During the last six weeks, I have learned a lot about instructional technology and digital media. As I reflect back on where I started and all that I have read, planned, questioned, discovered and commented on, I feel as though I have started to gain the expertise necessary to support my students as they navigate, and become contributors in, the digital world. Now, armed with new knowledge such as the evolved definition of literacy, frameworks like TPACK and Online Research & Media Skills (ORMS), practical applications like my own blog, Network Learning Project, multimodal tutorial, personal video and membership to platforms like Google+, Wikispaces and Twitter, I feel as though I am ready to change the way I ask students to learn. I have come to a deeper understanding about how we learn and I have decided that there is a sense of urgency that every educator should feel about equipping their students.
Although the idea of including digital literacy skills into learning experiences is, in no way a new idea, I feel as though one of the next steps is for every teacher to be trained and equipped to lead students. Oftentimes, teachers are “encouraged” to have a digital presence, but what does that really mean? What does it look like in their personal lives? In their classrooms? To someone who has never used a personal blog or published their work online, the idea of having a “digital presence” can be very daunting. What I have learned is that becoming an authentic part of this world takes work; it takes support and persistence and most of all–it takes TIME. Teachers need to be able to collaborate with other educators to shared successful tools and strategies. Most importantly, however, teachers must be reflective about their practice and know that if they are not receiving adequate professional development, then they must be proactive in extending their own personal learning networks to include resources that will help them to grow and develop.
In addition to professional development, I have thought a lot about infrastructure. Greenhow et al (2009) discussed the need for accessibility and Leu et al, in “Expanding the New Literacies Conversation,” examined equity. I believe that we also have to take a step back and look at infrastructure. Are our buildings equipped for digital learning? Are networks reliable and secure? Are students able to connect and access information when they need it? Can teachers plan lessons where the Internet is the main text and have confidence that they will be able to access their plans when in their classrooms? Although one might assume that within our world of instant connectivity, the answer to those question must be yes, but in many cases, we are still struggling with having solid infrastructure to support our important work.
As I continue on in this program, I hope to vastly extend my possibilities of technology within my classroom. As Greenhow et al (2009) articulated, “digital literacy includes knowing how and when to use which technology and knowing which forms and functions are most appropriate for one’s purposes.” In the same way that I feel intuitive with using pedagogical strategies in my classroom, I would like to get to the point where I can say the same for integrating technology.