This Fall is the beginning of my fourth year in the PhD program in Education, specializing in Educational Technology (ETEC) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I am very excited and I look forward to completing my degree soon. The journey has been tough! I knew when I left Detroit, Michigan and came to Honolulu, Hawaii, that I would be making a lot of sacrifices.
In December of 2008 after completing my student teaching and attempting to be reinstated by the Detroit Public School System, without success, I first considered the prospect of following my professors’ at Marygrove College advice to pursue a doctorate in education. The economy in 2009 was terrible and I believe it was a blessing to have the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree beyond my Master of Education. I also believe it was a blessing because I did not plan to pursue a doctorate degree and when I found the ETEC program at UH and decided to apply, everything fell in place seamlessly!
In addition to my coursework I have worked as a Graduate Research Assistant. For 15 months I supported a worthy project and had the opportunity to present a roundtable discussion at the June 2011, ISTE conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Currently, I am the Apple Campus Rep for UH, and the experience working part-time for the world’s leading technology company is invaluable. It is also great to work for Apple because my research interest is “Mobile Devices as Educational Tools”. Apple is truly revolutionizing education with mobile device products and software that not only support engagement, but also make learning fun for all.
Our doctoral advisor and new ETEC department chair, Dr. Ellen Hoffman recently asked the following questions in a discussion:
“As you think about the future, what do you see as the role of the teacher or instructional designer in the kinds of scenarios you have seen proposed? How might your vision impact what you do now as a PhD student?”
When I consider these questions, three things come to mind. The skills of a well trained medical practitioner, the seminal article by Alison King: From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side
and Universal Design for Instruction (UDI)
First, my classroom experience has taught me that good teachers, like well trained medical practitioners, should have the skill to observe and evaluate a subject and determine what is wrong and define a plan to remedy the problem. Teachers should be able to observe and evaluate a student and determine where there is an issue with learning objectives and define a plan to remedy the problem. While some people are natural born teachers and inherently posses this skill, others may learn and develop the skill by studying a variety of assessment methods.
Second, Alison King’s From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side, advocates a fundamental change to the approach to teaching. I support her position that teachers become guides and help students develop their own learning. The teacher as learning facilitator is the new paradigm.
Next, Universal Design for Instruction (UDI)
“The more specific Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides “a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all. UDL guidelines encourage curriculum designers to provide the student with options.”
This leads me to the second question: How might your vision impact what you do now as a PhD student?
My research is focused on the use of mobile devices as educational tools. I have selected this focus because of the affordances of this specific technology. Small, portable, Internet access functionality, rich media creation and playback capabilities, and video conferencing features allow for instructional designers to create new methods of instruction.
Mobile devices with video conferencing capabilities enable teachers to observe and evaluate a student and determine where there is an issue with learning objectives, and define a plan to remedy the problem. Devices also put teachers in the position of guides on the side, or in this discussion “guides in the pocket” available and ready to help students develop their own learning.
Finally, UDL provides “a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning”. When instructional designers apply these principles to mobile devices as educational tools, and teachers use the capabilities and features of mobile devices and the Internet along with learning analytics to assess learning, education will have evolved. These are the issues that impact my vision and what I am doing now as a PhD student.
Please continue to follow this blog over the next year as I complete my “Dissertation Studies”.