My second Master’s class, “Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society”, has been a challenging, yet fun class.  I am surprised at how much I have learned in only 7 weeks about teaching 21st century skills and strategies for implementing these skills into my classroom using technology! When looking over the checklist we were given at the start of this class, I can see that I am much more adept at designing instructional activities that require students to collaborate and then give them opportunities to share and present information that they have learned using technology.

This course has helped me by forcing me (not that I didn’t want to learn, but I never seemed to find the time) to explore new-to-me tools that I can then teach my students to use.  My favorite tool that I learned to use was the blog.  I was able to explore, learn to use it, and teach my students to use it in a few short days.  I found it amazing (see previous blog posts) and exciting to see how quickly my students learned to communicate online and their passion to discuss various educational topics.  I have found in subsequent uses of a classroom blog that it is especially helpful at determining what students already know about a topic or what students are interested in learning about. In Will Richardson’s book, “Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms”, there is a long list of ideas for using blogging in the classroom (pages 39-40) and I think just about every one of these may be possible in my classroom and I am eager to try them out.  The second tool I learned to use was a Wiki.  I appreciated learning how to use this tool, but I think that for me, using Google docs for an interactive, group project might better suit my classes’ needs.  I also learned how to pod cast, which was valuable practice.  My students have already had some practice in making iMovies, but we have not published them online for others to view and so this was a new process for me.  In the future, I would like to explore this idea so that their families and friends might be able to interact with their learning experiences also.

This course has also helped me grow as an educator by exposing me to new ideas and knowledge and helping me grow in understanding my own students.  I think one of the most eye-opening experiences in this course was the technology survey I gave to my students.  It shed light on how much time they spend at home using technology and gave me some insight on how they learn best and what I can do to better capitalize on their interests.  I always appreciate the comments and suggestions given by my colleagues through our interactions via blog, wiki and discussions, also.  It is good to hear other’s points of view and receive feedback and encouragement and it helps give me courage to tackle new and sometime daunting projects.

Dr. Chris Dede stated in one of our video resources in this class that students must be experts in communication and decision making to be successful in whatever field they choose to pursue (Laureate, 2010)). As I have thought, studied and discussed my way through this course, I have come to this conclusion: If the core instruction in my class is the acquisition of 21st century skills and I teach them the importance of questioning, problem solving, being creative, taking risks, receiving and expressing ideas and information appropriately, and reflecting on their learning, then my students will be successful at engaging in any culture or society with any kind of new developments in technology or shift in global issues, needs, or advances.  To achieve this, I must take the role as a teacher/facilitator and lead the students in meaningful, practical, experiential, inquiry learning processes where they can learn, practice, and apply these skills.

I am excited to learn more about integrating 21st century skills and technology into my everyday classroom practice. I agree with Donald Leu in the article “New Literacies” when he talks about the importance of inquiry and self-directed learning.  He says that teachers/facilitators need to come up with a problem and then let students decide how to go about solving it (2007).  I would like to start using this approach to cover more grade level standards.  I have two units that I teach currently that I would say are completely inquiry, learner-centered units that integrate technology in engaging, collaborative ways.  So, there is much work to be done.  It sounds easy to have your classroom be learner centered and directed, but I have found that it takes a lot of work and preparation!  I feel it will be worth the effort, however, and I am looking forward to learning about more technology tools that will help me in this endeavor.  My goal is to expand and improve my inquiry units.  I would like to have another two units ready to go by next fall and another two (for a total of six) completed by the fall of 2013.  This will take many hours of planning, research, and organization, but I feel like many of my assignments during my Walden courses have been already helpful in this process and I think that new learnings will mesh well with these goals also.  I also have three wonderful colleagues that I am blessed to work with on a daily basis that support and encourage me in this process and are willing to try new ideas as well.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program nine. The changing work environment: Part 2 [Webcast]. Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Miners, Z., & Pascopella, A. (2007). The new literacies. District Administration, 43(10), 26–34.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin

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