Teaching for Understanding with Technology: Final Learning Reflection

As CEP 810 comes to an end, I reflect on the past seven weeks. With that being said, my three biggest takeaways from this course are:

  1. Teaching with technology is NOT just replacing old technologies with fancy new ones.
  2. 21st century learning is teaching the why and how rather than the who and what.
  3. Technology, pedagogy and content knowledge must all be intertwined to create a cohesive learning environment.

As an educator, I am always attending district professional developments that show engaging and flashy ways to teach the same thing. For example, instead of taking a quiz with pencil and paper, you can create the quiz using Google Forms; but does this cater to 21st century learning? Is this any more meaningful for the students? In Connected Learning (2013), Mizuko Ito, et al., suggests that, “[Connected learning] advocates for broadened access to learning that is socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity.” This is where technologies (of any kind) become an asset to learning; educational technologies should enable students to learn, explore, create and share their purposeful findings. As I continue to create lessons in my own classroom, I will examine if the technologies I am using are just replacing old technologies or are they enhancing and making learning meaningful.

Growing up, many of us didn’t have access to information at our fingertips whenever there was a want or need for it; therefore, learning was centered around memorizing the who and what of information. With access to unlimited knowledge in the 21st century, there is no longer a demand to do this.  In William Richardson’s article, Why School? (2012), he emphasizes that, “Critical thinking skills around information have never been more important.” I need to assure that my students understand and can skillfully conceptualize the vast amount of information that they have access to rather than focusing on specific knowledge about a topic.

Technology, pedagogy and content knowledge (TPACK) are concepts that many times are learned and practiced individually or in pairs. Dr. Matthew Koehler and Dr. Punya Mishra’s (2006) suggest that they cannot be their own entities; they must be integrated to form one cohesive learning environment. The TPACK framework will guide me in making sure that lesson plans are well thought out to meet the needs of ALL students (i.e. understanding student background knowledge and misconceptions, how they learn best, etc.) using technologies that can assist in meaningful, student-centered learning.

With this vast amount of learning attained in these past months, there are still questions that remain, as well as new questions that have arose. With an education system and politicians that still cater to 20th century learning, how do we, as educators, get around standardized testing and scripted curriculum that do not support the new learning model? Also, many technologies that we speak of in the 21st century to access information are computerized and rely on electricity and satellites that could potentially malfunction; should we solely be relying on these tools for information?

Without a doubt, I can say that I truly enjoyed each and every part of this class and have a greater depth of teaching for understanding with technology. For this, I want to thank my professor Mary Wever and fellow classmates who were truly a joy to learn with. I am excited to see where this journey takes me next!

References

Ito, Mizuko, Kris Gutiérrez, Sonia Livingstone, Bill Penuel, Jean Rhodes, Katie Salen, Juliet Schor, Julian Sefton-Green, S. Craig Watkins. 2013. Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/journal_articles/mishra-koehler-tcr2006.pdfdownload .pdf

Richardson, W. (2012, September 14). Why School? TED ebook author rethinks education when information is everywhere. Retrieved January 28, 2018, from https://blog.ted.com/why-school-ted-ebook-author-rethinks-education-when-information-s-everywhere/

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