A (mis)Conceptual Framework

I am in the process of wrapping up yet another semester of teaching preservice teachers how to use technology in their classrooms. It is at this point in the semester, when all of the projects except the final portfolio have been graded, that I start thinking about what went well and what didn’t go so well. As someone who is very self-critical, I look at each project and think about ways to improve it for the next semester.

This semester, I have been thinking more about how the whole class is structured rather than how to improve each of the projects. I actually think that most of the projects and class activities went well this semester, but the course in general was just a collection of disjointed assignments.

I have also been struck by some of the things the students have written in their assignments this semester. I’m not surprised or shocked because I was an undergraduate once and it takes time to get your head around the complex world of learning, students, schools and education. I don’t think anyone ever totally gets their head around it. (Sorry, Arne.) But, for some reason I was able to see past the grading of these assignments and start to see some themes emerge. These “themes” emerged as misconceptions about how students learn, classrooms interact and schools operate. There were a lot of assumptions without a lot of support for their claims.

So, for once I am going to keep the projects and class activities, but I am going to rework the framework within which I present them. Rather than framing the course around technology tools, I want to frame the course around educational concepts that directly address preservice teachers’ misconceptions about learning, teaching and technology. A similar approach has been tried before quite successfully by one of my colleagues, and I am ready to get out of the box a little bit. I have started a draft of my (mis)conceptual framework for teaching preservice teachers about how to use technology as part of their teaching. The general idea is that I will talk about a major educational concept (e.g., scaffolding), introduce a major misconception associated with that concept and address that misconception through a technology-based project.

This may end up being the worst idea ever, but it may also work like a champ. I have redesigned this course about half a dozen times or so, and I am not afraid to try something totally new. I’m sure I will be writing something around next December reflecting on how this new approach is working. Do you have thoughts or experience with this approach? I would love to hear your ideas.