Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book, Future Shock is credited with numerous quotables in the realm of education technology. One of his most famous quotes is “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Forgive me if my interpretation strays from his original quote because, this is not an actual direct quote. While developing my final research paper on the integration of Web 2.0 technologies within Hackathons, I came across some of Toffler’s many educational quotes, which would compliment my research. The above quote seemed appropriate for one of my chapter introductions, so I purchased a paperback copy of Future Shock from Amazon and skimmed through the book trying to locate the quote and ensure that I would not use it out of context. After a few hours, I had no luck finding this quote in its entirety. However, I found many fragmented instances of the quote throughout Chapter 18: Education in Future Tense.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
I searched online to find out if anyone else cited this quote in hopes of finding a reference to its page number or chapter. I came across an article by Darcy Moore from 2009, which addressed the same issue I was facing. He also could not locate the direct quote in Toffler’s book. I quickly thought of the irony to this situation. Toffler spoke in length within his book about teaching the students of the future how to collect, analyze and interpret large sets of data in order to identify and clarify conflicts (Toffler, 1970). With so much information available on the Internet, it has become common to accept misinformation as fact. In short, I ended up reading the entire book and found the “quote”. Ok, it wasn’t the exact quote but the crux of it fit my introduction and context of my research. “By instructing students how to learn, unlearn and relearn, a powerful new dimension can be added to education” (Toffler, 1970, p. 211). It was perfect! As you can see, this quote has pieces of the altered requote that has been attributed to Toffler.
The fact is, Alvin Toffler’s “quote” is actually a requote from Psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy of the Human Resources research Organization who he credits in the paragraph below as saying,
“The new education must teach the individual how to classify and reclassify information, how to evaluate its veracity, how to change categories when necessary, how to move from the concrete to the abstract and back, how to look at problems from a new direction—how to teach himself. Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn.”
Segments of Toffler’s actual quotes are actually paraphrased and have been collected, merged and adapted over time. What’s the moral of this story? If you ever come across a quote that you intend on requoting, be sure to check your sources. You might have to unquote that requote of the quote you cited. 😉
Toffler, A. (1970). Future Shock. New York, N.Y.: Random House, Inc.
Music has many frequencies; as too does our brains. The use of music in teaching and learning can appeal to the limbic, and neocortex layers of the brain to react to music emotionally, and enhance intellectual capabilities. Music can be used to stimulate right brain thinking through various brain-wave frequencies that may trigger different stages and responses. Within my experiences; teaching mostly creative and visual arts, students tend to use mostly right-brain activities such as media, imagery and music to process information. As referenced in Berk, Jordain, 1997; Polk and Kertesz, 1993 state that the brains right hemisphere utilizes nonverbal and creative activities that reflect emotional and subjective relationships between them. With the addition of media, music can also offer a way for students to generate knowledge through the aid of visual elements such as animations, illustrations, colour and live characters; similar to the Sesame Street effect (Berk, 2008).
Music has many frequencies; as too does our brains. The use of music in teaching and learning can appeal to the limbic, and neocortex layers of the brain to react to music emotionally, and enhance intellectual capabilities.
Within this short video (6:00), I have selected four clips that use melody, rhythmic patterns, pitch, and volume to stimulate brain-wave frequencies that can affect right brain thinking when learning and teaching.
With so much to remember, online facilitation and teaching isn’t easy. With so many factors to consider as an instructor and student, the process of teaching and learning in an online learning environment can get overwhelming at times. My approach to learning and teaching in an online learning environment is one that is adaptive, collaborative, inclusive and centered around the learner. I believe these attributes can help build a positive online learning community where social collaboration can be nurtured and enriched with the use of technology.
