Technology has never been a fan of me for as long as I can remember and eventually I gave up trying to utilize technology because I thought it was a pain. To this day I cannot set up the DVD player or blue ray or whatever you want to call it, especially after my brother unhooks everything to play on the Wii or X-box or whichever device he chooses to use. If the T.V. doesn’t work when I press the on button I don’t watch T.V., simple as that. It’s not that I have never tried to figure technology out, I have, but I never seem to get anywhere productive and because of that I find it a waste of time. Furthermore, I was the last person in my entire high school to own a cell phone and create a Facebook account. Call me old fashioned but in my opinion phones and Facebook were pointless and caused more drama then anything. I grew up appreciating the good ole outdoors as a sense of entertainment and connections were made face-to-face, not through a screen. With this mindset of technology I thought this class was going to be excruciating the way technology was portrayed as this ‘almighty saving grace’ to our teaching journeys.
Boy-oh-boy was I ever wrong! Turns out there is this whole other side of technology aside from depriving children of play, increasing cyber bullying, and fragmenting face-to-face conversations, technology builds knowledge bases, provides unlimited resources, and builds networking connections.
When we were asked to start a blog the inside of me groaned, but as a learning pre-service teacher I dutifully created my very first blog. Telling my family that I had created a blog only caused them to laugh because they knew of my extremely limited technological capabilities. Technology is definitely a weakness I have, but I was eager to keep an open mind and see where this class and blog would take me in my teaching journey. My first post I wrote felt like it slid past the radar unnoticed and I remember thinking “what is the point of this?”. However, after writing my second blog post I received feedback and I was ecstatic, someone actually read my blog! These first comments, https://smalltowngirlmeetsbigoleworld.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/history-of-education-through-race/#comments, led to the beginning of my expanding professional learning network. As I continued to write blog posts I felt that I found my voice and became stronger in my values and beliefs through sharing my thoughts on my blog. It is easy to sit back in the classroom and not state your thoughts or feelings of what is being addressed. Therefore, I made it my goal to write a blog post once a week in order for me to critically reflect on the material being presented each week. This was tough, but through exploring other colleagues’ online spaces and hearing different perspectives I felt like I was a part of a supportive group of educators. I expanded my horizons and was challenged during the process, especially in reflecting on my autobiography. The biggest moment of growth I felt that changed my perspective of technology was after writing and responding to comments on my blog post of “Identity Inequalities” https://smalltowngirlmeetsbigoleworld.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/identity-inequalities/#comments. Hearing opinions and being challenged from colleagues I do not regularly see or talk to on a daily basis elevated my learning experience. After so many years of despising how technology was eliminating kids from the great outdoors and increasing cyber bullying I saw how technology positively connected pre-service teachers to “think outside of the box” by scaffolding learning and critically thinking from each other.
Next on my ECS 210 bucket list was facing twitter. For me this was a lot harder than simply creating a personal blog. I’m not sure why twitter was such a hard thing for me to join. All of my friends have twitter and have tried to convince me numerous times to join, but I never did. I saw twitter as a waste of time. Part of me felt like I had to join it because of the class, but another part of me said ‘why are you caving in to joining twitter because of one class, join twitter because you want to, not because you’re forced to’. So I decided I wasn’t going to create a twitter account because I was told to, I wanted to create one because there was a meaning for it. I must admit for most of the semester I was “twitterless” until one seminar Katia started off with a tweet regarding educational issues. I was perplexed after this seminar and was not sure where I stood anymore, so I expressed myself through my blog, posting the following https://smalltowngirlmeetsbigoleworld.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/chirping-peeping-tweeting-from-the-eyes-of-the-technologically-illiterate/#comments . From this post my professional learning network increased dramatically and I was able to connect with one of my professors. This is when it all hit me; twitter was similar to having a blog! Seeing as I enjoyed the connections I was making with colleagues I figured twitter will further increase my greatly expanding network. I am still new to twitter, but I am trying, and I am proud to say I officially have a twitter account at, https://twitter.com/Sawka20j !
Now with some technological advances in my personal life I felt I had a solid foundation and I even managed to branch outward into the community. I joined a relay for life Uof R team called the “Tumornators” and in using twitter we helped raise awareness for cancer. All throughout the night any photos or tweets using the #URrelay https://twitter.com/search?q=%23URrelay&src=hash was posted on the big screen. I felt that I developed my professional learning network by connecting with all of the other people in this world who have been affected by cancer. This made me realize that technology offers unlimited resources globally; all I have to do is engage myself by building a network and watching the opportunities become available.
By keeping an open mind this semester I was filled with an abundance of knowledge, which I could have easily lost at any point by closing off association with technology because of my previous negative technological experiences. This led me to learn how we are always learning and will continue to be life- long learners as long as we keep our critical reflecting lens intact to new experiences. I feel like my professional learning network journey started as an empty attic with a few boxes that grew to acquire many spider webs or webs of networks to help me as a future educator. My experience has been an eventful journey so far and I feel I can bring an aspect of 21st century learning into the classroom, whereas before I was not as competent in providing this. Reflecting on how I acquired my professional learning network enables me to see how my learning style is more so of a hands-on approach, but in trying a technological approach I was able to gain a new perspective. Having different learners in the classroom provides different options of teaching and new ways of learning. Overall, there is good and bad in everything, so we may as well focus on the good!