Philosophy of Educational Technology Experiences with technology and their potential usefulness in the classroom have shaped this

pre-service teacher’s philosophy of educational technology. Clearly, utilizing technology in a classroom environment on the mere premise that it might augment or enhance the learning experience would provide a disservice to students. One should implement technology into their curriculum only if it enhances the learning environment for all students. Therefore, having technological tools for use as a teacher will facilitate the learning process. However, technology in and of itself does nothing to expose students to the breadth and depth of a content area, nor should one implement it as a “crutch” to rely on to augment a curriculum. This pre-service teacher is working toward obtaining certification to teach Grades 7-12 in public schools in Connecticut, and will be student teaching 7th Grade “World Cultures” as a subject area in the fall. The long-term goal is to teach high school social studies. From that perspective, working toward instructional design will entail a careful examination of how this educator can employ technology in the classroom environment as an enhancement tool to reach all students in a differentiated learning environment. This would pertain to students’ ability to acquire knowledge, develop skills, and form deep understandings of important concepts and themes related to the social sciences. A careful and conservative approach toward the efficacy of utilizing technology will be considered while planning units and lesson plans. “Differentiated Instruction” and “Understanding by Design” are two theories that are driving this philosophy. The goal of employing Differentiated Instruction into the classroom is to create a curriculum that considers who is being taught, as well as where and how teaching will take place. The main objective of Differentiated Instruction is to focus pedagogy on the processes and procedures that facilitate learning for students with diverse backgrounds with

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respect to emotional, psychological, and intellectual development. Working in conjunction with Differentiated Instruction, Understanding by Design is a method that requires teachers to critically examine what they are teaching and how they can assess the effectiveness thereof. Both of these theories foster a learning environment that is student based in scope, in that the overarching teaching methods will efficiently maximize learning for every single student the teacher has under their supervision in a public school classroom. With the aforementioned theories as a foundation of an educational philosophy, incorporating technology into the classroom needs to work within the framework of Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design. The purpose of utilizing technology in the classroom will be aimed toward reaching students who may otherwise struggle with concepts and themes of social studies. The idea is to assist them in obtaining knowledge and learning concepts and themes that may necessitate creativity in delivery of ideas in order to connect with them on an intellectual level. The main purpose, however, is to highlight major themes and concepts of the social studies curriculum in a manner that offers enhanced learning through a presentation of various audio-visual tools that can entice interest, inquisitiveness, and engagement by students. Technology will be used in the classroom as this future teacher deems appropriate. The goal is to present technology in the classroom to enhance the learning for given class sessions, but only insofar as it increases understanding. It may encompass employing technology throughout an entire class period, a portion of a class period, or not at all during some class sessions. However, to complement the classroom environment, an online Web site can accompany the curriculum by offering students a multimedia approach that will facilitate organization on their part, and enhance their learning when they are studying independently or in

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groups. The reason for having this technology available is to allow students to ask questions of the teacher, with such inquiries being posted publicly or kept confidential depending on individual preferences. Publicly posted questions and comments can spawn further contributions by peers, or they can at least result in increased inquiry and understanding by classmates who can use such technological information to enhance their learning. To ensure technology use for all students, technology instituted during classroom instruction will reach all equally, in that this future teacher will physically equip or perform the duties necessary to deliver the technology in that environment. To ensure access universally, some class time will be allotted for students to access a library or computer laboratory to assist with familiarity and comfort toward using technological tools. Furthermore, this future inservice teacher will have office hours during non-instructional periods and/or after school for students to take advantage of technology that they may not be able to access at home. Technology can support learning needs for diverse learners in that there will be multiple approaches employed in the classroom environment, and students conducting work outside of class time will have access to content-specific material available online. Various media presentations will vary the instruction to maintain student engagement both during and outside of designated class time. Some examples this in-service teacher will use include PowerPoint presentations, audio presentations of key speeches or reenactments, video and pictorial presentations to elicit different emotions and abstract thinking among students, and Web sites to build on classroom instruction. Web sites will include blogs and interactive sites that allow submission of assignments, the electronic return of assignments to students, and forums for posting questions, answers, and comments regarding content-specific information.

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To evaluate if the use of technology in the classroom is effective, this in-service teacher will inquire with students about its impact on their learning. Furthermore, evaluating student achievement will indicate whether effective learning occurred with an integrated approach toward teaching. On a day-to-day basis, varying the technological tools presented during class time will vary to accommodate student needs and preferences, which should allow for regularly reflecting and analyzing the efficacy thereof as they work their way through a given unit or term. Feedback will allow careful examination of whether technological tools truly enhance the learning environment for all students.

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