Learning without the human element was a challenge. I think this goes to show that technology is just the tool and this is something teachers need to be mindful of as they integrate technology into their classrooms. As I work with school districts to integrate our personalized learning system, one of the greatest initial fears is that the teachers will be replaced by the technology. I have heard this fear from parents as well who are concerned that their child will be learning from a computer. It is my belief that technology should enhance and elevate the learning experience and enable teachers to be more effective in their craft.
This philosophy became very evident to me in my learning of American Sign Language. While learning through YouTube was effective in that I learned MANY words and phrases, my greatest challenge (like I mentioned in my post from last week) was making sense of everything I’ve learned in isolation. I was often writing sentences that I wanted to say but was not always able to find the right signs to translate my sentences into actual sign language. As a result, I am fairly certain that the sentences that I put together for my other video posts were, at the least, grammatically incorrect. All I knew how to do was break down each sentence, find the signs for the words in the sentence, put the signs in place, and repeatedly watch videos of each sign to memorize the finger and hand movements.
Watching YouTube videos was helpful and I did learn a lot, but I think I would have learned more if I had someone to interact with directly who could answer questions, demonstrate signs for me, and identify and correct my mistakes to help me improve. As a strong visual learner, watching videos of other people signing was effective, but I also thrive when I can collaborate and talk through problems with others. I would have loved a live tutor or even to meet with someone for coffee who is fluent in ASL. In this learning experience, the technology removed the human element and did not help me learn as much as I think I could have.
I have really enjoyed the challenge of learning American Sign Language. I’ve always wanted to learn and assumed that it would be hard, but did not realize how hard it would be to learn in this “networked” way through YouTube videos. I do not think this approach worked that well for me, but I think it could be extremely effective for learning other competencies or skills like learning to cook a new recipe, solve a math equation or a step-by-step process. I will definitely keep this learning method in my instructional repertoire and encourage students to use this approach for their learning where appropriate and effective.
Here’s my final video: