Get #EdTech-y With It!

I Love EdTech!

On Sunday evening I am typically found in the #oklaed Twitter chat – its a fabulous place full of amazing educators, I try to never miss it!!  This past Sunday, Shawn Blankenship was our moderator and his topic was very interesting – What comes first Educational Technology or Curriculum??  Shawn had some great questions and the discussion was brilliant, but it really got me thinking about the purpose of educational technology and where it should fit in the learning process.

Backstory…You can skip this if you want…

Some brief (or not so brief…) background info about me – I Love #EdTech!  I had the opportunity to go to the ISTE Conference in 2013 and the opening keynote was Jane McGonigal, if you follow this blog, you know that I love what she does.  After she was done speaking I was sold, as teachers we needed to embrace some different thinking.  Adam Bellow gave the closing keynote (the entire keynote is about 75 minutes – make time to watch), he was equally powerful.  Teachers truly can change the world!  I vowed before we left, I would be back and I would present!

This conference led me to really think about what I wanted to do.  Here I am a high school math teacher and I am flipping my classroom.  The students are struggling with it because it is so different.  They are resistant to change and creatures of habit – as are their teachers.  I am trying to get more technology into their hands, not because I feel the need it, but because they can create and do and learn all at the same time.  I wanted to move to mastery learning, taking the next step to truly help all of my students be individual learners.  All students learn at different rates, how can I get my classroom culture to allow for this?  I just could not figure out how to do it inside the system that I was a part of.

We had the good fortune to go back to ISTE in 2014 and my good friend Kristina and I had a table talking about how we used Knowmia in our flipped classrooms.  We had the opportunity to connect with close to 200 hundred educators during our two hour time slot – it was super fantastic!  I went to some great sessions, but the deal maker for me was hearing how Philip Vinogradov used gamification with mastery learning in his session.  Game Over.  Literally.  Time to reload the level and use some different tactics.

Fast forward six short months and I am enrolling in the Graduate College at Oklahoma State University to pursue a Ph.D in Education with an emphasis in Educational Technology.  I am very interested in gamification and the flipped classroom model and will do as much research in this area as possible….

Back to the #Oklaed Twitter Chat

Curriculum should always come first, you must have a road map for your course, otherwise you just ramble around from here to there wasting gas.  You may see some really cool things along the way, but there is a strong possibility your journey will be all disjointed and potentially confusing.  Our students need to learn how to use technology for something other than following Justin Bieber (yes, I just linked the Biebs…) there are some many incredible things student can do with technology.  Think back to when you were in elementary school – for me it was the 80’s and everything was on the chalkboard.  Sometimes we would use this really cool thing that would project an image on a screen and the teacher would write on it (overhead projector anyone?), every now and then the reel to reel movie projector would be in class and we knew we were in for a treat!

Look around – overhead projectors are different now, they are connected to computers, or iPads, or chromebooks or some other technology.  Reel to reel movies have been replaced by Mystery Skype events.  Students are not limited by the four walls of the classroom or the personal connection of the teacher, they have an entire world to explore!  The four walls of the classroom have been knocked down!

As teachers we should play with all of this technology – start small and simple.  I took no classes on how to use Camtasia, Twitter, WordPress, Knowmia, YouTube, iPads, Google Hangouts, KidBlog…I started exploring, one small thing at a time.  I did this while teaching.  WHILE TEACHING!  I know that as teachers we really get bogged down in our worlds and all of the different hats that we have to wear each day.  I wore lots of those (soccer coach, Dad, Husband, Calculus, Precalculus, Algebra 2, Site Tech person…) and I still learned how to start helping my students learn with technology.  You can do it too!!

Start Playing!!You should not try and force technology to the curriculum, educational technology should be built into the fabric of how your course is designed.  As teachers we owe it to our students to give them the best education we can possibly give them.  We must let them struggle and fail.  We must pick up those pieces and help our students to succeed.  As teachers, if we do not move forward with them, are we doing them a disservice?  I think so.  Let’s teach them how to use the technology they have in their pockets to do amazing things.

Students are always using new technology, they start playing with apps or whatever and dig in.  As teachers we need to have this same attitude.  I never heard a student say “I need some professional development with __________.”  They figured it out.  As teachers we need to follow our students – we can figure it out!  Then, being the amazing teachers that we are, we make the most Amazeballs lesson with it – do it, take a step out of your comfort zone…

Agree, disagree??  That is what the comments are for…

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