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This blog will describe my professional development within two major life experiences after high school. First I will depict my experience in the military and how it relates to the development of my experience with "real-world" technology. Second I will discuss my college experience to include my student teaching experience. Moreover, I will discuss briefly my technological successes and shortcomings during student teaching. The intention is to describe my perspective on technology and how our world relies on these technologies and what that means for education.
The U.S. Marine Corps initially trained me as a lithographer. Lithography falls under the Audio/Visual Information sector of the Marine Corps, which works conjointly with videographers, photographers, and illustrators whose main mission is to document military operations and exercises. During my enlistment I was responsible for the printing and reproducing of various military publications through the use of offset duplication and electronic imaging equipment. The early training and experience included electronic layout of various print media such as posters, maps, books, pamphlets and brochures for mass reproduction. Eventually I would develop my skills and be promoted to “Shop-Chief”, where I would be responsible for the management, quality, maintenance and operations of the print shop for the whole Second Marine Division. The Commanding Officer deployed me to various professional development and training courses to further my skills. I received training in photography and videography where I not only learned the fundamentals of shooting a quality image but also learned the fundamentals of image and video editing software such as, Adobe Premier and Photoshop. As part of our mission to send back images from a forward post to the Department of Defense, the Officer in Charge sent me to further training in 29 Palms California for Radio Communications training. I became the sole radioman for the Combat Camera Unit, where I was tasked to take images in a forward operating base and send them back to headquarters through secret frequency channels. Before our deployment to Iraq, the Commanding Officer again sent me to Xerox training in San Diego California. I took a civilian two-week crash course, learning how to diagnose and repair Xerox machines. While deployed I was the sole Xerox technician for the whole Al-Anbar Providence and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2005). While in Iraq my mission was threefold, to work with Army translators and their Psychological Operations unit to create leaflets, fliers, and brochures with images taken from various missions using Adobe software. Second, to provide Xerox machine repair throughout area of operations for the Second Marine Division and third to be attached to infantry units to capture images and video for documentation. As I grew in my short military career, I was embedded in new military technology and was forced to manage these new technologies in stressful situations, which in turn encouraged confidence in my competence of new innovative hardware and software.
So what does this mean for students? Students must be prepared to engage in new innovative technologies in life after high school. Not all students will go on to college, some will go to the military, some to work in factories, kitchens, etc. and they will be asked to work with some form of computer processing device or software. As educators we should be constantly improving our use of technology in the classroom to better serve our students because they will be working in a more technological based society.
Since the end of my enlistment I have been completely immersed in my education and have diligently pursued a BA in the Teaching of Social Studies. Throughout my college-career I was trained in the use of technology as a tool for creating a successful student. The majority of my methodology courses included technology units. Needless to say when I began my student teaching I was eager to bring technology into the classroom. Unfortunately the school where I student-taught was not very well equipped to provide me with the tech support needed to execute lessons embedded in technology. For example, during an ancient religions unit I wanted to use Skype to communicate with Buddhist monks/students in Japan. The Skype session was set up to complement my lesson and to give the students an opportunity question monks and students across the globe. Skype was an “illegal” application at the high school so I was unable to execute this lesson. However, one successful lesson with technology entailed a smart white board and student presentations of their Prezi’s. Students were tasked to create a media presentation using prezi.com, this presentation was used as an end of the chapter summative assessment. Once they created their Prezi, students then presented their work to the class using the only smart white board in the building. Students were able to synthesize the information from the chapter and create a presentation that highlighted their creativity. I am eager to continue my professional development and create valuable lessons that are immersed in technology to allow 21st century learners to be successful.
As we continue in the new millennia and globalization makes the world a smaller place, we as educators must continue to develop our competence in technology in order to provide the best instruction to our students. My experience in the military and college have cultivated within me a sense of initiative and leadership that I intend use as a tool for creating student success through new-age means that will promote student inquiry, critical thinking and life-long learning.
ASCD author Nancy Frey presents during her session on Productive Group Work at ASCD's 2010 Summer Conference in Orlando, FL, June 24, 2010.