Eleven weeks ago, the fall term started and I groaned at the thought that it would be December when it ended. It seemed so far away. But as the saying goes, don’t blink. ‘Cuz here we are and it’s time to assess our learning.
One of two main projects for this term asked us to examine our foundational beliefs about educational psychology and pedagogical theory. The assignment didn’t ask me to do much more than I’ve been asked to do before over the course of my 30 years in the profession. However, the exercise facilitated a few realizations about the evolution of my beliefs. First and foremost, my constructivist beliefs inflected by social cognitivism, pragmatism and metacognitivism hold up to and compliment teaching and learning with educational technology. I have found as well that they are reciprocally being informed and re-formed by the technology of the times, namely mobile, social, and networked technologies. In the course of writing my final paper, it became clear that I needed to find a way to incorporate aspects of the budding “learning theory for the 21st century”, connectivism. For even though I’m still not convinced that connectivism is a full-blown pedagogy (yet), as it is articulated now, elements of it are worth exploring as we develop curriculum and instruction and assess what constitutes powerful learning for the networked age. These are some surprises that will certainly influence my future studies as well as my practice.
thinking differently about school and educational technology in teaching and learning
While Dr. Leonard Waks’s ideas were not practical to implement in their entirety, his text, Education 2.o: The Learningweb Revolution and the Transformation of the School does have me thinking differently about school and the role of educational technology in teaching and learning. Even though the paradigm shift he is calling for will likely take a generation or more to accomplish — if it is ever realized in its entirety — many of Dr. Waks’s ideas are useful. First and foremost, he challenges readers to confront how thoroughly outmoded the industrial model of schooling actually is. Not only that, the histories he includes provide much-needed perspectives and insights into our current times. The evolution of schools to support the factory-based, industrial economy of the 19th & 20th centuries and the roles of diplomas and degrees as employment sifters and social allocators during those centuries all stand in stark contrast to the evolution of the internet, the complexities of schools and school systems, and the open, networked information and knowledge economy in which we now live. Even though the model of the open learning center as described in Education 2.0 is problematic in a number of ways, the text still begs the question: To what extent are we serving students by continuing an educational model that is yoked to a dead economic model and the social structures that developed from it? Indeed, as a result of reading Waks I clearly see just how misaligned our current school paradigm is with the needs of the modern world. It has made me very conscious of which school structures are impinging on or even making 21st century learning impossible to do.
Future ed tech topics and pedagogical techniques of interest
I would like to learn about a plenitude of topics in regard to educational technology and technology-based pedagogy. I look forward to accumulating more tools and processes for implementing technology-infused learning in the high school classroom. I very much would like to learn more about how to get “technology reluctant” teachers to incorporate more technology in their instruction, getting them to facilitate more student learning with technology. I would also like to acquire more techniques to support teachers who already use technology, getting them to SAMRize their student learning even more than they think they already do. I would greatly appreciate a course or workshop about developing powerful, engaging online learning using platforms such as D2L, Google Classroom, etc, both for high school students and for teacher professional learning. Finally, I would love a course or workshop in which we create digital badges to promote professional learning in the digital age.
All Good Things…
From the moment I saw the title of this course and the text that would provide its foundation, I was excited. Indeed, I have learned much. Significantly, I’ve experienced several unexpected learnings, which is what makes learning really exciting. Not only was the material of high quality, but so were my classmates. They have been a special group. Discussions on the boards were lively, supportive, and challenging which facilitated our learning both through and beyond the text. Each week I extended my understandings of what I read through application or discussion with my classmates and their shared perspectives. Certainly, this course has been more proof just how much students — no matter their age and experience — learn from each other — even beyond a text or curriculum.