Recently in my Instructional Design course, I was asked to incorporate the lessons I’ve learned so far in order to refute a CEO’s decision to cut back on investing in staff training for a fictional organization. During a synchronous session, the CEO of the organization questioned the value of the company’s previous training methods and also dismissed the value of employing an instructional designer. The CEO believed that investing in annual training seminars was not a cost-effective solution for training staff members on how to increase their sales of the company’s products. I was asked to persuade the CEO into reconsidering her position by arguing the following points:
Training is a worthwhile investment;
Instructional design makes a critical difference in the quality of training;
Senior sales representatives may not be the best trainers; and
Cost-effective training methods exist that can be effectively developed and deployed in the corporate environment.
Below is my argument posed to the CEO of Insurance Co.
Convincing the CEO.
Cost Effective Training Methods Do Exist
Dear Mrs. CEO,
We all know that there are no guarantees to boosting sales and confidence within your sales staff through expensive seminars and in-house training. However, this may be imparted by the lack of a necessary and crucial component with respect to designing effective quality sales training. Investing in employing a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and Instructional Designer (ID) to develop sales training materials would be a cost-effective and beneficial solution for your organization. Logistically, training seminars may not be the most cost-effective and productive means for training sales staff within your organization. With the recent launch of two new products and 14 satellite offices around the world, online synchronous and asynchronous methods of mediating sales training may be a more cost-effective and efficient way for reaching a broader number of sales staff. With an online method of training, it would solve the issues of logistics, timing and accessibility for more sales team members; providing the infrastructure for online mediation exists. Creating online content, training materials and setting up a technologically compliant network system will also be costly. However, it may be a cost-effective solution for future training and on-the-job training that could be utilized by all of your junior and senior sales staff. Training will also need to be set in place for senior and junior staff to learn the new online mediated tools. Support for this online system will also need to be considered and costs for this solution will be incurred. With the above online requirements stated, essentially a customized Learning Management System (LMS) will need to be created, developed and maintained to suit the needs of your organization.
Instructional Designer’s Make A Difference
It would be wise to employ a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the insurance sales field and an Instructional Designer (ID) to create, develop and organize a plan for successful sales training within your organization. ID’s are agile and great collaborators. “ID’s understand the needs of the business, sales staff and training. They would work seamlessly with SME’s and upper management to provide the best training results from your staff. ID’s are generally responsible for getting a project done on time and within budget – without alienating the client or the project team” (Stein, 2015). Using Bates’ (2014) ADDIE model, an ID would ensure that the content for training is analysed so that the right amount of content is covered in each module of the training sessions. They would make sure that the training is logically designed and fluid so that the learning objectives are met with the appropriate use of materials and technology. ID’s would also ensure that the training provided is developed and implemented in a way that ensures the content is accurate, complete, clear and accessible for the participants of the learning environment; while paying close attention to utilizing qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods. Using the ADDIE model would suit the needs of the organization as it is tailored for the design and development of large groups and members within a learning environment.
Senior Sales Representatives May Not Be The Best Trainers
While there is no guarantee of increasing sales from either face-to-face or online training methods, involving a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and Instructional Designer (ID) who are knowledgeable of the latest technology and aware of cost-effective solutions for sales training would be highly recommended. With respect to all senior sales staff within your organization, we cannot assume that successful senior sales staff have the capacity and tech savvy skills required to develop and deliver effective sales training to your domestic and international sales team members. Senior sales members would be obliged to collaborate with marketing teams, sales departments and upper management—domestically and internationally—to ensure that they are knowledgeable of your newly launched products and future products. The cost of training senior staff to deliver effective sales training would also need to be taken into consideration.
Training is a Worthwhile Investment.
