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.

Westminster College

What make colleges well positioned for the future? Selingo (2013) discusses how colleges have adopted strategies that teach students valuable lessons that they need in order to be successful. Students spend so much time in the classroom, reading, attending lectures, taking tests, and all of which are done with the hope of a passing grade (Hullinger, 2015). However, “all the credit hours in the world don’t guarantee students actually learn anything applicable in the workplace, and employers know this all too well” (Hullinger, 2015). A college that makes an education meaningful is the type of experience every student should have. While many of the suggested universities stood out, Westminster College looked absolutely intriguing.

Westminster College discusses the idea of students creating a meaningful life. Students have the opportunity to create a learning experience outside of the classroom. Westminster challenges students to be innovative in the sense that it encourages them to take what they are learning and apply it to real life. Whether it is through advocating for social justice or cultivating safe spaces, Westminster wants students to apply their knowledge. The shift becomes one from a nose in the notebook to one that promotes “tangible skills that are applicable” in the world (Hullinger, 2015).

I chose Westminster because it did not advocate a traditional approach to education. It gave me the idea that students learn through experiences. It also provided students the opportunities to apply the knowledge from their chosen major across a broad range of fields. “Students advance not by ticking off classes but by proving they’ve mastered specific skill sets, or competencies” (Hullinger, 2015). We often forget that it could be simple for most students to memorize and answer questions on an exam. What is challenging both for the brain and the student is allowing them to figure things out on their own by applying what they learn in the real world.   Colleges need to make the shift from a traditional education to a tangible one. Colleges can do so by creating classes that are collaborative and allow for discussion. Courses within all majors can combine students from different fields and provide the opportunity for them to collaborate, solve problems, and reach their full potential.

Hullinger, J. (2015, May 20). This is the future of college. The New Rules Of Work. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3046299/the-new-rules-of-work/this-is-the-future-of-college

Selingo, J. J. (2013). College (un)bound: The future of higher education and what it means for students. Boston, MA: New Harvest.

MOOCs

MOOCs became a big part of the general higher education landscape in 2011 (Seling, 2014). “Many saw in them promise of a revolutionary force that would disrupt traditional higher education by expanding access and reducing costs” (Selingo, 2014). Many believed that MOOCs would give students all over the world an opportunity to gain an education. Although a majority of MOOCs are free, they are still difficult to complete. Selingo (2014) discusses how “just 25 percent of students passed; in another, only 50 percent passed, much lower rates than for the on-campus equivalents”. The question becomes exactly, how do MOOCs fit into the general higher education landscape. We must factor in how MOOCs are unconventional and there is no set way of delivering instruction. Every MOOC has a different format and way of assessment. The ability to learn from these MOOCs shows that education can be delivered in various ways and be successful.

Selingo (2014) discusses how “nearly all MOOCs originate from the world’s top universities”. Top universities usually have students who are over achievers, extremely bright, motivated, and are disciplined students who are willing to sit down and study from a textbook (Selingo, 2014). As a result, the MOOCs are formatted in such a way that students who have had previous educational backgrounds are those who ultimately complete the course. Christensen and Alcorn (2014) discuss how there is also a continued need to focus on basic and secondary education so that more people, especially women, will be able to participate. Traditional universities must acknowledge that many of these students who want to take MOOCs have very little educational experience, therefore, when designing the course, should take this into consideration.

After students complete MOOcs, the questions becomes “how to collect these diverse experiences into a meaningful representation of that newly acquired knowledge” (Blake, 2014). There really is very little data to determine the quality of design, delivery and outcome, making it rather difficult for institutions to recognize MOOCs as a possible addition of a credit to a student’s transcript. “Traditional education measures the quality of learning with a variety of assessment methods against a set of established criteria or objectives”. However, the assessment aspect of MOOCs are not always straightforward, making it unclear on what the intended outcome of the course was (Morristown, 2015). For institutions to be able to include MOOCs on a transcript, the MOOCs need to select “a framework grounded in learning theory that supports an effective course design process that delivers quality learning experiences” (Morrison, 2015). If most MOOCs continue to have varied formats and no consistency with curriculum design, institutions will less likely recognize them.

Blake, D. (2013, October 25). Can MOOCs revolutionize the college transcript? Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-blake/can-moocs-revolutionize-t_b_4160004.html

Christensen, G., & Alcorn, B. (2014, March 16). Who takes MOOCs? Educated, employed, First-World guys. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/new_scientist/2014/03/mooc_survey_students_of_free_online_courses_are_educated_employed_and_male.html

Morrison, D. (2015, December 12). MOOC quality comes down to this: Effective course design. Retrieved from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/mooc-quality-comes-down-to-this-effective-course-design/

Selingo, J. J. (2014, October 29). Demystifying the MOOC. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/education/edlife/demystifying-the-mooc.html