AVLN Integrating Technology into the Classroom
In the summer of 2003, I helped teach AVLN’s class, “Integrating Technology into the Classroom” for the first time. Janine Lim mentored me through this process, and Marilyn Eggers, PhD, was the instructor of record. Janine had previously written the class and had all the materials ready to post to the Black Board space available for the class. My job was to interact with the students on the discussion board and to grade their work, which was also posted on the discussion board.
This was my first experience utilizing Black Board as a platform for distance education delivery, as well as my first encounter with a discussion board (DB). Utilizing the DB, I was able to point out exemplary work, make comments on threads of discussion, and try to make connections between the projects and assignments and the integration of not only technology, but also faith into the curriculum and instruction. At times, I emailed students privately, and even called one student, when the work submitted was not of the quality needed for a class receiving master’s credit. Subsequent work from this student was of very high quality. It turned out that the student had both low connectivity availability and minimal tech skills. It was exciting to see this student excel as the class progressed.
The feedback from this class indicated that the participants felt the instructor feedback was helpful in their learning and understanding of the coursework. Due to limited BlackBoard space, the comments of the participants are not available.
The experience of teaching these teachers, or rather, leading them on a path toward more knowledge, was beneficial for me. This particular class included teachers with tremendously varying levels of technology competency. As with all teaching, it is important to challenge the “bright” student while motivating and inspiring those with less knowledge as well. In this case, the “bright” student simply had more technology knowledge, not more intelligence. The point of any instruction is to help move a “learner” (be it a teacher, a child, or even an animal, for that matter!) one step farther toward the objectives. Mastery is the goal; along the path to mastery are many smaller steps of success. Each participant moved forward in this class.
I was a learner along with the “students” in that I had not used the Black Board platform nor participated in a discussion board before. I found the DB stimulating and have since begun using a similar DB for my sophomore high school students in AE21. Now I have an additional way to integrate technology into my own curriculum in a meaningful, faith-based way. I have set up a “prayer” thread where students can post prayer requests, answers to prayer, etc. One student began a prayer on this thread, and another picked up the call to prayer. Online communication in this manner is truly exciting, real, and meaningful. Our ITC class also had a devotional thread where the instructors (Janine primarily, with input from me) posted thoughts. Participants in the class would post prayer requests there from time to time.
I look forward to utilizing my competency as teacher and effective communicator again in the ITC class in the future, as well as expanding my own knowledge base and experience as I interact with new participants. I can see how I can better utilize Socratic questioning in future classes as an online discussion moderator, and can use the information I learned from Haavind and MacKnight to become a better online facilitator. (Also see Online Communication; Reflections 4.)