Final Reflections– EDLD 5364

These five weeks have probably been the most formative and powerful in the entire graduate program. Ultimately, as each person enrolled seeks to augment their skills and abilities regarding the implementation of technology into the curricula, we are essentially asking the same question, “How do we teach with technology?” While I actually believe this question will be completely irrelevant in the future (much in the same way if you asked someone today how they planned on incorporating each child having a pencil they would give you a funny look), it is something that, at least for now, must be addressed. The main ideas that I drew from this course, reinforcing ideas already living deep within, were as follows:

  1. Every child should have the same opportunities to learn and thus, the same access to the curriculum (CAST: udl questions, 2009)
  2. Students should be responsible for creating their own learning, which looks very different than the schooling their teachers had growing up.
  3. Students should be working both collaboratively and cooperatively in order to create their own learning.
  4. Educators must constantly look for ways to assess student learning that accurately reflects their knowledge of the content.
  5. Educators must become co-learners with their students, designing curricula collaboratively and in a way that meets the four criteria mentioned above.

 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) must be the way that all educators (certainly not just technology integrators) view their course design. All students must have access to the curriculum. We all inherently know this, but we don’t always design or create their learning environments with this understanding at the forefront of our minds. Many times we only think of IEP’s and making sure we have printed off the class notes for the children that need them. UDL, however, provides a larger framework that addresses the “what,” “how,” and “why” of learning, differentiating the learning experience so that it is relevant to all students, regardless of ability or disability (CAST: udl questions, 2009).

 

As students begin constructing their own learning, the teacher moves from the role of “purveyor of knowledge” to that of co-learner with the students. This, paired with the notion that information (that is, raw data) is ubiquitous, means teachers no longer have the corner market when it comes to the distribution of knowledge. This, I believe is rather empowering for the students. This means that instead of spending time with information acquisition, educators can instead focus on the application, synthesis, and analysis of information. (Sowash, 2009)

 

Naturally, this leads to the question that is quite the hot topic for political debate: how do you assess this kind of learning? I was fortunate enough to attend a training in the summer of 2010 with Dr. Kay Burke where she discussed ideas from her latest book, “Balanced Assessment: From Formative to Summative.” In this book, Dr. Burke argues that we must use varying forms and types of assessment and that assessment (gathering information to make instructional decisions) differs from evaluation (collecting information and making a judgment about it). Assessment is more important than evaluation, since it inherently means an on-going cyclical process of assessing, teaching, and discovering (Burke, 2010). When assessment is taken hand-in-hand with the numerous technology tools available, the possibilities are truly limitless. As is pointed out in “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works,” “it should comprise not only teacher-designed tests and projects, but also students’ self-assessments, peer assessments, and automated assessments generated by hardware and software” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). Further, with the ability to put technology into the hands of students, “Perhaps the most obvious use of Web 2.0 tools for assessment would be for students to be able to show what they know in a wide variety of media” (Solomon & Schrum, 2007).

 

Enter this course’s group project. We were to work collaboratively in teams of three to five to develop a lesson, teacher professional development, assessment, intervention strategies, and more, all created with universal design principles in mind. It was a great experience working with my team (comprised of Tammy Bybee, Rachel Fickenscher, and Janette Hill) and a great learning experience on how curricula should be developed. We all spent hours reading, researching, and developing content (including, but not limited to: ebooks, videos, websites, and lesson plans) so that the students we were developing this for would be given equal access to the curriculum and a relevant, engaging lesson that could easily be applied to an existing classroom. Our lesson actually ended up being a school-wide curricular unit dealing with weather patterns, cultural studies, geologic events, and more (Bybee, Fickenscher, Garner, & Hill, 2011).

 

By implementing the very tools we were reading and learning about in a collaborative experience, I believe the project (and the skills required) became very “real” in that we now have experience seeing how the process should play out in our jobs. I am excited about taking the knowledge and skills acquired in this course and implementing them at the campus at which I work. I am confident that the potential exists for a sea change in student learning and assessment, but I know that it rests (at least partly) with me. Will I take the initiative to make it happen? Or will I sit and wait, thinking that someone else will take the big ideas (see previous reflection; Week 5) and implement them?

 

References:

Cast: udl questions and answers. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.cast.org/udl/faq/index.html
Sowash, J. (2009, November 6). Google-proof questioning: a new use for bloom’s taxonomy [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://electriceducator.blogspot.com/2009/11/google-proof-questioning-new-use-for.html
Burke, K. (2010). Balanced assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 39.
Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New tolls, New schools, Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education

 

Bybee, T, Fickenscher, R, Garner, G, & Hill, J. (2011, March). Teaching with technology: team awesome. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/teachingwithtech2011/

 

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