As I look back over the things I have learned in my Walden University EDUC 6710 course, I can honestly say that this has been the most enjoyable course that I have taken so far. All of my classes have been beneficial in improving how I teach, but the knowledge and skills I learned in this course were the easiest to implement immediately, and were thoroughly enjoyed by my students. This course forced me to truly examine how I used technology in my classroom, and make adjustments that reflected the skills that my students will need to possess in the 21st century job market. This course taught me how to create and edit blogs and wiki pages. I also created my first podcast in this course. All of these activities will be used in my classroom moving forward.
This course has certainly allowed me to examine how technology can assist in the teaching and learning process. Students were always asked to think critically in my class. However, this course has shown me technology that can take my students to the next level. One of the most important insights I gained through this course was the use of collaboration to solve complex problems. Sometimes, it takes more than one person to identify a possible solution to a problem. In these instances, collaboration and communication, sometimes across a global audience, are key factors in reaching a solution. This is also a skill that my students will certainly need to be familiar with if they want to compete for high-paying jobs after graduation.
I had already begun to take a different approach to teaching due to my previous courses. I am moving away from the teacher-centered classroom approach, and moving towards a learner-centered approach. No longer am I the sole provider of information to my students. My job has shifted. I now ask students to find and vet their own sources of information. I am merely a facilitator of learning. My job is to lead my students in the right direction for the search of their answers, troubleshoot any problems they may be having, clarify any misinformation, and provide support for those students that may be having difficulty in completing the tasks. There are times when I do need to be the sole provider of information, or lecturer, but those instances have decreased dramatically during this school year.
Although this course has come to an end, I will not stop with my pursuit to become an expert at implementing technology in my classroom. Through my Walden courses, I will continue to learn about best practices, and skills that are needed for the 21st century learner. I am also participating in a program through my district called “Teachers as Leaders” that focuses on how to lead change in your school as a teacher. In this program we discuss how the brain functions, which allows me to get a better understanding of the way my students learn, and what activities I should do more of, or do away with. The program also talks about technology, and requires me to reflect on my teaching habits, vision, and mission as an educator. Lastly, I will continue to attend professional development opportunities offered by my district, as well as national conferences on technology use in the classroom. I am tentatively planning on attending a conference this summer in Seattle, Washington about teaching with technology, which is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I plan to be a life-long learner, and will try to instill this philosophy in my students as well.
After completing this course, there are a couple of I would like to accomplish in the not so distant future. My first goal is that I would like to implement the use of wikis and blogs as a requirement, in order to enhance student learning. I found that after using them in my class throughout this course, they are a great instructional tool. This will not be an easy goal to accomplish. In order to have teachers comply with this goal, those activities will have to written into the lesson plans. There is already a critical need for professional development on writing lesson plans at my school. Many teachers do not want to write them, and are not very good at writing them well when they do. Add the fact that many of my colleagues do not like using technology in the manner in which I do, and I am doubtful these activities will be written into the lessons unless I am involved in the process. Even after they are written into the lessons, I am sure that some teachers will still be hesitant to follow the lesson plans. It will take a lot of time and energy to reach this goal, but it is one that I am passionate about, and will hopefully see it reach fruition. The second goal I would like to accomplish is that each student has some type of electronic device in his or hands in my classroom at all times. Believe it or not, I think this goal is actually easier to reach than my goal of implementing blogs and wikis. Many of my students already have their own devices. Also, technology is becoming cheaper and more affordable; at least the technology I would need for classroom use. Another positive is that my principal has already budgeted money to purchase a large amount of tablets for the next school year. Hopefully, my classroom will be a pilot for implementing the use of these tablets. I am also prepared to write grants and participate in fundraisers if needed, to attain this technology for my students that do not have their own. It will not happen overnight, but I honestly believe that I will reach this goal by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
Looking back at my “Practices to Support 21st Century Skills” checklist, I would have to say many of my answers have changed. There are no longer any categories that I would say I rarely do. Most of the activities are happening sometimes are often in my classroom. Comparing the differences in my checklist, where I was when the course began, until now, is truly an accurate measure on the importance and significance of this course. I am truly thankful for the guidance and feedback from my professor. I am also thankful for the dialogue and collaboration of my group members and colleagues. Lastly, I am proud of what I accomplished in this course. It certainly has had a positive effect on my teaching, and my students’ learning.