The AECT defines Educational Technology as “the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources”(Reiser, 2001). How does this relate to facilitated teaching practices? Students need to be motivated and self-propelled in the classroom. The teacher’s primary objective is to guide not dictate their educational path.
Technology is indeed a source of untapped potential in facilitated teaching. This, in part, is due to the underlying idea that students’ learning needs to be “more immersive and authentic” (Reiser, 2001). Educational technology affords the teacher interested in facilitated instruction a wide array of useful and effective strategies for educational design, organization of resources and provisions of helpful tools (Goodyear, 2005).
First, let us consider the design of the environment. When designing the classroom environment for efficient facilitating, a teacher must consider all grouping options and which opportunities will allow students to adequately create “learning relationships” (Goodyear, 2005). Planning lessons so that students stay successfully engaged in their content area is essential. Educational Technology supports this type of environment with many online activities that engage students like Blogs, Blackboards, Moodles, and Voice Thread.
In order to effectively facilitate one must also implement a variety of resources that support diverse learners (Goodyear, 2005). With Educational Technology, teachers are able to quickly modify instructions and links in order to accommodate all learning styles. Upon facilitating a Web-Quest in one of my 8th grade classes, it became painstakingly obvious that some students found it difficult to navigate my school website, due to an abundance of unorganized information. Upon further review, I decided a Live Binder was a better way to organize the assignments, video clips, and pod-casts that I wanted them to attain. Making this small adjustment in the environmental design was a quick fix to alleviate stress associated with the assignment.
Second, the organizing of resources is crucial. Technology that is organized properly can help students create, evaluate and analyze complex issues and themes. By compiling your resources, students become self-sufficient. It can also help to develop those higher-order thinking skills. With technology, the teacher is able to facilitate in a way where “the learner is still in control, not the instructional program”(Reiser, 2001).
Every year in my classroom, we spend two full days on several different online searches. Groups of students are given three or four educational/informational sites to explore. When students reconvene, they discuss their findings and evaluate and analyze which sites would be beneficial to them based upon what they already know about our curriculum. I then gather the list of sites and put them onto my teacher site for them to access during the year. Not only am I organizing a truly helpful guide for students, it is also a list that is student-generated and in that way shows higher-level analytical skills.
Finally, one must consider the provisions of tools that we give students. If you wish to have a truly student-led learning experience, you must give them the tools to be self-sufficient throughout technology-based learning. Creating an effective environmental design and organizing resources are key factors in creating a facilitated technology based classroom, however, if your students lack the proper tools, they will not be able to function in this type of classroom.
These tools may include: knowing how to use search engines to help answer questions, evaluating rubrics to show understanding, participating in individual roles that showcase learning in specific ways, employing shortcuts to troubleshoot foreseeable issues and using communication strategies to express themselves if the lesson involves live discussion (chat) or interface. In one of my classes, students ended a Pen Pal project by accessing Skype, in order to have a live book-talk with their Pen Pals. Students were given staging directions (i.e. where to stand, how to project their voice and how to effectively move conversation along) as well as troubleshooting tips in case of a disconnection or slow connection. Due to the tools given them, they were able to feel confident and had rich, in depth conversations without teacher involvement.
Facilitating is truly possible with Educational Technology. The design of the classroom environment, the organization of resources and with sufficient explanation of tools, Educational Technology supplies teachers with more options for student success. Gone are the days of straight lecture. Tomorrow is a place filled with possibility for students in the realm of technology. By allowing students to explore instead of telling them their intended target, we afford them the opportunity to gain life lessons, a plethora of information and possibly an end result that we, ourselves, could not have foreseen.
Goodyear, Peter. (2005). Educational design and networked learning: Patterns, pattern languages and design practice. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 21 (1), 82-101. http://ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet21/goodyear.html
Reiser, Robert. (2001). A History of Instructional Design and Technology: Part 1: A History of Instructional Media. Educational Design Research & Development, Vol. 49(1) 53-64. ISSN1042-1629
This lesson applies to 3.4 Policies and Regulations because the assignment deals with the rules that affect the use of Instructional Technology. My part of the assignment dealt with Facilitated Learning and how technology can accomplish this goal in education. If educational systems would make the effort to employ the strategies associated with facilitated learning, then students would take on more independent roles in their learning.