Joining the program for a Master’s in Educational Technology seemed a pretty straightforward path. I would improve my ability to teach my subject with technology, and that would in turn make my curriculum more interesting for my students. Two years later, my goals are not the same.
The subject I teach most is math at the high school level. This is a subject that most students have strong feelings about, usually negative. Although there are many reasons for that, one thing I can control within my classroom is how math is taught. Traditionally, math is taught with a textbook, presentation screen, and lecture. This makes math seem like an out-of-date, static subject in comparison to others that students encounter in high school. It was my hope that I could make math seem more relevant and interesting if I learned how to integrate technology into my instruction. Students can explore mathematical concepts using technology in ways that make it easier to explore and understand. The Educational Technology master’s program seemed ideal in helping me to develop this particular pedagogy.
At first, I found my choice of study somewhat disappointing. Many of the techniques and technologies introduced in the courses were methods and tools with which I was already familiar. Some items that were introduced were simply not applicable for my subject area and grade level. There were times when I wondered if I had chosen the correct area of study at all. Then the pandemic hit, closing my school down in the spring of 2020.
When school began in the fall of 2020, my district was fully remote. My challenge moved from integrating technology into a traditional classroom, to teaching my subject entirely online and remote. My previous experience did allow me to make this transition, although it was not without difficulty. There were times when I was ready with my technological adaptation, but my students were unable to access it due to the quality, or lack thereof, of their internet connection. Eventually, I was able to integrate online practices, post lesson videos online, grade online, and give feedback online. While I felt the loss of the in-person connection, I did feel competent and successful with my use of technology. I was able to deliver my content in a fully online manner. I had achieved my goal, even before completing my master’s program.
I am pleased to have been able to meet my goal, and appreciate how my master’s program has helped me achieve it. More than simply offering me tips and tricks, the MAET program has offered me a way to think about integrating technology. In particular, the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework has been helpful. It offers a method for choosing and integrating technology that still centers students and their learning. This is what helped make me successful during online teaching, and I am happy to have been introduced to it through my master’s program. Now I will need to make a new goal.