“When it comes to learning theories there are several major schools of thought to choose from – behaviorism, cognitivism, constructionism, and social constructionism to name but a few. Add into the mix Gardner’s multiple intelligences, Maslow’s humanistic approaches, and Vygotsky’s social learning theory and one has an almost overwhelming variety of methods to employ. Each has had a spot in the limelight when current educational practices were aligned with it. While there are many benefits to each, I have found that an amalgam of bits and pieces of each are what works best for me.”
The above quote was taken directly from my application for week one of this course. This was the premise of my personal learning theory at that time. During the ensuing six weeks and after intensive study, I have come to refine it. The newest learning theory, connectivism, is one where the socialization piece is emphasized as a learning tool
(Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2012). Technology is rampant with support for this – Facebook, Twitter, wikis, blogs such as these, Skype, and the list goes on. As a cooperative/collaborative learning advocate for the past twenty years, these innovations excite me. It takes learning beyond the classroom walls and places it in the hands of the learners themselves. As Dr. Michael Orey pointed out in the video for this week, technology can be either an instructional tool as it is when placed in the hands of the instructor or a learning tool when placed in the hands of the students (Laureate Education, 2012). Whereas I used to see these technologies as mere social networking sites, they have taken on new meaning and scope when presented in the realm of educational possibilities.
The specific technologies that I want to incorporate into my teaching repertoire at this time are the concept map and virtual field trips. I have utilized concept maps in my classroom for many years and in a variety of ways. They can be a diagnostic assessment to determine what knowledge the students already have. They can be a formative assessment to check on students understanding of the curriculum so that misconceptions may be cleared up. Additionally, they can be a summative assessment to discern the knowledge that students obtained from the unit of study just completed. What makes this method invigorating for me is the infusion of technology into it. By linking their concepts via the internet and being able to support their findings with websites, images, maps, and the like, student understanding and motivation is increased tenfold. Additionally, this technology is inclusive of students working cooperatively/collaboratively.
The second technology that I want to integrate into my teaching is virtual field trips. With the world being as close as a click away, it makes sense to bring it to my students (as opposed to taking my students into the world). With the added restrictions of working in a juvenile detention facility, I teach many students who have a very limited view of the world. Taking them to places that they would otherwise never get to see or explore can make the subject matter come alive in a way that just reading it on a static page never could.
One long term goal that I want to set for myself is the transition from using the interactive whiteboard as an instructional tool to that of a learning tool. To do this I will rewrite one lesson from each unit that I teach, changing the focus to a more student centered approach. As I refine and redesign the lessons, students will become empowered as learners and utilize technology not just for the sake of energizing the lesson but as an actual learning tool. I would stick with this practice of redesigning the interactive whiteboard lessons until the majority of them demonstrate a learner centered approach.
The second long term goal that I have set for myself is to maintain the professional network that I have started throughout my studies at Walden by accessing them once a month to hone my teaching practices within the classroom. Being the only history teacher in my building, it is essential for me to connect with like-minded educators who are teaching the same content as myself to discuss ideas, grading systems, technology integration, and the like. Additionally, I have subscribed to a select few technological blogs to keep current on emerging technologies. When I infuse these two together, they become a powerful weapon in my teaching arsenal allowing me to impact a diverse student population.
Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2012, January 26). Connectivism. Retrieved April
3, 2012, from Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology:
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer).(2012). Technology: Instructional Tool vs. Learning Tool
[Video Webcast]. Retreived from http://www.coursecurl.com