Tech-rific Semester

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Will you join me on my journey through my Educational Technology class? If you accept this mission, I hope you will comment and tell me your experience with #edtech.

Entering the Vortex

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It was a late evening in the dead of winter as I walked through the door of my ED tech class, “great” I thought to myself, I already know all of this so why do I have to take this class. Wow was I in for a MindShift, even though I thought I knew everything that was going to be taught, in reality, I know very little.

Every educator at some point in time will come to this fork in the road; one path leads to stagnation, while the other leads to fulfillment. What do I mean by that exactly? Well its simple, if I would have stayed in this mindset, I would have lost the chance to learn vital information. Whereas, by taking the open mindset path, I gained the opportunity to expand my knowledge and become and even greater instructor.

Luckily, I decided to take the open road; this involved me humbling myself and admitting that I didn’t know everything and that others could expand my knowledge of technology and its various implementations. After this first week passed and I attempted to amend my shortcomings, I tried to push myself beyond my comfort zones.

The SMARTest Way

Through my interaction with SMART Notebook software, I was able to see my shortcomings. I found that I was very competent in the software on my own, but my perfectionism came out during the creation of my lesson. I quickly lost myself in the details; I spent so much time trying to make everything perfect that I missed the flow of my work a little. I found that there has to be a nice mix of flow and interactivity; creating intricate lessons can quickly waste an instructors time.

SMART Notebook and quickly take a lesson that had partial student engagement to one that has 100% engagement if you incorporate it with interactive websites such as Socrative, or Poll Everywhere. With its ability to easily integrate videos, links, and assignments I can now create lessons that just flow. Not to mention incorporating QR codes that can be scanned from students Bring Your Own Device’s (BYOD). I have always been an advocate for living in a sustainable way; not only am I helping my students achieve their greatest potential, but I am also helping save our environment.

Your PLN Has Your Back

imgres.jpgThis takes me into the Personal Learning Network (PLN) section of this class, which I believe to be the key to any teachers existence. On your own, it is impossible to achieve flow, but if you have built an incredible network of fellow educators, it is achievable. There are many great SMART Notebook lessons that others have created that, you can shift to align with your teaching experience. Twitter provides a vast network detect individuals that can help you through new tech implementations or even provide links great resources that you could add to your lessons.

I have always been an indented individual, but I can now see that my job would be a whole lot harder if I don’t connect with what other educators that are flowing with knowledge and experience. Through my extensive PLN, I have the possibility to expand my impact. I want to be an educator that is known for positive change and my blog/vlog, Twitter, and Pinterest, allow me to grow and share the positivity that I gain from others.

Google What?

Education used to be about what you as an educator could bestow upon your students, but the internet has taught us that teaching and knowledge go beyond our classroom walls. Here is where Google G-Suite for education takes the stage, it allows an educator to bring the outside world in and provides the tools for students to consume and create. Through these tools, students can interact with their projects individuals or in group environments.

The greatest thing that Google G-Suite has been able to achieve is a new system of connectedness. A connection is a key to a great workflow, and the teacher can use other sites that incorporate this connection and be able to keep all of their assessments centralized. Instead of having to create multiple logins for your class one login provides access to various student resources and evaluation tools. I can see this playing a critical role in classroom scaffolding; here an instructor can create specialized quizzes and assignments that are leveled to the different learning levels within the class.

Not only does Google classroom simplify an instructor’s use of technology, but it also allows them to receive detailed analyses of students progress. Therein the educator can create lessons and projects that can be customized to individual students or groups of students.

Interactive World

Now we come to the part of the class that placed me outside my comfort zone, up till this point I had never actually experienced interactive websites in my K-12 education. Therefore how could I integrate them into my teaching experience? Well, I feel now, that the mountain looks more like a molehill, especially once I got to experience such a wide variety of sites for both a student perspective and a future educators perspective. Sites such as Socrative, Poll Everywhere, Quizizz, etc. vary in their classroom use and student experience. Each website has its set of pros and cons, but they all have the ability push your students beyond mere consumption.

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If they are well placed within a lesson, used as an exit slip, or even homework, and educator such as myself would have the ability to push students out of their comfort zones and better prepare them for a world filled with technology. That added with better student engagement, specifically positive engagement; wherein students would be more likely to retain and share the information that they have learned.

Lights, Camera, Action!

With the advent of YouTube and a world, where everything can be learned by watching someone else, it is key to teach students how to interact and share their knowledge with others. As I was able to experience multiple times throughout the semester; moviemaking can play a critical role in student expression and group learning environments. I was able to learn how to implement visual storytelling as a component of my lessons; I also experienced how video can be used as a medium to expand your PLN through vlogging.

2439081304_40d7d88c12.jpgI have come to realize just how important storytelling or reflection is to a student’s conception of course materials. Just as blogging can revolutionize the paper journal, vlogging has transformed the ordinary blog website. For those students that just don’t find a connection with writing their thoughts, vlogging provide a new pathway for the same end results. I decided to take a leap into this new world of expression, and after reading George Couros’s latest blog, maybe we need to be Providing students with the means to a whole new career.

The Round Up

Education is all about preparing our students to excel and find jobs in the world after school; Technology is at the core of every major job. I plan on finding ways to incorporate the tools that I have learned this semester in a way that will allow my classroom environment to flow smoothly. More importantly, I now have an open mindset, desiring to push my students beyond the core curriculum, to provide them with a great tech base. For instance, finding ways of incorporating Hour-of-Code and 3D printing into my core classes.

I am glad to say that spring is on its way, gone are the cold, dreary days of winter when I first entered this class, I am now armed with new teaching tools ready to prepare my students to become great digital citizens that are ready for what the future holds.

 

A Profound Narative

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This last month and a bit have been so crazy busy, not only have I been writing papers but I decided to mix up my final assignment. If you haven’t watched my vlog about coding and tech in the classroom, then you would probably not know about my venture into videography and vlogging. Because of this passion, I decided to take on two large final projects entered around this medium.

I had the opportunity to meet a successful Canadian poet, Shane Book; wherein I was able to witness his venture into videography, as a means to tell a story. I discussed with him my passion for videography and the techniques he uses to convey his message. He said that a story should be able to be understood through the visual arts without any words.

With this knowledge I approached my ENGL 301 partners: Stefanie Connor and Hawa Kamara, with an idea of using mini videos as a way of conceptualizing Athol Fugard’s play, “”Master Harold”…and the boys”. They both saw my passion and added their own to the project. Through the filming process, we were able to see Medicine Hat College’s student population as progressive and caring individuals. Not only did the process allow us to create a profound learning experience for our fellow peers, but it pushed us out of or own comfort zones and changed our perspective of or school and peers.

At the same time, I was also filming another video project in my GNED 234 class with Shae Fedorak. This production had a substantially different composition than the ENGL 301 project. Instead of focusing on profound mini video stories, we decided to create the story of community through a combination of interviews. Through these interviews, we were able to interview key movers and shakers in our community of Medicine Hat. By snipping and editing, we were able to create a unifying and profound narrative of our community.

Who knew an investment in tech could have lead to such diversely different, yet profoundly the same learning breakthroughs? Instead of just completing these projects, I found myself morphing through the production process. If you are an educator questioning taking the dive into moviemaking assignments with your students, I would tell you it is well worth every dollar you spend. Education becomes a game changer when it has the power to create a world full of creators than just consumers.

I spent a substantial amount of money on a professional video camera and professional editing software, but in the end, I cannot put a price on the knowledge that I have gained through these experiences.