This course has opened my eyes to so many different ways of thinking about literacy and technology in the classroom that synthesizing all of my learning is going to be a tough job never mind applying it all in my classroom practice! I suppose I will start with the idea of BYOD that we have discussed on our weekly forums. I choose to start here because in my classroom everyone has their own device. I do not “manage” their devices for them (I am a high school teacher and do tell them they may have their devices in class as long as they are used appropriately) unless I comment something to the likes of, “I hope you are using it for learning!” This way of tackling technology and our curriculum has led to many challenges and many epiphanies as well. S an English teacher I use the web to help me teach and I see students follow and tag the URL’s that I use in class but I also see some students on Facebook. Overall, I feel that the students do use their devices to guide their learning and this may have to do with the assignments that I give them that involve their devices and the Web, the group work that they undertake, and the final product that they will showcase to the rest of the group.
Today’s world involves a great deal of communication which occurs in digital format, therefore, it makes sense to educate students in the same format. Costa (2013), a proponent of “Bring your own device policy” (BYOD), purports that one-to-one technology access is needed to transform education from teacher-centered to student-centered focus. He asserts that students need access to the web in order to develop skills like problem solving, critical thinking and researching as all will lead to student empowerment. I like the idea of supporting students in bringing their own devices into the classroom; most of them do it anyway be it in grade school or as adult learners. I myself Tweet when we are in Elluminate or when I am reading the class discussion board. When I find something good and want to share it I do. This leads me to my second understanding of literacy and technology in the classroom- there is a time and a place for everything. We are ALWAYS digitally connected and “hooked-up” these days but when do we need to stop? What is my job as an educator in trailblazing the road to the new ways of education? Well, I feel that I must teach by modelling as a teacher with a technology background. When I stand in front of a classroom and pull out my device to Tweet, I take my mind off of the task at hand (if even briefly) and it says that that is okay, that this is the way to do it, that it is an appropriate way for others that teach as well as for the students in my classroom to manage themselves. I am a big believer in that people know if you are paying attention to them. If I need to Tweet a message to my face-to-face class I will announce to them that I will be doing so once we are all in our groups working or after class so that they will have it to refer to later. By letting my students know that I will not be stopping the flow of the class in order to use my digital device I am showing them that sometimes the choice to use a device in a face-to-face classroom is inappropriate. I also let them know that the sharing of knowledge IS appropriate but that there is a time that is appropriate to do so.
In my school placement I am very fortunate. We do not run into many of the challenges other schools in Alberta run into like not having consistent internet service- many rural schools face this problem. My school is the only school I have worked in (a technology designated school) that has had the ability to provide enough bandwidth in a school to support multiple devices. I do acknowledge that the BYOD concept does pose many other challenges as well. Not every student has their own device so this cannot be a relied upon school-wide strategy unless a laptop is available for each student that requires one. Not every students has the same device so can work be shared and transfer seamlessly? Does each phone or device meet the minimum software requirements? What will be done about the increased access to websites on students personal mobile devises and does this cause concern for cyberbullying?
Is it difficult to compose an essay or a story on a cellular phone? My answer was…not on the iPhone I have…but then I realized I have so little experience with other phones that I cannot make a large scale assumption. Technology is a powerful tool for promoting writing skills and story-telling but there are some kinks to work out and some deeper thinking that eeds to be done about how we can best support this in our schools. Providing one-to-one access to technology worked great with the Emerge One-to-One laptop project but teachers were still struggling to use technology in the best manner it could be used and many were using laptops only for word processing-not to open the walls of the classroom to the world outside. It is my conclusion that no matter how we get devices into the hands of our students or if they provide it themselves we still need to change our teaching practice at a philosophical level. Teachers need more experience with technology and more in-services or classes like this one so that they can see the possibilities that technology holds for teaching and learning and can use the tools in better ways
My favorite learning has been around digital storytelling. After reading the articles on digital storytelling I see how interwoven many of these literacies truly are and how technology will help us to guide our students through the complex maze of becoming, “… active, successful participants in this 21st century global society” (NCTE,2013). Digital storytelling has really opened my eyes to new possibilities wit technology for my classroom practice. One amazing feature with digital storytelling is that it allows everyone to tell their story despite their skills as a writer. This would be a wonderful experience for my special learning class both in the creation and the sharing of the final products. This form of storytelling is more comprehensive as it involves geography and media, it is motivating for our students (especially those that struggle with traditional pen and paper writing tasks), and would allow students to show their understandings in new and engaging ways. In the past 10 years the town I have lived in has become very multicultural and it has been a shock to some peoples’ system. Digital storytelling is not only about a beginning a middle and an end, it is also about communicating with our community of learners and connecting to deeper meaning making. “Storytelling is the sharing of ideas through words and actions to communication and make meaning about our lives and the lives of others” (Behmer,2005, p 3).
It is true that many of the schools I have been in have limited computer access and/or that the firewalls will not allow access to some very important and useful web based resources as well. It can be very frustrating as an educator when we embark on these amazing curricular journeys with plans to interweave technology and then we discover barriers once we have begun do to firewalls, or a lack of resources. According to Ohler (2009), “those who do not have access to the digital resources they need to tell their stories are disadvantaged in real and important ways”.
Amplivox, Bob. (2011). 10 Reasons to Use Technology in Education. Retrieved June18, 2013 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzi2RIt8_nk
(2005). Digital storytelling: Examining the process with middle school students. Retrieved from http://projects.educ.iastate.edu/~ds/Behmer/LitReview.pdf
Costa, J. (2013). Digital learning for all, now. Education Digest 4 p.4-9.
Ohler, J. ( 2009) Storytelling and new media narrative. Retrieved from http://www.jasonohler.com/storytelling/storyeducation.cfm