Sunday, February 19, 2012

Reflection on "Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society"

An instructor came to me this past week for information on procedures for creating podcasts.  For once, I was able to provide the instructor with, resources for acquiring software and tips on affective procedures for creation and incorporation of podcasts into coursework.
Upon reflection, the last eight weeks in this course in technology have brought me a wealth of information not only in the technical ability for the creation of blogs such as this one, but has provided me with the ability to meet the needs of educating students for the 21st Century.  The learning experiences were a stimulating opportunity to work collaboratively with peer teachers, with an emphasis on innovation and facility. This provided me with not only information and pedagogic resources but with an effective learning experience that I can translate to the instruction of my students
During a recent trip to the movies with my daughter a quote by the master of philosophy, Yoda came to mind, "Always in motion the future is.” This quote from the George Lucas movie, The Empire Strikes Back, is important for its relevance to the pace at which technology has advanced in the community beyond the classroom. In order for an instructor to provide, a student with the tools and capability to meet and master the requirements of becoming a productive positive member of society there has to be an awareness of this fact and its importance on how the instructor prepares for the learning experience.
The speed of growth has brought the need for change in many aspects of accepted pedagogy, and the affective strategies of implementation. Advancements in areas of growth such as social networking have had a significant effect on communication in the operation of industry, and the workforce, but where it has had the most profound effect is on today’s society and culture. This has translated to change in how the student acquires and uses new information.  The acquisition and the flow of information particularly at the students level has taken a turn away from information acquired within the classroom walls to interactive learning from peers, the connectivity that comes from this new digital age. What was not usual 10 years ago is not so today such as seeing students with their fingers flying over a digital device while also in deep conversations with a live friend or friends.   This brings relevance to a need for an adjustment of thinking on accepted thoughts on instruction and practices. One means by which to advance student learning is to move from teacher centered to student centered learning environments where the instructor becomes more of a facilitator and the instruction becomes more project based. In a world where the student will need to, interact and collaborate with others, be innovative, use more creative thinking skills, this approach to instructional practice is the manner in which I now see the need to bring greater focus.
Another change that I feel is necessary for growth within my instruction and the education process is the need to expand student learning beyond the walls of the physical classroom. I feel that I can do this in two ways. In terms of new technology, the virtual world provides great opportunity for not only information acquisition but for interactivity with peers, professionals, and other learning communities. With the incorporation of blog environments, and other forms of social media into the curriculum the student gains, information resources by which to expand their knowledge base, a community from which to develop future working relationships, and a system of interaction that will provide an opportunity for employment, and further lifelong learning.   
Where I come into the equation of providing an effective learning environment is becoming the nexus for their growth.  In a socio-economic, and, political climate that has brought a more restrictive nature to acquisition and implementation of new technology my goal comes in two parts. The first is to approach acquisition and employment of technology from a community based perspective. This would entail the development and use of community business and commercial contacts for the promotion and acquisition of not only new technology but for promoting the value of a tech savvy student as a member of the community and the work force. This has already begun with creating contacts with local business organizations for the sole purpose of developing the opportunity for students to interact with new technologies in use by local industry. The development of a working relationship between the two entities provides benefits for both.
At a more personal level, the facilitation of collaborative projects broadens the range of learning modalities that a student can strengthen and employ.  I am in the process of developing a creative reflection blog for my advanced art studio and photography students. This provides the student with a greater capacity to think creatively, and become more innovative in individual or collaborative efforts. As a result, of either directive for learning the motivation is the same, in that it provides students with the tools and the facility with which to use them productively. This benefits both the individual and the community by contributing to stabilization and growth of society as a whole. 
In reflection on the process of learning through the course of the instruction these last 8 weeks I feel that the goals that I have established for the advancement of my students is worthy of my own pursuits as well. I came into the course hesitant at my own abilities, and how they might be developed for the instruction of my students. I now feel that though I still consider myself among those identified as a digital immigrant, I am well on my way to attaining the same capacity that Marc Prensky, identifies as being a digital native. The continued academic pursuits in coursework like this in combination with further development of my Professional Learning Community in blog and Wiki format will advance the goals that I established in week one and will continue to provide the basis for effective instruction, because "Always in motion the future is.”

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