Training is a worthwhile investment. Whether it is through face-to-face seminars or using a blended online solution that includes synchronous and asynchronous methods of delivery. Investing in a qualified Subject Matter Expert (SME) and Instructional Designer (ID) will make a difference in the quality of training provided to your junior and senior sales staff members. As mentioned in our synchronous meeting, you stated that “Hopefully, the training by experienced sales staff will bolster the confidence of the sales team members and finally give us the boost in sales we’ve been looking for” (CEO, 2015). We cannot assume that because your senior sales staff are qualified to effectively sell your products that they would be the best candidates to effectively train and instill confidence in your sales team members; domestically and internationally. Rather than offload this responsibility to your senior sales staff, please reconsider investing in quality training for your future. Considering your latest expansion and future developments, it is advised that you invest in training through an online Learning Management System (LMS) that would be curated by an experienced SME and ID to provide quality sales training throughout the year to your sales force. Sales staff would be able to access training tools at anytime, anywhere in the world at their own convenience. Once the LMS and content has been fleshed out, you may then consider delegating successful and capable sales staff members to train sales members on how to work the LMS and how to share quality content using the online training tools. Incorporating online sales training within the organization should eventually become a more cost-effective solution to maintain overtime, which would meet the needs of your organization’s long-term goals.
The past nine weeks have been busy… really busy… and stressful; to say the least. I recently completed my third MALAT course; Program Planning and learned a lot about the process of creating a program plan for adult learners. I used Caffarella and Daffron’s (2013) interactive model as a guide for developing a TML program plan and read Bates and Sangrá’s (2011) Managing Technology in Higher Education as a reference for examining strategies and actions that support the integration of technology into universities and colleges. I ended up creating my own Technology Mediated Learning (TML) program plan for an open source blended certificate called the Open Source Technology (OST) Web & Mobile Development program. As I learned how to integrate TML within an adult learning environment, there were many valuable lessons that I learned such as structuring program goals and learning objectives, systems of power, marketing and critical success factors.
In my mind, one of the biggest things I’ve learned about program planning is that it’s all about the people.
For example, I learned that stakeholders who are either directly or indirectly involved in the development of a program plan can have a positive or negative influence on the program outcomes and experiences of learners, educators and organizations (Beard, 2003; Cervero & Wilson, 1996, 1998, 2006). Everyone involved—from the board of governors to external industry partners—play an important role in providing a quality learning experience and environment that suites the needs of the learner… But, enough about that. I won’t bore you with what I’ve learned academically. However, I’d like to share my perspectives on what I’ve learned about myself over the past nine weeks and insights on what I thought were important takeaways during the course.
Infrastructure is Important.
I remember the day Moodle went down… it was like reliving the Blackout of 2003. Since our program is centred around education and technology, there is an emphasis placed on the importance of accessibility and infrastructure when it comes to connectivity and the availability of technology to all parties involved in education. To create a successful program for online mediation there has to be a solid foundation of support and technological infrastructure that allows learners to gain access to resources and information at all times regardless of location, time and other external factors. In the digital age, we rely on our devices and trust in the stability of an internet connection to be available at all times. When we lose access to either of these, we seem to lose our senses. During the course, we were scheduled to have an online collaboration meeting and our Learning Management System (LMS) went down. Everyone was scrambling to find a fix and went into a panic because there was a sense of being lost or disconnected from everyone who could help them in their time of need. I started to wonder if something like this happened during the delivery of a synchronous lesson, MOOC or paid webinar/informative session, what would be the impact on the learner, educator and institution? A poor infrastructure could lead to a poor experience for the learner and could have a dramatic affect on their learning outcomes and the goals of the program.
Should I Use SAMR, TPAK, or The SECTIONS Model for My TML Program?
Yup, I was asked this question. I was confused at first as well. I thought the whole point of the course was to create a program plan that integrated technology. I didn’t know I neded to justify a requirement. Defining program planning and identifying the stakeholders for my program was the easiest part of the course. It was almost common sense at some points. Once we got into developing strategies for utilizing Technology Mediated Learning (TML) within our program plans and researching the finer details that would help make our plans successful, the course began to get challenging.
Planning for a TML program should consider the intended audience and incorporate technologies that fit the needs and skill levels of their participants.”
— Cafarella and Daffron, 2013
Understanding your audience is key in creating a solid program plan. Knowing who your intended learner is allows program planners to identify the needs of the learner and identifies what the main objectives and goals for the program should be. Along with knowing who the intended learner of my program was, I had to discover how they would benefit from learning in a TML environment. Where would they go to access internal or external support and what roles would the institutions hierarchy of power play in providing these contextual factors? The contextual factors that are taken into account for TML appropriation within a program are the human element, the organization, and the external factors of the wider environment (Caffarella & Daffron, 2013).
