Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The evolution of a tech integration course

In February 2012, I wrote a guest post on Richard Byrne's blog Free Technology for Teachers about my first semester teaching Technology in the Classroom. At the end of the spring 2012 semester, Richard allowed me to write another guest post as the course came to a close. That first semester teaching Technology in the Classroom was a powerful learning experience for me. Since then, I have taught 5 sections of the course (and I'm teaching 2 sections this semester). Each semester, I've gotten valuable feedback from students and made revisions to the course based on that feedback. You can read about various revisions in the blog posts linked below.

This semester, I have made significant revisions to Technology in the Classroom, and I'd like to explore those revisions in this post. My wonderful School of Education voted to change the course from a 1-credit hour to a 2-credit hour course, which gave me a lot of space for flexibility in course design in addition to allowing my students and I to dig deeper into concepts and issues in class. The first change I made in course design was to move Technology in the Classroom to a blended / hybrid course. My students and I will meet for approximately half of our class sessions face-to-face and the other half online. This move to a blended learning model has pushed my students to use technology in a significant way as a learner, enabling them to gain experience in online learning while exploring new tools. So far, it appears that the blended approach is appealing to my students who can participate in online class sessions in their dorm rooms in their PJs.

For the online portion of the course, I'm using multiple tools. We will primarily be using Google Hangouts for synchronous, collaborative class meetings. Some class meetings will take place asynchronously via Google Drive, VoiceThread, and other tools. During our first Hangout, we:

I've also chosen to maximize class time, increasing time for collaboration and creation, using the flipped classroom model. In previous sections of this course, I spent a portion of class time each week demo-ing (or asking students to demo) web tools. This semester, I'm recording (or finding) tutorials and asking students to watch those prior to coming to class. This allows us to spend time using the tools and applying course content while we're together as opposed to doing that work independently of one another after class. 

Each time I've taught this course, I have used Edmodo as my Learning Management System. This semester, I'm playing around with Google+ Communities as a space for bringing students together and collaborating online. I'm currently considering ways that Google+ Communities might replace Edmodo for me at some point in the future. Thankfully, my students are willing to learn alongside me and explore new possibilities for learning and connecting. As of now we have a Community set up, but we aren't doing much with it yet. 

Previously, I've posted discussion questions to Edmodo to get students reflecting on and discussing important concepts. I have never been excited about the typical discussion board format, with one person posting a question or prompt and everyone else responding to the original post. I've always found it difficult to get real, meaningful conversations happening in a discussion board format (both as a student and a teacher). This semester, my students are blogging (with Blogger) instead of responding to discussion questions on Edmodo. I'm hopeful that blogging will allow students to delve deeper into concepts, spend more time reflecting on what they're learning and experiencing, and engage in meaningful conversations with each other. 

The combination of the increased class time, hybrid design, and flipped model has allowed me to design more interactive, engaging, and thoughtful learning experiences for students. Within the next few weeks, I will be gathering feedback from students via Google Forms. I'll share that feedback here to let you know how students are responding to the course. 

I'm hopeful that some of you will take a moment to leave a comment on this post. I would love to hear about your own efforts, and I would appreciate so much to hear your feedback on the evolution of this course. 

I've written other posts about my experience teaching this course. You can read them below.

Edmodo as my Learning Management System

Technology for Formative Assessment

Tech Integration Advice for Pre-Service Teachers

Social Media as a Learning Tool in Higher Education

Feedback 2.0

Exemplary Classroom Webpages by Pre-Service Teachers

Building Pre-Service Teachers' Leadership Capacity for Technology Integration

Helping Pre-Service Teachers Build a PLN

Creating with TPCK and the NETS*S

TPCK Tournament: March Madness in EDU 451

More Exemplary Classroom Webpages by Pre-Service Teachers

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