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Final Exam Answers

Posted on Aug 2017

1.   What is the best way to teach (your) students and to provide the most useful and meaningful learning. Be specific about the nature and characteristics of “(your) students.” 

            A teacher has an important role in making the process of learning useful and meaningful to the students. This means that a teacher is supposed to deliver content of a certain topic or subject that is meaningful to the students regarding creating a positive value in their lives or future careers. For example, a teacher who provides students with opportunities for learning the problems they would expect in the real life situation and how to apply the concept learned in class to solve the problems make the learning process useful and meaningful to the students. As a teacher, I have to embrace some teaching strategies that aid in providing my students with most useful and meaningful learning. There are three major strategies that I can use in achieving the goal of ensuring that my teaching can deliver meaningful and useful learning to my target students.

            However, before having a deeper discussion on the strategies, it is crucial first to outline the nature and characteristics of my students. First, my students are active, and they love being engaged in the process of planning the content of the lessons to be taught to them. Hence, they like giving their inputs on what they believe can be useful to them as far as attaining long-term goals in life is concerned.

 Second, the target students like using technology in education, especially web 2.0 tools, such as virtual learning classes. Technology is widely used by my student as the source of information and knowledge regarding a wide range of topics touching on their academic life and normal life. For example, they value using technology to complete assignments and research papers and handing in them using the same technological platforms. Based on the technological nature of my students as a teacher, I have to embrace teaching which allows them to learn using technological tools for learning to useful and meaningful in their respective lives (Mancabelli and Richardson, 2011).

 Furthermore, the students that I teach like taking part in the learning environment where there is a collaboration with the physical and virtual community of learners. This means that they like participating in class discussions, while at the same time interacting with the international community of learners through various web tools, such as blogs and others. They use the collaboration to create networks as the basis of enabling them to learn more a part a particular issue and its application from different perspectives around the globe. Therefore, as a teacher, I am supposed to embrace teaching strategies that allow for collaboration for purposes of making sure my teaching is useful and help the students to acquire meaningful learning. 

 Finally, my students like using the knowledge they acquire to make a positive change in the society. This means that they are concerned more about what they can do with their education rather than just acquiring the education for the sake of being educated. They value using their education as a tool of bringing change in the society. Thus, as a teacher, I should embrace teaching approaches that provide the students with opportunities of trying to apply their knowledge to real-life situations so that their learning process can be meaningful and useful in their future lives.

 Based on the above nature and characteristics of my target students one of the teaching strategies that I can use to make their learning meaningful and useful is assessing their needs early and regularly. According to Arends (2014) assessing the needs of the students is critical in making the learning process useful and meaningful. The goal of carrying early and regular assessment is to understand the needs of the students, regarding their interests, what they what to gain from participating in a particular class or course and determining what they know already about a given subject. Hence, the teacher can design learning content that is tailored towards meeting the needs of the student and this only achievable through fully understanding their needs (Arends, 2014). 

 For purposes of understanding the needs of the students, I will use the K-W-L technique. In this technique, I will use my students to list the things they know about a particular subject, what they intend to know and the lesson they expect to learn from each class (Novak, 2010). The data collected from the assessment using the K-W-L technique will be useful in ensuring the lesson contents for each class is in line with the needs of the majority of the target students. The application of this teaching strategy will be aimed at ensuring that I fully understand the needs of my students and ensuring that the content to be delivered to them is tailored toward helping them achieve their intended goals of being part of the class. For example, if the students intends to learn practical skills concerning the use of management concepts learned in class, I will ensure that the lesson content exposes them to problem-solving cases, where they can use the knowledge acquired to class to address some of the managerial issues they are likely to encounter in their day to day lives in the future.  This teaching approach of basing the content on students needs will ensure that the learning process is useful and meaningful to them.

 The second strategy that I will use based on the nature of my students will be problem-based learning. Problem-based learning is one that provides students with opportunities to solve real-life problems that they are to expect in the course their careers or day to day lives through applying the concepts and knowledge learned in class (Novak, 2010).  My students like learning things that will enable them to make positive changes in life. This can only be attainable by ensuring that my students do not only learn theories in class but also acquire practical skills that they can use to make positive impacts in the society. 

