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Educational Technology in the 21

Century Classroom
Craig W. Astor
EDUC 511
January 15, 2014
Dr. Joanne Gilbreath


The classroom is changing more rapidly today than it ever has. Not only are students and their
norms and expectations constantly fluctuating, so are the ways in which they learn. They are growing up
in a world where using a smart phone is as second nature to them as riding a bike was for us. The ways
we reach these so-called digital natives has to evolve as the technology they are exposed to evolves.
An effective educator is someone who is able to bridge the gap between the content they are
teaching and the ability level of the student. There are many ways a teacher can do this, but first and
foremost, a teacher needs to get to know who his students are. Knowing the abilities of their students
will help the teacher know where a good starting point for their lesson will be. It will help inform them
of how long they need to spend on their topic, and how much background information they will have to
include in their lesson. Secondly, an effective educator must understand that there are various learning
styles, and seek to craft his lesson in a way that touches as many of these learning styles as possible.
Finally, an effective educator must have high expectations for their students and believe, with
confidence, in their students ability to learn.
Student success is measured by a combination of their ability to prove that they have learned the
content coupled with the skills, habits, and experiences they have acquired along the way. Its a marriage
between the destination and the journey, the end and the means that were used to get there.
Another parallel that comes to mind is that of a youth sports team. Of course the obvious goal is to win
the game, but what happens if victory is not reached? Was the whole season ultimately a failure? At the
highest professional levels, maybe, but for most people, its not just about wins and losses, but how you
play the game. Student success in education is the same because when its all said and done, students
need to use what theyve learned to be successful in the real world.
A great coach, or teacher, is one who sets high goals for their players, or students. In order to
achieve success, they need to be inspired to reach those goals. Throughout the course of my life, many
people have inspired me. The fist person that comes to mind when I think of inspiring people is a man
named Matt Doan. Currently an outreach pastor at a local church where I live, he has been a mentor to
me at various points in my life, both as my youth leader, and as my boss, and he has blessed my life in a
number of ways. Of the many inspirational qualities that he has, the one that stands out is his ability to
make the person he is interacting with feel like they are worthy. He is always happy to see you, with a
big smile on his face and a word of encouragement. He inspires me to treat my students this way,
remembering that they are people worthy of being loved.
Its in this way that my faith can have a tremendous impact on my approach to working with
students. Every student needs to feel worthy, to feel that someone cares about them, but none more than
the students that feel like they are failures. I work with a remedial population of Special Education
students, and some of them feel this way every day. My faith in Jesus Christ teaches me that these kids
have just as much worth as the top students in the school. They are made in the image of God, and if I
can see them as Jesus sees them, I will teach them with dignity and respect, and I will show them the
love that they deserve. Putting them in a place of believing in the abilities they do have is a great way to
Technology is another important aspect of teaching and learning because when it is used
effectively, it can be a great tool for bridging that gap between the content being taught and the ability
level of the student. This can be especially true for the students who struggle with a traditional
classroom setup of a teacher lecturing while the students take notes followed by a reading assignment
and a paper to write. Having pieces of technology which allows for the teacher to add pictures or video
clips to his lecture, use a website as a starting point for a web quest, or give access to practice questions
that give immediate feedback are a few examples of ways in which a teacher can productively use it and
students can receive tangible benefits from it.
My learning goals for this degree are numerous. My first reason for embarking on this journey is
to gain the required units and Masters degree to push me to the highest pay grade that I can achieve in
the current public school system here in California. Secondly, I am undeniably fascinated with
technology- what it does, where the ideas for inventions come from, where it can be best utilized, etc. I
love to learn new things about it and am confident that what I learn will make me a more effective
educator. A third reason is that I will have skills that will make me a more attractive hire and will give
me more staying power at any school where I want to work or am working.
I would love to learn more about the practical use of the technology involved with teaching an
effective online class. In my EDUC 512 and 514 classes I have enjoyed the way the classes have been
taught. The ability to use video chat rooms and screen casting lectures turns the independent, busy work
that is done in a more traditional online class upside down. I feel like I can learn much more effectively
when I am a student in that environment and am excited for the possibilities to teach in that environment
as well. Being able to implement online classroom software such as Edmodo would be something I
would definitely love to learn more about.
On a personal level, getting my Masters degree would be an accomplishment that I would be
proud of. After seeing two of my college roommates get their Masters degrees (albeit in Theology and
Philosophy) I have been inspired to want to get mine. Even though my habits of procrastination and
dislike for writing papers dont really help things out, I place great value on being educated and learning
and would love to be able to see this through. I am confident that I will get there and look forward to
putting these skills that I am learning into practice.