Throughout the semester our Technology Enhanced Learning course has centered upon learning how to use a variety of educational technology tools and resources. Using and creating wikis, pod-casts, videos, blogs, and websites, our class belly-flopped into the technology ocean and learned to swim. Beyond creating our own technology tools, the class has allowed us to learn more about how other educators use technology.
Every Monday, our class met virtually via Elluminate or Skype from 3pm to 4pm. These classes involved guest lecturers from around the globe demonstrating and sharing stories of how they use technology in their schools. This experience allowed me to see that a college classroom does not have to be face to face, especially with the help of on-line tools. I loved being able to listen and participate in the class atop my yoga ball in my dorm room, without worrying about how I may appear to my classmates and instructor. It was amazing that we were exposed to so many different ideas during the course of the semester, and I am extremely grateful to all of the instructors that have served as mentors to our class.
However, with the freedom of virtual classes, comes a couple of factors that I had to work past. One was that my roommate always tried to talk to me while I was in class. Whenever I would talk over the microphone/headset for class my roommate would assume I had been trying to communicate with her. I also had to learn how to ignore her random comments while I was in class. Don’t get me wrong, I was not rude to her in any way, but it was almost as though she had a greater desire to talk to me in person while I was in class then when I was not. Another thing that I had to work past was resisting temptations to access my email or facebook, or communicate via aim while I was supposed to be focused on the class. I feel like these issues would pose a problem for students at any age. It is so easy to become distracted by other people in our environment, and it is also extremely difficult to stay on task with all the other information and activities on the Internet. As a third year college student I have learned how to sit in a classroom for fifty minutes listening to and taking notes on lectures, but I am still in the process of learning how to stay on task while on my computer.
Beyond using virtual classrooms every Monday to develop relationships with other educators, our class also used Tapped In. Tapped In is an online site for educators and students. One of the main features that our class used was the discussion forum. Tapped in allowed us to pose questions, share resources, and bounce ideas off of one another. Throughout the semester we learned more about our fellow classmates, as could be done with the typical Discussion Boards provided in Blackboard, but additionally we were able to learn more about other educators.
With Tapped In, pre-service teachers were exposed to professionals and given freedom to voice opinions, ask questions, and reflect on experiences in schools. It was nice to be able to access links to specific technology tools and resources that were shared by individuals already in classrooms. It was also great being able to have dialogues with people outside of our School of Education. Tapped In created a virtual community for our class and allowed us to develop lessons and activities with the help of other more experienced educators. It also allowed us to compare and contrast school policies. I found using Tapped In to be a rewarding activity. I have learned a lot more about my classmates’ background and goals through the discussion boards. I have also learned about educators around the world.
One amazing thing about Tapped In is that it can be used with K-12 students. Although I am not sure where I will be teaching or if I will be able to use Tapped In with classroom lessons, I know that I look forward to using Tapped In myself. The collaboration that is evident with our first semester as education students is exciting. I can not wait to keep in touch with my fellow classmates and our mentors in the future. I know that even if my students may not be able to use discussion boards to talk about their questions, projects, and opinions about lessons, I will still be able to use the resource to learn more from other educators.
Words can not express my graditude…but THANK YOU to everyone that has helped us throughout the semester!