It is hard to believe that another summer session has come and gone so quickly. This was a course that I was really excited to take as I frequently teach online and am always looking for ways to use technology to get students out of the LMS and engaged in real, honest history content. I was certainly not disappointed this summer as we explored a variety of ways to integrate technology into our content and lessons. Everything I developed this semester is something that I can use in my classes this fall – that’s a win!
For this reflection, we were asked to write about the following topics:
- What have you learned?
- How have you grown professionally?
- How your own teaching practice or thoughts about teaching have been impacted by what you have learned or accomplished in this course?
- How theory guided development of the projects and assignments you created?.
This summer I learned so many things. First and foremost, I realized that I have a lot to learn about technology integration. I wish I could take the class again to absorb even more information! This semester was one of those moments where I realized the absolute depth of information out there on technology integration (in general) and at times it felt overwhelming. In this age of overwhelming information, each teacher has to make decisions on what to use and focus on as it applies to their students and content. Technology integration should be purposeful, focused, and driven by their content\students rather than the tool. Otherwise, initiatives will largely be ineffective or unsuccessful.
Professionally, I have truly grown in terms of thinking about how I use technology with students. This summer I realized that I need to spend more time aligning my technology choices with intended outcomes. My grandmother has always loved to say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the instance of technology integration, an ounce of planning is truly worth a pound of achievement. Now that I am formally moving into a full-time teaching position at one of our community colleges, I intend to do this technology integration planning weekly.
In terms of theory, I have spent the past few years struggling with the balance of constructivism and objectivism. My instruction is firmly constructivist – it’s student-centered with lots of opportunity for exploration. However, I have worried throughout my career that while my students learn to think independently perhaps they are not getting a strong enough foundation in history. I especially worry about this in my online courses. This semester has given me the chance to explore those themes in greater depth. Rather than being either-or, I now believe that instruction should be a good balance between constructivist and objectivist approaches depending upon need. There are a few tools that allow the teacher lots of flexibility in terms of approach. One of my favorite finds this summer was Versal which allows you to create a number of activities and compile online resources to create a fully integrated online lesson or unit. I plan to create and embed several Versal units into my Blackboard classes this fall in order to achieve a stronger objectivist-constructivist balance for students.
I generally love blogging and reflecting on my work, especially in the summer. However, I just could not get into my course blog this semester as I did with some of the projects and activities we did in class. The causes of my blogging apathy elude me. It could be that I am taking 3 classes and teaching 3 classes at once (I’m exhausted) or perhaps it was that there didn’t seem to be much history technology integration scholarship out there. That being said, I did find something to talk about in each blog which I believe had some relevance in terms of history technology integration. Below are my thoughts on each of the rubric segments for course blog.
Content (65/70) – I think this was my strongest area of performance in terms of the blog entries. Each week, I tried to really connect the thoughts I had in the activities with research (or lack thereof) or the course materials. Most of my posts were genuinely personal reflecting issues I’ve had or observed in my career in education. It is the personal reflections that were possibly the most helpful to me in the blogging process.
Reading & Resources (20/20) – Unless my blog post was purely a professional reflection, I always posted references. This is something that I have gotten into a habit of after two years of doctoral courses. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t find more history focused resources on technology integration that were current. However, knowing that this is a significant gap in the literature gives me some guidance in terms of future scholarship.
Timeliness ( 15/20) – Despite my best intentions, I almost never posted before the due date. I needed the week to really process everything going on in the course (theories, materials, activities, etc.) which often meant writing my blog at the end of the week.
Responses to Other Students (25/30 points) – I think there was only one instance where I didn’t get to add responses to other’s blogs. Otherwise, I tried to be diligent about reading numerous blogs and made comments when I felt like I had something relevant or helpful to add to the conversation.
Overall, I think my blog performance was largely proficient this semester. Had I been able to find more rich resources that applied to history and if I had been more timely, I think my performance may have shifted more towards outstanding.