Along with discerning our contextual factors, we also had to discover various approaches for delivering a TML program such as the SAMR model, SECTIONS and TPAK (Puentedura, 2009; Bates & Sangrá, 2011, Koehler & Mishra, 2006). I decided on a method that best suited my program plans goals and outcomes. The model that I gravitated towards the most was the SAMR model by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. I personally liked the model because I was familiar with it. Although, my familiarity was more indirect, I found that I had inherently been applying this model within my own classes over the years. However, there were parts of the SECTIONS model that I incorporated within my program plan.
SAMR Model Exemplar:
The SAMR model is geared towards helping teachers develop transformational learning with the aid of technology. An example of using the SAMR model would be if a science teacher asks his or her students to write a paper on space exploration.
Substitution: Using Google Docs instead of traditional pen and paper methods for writing.
Augmentation: Students can use Google Doc’s features to format their document, check spelling errors or use text-to-speech functions to improve legibility and efficiency in writing.
Modification: Students can use Google Docs to share, collaborate and receive feedback on their paper from instructors and peers in real-time.
Redefinition: Students can post their paper to a blog while sharing their information and making connections through social networks with the aid of various multimedia formats.
Moodle and Oodles of Posts.
184 unread posts! Within the blink of an eye our discussion boards would blow up. Just when I thought I’d caught up to everyone’s posts and replies, I’d wake up the next morning to an alert saying “72 unread posts.” There was no way I could view all of those posts and it seemed like a daunting task to even start replying. With the majority of my degree program being instructed online, I had to keep up with discussion forums, posts and replies to various topics from my instructors and peers. I have to admit it was pretty stressful trying to keep up. On a brighter note, during the course we were placed in groups to complete various assignments and smaller group discussions. I enjoyed being in a small group environment as it helped me learn at a greater pace and gain interesting perspectives from my peers. I enjoyed being in a group dynamic and the group discussions were engaging and insightful. Plus, I met and worked with some really great people. 🙂
Keep Calm… Don’t Panic, Procrastinate.
Having to juggle between researching and writing a paper while maintaining group obligations was not an easy task. I did have trouble keeping an even balance between work and school, but I managed to pull through, once again. There were some days that I had to force myself to take a break to keep my sanity. I started this course off with a full plate. I began teaching a full course load again in September, I had freelance projects that needed to be completed, began moving into a new home and also had family obligations to keep. This was definitely not a time that I could afford to procrastinate. However, I did. I took a few days off throughout the middle of the course to synthesize what I was learning. I had to take in how these lessons applied to my work and what it meant to my future goals within education and technology. It seems like the courses are going by so fast and I never really get time to sit back and soak in what I’m learning. I realized that it’s better to set aside small time blocks each day to complete my school work rather than trying to cram everything into one or two days during the weekend.
Work Hard, Play Harder.
There were many days I spent locked up in my room or at a library studying, reading or writing drafts of my final paper. I knew my social life and personal hobbies would take a hit while taking this program but having a balance is what I would prefer. I’ve recently developed a schedule that allows me to get my work done and still maintain some sort of a social life. I started to go for my regular morning jogs, then go to work and come home early enough to get my lesson plans done for the next day. In the evenings, I dedicate my time to my family and then read a chapter or two before going to bed at night. I also reserve a few hours each weekend for completing assignments and take time out for other activities. Being able to maintain a consistent balance between home, work and school is really important to me. Even though it might seem difficult, I don’t think I would be as productive without maintaining that balance.
Strength = Success. Not Weakness.