 The problem based solving teaching strategy will expose the students to real-life situations, such as business problem cases in the area of business management classes where the students will be expected to apply their knowledge as gained from class to solve the problems at hand. This will be aimed at giving them practical skills that they can use in the future for purposes of addressing the many life challenges they will encounter in life (Arends, 2014). For example, web-based real life simulations will be used in my class as the basis of exposing the students to valuable learning, rather than just theoretical learning. As a result of the exposure, they will get the students will be in a position to gain positively from what they will learn in class, especially on how to apply their knowledge to real-life situations. The move will help in making my teachings meaningful and useful to the target students.

 The third teaching strategy that I will apply in the case of my students with for them to find learning useful and meaningful will be engaging them in the development of the lesson as well as assignments content. According to Arends (2014), meaningful teaching is attainable when the teacher engages the students in the lesson planning process. The engagement of the students is aimed at helping them to give inputs on the concepts they believe can be useful in making learning interesting and meaningful. For example, the students will be expected to give inputs on the web-tools that they believe can be useful in making their learning process valuable. Keengwe,  Onchwari, and Wachira (2008) note that use of computer tools make the learning process meaningful. Some of the computer tools that make learning meaningful are computer based problem simulations.

 The simulation tools expose students to real life problems, which they are likely to encounter and allow them to use their skills and knowledge learned in class to solve them. My target students like using technology in the learning process, thus, their inputs on the type of technology they need would be valuable in making the lesson contents tailored towards addressing their technological needs. Also, the nature of assignments that they need to complete, which they believe will be useful in attaining their intended class goals also forms the basis of engaging the students in the lesson and assignments planning process. 

2. Describe and explain your “Philosophy of Teaching for 21st Century Students.” Thoroughly explain what those skills are and why this a good philosophy of teaching for the modern student’s future?

            Over the years learning and teaching have progressed in a great way. In the past, teachers were viewed as people who only had knowledge of everything and students were supposed to sit and listen to teachers as they shared their knowledge with them. However, in the 21st-century things have changed completely as the learning and teaching environment have changed dramatically practically due to advancement in information technology. As a result, a teacher in the 21st century has to embrace new teaching philosophy to accommodate the various changes in the learning and teaching environment so as to making his or her work effective.

            To determine my teaching philosophy that I can apply in the 21st century, it is vital first to understand the current learning as well as the teaching environment. The 21st century has seen a major shift from traditional direct based teaching philosophy, where the teacher knows everything to a student-centered learning philosophy, whereby to allow active participation of students in problem-solving and learning. The current learning environment is characterized with students switching between informal and formal learning environments, outside and inside classrooms, as well as different social and individual learning contexts. This has shifted the traditional learning process, whereby, teachers were the major source of knowledge to a new environment, whereby, students can access knowledge from different platforms, such as e-learning libraries. The developments of web 2.0 tools have played a major role in allowing the shift from direct based teaching process to the student centered teaching the process. Internet availability allows students to access learning materials within and outside normal learning environment, such as classrooms, physical libraries.

            Based on the current learning and teaching environment, my teaching philosophy for the 21st-century students would be student-centered teaching. In this teaching philosophy, I would make my students part of the learning process as well as a problem-solving problem. For example, the students would be given problems to solve before the next class, with the expectation that they would carry out research from various sources of information and gain knowledge on certain topics without having to depend on me as a teacher as the sole source of knowledge. There are various skills that as a teacher should have for purposes of ensuring that the teaching philosophy that is student-centered is a success.

            The first skills needed is ensuring that students are involved in the process of decision making, particularly in matters to do with the planning of learning schedules, class work, learning materials and environment. The main objective of involving the students in the teaching as well as the learning process is to understand the value of the subject in their lives, such as knowledge, skills, and competencies that will be gained by completing the course. This play a major role in motivating the students to be actively involved in the learning process as far as the particular subject is concerned. Therefore, involving my students in the process of planning will help them understand the values that they are expected to gain from completing various topics associated with the subject of teaching and learning.

            Also, involving students in the decision-making gives them an opportunity to give an idea of what they believe should be done to enhance their understanding of various concepts. For example, students can suggest learning activities, such as product review as part of the understanding marketing process, which a teacher can use as the basis of helping them gain a deeper understanding of the class content. Therefore, as a teacher employing the teacher-centered philosophy of teaching, I will embrace engaging my students in the decision-making process as the basis of helping them suggest some of the activities that are supposed to be part of content a certain subject so as to enhance their active participation in all class related processes.

