Course Wrap-up and Reflections

In this, my last (or one of my last) blog posts for EC&I 832, I will aim to answer some fairly loaded questions:

  • What new understandings of the role of educational technology to support learning have you gained, acted on or perhaps strengthened?
  • What has had the most influence on your horizon of understanding?
  • What new questions have emerged for you?

It is no easy feat to answer such questions.  For me, a course such as this becomes so intertwined with my everyday life; it becomes a part of who I am.  It is very difficult to determine starting and ending points or to measure growth.  One of the pieces or fragments from this course that will continue to have shaping influence on my horizon of understanding is my knowledge of the LoTi Digital-Age framework. I would consider myself a ‘digital native’, and as such, integration of technology is a relatively natural part of my teaching practice.  Before this course, I would have considered myself to be rated quite highly on any scale measuring technological integration in the classroom.  However, what I have found is that regardless of my familiarity with technology, the higher level of a framework such as the LoTi levels 5 or 6 are still extremely difficult to reach.  Even though I would consider myself a digital native and a daily user of web technologies, I would still honestly rate myself somewhere slightly above average at a level 4a or 4b.  Finding ways to broaden students’ horizons and break down the barriers of physical walls; initiating opportunities to encourage students to build networks and to communicate globally; enabling collaborations that extend beyond.  These are very difficult things to do, and I suppose that this is one of the most important understandings that I will take with me.  I will continue to ask myself how do I do this?  How can I create environments in which such collaborations can exist?

From this class, I take with me the challenge to seek to answer these questions.  I embark, with excitement, down new paths of discovery and on new projects.  I continue to play with new technologies and to find ways to use these technologies to increase literacy and communication skills among my students.

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Identifying My Current Coordinates

It is without any doubt in my mind that I am on a very significant part of my path of professional development.  It seems like a great time to check the compass and think about my current coordinates.   For anyone interested in educational technologies and their link to pedagogy, the following ‘compasses’ provide great food for professional reflection.   The LoTi Digital Age Framework (The Levels of Teaching Innovation) is a great tool for classroom teachers to measure their implementation, authenticity, and effective use of digital tools and resources in the classroom.  Take a look… the LoTi Digital Age Framework… Where do you see yourself?  The National Education Technology Standards (NETS) has great information for teachers, as well as for administrators, and even for students to determine their position on the map of technological literacy.

Even though I found that I rated much higher on the NETS scale, I have found the LoTi Framework to be most useful in determining my own personal coordinates and helping to chart my course forward.  The LoTi Framework is a spectrum of integration levels of technology in pedagogical practice.  It begins at Level 0 (Non-Use) on one extreme and ends with Level 6 (Refinement) at the other extreme.  Awareness, Exploration, Infusion, Mechanical Integration, Routine Integration, and Expansion make up the middle ground of spectrum.

Although I have found some matches from my own pedagogical practice with levels lower, and some from level higher on the spectrum, I would most accurately chart myself somewhere around Level 4a: Mechanical Integration on the LoTi spectrum.  This is not a terrible place to be.  However, there is room for improvement, and the levels of Routine Integration or Expansion is where I have set my aim.

There are some obstacles that I will need to overcome in order to reach these levels of pedagogical practice.  These higher levels involve engaging students in exploring and solving real-world issues with the use of digital tools.  They involve collaborations that extend beyond the classroom, and students using complex digital resources to demonstrate complex levels of thinking (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) and deep understanding of content.  These are good goals, for any teacher.   They provide some guidance as I move forward on my pathway to becoming the most effective educator I can possibly be.