Teaching technology to new teachers
Standing against a projected backdrop of his computer screen, Professor Norm Vaughan, Department of Education and Schooling, demonstrates the power and requirements of using web technologies to enhance students’ learning.
Without touching his mouse or keyboard, a cursor pops up onscreen and starts entering text.
Another cursor pops up and begins typing along with the first; then a kaleidoscope of multicolored cursors appears all at once. Text is being entered in 20 different places simultaneously on the same document by using the document sharing power of Google Drive.
Vaughan’s class —The Community: Understanding Current and Emerging Pedagogical Technologies — is critically examining the ways that computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices are having an impact on learning inside the classroom.
Using online collaboration
Online projects in the class include the development of blogs to reflect on students’ in-class experience, building of online profiles using Google Sites and the creation of videos that will be uploaded to YouTube and embedded into their pages.
By all accounts, the addition of collaborative online tools is helping the class critically analyze both their own use of technology and the role it will play in their careers as future educators.
Bachelor of Education — Elementary (B.Ed.) student, Sara Tkachuk explains that in her grade 4 class, kids would grab their school-provided iPads in the morning and use them all day.
“They had a natural ability to use the technology in ways that I didn’t anticipate,” says Tkachuk.
“Working with Norm has been awesome. He is showing me the value of understanding the basic underpinnings of these technologies, so no matter what becomes the norm throughout my career I’ll be able to adapt my teaching methodology.”
Adapting to the pace of change
Vaughan echoes the need for teachers to remain technologically literate as the world continually adapts to the new pace of technological advancements.
“The power of technology is like fire — you can use it to keep warm, or you can use it to burn your neighbor’s house down,” Vaughn tells his class. “We are always going to have new technologies coming at us; how can we learn to make an informed choice?
“Researchers here at Mount Royal have shown that teachers who have taught online are better at face-to-face instruction as well. The online component gives us the ability to measure the impact we are having on the students with real metrics and ultimately improving the quality of teaching so students aren’t limited by location.”
Reflecting on the role of technology
For B.Ed. student and member of the Education Undergraduate Society Stephanie Tuplin, conducting her projects and portfolios online has given her a chance to reflect on what she’s already learned and how she may use the tools in her own classroom one day.
“Starting a program like this has given me the chance to ask a lot of questions about myself and my own ideas of teaching,” says Tuplin. “Having a blog and portfolio will help me adjust my own teaching philosophy as I move through the program.”
— Colin Brandt, Jan. 24, 2013