 Additionally, one needs to have the skill of delegating leadership roles to students. To successfully achieve this goal, a teacher in the 21st century is supposed to have the capacity of believing that students have the capabilities of leading. The students are supposed to be at liberty to choose things that they believe can help them gain a deeper understanding of certain contents of a subject without too much interference from the teacher. This means that as a teacher I will have the responsibility to allow my students some degree of freedom to lead themselves in certain aspects of the course, such as research process, class activities and completion of assignments without too much control from me. The main goal of doing this will be to help inspire the students to have a self-drive of trying to gain more knowledge concerning a subject, by going beyond what is taught in class. 

            Furthermore, as a teacher in the 21st century, one must be willing to use technology as part of the learning process. Technology allows students to be actively engaged in a class and collaborate with the virtual and physical community in the learning process (Mancabelli and Richardson, 2011). Therefore, as a teacher who intends to actively involve my students in the teaching and learning process, then, I should embrace technology to be part of my teaching, especially as a vital tool to make the student engagement process easier.

 There are several reasons why the use of student-centered philosophy is appropriate for 21st-century students. First, the 21st-century learning environment provides students with opportunities for taking advantage of the changing and emerging media literacy as well as taking control of their respective learning through making connections, which are peer supported and focusing on communities’ engagement. This shows that the 21st-century students have a mentality of being part of the learning process, unlike the students of the 20th century who were less engaged in the teaching process. The availability of technology has exposed most of the students in the 21st century to different learning opportunities, which are unique from the traditional ones (Mancabelli and Richardson, 2011). For example, in the 21st-century students can learn certain things without necessarily having to attend to class physically as there are virtual learning environments available, such as e-books where they can access all the materials needed to cover topics and concepts related to a subject.

 Additionally, the ability of students to engage and collaborate with other students and scholars in the virtual community environments make the teaching process that is student-centered possible. This means that they have adequate opportunities of sharing information and knowledge with fellow students on certain subjects and topics without necessarily having to wait for inputs from their teachers. According to Mancabelli and Richardson (2011), collaboration among students from different parts of the world due to the availability of virtual learners’ communities make students go an extra mile in trying to learn something new from what they are taught in class by their teachers. Therefore, using a traditional teaching philosophy of the learning process being teacher centered, would not work in the 21st-century learning environment. Students want to learn more from the surrounding environment without having to always depend on the teacher as the only source of knowledge. Therefore, a teacher who might act as the only source of knowledge and information on a particular subject may be ineffective in making the target students feel part of the class. In the 21st century, a teacher is only supposed to play the role of facilitating the learning process, by allowing students the freedom to gain as much information and knowledge from virtual materials.

 Finally, the student-centered teaching philosophy that I have chosen is appropriate as it focuses on ensuring that students gain something from the learning process by shifting from what they can learn from a teacher. According to Looi et al. (2010), the 21st learning has shifted from the concepts of what people know about the issue of what one can do with what he/she knows. This means that students are more concerned about gaining knowledge that can help them become productive means of the society. The learners in the 21st century are more interested in using their knowledge to make a positive impact in the society. Thus, as a teacher, one is supposed to embrace teaching process that allows students to make use of their knowledge to make a positive change in the society. Thus, it is vital to allow students the freedom to choose content associated with a certain topic of discussion, which they believes will help them, in the long run, to use their knowledge to change the society in one way or another.

4. Design your question and fully respond to it. (You will be evaluated on the depth of both your question and your answer!) "You can tell a man is clever by his answers. You can tell a man is wise by his questions.” – Naguib Mahfouz).

The question that I intend to answer is the way of use of technology can make learning and teaching easier?

 In the modern era of learning and teaching technology is an integral part of classrooms. Apart from classrooms, technology has been useful in others areas of life, such as in social interactions, healthcare, and financial management. Technology has proved to be useful in making the life of man easier and meaningful. For example, phones have communication easier and timely unlike in the past where one had to take days before getting an urgent business or family message. In the area of education, huge investments have been made in education technology, with the aim of making the learning and teaching process attractive and easier to teachers and students. 

 Some of the technologies being used nowadays include e-libraries, virtual classrooms, and online grading systems. For example, virtual classrooms allow students to attend classes from any part of the world without having to be physically in an institution of higher learning. This means that technology has made it easier for students to access education from any part of the world, without having to physically travel to their target institutions of learning (Keengwe, Onchwari, and Wachira, 2008). In the area of teaching, technology has transformed the way teachers approaches the teaching process. Due to the use of technology teachers can now embrace student-centered teaching due to the availability of web platforms that allow students to gain more knowledge apart from what they are taught in class.