Welcome to the final blog for EDU625 – “Integrating Learning and Technology”. I have been asked to put together some summary statements about the course and how it has impacted my teaching and learning.
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I have not always been sure that the specialization of “Instructional Design and Technology” has been the right choice within my M.Ed. study. As my focus has always been on learning for caregivers, Baby Boomers and older adults, the focus on instructional design was obvious but the integration of technology was a challenge with the population I work with. However, I am happy to report that I do believe this direction has been a wise choice for me and this course has been instrumental in “cementing” that decision.
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My personal learning philosophy, up to the point of starting this M.Ed., has primarily been defined by my own positive learning experiences. Organizing and presenting information to students in a way that they could understand was my objective in my teacher-centered classroom. Certainly, this objective has been challenged by most, if not all, of the courses in my M.Ed. program. Specific to this EDU625 class, I feared that this class would both frustrate me with its focus on new technology and also have limited value in my classroom. I have what would be described as a “love-hate” relationship with technology – love what I use and am familiar with and hate how “old” if makes me feel when someone mentions something I know nothing about. What I have experienced in this course, in actuality, is that I actually can learn how to use something new and current. So, this class has helped me with some of my own fears in learning something new. It has also introduced me to some technologies that are applicable to my learning situation. This course has also has confirmed again the focus on knowing your audience – my responsibility is not to utilize the latest and greatest technology UNLESS I can see obvious benefit to the objectives of my learning activities.
I feel that the key issues of using technology to enhance learning revolve around knowing your audience, knowing your learning objectives, and knowing the technology. If you have a thorough and clear knowledge of all three, then you can make the decision as to whether or not utilizing that technology will enhance learning. Knowledge of your audience will help you design a learning activity that will engage them and address learning that has meaning to that audience. Knowing your learning objectives (and your audience) gives you a starting point and an ending point and directs learning towards that ending point. Finally, knowing the technology makes it possible for you to see applications of that technology that could enhance the learning of the objectives.
The greatest personal challenges that I have to technology and learning continue to revolve around my own sense of incompetency and being “out of date” and the challenge of knowing what is best for my audience. I have gained much confidence during this course in my abilities but I still feel like I have only touched the “tip of the iceberg” of what is out there. What we were able to experiment with during the course definitely opened my eyes but also showed me how much more I have to learn, as well as how aggressive I need to be in learning it if I want it to be useful to me. I also continue to be challenged by the audience I have chosen to work with – caregivers, Baby Boomers and older adults. It is well-researched that these populations are less accepting of newer technologies (Xie, Watkins, Golbeck, & Huang, 2012). I also will need to consider training them on the activity as part of my instruction if I feel that the technology may be unfamiliar to them (Thiele & Mai, 2014).
As far as my own personal plan for advancing my integration of learning and technology, I feel that I need to commit to learning about available technologies on a regular basis. I have to be honest that it is the only way that I can learn them and become familiar enough with them to use them in my teaching. If I am committed to making the best learning activity possible, I need to be willing to consider technologies that could enhance that learning and engage my students more fully in learning. I look forward to continuing this journey.
Thiele, A., & Mai, J. (2014). The student-centered classroom of the 21st century: Integrating Web 2.0 applications and other technology to actively engage students Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 28, 80-95.
Xie, B., Watkins, I., Golbeck, J., & Huang, M. (2012). Understanding and Changing Older Adults’ Perceptions and Learning of Social Media. Educational Gerontology, 38(4), 282-296. doi: 10.1080/03601277.2010.544580