This week, I began teaching a course introducing potential Faculty of Education candidates to the world of teaching (visit the University of Lethbridge website to learn more about the ED 2500 – Orientation to Teaching course). Although the seventeen students involved in the course are not a part of the Faculty of Education yet, it is definitely what they are aspiring to achieve, hoping to join the next generation of teachers in schools. For this course, I have really aimed to integrate technology throughout my instruction and model for these future teachers how we can use a number of digital resources effectively to engage students. Although I do intend to share some reflections following the course, examining what worked well and what future revisions I would consider, I wanted to share some of the ways technology will be infused throughout the course. I would be very interested in the thoughts of current teachers and Education students regarding the intent!
Moodle – the course will take advantage of the University of Lethbridge’s Moodle platform extensively as a document repository, course organizer, and discussion forum throughout. Assignment exemplars, seminar agendas and instructional resources, and essentially everything needed for the course will find it’s home on the course Moodle site (available only to the instructors and students).
Kidblog – traditionally, the course valued the role of reflection for prospective (and practicing) teachers, through the use of journals. For this course, students will be using Kidblog to share their reflections, comment on each others’ thoughts and engage in professional dialogue (including their practicum teacher associates and school administration). By using Kidblog, I hope it adds a digital resource to their instructional toolbox that can be utilized with their own students in the future.
Webcasts – an important element of the course is a practicum component (largely observational and assisting in the classroom – a first chance to see the classroom through the eyes of the teacher). Students have written letters of introduction to their teacher associates in the past, sharing who they are and their excitement to be joining their classroom. In this course, we’re going to be accomplishing this through the use of webcasts. Through the use of unlisted Youtube webcasts, teacher associates will be sent a link of a video when the student teacher can share content found in those letters but hopefully in a way that can more accurately communicate who they are (and potentially be shown to students in the classroom prior to the student teacher joining the teacher and students).
WordPress – students will be establishing digital portfolios using WordPress (or other sites, if they wish), becoming the genesis of the professional portfolio developed throughout their time in the Faculty of Education. Hopefully, these sites can plant the seed that can become professional blogs for these students as they progress through their teacher education.
Wikispaces – a course wikispace has been developed for students to collaboratively construct knowledge through the seminar classes on subjects such as child development, classroom management and others. It is the intent that this space can become a resource referred back to a various stages throughout their career (and be shared with the greater global community)
Remind 101 – used to send reminders to students (via text or email), as well as celebrate learning from the class and practicum. Great way to easily send updates to the class.
Twitter – as part of the exploration around the value of establishing a PLN (Professional Learning Network) early in their career, students will be establishing Twitter accounts. Twitter will be used to share our learning, provide formative feedback through the course and begin building a professional presence online. Our course hashtag is #2500ya
PollEverywhere – used at various points in the course as a formative assessment tool and share reflections on a number of topics (often in conjunction with the Wordle feature to generate discussion). Hope to demonstrate the power of texting in the classroom (in one small way).
Google Forms – used to gather information from students at the start of the course (Who Am I survey), to learn more about them as individuals and learners.
Dropbox – used as a collaborative workspace to save shared documents when students are working on group educational issues presentations (to save the presentation lesson plan, student digital handout and any presentation resources)
TodaysMeet – intended to be used during guest speaking presentations to engage in interactive dialogue
Throughout the course, students are encouraged to have their laptops, iPads, tablets and smartphones open and in use as we collectively explore and learn about the complexities of teaching.
This is just an overview of some of the tools intended to be used during the 8 week course (and I know I am just scratching the surface). Although it is not a technology-focused course, my intention is to seamlessly infuse these and other digital tools to achieve two goals:
- Use technology to actively engage students and foster deeper learning (in a way that keeps focus on the learning, not the technology – it is just the means to an end, not the end itself). Essentially, infuse the technology because it can support richer learning.
- Model the infusion of technology and allow prospective teachers a chance to experience how digital tools and resources can support teaching and learning. I really hope that this can have a long term impact on this small cross-section of future teachers, essentially showing how technology can be used with kids in classrooms.
I know that nothing I have shared is rocket-science or things not being done by countless teachers in classrooms at every level every day. However, it is my attempt to ensure that learning about teaching is a technology rich experience that may someday have an impact on their own classrooms. If we want teachers to teach 21st century learners, they need to learn their craft in a similar manner.