By Bennett McKinley, West Liberty University Student
I was asked to contribute to the Fluency Project blog, and admittedly was at a loss as to what I could write. However, here I am, to start I’ll give a little background.
As a non-traditional “older” teacher candidate, I have felt as if I am in a unique vantage point for both entering the world of education, while also appreciating the work of the Fluency Project. To expand upon that; I am in my thirties and still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Friends and family, for years, have told me that they believe I would make a good teacher. So my wife and I decided that I should follow that path which set me on a pursuit of a degree in Elementary Education at West Liberty University. Two years later, and I will be entering my Block semester in fall, followed by student teaching in spring of 2020. This pursuit has been incredibly rewarding, and any time spent in the classroom fully enforces that decision. Everything simply clicks that this in fact what I’m meant to do. Where it will take me in the future is difficult to see, I just know that I am truly looking forward to having a class and teaching.
My wife, son, and I are all avid tech fans. We may not always have the most cutting edge technology, but new and exciting toys are always on our radar. We run a small handmade artisan business out of our home, which has opened our eyes to a variety of technology to help the business grow. We own a laser cutter, various die cutters, a wide format printer, and more. On the side, we were occasional event photographers, which grew us an arsenal of photography equipment. Suffice to say, we like technology. One can understand my excitement at learning of West Liberty’s Center for the Arts and Education’s library of fun tech tools. I met Lou Karas during her Integrated Arts for Elementary Teacher class, and it was in this class that I got to begin working with some of the interesting technology. Following my world of photography, I was very eager to play with some of the camera tech that she owned, like the 360-degree camera.
My appreciation and interest affected Lou enough that she encouraged me to take part in a Fluency project at a local school. It was there that I begun to appreciate what this project truly meant. It isn’t simply encouraging technology use; it’s the idea that technology and education are fused! Educators need to take advantage of all of the opportunities presented by technology. For example, several of the cameras that West Liberty has available for loaning to educators are capable of capturing amazing 360 degree panoramas that students can view with a variety of VR lenses. This means students can experience the world visually without having to leave the classroom. Amplified upon that are the videos taken that utilize sound, so not only would the students be able to explore something out of their reach, but could hear the unique sounds of that environment, museum, etc. During one of the Fluency Project events, I was able to watch a short 360-degree video that conveyed the life in a day of refugees. These kinds of applications are incredibly impactful for me, but clearly to a student as well.
Emphasis needs to be placed on just how powerful technology can be. Students in this day and age are growing up in a world dominated by technology; to ignore it is to ignore an invaluable asset that would reach those students. This up and coming generation was born in a world where they will always have ready access to information and technology, what better way to help them succeed than to help them understand how to utilize that resource. We as educators, or as future educators in my case, owe students that much.