What does Educational Technology Mean to Me When I Approach Educational Content Design?

I’m passionate about designing an experience for students to tell their stories, enhance their confidence, and see the value of what they’re learning. Because I’m passionate about letting the students feel like experts, I’m conscious of a problem in using educational technology wherein students do not feel confident or expert in certain tools. I solve this problem by focusing on the learning goals of the project beyond the technology.

I have been trying to understand the relationship between education and technology. On Wikipedia, I see that educational technology is "the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources". What does it mean to me when I approach educational content design?

In the case of a recent photography workshop, I was able to inhabit both roles, subject matter expert and a content designer. I learned a few things about how these two roles could interact and benefit from each other.

Before the workshop, I knew I had the technologies: I have a projector for powerpoint slides, I have several DSLR cameras, I have indoor and outdoor spaces with a cluster of computers in a lab, and the students have their own cell phones. But what type of education do I engage in? How can I make the experience tech-savvy, rich in practicing, and meaningful experience that they can’t get elsewhere?

I decided to pull out a collection of guiding principles I created to guide my work, through referencing research in education and how students learn. Below are five of the “Big Ideas” I use to guide my educational design projects.

1. Use a good question to drive learning
2. Help students understand that they are capable of becoming an expert
3. Engage students in natural learning environments
4. Use feedback from instructors and peers to enhance learning
5. Help students become self-directed learners

To be more detailed, for example, regarding the 2nd item on my list, “Help students understand that they are capable of becoming an expert,” I referred to educational theories that when teaching photography operations, contrast cases and visualization techniques (The ABC of How We Learn) are good ways to scaffold concepts, organize information, and enhance photography literacy. Also, presentation opportunities can give students a good sense of owning their expertise, and it is important that before students prepare for their presentations, instructors should use rubrics to scaffold expectations to their students (How Learning Works).

From this experience, I see how my passion for solving this problem developed:

  • People knew that I had some expertise in photography and that I’ve facilitated workshops before that I am studying educational technology
  • I’ve been developing both technical skills and pedagogical skills because of these opportunities
  • I’ve developed a passion for making sure technological tools and their status or level of accessibility do not impede learning outcomes or goals

What I learned from this experience of mine is ultimately what I’d like to bring to my future teams at work:

  • To bridge disconnection between the two roles (subject matter expert & learning scientists) by referring to education research and practices, rather than trying to rely on one specific tool (camera or laptop) to solve a problem
  • To use feedback from the students to enhance learning (exhaustion from photographing, students needed a break, it got sunny, students expressed a desire to work on their photos)
  • To incorporate different natural and technological environments
  • To stay adaptive about learning goals and outcomes when they benefit student-centered learning

Let’s do this!

Here is a link to my 10-hour photography workshop lesson plan design. If you are interested in my photography work, please kindly visit my Flickr page (recently acquired by SmugMug). I am happy to chat about anything that intrigues you!