May 19, 2014

Teaching with Technology Philosophy Statement

Posted by Laura Guertin

Let’s flashback to 2011, when I was working on completing a certificate program through Penn State University.  The Teaching with Technology Certificate, or TWT Certificate, is “earned by creating a teaching portfolio demonstrating the pedagogically appropriate use of technology in teaching.”  One of the requirements at the time I was working on my ePortfolio was to compose a Teaching with Technology Philosophy Statement (this requirement has since been changed to only include a broader teaching philosophy statement).  I also started blogging about educational technology at the same time, which then formed the foundation of GeoEd Trek!

But back to the Teaching with Technology Philosophy statement… this was the first time I actually sat down and went through not just what technologies I was using in my courses, but why I was using specific software and hardware – everything from podcasts to Google Docs to iPads.  I knew in my mind what I hoped to accomplish using technology to enhance student learning, as well as my course delivery, but the process of writing it all down on paper was a new challenge for me and long overdue.

Do you have a TWT statement?  Other examples of Teaching with Technology statements I found online include ones written by Maria Emelianenko (Mathematical Sciences, George Mason University) and Jenna Wittwer (Instructional Technology, Ohio University).  I can’t emphasize enough how valuable of an exercise this was for me to write this focused statement – and with constant updates and changing technologies, how important it is to revisit my objectives and approaches.  Feel free to explore my TWT Portfolio I created for the certificate, and read an excerpt from my TWT Philosophy statement below (full statement is also posted on my full ePortfolio).



My STS 201 (Climate Change, Energy, and Biodiversity) students utilizing iPads to take notes/images/video in El Yunque National Rainforest, Puerto Rico, October 2012. Written permission was obtained from the students to use photos taken during the trip.

My STS 201 (Climate Change, Energy, and Biodiversity) students utilizing iPads to take notes/images/video in El Yunque National Rainforest, Puerto Rico, October 2012. Written permission was obtained from the students to use photos taken during the trip.

Excerpt from my Teaching with Technology Philosophy Statement

(*for context, note that I teach introductory-level geoscience/Earth science/geography courses for non-science majors to satisfy general education requirements)

I welcome technology in my classroom. There exists a wide-range of technology tools that can help facilitate my instructional methods and student learning goals. However, I approach technology with caution. Technology should not be used just because it is there. I believe that a thoughtful exploration of overarching and secondary course goals needs to occur before a piece of software or an audio/video recording device is integrated into a course.

I want my students to increase their technology literacy, where they learn how to use various tools appropriate for an intended academic purpose (and I am referring to tools beyond traditional science laboratory equipment). I want my students to develop a good tone and speaking style when recording a podcast to promote awareness of global water issues. I want my students to utilize a vocabulary appropriate to my discipline when posting on an online discussion board about their reactions to a satellite image showing wildfire damage. I want my students to be aware of copyright laws and the Creative Commons license so they can create video documentaries on innovative uses of solar energy that can be posted online without any legal violations. (Examples of instructional methods and student projects in my courses can be found at the TWT Examples page).

My current passion is to find more effective uses of existing technology tools to enhance the geographic literacy of students. As global citizens, it is more important than ever for students to realize where they are in relation to other people, lands, and cultures. The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs Survey (2006) emphasizes this point even further. Their survey of 510 18-24 year olds in America showed that only 50% could accurately locate New York on a map. On a map of the Middle East, 63% could not find Iraq or Saudi Arabia. Three quarters of those surveyed could not find Indonesia on a map, even after the tsunami disaster.

Certainly, being a global citizen is more than being able to locate oneself on a map. But once a student has a better understanding of spatial distributions and relationships, then the student can move on to apply additional knowledge from the arts, humanities, political science, business, economics, etc., to then have a well-rounded view of the world, armed and ready to enter discussions, debates, and decision-making. An interdisciplinary approach and view of the world is critical for our students, and technology can help us make that happen.