Now that the course is over, I feel really confident about what I’ve learned and I look forward to applying my knowledge in my role as an instructor and program lead/coordinator. However, not everything went smoothly during the course; I mean, why would it? There were many obstacles, time constraints and mishaps that I encountered and had to overcome. However, that’s what makes this learning experience so valuable for me. After each course, I come away with a greater sense of how far I can push myself beyond my threshold. Overall, I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished so far in the MALAT program and I can’t wait to begin my next course, LRNT 504 — Instructional Design (iD). Instructional Design is a field that I always wanted to get into and was one of the reasons behind choosing the MALAT program. After a week off in between courses, I’m ready and excited to begin learning all about instructional design and I look forward to the challenges ahead… So, bring it on 504! 💪
Koehler M. J., Mishra P., & Cain, W. (2013). What Is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)?. Journal Of Education, 193(3), 13-19.
Naughton, J. (1984). Chapter 3: An overview of the Checkland methodology. In Soft Systems Analysis: An Introductory Guide (pp. 17-47). Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Reprinted by Athabasca University.
Recently we began our Program Planning course (LRNT 503) in our Master of Arts in Learning and Technology (MALAT) program at Royal Roads University (RRU). During our unit 1 team discussions, we were asked to discuss various topics surrounding program planning and how it applies to technology-mediated learning (TML). Our group held our discussions through online communication and collaboration tools including Google Hangouts, Google Docs and Blackboard’s Collaborate.
This article reveals my perspectives, thoughts and reflections as they relate to the following topics based on the readings of Bates and Sangra (2011) and Caffarella (2013):
Leadership and strategic planning as they relate to program planning within technology-mediated learning (TML).
Activities that support the effective integration of TML and
Experiences with technology as they may improve learning/teaching quality and or applicable hinderances.
How does Program Planning apply within a TML?
My present view of program planning is defined as a negotiated activity among people that plan programs, which are influenced by traditions, political relationships and needs and interests of organizations (Wilson & Cervero, 1996, p. 6). Examples of program plans can be adult degree programs in colleges and universities, training programs mandated for all employees of an organization, social action initiatives and national and international professional and trade conferences (Caffarella & Daffron, 2013, p. 60). Stakeholders who are involved and influence program planning can be educators, learners and organizations (Beard, 2003; Cervero & Wilson, 1996, 1998, 2006). Program planning appears to have application in a TML environment by assisting the enhancement of learning objectives with integrating technology based learning.
Program planning is defined as a negotiated activity among people that plan programs, which are influenced by traditions, political relationships and needs and interests of organizations”
— Wilson and Cervero (2013).
I am currently responsible for assisting planning a program for secondary school students who are interested in learning game development. The components of program planning outlined in our unit 1 readings are related to my role as I am required to meet the needs of various stakeholders while considering budget constraints, logistics, scheduling, evaluation, instruction, needs assessment and support. The knowledge-based skills developed by the students in my program would be categorized under computer technology and entertainment, which fall under the service industry according to Drucker (1969).
Leadership and strategic planning as they relate to program planning.
According to Bates and Sangrà, (2011) support and acceptance from institutional leadership are crucial parts to the equation when integrating technology. In most cases, integration of technology within institutions come with a cost, which some stakeholders choose not to afford. I recall a time when I made a case for adopting new software within graphic design labs so that students would become better equipped with employable skills upon graduating. Faculty leads and instructors were on board for the new software to be adopted, however directors, administrators and IT pushed against it due to cost of licensing, support costs and maintenance. The applications had to be scalable and accessible in all labs across the institution in order for the technology to be feasible.
Leadership needs to be the catalyst for effective change by guiding, coaching, mentoring, and developing competencies in using technology for success in a knowledge based society.”
According to Bates and Sangrà, accessibility to technology for students, faculty, and staff may include establishing access to desktop machines for every faculty and staff member (2011, p. 80). This meant that support for instructors outside of my program would also need to be trained and skilled in the applications, which made it difficult to implement. They would also need access to the software locally and remotely, which made costs even greater. I think this is where leadership would fit into program planning as it relates to TML. Establishing a vision for change by integrating technology into programs can help transform an organization into adopting new technology within institutions. Leadership needs to be the catalyst for effective change by guiding, coaching, mentoring, and developing competencies in using technology for success in a knowledge based society.
