Four weeks ago, I began my journey as a pre-service teacher. Prior to my re-entry into the education system, I had thought of Twitter as a tool for people to inform the public about trivial things, such as what they ate for breakfast. My opinion has changed. As Betty Rae stated, there are justifications for not using Twitter but the resources you attain from this tool far outweigh any negative publicity. By learning how to follow people, using hashtags and attempting to make myself followable I have opened the door to technology and it is flooding in. The resources from Twitter, the Web 2.0 tools it has presented, and the articles it has led me to read are contributing to my technological learning increasing exponentially.
Twitter is a great starting point to growing my Personal Learning Network (PLN), but it is not the only resource. I understand that creating a learning loop will help me grow in my technological understanding. A PLN should encompass social media, real life networks, and outputs that are provided through others. Pull learning is enabling the information I want to come to me instead of having to constantly search for it. There is so much information that having a PLN lessens the effort and time to find what I am looking for.
To increase your PLN and exposure, Wesley Fryer suggests, sharing your work. I now have a Blog and Wiki. I have had exposure to some fantastic global projects for youth to partake in and will have the opportunity to be a part of them http://flatclassrooms.ning.com/. Getting up to speed on all of these technological advances has proved challenging and rewarding.
This past month has caused me to reminisce the days when I was the only girl in my small computer science classes and how far society and technology have come. I am on the hamster wheel, setting my own pace and just getting warmed up!
As mentioned in the NMC Horizon Report 2012 on emerging technologies, mobile devices are the current trend of technology in education. Mobile devices are excellent for education because the apps are affordable compared to expensive software programs. These devices can be implemented in so many ways throughout the curriculum. There are new apps being released everyday that assist in the education of our students in the ICT curriculum and in other curriculum areas. Mobile devices are portable and easy to transfer from class to class for students of all ages, or to store within a classroom for teachers. With programs like Nearpod, a teacher can have mobile classroom management and continuously cater to students’ learning. Faculty Focus points out that a 21st Century student may access their “classroom” at any given point and time with mobile technology. Mobile devices make it more convenient to enable pull learning and managing one’s PLN. As more affordable brands and models of mobile devices enter the market, the use of mobile devices through a BYOD pedagogy becomes more feasible.
The question is not where can mobiles be implemented but how to get them into the hands of the students and keep those devices current. The cost is prohibitive for many families and technology continues to change making older technology obsolete. Teachers need to know how to effectively manage and integrate these devices into the classroom. Control needs to be exercised to ensure every moment is a teachable moment and mobile devices are not becoming a source of distraction in education.
The most important thing is for educators to be trained in the implementation and usage of mobile devices and technology, in general, within the education system. Educators need to teach students to exercise caution and direction with their internet use to avoid negative and dangerous sites. It is imperative to teach our youth to be responsible digital citizens. Without technological professional development of our teachers, these devices will not attain their true potential in the classroom.
Technology in education is a great tool to enhance students’ learning environments and engage students. With the use of technology in the classroom, students are empowered to be self-directed learners while guided with teacher assistance. Technology can give students a social connection and teach them cultural awareness through global exposure. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory states there are many different types of intelligences. Technology is another “tool” to the “toolbox” to reach different types of intelligences. It is important to note that students learning with technology should be guided so technologies do not become a negative distraction for some students. With technology and guidance, every student can learn.
While it is beneficial to incorporate technology in curriculum, ICT is such a limitless world that it needs more attention than within course subject areas. English courses, for example, have not been discontinued from the curriculum because all other course areas offer English skills. English courses teach specialized English skills that students may not pick up in any other courses, as does ICT. Technology is constantly changing. Shelley Kokorudz, director of Field Experience for Brandon University stated, “each time a new technology is introduced, teachers have to keep up so they can show children how to use it responsibly.” An ICT teacher specializes in the latest forms of technology. Their pedagogy takes technology to a greater depth. There are students who may not be successful in other subject areas but may have a real niche in ICT and want to attain a credit from that program.
Many teachers incorporate technology into their classrooms. Some may not have the same technology knowledge base as the next teacher of the same subject area. They may not utilize technology in the same way within the classroom. For example, a geography teacher may utilize GIS but only to a limited degree and the next class may not use it at all. This affects the continuity of technology exposure students would receive. Even if you send teachers to ICT training, teachers take what they need to get the content across to students and meet their objectives. The main outcome of geography for example is for the student to learn geography. Therefore, it is not reasonable to assume a student would automatically get enough technology education through the use of technology in curriculum.
Manitoba deputy education minister, Gerald Farthing, stated in an interview with the Brandon Sun “It’s not enough for the technology to simply bring more information to the kids, and it’s not enough for it to mean kids can communicate more, it has to mean that the kids are learning more.” It is important to integrate technology into all classes to increase learning and prepare our youth for their future globally. There, also, needs to be specialized ICT courses to take students to the next level of ICT learning.