When reflecting back on close to 30 years as an educator in PK-12, I am reminded of a quote by Robert Frost, “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” These words ring true with any subject or class that I am teaching. As an educator, I have been charged with providing my students with the resources, instruction and necessary supports that will allow them to master vital concepts and skills. I strive to awaken their talents, their interests, their curiosity, and a love of learning. These things are tools that will help students achieve success and become ready for higher education and career opportunities, in addition to becoming contributing members of society. This, most definitely, includes the skills and training needed to utilize technology as a productivity and creative tool for expression. Students must be capable of demonstrating knowledge regardless of the method or tool that they have available.
Throughout my educational journey, both as a student and as a teacher, I feel I have developed a clear philosophy of educational technology. Technology should be seamlessly integrated into the educational experience to increase student learning and engagement. It must be an integral part of the learning process, not simply an add-on or novelty. Therefore, any philosophical beliefs that I have about this field are under the umbrella of a philosophy of education itself.
First, I feel that all students should be provided with personalized instruction designed to bring them from where they are to where they need to go, and beyond. Education is not a one size fits all program. Remediation and enrichment are equally important to make sure that no one is left to stagnate. Technology can provide the platform and resources necessary to make sure that one teacher is able to fill the needs of a classroom full of students. Through learning management systems and digital curriculum, teachers can ensure that appropriate learning materials are available for students at anytime. As stated by Sir Ken Robinson, “The answer is not to standardize education, but to personalize and customize it to the needs of each child and community. There is no alternative. There never was.” Secondly, I believe that all students and teachers should have access to multiple technology platforms, applications, and devices. They should have opportunities to use this technology as creators, not merely consumers of information. Allowing students the opportunity to create content, express their learning creatively, and share their knowledge with others is engaging, empowering, and enduring. This type of active learning ensures that students will not only master the skills necessary to be successful now, but they will develop strategies to keep them successful in higher education and the workplace. By having proficiency with multiple platforms, this ensures that the student’s success is not dependent on one type of device or assignment. Lastly, technology encourages the use of authentic assignments and assessments that allow students to practice skills within the context of college and career. Students are able to experience real world situations where the concepts they are learning have value and are needed. This increases student engagement and reveals the true value of the learning process and skill acquisition. With these three components in mind when planning technology integrated lessons, student achievement and engagement should soar!
My goals for completing the program are to empower the students and teachers of my district to become engaged, connected, creative problem-solvers when it comes to technology and learning. I plan to accomplish this goal by continuing to challenge our faculty members to develop assessments that truly test knowledge within a real world scenario that allow students to creatively demonstrate their learning. In addition, I plan to continue providing support for my teachers when designing both face-to-face and online learning opportunities which are personalized to each student, accounting for modification and enrichment needs to increase student learning. And lastly, I will continue working toward my goal by putting into practice the strategies and methods that I learned during my time in this program. I know I am a better teacher, a better designer and a better Instructional Technologist because of the Ed Tech program at Oklahoma State.
My motto, by George Couros sums up my thoughts perfectly - "Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers is transformational."