I have been an elementary school teacher in British Columbia for the past twelve years. I started delving into educational technology about five years ago and was absolutely amazed at how it changed the teaching and learning in my classroom. Even though I just experimented, without any proper guidance, student engagement and understanding improved. Joining MET in September of 2010 was a natural consequence of my actions since I realized that in order to implement education technology in a more effective and meaningful manner, I need proper guidance.
Journeying through MET, learning about ecologies and spiritualties of technology, the premise different learning theories and how to weave educational technologies within pedagogical sanctions, I have arrived at 565A to learn how to apply appropriate technologies in an elementary school setup.
The Pedagogy of Multiliteracies mentioned in the 1996 Manifesto of the New London Group clearly states the need of technology use to help learners adjust to the changing needs of the society – which have been propelled by globalization, technological evolutions, and increasing cultural and social diversity. The ISTE also lists technology use as an essential standard for students. Like all other educational goals, it is essential that the foundation of these goals be set in elementary education. With no definitive standards to guide my teaching I am hoping that this course could guide me to proper and meaningful application of technology at the elementary level.
My main aim has been to use technology to reach all learners. Tomlinson (2001) calls this differentiated instructions and explain it as a, “teaching theory based on the premise that instructional approaches should vary and be adapted in relation to individual and diverse students in classrooms”.Students in a class are at various levels of abilities and have varied learning styles. It would be very effective if technology could provide different pathways for learners to reach the same goal at their own level and ability. I would like to examine the scope of the Learning Management Systems (LMS), in providing these multiple pathways in a blended setup since younger students need more blended learning environment (Chickering and Gamson, 1996). I would also like to learn about different multimedia to present content, plan the learning process, and for students to express their learning with. Class forums on Vista have been a good platform for discussions with course mates about use and effectiveness of multimedia tool. Elementary schools also adopt cross curricular approach as it helps students learn through total immersion. I would like to learn about technologies with such affordances and ways in which such goals can be achieved.
The New London Group recommends situated practice, overt instructions, critical framing, and transformed practice as the main phases of learning. These phases are rooted in collaboration and co- construction of meaning by learners with teacher guidance. I would like to examine the suitability of social software like wiki’s and blogs in achieving this goal.
While I have attempted to explore and experiment with all my above goals, I have still to use technology for meaningful assessment. I really would like to examine various ways of creating, maintaining, and using e-portfolios. Formative assessment by teachers and self-assessment are essential tools for growth and I want to examine if e portfolios are a suitable medium that will not only enable students to review, reflect, self-assess but also encourage teacher student dialogue. (Chickering and Gamson, 1996) Though I will be experiencing this through my own e-portfolio in this course, I want to examine its relevance in an elementary situation.
Checking over my flight path, I realize that I need to explore a lot, learn a lot, and experiment a lot, to successfully implement my goal of differentiated instructions through technology.
Chickering, Arthur and Stephen C. Ehrmann (1996), “Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever,” AAHE Bulletin, October, pp. 3-6.
New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-92.
Tomlinson, C. A., (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms. (2nd Ed.) Alexandria, VA: ASCD.