Several weblogs have inspired me to be more creative in my teaching approaches. The creative thoughts shared on Weblogs have been inspiring. Thoughts have emerged regarding how to incorporate engaging technologies without losing site of the material that “must be covered” in the anatomy & physiology course. I am taking a more relaxed attitude about doing everything and focusing more on how to best engage students, meaningfully, in this high tech era. I want to encourage students to focus on learning and to increase their awareness of learning through collaborations. This way students become more independent learners and seek ways to learn within their learning communities, away from the classroom.
I recently read a blog describing Google Spaces and from that blog I began reading another blog post that displayed a variety of technologies that could easily be incorporated into any course. I have gained sharper insight and come to understand that teaching is less focused on what is taught but rather the focus is on how teaches gets done. There are many resources available that help improve teaching that can be used without major disruptions or classroom upheavals. For example, plan to add one blended learning section of a course by starting a blog; later add a blog to other sections. Provide support to students in constructing learning in podcasts, webcasts or using social media websites. I have, and continue to exercise caution when working in online environments. There are limited protections of privacy in online environments and a couple of students have identified problem behaviors after posting an oral exam video online.
If capturing the attention of students and engaging them in learning is the aim, then choosing the technology that meets the learning objective is how flexible tech tools for teaching should become. There are many ways to incorporate a technology that will offer engagement and learning for students, no matter what material is being studied. Adults learn differently than children, as Malcolm Knowles’ theory of andragogy described the particular learning needs of adults (Cercone, 2008). Today’s adult learners are technology savvy and expect to learn using digital appliances and mobile technologies they own, are entrenched and enamored with, or have access to. Mobile technologies allow today’s adult to learn in all places, all the time. Web 2.0 tools allow organized learning through web media outlets and through collaborations and by fostering learning communities (Ayao-ao, 2014). Weblogs are noted as the most useful and expansive tool being used in higher education classrooms today.
The most significant insight gained for future teaching practice is to rethink teaching through the lens of collaboration and increased engagement. I want to bring about excitement in learning as students seem to be less engaged than ever before. Thinking differently about how I teach and refocusing on what engages students is a continuous and longstanding concern. Virtual and game learning has some appeal for use in teaching anatomy and physiology. I am considering incorporating games into the laboratory and have looked at the way games captivate individual users claiming to learn particular skills. I have played computer games and do indeed find them captivating but I am not sure what is being learned in the process. Since the non-majors biology course will be replacing traditional labs with virtual simulation labs, I am investigating how to incorporate virtual labs in human anatomy and physiology course. The Second Life website allows the creation of virtual worlds which has possibilities that seem likely in teaching anatomy. I have not yet decided how nor what concepts to target, but I am intrigued by the possibilities.
Textbooks companies are already producing courses in a box that will allow educators to put a complete course online (in your schools IMS) with objectives and activities already in place. Amazing. There advances with technology on every level of education, to appeal to today’s learner and educator. Virtual learning, blogging, podcasting, and Second Lives are within our purview and we must take the front seat and drive in order to get there.
Ayao-ao, S. (2014). Emerging issues in the utilization of weblogs in higher education classrooms. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 26 (2), 193-204. Retrieved from http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe
Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of Adult Learners with Implications for Online Learning Design. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137-159.