Curriculum & Instruction
I am a constructivist and pragmatist. I prefer to get to know each student and their background. Because I'm an online computer science higher educational instructor, this is probably easier to accomplish than in a F2F setting. One of the first "assignments" my students have is to build a student homepage. On that homepage, I ask them to post their photo and tell me about their work experience, educational experience, and family life. It helps me to understand where the student is educationally as they come into the course. I then am able to ask discussion questions that apply to my student's backgrounds and help them apply a very theoretic course to their every day life. I encourage student-to-student interaction (Conrad & Donaldson) to not only build learning communities, but to encourage them to ask each other questions that help them build their base of knowledge. It is my goal in each of these classes to see students interacting with each other and asking questions of each other to understand the material better. I assist when needed in a particularly difficult area both by discussing the issue with them on the discussion board, or perhaps pointing them to websites and materials that will explain it further. I encourage them to seek and search out their knowledge...not rely on me to dump it into their head.
Along with Dewey, I also encourage my students to look out into their community to find ways to apply their knowledge or build their knowledge. My CS 110 class will be going to Loving Schools next week to see how a technology school is implementing the very ideas these students are learning about. Many of my students had never heard of a wiki or a blog, a hard drive or a modem, until they took my class. This will show them how all the technology we've been discussing can improve not only the Loving students' lives, but also their lives. I am giving them tools by learning software and ideas that they can carry into their every day life in the work place. Along with that, they are learning ethics and copyright laws so they have a firmer idea of what they can and cannot do with the information they gather. Many of my students did not realize that if they download a photo on the Internet, they can't use it on their own webpage! I have enjoyed watching my students construct their views of how to use the technology and information I am presenting in these courses.
As Tyler stated, I, too, am worried that our students today, even in higher education, are taught facts and then asked to regurgitate them on exams. As I teach instructors how to build their online courses, I continually have disagreements with instructors that the only way to assess learning is by an exam. I show instructors, and use myself, assessments that are NOT exams in any way, but are very accurate ways to assess learning, such as group projects, research papers, and discussion questions. I want my students to KNOW the material I'm presenting and internalize that information so they can apply it to various situations. (Tyler)
As an instructor I want to find new ways to use technology to change the educational system...not just improve it (Papert). As I learn more about Web 2.0 tools, I see so many ways we can encourage our students to use social tools to increase their knowledge and expand their experiences beyond the local community. Carlsbad is a very isolated community and very unique in our educational belief system. I believe that if we use these Web 2.0 tools, we can introduce our students to new cultures, new beliefs, and new knowledge on a daily basis. Web 2.0 tools I'm particularly interested in include blogging, wikis, and social bookmarking. As a blogger myself, I'm constantly amazed when I get a comment on a blog post from another part of the country or world. Our world is much larger than just this local community, and we need to teach our children that by using this technology and opening up their worlds.
As a distance education instructor in higher education, technology is essential in the online classroom. The technology I use in my classroom straddles a wide range of capabilities in my students. I include asynchronous communication such as a discussion board, synchronous communication, such as a chat room, PowerPoint audio lectures created using Impatica, and webquests. As a student in the K-12 system, I was introduced to computers by a "drill and kill" method -- simply being drilled with facts and not applying higher ordered thinking skills. As a higher ed instructor, I have found students seriously lacking in critical thinking skills, which leads me to believe computers are still used mainly in that method. I ask students to only to answer questions directly from their reading, but to apply that knowledge through using technology to create a product. I use webquests to show students how to develop the basic facts into workable knowledge that they can apply to their every day life. I ask my students to use their computers as mindtools webquests) -- interact with the information, question if the information is accurate and true. I ask them in that quest at times by asking to PROVE that information is mindtools (Jonassen) -- to synthesize and explain information using PowerPoint, concept maps and Excel. We delve more deeply into the book topic with synchronous "chats" or asynchronous discussions on the course discussion board. I work at building PowerPoint community through student-to-student interactions on the discussion board, in the chat room, and through group projects. (Conrad & Donaldson)
As an instructor steeped in multicultural education through my degree process, I am now very aware of my own culture and race and how it affects how I teach. As my goal is to bring education to ALL students, I am deeply aware that I need to teach all of my students to encourage the development of their own individuality (Eisner) and to respect other's individuality (Davidman). As a former web designer and business owner, I'm very aware that our world is expanding beyond the local market and we must be prepared to embrace our global market and economy (Steinberg). I hope to show and teach my students how they can have that place in the global market if they realize everyone's opinion and work is important and they can learn from it. It's not their place, or my place, to decide who's knowledge is worth more... for all knowledge is worthy (Apple). I hope in my work as an educator and trainer, that I can bring this attitude and belief system to my entire school.
My computer technology background pulls me to quantitative research with hard facts and numbers. However, in my teaching methods, I'm finding a combination of qualitative and quantitative research works well for improving my teaching methods.