Acquiring a new skill using only YouTube and Google help forums was a challenge, but as I reflect on the learning process for this project, I recognize that one of the assignment’s greatest strengths was that it began with a broad idea that required narrowing further and further in scope as the project continued.
My earliest goal was born of necessity: Learn to use the SMART Board that was at the time, simply taking up space, but could utilized for productive learning. That goal, however, could be interpreted so many ways that I needed to specify in order to measure my progress. When I think about the important principles of learning highlighted in this course, one that stands out is the power of learning in context. Given that criteria, I considered what would be most beneficial to my students and decided to create a formative assessment notebook using SMART Notebook.
To accomplish this goal, I used generic introductory YouTube videos from Fuse School and then shopped the same source and related sources (like Radford Education, EPISDTV, and SMART Classrooms) for skill-based “how-to” videos. I built my background knowledge, learning how to handle the basic hardware. Then I watched videos explaining the advantages of various software features. Finally, I integrated my curricular math knowledge with videos customized for teaching with SMART Notebook to develop the formative assessment notebook, which I can now use to evaluate student understanding expediently and effectively, this year and in future years. The gradual release process was crucial as I watched, paused, attempted the skill, then re-watched to confirm my understanding, and began the next step.
In the future, I intend to use this networked learning process again, specifically to improve my understanding and application of how technology tools can be best implemented in the classroom. With some scaffolding and a menu of source options, I think my third graders could even learn how to best utilize some of the apps on their iPad this way. I think sometimes the YouTube or Google searches we conceptualize as rudimentary or simplistic, can actually be excellent platforms for networked learning, a process which fully engages the learner, provides self-differentiation through a wealth of information and the ability to “rewind” one’s teacher, and creates an environment in which one person can connect to countless experts in order to develop new skills in context.