Mapping My Educational Future
I have ambitions to dive further into educational research. By exploring different approaches to educational research I hope to conduct more field research in my classroom about the effectiveness of blended/hybrid learning.
As a teacher who teaches primarily with Project Based Learning (PBL) I am always trying to find new ways to get my students engaged and to make learning personal. I am passionate about PBL and the 21st century skills that it can help students build.
Education policy is at the forefront of any educational changes that take place. I want to use the knowledge I have gained from the Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) program at Michigan State University to enter into the conversation of technology and its impact on policy changes.
While earning a Master of Arts in Educational Technology degree from Michigan State University I have learned more about educational research practices, designing student centered environments, and policies that affect the implementation of technology. I want to continue to learn how educational research can affect policy makers decisions on educational practices that get adopted by states and how educational trends can positively or negatively impact the achievement scores of students. I want to understand what research was used in the creation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and how continued field research is being utilized to understand the effectiveness of the standards and technology integration.
When I was an undergraduate student at Hope College I was able to conduct research on the attitudes of preservice teachers use of technology in elementary classrooms. Partnering with Dr. Tony Donk from Hope College on this research project led to future research opportunities when I became a kindergarten teacher. Dr. Tony Donk and I studied the choices that kindergarten students make when writing with paper and pencil or iPads and what factors may influence those decisions. Since taking Approaches to Educational Research course in Michigan State’s Master of Arts in Educational Technology program I have learned how essential it is for educators to stay informed on what educational research is being done and how it may impact their teaching practices. My goal is to continue to do field research in my classroom on the use and effectiveness of hybrid or blended learning. My passion for education and research is something that I want to continue to explore within my district and the partnerships I have made at Hope College. My previous research projects have given me the chance to present at educational conferences such as the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL). I have future goals to present at MACUL again with my teaching partner about Project Based Learning and I would like to use my educational research background to present at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) as well as get published in educational journals.
Designing student-centered environments is another area that I had an opportunity to dive into while earning my Master of Arts in Educational Technology degree. I like to create Project Based Learning (PBL) units for my students to engage in when uncovering the standards and concepts within the curriculum. The PBL units that I create typically have my students collaborating and meeting in specific role groups for research or designing purpose. Student-centered environments focus on the needs of the students and create opportunities for challenging and engaging work. I am curious to learn more about how the rise of school districts moving into 1-1 environments is shaping the classroom environment and how educators can use technology to make the classroom more student centered. Technology gives students the opportunity to have a more self-paced education as well as be collaborative with their peers. An article written by Emily Liebtag highlights the 8 Things to Look for in a Student-Centered Learning Environment and how Project Based Learning lends itself well to establishing a student-centered environment.
Education policy is something that affects every teacher directly, but is usually not noticed until policies change. While taking the Accommodating Differences in Literacy Learners I learned how the No Child Left Behind Act led to teachers giving students more assessments to track a student’s progress. The Every Student Succeeds Acts signed by President Obama in 2015 was the policy change to fix the No Child Left Behind Act. The U.S Department of Education promotes an initiative called Teach to Lead. This initiative is to provide teachers with more leadership opportunities without having the leave the classroom. The U.S Department of Education describes Teach to Lead and their objectives as being, “increase pathways and opportunities for teachers to exercise leadership, elevate teacher voice to inform and develop policy and practice, and expand existing efforts and create model to steer systemic improvements to benefit student learning”. With the knowledge I have gained from classes such as Accommodating Differences in Literacy Learners, Leadership and Technology, and Approaches to Educational Research I hope to find more opportunities where I can be involved in policy discussions at the building, district, state, and national level.
Educational technology is a field that is continuing to progress and directly effects research, classroom environments, and policy. My goal is to focus on these three areas as I can continue to be a lifelong learner and get further into my career as an educator. These three areas will force me to stay up to date on emerging technologies and pedagogical practices that will impact education as a whole.