NOTE: I finally got situated with how to post to the blog, so here are my reflections on Days 1 and 2.
Today’s work in Technology Toolkit pushed me to think critically about the role that technology can play in facilitating a student’s learning, as well as the way in which teachers can use that same technology to assess a student’s understanding and skill development.
Screencasting programs (like Explain Everything, PageSend, et. al.) have the potential to make conveying information (using the Flipped Classroom model), collaborating on a project, or receiving feedback on an assignment more interactive, more efficient, and more effective. Although perhaps time-consuming at first (given the learning curve inherent to any new system), I hope that the rest of this week (as well as the remainder of the summer) will afford me the opportunity to explore such resources further and determine their best applications in my own teaching and coaching. Perhaps the biggest challenge in doing so will be anticipating the problems that might arise in implementing such an approach; any thoughts or advice on the front would be greatly appreciated.
Students could use those same programs to present their knowledge in a non-conventional way. Rather than composing an analytical essay in the conventional manner solely using words, sentences, and paragraphs, they could present the same analysis using Explain Everything, which would also (in theory) enable them to incorporate images, diagrams, flow charts, audio, video, or any other such tools that would help to validate their central claim (thesis). Not only would this option appeal to those students who communicate more effectively using graphics or conversation (as opposed to writing), but it would also help them to develop the digital literacy skills necessary to communicate effectively with people in our increasingly globalized world. While the standard analytical essay will remain an important part of writing curricula for the foreseeable future, introducing this kind of an assessment to our students will help them to further develop critical thinking and presentation skills and do so in a way that will prove useful as technology continues to evolve.
My conversations with a couple of other TLI participants today helped me to realize why this week has the potential to be so incredibly valuable, beyond the simple exposure to a wider variety of tools, approaches, and perspectives on the best ways to integrate technology into teaching and the curriculum. These exchanges reminded me of what has prevented me from more fully and consistently integrating tools like blogs, discussion boards, creative projects, etc; more often than not, it has not been ease of use or student resistance that has impeded such efforts, but rather the time necessary to design, set up, and troubleshoot a new technological/pedagogical tool. As a result, I have typically started off the school year with lofty goals and followed through on them for a time, but have ultimately abandoned them because I have needed to dedicate time to the other aspects of my work at St. Paul’s (coaching, advising, commenting/grading, et. al.). As such, I hope that the rest of this week will allow me to further develop the Google Sites page for my Humanities IV classes and explore how it can help to facilitate students’ ability to reflect, aggregate, collaborate, and share.