As my first class that deals with the integration of technology into the classroom draws to a close, I feel that I am better prepared to transform my classroom into a truly, 21st century workspace. Prior to this course, although I have always been interested in technology and have had a desire to use it more in my daily lessons, I was unsure of the best ways to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies into the classroom without the lessons devolving into hundreds of students updating their Facebook status. However, after completing this course, I now have a plethora of techniques within my “teacher toolbox” to incorporate tools such as blogs, wikis, web content, computer programs, etc, into lessons that will help my students better understand and use this technology as well as become better readers and writers. This course has taught me how to use blogs and wikis effectively in the classroom environment and has motivated me to design an entire unit around the construction of these items while we read some of Shakespeare’s plays.
My knowledge of teaching and how students learn has been deepened through the completion of this course. From the video segments featuring Dr. Dede and Dr. Thornburg describing the multiple ways students can learn using technological advances, to the scholarly articles and studies that provide concrete data to support the inclusion of new technologies, my understanding of how the technologies help students learn has drastically increased. Also, this course has required that I, as a professional educator, introspectively analyze my own teaching style as well as analyze the learning styles of all of my students which have allowed me to better highlight my own weaknesses and discover some hidden strengths within my students.
The largest change that I have seen in my own teaching style since beginning this course is my shift to student/learner-centered teaching, rather than teacher-centered teaching. Being a young teacher, it has been difficult for me to loosen the reigns of my classroom and allow my students to explore and learn, with limited guidance from me, as the educator. However, this class has shown me that, through technology, student-centered learning can captivate, motivate and ensure the success of a wide-array of students with multiple, diverse learning styles. Each day when I sit to plan the following week’s lessons, I now begin with the mantra, make the students work harder than the teacher. Through the use of technology, my students are working diligently and genuinely buy-in to the concepts that we study.
Although I feel that this class has helped me develop as an educator exponentially, I am a firm believer in life-long learning. With that in mind, in order to promote continual success amongst my students, I will carry on with my Masters course with the end goal of having a degree in the integration of technology in the classroom. After I have completed this degree, I will further my studies by working within my county-provided professional development system to ensure that I remain up-to-date on burgeoning technologies, as well as how these technologies can be used to bring our education system into the 21st century.
Finally, in order to ensure that I am constantly improving my teaching skills and incorporating technologies into my classroom, as well as the classrooms of my peers, my two long-term goals will be to promote and hopefully implement 1-to-1 computing within my school and incorporate blogs and wikis into multiple classes across diverse curriculums. Although I, and many of my colleagues feel that 1-to-1 computing is the correct direction to take the school to ensure our students have the 21st century skill set necessary for success in today’s workplace, I know that institutional pullback will be fierce and that it will be a battle. In order to persuade my coworkers, administration and county that 1-to-1 computing is a necessity in classrooms I will continue to have an open dialogue and attend meetings with decision-makers. Also, I will begin working on a federal grant that would allow the purchase of one classroom set of laptops in order to begin compiling data on students with computer access at school and those without. Also, in order to convince the county of the importance of Web 2.0 interfaces, I will begin to incorporate them within my classes, but keep them private ( only accessible by students in the class). Then, with positive data showing how students react to being able to write with a true audience and other positive results that have been discussed during this class, hopefully I will be able to convince my school and county to allow me the opportunity to have an open blog/electronic classroom space for my student’s future writing projects.
On a final note, it has been great working with such a diverse group of learners in this class. I am grateful for the wonderful discussions that took place and all the development I have had as a professional educator.