Joining the Technology Treadmill (a post by Mascheal Schappe, Assistant Professor of Math Education)

Hello, my name is Mascheal Schappe and I am an assistant professor for math education and educational leadership. I joined the technology treadmill about a year and a half ago when I became a full-time faculty member. After returning to the field of education full-time, one of the things I was most looking forward to was professional development. I was very excited and couldn’t wait to catch up, especially in technology.

Well, I jumped in with both feet and was learning right alongside my students during my first semester. By the second semester, I was asked to provide a bit of a workshop for my colleagues on the uses of iPads. By the end of my second semester, I was asked to give iPad training to two different school districts. While I am far from an expert, I do have the willingness to try and don’t get too embarrassed when I make mistakes or have to ask a question that everyone else in the room seems to already know.

In using the iPads for my own teaching, I have discovered some outstanding tools to use in my own classroom, such as the ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard App. This app allows you to quickly and easily create mini lessons that you can email them to students, as well as incorporate pictures into your lesson. For example, I answered a student’s question about why a test answer was incorrect by taking a picture of her answer and recording my voice to explain the correct answer while marking my points right on the picture of her answer. The student received the answer about an hour after she sent me the note as opposed to having to wait until class the following week. ShowMe is very simple and very powerful!

I have also discovered several apps that help my students with understanding math, as well as great apps for them to use in future classrooms with their own students.

My passion for this topic was fueled as our School of Education worked to get our students up to speed with current technology. We now have an iPad cart with 25 iPads that can be checked out and used in our classes, a portable SmartBoard to give our students more opportunities to get their “hands on” the technology, and in order to provide “hands-on” learning, one of our classrooms is blocked out for 14 hours each week, allowing our students time to practice using the SmartBoard, the document camera, and 12 computers with smart notebook installed. We also have 6 more iPads on the way!

Every time I visit a school, teachers are using some type of technology and quite often it is different than the last time I visited. In an effort to make our future teachers even more marketable, we have pushed technology into our math methods courses and each education faculty member is using more assignments requiring students to demonstrate their ability to use technology as a classroom tool.

So, here is where the treadmill comes in. Despite the fact that I have done quite a bit of learning, teaching and learning some more, I don’t feel like I have mastered anything! The possibilities with each piece of technology are endless, and every time I almost get a handle on something, the next, better version is upon us. Even though I know so much more than I did a year and a half ago I still feel like a novice. I am quickly discovering that in order to survive on this treadmill I need to pace myself, share with others, seek out what others have discovered and concentrate really hard on doing a few things really well!

– Mascheal Schappe is an Assistant Professor of Math Education and Education Leadership at Maryville University in St. Louis