My course, Integrating Educational Technology, is coming to a close. We began by looking at learning theories. I was strongly encouraged to make connections between my work as a primary teacher and the learning theories we have been exploring. I now have a new appreciation for the work of Vygotsky (and to think he died in 1938). Vygotsky proposed learning is socially constructed. Based on my last experience with being a student, learning was a private, individual affair (yes – it was a long time ago). “Knowledge is not transferred passively, but is personally constructed.” (Hall, 2007, p.95) I have been personally constructing my own knowledge through writing responses and reflections, making connections to my work and concepts, keeping a blog, and reading/pondering other’s work. Posting blogs and sending tweets are two examples of socially constructing knowledge I frankly thought I was much too shy to participant in. When I began grad school in July, I knew what and why I wanted to learn, but I had not considered the how.
Learning has consistently been the foundation of our work. Knowledge may have been a trickle, but with technological advances, it is a deluge. (Siemens, 2006) This course modeled knowledge creation versus knowledge consumption. Siemens (2006) says learning is messy and chaotic. That tells me it is okay to take my orderly classroom where everyone is doing the same thing and differentiate for individual learners (which at first glance looks ‘messy’). It’s okay to make mistakes. Incorporating technology in a meaningful way, through the lens of TPACK (Harris, Mishra & Koehler, 2009) is common sense…and a lot harder than it looks. Asking students to construct knowledge and make connections, is a necessity and something for us all to strive for in our pursuit of instructional excellence. It’s messy, but worthwhile. Neither does it happen overnight. “Real learning happens in bursts, and often those bursts occur in places or situations that are out of the ordinary.” (Godin, 2012, p.144) Those serendipitous conversations in the hallway are invaluable.
The work of George Siemens (2004) was the beginning of my own conscious connections to my own learning and to my work. Siemens refers to connectivism as a model of learning. He speaks of how one can take action in order to provide value to knowledge changes and latest trends. He suggests becoming active in the conversation of organizational change. Individuals form connections within the whole, make mistakes, dialogue with colleagues, and have a strong level of trust. It also takes an investment of time by all members of a learning community. Knowing this, I feel a sense of responsibility to my colleagues and students to share my time, my learning, and my mistakes and be a positive contributor to our school culture.
“It is likely that teachers will experience more success and less frustration if they take small, but progressive steps toward change.” (Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon & Byers, 2002, p. 512) Sound advice for those of us on the steep learning curve of using technology in pedagogically sounds ways to extend learning for students. As Godin (2012) encourages, aiming to learn something new every day will move us towards change. It may very well transform education.
Godin, Seth. Stop Stealing Dreams (What Is School For?). (Free Online Publication, 2012). Retrieved from: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/02/wwwstopstealingdreamscom-my-new-manifesto-is-now-live.html
Hall, A., (2007). Vygotsky Goes Online: Learning Design from a Socio-cultural Perspective, Learning and Socio-cultural Theory: Exploring Modern Vygotskian Perspectives International Workshop 2007, 1(1), 2007.
Harris, J., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 393-416. Retrieved from: http://mkoehler.educ.msu.edu/OtherPages/Koehler_Pubs/TECH_BY_DESIGN/AERA_2007/AERA2007_HarrisMishraKoehler.pdf
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Retrieved from: http://www.elearnspace.org/KnowingKnowledge_LowRes.pdf
Zhao, Y., Pugh, K., Sheldon, S. & Byers, J.L. (2002). Conditions for classroom technology innovations. Teachers College Record, 104(3), 482-515. Retrieved from: http://www.jcu.edu/education/dshutkin/ed585/TCR_Tech.pdf