Before I began to peruse my master’s degree in educational technology, my knowledge of technology I could use in the classroom was at a novice’s level. Given the fact that when I started this program I was only finishing my second year of teaching mathematics at an alternative school where I did not have much opportunity to create my own lessons, I really only knew about technology that I had learned about in my undergraduate program. So when I decided I was going to go for my master’s degree, I was looking for something that would be put to good use. I started looking at online programs because I wanted something that was on a flexible schedule and not classes where I physically had to be present at. I was looking through the degree programs that the University of Missouri had to offer as I got my bachelor’s degree from Mizzou, I trusted the quality of the education I would be getting. As I was looking through these programs, a colleague of mine suggested the educational technology program to me as he was about to graduate from it himself. I looked into the program and mapped out how long the program would take to complete and decided on it in the next couple of days. This program intrigued me over all the others because it was something that I thought would be applicable to any job I take within the school system and it would be something that would probably always be relevant. Technology and incorporating it into our lessons is something that is always pushed and highly encouraged by the administration in my district and this degree would open a lot of doors for me. Therefore, I applied and came time to start on this new path of education in the summer of 2016.
The Big Three
One of the best things I have learned during this program started during my first semester in ISLT 7377 Introduction to Web Development when I learned how to code and then furthered my skills in ISLT 7370 Intermediate Web Development. I enjoyed these two classes the most because I felt I was challenged and learned something that I never thought that I would be able to accomplish. Coding is something that I may not use all of the time with my students or during my lessons but I still find that it was very valuable to learn because it is what makes almost everything today run. It is also something that could show problem solving skills to students which I really like being a mathematics teacher.
Another big take away I have from this program was that it is not enough to use technology in the classroom. It needs to have a greater purpose than just being present in the lesson. The technology you choose to use in the lesson needs to be present to enhance the learning process and not be there just to say you have technology. This thought has changed the way I think about incorporating technology into my lessons. I now think about what technology I want to use and ask myself if that is something that will help the students understand the lesson or become more engaged in the lesson and if not I look for something else to incorporate.
Finally, I feel that I learned a great deal about collaborating with my peers, especially when we are not in the same room. I was very apprehensive about doing group projects while participating in an online course because we could not be in the same location and I have never worked on something like that before. I learned the value of google docs, wiki spaces, and drop box to name a few. This is something I can pass onto my high school students because they sometimes have different schedules but they could still be able to work together to complete a task.
I am taking away an immense amount of knowledge from this program. I feel that I know a lot more about what not only what educational technology is and means but how to use it properly and purposefully in the classroom. Finishing this degree program has made me a more effective teacher and a more experienced one when it comes to technology. Before, I had always struggled to understand why we needed to be incorporating so much technology into our classrooms. I now know that it is important to today’s learners to use the technology in their classrooms so that when they are off on their own they will be more suited for the jobs that will be available because every job is using and developing with technology. I cannot wait to implement what I have learned and what my students grow and blossom into lifelong learners who hopefully love using technology.