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As Bates (2016) put it: “Using technology can give you possibilities to rethink your teaching”.
Yes, it does. And I have.
First of all: Seeing all the available open resources made me understand that it is much easier than I anticipated to make students find, analyze and apply information on their own. And it actually helped me mentally “responsibilize” them to collect material, allocating them more liberty in choices and exploration. Exploring the possibilities with “case”-scenarios will most probably be a part of my future teacher practice. In fact, I already formulated one for using in an ongoing course, although I did not get to use it, because of time constraints.
Secondly: I am more aware of including digital perspective from the start and in a more natural manner. I find the TPACK-model extremely useful in reflecting this mind-set (Mirza &Koehler, 2006).
Thirdly: Technology has a supreme advantage when it comes to being able to share your own reflection, a group performance and also see what others have contributed. This is the most evident usage I see before me, and I already started to think about the implementation in the upcoming course.
If I was to extract one theory that had the most impact on me I must say communities of practice (Wenger, 2010), it has sharpened my set of arguments for collaborative methods. Although I think it should be used with caution in order not to eat up all available time in a course. It is indeed time consuming, and prioritizing what is best dealt with in the group respectively individually is crucial. Teaching somebody else facilitates deep learning, having unstructured problems promotes seeking and selection skills, and collaboration makes us better at sharing and communicating, and all these together form the basis of a sustainable and continuous development – but neither of them are fast process. I see it as a bit of a paradox to promote collaboration and self-leadership as the methods when the goal is fast and efficient learning. What can be taken away? Or how do we deal with the frustration of students – if they feel that they don’t have time to read all they want to, investigating what they are interested in, if they feel instead that they are suspended in their progress. It was unquestionably one of the most repeated comments in the evaluation of the ONL-course as well – the participants’ desire to reflect and really discuss in depth was not fully met.
It becomes critical to borrow the concept of educational affordance here (Kirschner, 2002) : the relationship between the properties of an educational intervention and the characteristics of the learner that enable certain kinds of learning to take place – it shapes the possibilities for learners; how learners perceive these possibilities, and the extent to which they can be realized.
Hence, it is not only about what the teacher intend that the student shall be able to do in the chosen design and environment – it is perhaps more imperative what the student perceive that he or she can do. So it is not only about designing the smartest and most optimized ways and places to learn – it is to make the student see it too.
I am still slightly provoked by the, in my opinion quite exaggerated differences between the new world and the old. Weller (2014) being the refreshing exception! Regardless the ever changing context during the past millenials the human brain has remained more or less the same. And more or less the same things facilitate learning. If there is one thing I lacked during the course it would have been some connection to function of the brain like working memory, the need of repetitions, etc
However, am I more of a resident than a visitor now (White, 2011)? I am not sure. Besides the blogging, I would describe myself a conscious visitor with a more up-to-date net-conduct than before.
Yet, I will always be tremendously grateful for taking this course – I have a whole new set of words and concepts that color a world that I only sensed the corners of before. I better understand my own mission, which is to train teachers to become the best they can be at creating learning experiences for students.
In that process I think that they have to be allowed to feel confident – to feel like they too have a value. It is a fine thread to balance on introducing “new” perspectives and still acknowledging the background of that individual teacher. In order to avoid a culture shock, I believe we have to focus on the similarities – what we can agree on – and as McLouchlan&Lee (2008) suggest, accord time for talking; rising of awareness, and discussions about pedagogic approaches. The risk is ending up in the unflattering position of being the “north wind” and all you manage to do is to make them zip up (Aesop 620-564 BC).