Starting a course in technology was intimidating for me to say the least. I lacked the confidence that allows other to be more outgoing with this platform and I assumed that because I was somewhat disconnected from the technology world, that there was not room for me to grow with it. For me, technology has grown so rapidly and my use for it was slightly stifled as the next new device or software update rolled out. If there is something to be said about my ignorance with my own relationship towards technology, it would be that my ignorance was blissful. And as I step into a newer role, one that forces a stronger accountability for my own acquisition of technology skills, I realize that technology is not a fancy perk or extra, it is real and important. In order to remain effective, I must forge through my uncomfortableness with education in order to assist my own students with responsible utilization. “In an unimaginable complex future, the unenhanced person…will no longer be able to keep up with an enhanced human…. In the future, our young people won’t have the necessary competitive wisdom without it” (p. 202). My initial nerves for this class could be felt—I’m sure—by all of the members of my cohort. In an initial excerpt from our first assignment in class, I explain my trepidation towards technology:
I must be honest, I am not the most comfortable with technology. It is something that somewhat intimidates me, but I do find that once I get the hang of specific types of hard and software, it does become a lot of fun. People fear the unknowing and I have to be honest, to say the least, there is a lot I do not know about technology! I am sure that this course will do a great job of helping me develop a stronger foundation towards utilizing and supporting technological changes for the betterment of education (Ellis, 2017).
To say the least, my learning has evolved. I think a stronger statement that explains the process of my acceptance and utilization of technology as more along the lines of a transformative experience. An experience, where the assignments—groupwork, reflective posts, readings, videos, and feedback—have offered me an opportunity to truly reflect upon my own beliefs, exposure to other perspectives, and realities through research have provoked my desire to learn and use technology more.
There were a great many concepts or topics that were discussed in this coursework, but I think there are a few that really stood out to me as truly significant. First, is the focus of truly understanding—first and foremost—what the digital native sees as truly engaging learning. In order to do this, there must be a strong understanding of the thought processes of the digital native, but also how my “accent” (Prensky, 2012, p. 68), as a digital immigrant, truly influences the learning experiences of the digital native. Prensky (2012) explains, that “our students have changed radically” (p. 67) and learning to play to their strengths, facilitate learning that is engaging to them, and shifting our mindsets from the way it used to be, to the reality of what it really is, is not only important, but critical for optimal learning to occur.
What this means for me, is something that I quite honestly had not considered in the past. And that is, students of today are different than the students from two decades ago. I know we all have thought it, we all have jokingly inferred it, but there is real research that suggests that cognitive abilities of students—the manner in which they approach learning, what they retain, the manner in which they multi-task, the ability to grab information from rapidly overstimulated material—is drastically different of those from twenty years ago. Understanding this, looking at how to properly meet the needs of your students, and inevitably catering the learning experience to this is strongly beneficial to maintain optimal peak performance.
Another very strong topic of the course that really has helped me grow as a student and teacher, deals with the utilization of technology. Throughout this technology course, we have been required to participate in activities that utilize current technology. The benefits from this use, is the ability to become comfortable with the technology and open to how truly beneficial it can be for the classroom. Although these opportunities did worry me, I remained open and largely optimistic that the experiences would lead me to new thought and inevitably new knowledge. Bowen (2015) explains that “one favorable omen is the openness of many faculty to new ways of thinking—including the desirability of “flipping the classroom” ….and we have to be willing and open towards “changing the faculty role to spend less time lecturing and more time coaching students” (p. 61).
By far, this was the most engaging and helpful portion of the class for me. Allowing me the opportunity to delve into the technology and gaining an understanding of how to use it, not only helps me with my own teachers and students, but it gives me the opportunity to know more about it, which inevitably reduces the amount of fear and anxiety I feel towards it and the unknowing. Failing with the technology, getting the much-needed support from peers and the professor helped give me the confidence to fail and through those failures I found a great deal of success. Not only did I learn to utilize many different types of software, but I found ways to expand upon my own teaching practices that will help create engagement within the classroom.
Finally, the last influential focus within this class was the understanding of e-learning communities and how traditionally-based universities stand a very strong chance of losing much needed revenue in order to keep their programs alive at the institution. In order to achieve this, we learn that a strong hybrid system—something that utilizes both traditional and elearning formats for the coursework. “Blending the online and in-class environments lets both students and instructors make more focused use of their time, potentially producing a learning experience of both lower cost and higher quality” (Christensen & Eyring, 2011, p. 279). Schools must not only shift gears towards providing a strong mixture of the two programs, but they must be better attuned to meeting the needs of the individual student. This is a strong push for me to find opportunities to shift the learning experiences towards more self-directed challenges that address the specific needs of the individual rather than “blanket” lecturing to a group of 500 students. Ultimately, these concepts learned within this class have allowed me the opportunity to truly find an appreciation for technology and a greater understanding towards the students that walk into the school on a daily basis. I must be more accepting of the many types of technology that they use, but I must also develop a wisdom that allows the utilization of the technology to be both effective and productive.
Bowen, W. G. (2015). Higher Education in the Digital Age. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781400866137/
Christensen, C. M., Eyring, H. J. (2011-07-11). The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out, 1st Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781118956465/
Prensky, M. R. (01/2012). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning, 1st Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781452284194/