New Year’s Resolutions

By Jeremy Cunningham
January 29th, 2016

At the start of each year, I, like many others, take time to consider my next step. That includes looking for new teaching opportunities, writing opportunities, or, as of late, technology opportunities. As ed and tech become edtech, one has to be always striving to understand what’s next. This year, I made resolutions in the hopes of publicly declaring my goals.

1) Learn to code-The simplicity of my phrasing reveals how little I know about this subject; all I really know about coding is that I don’t know anything at all. Yet, as education moves more online, I want to have an understanding of how programs work at their most basic level. It’s the difference between being an agent in the field and simply being a user. In addition, I want to have a hand in designing the next platform, program, or tool that is applied in the classroom. It would be exciting to participate in all phases of identifying a problem, developing a targeted solution, and implementing that solution in the classroom.

2) Listen to what students want from technology in the classroom-This has been a shortcoming in my practice. Typically, I teach a class and the institution offers some web tools; so I apply them in the coursework. I have never gone into a semester and asked the students “what works for you online?” or “how can we use all these tools to make this class better?” This year, I want to engage in these conversations. I want the student experience with technology to be enjoyable for them. Many of my students are recently returning to school after some years away. I take the responsibility of acclimating them to the academic climate seriously. Listening to their wants and needs about technology could be the first time they see that the educational space is adaptable for them.

3) Focus on collaboration within my online courses -This is my biggest hurdle with my online-only courses. Students struggle to collaborate with one another. My theory is that there is significantly less community between students within the online space; therefore, they feel no accountability to each other. It shows in how they collaborate. Group work is sub-par and peer editing is minimal. I have felt hamstrung by the online space because all I can do is email and then dock their grade. It takes away some of my power to convey disappointment and spur action with my face and body language. I want to figure out how to improve these shortcomings. Perhaps it’s more about attacking the first part of the equation, building community, then adjusting the collaborative assignments.

4) Write a children’s book-This has nothing to do with technology. But, as a new dad, I have been immersed in children’s literature with my 8-month old daughter. Surprisingly, I love it and I have ideas percolating within my mind on books I could write. I needed to add it to my published resolutions list to create some pressure to follow through. Readers can feel free to follow up at the end of the year to check my progress.

Now is a time of great disruption in education. I hope my resolutions empower me to be an active participant in the growth and change of the industry.

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