As part of development activities this summer, Conestoga faculty were invited to participate in several opportunities to complete the Technologist module of the Ontario Extend program.
This Faculty Story was written by Baljeet Bilkhu (School of Applied Computer Science and IT).
I’ve been teaching at Conestoga for over the past four years – mostly in the areas of Software Quality and Computer Security. I am currently pursuing my Masters degree in Computing and Information Systems at Athabasca University. When I’m not doing any academic related work, you can find me either walking, biking or gardening – here is a picture of a red admiral on one of our flowers recently.
I was very much interested in this particular offering for the Technologist module because it was focused on using technology and tools in addressing specific challenges with learning. As evidenced by the past four months, technology was instrumental in providing learning to all students. Having a firm grasp on how to best use this technology for the benefit of the students was one of the key interest points for me.
All through my professional life in IT, I have always been looking for ways to continuously improve myself and with this opportunity, I was motivated by my students’ desire for obtaining a solid and worthwhile education. In speaking with some of the students (who are mostly international) – especially on the topic of online learning, they expressed some challenges faced with online learning and around not having the personal touch associated with an in-class experience. I wanted to improve myself for their benefit so that I could provide the best experience to them under the current (and possibly future) settings.
The Ontario Extend challenge benefited me in a way that I would never have imagined in order to make my teaching a lot more applicable, and enjoyable to the students.B. Bilkhu
Instead of providing a set of technological tools, I appreciated the entire process that was provided through Ontario Extend that allowed flexibility in choosing our tool(s) and then going through the stages of a prototype plan, empathy map, tool evaluation, and then finally assessing from the learner’s perspective.
I found that using the Empathy Map (shown below) was the most poignant aspect of this experience as it allowed me to actually sit and think about what could be going through the minds of my students. From here, I was able to put in place the various aspects in trying overcome some of the challenges they may face.
While going through all of the activities was beneficial, and enlightening, I found that having a facilitator and a team with which to share ideas, thoughts, concerns and accomplishments were extremely important and the one part that I really enjoyed.
This experience has brought about in me more understanding, compassion and knowledge in the way in which I can use technology for the betterment of my student’s education.B. Bilkhu
As online learning takes more of a foothold in education (at all levels), instructors need to keep in mind the way in which technology and tools can be efficiently and effectively used to reach all students in an effort to help them achieve their life goals.