Head first. That’s not usually how I do things. I’m a planner, you see, so I usually have things scheduled, organized, and planned well in advance of them actually happening. I like to plan–it reduces the possibility for unwanted surprises. When things do not go as planned, I get anxious. Hence– I plan. When I try new things, I like to set out a graduated process for exploration. I usually take baby steps–that way if something goes wrong, I can ease out of whatever it is I am trying without major scars.
But in the past 48 hours I have gone in head first.
Last Friday, if you asked me what technologies I use socially, academically, or personally, I would have told you the basics (e.g., Facebook, Linked In, email, Skype, and every once in a while YouTube). In watching my two stepsons effortlessly use various technologies, my response has often been “hmmmm…. that’s interesting, what is it?”
Sometime last week though, it struck me. I remembered one of my most strongly held beliefs about teaching–that I best teach by modeling the kinds of thinking, processes, skills, and competencies that I want my students to engage in. I’m not always perfect but in the modeling process, everyone learns–including me! That brought me to one of my teaching assignments this fall-CRD 704- “Technologies and Pedagogies in the Communication Arts.” Which lead me to the realization that I could no longer simply be an observer. I had to actually participate in the technologies we would be exploring, interrogating, and discussing in this course. That lead to several deep breaths and some grumbling under my breath. For I knew I had to jump in… head first.
At that moment, I started feverishly exploring, researching, and downloading various communication technologies in order to learn and experience–to participate with technology instead of simply learning about it. This snowballed–once I started I found one technology was leading to another and another and another. I now have a Twitter account, a Google profile, use Google reader for RSS feeds (and have learned to subscribe to several), have revised a course wiki for CRD 704, have started bookmarking in Delicious, tried stumbling in Stumbleupon, and am creating this blog in Edublog! I actually believe I signed up for a few more things too but have not gone through every open window on my computer yet to remember exactly what I got myself into. In my exuberance, I proudly proclaimed to my stepsons that I now tweet and asked them what RSS feeds they subscribe to and told them about my new, cool blog. They shook their heads and said “I don’t know anyone who tweets” and my husband chimed in with “what’s RSS?” and they all gave me that knowing nod and kind smile that says they think I’m a bit off the deep end.
So now I’m here–in the depths of the technological waters–feeling kind of curious about how I got here, where to go and why I jumped in without any kind of plan. I am left with several questions that I hope to explore as I start teaching in a couple of weeks:
- What is my responsibility as a teacher in the 21st century in terms of technology?
- How can I practice what I teach if technology is consistently changing?
- How will my use of social, educational, and innovative technologies influence my relationship with my students?
- How can I deal with issues of professional identity when technologies are consistently blurring boundaries of the professional and personal?
- What challenges might I create by using, exploring, and committing to being a teacher who is up to speed in terms of technology and education?
- Who am I, technologically, and how might that influence who I am pedagogically? Is there a difference?
Such questions I am sure will expand and change as I enter into another semester. My two teaching assignments this semester, though, focus entirely on teaching–both courses (one at the PhD level and one at the MS level) are about teaching and learning. So I will be eating, thinking, drinking, and breathing teaching. And to the extent that I have the opportunity, freedom and space within which I can explore technology as a scholarly and pedagogical process– I will. In doing so I hope to engage the intellectual minds and pedagogical hearts of my students by modeling for them a willingness to engage, embrace, and interrogate without timidness or naivety but rather with curiosity and openness. A willingness, if you will, to go in head first.
FYI, in the process of creating this posting–my very first blog posting–I accidentally lost it twice by clicking on the wrong button that sent it somewhere; posted it under a menu that disappeared; locked it so no one could view it; deleted it when I thought I was just deleting a word; and tagged it –whatever that means. And the whole process only took me two and a half hours!
Perhaps I need a lifevest.