I had to create an infographic for one of my classes at MSU. I don’t think I was particularly inspired, and the results were fairly mediocre. (See it here, if interested: Google Apps for ESL Students.) However, once I took a look at the evidence about why infographics are useful, I wanted to walk on the wild side of what was possible with this visual form of presenting material.
Serkan Yildirim presents the benefits and elements of good infographics in the article, “Infographics for Educational Purposes: Their Structure, Properties and Reader Approaches.” This article is a good primer for this type of presentation. It appears that information is absorbed more readily through visual representations like this. And the author has also given us the basics we need to thoughtfully create our own.
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.
Although much of my (our . . . my . . . ugh! I never should have tried being cute with pronouns) work here is about helping teachers understand technology better, as well as providing some guidance into current research in the field, that’s not all there is. I personally think – and since most of us here are teachers, I’m sure you’ll agree – that we are one of the most overworked and underpaid group in the workforce. And I think we need to look at that more closely, pay attention to it and provide some resources for our exhausted educational personnel out there. The next couple of posts take a more holistic view of learning, first from the side of the student and then from the instructor.
The painful reality of any kind of creative work is that it’s not always going to be a home run and this post may well be a perfect example of just that. However, I’ve taken this into consideration, and I’m going for it anyway. This post is a poem. That’s right. YOU try and write a poem about peer-reviewed academic research. At some point in the future I might work on a song and then you’ll really be sorry. But for the time being, I’m taking a lesson from my own work, and I’m adding a little more grit in my life.
When I posed the question, “Since instructors are so busy, how could they implement technology into their teaching,” one of the responses I got was, “We don’t.” True, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are small, manageable tools that you can use in your teaching tomorrow. And by tomorrow, I mean . . . tomorrow. Technology integration is not an urban legend. It exists. And it doesn’t have to be hard.
One way to do this is through blogging. One simple lesson you can use is student reflections. Choose your most recent assignment and simply ask the students what they learned. If they already have a Google account – and I bet they do – then they have Blogger, so you don’t even need to deal with the hassle of creating a new account.
The following video is my version of the research written by Giuliana Dettori and Valentina Lupi (2009) called, “Using a Narrative Blog to Support Reflection in a Blended Course.” Student language teachers were asked to use reflection blogs, and it might have gone something like this.
Using the scale by Saadé at al. (2007) (as noted by Dettori, 2007), the instructors found value in this exercise for, “several [reasons] that can be taken as indicators of success: affect (i.e. pleasure or discontent), learner’s perception of the course, perceived learning outcomes, attitude, motivation.” The teachers liked this type of exercise and one reason for this was the feedback they got from their colleagues. A writing format is also ideal for reflective exercises. This type of work is not easily done through conversation, at least with as much openness and honesty.
Some things to think on:
Does this seem manageable to you? Could you ask your students to do an online reflection in the next week?
If not a blog, could you start with a notebook then build up to an interactive blog?
This is a crazy easy exercise you can use. Think about it. I would love to hear from you all. Please post comments! Stay tuned next week for a guest blogger!
Dettori, G. & Lupi, V. (2009). Using a Narrative Blog to Support Reflection in a Blended Course. Wang, F., Fong, J., Zhang, L. & Lee, V. (Eds.) Hybrid Learning and Education: Second International Conference, ICHL 2009, Macau, China, August 25-27, 2009. Proceedings. DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-03697-2_26
Saadé, R.G., He, X., Kira, D. (2007). Exploring dimensions to online learning. Computers in Human Behaviour 23, 1721–1739.
Welcome to blog post number 1! Lord I never thought this day would come. But here it is! If you haven’t checked out my info page then here’s a synopsis. I will reimagine a research article about Education or Educational Technology and present it to you. It may come in the form of fiction, a video or any other medium that inspires me. There you go. You’re all caught up.
The following is a fictional interpretation of the research study done by Pasfield-Neofitou, Huang, and Grant (2015) called, “Lost in second life: virtual embodiment and language learning via multimodal communication.”
The Princess and the . . . Dragon Slaying Warrior Girl
“Actually, I don’t want to be the princess. I’d rather be the prince or the dragon . . . oh wait, even better, I’d rather be a fighter princess that saves the other princess.”
After having won the coveted role of princess without a fight, Genevieve nodded her head vigorously.
Aalimah continued, “Anyway, my mom says princesses have, ‘Dubinous intellectual capabilities and that ‘We need strong Muslim women role models instead.’”
Clearly seeing the value of agreeing with this train of thought, Genevieve added more enthusiasm to her head nodding.
Aalimah’s family supports her active imagination. Her father even plays her games with her and often agrees to be the princess because, “Someone has to be rescued.” She likes these games better than any others. She likes to play different characters “as long as they’re not mushy.”