6711 Course Reflection

                                  EDUC 6711 Final Course Reflection

  

     As this course began I was asked to state my personal theory of learning, and I have often refereed back to what I initially wrote as I gathered more knowledge about learning theories and instructional tools from various experts. I would have to say that I still believe all theories of learning are important and relevant, but I tend to favor constructionism and social constructionism as the being the most effective in terms of student achievement and understanding. However, after completing this course I am more knowledgeable on how these theories can be implemented into daily instruction, and what technology tools, programs, and activities support these theories. It is my goal that with deeper understanding of the educational theories and technologies that support them, I will be a better educator for the remainder of the time I stay in the profession.

    There were a couple of changes that I made to my daily instruction as a result of the knowledge I gained during this course. The first was the use of non-linguistic representations to deepen student understanding. I immediately began to look at the resources I used to instruct students on a daily basis, I began to remove most of the wording in these resources, and replace them with pictures. I also remembered that when “teaching similarities and differences, use graphic representations to help students (Laureate, 2011)”, so I used more thinking maps. I was also introduced to VoiceThread in this course, which I really enjoyed, and believe it can have a significant impact on student learning in my classroom. I will implement this technology in the upcoming school year. I really enjoyed the ease of use, and all of the different media that can be added to the software in order to create projects and collaborate with other students and adults. Other technologies such as wikis and blogs allow “students to collaborate on projects without the constraints of time and geography (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M., 2012, p.80)”, but I believe students will like this program more than the others. Designing activities using these programs also support my view on the importance of cooperative learning.

     One long-term goal I have set for myself is to incorporate more cooperative learning activities that incorporate 21st century technologies into my daily instruction. Currently, I do more than any other teacher on my grade level and content, but I do not think it is enough. The pressure of standardized testing does play a major role in the pacing of my lessons, which shrinks the amount of time allotted for these types of projects, but I am determined to find a balance between the two. Another long-term goal is to be a voice of 21st century technology implementation among my colleagues. Many of my fellow teachers see me as a leader, and there is no better way than to lead by example. I have already set up help sessions to those teachers that want to know more about blogs, wikis, and VoiceThread. It is my hope that they will attend these sessions, and return to their classes and use these technologies with their students as well.

    As I reflect on this course, I believe that I am a better teacher than I was seven weeks ago, and I have more weapons in my arsenal for instruction. I also know that the technologies and instructional strategies that I will employ in my class have be proven by research to work and increase student achievement. I enjoyed this course, and I am looking forward to gaining new knowledge in my future courses.

                                                               References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eleven: Instructional strategies, Part one [Video  webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction    

           that works (2nd  ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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VoiceThread & Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

Link to Voice Thread: Achievement Gap Among Students with Disabililties and ESOL

https://walden.voicethread.com/share/4656968/

   

                                 Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

In this week’s learning resources we explored the Social Learning Theory and Connectivism as they relate to acquiring knowledge. By premise, the Social Learning Theory is based on the belief that learning takes place by observing and modeling the interactions of people or things in his or her surroundings and environment. According to well-known psychologist Albert Bandura, “learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do (Bandura, 1977)”. While Connectivism is based around the idea that there is an abundance of knowledge and information that is readily available, and this knowledge has to be transferred onto some sort of network in order to be deciphered and understood. However, networks are rich and highly complex; therefore it may take a multitude of people to gather meaning and understanding.  Social learning has always been present in education, but with recent development in technologies, it has expanded the opportunities and capabilities of how this can take place in and out of the classroom. A few of these technologies include VoiceThread, wikis, blogs, and  video conferencing.

     VoiceThread allow students to upload images, text, audio, and video to a website that people can view, as well as share their thoughts. “VoiceThread is a powerful application because of its ease of use, and  its ability to extend across the curriculum (Laureate, 2011)”. I too, found VoiceThread to be very user friendly as compared to other similar technologies.

    Wikis and blogs are similar in that they allow for collaboration and discussion of different topics and issues beyond the classroom walls. Blogs allow students to share their insights, and receive feedback from a community of people. Students can agree or disagree on issues and topics, but the most important factor is that critical thinking is taking place in these debates. Wikis work in the same manner. However, they allow a larger group to collaborate on projects at the same time. Wikis are a way to gather, organize, and summarize an abundance of information in one place, which can also be viewed and commented on by others if desired.

    Another rather new technology to education is video conferencing. In the past, the cost of video conferencing was more than many school systems budget could spare. Recently however, “rapid advances in network infrastructure and bandwidth in our schools have made this approach more feasible than ever (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. 2012, p.80-81)”. Software such as Skype and FaceTime allows students to interact and collaborate over the Internet or phone, but also provides a visual. This is a very powerful tool in my own classroom because most of my middle school students need a visual in order to conceptualize ideas and concepts. As these technologies become cheaper and affordable, their use will only increase as tools for collaboration in education.

    

 

                                                          References:

Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. Retrieved from   

        http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/social-learning.html

 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011b). Program nine: Connectivism as a learning theory  

      [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

 

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that  

       works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.