I recently earned my doctorate in Learning Technologies. I’d like to point out that I never saw myself going this direction. I took a position a few years ago and was thrust into the world of technology.
I definitely was not a “digital native”. I was quite resistant after teaching “just fine” without these tools. I vividly remember refusing to use it unless it was absolutely necessary.
Yes, I was that teacher. I didn’t want anything to do with technology. I don’t remember exactly when the transformation happened. I do recall being shown the wonderful projects my students created, by someone who would eventually become my colleague and mentor.
After viewing the projects they created and the passion they exhibited, I began slowly integrating them into instruction, giving students a choice in how they demonstrated understanding. What I got was everything from standard research papers, to documentaries and podcasts; all demonstrating what students had learned.
Keep in mind, I didn’t know what any of these programs were at that point, and wasn’t even a Mac user. Honestly, I still have no idea how some of the applications on my Mac work. But, this is exactly my point. I don’t have to be the expert – I had 25 of them that were willing to take the lead on this journey! Besides, as one of my colleagues constantly points out, applications come and go, true tech integration is a much more complex process.
One of my closest colleagues was the chairperson of our annual “Living Museum” project, which is basically a history fair that involves high levels of critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving. We’ve worked together closely over the past few years, and have seen students produce thought-provoking, entertaining documentaries using the iMovie program, year after year.
I didn’t realise until recently that he had no idea how to make an iMovie. I was shocked when he pointed this out in passing. I assumed that since his kids produced such wonderful work, surely he spent hours of instructional time teaching them to do it. No, as it turns out he simply “got out of the way”.
Thanks for the lesson DMJ. I admittedly still battle myself from time to time. Getting out of the way is still difficult, particularly for teachers who have been socialised to believe their job is to be the all-knowing, transmitter of knowledge when standing in front of students.
Spending time in the classroom here in the UAE, has forced me to again consult the 30 experts in my class about culture and learning. Allowing them plenty of choice on how they learn and work best has been challenging and highly rewarding.
My students think EdModo is fantastic. They beg to be taken to the computer lab regularly to use it to talk to each other and to me. They don’t realise that their language skills are being developed, and they have begun using it in ways I did not anticipate. They critique photos, writing and each other’s thoughts. I recently began using NearPod and Padlet as well. Again, students have taken the lead and suggest ways for us to work collaboratively to create experiences in the classroom. This, to me, is true innovation.
By Tracy Edwards