As this course draws to a close, I have to say that I am amazed by how much I’ve learned about ways I can use technology in the classroom. Prior to this, I thought I was doing pretty well with technology. I’m a frequent user of the Promethean Board, I tried to incorporate YouTube videos and cartoons I found online to make class a little more interesting, and I had even experimented with digital storytelling a little. But now my eyes have been opened to all the ways I might employ technology as an educator.
First, I’ve thought a lot about how technology can help me as a professional. I can use blogs and tweets to get my name out into the professional community as an innovator and dedicated educator. I can also create and share Diigo lists that others might find helpful. These are all important ways to boost my online presence in a positive way. But to me, I am compelled to keep using these technologies for the information I can gather. No, I don’t plan to leech on to the system and just take, take, take from others who put themselves out there. But I am so invigorated to see just how many fantastic teaching ideas I can get from doing something as simple as scanning Twitter here and there. I think one reason many educators leave the profession after a few years is a feeling of isolation and an accompanying loss of enthusiasm. I can’t imagine that teaching will ever feel dull with such a constant influx of new ideas and inspiring stories.
I’ve also learned so many ways to not just “hook” students with technologies like Voicethreads and Screencasts, but to reach all different types of learners. We’ve talked a lot about differentiation over the past few years at my school, but we’ve all struggled with the “how” of it. How can we make it happen? How can we find the time? The resources? I’ve discovered through this class that the resources are out there. Yes, the tools do require a time investment, but once I’ve created a Diigo list of resources (video, print, visual) for one topic, I can use that list time and again with many classes. I can also continue to add to and modify the list to suit the audience or changing times.
I also love the vision of a different type of school that may be coming in the future. The more I hear about the idea of a “flipped” classroom, the more curious I become. What if students didn’t really attend a typical class? What if they just met in communal meeting areas to work on group projects, while teachers created digital content and held more informal study sessions with smaller groups of students? What if? They are thrilling ideas!
For my final assignment, I created the lesson plan that can be found here. This is my fledgling attempt to create a lesson that takes place more virtually than face-to-face, and my biggest challenge in writing it was trying to focus my ideas. I’ve been exposed to so many technologies that I’d like students to learn as well, but I had to scale back and realize that I couldn’t cram EVERY online tool into one lesson. As I result, in this lesson, students will collaborate on Wikispaces. They will watch an online tutorial that I created in Screencast through the wiki, and they will also use Diigo to make and annotate a list of resources. See? I just couldn’t limit my enthusiasm to only one technology!