Am I failing technology?

Can we have a chat? As part of the student led sessions within the mathematics module, the students create and deliver a range of activities which show progression throughout a topic – e.g. mass, shape or multiplication. This week the topic was division and there were a range of activities being shared, including one using the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB). This added to series of events and discussion which have occurred throughout the week which have made me think that I might actually be failing in my use of technology…


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I have always considered myself a user of technology in all aspects of my life. I hope I have an understanding of not only how technology works but also how it can be used effectively to support teaching and learning. Throughout the last week, I have seen students engaging with the interactiveness of the SMARTboards, had discussions about the use of Open Badges and seen how people are engaging more and more with Twitter. It appears that everyone is increasing their use of technology and I am, at the moment, just standing still. One of the most annoying things about standing still is that you are not progressing or being innovative and I think that is what I am finding the most frustrating. I also think that I might be ploughing time and energy into areas of technology which might not be having the impact which I was initially hoping for. In order to solve any problem or situation it is important to take time out to reflect on what is not working well and then to decide on the actions that could be implemented to move the situation on. In a way, this is a reflective waffle of this process. Maybe others are also at a similar position in their teaching and learning and so some of my targets/actions might be beneficial for them, or even for you.

  • Wrong direction – This title reminds me of a song I will be playing on this week’s radio show (Tuesday’s 20:00 – shameless plug). Since moving to higher education I have been really interested in promoting asynchronous learning (i.e. learning outside the usual teaching sessions). In order to try and achieve this, I have my live/recorded show on Youtube, the discussion forums on this site, and my the open badge system on this website. As you can imagine, all these take some time to organise and run and I am wondering if these are not actually what I should be working on to support learning? Sometimes it is not that we don’t have enough time to do something, it is because we are not using the time we have effectively or prioritising the time correctly. By readdressing the focus of my work with technology I might be able to implement more innovative technology/methods within my teaching. I really enjoy implementing and recording the aforementioned activities/resources, but should the focus be more on what is actually having an impact or being used?

  • Easier to be routine – In the previous section I mentioned that if things aren’t going well maybe they should be removed from practice. In a similar way, sometimes if an activity/technology is being effective then there is the possibility of continuing to use it regardless of other possibilities. Routine can be very reassuring. Often we have established activities and practices which we stay with and enjoy, without reflecting on whether the context, students or even learning has changed or altered. Collecting learners’ viewpoints/comments via post-its and sharing them on a board, has been used within many sessions. Moving this to Padlet, might been seen as innovative initially, but after a few sessions this then becomes the norm. Sometimes I think I am being innovative because I am using some technology which few others have engaged with. Implementing new practices can be risky and tiring. In order to break out of routine you need time and motivational energy. I definitely need to allocated dedicated time to improve my practice, time to plan further ahead in order to implement new ideas and practices and so breaking away, or deviating from my usual routine.

  • Need more time! – I remember my Dean of Faculty saying that there is no such thing as a work life balance since work is an essential and integral part of our lives and trying to separate the two would be almost impossible. (I might have misquoted him there and if I have then I apologise!). Time is very precious but how we use that time is more precious still. After writing the first two points, I recognise the need to not only reassess which projects I put my effort into but also the need to find time to actually research, change and reflect. Although I consider that I am organised and work well with time, there is obviously room for improvement and in the next few weeks I am going to implement some changes in order to actually start investigating and exploring the use of a range of technologies within my teaching sessions. This should allow me to engage more with technology, both new and existing, and start to use them more both within and out of sessions.

  • I always find these reflective waffles/chats very helpful – although you might find them less interesting to read/listen to. Initially I started feeling that I am failing technology within my teaching sessions but in the end it would appear that I am not failing ‘technology’ but actually failing at effective time management and prioritising. By allocating dedicated time to explore new and different options for sessions will allow me to recognise the opportunities for the implementation of technology, as well as maintaining current practices.

    This chat has really helped, so thanks for listening as I waffle on – I appreciate your support. If you would like to contribute or reply then please add them in the comments below or send them to me via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, Google+ or email.

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