Technology-Enhanced Professional Goals

Think different.

Apple’s slogan speaks to the company’s spirit of challenging us to embrace, change, improve, and leave a mark on the world. Appropriately, the “think different” slogan represents a leader in technological innovation. My professional goal is to encourage, inspire, and educate teachers to harness the power of technology to “think different” when it comes to classroom instructional practices.

Classrooms today are run much the same way they’ve been run since the industrial revolution. While modern education best practices tell us to create student-centered environments that allow for differentiation, use of formative assessment data to modify instruction real-time, and provide specific and timely feedback, we still see teacher-centered classrooms following a one-size-fits-all model of instruction with feedback given at the end of a unit in the form of a report card grade. A barrier to implementation of best practices has always been time. There’s not enough time to provide lessons at varied levels to match student readiness. There’s not enough time to grade and provide feedback. There’s not enough time to find alternative resources; the textbook will have to do. Teachers like the idea of “think different” when it comes to instruction, but their reality often forces them to “think same”.

Fortunately, the digital world is evolving rapidly, and accessing digital tools and information is becoming easier than ever. Information is readily accessible from a tool most of us (including kids) have in our pockets. We don’t have to wait to get to a library or a classroom textbook to learn something new about our world. Furthermore, K-12 campuses are increasingly implementing BYOD (bring your own device) or 1:1 programs so that students are equipped with modern tools to accomplish modern tasks. Now is truly a time when we can “think different” in our classrooms.

By participating in the Educational Technology Masters program at Texas State University I hope to deepen my understanding of learning theory and how technology can facilitate effective instructional practices for both children and adult learners.  In my coursework so far I have been able to build upon my existing K-12 teaching experience and connect my new understanding with practical application in K-12 classrooms and in adult education settings. The EdTech Masters program is providing me with first-hand experience in technology-enhanced learning; this experience gives me a model of best practice to follow as I, in turn, will present learning experiences to inservice teachers in the future. The graduate program in Educational Technology allows me to learn from not only the expertise of my professors, but also from collaborative experiences with my peers who bring their own expertise from a wide landscape in the field of education. Finally, the EdTech program at Texas State allows me to explore the ways Educational Technology is implemented in fields outside of the K-12 education arena. This furthers my awareness of and readiness for professional opportunities that extend into the world of higher education, government training, or corporate learning.

In a time when “think different” is becoming more the rule than the exception, it is exciting to consider the ways teachers can embrace technology to make their classrooms more engaging, modern, and unique to the needs of all their learners. I look to my experience in the Educational Technology Masters Program at Texas State to shape my understanding and help me become a better guide to teachers as they discover new ways to grow professionally.

Currently Reading: Crafting Digital Writing

Troy Hicks offers teachers a guide to taking student writing from paper to screen and creating activities that engage students and inspire them to produce their best compositional work. In his first book, The Digital Writing Workshop, Hicks shows teachers simple steps for connecting the writer's workshop elements we know and love to digital tools that can streamline workshop activities and connect students to digital tools of their time. In Crafting Digital Writing, Hicks dives in a little deeper by focusing on how to guide students to examine the craft of web-text and multimedia compositions. Students are then poised to create their own compositions that not only satisfy the writing skills required by adopted standards, but, even better, motivate students to draft, revise, and publish high quality original works that can be presented to a genuine  global audience.

Currently Reading: Teaching Digital Natives

I am currently reading Marc Prensky's book Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning.  I read a chapter free from Prensky's website as part of a class assignment this semester, and I was so inspired by his idea of partnering with students to foster learning that I decided to purchase and read the whole book.

Some of Prensky's ideas that speak to me include connecting relevance and interest to classroom learning, and creating a learning partnership between students and teachers. Technology, he argues, is available to facilitate this kind of innovative classroom focus, and teachers do not need to be tech experts in the partnership.  Instead they need to be open to new ways of thinking, including sharing control of expertise and learning with students.

Update:  Read my thoughts on Teaching Digital Natives and classroom application here.