Flight Path

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When I graduated with my Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta in 2001, there was only one computer requirement.  Each B. Ed student had to take a course that met the Alberta Education information communication technology (ICT) outcomes for Grade 6.  Essentially the most challenging components were making a webpage and mastering sum and total in an excel spreadsheet.  I managed to take an elective in my last semester called Math and technology, which I eagerly applied into the classroom.  Once I saw the potential for technology on student engagement, motivation and therefore learning, I was sold.  Many years of self teaching, followed by some amazing professional development opportunities allowed me to become Moodle and SMART Certified and participate in multiple opportunities to work and collaborate with wonderful educators across Alberta and now through social networking around the world.

My goals when I applied to the MET program was to get a more rounded perspective on educational technology.  I have been in the trenches for a decade.  I find myself leaning towards the latest fad or finding ways to keep the tried and testing running.  Now that I am making decision that have implications for a wider audience of educators I want to be able to back them up with sound educational research.    

Moodle, for me, has always been the glue that holds the assessment, social learning, digital storytelling, and document repository pieces together.  It becomes our classroom hub.  Because of my familiarity with Moodle I am planning to dig deeper into aspects that I have previously ignored and neglected. There are two in particular that need some attention.  First is my html coding, to be able to embed rather than link objects, and make the course more interactive rather than a endless list of resources and activities.   Second, would be the use of assessment pieces, in particular, the workshop, lesson and quizzes.  These assessment tools can convey the “Knowing what you know and don’t know focuses learning” (Chickering & Gamson, 1987, Gives Prompt Feedback, para.1) The workshop module has great potential because “… Here, assessment occurs as the learner progresses through the tasks in order to provide ongoing support to determine whether the learner has accomplished the goals.” (Halverson & Collins, 2009, p. 99)

Social learning is something I have spent the last two years exploring myself, through Twitter, RSS, social bookmarking and Facebook.  This year I am attempting to bring some of these social learning instruments into the classroom.  “Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of classes is the most important factor in student motivation and involvement” (Chickering & Gamson, 1987, Encourages Contact Between Students and Faculty, para. 1) Technology such as “electronic mail, computer conferencing and world wide web” (Chickering & Ehrmann, 1996, Good Practice Encourages Contacts between Students and Faculty, para. 5) now must also including Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Nings and other ways of social interaction.  I want to safely and effectively provide places for interaction where students already are, rather than build and hope they will come to me.

Digital Storytelling is something that I have dabbled with but never completely explored.  My students would tell you I will model different tools throughout the year like Windows Movie Maker, Audacity, Prezi, and PhotoPeach and allow them to pick the tool that best suits the task.  (With the disclaimer that it probably should not be PowerPoint)  Digital Story telling is not  “sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and spitting out answers (Chickering & Gamson, 1987, Encourages Active Learning, para. 1) but active learning, application and synthesis of information which hopefully leads to increase motivation and personalized learning experience.  One thing that I want to continually be aware of is access.  While tools like Adobe Photoshop are amazing they are out of reach for many students.  I would like spend time exploring tools not in my repertoire, most notable Google Earth.  I also want to effectively incorporate digital citizenship skills into storytelling by finding an effective process for citation of resources and use of creative commons material.

Resources that I require for this MET course are HTML coding refresher, theoretical and research regarding educational technology and time.  The HTML refresher started with the simple assessment in our Web CT and will continue with some research on my own.  I need to continue to make myself more familiar with the Edu Cause website, readings that are required and recommended and others that have been recommended in our discussion boards.  Finally this course requires time.  A number of the items in my flight plan have been on my to do list for months and years.  Now I have the time set aside and the motivation to get it done.

Chickering, A.W. and Gamson, Z.F. (1987).  Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.  American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 39 (7), p. 3-7.

Chickering, A.W. and Ehrmann, S.C. (1996).  “Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever,” American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 49(2), p. 3-6.

Halverson, R., & Collins, A. (2009). Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology. New York: Teachers College Press.

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