Technology in Teacher Education: Using Program Resources to Build Capacity

Last week I (Yiola) ran a “mini” Technology Day Conference in our teacher education program. At first I felt it was a large feat given that, while I value and try to model good use of technology, I am a novice digital technology user.  I quickly realized that my own knowledge of digital technology use was of less importance. What was more important was my vision for sharing good information about technology use in the classroom. I sought colleagues within the program who know much more than I do and together we set to work.

The Vision

I named the conference Technology in and for Learning.  The vision was to provide practical sessions on how to use digital technology effectively in the elementary classroom. I wanted these practical sessions to be framed in a theoretical context so students would have deeper understandings for how and why good practice is what it is.  At our institute we work in a tripartite:  the teacher education program, the laboratory school, and our research/tenure faculty.  I set out to find colleagues in each branch of our institute to contribute in some way to the conference.

The People

I found my colleagues were excited to participate in the development and execution of the conference:

Teacher Education — The students were the participants, Members of the practicum team were presenters, and the staff helped organize the event

Tenure Faculty / Research Team — The Presenters

Laboratory School teachers — The Presenters

The Details

A member of the research team designed a professional and stylish website for the Conference where students gathered the information and were able to register. Upon check-in students received name-tags with their sessions and room numbers conveniently recorded.
The afternoon ran smoothly with a thoughtful introduction shared by a research team member on the frameworks for using technology in the classroom. She shared the SAMR http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/06/samr-model-explained-for-teachers.html and the TPaK http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_Pedagogical_Content_Knowledge models. The introduction brought scholarship to the forefront. Then, the laboratory school teachers shared interesting, informative and practical sessions on a variety of topics related to using digital technology in the classroom. These sessions included the following:

Smart Pedagogy using “Smart technology”

Effective ways to use Interactive White Boards in the ClassroomMore and more classrooms are equipped today with “Smartboards”, making the thoughtfulness and effectiveness with with teachers use them, an increasingly important task.  In this workshop, you will learn the fundamentals of using interactive white boards (IWB’s) in your classroom, but also how to combine the use of this amazing technology with a student-led and inquiry based community and curriculum.

iPads in the Classroom

We will discuss various ways to use iPads in the classroom for a whole group and small groups. We will highlight apps – especially free ones – that are both fun and useful, focussing on supporting different learners. We will touch on both positive aspects and drawbacks of integrating iPads in the classroom.

Technology to Support the 4 C’s

Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical ThinkingThis session will explore several ​examples of technological tools which can be used in the classroom to foster communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Some of the tools considered will include Edublogs, Zydeco, Earth Tours, Plickers, Minecraft, and Twitter.

Knowledge Forum

Knowledge building is the process by which new knowledge is created. In one sentence, it can be described as “giving students collective responsibility for idea improvement.” Knowledge building starts with the natural tendency to play with ideas, but extends to the unnatural tendency to deliberately improve them. Knowledge building is a collaborative process, and moves forward through a collective effort to advance frontiers of knowledge, as these are perceived by the community.Knowledge Forum is a multimedia environment that supports emergent idea development and sustained, collaborative dialogue, helping learning communities capture their thoughts and questions, connect and organize their ideas, and build knowledge together.

In this hands-on workshop you will learn the fundamentals of using Knowledge Forum to support the learning in your classrooms.

Teachers Using Technology in Literacy
Classrooms

This session will look at various ways of engaging students with technology in the literacy classroom. Examples of using technology to promote reading and writing skills, and motivation for literacy will be discussed and shared.
The conference concluded with a panel discussion and question/answer.
It appeared that the students enjoyed the sessions. The goal was to provide an opportunity to think more deeply about the value of and use of technology in learning.  We have sent out a feedback survey so we will know what students liked and what suggestions they will have for improvement.
I am glad that I took the risk and designed a mini conference for our students.  It was a good start. The use of digital technology in the classroom is not my area of expertise but it is certainly an area I want to have more fluency. Working with my colleagues who do have more experience in the area was not only provided benefits for our students, I too learned a great deal!
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