Activities that support the effective integration of technology mediated learning (TML).
Sangra (as cited in Bates, Sangra, Albert, 2011) after surveying 16 universities all over the world, suggests the following activities for integrating technology mediated learning:
To improve the technology infrastructure ( meaning make sure there is enough bandwidth and wireless access in campus for all the students and staff.
To increase access to technology for students, and staff in the format of computer labs, online library access.
To improve internet administrative process such as financial systems, human resource management systems.
To improve internal and external communication through email, student portal, institutional websites for public relations and contact Alumni.
To promote and facilitate research through accessing and sharing large databases and high capacity computation.
To expand and improve teaching and learning through
Using technology to support classroom teaching
Development of blended or fully online learning course/ program
Access to digital resources
Design and purchase software to support teaching and learning
Faculty development and training in the use of technology
My experiences with technology mediate learning (TML) in the workplace.
I related to many of my group member’s experiences when faced with online/mobile mediation and learning. In my role as a program coordinator, I am faced with developing technology-mediated learning sessions that offer more interactive components than standard uses of technology. Most of my faculty use technology as a communication tool to connect with students and peers while leaving out the interactive component, which is TML. They simply use technology, such as Blackboard, social media and other LMS platforms to send out announcements, emails and course content. However, they don’t seem to use the technology to teach or add substance to learning via online content and distribution. I often receive feedback from students and teachers whom say that they are forced to use these LMS even though they are not supported with methods to improve teaching and learning via the technologies that they are capable of performing.
Worldwide, more people have mobile phones than personal computers”
— Bates & Sangra
Teaching through technology is a difficult task to coordinate. Especially when some schools and their students don’t have external access to the technology used in the classroom, whether it be physical access, network access or financial access. “Worldwide, more people have mobile phones than personal computers” (Bates & Sangra, 2011), which makes it easy to assume that mobile learning is the way of the future. Open communication platforms, such as Skype, Google+, Facebook etc… make it relatively easy to engage with students and faculty. On the other hand, we assume that every student has a mobile data plan which gives them access at all times and or are on a network that is stable and reliable enough to maintain a similar learning experience as the classroom.
I find deciding on the choice of technology to mediate learning through institutions needs to be considered, especially when it comes to licensed technology such as Moodle, Collaborate and Adobe Connect to name a few. Open source technologies such as social media are great for students because they come into the learning environment having some familiarity with the technology. Thus, making learning and communication more fluid. The cost of learning these technologies are relatively low compared to the time and cost factors of learning a LMS. Bates and Sangra, (2011) discuss social media as being a great source for informal learning and contributes to the knowledge economy, however it seems to have no place in the academic learning. This might be true due to the security, privacy and copyright issues that open source technologies are susceptible.
I am constantly trying to answer a series of questions as they relate to learning and technology in the classroom. How do we manage all these technologies and decide on which is the best solution for a given subject? Can technology improve the quality of learning or does it only enhance the learning experience? Should we invest more in supporting and developing our teachers so that learning is improved? Will our choice of technology reflect our pedagogical approach to teaching? Will we decide on technologies that are cost-effective even though they are inadequate just to suit the needs of the institution? How do we ensure that teachers can facilitate the learning of these technologies and have adequate support? There are so many factors to deal with when it comes to integrating technology mediated learning within an academic institution. I look forward to navigating my way through these obstacles and finding solutions for these questions during the program planning course and hope to put my research into practice.
Bates, A. W. , & Sangrà, A. (2011). Managing technology in higher education: Strategies for transforming teaching and learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Beard, V. A. (2003). Learning radical planning: The power of collective action. Planning Theory, 2 (1), 13–35. doi: 10.1177/1473095203002001004
Caffarella, R.S., & Daffron, S. (2013). Planning programs for adult learners: A practical guide. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Cervero, R. M., & Wilson, A. L. (1996). Learning from practice: Learning to see what matters in program planning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education , (69), 91–99. doi: 10.1002/ace.36719966911
Cervero, R. M., & Wilson, A. L. (1998). Working the planning table: The political practice of adult education. Studies in Continuing Education, 20 (1), 5–21.
