TEACH TECHNOLOGY IN CONTEXT
All of the courses I teach cover some technology content. I believe that the best way to learn technology content requires students to use technology to solve some authentic problem. This approach – broadly falling under the category of hands on instruction, project-based instruction, or learning by design – posits that technology skills are best taught as an active learning process situated in the context in which it will be applied. For example, I have had undergraduate and Ph.D. students learn web skills by requiring them to develop a web-based portfolio of their learning as the primary form of assessment in the course.
MAKE STUDENTS’ WORK VISIBLE
I strive to make the courses I teach result in students’ products that make their thinking and work visible to larger audiences. In CEP909, for example, students designed web-portfolios of their classwork, thinking, and research. In CEP907|813|882 students produced idea-based videos that were shown to the entire M.A. program, and to other MSU classes via the web. In CEP882, students developed courses that were later taught online. Furthermore, most of the courses I teach culminate with a college-wide open-house for students to share their work with other faculty, colleagues and fellow students.
STUDENT TO STUDENT DIALOG
In my courses, I find ways to have students talk to other students without having to go through the instructor. Students have plenty of practice speaking and writing to the audience of professors, but little practice to share ideas amongst themselves, which requires them to explain their ideas in a manner that is easy for several constituents to understand. In doing so, they often get more (and better) feedback in response to their thinking and their way of communicating. These skills are important for practicing teachers and would-be researchers alike. Hence, I provide opportunities for students to talk both in and out of class via the web, chat-rooms, and group-mail.
TEACHING AS RESEARCH
The teaching that my colleague, Punya Misha, and I do has resulted in a program of action-research that focuses on the teaching of technology skill by the learning by design process. One strand of this research has been to better understand the learning, development, and forward teaching impact of participants in the learning by design approach to faculty development (Koehler, Mishra, Hershey, & Peruski, submitted; Mishra & Koehler, 2002). This relationship between teaching, research, and service is central to my thinking at MSU. As such, I am enclosing an article submitted for publication that details our faculty development approach, highlighting the interaction of teaching, research, and service in my work.
TEACHING AS SERVICE
Teaching in the College of Education can have a wide-ranging service aspects as well. The Faculty Development Course (CEP 817) serves as a college-wide opportunity to provide professional development for faculty an students and to have impact on the developing online Master’s degree courses. In the faculty development course, six tenure stream faculty members who will be teaching online are teamed up with three ed-tech masters’ students from CEP 817 to complete a semester-long project to design an online course that will be taught in the future. The demands of adding faculty members to an already vibrant course is extra work, but well worth it given the impact on fellow faculty, the online program, and the college as a whole.
I have long been a proponent of teaching that has students get out of their chairs and do some activity in class to make them consider ideas (content) in response to a practical problem. For example, the first day of class in the faculty development course (CEP 817, 882), students were randomly assigned to groups and given one hour to create a powerpoint presentation to teach someone how to interpret a poem (one of many assigned tasks). This serves several pedagogical purposes, including getting students motivated for design activities, introducing students to other students and learning technology in an authentic context. It also is a nice introduction to the rest of the course in which students have to: a) design technology for learning, b) work in groups, c) work on ill-structured problems, d) negotiate the interaction of content, pedagogy and technology, and e) meet a real world deadline.
STUDENTS WRITE EARLY AND OFTEN
The courses I teach serve two primary audiences: teachers (undergraduate and master’s courses) or by future academics (doctoral courses). For both audiences, learning to effectively communicate in writing is an essential component of their development as students and future professionals. As such, my courses all require multiple forms of writing. Each student is asked to write early and often in the course, for an authentic audience. Writing is shared with others, not just with course instructors.