By Nancy Minicozzi, CUE Member and Guest Blogger
When I started the Innovative Educators Advanced Studies Certificate (IEASC), I expected to learn about innovative educational techniques. After all, it was in the name of the program. And since it came from CUE, I figured there would be computers and technology involved. The syllabus looked promising, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect, or even if this program would work for me. I thought I was pretty innovative already.
It turns out that signing up for IEASC was one of the best things I could have done to become a better teacher. Here’s why:
Reason 7: I learned to speak a new language. My school uses iPads and I have been an Apple fangirl since before there was a name for it. My registration for IEASC came with a tablet device, so I chose an Android. I figured Bring Your Own Technology Device (BYOD) was coming to my school and some of my students would have Android tablets, so I should learn about them. Now I speak Droid and am comfortable with both operating systems.
Reason 6: I am Googlier than ever. Did you know that you could embed YouTube videos in place markers on Google Maps? Create infographics with Google Drawing? Download Google Docs as Microsoft Word documents? I didn’t, but now I do. I have learned there is so much more capability lurking behind those 6 colorful letters than I imagined. I have only begun to harness that power.
Reason 5: The homework included playing games. We needed to play World of Warcraft, Farmville, or another computer game for at least 10 hours. Sure, they said it was so we could understand the mechanics behind the game to help us implement some gamification techniques in our classrooms, but did I really need an excuse?
Reason 4: I learned that I could do more than I thought I could. IEASC involves giving back to education in some way. I decided to put on a free event where teachers could have time to explore the technologies they wanted to learn more about in a collaborative, no pressure environment, so I started PLAYDATE L.A. (based on an event put on in Chicago by Jennie Magiera and the #BURNTA team). I had no idea I would be capable of putting together something like this, but things seem to be working out so far. Registration is still open, so sign up today if you’re interested and will be in the Los Angeles area on August 17 (shameless plug).
Reason 3: The guest presenters are awesome. I got to speak to Kathy Schrock and get her suggestions on how I could help my staff be successful with the iPads they will be getting next year. Diane Main spoke to us about Google Earth and maps. The interactive structure of the online conferences means I can ask the experts the questions I am wondering about… and they answer them!
Reason 2: It’s not about the technology. It’s about the pedagogy, not the tools, even though we do get to use some pretty cool tools. To paraphrase Dvora Kravitz, a member of the first IEASC cohort, it’s about teachers as guides instead of experts, digital literacy, personalizing education, student self-determination, and applying learning to real-world situations. It’s also about learning to innovate with what you have to make the learning experience better for your students. This program is about me and my personal teaching situation. Everything I have learned in this program, I have been able to put into practice right away.
Reason 1: It’s all about relationships. The personal and professional connections I have made through this program have been some of the best I have ever made. My fellow cohort members are all educators who are interested in using innovative teaching methods to enhance and improve their practice. Some have been teaching for years, some are newly certificated, but all are interested in learning and sharing. The lead learners do everything in their power to help us not only succeed, but shine. All these relationships have been wonderful, collaborative, and productive, but the benefits of the program don’t stop there. In addition, I have made connections outside the program with teachers who have found me on Twitter because of IEASC, who are interested in the PLAYDATE project, or who have simply happened upon my IEASC blog.
That is why I am proud to say, “I am an innovative educator.”
Nancy Minicozzi is currently enrolled in the IEASC program. She works for the Las Virgenes Unified School District as an elementary media specialist, helping teachers integrate technology into their classrooms, and is the lead organizer of PLAYDATE Los Angeles. She has loved all things technology-related ever since she was a little girl watching Star Trek with her dad. She blogs at www.coffeenancy.com.
About IEASC: The Innovative Educator Advanced Studies Certificate is a joint venture between CUE and Fresno Pacific University. The 18 unit program is fully online and includes the participant’s choice of an Android tablet or an iPad. To learn more visit cue.org/ieasc