Lessons in Using Technology (Final CEP 811 post)

Throughout taking CEP 811 from MSU (Adapting Innovative Technologies to Education), I have learned many techniques and become familiar with many technologies that I will be able to use and integrate into the classes I teach. I have also learned good strategies in using technology. For one, technology should not be used just to use technology. I have been guilty of this, and the lessons where I tried this didn’t tend to be all that exciting. There should be a novel reason for using technology. Once students figure out that the lesson isn’t something they could just do with their textbook, they tend to buy into the lesson a good bit more. It is also important to use the technology to help reach different learning styles (ie videos for visual / auditory learners, text examples, pictures) and break down barriers that students might have. If barriers are created by the technology, there is probably a better way to use the technology. There are many ways to use technology to help all students, and any lesson using technology should be designed from the beginning to be better than a lesson not using the technology. One good example would be putting a glossary of terms into an online lesson, where commonly unknown terms are highlighted with a link to the definition. Things like this allow students to learn more of what you want them to learn with less with problems in any given lesson (if they are appropriately addressed)!

As I look at this new paradigm for using technology in the classroom, I have found many uses for technology in my classes. I want to look for solutions for my classes that technology can fix. If I can fix it another way, I will keep those as options as well. When creating lessons I will be looking for ways that technology can present a benefit that could otherwise not be accomplished. For example, it is difficult to lecture in a class where students are in three different subjects, and most are in different places in those different subjects Any given lecture might only be appropriate for 1 or 2 students at a time. If I were to video tape some key lectures and post them online or on network space accessible to the students, and even possibly incorporate those lectures into an online lesson (using Moodle), I could replace “normal” book learning with an interactive lesson following my “lecture” presentation. It doesn’t matter when a student gets to that spot in the curriculum, I will have a video for them. If it is present online, there will be greater freedom for students to learn whenever they can!

As I look at my goals to find solutions that can be addressed by technology, I am also constantly adjusting my goals to find new ways to break down barriers that students are facing. An example of this would be balancing chemical equations. Many students have issues with this. If I can find new ways to break down that barrier for students, those same approaches could help those not struggling to master it even more. With interactive websites and lesson formats available, it would be silly to not have students try the interactive online lessons so that they will have an alternative to the paper and pencil methods of balancing equations. No matter what the issue is, technology has the ability to organize materials so that students can focus on the subject material being taught and less on figuring out exactly what is being asked. Any way that technology can help a student better understand something than the way that I am currently teaching, I want to use it.

I yearn for the ability to better help my students understand the material they need to cover in order to receive credit and gain applicable knowledge. Given the self guided nature of my school, this is not an easy task. I hope to continue learning about and creating technological solutions to address the problems to learning my students face. I want for each and every student that comes into my classroom to have the ability to get feedback, scaffolding, links to prior knowledge, relevance, and my knowledge at their fingertips. Technology can help me do that more efficiently. Technology can help me be there for my students more than if I were just alone in the classroom with no computers. When I can increase the amount of time that I help a student understand a concept, whether that is through direct help or a technological solution (online lessons, links, using Moodle, videotaped lectures, etc) , I am being a more successful educator. This is what I will be focusing on throughout my future in education.

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