Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Effectively Integrate Lesson Content with Educational Technology - SMART's SCLD Course

The best online course that I took through SMART Technologies was the SCLD (SMART Certified Lesson Developer) certification course.  I would recommend this course to any educator who has a SMART Board and wants to integrate educational technology effectively with pedagogy.  In my opinion, this course is as important (or even more so) than hours of technical training.  I was given very little training by my school when I was given my SMART Board.  The only training that I was given was a couple years before that time, so I was basically on my own.  I was not told what to do with my SMART Board or how to use it.  Before purchasing Educational Technology, it is crucial that a school has a vision or objective as to how it should be implemented.  

For the first year, I basically used my SMART Board to show videos and for playing pre-created games which I found on the SMART Exchange and modified for the needs of my class.  After having my SMART Board the first year, I went and pursued face to face training using my own funds. I became a Certified SMART Trainer through SMART in Notebook and Response.  During my second year of using my SMART Board, I increase the use of my SMART Board, but I really was not excited about my content.  I applied and was accepted into the SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE) Program.  My goals of fully integrating my SMART Board with my instruction were there - yet I still felt that I could do a better job with creating high quality, effective lesson activities.  A representative from SMART told me about the SCLD certification and I knew that was exactly what I needed in order to become a better teacher. Having great tools and not knowing how to use them effectively is very frustrating.  I decided to participate in this course and I am very glad that I did.

This past summer, I participated in the SMART Certification Lesson Development coursework.  Although the course was online, my workshops were led by great dynamic trainers.  One thing important to note is that these trainers used to be classroom teachers themselves.  They have the knowledge of the content and pedagogy as well as the technical skills and understand how to put the pieces together in order to make the puzzle fit.  The trainers were also available outside of the session and after the sessions had ended in order to answer my questions about lesson development and content.  They guided me and pushed me to improve my lesson activities not to the point of being adequate, but to the point of being high quality.  The course is also very hands on, which is very important.  The participants must take the knowledge and skills that they have been taught and apply them.  We all know that practice makes perfect.  One of the requirements in this course is that the participants must submit three lesson activities to the SMART Exchange as well as a detailed document on each one explaining how each lesson submitted includes best practices.  A trainer then reviews each lesson submitted as well as its accompanying document.  I now know that when searching the SMART Exchange for lesson activities, search for those submitted by SCLD Candidates as these educators are investing a lot of time into creating high quality lessons.

The SCLD course really changed my mindset on effective Educational Technology Integration.  Of course, a lot more time and work has to be invested when creating engaging, effective SMART Notebook lesson activities.  When I create my content now, I am really enjoying it - and I wish I had more time in order to do so.  I am already seeing the positive impact that my lessons are having on my students.  Because of the SCLD course, my lesson activities are more interactive, engaging, and more personalized.  I wish every educator would take this course as I now have a much better understanding of what the purpose of the SMART Board is for.  

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