Entry Points to Technology Enabled Learning
Finding an entry point into technology enabled learning can be complicated. Ideally, teachers will be part of collaborative inquiry cycles (teacher-led professional development) where technology is used to meet specific goals. In this manner teachers have access to a support system and resources to help them. These collaborative inquiry cycles may be focused on integrating or enhancing a new instructional strategy using technology to enhance it. They often combine some out of the classroom new learning with job-embedded implementation and practice. Teachers could choose to integrate co-teaching and observation into their learning cycle.
Other suggestions to support finding an entry point that works for the individual teacher includes:
take one inquiry that you would normally do in science and brainstorm ways to enhance through the use of technology. Could the use of technology help students develop skills for creativity? communication? collaboration? critical thinking? citizenship? character?
choose one learning management system (see section below for more information on learning management systems) to use with a class and develop the skills of digital file management while focusing in on facilitating effective online discussions among students. Help them develop the skills necessary for collaborating and communicating online to enhance their learning.
take one traditional assessment and collaborate with colleagues on how to enhance it using technology. Consider how you can make it more student-directed, differentiated, or how you can adapt it to develop skills such as creativity, communication, collaboration or critical thinking.
find one global collaborative project (see section below for more information on global collaborative projects) and have a class participate in it, developing the skills for communicating and collaborating with students from other areas of the world in addition to critical thinking and citizenship
Professional Learning Networks
An integral component of effectively supporting technology enabled learning environments is adapting to our ever-changing society and the digital tools available. To do this, teachers need to ensure they are self-directed lifelong learners. One way to do this is to have a strong professional learning network. Some teachers do this by connecting with other educators using social media (Twitter, Google+, etc.). Others read educational blogs and comment on posts. Some teachers have strong face-to-face communities of teachers who share best practices and new ideas on a regular basis. Being connected to other educators and actively contributing to a community of learners does take time, but pays back in time and energy. Educators who are connected and learn with others online and face-to-face are able to easily support students in developing the skills required to do the same. The first step to becoming a “connected educator” often involves watching these communities work. For example, one may observe others share material and resources on Twitter or Google+. However, it is important to note that the true benefit comes from reciprocating and interacting in these communities. Sharing thoughts, ideas and materials. Having others agree or challenge your thoughts and ideas is an important part of learning.