EDT 6205: an extremely technical Ed Tech class

image courtesy of Stanford’s EdTech photostream

I very much appreciated three things about EDT 6205 (Hardware and Software):  its simplifying focus on the hardware and software that people really mean when they refer to “technology” in schools; its practical exercises and projects; and its flexible instruction–adaptive professor and online “flipped” modules with knowledge tests.  It ranks up near the top of my CUC degree experiences for the change it represented from dry academic work in other courses.  

Professor Sheikh began the course with a very basic review of the things–CPUs, motherboards, ports, optical storage media, etc.–that make computers work. He showed clear images of the components and explained how they each worked; he passed around actual examples. We experimented with and examined the machines we were working on in the labs, and so the real-life relevance of course information was extremely strong, especially in relative terms. Unlike other CUC courses in the Educational Technology degree program, there was no attention to postulated theories of knowledge, debates among pedagogues, or dry research into theories of learning. Instead, there was a liberating focus on the tangible, concrete implements of Educational Technology. For once, there were objective, verifiable, “right” answers to questions. One could say that Dr. Sheikh’s course focused much less on the Ed, and much more on the Tech. Because I felt surfeited on the former, I very much appreciated it.

This focus on the real (as opposed to theoretical) was in EDT 6205’s assignments and exercises, too. The first assignment was a report on the technical requirements of various machine-operating system configurations, and the second an exploration of the actual, color-coded hardware ports in our home computers.  This was followed by another real time, real-life, relevant exploration, the iPad vs. Xoom review. In the same practical vein were the laptop vs. tablet discussion, and the technological solution to an art curriculum problem. There were math equations in the consideration of memory and processing speed, and calculations of actual cost for hardware and software. Each assignment engaged the student in researching quantifiable answers to plausible questions that might easily arise in one’s work as an Educational Technologist. EDT 6250’s down-to-earth focus continued through the final projects–a one-page trouble-shooting guide for staff–something educators can actually use–and a proposal for the thorough transformation of an older school building into one ready for 21st century education. Because it gave the student plenty of exercise in realistic, engaging technological problem-solving, the course was really a sort of “capstone” (summative) experience for the degree, and I wish to commend the curriculum planners.  Good job, Concordia Ed Tech designers.

Equally clever was EDT 6250’s reliance on “flipped” learning–students watched instructional videos and then took knowledge tests and practiced implementing the knowledge in projects that included regular conferencing with the Professor. Such an inverted instructional ordering may not be appropriate for all subject areas, but in an objective study such as ours, the “flipped” approach allowed for a maximum of practice and a minimum of knowledge transfer via lectures or textbook reading–a very effective combination for this learner of Educational Hardware and Software applications.   

Finally, the instructor’s creative management of the curriculum showed flexible problem-solving and so demonstrated the sort of nimble thinking educational technologists need to succeed. Faced with a set of assignments that did not fit the needs of each learner, Professor Sheikh allowed for individual choice among the learners and variety among the assignments. He found ways to conference with students–either conference calling or Adobe Connecting–that were not strictly in the given syllabus. Recognizing his role as faciliator of the learning, he sought to work with us collaboratively in convenient ways. His real-world knowledge thus informed and tweaked the official curriculum in ways that enhanced the experience for us and for him. He turned his knowledge and the course materials into praxis for us.

In conclusion, I will recommend EDT 6250 for those looking to gain a substantial breadth of useful knowledge of hardware and software issues pertinent to the educational technologist. Because of EDT 6205, I will be in a better position to help schools leverage technology to enhance learning in their buildings (and without).

One response to “EDT 6205: an extremely technical Ed Tech class”

  1. I wish I had this professor as the one that I currently have is horrible! We practically teach ourselves! I've had to depend on my tech people and another school districts tech department. Watching videos during our one face to face and during our one online session is not teaching. I'm contacting the university once the class is done. I was really looking forward to this class. What a disappointment! Worst class ever!

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