Today I was asked to present to 2 cohorts of tertiary education students at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. ACU has become an even more familiar place for me after graduating in 2007. Since then I have gone on to complete my Masters in ICT through ACU, and our school is also involved in a pilot program for taking on pre-service teachers enrolled at ACU.
Every year that I am invited back to ACU to speak about educational technology, and I find that I enjoy the experience more and more. Pre-service teachers are fresh, and full of new ideas. They are motivated, and starting to make many connections to practise and theory. They are also the incoming generation of teachers, and I think it’s vital that they have their heads around educational technology before they step in the classroom.
I am often asked by lecturers and pre-service teachers about the one piece of advice that I could give that could make a difference. To that, I encourage them to develop their ability to self-reflect and take action upon those reflections. In my short teaching career I have had many positive influences on my development, but in particular when it comes to ICT, it has been my willingness to try new things, reflect, take action, and improve my practise and understanding.
At the presentation today, I left the pre-service teachers with 10 questions to ask themselves. In thinking about these, there is no doubt that these also apply to any other practising educator.
1) Are you serious about educational technology? – By serious I mean that you recognise that technology plays a large part in students life now, and even more so in the future; and that you by ignoring effective educational technology would mean doing a disservice to students.
2) Are you willing to incorporate technology in the classroom so it accurately reflects the reality of students’ lives? – Consider how much time students spend consuming TV, video games and using the computing devices. How relevant can a teacher be if they are not willing to use technology in their everyday teaching and learning?
3) How much of your planning will be geared towards developing learning and technology with the student in mind? – It’s easy to plan a lesson, stand up the front, demand that your students listen, and expect them to follow through independently. Using technology in this didactic way doesn’t really improve anything!
4) How will you foster your students as collaborators, in a physical and digital sense? Whether students work on a Google Document online, or plan a short film on paper, they will need the opportunities to collaborate, co-operate, and effectively communicate with one another. Not to mention receive feedback on how they are going with it!
5) How will you utilise the power of digital resources, for staff and students alike? Facebook, Google +, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Delicious, Diigo…etc. etc. There are so many ways for educators to use the WWW to take control of their own learning, development, and management of digital resources. Connect yourself to others, and extend your digital knowledge. Don’t wait for the PD to come to you, seek it yourself!
6) How will you utilise technology to personalise learning experiences? And more to the point, how will the students take ownership, control, and management of those learning experiences?
7) How will you teach your students to read and write via digital means? – We know how important literacy skills are. But if we focus only on written and 2D texts, are students in danger of becoming “digitally illiterate”?
8) Are you prepared to model and explicitly teach relevant technological literacies to your students? – This might mean that a certain level of familiarity and confidence is required to be able to model and explicitly teach these. Moreover, how relevant are these activities for students? (Focusing only on publishing written texts on Microsoft Word isn’t going to cut it!)
9) Are you preparing your students for life, or just to do well on the next test that is given? – Is there a “so what” to teaching and learning with digital tools? Can students see a relevance and purpose for their learning?
10) Are you willing to let students have a digital learning device in their hands? What will you do to ensure that it happens? – It’s easy to make excuses as to why ICT is not used in a classroom. Maybe it’s the distraction, Maybe it’s the tech support, Maybe there is not enough to go around. Or maybe it doesn’t work 100% how you want it to work all the time. Work with what you have, or aim to improve the situation if you feel it is not adequate. Improve your guidelines and behavior policies so students have clear expectations on their behaviors with digital tools. Lobby parents and leadership for a 1:1 program, or investigate the possibility of students bringing in their own device.
Are these questions being answered in your schools?
Would you add any other questions to the list?