Course Reflection

I had always considered myself to be tech savvy, at least compared to the teachers in my building. As weeks progressed in this course, we were introduced to new technology aspects that could be integrated into our teaching practices. I definitely took great interest in many of the strategies and feel as if they could eliminate some burden from us educators. There were so many suggestions that made students responsible for their learning. I look forward to trying these new approaches and concepts within my classroom as I take a step back and put my students in charge of their own education.

There were several concepts and topics that were significant within the course, specifically flipping the classroom, understanding the digital native, and the use of games. MacMeekin (2013) discusses how flipping the classroom is about getting students to learn content out of class so when they come to class educators can do something to use that content knowledge. This was an interesting point because educators spend time reviewing simple content that could be taught at home by giving a homework assignment in the form of a scavenger hunt. More time could be spent on reflection and discussion of topics.

Another topic that was significant was understanding the digital native. For those educators that are not tech savvy, understanding or reaching today’s student could be difficult. Educators need to continue to receive professional development to update their technology skills to what is most current. Seeking professional development to learn about apps or games that could be used in the classroom will allow for greater engagement. We need to remember that digital natives are technologically inclined and can be taught using a variety of technological approaches.

The last concept I found significant is gamification. I never thought I would admit that the use of games in the classroom could be successful until I had to actually design one with my group. Whitton (2009) discusses how play is considered to be a powerful learning tool that helps promote the mastery of tasks (p. 18). Giving students the opportunity to “play” allows for increased engagement and a student-centered approach to learning.

These concepts have changed my perspective on the experience students should have when in school. I spend too much time teaching to the test, the NYS US History Regents, that I do not provide my students the opportunity to “play”. I am so regimented with my curriculum that the thought of straying for a day or two to experiment will stress me out because I will find myself two days behind. What will make me a better teacher is taking the chance and utilizing a game with the hope that I do not waste a day.

MacMeekin, M. (2013). Flipping the classroom [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://anethicalisland.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/flipping-the-classroom/

Whitton, N. (2009). Learning and teaching with computer games in higher education. In Games-Based Learning Advancements for Multi-Sensory Human Computer Interfaces (pp. 18–33). Retrieved from http://www.irma-international.org/viewtitle/18786/

PEDAGOGY FOR DIGITAL NATIVES

Many educators have come to rely heavily on digital technology because of all the benefits it has to offer. Prensky (2012) discusses how “digital tools already extend and enhance our cognitive capabilities in a large variety of ways”. Digital technology has the ability to enhance memory, for example, via data input/output tools and electronic storage (Prensky, 2012). It also helps us use decision-making tools by enhancing our judgment and allowing us to gather more data than we could on our own. (Prensky, 2012). Digital technology “helps us perform more complex analyses than we could unaided, and increasing our power to ask “what if?” and pursue all the implications of that question” (Prensky, 2012). With all of the advancements that digital technology brings to the table, educators have to become aware of the increasing need of implementation of digital technology into our curriculum.

There is a push to shift instructional practices to include more real world approaches. Instructional practices and strategies used in higher education should include technology that is used in the professional setting. Every profession uses some type of technology whether is it a computer or a specific program. For example, my father is a digital immigrant and operates his own plumbing company. He has minimum knowledge on how to navigate a computer. However, submitting permits went from completing them in pen and delivering them to an office to completing them online. This shows that even vocational professions require the use of technology.

Enhancing our teaching practices by learning new technology strategies and implementing digital technology into our curriculum will help produce college graduates that are ready to enter the workforce. We often forget that students need a combination of skills. We could be a master educator in a specific major, but if we do not teach our students those skills across the board, we are doing them a disservice. I constantly think about the ideas behind the Common Core Standards of producing a college and career student at the high school level. How can colleges measure whether they have prepared their students to be workforce ready?

As an educator, it is imperative that we constantly improve our instructional practice. There is always room for increased effectiveness. Trends within technology and education will come and go. We see this quite often, as new standards are always being implemented. It could be troubling to constantly make adjustments to teaching, but it is the role of the educator to ensure an education is being delivered. It is easy for an educator to teach content, but content needs to be aligned with engaging factors that attracts students in this day and age (MacArthur Foundation, 2010). Therefore, teachers must learn the tools and skills needed to reinvent content in a way that is relatable to our digital natives (MacArthur Foundation, 2010). If we introduce 21st learning skills, when presenting content, students will likely become more engaged and it would generate creativity. We should not abandon the formal way of learning, but we should find a way to combine both formal and informal methods of teaching as a way to get our students to work efficiently and effectively (MacArthur Foundation, 2010). Most of us have become so concentrated on teaching to the test, that we forget students have imaginations, which can be the most powerful tool a student has.

MacArthur Foundation. (2010). Rethinking learning: The 21st century learner [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0xa98cy-Rw

Prensky, M. (2012). From digital natives to digital wisdom: Hopeful essays for 21st century learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.