Educational Technology Philosophy

"If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow." - John Dewey

My Educational Technology Philosophy

My experiences over the past four years teaching in the classroom, the ten years I spent teaching piano from home, and my own formal education have been major factors in developing my personal philosophy about educational technology. My ambition is to embrace change and continuously mature in my personal and professional use of technology. My core beliefs are as follows:

  • Pedagogy is an art that is constantly evolving. This includes best teaching practices, technology integration, and instructional media.
  • Teaching students to be technologically literate is an important responsibility of today’s educators.
  • Technology, when designed and implemented using the TPACK model, promotes learning and engagement in students of all ages, intelligences, and abilities.

My experiences

I have developed my educational technology philosophy not only through my experiences as an educator, but also my experiences as a student. I attended eight different schools in four different states before graduating high school. I went to college on three campuses and learned both in-person and online. I have personally taught in a Title IX high school located in a rough neighborhood where students had almost no access to school provided technology. Currently, I teach in a school where a majority of the students drive cars far nicer than my own, and each high school student has their own MacBook provided for them by the district to use for the duration of their four years. I recognize that not all students learn on a level playing field, however we must always be striving to move forward. These experiences, past, present, and likely future, have taught me that the only constant in education is change.

Pedagogy

When I was preparing to take my pedagogy certification test a few years ago, the advice that I received across the board was to answer the questions as though I had perfect students with perfect parents and taught in a perfect school. I think the idea was that teachers should be aware of what is commonly called “best practice” in education. This idea can be confusing to new members of the educational industry because the best and hardest part about being a teacher is that what is working for the students you have today probably won’t work for the students you have tomorrow. This is why I believe that although the subject matter I am required to teach probably won’t change drastically – the way in which I teach it absolutely should. For example, in teaching students about scatterplots, should I teach them to simply eyeball it and draw the line of best fit without showing them the technology to get actual equations from their graphing calculators? No! The change involved with the evolvement and improvement of technology has, in my experience, often proven to be for the benefit of our students. As expressed in Reiber’s model of technology integration, “…the educational system must continue to evolve and adapt to remain effective.” (Reiber, L., n.d.)

Digital Literacy

For a student to be digitally literate they must have the appropriate knowledge and skills to participate in the digital transfer of ideas and information. This could be through social media, remote collaboration sites, or communication avenues. It is the responsibility of parents, teachers, and administrators to ensure that our students are being taught how to function in this information age. In my classroom we often talk about the presence students have online, and how that will likely have an effect on their future. Sadly, there are many teachers who consider educating students on digital citizenship outside their scope of responsibility. I confess that I too initially resisted the ubiquity of social media until I realized that one day my own children would use this technology. That realization in combination with the stories of cyber bulling, students losing scholarships, and athletes losing draft placements have clarified the importance of teaching kids to be good digital citizens. Consequences from online activities can have lasting and sometimes irreversible effects on the lives of our students. If we are not teaching our children and students how to use technology responsibly, why are we surprised when they misuse or abuse it? How can we effectively instruct with technology without being committed to the lifelong learning process that being technologically literate requires? Students do not need to be taught this mindset – it is something they have already embraced; we must embrace it too.

Effective Technology Implementation

I am a believer in the educational theory of constructivism. I think that students make the most learning out of an experience rather than a lecture. As Piaget stated, “The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.” (Piaget, J., n.d.) Technology can be a fantastic tool for improving instruction through creation and experience, especially as part of the TPACK model of lesson design. As I am designing my lessons, I try to consider the question “Does the material determine the idea? Or does the idea determine the material?” (Papert, n.d.) The TPACK model argues that the latter question is more effectual in quality design. There are those in education that repeat the tired phrase, “I got through school without any technology and I turned out fine.” Don’t those teachers, whether they have taught for one year or twenty, almost exclusively use email to communicate every single day? The mentality that “old is good” or “if it’s broke don’t fix it” prevents education from advancing as the world advances. Technology affords access to formats and simulations that were previously unavailable and are enormously beneficial. Recently I had my ninth grade students apply their knowledge of linear functions to coding on the computer. They were able to see the power of applied mathematics. They felt like magicians when their robot avatars moved with the click of a button as a result of their coding! When technology is combined with appropriate content and good pedagogy we can provide a transformative experience for our students.

Conclusion

Educational technology is a continuously developing field of study. As an educator, it is my responsibility to follow this example and continue to develop my own technology integration methods as well with whatever tools are available to my students. I must help students prepare to be contributing members of their communities; this includes their digital communities. I must teach students to construct their own knowledge through good pedagogy and lesson design. I must pledge to be a lifelong learner and unceasingly strive to improve my combinations of content, pedagogy and technology if I am to be the most effective educator, role model, and mentor possible.

References

Papert, S. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from

http://www.papert.org/articles/ACritiqueofTechnocentrism.html

Piaget, J. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved July 1, 2017, from BrainyQuote.com Web site:

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jeanpiaget403394.html

Rieber, L. A model of technology adoption. (n.d.). Retrieved July 01, 2017, from

http://www.nowhereroad.com/twt/animations/TechAdopt.html

Speaking of Change...

Check out how my Educational Technology Philosophy has evolved by exploring these previous versions:

Draft One

Peer Review One

Peer Review Two