As technology becomes more mobile, humans can interact easily and in ways never before seen in the world. Front facing cameras on cell phones allow two people from opposite sides of the country connect while shopping in the grocery store while social media connects people who have never physically met. Children embrace this technology while schools fall behind and are unsure of how to deal with this surge of social media. In a scramble we look to engage students in learning through virtual communication and collaboration as we realize that teachers are no longer the adult in the classroom, but the face on the device in their hand.
When I initially started this course I wasn’t sure how we were going to cover virtual communication and collaboration in 8 weeks, meaning, I didn’t think there was enough content to sustain us. To me virtual collaboration and communication was Google+ hangouts, texting, or email and surely we all had a good grasp on those concepts since many of us grew up with those technologies. What I learned, and hadn’t initially considered, were the implications of virtual communication and collaboration to areas like online learning or how a district monitors and manages this through acceptable use policies. Yet, what stuck out most to me, as has been the pattern of my program at Regis, is the idea that these technologies aren’t innovative in themselves, but it’s what great teachers do with these tools that the real magic happens.
During week 7, when we were asked to interview online teachers, Glenn Moses said something that has really hit me deep. When I asked him if online learning was better or worse than brick-and-mortar classrooms he said, “Good teaching and good learning can take place in a parking lot, on a roof, in a social network.” I kind of already knew this but I never really dwelt on it nor did I make it part of my person vision for education. It’s so easy to get lost in Google Apps, Edmodo, EduClipper, iPads, and all these other kinds of technology tools without realizing that bad teaching with technology equals bad teaching without technology.
Since I am a technology coach and my job is to help teacher’s integrate technology into their instruction, I must realize that pedagogy takes priority and, as I learned in the course, we should always be thinking about things like Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and Marzano’s Instructional theories. When we take these theories, these best practices as you will, and blend them with technology, Web 2.0, virtual reality, online learning, blogs, wikis, and social networking we get learning environments where students learn and everyone knows why these tools are being used.
If we are to change education, we can’t use technology for technologies sake. We must use technology to let students create, not control what they learn. Technology should be used for collaboration and not individual work projects. We should create acceptable use policies that show kids how to use the Internet, not just a list of things they shouldn’t do. We need to show students how social networking is more than liking someone’s picture and the list goes on and on and on. Let us be leaders and innovators who go against the grain, using best practice, be educators who maximize the potential of virtual communication and collaboration, and bring teaching and learning into the 21st Century.
Many of the artifacts I created were papers and charts (something that surprised me in a class that called "virtual"). My two favorite artifacts are my Acceptable Use Policy website I created on Google sites, and my Online Learning research paper where I interviewed Glenn Moses, a Principal of an online school.
My AUP website is a document I created in an attempt to encourage safe use of the internet while pushing educators to maximize the potential of the web. Acceptable Use should encourage teachers to train students on safe and responsible use instead of trying to restrict and limit. If we can't train our kids while they're young, they won't know how to handle the internet when it is not restricted on college campuses.
My Online Learning research paper could be summed up by one quote, "Good teaching and good learning can take place in a parking lot, on a roof, [or] in a social network." This has become my motto for learning as I continue to develop my own blended learning courses. We must remember that best practice/pedagogy should not only apply to brick and mortar classrooms but to our online learning environments as well.
2. Communication and Collaboration
a. Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media
6. Technology Operations and Concepts
a. Understand and use technology systems
5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
a. Participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning
2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
a. Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity
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