The integration of technology over the course of my Fall 2011 class, "Ed Tech 552" was fun and engaging. We were introduced to many forms of media and technology such as: Flip Cams, Wikipedia, YouTube, Imovie, LiveScribe, Google Docs, VoiceStream, and MANY more. While many of our assignments required the use of these technologies we were free to explore these tools on our own as means to complete the assignments rather than focusing on the tools themselves. This was effective for many reasons. We were not only able to demonstrate our understanding of the material covered for each assignment but we were also able to learn how to use new forms of technology and media in order to demonstrate that understanding. The idea of not focusing on the tools was effective because it allowed more time to cover the course content while we learned how to use the tools at the same time. If we struggled with the tools, we were able to rely primarily on our peers through forums, e-mail, and class discussions for help. Our collaborative projects were slight exceptions in that each group did focus on learning about a particular technology. As we later presented our projects to the class, this was an effective way to introduce technologies that we could use to improve the quality of our learning/teaching environments. However, our presentations focused on how the tools could be useful in completing the tasks of our educational professions rather than primarily focusing on how to use the tool in particular. Also, because this was a class based on our praxis revolving around educational technology, what many of us would consider a tool for our professions was actually part of the task for this class.
A large focus of this class was on the pedagogical implications of teaching while integrating technology into learning environments and how practical application of technology must be grounded within such current theories as Henry Jenkins' (2009) Participatory Culture, Mark Beatham's (2008) ideas about Tool and Task, and many more. I have long considered the incorporation of modern technology and popular culture a necessary part of education. I have come to realize the importance of using these tools as a means to achieve the task rather than focusing on the tools as the task. By allowing students to play with the tools in order to achieve the task (curricular assignment), there is more time available to cover the tasks themselves. By creating a participatory culture within classrooms the students can rely on each other to learn the tools as well as progress in the tasks. Forums, wikis, and other social networking media can be great tools for creating such a participatory culture for students and colleagues alike. I believe that it is extremely important for teachers and other adults to understand the importance and function of the vast arena of media and technology that so many students have incorporated into their daily lives. We can use these tools to achieve the task of encouraging the development of well rounded individuals who can adapt to and face the ever so rapidly changing society in which we live.
Here are some of Henry Jenkins' ideas that I feel were essential components of the EDCT 552 class: