Wandering in the Desert
- I began this program to build on my career, unsure of which direction that would take me. I do not have a teaching certificate, but theology and religion teachers aren’t usually certified. I had some difficulty trying to find what kind of program would be suitable: I lacked the academic background to go into a Master's of Education or Master's of Computer Science based on my baccalaureate degrees. A Master's in Theology limited my career prospects. Unsure of where to look, a distant relative of mine who was completing this exact program advised me towards this option.
- In researching this particular Master's, I found that the program seemed ideal for my growth. This program was graduate work that could help build my career and would keep me close to the education world. It would also help me become a better teacher. For most of this degree program, my full-time day job was not active teaching like most of my classmates, but support staff for other teachers. I worked as Information Technology support for Christian Brothers College High School (CBC). I also taught religion classes for a local Catholic parish. What teaching experience I do have is more towards the traditional or lower tech side of teaching. Most of the schools I’ve worked for did not have 1:1 tablet or laptop setups, and some lacked anything more than a white board and markers for some classrooms.
- Before I started this degree program, I was confident in how to use technology in my classroom, but I’ve realized how much more I didn’t know.
Studying in the Oasis
- I’ve learned a considerable amount in a short thirty months taking one or two classes at a time, especially given my approach to learning the art and sciences of teaching was a nonconventional one.
- The first three classes that I took with the program were a cohesive review of web design or digital media production with which I had some exposure and experience. The fourth class, “Diffusion of Education Innovations” was a revelation! I had not been exposed to the theory of dissemination of new ideas and approaches. While we all watch our friends, family, students and colleagues exposed to new ideas, for the first time I was learning there was a scientific theory and reasons behind people reacting to new ideas and technology. The idea behind the five categories of people – innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards – was interesting to explore. While most people could readily agree behind the theory behind the five categories, I hadn’t considered the scientific methods to reach each category in question.
- For my final project in this class, I enjoyed making a Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) project to measure how family and friends adopted the use of tablets in technology. There were some surprising results in how well each of them adopted the technology, and how to classify each of them within the five categories.
Artifact: CBAM Project
- The second major idea that I’m taking away is the scholarly method to approach implementing technology in the classroom, a full school, or even a district. This came as a result of the Action Research class, in which we learned learned how to review reasearch on new technology, analyze, evaluate and devise a plan to implement in the classroom.
- The adjunct teaching I do for a local parish poses a challenge that relates directly to this issue. The focus of this class was how to bring technology to the classroom in a scholarly way, whereas the technology I had available to me in that classroom was very limited. I only had access to a whiteboard with markers, and a DVD player.
- I came up with a research project and how to bring a technology into my classroom. Creativity was definitely a requirement! The recent phenomenon of adult coloring books was my inspiration for this project; I looked into research that supported how art projects could be used to help students focus in class when used in conjunction with normal class work. My final Action Research Plan proposed spending the first five minutes of every class on art projects to assist students in their focus for class.
Artifact: Action Research Project
- The third lesson from this program is the knowledge of different models of teaching. As stated, my approach to teaching has been nontraditional; I’ve often had to learn on the job things that education majors learn in classes before they even reach student teaching. While I’ve abridged training to help remedy this, ultimately, it fell on my own common sense and what I observed good and fair teachers do in my own time as a student to fall back on when building my own class.
- The Instructual System Design class that most changed my perspective, not only technology implementation, but on day-to-day operations in the classroom was . I had picked up on a few of these designs myself, natively without formal explanation, but it was sobering and exciting to see them explained out in detail for the first time in both the text and the written page.
- I natively drifted towards a combination of Backwards Design and Gage’s Nine Events. My own education background was largely based on teachers who did predictable class models from day- to- day work. Several of my teachers talked us through using Backwards Design when it came to building long-term projects.
- The class was instructive on how to use teaching models to inform students in my classroom but also other faculty members. Our final project was to develop a proposed in-service for our fellow faculty in order to help them better train with four established pieces of technology.
Artifact: Instructional Design Project
Heading for the Beach
- In the time I’ve spent with this degree program, the most significant idea I am taking away is that it’s not the technology that matters, rather, it is how it is applied. A good teacher can make the most of only limited or considerable amounts of technology, but a fair or poor teacher will rely on the technology to replace good teaching methods.
- Depending on the type of school and class I taught, I’ve either felt intimidated by too much technology available to me or frustrated by the lack of technology available. Since going through this program, I do feel empowered that no matter in what environment I find myself, I have a tools of adaptation. My first goal is to become an Instructional Technology Coordinator for a district or a private school based on my skills.