I hope to repurpose some of them to use with my students next school year.
For my personal use, I will definitely continue to use Twitter to learn from my PLN. During this course, I’ve created lists of educators I follow on Twitter, and I read my list of favorites daily using a HootSuite account. When I find resources there that I want to refer to later, I send them to the appropriate notebook in Evernote (I currently have notebooks for EdTech, Chemistry, and Teaching Practices). I also want to continue to share what I’m learning by tweeting and writing blog posts, so that I’m contributing to the community of educators. And just this week, I was introduced to Jamendo, which has TONS of free, creative-commons music that I can use in the videos I create
With my students, I want to require them to CREATE more. Through this class, I realized how easy it is to create videos. I’d previously created screencasts, but I’d never recorded myself on a video, edited clips together using Camtasia, added music, and uploaded the final videos to YouTube. My students don’t have access to Camtasia through the school, but there are a lot of other tech tools that allow them to create and share videos (such as Screencastify, Animoto, Voicethread). Consistent with what I learned from Bransford, Brown & Cocking’s book How People Learn (2000) and the TPACK theory, I think requiring my students to make video products that demonstrate their learning would be a powerful way to leverage technology. I will do this in a big way in the Nuclear Chemistry project I developed, but I also can do this in small ways throughout the year by having students record themselves explaining how to solve a problem.
Questions that Remain
I know that I don’t have it all figure out yet, and that I have a lot of room to grow in how I use technology. For example, for the past 3 years I’ve been “flipping” my honors chemistry classes, but I’m growing to be a little dissatisfied as I think about it in light of TPACK. The class is still pretty traditional, in that students are introduced to a concept by watching the videos at home, practice in class through activities and worksheets, and then demonstrate their learning by taking a traditional paper-and-pencil assessment. Sometimes a lecture is good pedagogy, but there’s a lot of times where it’s not, so I want to continue to think creatively about what I can do to teach through inquiry rather than lecture. I also think I could be using technology more powerfully for assessment purposes in that class, rather than relying only on traditional tests. And there’s a lot of opportunity within a flipped classroom to help my students develop metacognitive skills by analyzing instructional videos or sites, reflecting on their own learning progress, and creating artifacts that demonstrate their understanding.
I’m looking forward to learning & thinking more about these over the summer and in future MAET clases!