Tag Archives: Educational Technology

Learning from a Distance

I recently researched distance learning for a paper. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into the research, but I came away with some valuable insights, as well as some issues to ponder.

One of the major ideas I came across is that resistance to distance learning often comes about because teachers want to keep the traditional classroom format while integrating new technologies into the process. I think it’s a common occurrence that teachers (or anybody, really) are used to the “old” methods. So instead of looking at the new technologies as ways of changing some aspects of their classroom that aren’t successful with students who work best in alternate modalities, they try to substitute it in. Oftentimes, that means that they’re not taking full advantage of the capabilities of the educational technology. I’ve recognized the same tendencies in myself. It’s easier to work from a place of comfort. When you’re familiar with a way of doing things, it’s obviously difficult to change.

There’s also the wariness of the new technology. As I think everybody knows, it can be intimidating when you’re encountering something new. What’s more, frustration can get the best of anybody.

I think back on Dr. Ransom’s advice to try to master one new thing at a time. I think it’s important to try out one piece of educational technology, get a feel for it. If it’s not something you’re comfortable with, it’ll be difficult to use it with your students. Once you’ve mastered it (or since technology is changing all the time, once you’ve reached a good comfort level with it), try out something new.

There’s one resource that I keep forgetting about, and that’s the students. I’m becoming increasingly aware that there are certain technologies that I won’t know about, but my students will have been exposed to. I’ve often found that children like to be able to teach adults, as well. I think it’s a good lesson when kids learn that adults are educating themselves all the time, too. Learning is a lifelong process that never ends. When you share your excitement to learn, you have the ability to teach your students that learning is exciting.

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FUNdamental Education

In case you think it’s a typing error, I did capitalize FUN on purpose.  It’s been one of the ideas that I think about in relation to education.  You know those moments in any class you take where you’re just really excited about what you’re going to do?  Whether it’s a new book (I love, love, love new books) or a topic you’re interested in or passionate about or just the chance to explore something new.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about the Educational Technology class (I swear I’m not trying to suck up by saying this) is just the chance to explore new things.  It’s just cool.  I had no idea that GoogleDocs had so many features.  Getting the chance to get to know my classmates by sharing documents with them is just plain fun to me.

I want to capture that sense of excitement and just plain fun in my own teaching.  One of the things that could potentially hold that back is the notion of “teaching to the test”.  In a comment from my last post, a fellow blogger (from Australia!) named Paula Thomas mentioned instrinsic motivation, and that’s exactly what I want my students to feel.  It’s just difficult to feel that about learning when it’s not necessarily what you’re interested in but what’s required.

I’m starting to see how introducing new technology can “shake things up” in the classroom.  Having to write a paper can be a little more interesting if you get to explore GoogleDocs while writing it; if the use of that technology helps you to become a better writer by letting you get instant feedback from your teacher, that can change the way you learn and maybe the way you feel about learning.

I’m still struggling with this idea.

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