Monday, 9 May 2011

Reflections on my first Masters coursework essay

After around 6 weeks I finally submitted my first Masters coursework essay.  It has been a demanding but fascinating process which should hopefully result in a good mark.  My title was "How can new media (digital technologies) be used for effective learning in geography?"

Some of the difficulties I encountered were thinking about the structure of the essay, learning how to find relevant research and evidence, deciding what to include, and ensuring that my thinking and writing were critical.  I had been very pro-technology and although I still am, I know see how it was important for me to read both sides of the argument.

I overcame this difficulties just with help from my tutor at the Institute of Education who gave me detailed feedback on an initial draft.  Talking with my fellow Masters students at the Geographical Association conference in Guildford was also helpful.  Visiting the IoE library and getting to grips with the relevant texts was also invaluable.

My main conclusions were that new media can make a valuable contribution  geographical education, but that it is only one tool in the geography teacher's toolkit.  It is best used in a structured, planned way which permeates the our curriculum.  A more techno-savvy Web2.0 with its higher levels of interactivity and social interaction will engage many students, and also closes the gap between technology-soaked youth culture and the more traditional school environment.  Additionally a critical approach to the use of media in our geography teaching is helpful as this will help students to understand the role of the media in shaping their geographical knowledge.

I have learned a lot and now have many more ideas to try out in my teaching and that of the department.  This blog is just one of them!