Reflections in a mirror or a flowing stream?

“Without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.” Albert Einstein

Have you ever wanted to create a responsive animated teaching video, gather your RSS feeds, write your notes by hand, show your students some exemplars, model a concept, host creative and innovative student work and give feedback all in one place and on the go? I have a confession to make; sometimes I turn green with envy when I watch gamers use sophisticated features to play intricate and complicated games with multiple communicative and interactive tools at their disposal. Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010), put forward the argument that other professionals in the 21st century use the technological tools for intended outcomes and we accept this as a norm. In fact we would question a doctor if he did not order the technology enabled tests required to reach a diagnosis and would welcome any latest innovation that has entered the medical arena. Lawless and Pelligrino (cited in Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010), query how often teachers design the use of technology to facilitate the learning outcomes.

As we move towards the semantic web, I know it is possible, as we speak to have this drag and drop technology at our disposal, if we could only move away from putting up barriers for ourselves. We are the change agents, not the technological tools and Harris (cited in Brinkerhoff, 2006), cautions us against the use of technology as a ‘Trojan horse’.

Teach-New-ConceptsHinged on these qualities of the teachers, who are cognizant of the facts that relevant knowledge, self-efficacy and existing beliefs, the question can then be posed about how institutions can be supported to encourage them. Alongside of pedagogical, technological and content knowledge, it is imperative that we explore  the aspects of curricular and learner knowledge as well. In the medical field there is a quote that is often used; ‘learn, do, teach.’ I think it is relevant in all spheres of life as we ourselves negotiate this journey and assist our students to discover and dream of things to come in their future. Webb and Cox (2003) put it as equipping students to ‘ take control of their learning in ICT-rich environments.’

So how am I journeying through all these frameworks and memes (Brodie, 2004) of school and professional cultures? What is my plumbline and how do I construct the pedagogical foundations and the content structures around me? Do I have a sink-or-swim attitude or am I informed of the content and curricular knowledge to change my own didactic approaches to suit the needs of the learners? I am posing these rhetorically; deeper questions that reveal something of myself to me as I face the mirror.

However, I never ever leave the mirror without addressing some of these thoughts; did the students learn what I intended them to learn today? Did I allow for inquiry, innovation and individual voices to emerge through? Was there equity; did everyone have the same opportunity to learn and explore the material? Finally I never venture away without identifying the students that thought differently today because they read a bit more, watched a video or communicated with there peers (Hammond 2011), because they extended some ‘intellectual energy.’

Walking away from the mirror and shifting to a birds eye view, is a very powerful journey for me. It permits me to realise that I will learn again tomorrow from what I teach. As I continue to work towards linking communities, in this co-evolutionary educational and technological global ecosystem (Davis, Eickelmann & Zaka, 2013) ,  I know tomorrow will be a new day and bring a new set of challenges and achievements, making learning sustainable in an ever changing environment.

 References

Davis, N., Eickelmann, B., & Zaka, P. (2013). Restructuring of educational systems in the digital age from a co‐evolutionary perspective. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(5), 438-450.

Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010). Teacher technology change: How knowledge, confidence, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of research on Technology in Education, 42(3), 255-284.

Hammond, M. (2011). Beliefs and ICT: what can we learn from experienced educators?. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(3), 289-300.

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