Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reflecting on Technology in Instruction

From day one of this course, my personal theory of learning has revolved around the idea of incorporating a combination of various instructional strategies and learning theories in order to accommodate all students. I do not see that theory changing in the near future. The importance of differentiated instruction in the classroom becomes evident as teachers are challenged with multiple learning styles daily.
There are specific portions of my learning theory that I have modified as a result of learning in this course. One involves appropriate reaction as a result of actions by the students. Developing an understanding of the student as an individual has helped in many of these instances.  Many of my students come from a difficult home life and having to endure an adult yelling at them for something they have done wrong is not out of the ordinary in many circumstances.  Students will become defensive in this situation and many times argumentative.  I have focused on maintaining a calm position when dealing with students that do not always follow the rules or expectations of the classroom. When a student excels in the classroom, I make a point to give them specific praise in regards to their job well done. Another area that I have been faced with is giving students the opportunity to make their own personal connections to learning. I attempted to have students create pneumonic devices to help them remember more difficult concepts.  I was irritated when they just wanted to use the one that I had created rather than their own.  I felt this was a sign of laziness in the classroom.  I have since taken the position that as long as they are using something to help connect their learning, whether personal or borrowed, they are using techniques that will help them retain information more effectively.
This course has allowed me to deepen my knowledge in relation to learning theories and educational technologies. Educational technology is the use of resources or processes that facilitate learning (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008). The key to technology use is determining how it can help accomplish our educational goals (Weiss, 2000). The use of technology can incorporate multiple intelligences in one well developed lesson. Visual learning strategies are enhanced with the use of technology, assisting students to make sense of complex information (O'Bannon, Puckett, & Rakes, 2006).
One important thing that I take away from this class is the difference between using technology for instruction compared to using it for learning (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). As educators, we must determine how we can use different tools to benefit the student. An immediate adjustment I can make in my classroom is how I present my lecture notes.  Creating a PowerPoint with strictly images and then talking about those images will add a new experience to the boring method of lecture. I am also going to incorporate more interactive experiences for my students that allow them to use the SmartBoard the way it was intended. This will create a more student centered classroom.
            Throughout this course I have implemented new technology tools in my classroom.  We have created wikis, PowerPoints, concept maps, and experienced virtual environments.  I would like to go a step further and use a movie maker and publisher program for projects that I have planned in class.  Students in my freshmen transition class research individuals that have been affected by hate crimes.  I am going to have them create a short movie that displays the trials and tribulations that their person has faced in life.  Another tool that I will use with the same students is a publisher program that will enable them to create brochures for a multicultural awareness campaign that they will be creating.  I would also like to see them create their own commercials for their campaign.  These experiences will enable them to create artifacts that can be viewed by their classmates. This will also support skills that they may need later in life, whether it is empathy for people of diversity or tools for the workplace.
            One of my long term goals regarding technology integration is focused on making sure that my classroom is student centered.  Although I do not feel that I can completely go away from a lecture style, I am going to work on more images and less text. I would like to implement more project based learning that will allow students to be more engaged in their learning. This will also give them the opportunity to create their own meaning of the content being discussed. Another goal I have is to not get caught up in the fascination of technology.  When using new tools, I have to be sure that I am still focused on the content being taught. Creating a lesson that incorporates technology is beneficial to students when it assists them in understanding their learning experience.  According to Kevin Jarrett, the topic is the key and not the tool that is being used (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  There is a wide variety of tools that can be used in the classroom, but the choice should be made with an objective in mind.  As educators, it is imperative that we become facilitators in the classroom and engage our students in their learning.  They are building connections and personal experiences that will expand their level of knowledge for the future.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program thirteen. Technology: Instructional tool vs. learning tool [Webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.).
Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
O'Bannon, B., Puckett, K., & Rakes, G. (2006). Using technology to support visual learning strategies. Computers in the Schools, 23(1/2), 125–137.
Weiss, R. (2000). Howard Gardner talks about technology. Training & Development, 54(9), 52.