Prior to beginning my studies in Educational Technology, I had no idea what a concept mapping program was and never used one before. I began researching different applications, and after a while I realized it is simply a type of digital brainstorming. When I think of using a pen and paper to brainstorm as a writer, I think of starting with the main idea in the middle of the paper with a big circle drawn around it. Branching out from the main idea are other cirlces, or bubbles, with supporting statements. During my research, I found there were numerous applications on my iPad that I could use as well. I found one app (which costs around $4.99) where you take a picture of handwritten notes and it transfers it into a digital format. Most of the free apps I found were pretty basic, but I liked the simplicity of Coggle the best and I can use it on the computer or my iPad. On my iPad, I liked Mindly the best.
I wanted to try to get fancy with my visual map, but both Coggle and Mindly were very simple in terms of fonts and graphics. The font size and color choices in Coggle were limited in the free version. I could add images if I wanted to if I already had them saved somewhere. Mindly had a handful of simple icons to choose from as well. Overall, I think if I continue to explore the different applications available I could find one that suits my needs and preferences. I think the paid version of most applications are unnecessary for my needs at this point. The finished product using Coggle is below. I used it more as an outline of the reading. View a larger picture here: Visual of Educational Technology.
I also explored a bit with Prezi, which had wider variety of graphics to use. This visual represents my own personal definition of educational technology, highlighting key points I took from the reading: My Definition of Educational Technology.
My immediate thoughts to describe what educational technology is simply that it is a tool for learning. Now I understand that there is more to educational technology, due to how it is continually evolving and how learning is shifting from being conducted in a controlled environment to a more facilitative environment. In addition, one of the things I learned is how important ethics and best practices are with educational technology. Most of the time I think of ethics and best practices in terms of companies, so this was a different way of looking at both.
Finally, I like the idea that was brought up about deeper learning and facilitative learning. Having a background in the military where much of the environment is controlled, I feel much of the learning in the military is controlled as well. Depending on leadership and management, it is quite possible facilitative learning is nonexistent in the military. My experience so far in this course has been the opposite and has supported this idea of facilitative learning – my professor is not the only person I go to for answers, I have numerous colleagues that can answer my questions. We are all supporting each other because we have different experiences with technology and we are all exploring different applications. In addition, there is no one structured way of completing assignments. Student assignments result in different outcomes due to the various number of resources available to them. This makes learning definitely more interesting.
I have found the key word so far is “explore” – every assignment has involved the exploration of different tools we can use in our learning and teaching. Exploration and facilitative learning go hand in hand.