I have always considered myself pretty technologically literate. In my work place and personal life, I use technology and feel like I am very connected online. This first week has been a bit of an eye opener to me. I feel like the new kid on the playground. While everyone is talking and interacting, I’m just awkwardly trying to say hello to people and figure out where the bathroom is, let alone choose a partner for an assignment. This semester will have a lot more learning in it for me than I expected and I already have some new semester goals.
When I started thinking about my course project, I first faced the same decision I would when designing a unit plan during my undergrad. “What grade should I focus on?” “What subject?” “Should it be an interdisciplinary unit?” “What outcomes should I cover?” Questions like that began to fill my mind as I tried to figure out what I would be interested in teaching and designing. The more I thought about this (and the more I read this week’s readings) I realized that I may be approaching this course in the wrong way. Or at least not in the most fulfilling way. I think there are much bigger implications to designing an online course that go way beyond simply selecting from the curriculum.
There is another layer to the planning that has to take into account the online learning spectrum. Before I can really start designing any content, I have to consider the type of online environment. Planning for a flipped classroom will look very different than an online only course. I also have to take into account the potential that the online aspect provides. An online classroom can be created by putting up the same worksheets in a digital format, but it could also be something much deeper.
One trend I am noticing in the course is the question of good pedagogy. Like most things in life, it takes stepping out of your comfort zones to challenge prior beliefs. By challenging our beliefs, we either change them to something better, or we solidify what was good all along, and we have a better, more assured account of them. Critically analyzing blended learning is going to be a big part of critically analyzing my own views and practices of pedagogy. The shift in environment and technology changes the teaching game enough that we have to examine the process in which we teach. For example, the idea of personal vs personalized learning is an idea that goes way beyond blending learning. In what ways does it trickle down to our very ideas about teaching? Is there a specific menu that students should choose from? Or should we be teaching them to be chefs in their own kitchen, whether they like it or not? Or, maybe a third option, should we teach them to cook, but only after we teach them the food guide? I don’t have an answer for those questions just yet, and even when I do, maybe they will change. This week’s readings made me wonder:
Is technology changing pedagogy? Or simply changing the tools?
Being a middle years teacher, I teach every subject, so there were a lot of options that I was considering. I am going to attempt to design a health unit focusing on mental health in middle years students. It will include aspects of mental, emotional, and spiritual health. I have decided to do this for a few reasons:
- I think that mental health is a vital, yet often overlooked aspect in today’s world, especially regarding youth.
- I think the online aspect can provide many benefits. When I started considering a blended course on mental health, my first thought was to dismiss it. Doesn’t mental health or counselling-type activities have to be in person? Then I considered that the same could be said about any traditional face-to-face teaching. While I do think that there is something lost in the absence of an in–person experience, I want to find out what that is and if it’s a significant difference.
I am looking forward to fleshing out what this might look like practically for this project, as well as how it will challenge my prior assumptions about teaching.
Thanks for reading.