So my ETEC 533 course has wrapped up, and it ended up being very enjoyable, although a lot of work.  We have just finished our group assignment which includes an online portion, and an essay which justifies the choices we made in creating our online resource.

In this course we started by reviewing the theory behind using technology to when teaching mathematics and science.  We came to similar conclusions as in my other courses in the MET program,which is that basically teaching the technology should not be the goal when using it to teach other subject areas, and that one has to have a good lesson and justification for using the technology in order to make it work.  We also noted that most teachers lack the training they need to effectively use the technology they are increasingly provided.

Our next unit involved looking at three different types of technology enhanced learning experiences.  We tried out the Jasper series of videos, in which real-life problems are presented using video technology, which an advanced queuing system.  We were also shown the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) system developed at the California University at Berkeley, which provides a framework for creating lessons and interactive activities online.  The final activity of this unit allowed us to explore My World, formerly called WorldWatcher, which allows students to analyze real-life geographic data.

The last unit of the course saw us look at a variety of different learning technologies, including visualization software (like Geometer’s Sketchpad), networked communities (like Second Life and a virtual field science lab), and finally hand-held technologies (like mobile phones and data probes attached to graphing calculators).

Two common threads through-out the course were the need for advance preparation for all of these technologies, and the wider world that is made available in the classroom through the use of these technologies.  Many of these technologies are expensive, and so only the richest of schools can afford to use many different technologies in their classrooms, and so part of this course is about deciding which technology suits the situation and the specific curricula being developed.

A third thread was the ability these technologies often provide social affordances in the learning of the students, and for constructivist learning principles to be applied.  Using this learning principle does not require much tailoring of the technologies we looked at in this course.

In general this course was very useful and interesting.  It was a lot of work, and I can’t say it was made any easier by the passing away of my father mid-course, or the operation I ended up needing to have at the end of the course, OR the full back-up I had to do which deleted the original version of this essay.  Despite all of those personal problems, I still think I learned a lot from this course, and was introduced to a lot of resources, some of which I hope to use again in my own teaching.