December 2014

Reflections on what I learned in 2014


As the year is coming to an end I ask myself what did I learn this year? While I can name many things, I decided to limit myself to 10 things related to the use of technology in education (not limited to STEM). Here is a short list of my personal discoveries of 2014 (in random order):

1. PeerWise – I implemented PeerWise in my Physics Methods courses differently this year and it was a big success. The only difference I made from last time is to enforce the iterative process of question design and collaboration. This made a big difference in learning to design good question and in learning how to provide useful feedback and learn from it.

2. Duolingo – I have been learning German for the past 288 days. I used Duolingo and I think I made significant progress. Learning with Duolingo is very different from traditional learning and from my personal experience it suits me much more. I keep thinking how this kind of learning is different from a traditional language learning experience. I think it is a very wise use of technology. Interestingly, I found the community of language learners to be very helpful and supportive of everybody.

3. GeoGebra – I attended a very interesting conference in Toronto and learned more about this software. The main thing that I learned is the power of DYNAMIC geometry. This is definitely an opportunity that has not been available before.

4. Power of Online Learning Teaching Online – Stories from Within (learning to teach online): While writing a chapter for a new book on online learning, I had an opportunity to reflect on why I enjoyed teaching online so much. One of the biggest reasons for me was the community of people who choose to learn online. In my case, it was an Masters of Educational Technology Program at UBC and I taught mathematics and science educators about using technology in teaching these subjects. I have to admit that it was a mutual learning experience. I love teaching this online course as I feel I learn a lot, I get to meet passionate educators from all over the world and I learn to use technology in new and creative ways.

5. Challenges and Possibilities of Flipped Classroom teaching approach. I also came to realize that while technology offers a lot of possibilities, it also brings with it a lot of responsibilities – the students are often overwhelmed by the amount of information available and as it becomes easier and easier to upload things online it does not mean we should. I realize that Flipped Classroom might be a great idea but I also understand that it brings a lot of challenges with it. We have to remember that because something is available to the students, it does not mean they will learn it.

6. My SMART Board experience: One of my goals this year was to learn more about the use of SMART boards in mathematics and science education. While we have lots of SMART boards in our Faculty they are very much underused. I am still asking myself a SMART board is a pedagogically sound investment. At least when the professional development component is missing, it seems to me that is is not.  I feel more comfortable using it now thanks to my graduate student who has been exploring its use. However, will I choose it as a tool for my own classroom as opposed to a tablet computer? I am not sure yet. I wonder how many technological tools have been brought to the classrooms without providing adequate professional development for teachers?

7-10: To be continued…

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