In looking back over this course, there were some frustrations and some moments of “yes, I am going in the right direction.” The weeks we spent on the learning theories were the frustrations. Having completed the Walden MS degree in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, there was a lot of time spent on learning theories. I felt that I was going over a lot of ground I had already spent time on. There was nothing really new, but I did get a couple of new sources for reference. This course did remind me of discussions and issues I may have put aside in the time crunch of my work life.
On the other hand, towards the end of the class, when we started to learn how to use technology to teach, I was challenged and forced to take a look at what I am doing in my classroom. In the past few years, I have been attempting to make my classroom, technology-friendly for the students. For example, I have begun posting classwork/homework online, put resources where they are readily available to students, and having students use Google Docs for their group work. I feel like have just touched the tip of the iceberg now.
With regard to my own personal learning process, I discovered I am on the right track. I did have the evaluations from my previous courses and completed new evaluations for this course. There were significant positive changes in my style. By incorporating different methods in my classroom over the years, I am becoming a better learner, and hopefully as a result, better at getting information across to my students. When I first took an evaluation, I was much more of a visual learner. If I did not see it or do it, I had a hard time. I have improved my skills with reading and writing. I still have some work on the mathematical-logical aspect of my own learning. I do speak to my students about my shortcomings in this area, and many students have stepped up to assist with their classmates’ learning over the past 11 years that I have been a teacher.
The most important thing I learned is learning styles and educational technology need to be combined in different ways to be able to interest our students in what we are teaching. I work at a school with block scheduling, 72 minute blocks, and having students do the same thing for that long means you will have boredom and discipline issues if you do not change up activities. By appealing to different aspects of students’ learning styles, you cause them to think a little harder and keep their attention. By keeping their attention, you keep them motivated to learn within your classroom. The “more a man knew; the greater was his ability to reason and choose those actions that truly brought happiness” (Socrates, http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/Walden/EDUC/6115/01/mm/tec_timeline). By giving students multiple ways to learn, there will be more engagement within the classroom and hopefully happier students in the long run.
With learning theories, there are times students need to connect their learning to previous learning (connectivism) or change/show a new way for completing their work (behaviorism). As you are creating your lesson plans, there needs to be conscious thought as to what type of theory you are attempting to use with your students.
Technology is ever changing in our world today and most (but not all) students are constantly “plugged in” to their world, whether through smartphones, iPods, mp3 players, tablets, and/or laptops. Part of our job as teachers is to keep up to date on technology and to use our students as resources when necessary to assist with this technology.
I will continue to move in a positive direction and be a lifetime learner. I have been reminded of information learned previously; I need to keep it in mind as I plan my lessons. I need to visit my RSS feeds, continue to do my own research and write in my blog on a regular basis. In this way, I hope to keep myself current within the industry.
As to an actual career as an instructional design, the first two courses in this degree program have been extremely eye opening. I did not realize all the different paths that were open to me as an instructional designer; my thoughts were only on becoming an online teacher. It was my own “aha” moment. I will continue to look at the different paths and see where I can fit best. I have ten years until I am eligible to retire from the classroom. I do not know if I will retire or if I will continue for more than ten years. I also have a few people pushing me to get my PhD to enable me to teach at a four-year college. There is a lot of research and decisions to be made for my future.
Socrates (470-399 bce). (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2012, from Timeline of the History of Learning website: http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/Walden/EDUC/6115/01/mm/tec_timeline.html