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“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates

CEP 810: Reflection

on June 23, 2014

During the past seven weeks, I have uncovered a plethora of information about myself not only as an educator, but also as a learner. Week 1 of CEP 810 challenged me to think about the meaning of the word “learning”, as well as how novices acquire information differently than experts. I was reintroduced to the importance of prior knowledge and misconceptions through Leo Lionni’s Fish is Fish, and how as an educator, I must always stay in tune with the background information that students bring into the classroom.

A few weeks later, I was asked to teach myself something new using only the Internet for help. At first, my chosen project of making potica without the help of a live human being or even a cookbook seemed extremely daunting. After exploring various blogs, YouTube videos, and help forums, however, I soon realized that access to international information was actually an advantage. I don’t personally know anyone who has firsthand experience making potica, but on the Internet, I found many experts who were able to positively contribute to my project. I was astonished by how easy it was to find information on different topics – even topics that are a little more absurd (like making a little-known Slovenian pastry). The project also reminded me of the importance of choice and of being engaged with the content – it makes a huge difference in one’s motivational level!

Another piece examined during CEP 810 was surrounding the topic of technological integration. Integrating technology into the classroom was a goal in which I had been interested before beginning the MAET program, but I naively believed that introducing technology required only to learn about the technology and then to hand it to my students. After reading the work done by Kereluik, Mishra, & Koehler (2011) on TPACK, however, I came to realize that technology must be carefully thought about before introducing to the classroom. Because technology is most often not designed specifically for education, these tools must be repurposed to fit the needs of the task at hand. During the “Cooking with TPACK” activity, I gained experience making the best of a situation, having to use tools creatively to get my job of slicing cheese completed! Educators must also think about which tools best fit each task, as well as how students are going to gain something of value from the technological tools at one’s disposal.

The work I have done in this course has challenged me to think about learning in a more critical light and to ensure that I am allowing students to use technology to innovate. I want my students to be able to contribute something of value through using technologies to express their personal view and interpretations. Gone are the days of regurgitating information – today, with access to unlimited amounts of information, it is what students can do with the information that matters.

I have made much progress toward becoming a more technologically-driven, 21st century teacher during the past seven weeks. I feel better equipped to teach using technology, having been introduced to many new tools including Skitch (a new favorite). Additionally, I understand the framework (TPACK) that aids the successful integration of technology into the classroom. Despite all I have accomplished, though, I am still at the beginning of my journey. I know that I need additional work with applying what I have learned into the classroom – I need to take these tools, let my students use them, and then alter my work based on the results. I also am wondering how integrating more technology into my classroom will affect standardized test results. In theory, students should perform the same or even better than before, due to the critical thinking that is required during technological innovation, but this is still a worry. I am excited to continue my journey through the MAET program and to become an even better 21st century educator.

References

Kereluik, K., Mishra, P. & Koehler, M.J. (2011). On learning to subvert signs: Literacy, technology and the TPACK framework. The California Reader, 44(2), 12-18

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