I can still remember the day my Dad came home with our first family computer. It was in 1994 and I was in grade prep. It was pretty much only used to play games on, all on floppy disk of course. I can’t ever remember not having a computer in our classroom. In the earlier years of primary school we used it for publishing stories and as we got older we were able to use the Internet for various projects. As I moved into high school my understanding and use of Technology developed. We were taught how to touch type, create Excel spreadsheets and use search engines effectively. In year 11 (2006) I got my first social networking account, My Space. Prior to this I had only ever used MSN messenger. In 2008 I opened a Facebook account and a Twitter account followed in 2011. In University the Internet was used to gain an understanding of particular topics and units.
I would say that my progression with Technology has most greatly developed during my time as a teacher, over the past 2 years. I have learnt how Technology can support student learning, create stronger links between home and school and engage those usually disengaged students. In order to do this effectively I have had to learn how to use particular tools, such as Twitter, effectively. I have learnt how to troubleshoot issues that I would never have been able to fix myself in the past, things as simple as a Wi-Fi connection.
I think Technology is fantastic; it has a great power to keep us in touch and up to date with current affairs at the touch of a button. However I can also see it as being an incredibly dangerous tool. We do not only interact with one another via Technology, therefore it is imperative that we are able to apply daily etiquettes to online situations. For example most people don’t go around in day-to-day life abusing somebody over their opinions, so why should this be considered acceptable online? Simple, it shouldn’t.
We, as educators, are responsible for showing students how to interact with one another in real life. We teach them what is acceptable behaviour, and what is not. And I think it is just as important, as much our responsibility, to show them how to be a good citizen online. It might be a bit of extra work, and maybe a juggling act, but we need to help our students to be good citizens, online and offline. Students need to understand that their contribution is important, whether it is online or offline. They should be willing to share and discuss a (polite) opinion or idea whether it is in the classroom, at home or on Twitter.
My 5 characteristics of an effective learner were: Curious, creative, organised, collaborative and motivated. I believe technology can support all of these.
Technology has a way of bringing out curiosity in all students, particularly those that are disengaged. In my experience I have found that as soon as Technology is involved in learning those particular students become motivated and excited by what they need to complete.
Technology allows students to be creative in many different ways. They can publish stories, edit photographs and explore build things. They can also share this creativity with the world through sites such as Twitter and apps like Wattpad.
Organisation can be developed using Technology. Students can create bookmarks, folders and clouds to store information. One would hope that this organisation would rub off onto their everyday organisation skills, ultimately benefiting their learning.
Collaboration is a characteristic that is considered an imperative part of technology at Manor Lakes P-12 College. I believe that Technology develops skills associated with team work. Students can work together on a laptop or iPad with ease and then naturally these skills will flow over into their everyday skills.
Motivated is another one that links quite nicely to disengaged learners. They often become motivated to achieve, or complete tasks, once what they are doing appears to be ‘fun’. For example if a grade 6 student had the choice between publishing a narrative on a piece of poster paper or on a blog or a wiki for a global audience, I would say in most cases publishing their work on the blog or wiki would win over more students.
I think in the future Technology will continue to play an important role in learning and teaching. Teachers will adopt the idea of global classrooms, there will be less face to face time with students, digital portfolios will be used more and the collaborative skills of students will continue to grow.