In the 10 years I have been in this school district, my educational technology practice has changed significantly. Initially, I had a traditional teaching style, similar to the behaviorist teaching method. I was in front of the classroom relaying the content to the students. Students would individually practice the content to show mastery through a worksheet. Students were assessed and the whole class moved onto the next topic. I had a computer and a Promethean Board. I had little training on how to create presentations with the Promethean Software, so the board was a “glorified presentation board”. I would search for the “cool new tools” to use in the classroom to teach content. I attended hour long training session to learn more tools, but the focus was the skill of the tool, not how to effectively use the it in the classroom. I look back to when I first used technology and realize that I lacked the knowledge and skills needed to implement technology successfully and effectively. As years went on, my approach to educational technology changed and my teaching style went to a more constructivist approach. I began to transform the learning experiences for my students through the use of technology that utilized essential 21st Century Skills.
In 2007, I started my inclusion of educational technology with nine computers in my classroom. That year, I began my three year district program called TEC (Technology Education Collaboration) Mentors, where monthly we met to discuss and share technology tools we were using with our students. After two years, I moved into an ITEC (Integrating Technology to Enhance Curriculum) Classroom where I was 1:1 with desktops. My focus continued to be simply fitting a technology tool into a lesson and substituting the computer for paper/pencil like activities. My students were word processing, creating brochures and posters, and researching content with websites I wanted them to use. It was not until I participated in a new district professional network called iPAC (Personal, Authentic, and Collaborative) when I began creating learning opportunities that was more student directed, offered choice, and the students became more responsible for their learning. This was when I began to look at my curriculum and what the students needed to learn and do, then I searched for the best tool for the learning. I received laptops, iPods, GPS, SMART Airliners, digital cameras, and FLIP cameras just to name a few technology tools I had to support and design learning to assist individual efforts to understand the content and make connections, which is a suggestion made in the book. (Jonaassen & Land, p5). Critical thinkers and collaborators were developing in my classroom and meaning was personal rather than universal, all components that need to be addressed in our book. (Jonaassen & Land, p4). I became a coach/facilitator to my students and learning was scaffolded to match what each student needed.
My teaching experiences and professional learning led me to a Technology and Learning Coach position for a school, where I continued to coach and scaffold the learning, but my learners became the teachers. I worked with the teachers individually, collaborating during their planning and implementation of lessons in the classroom. These peer coaching opportunities gave teachers individual attention they needed to gain confidence in using technology successfully in the classroom. I also conducted weekly trainings that would focus the content, technology tools and essential 21st Century Skills. After 4 years in that position, I have recently transitioned into a district position, a Technology Integration Specialist, and my learners are now teachers in the district and the Technology and Learning Coaches at each school. Professionally I would not be in this position unless my district was driven and innovative to be leaders in education. They envisioned 6 years ago where we needed to be and offered intensive professional development opportunities for interested teachers.
As a district Technology Integration Specialist, I am required to be informed of the latest best practices and transformative uses of computers in the classroom. I am well scripted when it comes to the SAMR model of technology integration in a classroom. However, I lack in my understanding in the TPCK model, which seems to be a better model for teachers to use when integrating technology. It requires teachers to still focus on the content, pedagogy, and knowledge, while the technology component will enhance it, if used effectively. Based on my initial reading of the article written by Angeli and Valanides, our district’s vision seems to be heading in this direction. My hopes for this class is to have a deeper and richer understanding of the design components required to create best practice examples for teachers. Currently, I am confident that I have many tools to assist schools and I successfully provide a great deal of support for the teachers. I will be a more valuable asset to the district if I had a solid foundation of the theories and methodology behind developing transformative learning experiences.