Design narrative for Technology in the classroom course, week 1
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24 March 2014
Title: First week technology in the classroom Course
I work on an island as facilitator of some of the courses of a neighbouring island’s university. Besides being facilitator I am also teaching a course myself called Technology in the classroom. I was asked to teach this course based on my current studies and on my previous experience as a teacher.
The university rents several classrooms in a building in town from which we organise a few parttime teacher training programmes for local people who are not able to leave the island to study. One of these programmes is for students who already have a Bachelor Degree in a certain field and who now want to become teachers. This course is a course that is part of their curriculum.
The course objectives are similar to the course objectives of the course that is taught on the other island, but since I had not received any study material I was able to organize the course in my own way.
Some students are already working as teachers and they need a qualification.
There are 13 students.
Their ages vary: between 30 – 55 years old.
Their nationalities vary: local, other Caribbean islands and European background.
They have varying ICT skills and experience.
Most of the students are quite motivated, though they are all pressed for time. They come to class two evenings a week for their courses.
The course will last for seven weeks.
I want the students to develop their own vision on technology in education during the 7-week course. They will have several hands-on assignments to experience for themselves what it is like to learn using technology tools.
I decided to set up a forum which the students were asked to join in order to post the results of their assignments and to collaborate.
On Sunday of week 1, I sent the students an email with the course description and the first week’s assignments. In the email I explained to them that they would not have face to face classes. I also described why I chose not to organize any face to face lectures or workshops. Furthermore, they were asked to join the forum that I had set up using a free forum service www.Proboards.com
I let my students know that the assigments would be posted on the forum from now on and that I would also add them to the Dropbox that they share.
Since it was the first week there were two introductory assignments.
Assignment 1: comment on 4 videos that give an idea of the effects of technology (utopian and dystopian views).
Assignment 2: make a digital footprint about the role technology plays in your everyday life. Make use of e.g. Pinterest, Tumblr and Microsoft Photostory
On Monday 4 students had joined the forum. Only 1 posted something.
On Tuesday I spoke to a few of my students and they told me that they did not like computers and that they did not have a lot of time. I explained to them that the course is part of their qualification and that contributing to the forum was part of their mark. They do not have to like computers. I told them that I want them to use the activities to develop their ideas on the use of technology for their lessons.
That evening three more students joined the forum and started posting.
During the week I also added the assignments for week 2.
On Friday I sent another email to the group to let them know that week 1 was almost over but that it was not a problem if they had not been able to join or post yet. They can always post and reply to the posts.
During the weekend three more students joined making the total 10 (out of 13), three of whom have not posted anything yet.
At the start of the second week I sent another optimistic email to the group, thanking them for the contributions and again letting them know that it is no problem if they have not posted anything yet.
This resulted in another member.
I had been expecting the students to join and start right away because I had heard from the other teachers that they are a very motivated group. I had prepared all kinds of fun and interesting assignments and I was looking forward to their comments and discussions.
So I was somewhat confused that they were not all that enthusiastic as I was. I also noticed that their first posts were mainly about how to use the tools (e.g. How do you make a Pin on Pinterest?). They appeared to be hindered by the ICT component of these assignments. Since I intended for them to practice and learn by doing I decided to let them suffer and pointed to online tutorials.
In these first posts some of the students also wanted me to comment on whether they had done well. They expected confirmation from me as a teacher. This was not what I had in mind, because in my view confirming their post would stop the other student from commenting.
The level of their entries was also rather superficial in the beginning.
During the week I mainly asked questions (such as: would this work in your classroom?) or gave them links to other sites to provoke deeper thought. Sometimes I would use the thumbs up to show them they were on the right track. And as the week went on and more students joined I noticed that the level of their discussions was gaining depth.
Each time a new member joined I sent them a personal mail through the forum site welcoming them to the forum.
In conclusion I can say that I have needed to adapt my expectations. I will have to go at a lesser pace than I had in mind. There are some students in the group who are more used to working with modern technology than others, so I will try to incorporate different kinds of activities and give them more choices.
I think the emails that I sent to the group have helped to bridge their fear of working like this. Also, reading the peer replies has given them the assurance that they are not the only ones who find it hard. However, I was very happy to receive an email from one student in the group complimenting the set-up of the course. He also wanted to let me know that he was very happy with the innovative approach because that was what he had expected of this course.
In week 2 there will be several ‘light’ assignments from which the students can choose one or more to help them think about learning and technology. Also, they will be asked to summarize an academic text on the challenges of education in a digital society. Last but not least I will provide a list of competencies a modern day teacher should have in relation to ICT and ask them to rate themselves.
Who knows, maybe in the end they will all be able and willing to incorporate technology into their lessons from a balanced perspective.