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enigma48's Journal: My recent MetaMoment(tm)

Journal by enigma48

As the hordes of people who read this journal probably know (maybe not, glossed over this a bit) I'm discovering that I'm really into teaching. Programming didn't do it for me and tonight I had a BIG moment where my life kind of took shape.

I love working with technology. First computer I touched was a C64 around grade 3 (7 years old or so) - my cousin had one and my babysitter had one. I *loved* typing in PLAY and LOAD to start the games.

I finished my Bachelor of Computing degree not having a good idea where I wanted to go. Programming was a harmless choice but I seriously considered blowing another 10k and getting a bunch of certifications and doing the system/database/network administrator route. So I got one of the few programming jobs available, tried my best for a year and left amicably. It wasn't my thing.

I've been searching for 'my thing' now for a little while. I've learned a little more about myself in the process - realizing I like teaching, finding a small part of an extrovert in me (working with people 'recharges' me even if I am scared half to death of them!), things like that.

Tonight on the way back from D and M's (names dropped to protect the not-so-innocent), I sort of pieced together a career I think I'd really enjoy. I'm still not sure on the specifics but I knew the second I got home I *needed* to write this down. (used to keep a paper journal but this will suffice)

A new public university just opened up in Ontario (Canada) - University of Ontario Institute of Technology. They only teach science/math/technology subjects - I think the only university like it in Ontario. They also have a Teachers College (schools using public dollars almost always require would-be teachers have a 1-year Bachelor of Education, Teachers College provide it).

One thing I had mixed feelings about: manditory laptops. Students pay $1400 CAD per year for all the software, hardware (new models every two years) and support they need.

I agree laptops are useful but for education? I think almost all parents would say they'll learn more/better with a laptop but why? Do students pay more attention and retain knowledge better with a laptop in their hand? Do online course materials guarantee in-depth learning? WHAT makes laptops useful to students? Technology is good and all but in what ways do they improve someone's education?

My first idea: I'll be a teacher. I'll use technology in new ways to help my students understand and I'll probably end up working more hours than an average teacher.

My second idea (tonight, 1 hour ago): I'll try a Masters of Education. I'll study new educational techniques (problem-based learning, constructivist philosophies/teaching vs instructivist), maybe write a few papers and maybe stay in academia and keep studying about learning.

2b: Maybe a doctorate?

My third idea: As a programmer, I set a goal for myself that I'd be moving towards a managerial/advisory role within 5 years. I enjoy big-picture thinking, working with clients to define/identify problems vs 100% coding and being ASKED for my opinion.

Taking my 3rd idea a litter further... how about fixing the system? How about teaching educators/administration/parents how to use technology to improve the education system? I'm not sure about anyone else but I feel 'consultant' is almost a negative (ie: insulting) noun. But an Educational Technology Consultant may be the perfect fit for me.

Other thoughts I don't want to forget:

*I likely need academic credentials to be taken seriously (they'd help anyway)
*I have NO experience with writing papers, doing academic research, etc. I vaguely know about the process and can see a few weaknesses within me that'll probably cause problems - basically, I'll need to work on things a LOT if I ever wanted to do pure research. I don't think I'd enjoy pure research either.
*Partnering up with someone that complements my strengths/weaknesses is definately worth investigating
*I need to complete a semester-long project incorporating my two main areas of study (Computer Science and I've nearly completed a minor in Business Administration) to finish my Honours degree. I want to look at doing some preliminary work in the Business department here at Guelph - maybe see if I can create a few tools they use, compare the results vs last year or even between classes, etc.

Improving the university system, adult education, elementary/high-school education, training... all can benefit from improved use of technology.

Some ideas (some may be stolen and I forget the source!)

*Real-time voting/multiple-choice as a way to get students participating in lessons
*Stop/start/continue feedback exercises mid-semester
*Animations to clarify topics
*Anonymous, real-time brainstorming software
*Pre-lesson 'debunking' software - students often carry the wrong idea into a class and even if they learn the right answer in the class, they often revert to their old idea (ie: Electrons 2D orbit a nucleus vs 3D orbitals) ...and I am forgetting a lot of the other stuff.

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My recent MetaMoment(tm)

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