- Before the TIP program
- I came to teaching in 2000, after working in biomedical research for about nine years. I started teaching the same way I had been taught: making an outline, putting it on the board, and having the kids copy it. They were bored, and they asked me if I was bored. Soon after, I discovered an old LCD projector, and began putting my notes on that. That went fine for a few days, but then, they were bored again. I let my anatomy class teach one day, and that went well, so I started giving them more to do. It took years but every year I give the students more
in the classroom, and it works. Instead of using PowerPoint directly, I created outlines where the important words were all missing; instead of showing pictures of all the different biomes, I made my kids search the web for information (later on I converted it to a
format and used Bernie Dodge's notation, for it really was suitable for a webquest.) No one was using the computer lab, so I had my students in there a lot. I would give them a PowerPoint as a jumping point, and the lesson would include constructing stuff, or answering questions from Internet information, and I would give them web-based quizzes. Meanwhile, I was asked to help teach the InTech course because so many of DeKalb's teachers had not completed the mandated computer competency requirement of HB1187. Through that connection I was able attend GaETC conference, where I learned about many new technologies and buzzwords. The one that stuck was "Anytime/Anywhere" learning. My school was undergoing renovation, so I asked the county for a classroom set of wireless laptops. What I received was a classroom set of wireless Palm Pilots.
- How I have changed in the TIP program
- The spring before I was to receive the Palms, I applied for and enrolled in UGA's Technology Integration Program. In my original goals statement for the application, I declared that I wanted to challenge my brain. This program has done that in every course. Even though I was technologically adept already, My professors asked me to push the envelope and learn technologies I had not been exposed to before, such as wikis, CSS, Linux, and the inner workings of laptops. The pedagogical projects I completed were much larger in scope than anything I had attempted previously, especially the management of an entire class set of Palm handhelds. To extend that even further, in several instances I created activities to change the technological environment of other teacher's classrooms. Also, rather than just attending GaETC last year, I presented a session on how teacher's can get their own domain and manage some of the new "Web 2.0" applications like blogs and wikis, so that instead of just browsing content, the students could start providing it.
- I also stated that I wanted to learn skills that might be valuable if I ever moved into a leadership role. Through the creation of a full-fledged technology plan for a curriculum, I have developed a complex plan for someone else's learning environment through technology. I came to understand through that process how crucial a vision is for the success of the plan. I went back to that document repeatedly to guide the planning for our group. In another course, I learned the theory and methodologies of project management, which is an essential body of knowledge for a technology leader.
- I also wanted to gain knowledge of the assessment of technology in instruction, as technology is too expensive a resource to be wasted. In several courses that was a major theme, that technology not supported by good instruction is simply bad instruction. I also came to the realization that there are benefits to technology that go beyond gains in achievement on standardized exams. Access to knowledge, increased involvement in the learning process, and facilitating collaboration are only three of these intangibles. Through the coursework in the TIP program I was able see this not just as a student in the Master's program, but also put it in practice in my classroom.
- Where I plan to go from here
- I currently am looking for a position in instructional technology, either at the building or district level. I most enjoyed developing technologies for other teachers, helping them guide their technology-based lessons. It is hard for me to do that in my present situation, through the normal duties and responsibilities of teaching three high school science classes and coordinating the ninth grade academy. As a full-time instructional technologist, I know that I could improve the pedagogy of many teachers, which would have a ripple effect on the impact felt by the learners.