Being that this was the first week, it was an introduction to the course. I liked what I've read and seen so far. It was easy to move through the module and I've read a lot of pro's and con's to using technology in class.
However, me being a 'techy', I always want to experiment. I'm kind of a hands-on person so I have to do it to learn it be it creating a sheet to collaborate with colleagues, or create a video, or research the given topic, etc. That means that I have to test everything, its good and bad before assigning it to my students. Otherwise I don't feel ready to use it with my students. I feel the need to be able to explain or help them use the app or do their assignment.
That said, I found out that there are many teachers just like me and I believe that we complement each other.
In one of my previous posts I stated that even though todays students were born in digital era, they still don't know how to use digital technology to learn. They use it primarily for social media and chatting. So, how do I make them turn their minds to learning using digital technology?
I started with going through selected flashcards in the study sets in Quizlet WITH my students at first (age 14). Then added more flashcards to the sets and advised them to go through them at their own pace in the classroom. I played few of the games with the terms and asked them to beat my score. The next study set they went through at home and we worked on questions and dilemmas in the classroom. Three students even beat my score. Everyone wanted to play.
So, when I went away for a week and informed them that there were new study sets for them, they went thorough them on their own, in their own time at home, or, as I learned later, they were discussing them on the weekend when they got together in small groups - completely on their own initiative.
Now, don't get me wrong, It took about a month or more to get to their independent learning. Further more, I don't create study sets for everything I should teach them as a teacher, but it works. At least it worked for me.
I often hear complaints and arguments that it's hard using technology in a classroom, that we did well as students in our time, so why should we change the teaching "that works"? Well, it's true that we did well, but I'll just add "WITH WHAT WE HAD AVAILABLE IN OUR TIME" to it!
The world was enormous, my letters to my friend in Sweden travelled for 2 weeks! Let's say I wanted to tell her that I was feeling sick, when would she read that!? In 2 weeks???? I'd not feel sick then! USA, Japan, Australia seemed light years away.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that what you do with lemons is a lemonade. Accordingly, it just takes to keep an open mind and look for something positive in technology. I still remember my 2-year old son telling my mom that she didn't know a thing if she didn't know how to turn off a computer. (Turning it on is just a click on a button, but it's a complete procedure to turn it off, right?) SO, she learned how to do it. She's bought a computer and learned how to work with it. She's 78 years old and she's done it! Why can't much much younger "teachers" do the same?
It's interesting that after watching the videos in the previous topics, we're asked to define what we think blended learning is. This is what I wrote and seems that lots of people like my definition of BL (WOW!), I didn't expect that!
For me, blended learning is a combination of stimulation, action and feedback using the conventional and digital tools and strategies. It's a productive circle of learning that doesn't stop just because the task is done or the time is up. Using different tools to learn increases students' creativity and resourcefullness and enables them transfer those skills to everyday's use.
Taking the exercise made me think of all the things I do (and use) in my classroom. I didn't find it hard or easy, I just typed what I thought of first. And then, the hinted answers...
I've realized that even though I don't name it that way, a lot of blended learning is already blended in my teaching, like quiz-games (Kahoot, Socrative), self-paced student-controlled learning, (Quizlet, Collaborative presentations sites and apps), collections of resources and apps (List.ly) etc.
Like it or not, we live in digital era. We better catch up with our students that use technology the way we used phones (landlines). That said, my experience in using tecnology in my classes is quite positive. Well explained tasks and a good collection of accessible resources and tools makes even the so called 'lazy students' want to achieve more. Add to that the individual challenge and peer assessment and you got a winner combination.
For instance: my students had a group assignment to describe a character using their own choice of presentation. Most went with written Google Docs, Google Slides or Sway, but the group with just one SpED student went with simple to use, very visual and detailed graphic description using PicCollage. They got the best comments from their peers. That says a lot, doesn't it?
On the other hand, it took time to explain to students the ways to use the new digital tools. That made me think that even though todays children are born in the digital era, they have little knowledge or skills to use that same technology for anything else but social media, chatting, watching video or listening to music.