Cervero, R. M., & Wilson, A. L. (2006). Working the planning table: Negotiating democratically for adult, continuing, and workplace education . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Sangrà, A. (2003). La integració de les TIC a la universitat: Una aproximació estratègica. Unpublished manuscript, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain.
Grab some popcorn and get comfortable, this is a pretty lengthy reply 😉
I recently posted an article about My role as an educator in the digital age. I received some really great questions from my classmates and faculty regarding my use of technology in the classroom and the technical skills required to put those technologies into practice.
Before I begin answering the questions below, let me start by saying that I believe the degree of technology used by teachers in the classroom should be relative to their profession and or subject(s) that they teach. I do not suggest that all teachers should be up-to-speed with all forms of educational technology. However, I would suggest that being aware, knowledgeable and skilled in the technologies that aid successful development of a students academic achievement should be utilized and put into practice. In this post, I will try to answer the following questions that were asked in reply to my original article:
How do you keep up with technology?
In my field of study and profession as a digital designer, it is my job—and a requirement—to keep current and skilled in technology that affects my industry in order to provide my students with the best learning experience. That’s what my students expect when they enter my design program. They want to be taught the latest trends and developments in web design. In order for me to deliver these expectations, I have to keep current with the latest trends in design, application software, development languages etc… In order to keep up with technology that pertains to my field of study and profession, I am involved in various meetups once a month, instruct project-based workshops and programs such as Techsdale and volunteer at WordCamp conferences to keep my skills sharpened and stay active in the design community. Being a member of a community that shares knowledge with future designers and developers helps me stay in touch with design trends and the latest developments in technology within my field of practice. I learn a great deal from my peers within these spaces and take those lessons back into my classroom to share the experiences with my students. These experiences also allow my students to gain an edge within the job market once they graduate. Employers in the design industry are always looking for talented designers who are knowledgable of the latest technologies and languages to stay competitive. By keeping up with technology, I can transfer what I learn to my students in a rich learning environment that is filled with current information, discussion and creative ideas.
Do you have enough time to develop the skills that will allow you to be an effective teacher?
When I was 17 years old my father passed away. My father was an auto mechanic for the greater part of his life and would always read about the newest innovations in the auto industry, even after his retirement. He had stacks of auto manuals, auto magazines and whatever else he could get his hands on to keep up with his passion for automobiles. After he retired, he couldn’t stand the fact of being unable to work. When I was 11 years old, he moved back to the Caribbean (Dominica) to help his nephews manage their mechanic shop. Six years passed, and I had planned to visit him in Dominica a couple weeks before his passing. A year later, my sister—who also lives in Dominica—visited me and gave me a book that my father had planned on giving me for my 18th birthday. Apparently, he gave a copy of this book to all of my brothers and sisters when they turned 18. The book my father kept for me was called ‘The Prophet’ by Khalil Gibran. The book is about a man who lived abroad for several years and was on his way home aboard a ship. During his travels, he began to discuss various topics about life and the human condition with a group of passengers on the ship. When the groups of passengers ask the man on the ship about the topic of ‘Work’ the man replied, “You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons…” (Gibran, 1926). This quote always stuck with me as my father used to emphasize the importance of work. In the digital age, this quote holds even more value to me today than it did in the past. When asked if I have enough time to develop my skills in order to be an effective designer and teacher, my reply to that question is “I make time.” If I want to be an effective designer and teacher to a generation that depends heavily on the use of technology then I must make time to develop my skills and keep pace with technology or else I will become a stranger to it and unable to keep pace with the world of design. I can’t imagine teaching students graphic design using the same techniques as I did when I was a student. I can’t imagine teaching students how to develop photos in a dark room rather than teaching them digital prepress or teaching typography using metal type instead of digital typesetting applications. I probably wouldn’t be considered as a designer in the digital age if I still used old technology. A great woman once told me “Mark, if you love to do something you should make time for it, not wish you had time for it” (My Wife, 2015).
