For the past six months I’ve had a book sitting on my desk that was a gift from my previous place of employment, Divine Word College. It is not a book of fiction. I have been struggling somewhat to read fiction lately; it takes me many, many months, and I only manage to finish one or two a year. I lost interest a few years back and my focus has turned to nonfiction. I’ve read about the 1992 disaster on Everest where fifteen people died, a man-eating Tiger terrifying a small backwater village in Siberia and a real-world example of what it’s like to try and live on minimum wage, among others. I suspect that as an educator, the appeal of nonfiction is that I’m learning about the world. But this book from Divine Word College might as well be fiction.
Mark is pretty much saving my life right now or, at least, helping me to follow-through on my commitment to post content every other week. So a big thanks goes out to him for another post! For the next week a book review, I swear. Apparently, it takes me much longer to get through a book than it used to because, well, the Internet.
This current post of his looks again at language learning and technology, or the lack there of . . . with the intention of adding it in but not just yet . . . but soon. How? He wonders aloud for us. See his other posts here.
Again, we have a delightful post from Mark Garton. I think a lot about my colleagues that haven’t quite embraced technology in teaching in the same way that I have, and he gives us some insight into his experience. It helps me to understand other people’s perspectives and challenges, which encourages me to be a kinder, more understanding person. And, if nothing else, it allows me to focus my work on what my coworkers need rather than assuming what is needed.
Mark has a few other posts he’s done for me that you can check out here.
This is a bit of — not exactly sure what to call this — would like to call it a breath of fresh air, but it’s going to be somewhat closer to a reference page rather than the research reviews I usually do. While it happens to be the bane of my existence, since I work with so many different types of media, properly citing my sources is something I work very hard to get right. However, I have the same attitude about citing sources that I take about doing my taxes; I do my conscientious best, but I know in my heart they’re totally screwed up anyway.
What I want to make clear is that just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s yours, and if you put an uncited photo in your Power Point presentation that’s exactly what you’re saying. It makes me quite crazy when I see a professor doing presentations without citing their photos. I’m sure you see this all the time because I do too.
Now we have a plan, which I am extremely excited about (see post Technology Professional Development Isn’t for Cowards). But what do we do with it? We want to implement it, of course. However, there are obstacles. Since our previous author has given us an excellent plan, Tilak has also been thoughtful to anticipate some of these obstacles. Still, I’m a woman with a plan, and I’m sticking to it, I always say. (Note: I never say this. As a matter of fact, I may actually be mixing metaphors here. Regardless, if we don’t think carefully about these issues, it’s like swimming upstream without a paddle.)
But wait! Those obstacles. The bumps in the road will give us problems if we don’t address them. As an ESL instructor, I knew that I couldn’t prevent my students from learning if I tried. I could basically do no harm, and my students were going to learn English do matter what I did. That unique situation seems to apply to very few disciplines, and I’m sure that it does not apply to technology integration. While there is value in adhering to a plan, it’s also important to not remain so rigid we miss the opportunity for growth and also create more obstacles along the way. Because really, we don’t want to bite off more sliced bread than we can chew.
Ok, let’s talk professional development with technology – I’m looking at you my future employer! I’m just not sure what to say about the structure of professional development, never mind the specific focus on technology. My experience in higher ed is that there isn’t much structure to PD. I have been lucky to get funds to work on this, but I’m pretty motivated when it comes to expanding my knowledge of my field. I have never worked in the development side, though. I’ve only been on the teachin’ side.
However, the idea of a structured plan just plain makes me giddy. Structure, organization, planning? What more could a girl want? With this new article titled, “Professional Development of Teachers and Effective Technology Use” (2014) Tilak Kumar Sharma gives us something to work with. Our author has some insightful ideas. Many points that are made support our teachers with more time and resources, rather dumping more free work on them.
The main idea that I picked up from my most recent research article “Educational Technology is a Process” (2013) by Rachel Ellaway is that learning technology and refining it for teaching, is, exactly what the author says, a process. But I’m pretty sure I could make an argument that everything is a process. Learning is a process, training for that marathon is a process, eating a pint of Talenti mint chip gelato is a process. It’s all a process.
This topic interested me because I have some friends that have no confidence in their technology skills. But you don’t pick these things up overnight. I spent several years in a program of study to have a better understanding of how best to use technology in my teaching. And even though Ellaway writes about educational technology in medical education, I believe the core principle is the same: learning about using technology in teaching is a process.