I believe that through education, a society has the opportunity to influence an individual. In return, I believe that through education, an individual should receive the tools that he or she needs to influence society in return. As an educator, I hope that my students will be changed in some way through their participation in my course. If they can’t do something that they couldn’t do before, then what was the point?
I hope that after taking my “Teaching with Technology” course, students will be comfortable with learning new technologies and then teaching with new technologies. I want them to become contributing members of global networks of educators. I also hope that they will use the many technological tools at their disposal to continually further their own learning and that they will teach their future students how to do the same.
So how do I plan to make all of this happen? The authors of Influencer suggest focusing on vital behaviors, but I’m not 100% sure what they are. I think having daily, or at least regular, contact with a network is important. I think trying new things is important. Perhaps these are the behaviors that I need to build into my course, but I could be wrong. What other behaviors should I focus on in addition to or instead of these?
The book, Influencer, describes six sources of influence: personal motivation, personal ability, social motivation, social ability, structural motivation, and structural ability. Below are my thoughts on how each source of influence might be applied in my course.
- Personal motivation – I need to help my students answer the questions “Can I do it?” and “Is it worth it?” To do this, I plan to show them models, real teachers in real schools who are successfully using technology to enhance their teaching. Hopefully I can convince one or two of these models to participate as a guest speaker. I will also provide students with simple one page guides that will step them through the process of opening accounts and using any tools they find unfamiliar. They will know that they can do it and I’m hoping that the models will go a long way towards convincing them that it is worth it.
- Personal ability -To give students the opportunity to practice new skills, I will provide students with a challenge for each working day of the semester. I’ll require them to complete one or two challenges a week and allow them to choose which challenges they complete. I will be available to help anyone who is struggling.
- Social motivation -Students will work in small teams to complete a series of wiki articles on an assigned category of technologies. The shared responsibility of completing this assignment should help motivate students to complete the vital behavior of checking networks for answers to research questions.
- Social ability – Students will vary in their technological skill level. A discussion forum with an FAQ will help students tap into the ability of the class network.
- Structural motivation – Because this is a graded course, students have an extrinsic motivation to complete the assignments. I hope to make the motivation more intrinsic by having each student complete a learning contract that will describe the learning goals that they hope to accomplish through this course and the assignments that they will choose to complete in order to meet these goals.
- Structural ability -This course is online, so I have a limited ability to impact students physical environment. However, I will create course spaces that are easy to navigate and choose resources that minimize barriers to understanding. I will sequence course activities so that students digest “milk before meat” and make myself available for conference calls and instant messaging when students need additional help.