Do you think all teachers should have technical skills?
I personally think that all teachers should have technical skills, regardless of the grade level they teach. My daughter’s first grade teacher used her iPad to help students learn how to read and practice arithmetic. My daughter’s first grade teacher also kept track of each student’s progress using the Evernote app on her iPad. When we met my daughter’s teacher for our parent-teacher meeting, the teacher showed us pictures of my daughter’s progress and feedback that she had made throughout the term. When it was time to end the meeting, I had asked if we could have a copy of the pictures she took of our daughter so that we could have them printed. The teacher replied (with confusion) that she didn’t know how to extract the photographs from Evernote. My daughter quickly interrupted and suggested to her teacher that she tap and hold her finger on the images so that she could save them to her iPad. My daughter then showed her teacher how to create a photo album for each student using her iPad so that her teacher could easily send photos to each parent via email. It was great that the teacher used technology to help her students learn in a way that was intuitive, engaging and fun for the class. The technology also allowed the instructor to keep all of her reports in one place while helping her stay organized and sustainable, as per the school’s policy. However, there were some things that my daughter’s teacher was not aware of about the technology that she was using. Granted, the teacher took it upon herself to include the use of technology in the classroom as a learning tool but what if she was better supported and learned how the technology she was using could be utilized to it’s full potential?
I see many teachers at the elementary level on both ends of the spectrum in adopting technology. How should they be supported? Should there be a certain mandatory level of technology use in the classroom?
In 2015, I would hope that technology in the classroom would be mandated. Today, there are digital classrooms being created and implemented across various school districts and provinces within Canada. Amplify uses Google’s Android-based tablets and Samsung have already started initiatives to deliver affordable mobile devices to educators and their students. With the increasing need for qualified people in tech, companies are taking it upon themselves to educate the next generation of tech leaders. I agree that the use of technology in the classroom should also include mandatory training for instructors. The post-secondary institution where I teach offers workshops and training seminars for teachers every month. The school also has a department dedicated to professional development, which offers workshops on how to utilize technology in the classroom.
I have also taught a few ‘lunch and learn’ sessions in the past. A lunch and learn is where a faculty member or guest speaker instructs faculty on how to use or implement a specific application or resource that may be useful to them during their lunch hour. I recently taught a lesson on how to create a subscription-based Google calendar for instructors who wanted to send push notifications to students about assignment due dates, important events and access to one-on-one meeting signups. Since the majority of our students have a computer or mobile device with their own personal email account, students preferred having reminders sent directly to their device rather than accessing reminders through a third party email account. Using this simple form of technology allowed my students to stay organized and punctual with their assignments throughout the semester.
When writing my earlier post on my role of an educator in the digital age, I should have defined the word ‘technology’ as it pertains to my profession and teaching. I don’t believe that teachers need to be up-to-date with all technologies, because I agree that it is an impossible task. However, within the scope of a teacher’s expertise or subject, teachers should become more knowledgeable of the available technologies that affect their subject of expertise to suit the needs of their students. I understand that my perspectives may be different from others in my profession as a teacher. I am a designer first and a teacher second. I became a teacher because I wanted to share my knowledge with others in hopes that they would become as passionate about design as I am. My passion for design allows me to be passionate about teaching design. My personal belief is that students come to me as a teacher of design because they consider me to be an expert in the field that I teach. Therefore, they expect me to answer any questions based on design and the technology that compliments design. Sure, I help guide my students to find their own understanding of what good design is and how to achieve their own academic goals. However, to do so I must also help them become better designers by staying current with the technology and information that they need to achieve their academic and professional goals. In addition, I still see value in teaching the traditional aspects of design that will help them build a solid foundation for their career. Thus, making them better prepared for any future advancements that they may experience.