Final Reflection

Final Reflection: Integrating Technology into the Classroom Curriculum

This course spanned an array of topics, each exploring different aspects of how technology can be integrated into contemporary educational settings to engage, connect and facilitate learning in a variety of disciplines and levels.  As a project-oriented class, theory was always combined with practice to produce technology-enabled lessons that could be used in my high school chemistry classes.  These projects, showcased on my Integrating Technology Into The Classroom Curriculum website, were centered around the AECT standards of educational design, development and utilization.  Each project was mapped to one or more AECT standard, demonstrating this program’s commitment to producing professionals whose skills and knowledge meet or exceed the benchmark’s set forth by the Association of Educational Communications and Technology.

After reviewing and reflecting upon this course’s projects and blog entries, the following points summarize what I have learned, how I have grown as a professional and what I will carry forth into my classroom:

Technology must be chosen prudently

Technology rarely solves an educational problem on its own; instructors must choose the appropriate technology which is most likely to facilitate the type of learning that is desired.  Determining the relative advantages of each available technology is an important early step in an instructor’s selection process, followed by matching each technology’s relative advantage to the learning that will take place.

In the past, I often chose a technology for my students capriciously, without significant thought as to whether or not it is the best approach to achieve the desired outcome.  Many technologies were explored in this class: interactive powerpoints, instructional games and simulations, educational videos and spreadsheets, social networks, electronic books, electronic collage sites and assistive technologies.  Each of these technologies possesses inherent strengths and weaknesses that were considered while designing the lessons and projects in which they were utilized.  Moving forward, thoughtful consideration of each technology’s relative advantages will ensure that the appropriate technology is matched to the learning task and learner characteristics at hand.  Specifically, the Technology Integration Plan Model (TIP) described by Roblyer and Doering (2013, p. 52-64) provides a systematic approach consistent with contemporary learning theories and teaching pedagogies that, when followed, helps ensure educators select the appropriate technologies to maximize learning and outcomes.  Beyond using the TIP model to guide how I will integrate technology into my own classroom, I will share it with my colleagues during formal professional development opportunities and informal discussions.

Tear Down The Walls

Social networking, “walled gardens” and student safety featured prominently in the readings, projects and blog entries for this class.  “Opening up” classrooms to the outside world admittedly exposes students to risks typically not found in traditional classrooms, or in those protected by restrictive firewalls.  However, the benefits of connecting students with peers, professionals and information outside of one’s physical classroom justify, in my opinion, the need for more open educational environments.

Beyond the obvious need for firewalls to filter out sites containing pornography, violence or other inappropriate content, schools and districts should strive to educate their students about acceptable Internet use, rather than simply restricting them to short lists of approved sites and individuals within their “walled gardens.”  Contemporary technologies allow students to collaborate with peers and industry professionals across continents and time zones and to participate in global scientific studies by collecting, sharing and analyzing data.  Engaging in these and other powerful and potentially transformative ventures is not possible within the confines of walled gardens.  Along with seeking out opportunities for my science students to participate in global endeavors and studies such as those described here, I will advocate to my administration to develop a more proactive Acceptable Use Policy, one which seeks to educate our students to become savvy, empowered and safe consumers of digital information.

References

Roblyer, M.D. & Doering, A.H.  (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

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